Ride for RAFA

The idea for the event started as a conversation between SAC Grant Smith and SAC Scott Miller. We discussed the idea of organising a large scale charity event and decided to complete a challenge in a sports discipline that we knew nothing about.

We agreed that cycling was a discipline we had no knowledge in but also had plenty of scope for large scale challenge. With the discipline chosen all we needed to decide on now was the challenge.

We started by looking at the RAF stations throughout the UK and narrowed it down to the remaining 17 Flying stations. We then explored the mileage that would have to be covered between the stations and the time scale we could set ourselves to make it an interesting event. The total mileage would be around 1,250 miles dependant on the chosen routes.

Our first thought was to complete the ride over a two week period, but although this was a substantial challenge, we wanted to push ourselves to our absolute limits in this new sport. Speaking with people who had completed cycling events before we set ourselves a ten day time scale making it a far greater challenge. This would put our average mileage per day to 125 miles which we knew would be a huge ask, but with the right training we were confident that we could succeed.

The challenge set now we needed the cyclists! Grant had decided from the start this was something he personally wanted to do but due to Scott leaving the Air Force he wouldn’t be able to take part. The ‘feelers’ went out with colleagues at work and it didn’t take long to find two other cyclists – Calum Parker and Tom Maine. We now had our three man team.

The next point of the challenge would be to choose the Charity we would raise money for. This decision came quite easily – The Royal Air Force Association. We were already aware of some of the good work the charity does for serving and ex serving RAF personnel and this is an organisation that we might call on ourselves for help if our future situations required it.

Next step was to look at the requirements of a support crew. It was decided that a minimum of four people, a Physio/First Aider, Logistics, Bike Technician and Road Manager would be required. The call went out and we soon had the following volunteers to make up the support crew – Fg Off Chris Phipps put himself forward as the On Road Manager/Bike Technician, Jase Garnett as the Bike Technician, Dave Hurley as logistics and planning and Nikki Ward took the position of Physio/First Aider.

With the support crew complete we held a meeting to talk about all the tasks that would need to be completed to make the challenge a success.

Getting the training underway was the first priority and we were put in touch with Ian Brown who works at the gym at Marham. Ian is an ex Warrant Officer who cycled for the RAF so we wanted to gain lots of information from him as this wasn’t an event we had any knowledge on. Ian gave us lots of useful information about riding. We certainly hadn’t realised there would be so much to learn running up to the ride. We all agreed that Ian would be an invaluable member of the team so we asked him if he would be interested in being the trainer for the event. Luckily he said yes.

The groundwork had been laid, the cyclists now had to begin their training and the team had a lot of planning to do! Watch this space for further updates…


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