Tornado Maintenance School Charity Bike Ride

On the 27th May, a team from the Tornado Maintenance School completed the Norwich 100 charity bike ride in aid of the British Heart Foundation.

As we gathered, the grounds of Norwich Cathedral were a sea of lycra-clad, professional- looking cyclists, and ourselves.

It was just after 7am and gloriously sunny as we rolled over the cobbles at the signal of the Mayor, with 100 miles of fine Norfolk countryside ahead of us. Before long we were leaving the confines of the city centre behind and rolling along hedge-lined country lanes at a good pace and thankfully with a bit of a tail wind.

The previous weeks had been spent building our stamina as well as our ‘saddle-fitness’ by going out for progressively longer rides. In all weathers, racking up the miles (approx 2,500 between us) and discovering some excellent hidden gems of Norfolk countryside along the way. Through all of these rides, none of us had encountered any mechanical problems with our bikes. On this day however, we were only 12 miles into the 100 and we had stopped twice. Once for a puncture and once for a dodgy pedal! In the short time we were at the road-side fixing the puncture however, we got a good indication of the number of participants as line after line of cyclists whooshed past, all enjoying the weather as well as the camaraderie these events foster. The race appeals to a diverse range of cyclists, from the near professional to the weekend riders; with the option of a 25, 50 or 100 mile route. Our group were soon back on the road and into the rhythm of things as we passed through Reepham and onward to Sheringham, via Hindringham. Another puncture just before the half-way stop at Sheringham High School slowed us a little but we were ahead of schedule and enjoyed our well earned rest, topping up our water supplies and taking on fuel for the home leg. Nutrition played a big part and we’d all loaded up with carbohydrates in the days before hand (some of us had been carb-loading since the mid-nineties) as well as keeping a ready supply of jelly babies for the ride itself. The coast road proved to be more testing with some strong head winds slowing us down but good team-work meant we all took turns at the front to keep the pace up and lighten the load on those behind us. As we whittled away the miles the chatter died away to be replaced by heavy breathing as we encountered Norfolk’s answer to the Pyrenees along the A149.

A warm welcome greeted all 3,500+ riders as we passed through the numerous towns, villages and hamlets, whilst casting envious eyes towards the people relaxing in the beer gardens and village greens along the way. The pace slowed slightly when trying to get through Coltishall village as we were weighed down with sandbags and swinging lanterns but once the seniors had dispensed with these and exhausted their stories of not doing any more work on the ‘Mighty Jag’ we were back up to race-pace.

Before we knew it Norwich city centre was in sight, the throng of cyclists increasing as the 25, 50 and 100 mile routes converged and headed towards the cathedral. A good crowd greeted everyone as they crossed the line to collect their medals and a well-earned complimentary half-pint of ale.

We’d aimed to complete the ride in under eight hours and bettered this with a time of 7hrs 20 mins including stops. Our ‘saddle-time’ being just under 6hr 30mins.

In all it was a great day out that was enjoyed by everybody and drew on team-work, fitness, mental strength. Most importantly though, we raised over £1,200 for the British Heart Foundation!

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