Tom Simpson Memorial Ride I

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A not so glamorous view from just ahead of the broom wagon…

The Tom Simpson Memorial Ride…  It strikes fear, passion, laughter and tears at some point into most who ‘get it’.  It is one of THE most significant rides of the year for some of us, a proper ride with a whole range of cyclists from passionate pro’s who turn out to local club cyclists.  In some ways it is best described as an epic battle than a bike ride so on that note I will describe it as I saw it unfold on 24th February 2013 on a cold winters day in Harworth.

Team Cystic Fibrosis Riders lined up as follows:

Our SAS (every man for himself) - Glen, Martin and Mark

Our back-up troops - James F, James S, John, Ade, and friends Alan, Rob and Craven.

As the first gun was fired our SAS were straight into action.  Mixing it with all sorts of well worn battle hungry soldiers.  That is the last we saw of them except to say they all made it through the battle and were among the first to take the final hill (and drink coffee!).

The troops at the back suffered before they even went into battle.  Armoured vehicle issues (flat tyre for James S) followed a realisation that Craven hadn’t got his battle boots (cycling shoes) - he was therefore wearing the equivalent of his slippers to enter the fray.  This meant that the platoon set-off marginally late and had to run (ride) flat out to join the action.  Working together this steely bunch joined up with other troops and were not going to be beaten, or so we thought!  Not long into battle Craven’s carpet slippers got the better of him psychologically and he went AWOL (took an early turn and intended to do the short-route, although turns out he rode as far as everyone else!).  The rest soldiered on together. 

We then approached a major hill we had to take, Ade went up the group of soldiers to join Rob who looked confused and wondered why suddenly the big attack?  Simple really, urgent strategic action needed (next to a tree!)  Rob soldiered on ahead at the front of the troops while Ade and James S were now at the back of the platoon chasing after them to have safety in numbers.  This was where it all started to go wrong…

Whilst the troops were not quite all together our intelligence on the battlefield went horribly wrong.  We ended up with troops going in different directions in absolute chaos (garmin map file downloaded from last years ride on the internet was wrong!).  The troops were tested and blown apart.  James F and Rob managed to stick with another platoon.  John was straight over the trench to try and join them (deserter!!), while Alan and Ade waited for James S who was catching up – we’ll never leave a man on the battlefield.  John fought on alone, hoping Ade, Alan and James S would catch him but to no avail.  James was injured (tired and fed up).  Ade and Alan dragged him along the battle ground for fifteen miles.  Eventually he gave up suffering and agreed to take mysterious substances from medic Alan (Carb Gel) that gave him a new lease of life and the last troops limped over the last hill and celebrated everyone making it back.  Four minutes behind John, and a further twenty minutes behind the other troops.

Stories of the battle were told in the officers mess (working men’s club) while the SAS (who has been back hours) enjoyed sharing stories of their gallant efforts – heroes (posers in two cases aren’t they Glen!) to a man.  Everyone had their own battle on the day of some sort and everyone got back despite the harshness of the terrain on a cold February in the middle of no-where. 

Tom Simpson - we salute you and we will be back to do battle again next year in your honour…

Author: Adrian Lingard

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