Willesdens CC’s Tour de Ricky attracts hundreds of cyclists

Liam addresses the riders at the start of their ride. (Image Courtesy of Sue Lacey)

Liam FitzPatrick is a wonder and a credit to our amazing club. His brainchild is the Tour de Ricky, which is day full of audax rides, with distances to  suit all tastes and all degrees of comfort in the saddle!  I can say that this event was flawless and quite amazing. The finish was packed with riders all enjoying the fine weather and each other’s company, no one was in a rush to leave. Liam is a truly an extraordinary organiser.

The photos in the blog are selection from a portfolio by Sue Lacey. To see all of Sue’s photos from the Tour de Ricky, then I urge you to look at her page here

Here are Liam’s reflections on the day –

Last Saturday was the second year of running the Tour de Ricky, which saw over 300 riders tackle 400, 200, 100 and 50 Km Audaxes from Rickmansworth. And while riders were heading to Wales or bashing around the Chilterns, a mini-festival of cycling attracted people of all ages. Estimates suggest that over 500 people were involved in a day initiated by club members.

WCC’s Marianne at the start of the 200km Audax.
(Image courtesy of Sue Lacey)

After the success of the audax rides last year, the event’s hosts at the Soil Associations Woodoaks Farm and collaborators cycle campaign group SPOKES, added the idea of the festival. On-line retailer Freewheel demonstrated new kit which can be delivered to local bike shops, including the Watford Cycle Hub who were also on hand to check bikes and give advice. The Tea Shack shifted a ton of cake and the onsite brewery also did a roaring trade later in the day.

The 400km Audax ride was a stripped down, unsupported version of our incredibly popular London-Wales-London Audax. It follows the LWL route to Chepstow and back and provided a last minute qualifying ride for audaxers hoping to take part in Paris Brest Paris this August. Starting at 6pm on Friday, it included a long night section spiced up by an impassable road closure in Gloucestershire just before the infamous climb up Yat Rock which sent people across in the Wales and on a main road bash along the River Wye to Chepstow.

Coffee stops at Mursley, Brill and Benson were on the 200km route that headed out to Silverstone and back. Whilst the 100km ride followed a loop up towards Cheddington and Wing and made interesting with a couple of challenging climbs including Toms Hill out of Aldbury and the slog up to Dancers End from Tring.

Julie and her chums at the start of the 100km Audax.
(Image courtesy of Sue Lacey)

A 50km event gave people new to audaxing, a chance to sample the discipline as well as enjoy the hospitality of the cake makers of Great Missenden at the parish church – they normally only open up on a Sunday but were persuaded to look after us in style. It was possibly the most chaotic of the events ,as it was the first time many of the riders had been involved in an Audax style of event with no frills or sportive levels of support on the road. However, it gave them a flavour of organised cycling and a sense of what clubs do.

Mr Chairman found time in to run a cheeky 50km after helping with the sign-on of hundreds of riders.
(Image courtesy of Sue Lacey)

We were lucky to have the support of an army of volunteers alongside club members who checked the routes, welcomed riders on the day, organised marshals and ensured a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

The event provides a possible springboard for attracting new faces into the Willesden although success will depend on a wider group of volunteers to grasp the opportunity.

The local Police gave a reassuring presence at the start of the rides.
(Image courtesy of Sue Lacey)

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