It started with a six

Photo: James, Stephen, Zac, Gino (James) and Barry turned out on the winter solstice to support me.

The Giro di Muscoli 2020 finishes on the summer solstice in Fano. So what better day to recce Stage 1 from London to Harwich than the winter solstice.

I posted my intentions on the Islington Cycling Club Forum and was humbled that four other riders said they would help me. As a bonus, another rider turned up on the morning of the ride. We were six.

The whole ride felt as if I was the team leader and every one else was a domestique helping me get there. As in a professional tour we started to lose riders along the way.

First we lost Barry when he had a puncture. It was a indication of things to come when he broke his tyre leavers getting the tyre off. Could we get it back on again? We couldn’t. We all tried in turn, but to no avail. Not even a kind postman who stopped to help could get it on. An experienced cyclist he said he’d never failed to get a tyre back on. Even he couldn’t.

We had no choice but to leave Barry make his own way home. We were now five.

At Blackmore, Stephen stopped for breakfast before heading off back to London as planned. We were now four.

The purpose of the recce was to identify improvements in the route before the Grand Départ on the 6th June. We all agreed that I need to re-route the ride around Chelmsford to avoid the dual carriageways and roundabouts that made it little challenging.

Shortly after Chelmsford we stumbled across a good place for a quick stop during the Giro. Plenty of room for the bikes.

After the pub we enjoyed a gentle down hill section all the way to Maldon. We were cruising along at 40km an hour with not much effort. I will appreciate this on the first Stage of a 2,300km fortnight.

None of us had been to Maldon before, apart from James who stopped there on a ride the week before. Instant expert. He suggested we had lunch in the same place he’d eaten. Good choice James, the staff were really helpful. They put us on a table in the window specifically so we could keep an eye on the bikes opposite.

The post lunch route was quite flat and open. A good choice for the Giro. At Colchester we lost our entire contingenmcy of riders called James. Both of them. Their support duties done, they caught the train back to London, as planned.

We were now two. Let’s just say Zac is a much younger and stronger rider than me. Zac pulled me along from Colchester to Manningtree at quite a pace. My thanks for the twenty something leading the way for a fifty something.

I did take a turn on the front between Manningtree and Harwich but most of the time Zac lead the way. We rode as far as we could to the ‘end of the pier’, then explored Harwich to suss out where to drink after the first stage, the train station and the ferry terminal.

By an amazing co-incidence Zac was due to take the same overnight ferry to the Hook of Holland that we’ll be taking in June. As the sailing was 23:00 we headed for a pub to watch the Liverpool game.

We even managed to persuade the landlady to allow us to bring our bikes inside the pub. Thank you.

I left Zac in the pub to get the train back to London. He was now one.

I’m very grateful for the show of support from Barry, Gino (James), James, Stephen and Zac for the Giro di Muscoli. If you can join me for the London – Harwich Stage on the 6th June 2020 then please register as soon as possible. We’d really appreciate knowing how many riders might join me for the first leg of this epic journey.

You can register now at the Giro di Muscoli

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