And what a turnout for the final Reading to London Stage, but we will get to that later. Here’s what we missed earlier.
STAGE 4 – BRISTOL LOOP
The weather was just about perfect for bike riding; a little cloud, dry and not too hot. The loop took in some stunning South West scenery too, including the Severn Bridge and lots of back roads and lanes.
If you’ve been to Bristol you will know there are some serious hills around the city. This stage had a gain of over 500m in height and it proved to be a challenge, especially for Elliot Green’s cleated shoe. The newbie rider has just got the cycling bug and bought the bike, some Rihanna style see-thru cycling shorts, plus shoes that proved less than durable in the heat of breakaway battle.
No disrespect to the manufacturer of course, could be a rogue pair, but the incident provided some moments of banter throughout the day. A pit stop was also required for new pedals on Elliott’s bike, which has now increased in value by around 20%.
This is the stuff that group tours are made of, because it’s always good to feel you overcame a few setbacks to make the finish line.
STAGE 5 BRISTOL TO READING
This was a long ride, some 142Kms, across some amazing scenery and a stop off for lunch in Marlborough, which is renowned for its top value cafes and restaurants – not many people know how cheap you can eat here.
Just four riders on this Stage, led by Andre Symes, with the route leading past the famous white horses at Cherhill and Marlborough. This is stunning cycling countryside and as the skies cleared Friday afternon turned into a glorious summer’s day. Yep, even in September. Your IE Editor joined the crew at Marlborough and then headed east with Michael Lewis, David Scutt and Elliott Green, with Andre on point and following the Strava route tips.
We ambled through some postcard villages, slowed for horses and trundled along tree-lined lanes heading for Newbury. From there it was busier roads with tea-time traffic until Reading and a stop off near the railway station at the Malmaison. The evening meal saw more riders join us for the revised final Stage of the event. The death of Queen Elizabeth II meant the final September 19th Stage in London had to be cancelled.
With around eight of us swapping riding stories old and new the evening was comedy gold…although largely unprintable!
That’s the great thing about group rides like this, you make new friends, test your limits and escape the daily grind of emails, to-do lists and more. There is a huge value in terms of wellbeing from cycling and it isn’t just about setting Strava records and pushing your body to its limits. The headspace time matters too and when you think about it, insurance brands have much to learn about matching cycling activity data to healthcare cover, Life, gadget, Home and more.
Sore legs and sore heads next morning, as the beers went down very nicely.
STAGE 6 READING TO LONDON
It was a crisp, slightly chilly morning as the bikes were unlocked from their special room at Malmaison and other riders, plus freshly lubed and polished machines, arrived by train from London to join the final leg of the 2022 TDI.
Peter de Wit from Sundays Insurance led the hounds group, who wanted to crank up the pace, while Dave Exall from Simply Health led the field away in the steady group. There was just time for a group photo outside the station and a quick check on the route, phone battery charge and those essential full water bottles. The sky was blue, a scorcher was on the cards.
The route headed via Sonning and Waltham St Lawrence towards Windsor, where a loop down near the Park led the riders through Byfleet and Cobham towards the famous Box Hill. The climb there is a test for any cyclist, so it was a chance for a breather and admiring the views at the top, before heading through super busy Oxshott and Esher to the finish line at Putney.
London traffic slowed the pace, but it was still a long Stage and the end of a long journey for the riders who ticked off 2 or even 5 days on the road during the event.
The beers and pizza at Dynamo are excellent by the way and if you love cycling this place has an indoor bike rack, genuine board racing slats as part of the furnishings and vintage cycling jerseys framed on the walls. Super friendly and very atmospheric.
The end of a week blessed with fine weather, rolling roads, plus a few hiccups on the way was marked with a thanks all round to sponsors Genasys Tech, Percayso-Inform and Sundays Insurance who helped make it all happen. For the riders who broke their own records, or set their own pace, it was equally enjoyable. We even talked some insurtech shop along the way.
To those who couldn’t make it along, we say `See you next year on the Tour de Insurtech 2023.’