IE mag will be tagging along on some of the Stages this week, as the third Tour de Insurtech cycling event takes place. A chance to get some clear air, exercise and network with like minded colleagues from the insurtech sector for coffee n cake, what’s not to like?
We will uploading pics and a few Journal entries day by day, with the most recent report at the top of the page. Chapeau!
STAGE EIGHT; WELCOME TO THE VELODROME
The final Stage saw the weather break and typically British rain turning London’s streets grey n greasy. No problem for TDI regular Andy Thornley, a keen cyclist who played host for this final Stage. By the way, IE forgot to mention that the ecvent supported Breez, which is a tree-planting initiative so the total miles covered added up to some 561 trees planted to help the planet keep on breathing.
And that was a wrap for the TDI 2023. A big thank you to Genasys Tech for all their organisational support, team jerseys, socks and back up vehicles. Great networking with so many people from the world of insurtech and here’s to next year – bigger n better!
STAGE SIX & SEVEN: ATLANTIC CROSSING
Not just a classic album by Rod Stewart but it neatly captures the twin cities approach of the Saturday Stages. One running from Reading to Putney in London, while the other was led by Nigel Walsh, a well known insurance guru currently working in New York City.
The Reading Stage kicked off first of course due to the time difference. Yet again the weather gods smiled upon the TDI peloton as they ambled along via Windsor Park and then tackled the challenging climb known as Box Hill. A great hang out for cyclists and motorcycle riders alike, Box Hill offers views for miles plus some refreshment opps. Worth the stretched tendons, deffo.
A bit of a regroup, then onwards through the South London suburbs into the maelstrom of traffic near Putney, finally reaching the finish line at Dynamo Cycling Cafe, just a few hundred metres from Putney Bridge. Great food, plus some secure bike storage – winning!
The mood was celebratory after another long distance Stage was completed, with some lively banter and lashings of pizza.
Meanwhile in NYC, the Central Park crew were getting fired up for their ride out, which was a brand new TDI feature for 2023. Yep, this event is going viral worldwide, no stopping them. Nigel had pre-warned the other riders re Grub Hub delivery guys on e-scooters, horse poo and random tourists wandering out onto the cycleways. It’s a famously big park of course, so a lap is about 6 miles or so, but the TDI crew took in some street action too just to burn those calories.
Once again the weather played ball and the fun factor was strong. The word from NYC is that this Stage could well become a regular fixture for 2024 with more riders joining in.
STAGE FIVE: BATH TO READING
After the Bath loop, also known as the Vuelta a Somerset, there were some tired legs stretching early doors for an 8.30am start to Reading, some 84 miles away. On the upside, the big hills near Bradford-on-Avon were tackled early, with a many flat sections, some along the towpath along the Kennet and Avon canal offering a freewheeling vibe of tranquility.
It was quite a misty, foggy start but the sun broke through later on as the peloton paused for a coffee break in Melksham, then moved past the Roundway White Horse towards Devizes. By noon it was a hot summer’s day rather than an Autumnal misty start and the riders were feeling the strain as they zig-zagged along the back lanes to Hungerford where the lunch stop at the John O’Groats pub was pretty epic. Your tag-alng Editor can recommend the BLT with chips n salad btw, plus they have a garden/entertainment zone called the Tiki at the back of the pub with space for secure bicycle parking – always a bonus on any ride out.
Simon Fenn went all Zen and had a moment chilling on the grass and sky-gazing. Sometimes you need that. Others did the catch-up online thing and refuelled with food and cold drinks.
Back on the road and from Hungerford it was Eastwards through a mini version of Windsor park, with some narrow lanes, lots of trees and villages, before picking up the canal towpath once again after a rapid section downhill. The Hell of Newbury’s ring roads was dispatched and then on to Aldermaston and into Reading whilst dodging the commuter traffic. Journey’s end near Reading Station was a chance to unwind and reflect on a brilliant day out on two wheels.
Did someone say beers and selfies? Hey, why not?
Big shout out to all the Stage Five riders for their patience as I ambushed them for pics n video – which will be posted as a highlights compilation on the IE You Tube channel later this week.
STAGE FOUR: BATH LOOP
Sometimes you gain wisdom from ladies in tea rooms and the observation that “you can’t get out of Bath without climbing a steep hill somewhere,” rang true as you IE editor explored the lanes near the Twin Tunnels Sustrans cycleway. It’s a neat way to exit Bath centre on a bicycle, being a disused railway line. One local told me it used to connect all the way to Bournemouth. But Stage Four was a more zig-zag loop around rolling hills, Radstock, Midsomer Norton, Pensford and back to Bath, some 41 miles in total.
Some of the scenery near Bath is stunning, with picture postcard villages and ancient monuments worth checking out if you’re a fan of touring bicycles, not just road/racers.
The ride began at the Altus Consulting offices with some panic bicycle buying for Elliott Green (above) and inevitable train delays pushing the start time back a little bit into the early afternoon.
Quite a big group on this Stage with Greg Horner, Jeremy Burgess, Oscar Lywood, Phil Middleton, Simon Fenn, Tom Jennings, James Bagan, Elliott Green, Jakes Jakobsen, Michael James, Rob Cooper, Jonathan Harris and Jon Dean all riding at different paces. But nobody gets left behind, especially on some of the big climbs and a rest at the Stable Tea Rooms was a welcome break after some varied miles on cycleways, minor B roads and some hair-raisng A roads sections, mixing it with lorries and commuter car traffic.
It was also a chance to check smartphones for urgent emails and updates. That’s the thing about digital insurance; it never sleeps, just like New York city, but we’ll get to that later in the event…
There was banter and lashings of cake for 20 minutes, plus the mandatory group photo, and then back on the road freewheeling into picturesque villages and grinding up single tracks spattered with mud and gravel. The freedom of cycling is something earned, a personal best, an escape from those pesky emails just for a few hours. All valuable in today’s connected world.
After taking in the Regency architecture of Bath city centre and trickling through the streets, it was back to the hotel for R&R, with some riders already prepping themselves for tomorrow’s big 81 mile Stage Five from Bath to Reading. Night all 😉
Nottingham based Percayso Inform hosted this circular loop around some of the scenic lanes and Uni trails and cycleways that make this city well worth exploring.
Naturally a selfie by the statue of Robin Hood, plus a stop off at Wollaton Hall which is a mansion dating back to Elizabethan times and now hosts the Nottingham Natural History museum. The start and finish point was the Percayso HQ on Regent Street and an after ride pitstop was also on the menu for the five riders making the most of the sunny September weather.
There are some great pathways and cycle routes to explore near the National Water Sports Centre too, which is next to the River Trent to the East of the city.
Out in the countryside today exploring Tunbridge Wells and the rolling hills of Kent. No drama today just good times on two wheels, with a lunch stop at Kingdom, which is a unique event space. There are co-working facilities here in this 9500 square foot building, plus a cafe, a holistic caravan, one of the oldest trees in England and cyclists are welcome. Safe racking for bikes too – always a bonus.
One thing worth noting this time of year is that big agricultural vehicles are often moving stuff around very tiny lanes. You never know what is around the next corner.
Stage Two was led by Chris Carney who is a regular TDI peloton member and the other riders on this jolly jaunt were; Andre Symes, Andrew Charlton, Hermann Fried, Jakes Jakobsen, Julius (Jules) Christmas, Paul Reading, Tim Fox and Tim Smyth).
The weather was mercifully cooler than just a few days ago and no big monsoons either. However the forecast for later in the week is for some typically wet n wild Autumnal rains. It’s all good – catch you later.
STAGE ONE: LONDON PARKS & RECREATION
There are has been some serious training going on before this event, as the banter proves on the Whatsapp group. But there’s always that unknown factor like a puncture, which kinda threw a pocket sized spanner into Andre Symes ride from the egt go. A photo opp at the famous Lloyd’s of London building and then a leisurely dart through the shoals of early morning traffic around the City area.
London has plenty of cycling infrastructure these days so the mood was miles of smiles. Heading East the peloton…ah sorry, bunch of riders, let’s not get carried away, headed towards Camden Town and enjoyed the sunny September weather lapping Regents Park. A short spring South and there lies Hyde Park, just asking to be ridden. Be rude not to.
Out alongside the Thames and across Putney Brisdge in search of the finishing line and well earned snackaroonies.
There’s a great cycling cafe in Putney called The Dynamo by the way, with some secure bike storage and ace food. It makes the perfect finish line for any London bike ride, whatever your route.
OK, Stage One 58.7Kms in the bag, plus Andre fixed his flattie and caught the group up. Tip of the hat to all the riders today; Alex Smithard, Andre Symes, Andrew Charlton, David Kelly, Dino Bertolis, Hermann Fried, Jakes Jakobsen, ☆ Sarah Joy and Zvi Ebert.
You can get more TDI 2023 goodness at the Genasys Tech LinkedIn page too by the way.