We did it!!
Although a little bit nervous initially on taking on such a challenge and given that we had trained (sporadically) when the day came we were all looking forward to it. We were also very proud that all 152 riders and supporters left from Orient with the scene and the ground looking magnificent –even at 6am!
The first day was 90 miles which we did in 6.5 hours; but with lots of longish breaks – the legs and energy levels were good but got saddle sore and road weary by the end. It was all very beautiful – through all the windy undulating B roads of Essex – ending up in Great Totham for lunch, Colchester’s Stadium for tea and then 2 more hours to Harwich. The feel of the first day was quite competitive with the field really spread out – all going for PBs! We then hung out at the Railwaymen’s Club in the docks for dinner and went on the Stena Line over to the Hook in the evening.
The next morning was another early start and given the terrain of purpose built cycle routes we were more like a peloton. After the morning break we were joined by Orient Season Ticket Holder Graeme Taylor who lives locally en route and works at the European Space Centre, but still doesn’t miss a home game. He joined us for two hours and explained all of the Dutch nuances such as why scooters are allowed on the cycle routes without helmets and all the dunes and water control as the sea is higher than the land. He also joined us for a hearty lunch and then we headed off along more beautiful canals and dykes to Ajax. We arrived at 4pm and took a look around the outside of the arena and associated shopping centres. Then after all of the 152 riders had made it, we went the last stretch to the hotel, where we packed up the bikes, unwound and got ready for the celebration meal with thanks and congratulations made all round.
On Sunday morning some of us still had some energy and so went into central Amsterdam and hired some bikes – as if we hadn’t had enough cycling – which was a great way to finish off the trip. Then it was a train to Brussels and back on the Eurostar, goodbyes to the vast array and divergent representatives from the 50 clubs and then home.
Prostate Cancer UK were really pleased seeing an increase in participants from 40 last year to the 152 this time around – raising over £150,000.
There was a good mixture of club people and a strong camaraderie was established and overall, although tired, came through it strongly and really enjoyed it.
The dates have been announced for next year’s ride – 14th – 16th June and it would be great to spread the Orient net and encourage club and coaching staff and supporters to get involved.
We would like to thank all those from the Trust, the Club and the wider Orient family for their support, especially on the first morning!
We were regularly tweeting via our new account – @LOTrust
Now that we have completed the challenge it is not too late to donate – so far we have raised over £3000 – https://www.justgiving.com/teams/LeytonOrient
Neil Taylor, Chief Executive, Leyton Orient Trust