Introduction: Fifty cyclists, including Novacroft’s Duncan Smith (2nd/3rd Line IT Analyst) and Daryl Hurst (Head of Research and Development), will be taking on the 230 mile ‘Ride for Hope’ cycle challenge from Northampton, England to Ypres, Belgium, from July 6th – 9th 2017, in aid of the Northampton Hope centre. The route takes them from Northampton to Enfield (72 miles, day 1), Enfield to Canterbury (80 miles, day 2) and Canterbury to Ypres (73 miles, day 3) followed by coach travel back to Northampton. Novacroft will be following Daryl and Duncan’s journey, from training to the event itself, and the trials and tribulations in between.

“I felt guilty for not getting on a bike so far this week so after checking the weather forecast I decided that I was definitely cycling to work this morning. I set out at a strong pace and had covered the first couple of miles before traffic lights forced me to stop. I vaguely noticed another cyclist had also been caught by the lights too but thought nothing of it as I had got there before him so was holding position to go first when they changed. His road bike looked quite nice though.

The lights change, off I set.

Whilst passing a couple of dog walkers and I noticed he was still with me on the cycle path, but thought that he would probably be going a different route as I was about to break off onto a smaller path. A minute or so later I come round a corner straight into a head wind alongside Sixfields lake. My mountain bike, along with my double panniers seemed to act like a parachute so I was just starting to slow down when I spotted the front wheel of a road bike pulling up alongside me.

Being marginally competitive, I wasn’t about to give up without a fight. Both the legs and the bike shifted up a gear… I was into the red zone now.

“Morning” he cheerfully says as he comes level with me.

“Morning” I pant, “how’s it going?”

“Better than yesterday morning” he replied, obviously referring to the torrential downpour we had the day before.

“Yeah… I took the car yesterday” I guiltily admitted.

“It’s easy to do” he confided.

“I really need to get out and cycle some more as I’m supposed to be cycling to Ypres in July,” I try to casually say.

Then the bombshell hit.

“I’ll see you there then!” he states matter of factly. “For the Hope charity?”

“Yeah” I reply, slightly dumbfounded.

“Nice to meet you, my name is Stuart.”

“Nice to meet you too Stuart, I’m Duncan”

We shook hands and agreed to catch up with each other at one of the ‘Ride For Hope’ training rides. Our paths diverged shortly after.

Now understand this, I don’t normally speak to people when I ride to work because I tend to cycle fairly fast so don’t normally get overtaken. So it was quite unusual to even have another cyclist pull along side me, much less have a conversation with them. To then find out that, out of the thousands of people around Northampton who cycle, the guy who I’m in a conversation with is one of the fifty riders who is taking on this challenge… It’s a small, small world!

The legs went up a gear again as I powered into the wind with a grin on my face.

Come the actual event I just need to keep one thing in mind…

“On your marks…”

it’s not a race

“Get set…”

IT’S NOT A RACE

“GO!”

Duncan and Daryl need to raise £500 each as part of their commitment to the Hope Centre. If you’d like to add your support and help them reach their target, you can access Daryl’s JustGiving page here and Duncan’s JustGiving page here.