I rode all night
How Surrey CCC Assistant Coach Stuart Barnes cycled 100km in the dark – and raised almost £2,000 for Evelina London
By Stuart Barnes
Nightrider was brilliant. I stayed up all night with 4,000 other fundraisers – and the next day… I felt all right. I wasn’t too stiff or anything.
I’d started my training about six weeks before but it was fairly difficult keeping it going, especially when Surrey were playing away – I didn’t take my bike away with me. But in the week leading up to it I really bumped up the miles.
We started at Crystal Palace at 11pm on Saturday and basically did a massive loop across London to Alexandra Palace and all the way back again. I actually managed to miss my start-time, so I didn’t go off with the other Evelina riders as planned. But that was good for me in a way, as I saw it as a challenge to try and catch up with them.
We took in all the sights – Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, the Olympic Park, back past Buckingham Palace, The Mall, the London Eye.
We even came past the Oval a couple of times. We hit Piccadilly Circus at 3am which was pretty interesting – obviously on a Saturday night that’s when a lot of the bars and clubs are closing, so that was quite lively!
There was still a little bit of traffic on the roads when we started. But by the time we got to Canary Wharf and the Olympic Park, it was very, very quiet. We got into race mode a little bit at that stage, a bit of a peloton. I was more interested in not touching the wheel of the guy in front of me than in taking in the sights!
In the end, I completed the 100km in four and a half hours – an average of just over 13 miles an hour, which I thought wasn’t bad, considering I stopped a couple of times.
I’m really into cycling now. I’m at that age where, though I need to keep fit, I need to do something with less impact on my joints. So cycling and rowing are ideal.
Obviously I work in professional sport, but Nightrider took a different sort of fitness. As a bowling coach, I’m working with players who are putting their bodies under huge impacts repeatedly. But this was little or no impact, compared to bowling. I think all the guys on the Surrey staff could do it, fitness-wise, if they put their minds to it. But I think they’d miss all the banter you get with being part of a team. Sitting on a bike by yourself is quite different, even though the whole event was very friendly and everyone talked to each other.
Climbing up the big hill to Alexandra Palace was hard, but we stopped at the top to restock on sweets and energy drinks. Coming back down the hill I caught a couple more Evelina people, including one of the doctors from the hospital.
I was so into it that there was really only one low point, about 15 miles out from the finish at about 3 o’clock in the morning, when I just started yawning and couldn’t stop . The whole night was an excuse to eat loads of sweets, so I’d kept my sugar level up, and I think it started to dip then. But the rest of the time, I just felt fine.
The high point was the final climb back up to Crystal Palace. It was just starting to get light and you could hear all the birds singing and see the TV mast up in front. It was hurting a little bit by then - it was the furthest I’d ever ridden - but the whole thing made me feel energised. It was a really good feeling.
Thank you Stuart for a brilliant effort! And you can still donate here on Stuart's fundraising page.