Who signs up for riding 100km through London with over 3,000 other women, at night, when you don’t even own a bike? This is what a team of local novice riders did recently, and all in a good cause. The “Women V Cancer Ride the Night” is the largest women-only cycling event in the UK, and it raises over a million pounds each year for Breast Cancer Care, Ovarian Cancer Action and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
Karen Howard, from Clarborough, put team “Kazza’s Pedal Pushers” together, after reading about the event online. She put out a request to her Facebook friends, and was joined by Anna Lee from East Markham, Lucy Vernon from Eaton, and sisters Clare Thurlow and Sara Beevers from Retford. All were looking for a challenge and the opportunity to raise money for cancer charities. Karen has a friend who had been supported by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, and Lucy’s cousin was undergoing chemotherapy. It seemed like the perfect challenge whilst also raising funds and awareness for three great charities, despite having little experience of road cycling.
The sixth member of the team was Liz Hutchison, originally from the Retford area but now living in Gibraltar. Liz flew over especially for the event, joining the others who had been clocking up the miles cycling through the local countryside. Being self-confessed “fair weather cyclists”, the team didn’t start any serious training until March, with half the team having to borrow bikes, and initially they found it tough to just cycle as far as the next village. By mid-May they were able to cycle 50 miles, and were beginning to enjoy life on two wheels. Discussions about Strava maps, electrolytes and the latest cycling gear replaced chats about where to stop for cake!
27th May soon arrived and it was time to pack the bikes into the van (kindly loaned by Howpow) and head down to the big smoke. Booking into a hotel knowing that they wouldn’t actually be sleeping there till the following morning seemed strange! The buzz was incredible at the start point, Windsor racecourse, with thousands of bikes lit up like mobile Christmas trees. As they made their way to the start, it seemed bizarre to be setting off on such a big ride at 10.20pm, just as everyone else was thinking about going to bed; particularly as none of them had practiced riding at night!
The first few miles of the route took the ladies through the quiet residential suburbs of London, but once they reached Putney, the roads got busier and they were soon having to dodge taxis, buses and late-night revellers. Cycling over Westminster Bridge was a moving experience as the team joined other ladies in laying flowers to remember those affected by the recent attacks there and in Manchester. It also gave them an amazing view of the London Eye which had been lit up pink for the night specially for the event. Another highlight was cycling down the Mall and enjoying tea, sandwiches and flapjack at the refreshment stop next to Buckingham Palace.
65 miles later, the team passed Windsor Castle in the early morning mist and crossed the finishing line together at 4.30am, and (after a hefty breakfast roll!) started planning their next challenge as all have been bitten by the cycling bug! The team would like to thank everyone for their support and generosity. They have so far raised over £3,000 — donations are still being accepted at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kazzaspedalpushers.