On Saturday 10th September Joanna Clayton, Edward Clayton, Karen Richardson, Mark Richardson, Stephen Reynolds, Keith Reynolds and Sarah Reynolds embarked on a 62-mile bike ride between Reading (Berkshire) and Watton at Stone (Hertfordshire) to raise money for the Douglas Bader Foundation in memory of Anthony Calvey.
Anthony lost his leg when he was just 18 but he received funding to learn to fly and developed a love of flying and aerobatics. He co-owned a bi-plane and took many of his friends and relatives for flights – thoroughly enjoying terrifying them with loop-the-loops, barrel rolls and dives. The loss of his leg did not stop Anthony from living a full, exciting life – he surfed, raced motor bikes, pot holed, parachuted and wing walked. Riding his Ducati and flying his Stampe were Anthony’s favourite activities and there are many who can’t hear a small plane flying overhead without thinking of Anthony.
Read on for Karen Richardson’s great report on the group’s fundraising ride and photos taken during what turned out to be a wetter and even more challenging ride than anticipated!
After an early morning start and a wet drive over for some of us we donned our red T-shirts, rain coats and helmets and departed Lower Early at about 7.41. It was drizzling lightly from the outset and we all knew rain was forecast for the entire day.
We headed out of Reading and passed some fields with very friendly horses – they galloped over to see us ride past! First puncture stop wasn’t far in unfortunately – a sharp stone the culprit – the first puncture of many.
The rain stopped and the coats came off – the only time that day – back on again after a brief half hour! We passed through Fifield and saw the strange statues of the Queen and Prince Philip – although Ed was going so fast he zoomed right past and completely missed them.
After heading through Windsor we arrived in Slough high street for our first stop at Antonio’s with 21.4 miles done. Quick breakfast sandwiches all round and then back on the bikes. We headed down to the Grand Union canal path and not long after we had to stop in the rain for puncture number 2. The canal paths were gravel and quite bumpy and there were a few up and downs at locks. We went over the M25, through Uxbridge, over the A40 and then stopped for a coffee break at a lovely the canal-side pub The Bear on the Barge near Harefield – the half way point!
Then back on the bikes and through part of the Rickmansworth Aquadrome park (the lakes here were created by the extraction of gravel for the original Wembley stadium), then on through Watford, stopping for 3 more punctures (sheltering from the rain under bushes whilst inner tubes were changed) along the way, through to Knutsford and the final stop at 42 miles for major recharging at the greasy spoon cafe in Garston.
After filling up we crossed the M1 and past through Smug Oak (!), then we crossed the M25 again and eventually got to the outskirts of St Albans and onto the Alban way a nice paved ex-railway line path, with tunnels and some platforms still there. It was a good 6.5 mile flat so we managed to go about 11.4mph and also stretch out a bit with the easy cycling.
Then it was over the A1(m) at the Hatfield Galleria and then onto the last section of the ride – the hilly one! It was through Welwyn Garden City, up some big hills to Bramfield and then down a fantastic hill (lots of spray in the face zooming down the hill but good fun!) onto the homestretch. The sun appeared for the last 20 minutes of the ride and we made it into Watton-At-Stone and back to Karen’s house at about 7.21pm – nearly 12 hours after we left Reading!
We celebrated with hot showers, a magnum of Prosecco and a well-deserved Chinese takeaway!
In total we cycled 67 miles and were cycling for 7 ½ hours. We had 7 punctures (despite none in training!) and an average speed of 9mph and a top speed of 30.4mph!
The Fundraisers: Joanna Clayton, Edward Clayton, Mark Richardson, Karen Richardson, Stephen Reynolds, Sarah Reynolds, Keith Reynolds
Virgin Money Giving page: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/reyclayrich
This wonderful fundraiser on behalf of Anthony Calvey raised more than £2,500 – an amazing result. I don’t think there’s any doubt that both Anthony and Sir Douglas (and it sounds as though they had quite a bit in common!) would have been impressed and delighted.
The Douglas Bader Foundation is extremely grateful to Karen Richardson and fellow supporters for this huge effort on behalf of the charity. Most of the group had never cycled so far before and they knew the ride would take them a whole day. A BIG ask. Many congratulations to them all on completing it.
The charity relies almost entirely on donations to continue its work on behalf of amputees and people with other disabilities and we are deeply grateful for your support.