Most people hope it won’t rain on their wedding day but for one cycling-mad couple that didn’t seem to be an option. But it wasn’t to dampen the spirits of Gary Watson and Lisa Russell, who briefly broke off their Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 ride to get married this morning.
The pair made the plan when a friend joked that they should get hitched during the ride if they both gained a place in the 100-mile sportive.
When the couple from Raynes Park in south London heard that they’d both secured places through the ballot, they went ahead with the plan to get married en route.
They were pronounced husband and wife this morning at Richmond Park’s Pembroke Lodge and are beginning their new life together by cycling the rest of the way to The Mall. “We like to have fun and this will certainly be a way to remember things,” said Lisa before setting off. Having first met while travelling around Australia in 1996, the pair are no strangers to racking up the miles on the bike, with Iceland and Norway just some of the places they have cycled through.
“It’s all a bit silly really, we were joking with our friends that we would get married while riding around London if we got a place,” said Lisa.
“And when we eventually got a place we were like, ‘ok this is happening now, we can’t go back.’
“I don’t really care about my hair being a mess on the day, I’m the sort of person who is happy with it up in a ponytail. It will be a case of doing it as quick as possible and then getting back on the bike and finishing the 100 mile challenge.
“I will be more nervous on the day about seeing our five-year-old daughter Betsy at the ceremony, waiting with our rings. I think our friends are going to meet up on Box Hill with some champagne.
“Knowing us we will finish and then just want to go to the pub with friends and family. We just like to have fun and this will certainly be a way to remember things.”
Graphic designer Gary and Lisa, assistant director and expedition leader at The Ultimate Travel Company, are not making it all about themselves either as they will also be riding to raise money in memory of their friend’s daughter Isla Cecil, who passed away aged 15 months in November 2012 from a rare brain tumour.
More than £5 million has been raised for the Isla Cecil Brighter Future Fund with Lisa, who herself has a long association with charity work, insisting it was an easy decision to raise money for such a cause.
“Isla passed away when she was just 15 months old, and since then her parents and family have been just an inspiration in the work they have been doing,” she added.
“They have taken her name and memory and made it into something positive and it is such a beautiful thing to see.
"We will be raising money from the event but it’s not just about raising money, it's also about raising awareness of the fund and the work that the guys are doing.”
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.