You don't get many opportunities to tackle a ride of over 200 miles with full support. On Sunday September 6 a group of up to 300 riders will leave Manchester for the 220-mile journey to London.
The Rapha Manchester to London Challenge has just opened for entries. Riders will set off from the Manchester Velodrome at dawn on a fully supported a ride through the Peak District, Midlands and Chilterns, before crossing the finish line at London’s Olympic Velodrome.
The inaugural event raised £140,000 for Ambitious About Autism, and in 2015 the organisers hope to double that figure.
It’s a cause close to the heart of Rapha founder Simon Mottram as his oldest son, Oscar, has a severe form of autism.
Shortly before the first Manchester-London ride, Mottram told the Telegraph's Jonny Cooper: "Autism is profound and life changing, and I feel you shouldn’t just tinker around, you should really go for it. It's an ambitious ride; 220 miles is a long way. And that’s why the charity is so successful, it’s really ambitious for people with autism."
The first Manchester to London was run under clear skies and with a substantial tail wind.
Writing on the Rapha blog, course designer Emma Osenton said: "We awoke to thick mist, the Lowryesque redbrick terraces held still and quiet in a blanket fog. Nothing beats the sensation of setting off into the unknown. sunlight began to crack through the morning cloud as we made our way into the Peaks. Soon a fierce sun heated the day, golden light flooding field and fell.
"We rode past recently harvested lands, yellow corn stubs shaven by an army of machines as we rode along on ours. Spirits were high, with some riders deep in thought as the ride went on and others chatting gently, sharing fears over the hiss of freehubs followed by breathy climbs.
"Rolling England distracts the mind … before a sea of London lights play with a tired, caffeine-fuelled brain. It was as if the weather gods, whoever they may be, had blessed us with a stunning day."
Entry to the second Manchester to London costs £150. Full details are on the Rapha website.
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.