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13 August 2014

Wednesday 13 August

Nick Cartwright, Development Administrator at Badminton England, completed RideLondon 2014 on Sunday 10 August and here he writes about the whole experience including fundraising for London Youth's award winning sports development programme Getting Ready

Now that I’ve dried off I’ve been able to take stock of the entire RideLondon experience, which certainly wasn’t limited to five or so hours of cycling in the wind and rain. The entire journey started in May when I was offered the chance to take part in the event in order to raise money for London Youth. This was my first time fundraising as an individual rather than as part of a team and quite frankly, at the age of 28, I’m gutted that I hadn’t done it sooner.

At the beginning I was stumped for ideas and thought that the next three months would consist of taking (poorly) baked goods into work and filling my friends’ Facebook news feeds with donation requests. Although the latter was true, after talking to a number of friends and colleagues, I realised that there were a lot more ways to raise money rather than with badly burnt flapjacks and that the old adage of ‘You only get out what you put in’ had never been more apt.

This led to the creation of ‘Challenge Nick’, where my work colleagues would set me challenges and donate depending on how well I did, which turned out to be a lot more fun than I was expecting. My challenges included eating marshmallows (giant ones!), learning Japanese, doing spin classes in women’s clothing (see below) and planking for over 10 minutes, with a cow-milking challenge still on the horizon! Not only did I have a lot of fun but I raised just under £300 whilst doing so, with many of my colleagues donating more than they would have online. It also created a buzz in the office (not to mention the spin classes) and increased the awareness of RideLondon and London Youth. I would highly recommend doing the same if you want to enjoy your fundraising rather than see it as a chore before the main event.


When the main event finally came round, it didn’t quite dawn on me what I was about to undertake until 4am on Sunday morning when I started donning my lycra to get ready to cycle to the start line at the Olympic Park. It was all a bit surreal with a mixture of cyclists, annoyed taxi drivers and late night revelers filling the streets at 4.30am but once I was at my start gate in front of the Copper Box reality sank in. Every cyclist around me was all of a sudden an expert meteorologist with many different forecasts being predicted, but the clouds made it very clear…we were all about to get drenched.

There was no time to think about the ominous weather as the countdown ended and the pedals started turning. For the first hour it seemed as though the predictions of a dry morning’s ride were going to be true but as the hills in Surrey beckoned the heavens opened. I’d love to say I saw a lot of the Surrey sights but the next 4 hours involved concentrating on the road directly in front of me as puddles, pot holes and flooding became my worst enemy. Powdered Haribo, bananas and lots of fluid were taken on as I, along with thousands of others, took on the hills and weather with great determination.

Our hard work was to be rewarded with enthusiastic support from the public and volunteers as we made our way back into London. It’s amazing how much a group of strangers shouting and clapping can make you forget about the pain in your body, especially at the finish line where I felt like Mark Cavendish sprinting over the finish line with Buckingham Palace in view. For that moment alone I would highly recommend taking part in this amazing event. When combining that feeling with knowing that I’ve raised hundreds of pounds for a great cause, I can say that it’s definitely been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I plan on doing the same next year.

 

To hear how Nick felt right after RideLondon, check out his interview below and if you are interested in doing RideLondon 2015 for London Youth or would like to raise money in a different way get in touch with our Head of Development Gareth Price on gareth.price@londonyouth.org.uk or 01342 828214.