RIDE OF THE LIONS 2013 - ‘The spirit of Rugby on a Bike”
It all started over a beer or two. These things often do. Peter Winterbottom and Jimmy Hibbert were reminiscing about their John O Groats to Lands End charity bike trip in July 2011 (Jogle) and decided that something similar should be done in 2013. The occasion was the Road Rags launch at Dress2Kill in Waterloo. Mike Gore of Road Rags, another Jogle veteran, was called into the discussion and before the evening was out, a sketchy plan had been formulated and vows sworn over copious amounts of Stella Artois and Tattinger champagne.
British and Irish Lions 2013 -
The basic trip venue was obvious. It had to involve the Lions tour down under and taking in the last two Tests was a must. Cycling from Melbourne to Sydney between the 2nd and 3rd Tests was agreed upon. That was the easy bit. Now we had to organise it and get our Charity, riders and logistics sorted out. We didn’t have long so we called in Richard Gorman who has years of experience organising cycling teams and events.
The Riders -
We decided that we wanted to take a group of riders and it would be better to have representatives of both the Lions and Wallabies, ex internationals and cycling/rugby enthusiasts. In the end we had 4 ex Lions, 3 ex Wallabies, we had English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, Australian, S African and Kiwis. We had one hell of a team. At this point I am going to unashamedly plagiarise and copy and paste Gore senior’s blog to give you a rundown of our riders:
1) Roger (slow down) Uttley, peliton leader, the man to take you over the top into battle (if you can keep up with him) but does need to work on his fitness and stamina before 2017.
2) Peter (don’t push me) Winterbottom, the quiet man who rides 3″ behind you all the time. Never happier than when standing up in front of the team at dinner “I played for England and the Lions a few times, just ask me anything else you want to know”
3) Mike (I’d rather be ironing) Teague, “if i had a gun I’d shoot Roger”, loves hills (going down them) and is the main reason (super) Troup(er) now has forearms like Popeye. In 1989 he punched anything in green & gold, this year he helped Aussie cider growers everywhere.
4) Tyrone Howe (did I get roped into this) would regularly been seen taking gels for breakfast but soon came to love the hills once he retched (sorry reached) the top.
5) Andy (1st class) Sinfield, is probably still stretching and warming down and was always found near the front of the peliton or the plane.
6) Derick (check out my ID) Topping, another one happier at the front with his creatine shakes and blue steel stares, a quiet and retiring traveler who is always willing to save water by showering with a friend (big Chris) and even has his initials on his pink deck shoes and C&A on his undies
7) Mike (walking mode) Gore, a good 5.75 days riding who did well once he realized 4 hours sleep, after smoking and drinking all night wasn’t ideal preparation for a full days drinking and smoking the next day.
8) James (bobbing and weaving) Hibbert, happy to spend $28 on a gin and tonic and twice that on taxis looking for “dancing” clubs, one of our stronger riders happiest when one place in front of brother Andy.
9) Andy (the pharmacist) Hibbert, spent most of the trip drugged up to his eye balls and trying to get one place in front of Jimmy, started strongly, finished strongly, wobbled in the middle.
10) Fin (not fatty) Hughes, perhaps one of the most improved riders but must learn to “delete history” after borrowing / stealing Jimmy’s mini-ipad, he puffed and panted up the hills like a good ‘un.
11) Paul (elephantitus) Watts-Barnes, who fell day one after being taken out by Tony (take a look at my little friend) Montana and had an excuse for sticky sheets the rest of the week, it didn’t slow him down (until he got to the bar though).
12) Chris (butcher’s bike) Brierley, one of the bigger lads who made a nonsense of the form book and was last seen looking to ebay his bike to pay for his next week in Sydney. Happy to take Derick’s temperature for him the old fashioned way when woken up kamasutra style one morning by DT.
13) Mark (Boost) Carr, never knowingly underboosted he would often take 4 by 10am but was unhappy not to be allowed to wear his blazer whilst riding, happier towards the rear with jelly babies stuck up his bib shorts
14) Jerry (nice bike, nicer eyes) Shaw who has decided to stay on in Australia and cycle up to Cairns, where (super) Troup(er) will no doubt join him, not one to moan Jerry just got on with it come what may and another candidate for most improved cyclist.
15) Nick (silly accent) Mogford, another one happiest at the front and even happier to overtake you, needs to work on his spatial awareness after the Chinese restaurant was 5 minutes away and our 1.5 hour training ride in Melbourne was half way through after 1.25 hours.
16) Christian (younger than Mike) Gore, never happier than when complaining but managed all 6.5 days to keep up the family’s reputation, and thoroughly enjoyed overtaking big Rog on the last hill !
17) Sully always one of the last to bed (even if sadly his own) and like a father figure to the team, maybe Father Christmas looking to fill up stockings.
1) Warwick (unaccustomed as I am to public speaking) Waugh (drobe), a true giant of the cycling world in every sense of the word at 6ft 10 and 20 stone, but it’s his bike that needs a special mention for bravery beyond the call of duty.
2) Simon (5.5 days) Poidevin aka The King (but not of the hills obviously) led from the front from Day One and at the end almost took out a small lorry changing lanes coming into Sydney. Had his best day cooking snags and steak at the surf club in Coogee and would do well with a kebab van in London
3) Andrew (Ox) Heath, rumour has it he dropped 10 KG’s for this ride. Had a mix up with savlon and deep heat day 2 and was surely HotbollOX that day. Very hard to prise him away from the massage table and dessert table but one of the nicest men (for an Aussie) you are going to meet.
4) Harry (the Kiwi) McLernon, a true gentlemen and hard to believe is a banker by day. Likes to attack the hills even though he qualifies for a bus pass and another one of the fitness freaks on tour.
5) John (whatdoyouwannabe) aka Paddy, another Kiwi with an Irish and Aussie passport who was quiet and retiring and a bit like nature he abhors a vacuum ! Apart from the obvious question of “where the hell does he get his energy” there is the “where did he get a wife like that from” conundrum but maybe the energy thing explains them both. A real character whose riding is better than his after dinner speaking and van aerial jokes.
6) Damian (Damo, Dazza) Fitzpatrick, a multi-iron man whose weight counts against him coming down hills but he flies up them, especially in red fish net stockings.
7) John (pull your finger out) who really was King of the Mountains as he was often seen going back down to rescue riders suffering on the slopes, which is made even more impressive by the fact he broke his knuckle in several places allegedly by falling down the stairs and not pushing Chis SuperIntendent Brierley.
8) Gary (howsit, I have never met a nice(r) South African on a bike) Allison whose riding got stronger and stronger as did his drugs (no correlation I am sure).
9) Geoff (super) Troup(er), obviously a cycling novice, why else would you offer to push Mike Teague up countless hills, not to mention several others who are hiding their identities but have Troupy’s paw prints indented into the small of their backs. Struggles with his weight though, but not one to wine (when 2 bottles is better) ! Likes to stand up and give speeches unless heckled by Dazza.
10) Tony (have you heard the one about) (M)Fontana, who also crashed Day One and struck up a very close relationship with a donkey (that made Shrek quite jealous) but was another strong rider throughout.
A special mention must go to our lead sponsor, QBE Foundation who were extremely generous with time and money. Many thanks to Nick Mott and his team for all their help before, during and after the Ride.
Thanks to Renault Australia for the superb support vehicles.
Thanks also to Road Rags, D2k, Athlon Sports, Chain Reaction Cycles, BLM, Champion Systems, Cosaveli. We really are very grateful to you all.
We didnt give ourselves much time but we got there in the end. We must also say thanks to Derek Wyatt who gave us a lot of help and advice, even if he baulked at the chance to ride! Robin Palmer in the UK and Bindy Lockhart in Aus did a superb job on PR for us. Thanks guys!
Once in OZ we met the full support team Richard, Mark, and Jogle Veteran John 'Sully' Sullivan from the UK. Mark was invaluable getting us up the hills and Sully was invaluable at entertaining us in the evenings! The Aussie support crew was led by Kent Williams, his guns and his team, Mark, Rod, Sparky and the best mechanic in the southern hemisphere, Dave. These guys were superb in keeping us safe and keeping our spirits up. Lastly, the physio team, Keeley, Sarah and Claire who were brilliant at patching us up and dancing on the hills for us! We miss you all!
Finally I just wanted to thank everybody involved in the ride, the riders, organisers, support staff and the many of you who sponsored us and at the time of writing have raised over 125k for our charities Walking with the Wounded and Red Kite. It was a special trip and we will be back so keep an eye out!