Rat Race’s epic Road Trip event took place from 8-11 August with 153 hardy souls taking on the 440-mile journey from London to Edinburgh, going up against atrocious weather and 6,000m of climbing before reaching the finish.
Competitors of the point-to-point, sportive-style Road Trip event are split into Challenger and Expert categories with the former group having four days to complete the 440-mile ride and the latter facing the colossal course in just two days.
Challengers congregated at Wembley Stadium for the start on 8 August, the weather holding initially as the road led north across quiet roads through Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire towards the end-of-day destination in Stamford. It wasn’t long before the tail end of Hurricane Bertha meant all riders would be facing off against not only the distance, but lashing rain and strong winds too.
Riders set out from wembley with 440 miles and 6,000m of ascending before them: riders set out from wembley with 440 miles and 6,000m of ascending before themTom Miles / Rat Race
The riders rolled out of Wembley Stadium full of enthusiasm for the long road ahead
Helping athletes along the way, organisers provided pit stops, giving a refuelling respite with sandwiches, drinks, snacks, fruit and coffees while mobile mechanics roved the route to fix any problematic machinery.
The end of each day signalled a well-deserved overnight rest with a chance to shower, get down a hot meal, have a very hard-earned drink at the bar and precious sleep. Each competitor’s equipment was also transported to the end of each stage, making the event solely about the rider, bike and course.
On day two the route continued its inexorable path northwards to York via Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire, then upwards and onwards through County Durham and Northumberland to Morpeth on day three.
The last day saw riders cross the border and make their way to their final destination in Edinburgh, the event reaching its climax at the finish inside Murrayfield Stadium.
The Experts had to overcome the challenge of averaging 220 miles each day, setting off on 9 August and riding from London all the way to York on day one for a communal overnight break with the Challengers before rising early for another monumental ride right to the finish in Edinburgh.
All told, 75 Challengers overcame the arduous course and inclement conditions to reach Murrayfield Stadium on day four while only 18 Experts proved their mettle to complete such a gigantic goal.
The tail end of hurricane bertha soon meant the weather turned sour: the tail end of hurricane bertha soon meant the weather turned sourAndy McAndish / Rat Race
The weather slowed the riders down compared to last year’s finishing times
Despite the weather, Rat Race’s social media buzzed with appreciation for the event with @robinhamilton77 commenting “amazing time at the London to Edinburgh, great organising. raised over £1k for @HelpforHeroes”; Darren Davis added, “Thank you @RatRaceHQ for a great event #roadtrip 486 miles in 4 days! London to Edinburgh. #youdidyourselvesproud”.
Being a sportive format, there aren’t of course any ‘winners’ – everyone who finishes the Road Trip surely deserves to be named so – but Fraser Smith was first to put his feet up, completing the Challenger event in 26:50:36 while Angela Hibbs was first woman home in 28:01:47. Chris Sleath conquered the expert course in an astonishing 27:36:42 while Jenny Lockett was the only female finisher in 31:48:14.
Riders had the option to go it alone or register as a pair with prices starting from £170 in 2014. With such a massive challenge to overcome and the increasing appetite for ultra-endurance cycling events in the UK, the Road Trip is sure to gain more prestige in 2015. Find out more about the event at www.ratraceroadtrip.com.