Olympic gold medalist James Cracknell, will today lead 600 riders from John O'Groats in Scotland on the first leg of the inaugaral Deloitte Ride Across Britain (RAB) this morning (Saturday June 11). The RAB, the brainchild of Olympic rowing gold medalist James Cracknell, will see solo riders and relay teams complete a scenic End-to-End ride in nine stages in a bid to raise over £1M over the next four years for ParalympicsGB.
“It is great to finally be here," says Cracknell, co-founder of Threshold Sports, the company behind the event. "Everyone has been training so hard for this event for months and there is definitely an excited buzz amongst the group and we are all looking forward to the week ahead. I am sure sure there will be highs and lows along the way as it will be an exhausting ride but, with so many involved in Deloitte Ride Across Britain, either as cyclists, the support group or volunteers, it will be fantastic working as a team to help each other through the challenges"
Today's first leg will see the riders complete 104 miles from John O'Groats to Kyle of Sutherland and, as well as Cracknell, the group of cyclists aiming to arrive at Land's End in Cornwall on June 20 includes Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Romero and Paralympic gold medallists Sarah Storey and Jody Cundy. Also riding is Nigel Smith from East Sheen in London who secured his place in the RAB after winning a competition in issue 235 of Cycling Plus magazine. Smith, 52, was picked from a large entry thanks to his inspirational story – just three years ago he was diagnosed with bowel cancer and only took up cycling to aid his recovery from successful treatment.
"When I was told I'd won I thought it was one of my mates winding me up," said Smith just before the start of the ride, "But now reality is setting in and I'm both nervous and excited about the nine-days ahead of me." Before his cancer diagnosis Smith, managing director of bookmaker's Metrobet was a keen golfer and skier, but was encouraged to ride during his recovery by his brother-in-law, former Great Britain track rider Peter Jacques. "Pete gave me a bike and in March 2009, around a year after my treatment had finished he and a friend persuaded me to ride the Wessex 100 sportive," says Smith who also won a Boardman road bike. "I had to walk up the biggest hill but I absolutely adored it and since then I've simply been hooked on riding."
Before winning his ride in the RAB, Smith's biggest goal for 2010 had been to complete L'Etape du Tour to raise money for Lynn's Bowel Cancer Campaign. "I started training properly for the Etape last October, but I'm not sure that anything can prepare you for nine days straight riding," he says. "But I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be a brilliant opportunity to see parts of Britain – and especially my home country, Scotland – I've never seen before, I'll be in the company of people who like me are obsessed with cycling and it's going to be a massive test of stamina and endurance. It'll definitely confirm that I'm a cyclist!"
To follow the Deloitte Ride Across Britain visit www.rideacrossbritain.com