Back in June we ran a competition in association with Decathlon, asking to hear all about your summer goals. You didn’t disappoint! We had a huge number of entries and it was a pleasure to hear the remarkable challenges people are setting themselves, and the stories behind them.
We’ve whittled the entries down to the top three — and we’re thrilled to announce the winners of our Decathlon Summer of Cycling competition. Now it’s time to introduce our riders, take a look at their riding challenges for summer and understand why they’re so driven.
Each month in Cycling Plus magazine, as well as here on BikeRadar.com, we’ll be following their journeys and tracking their progress.
Decathlon will be providing our riders with the equipment and support they need to get the most out of their summer goals, and we’re excited to see how they get on.
Joss Winter — solo adventurer
After spending the last two years at a desk dreaming of bike adventures, Joss is finally pursuing her dream this summer, atop a Triban Women’s RC 520. She’s dubbed it her Tour of Friends, cycling around the UK to visit all the friends and family she feels she’s neglected over the years, camping along the way.
The journey will take her from the Midlands across Snowdonia to Rhyll, and up to Edinburgh via the Lake District.
From there she’s heading down the east coast to visit Hornsea and make her way down towards London, stopping along the way to take in Kielder Forest, Brimham Rocks and the Chilterns. Eventually she plans to cross the channel to Guernsey, before culminating her adventure in Dorset for her grandmother’s 90th birthday party in September.
For Joss, this journey isn’t just about reconnecting with loved ones, but also about exploring her country, testing her own limits and gaining new skills on the bike.
Rob Jenkins — back in the saddle
Six years ago, Rob’s teenage daughter took her own life, and understandably in his grief he lost all interest in sport and exercise for a long time. Come 2017, his youngest daughter challenged him to enter his first open water swim, which turned out to be the boost he needed to start exercising again.
It’s been an ongoing battle to overcome the loss of his daughter, and both he and his wife were helped immensely by the Samaritans helpline when they reached their lowest point.
This summer, following his 50th birthday, and with the help of a Van Rysel bike from Decathlon, Rob is taking on a bunch of endurance challenges, including an open water swim in Lake Coniston, a half marathon in September and the Sussex Downs Classic sportive close to his Suffolk home.
He also rode the Prudential RideLondon 100, raising money for the Samaritans, as a thank you for helping his family through the hardest time in their lives. This is his return to cycling after a long hiatus, and his love for it has already been reignited.
Ben Riddle — regaining confidence
Ben had a nasty crash during his winter commute in Manchester after hitting tram lines, and injuring his head and face. He has no memory of the crash.
While there was no permanent damage, his confidence suffered, so Ben wanted to set his sights on a summer target to get his motivation and confidence back. Having got into cycling via mountain biking before moving to the road, the gravel riding movement really appeals to him – not least for a lack of slippery tram lines!
He rode Grinduro Scotland in July on his mountain bike but wants to experience gravel the way it should be, on a lighter, faster gravel machine, and Decathlon will be furnishing him with its RC520 Gravel bike.
It’ll be with him for his target event in early September, the Dukes Weekender in the Trossachs, a two-day festival of cycling that includes a hill climb race of the 1.9km Dukes Pass on the Saturday and a 70km gravel enduro on the Sunday.
How to follow their stories
We’ll be updating you on Joss, Rob and Ben’s progress later this month, so stay tuned to see how they get on. CyclingPlus will also be running full profiles of each rider over their next few issues, so make sure you check those out as well.