I think being clad in lycra head to toe pushing my bike through the hotel lobby at 7.30am in the morning getting back from a morning ride gave the game away. “Yes “ I answered, “good” said my colleague, “make sure you keep the 21st -25th September clear, we are sponsoring our clients annual charity bike ride and we need to put a team together. I need you to be in that team. “
That brief conversation back in February in a hotel lobby in Barcelona was how I landed the opportunity to ride for Ciena as principal sponsors for the annual Colt Technology Charity bike ride. The event in 2017 was to be their 6th edition as they rode from regional office to regional office to raise funds for charities linked to their various regions. Previous years they had ridden from London to Paris. Paris to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Munich and Marselle to Barcelona. The route for 2017 was from Barcelona to Valencia over 4 days.
And so fast forward 7 months and having completed the Haute Route Alps a couple of weeks ago, once again my bike was in the back of a van and making it’s way to the Mediterranean coast line for another multi-day event to join 4 other Ciena colleagues and 120 other riders from Colt and their partners.
We gathered on Thursday afternoon to check-in, register, get our ride numbers, attend the pre ride briefing and get to know each other a little bit more. Each rider taking part was split into groups based upon rider ability and experience. I had previously elected to go in the group that would average 25kph on the road. Turned out later that I had been Strava-stalked but the ride organizers and pushed up into the fastest group, which turned out to the best decision as they were a great group to ride with.
On Friday morning the 12 groups gathered outside the Barcelona offices of Colt and one by one groups headed out to split the peloton up and not cause disruption on the road.
The ride each day consisted of a base route that would get the riders between the “host” venues for each day with an excursion route attached into the ride for those who wanted to add a little more challenge to their riding. This was a very successful set up as it allowed riders of all abilities to get involved and stretch themselves according to their abilities.
Then each day all the riders luggage would be transported from hotel to hotel along with a day bag that would be available at each of the feed stations along the route. The remarkable thing about this though was that the whole event was staffed by Colt employees. Whether it was the team moving the luggage, or the team moving the day bags, or the team that stocked and staffed the feed stations along the route, each person was a part of Colt and they did an excellent job. One of the really appreciated features was that all of the riders bags were taken to their hotel rooms and left inside their rooms so that riders didn’t have to haul their bags up to their rooms after finishing the ride. Such a small detail but so significant. I greatly appreciated this, as this was not done on the Haute Route.
And the feed stations were excellent, There was no chance of losing weight during this ride as the food at the lunch stops was so good. The Colt volunteer team did a fantastic job.
Day 1 140km from Barcelona to Tarragona
Day 2 Sun was shining again as we went from Tarragona to Tortosa, 156km 2256m.
Day 3 Tortosa to Castellon – 180km 2,000m climbing and a dip in the lake…..
Day 4 – Castellon to the finish in Valencia 125km.
The total route length for the 4 days was just over 600km with 7000m of climbing, so a good few days in the saddle. Also our team 12 managed to take the top three places in the King of the Mountains competition. (I placed second)
Each of the local regions of Colt that participate in the charity bike ride nominate and raise money for those charities. In the UK this was the charity Place2be. ,the UK’s leading children’s mental health charity.
On the last day of the ride they posted a tweet sharing that over £20000 had been raised so far and that this was replicated across each of the participating Colt regions. Our five person Ciena team was able to add a further £2000 to that total.
Those that know me, know that I really enjoy cycling, it provides me with a great way to free my mind, recharge, think, test and challenge myself. This year I have had the great pleasure also to do that and along the way raise a bit of money for charities that help others.