The Big Optometry Blog cycles with CooperVision for Optometry Giving Sight
The Big Optometry Blog cycles for OGS
Author: Chris Bennett
Last weekend an 11 man optical team pulled on some lycra to cycle 185 miles around London to raise funds for Optometry Giving Sight. So far they have raised over £4,500 but you can help them reach the £5,000 mark by logging on to www.cycleforsight.co.uk
The challenge was to be London Revolution, a two day event encircling the capital by way of iconic sights and exhausting hills. CooperVision formed the core of the cycling team fielding five of the riders and bringing the whole project together under the captaincy of Jason Burkinshaw. The team also rode in CooperVision-liveried kit which drew complimentary comments from other riders and staff along the way for its natty, colourful look. Other than the bibshorts being rather on the brief side for May the kit was to serve us well on a weekend were the rain was mercifully absent during most of the ride.
Pauls Donnelly and Maxwell, Mark Chatham and Heath Clash made up the rest of the CooperVision crew while from the practice side they were joined by Paul Chessell director at Specsavers Gloucester, and independent Jonathan Walford, CLO locum and Plymouth university’s Neil Millen and Optician Editor Chris Bennett made up the rest of the optical members while Rich Maskell and Ade Stokes came along as guests of other riders.
The big weekend started on the Friday night with a rendezvous at the Premier Inn Edmonton a stone’s throw from the start at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre. After a hearty meal and few calming drinks alarm clocks were set for a 7.00am trip to the start as the team had a sensible start time.
There was a carnival atmosphere at the depart with enough time for photographs, refuelling, pit stops and a chance to admire each others’ bikes. The standouts on the day were Burkinshaw’s single speed and Walford's carbon TT ( time trial) dream.
The team’s civilised start time had allowed chance for a discussion on tactics: stick together to start and then each rider can find his own pace. As it tuned out splits in the field formed straight away and groups of ones and twos made their way around the London streets with its unending traffic light stops before reaching the relative peace of the Kent countryside. Each man took as many turns on the front of the various packs as they could, for a few brief miles some very proficient through and off riding could be seen lending a Tour de France air to the friendly sportive..
There were a few minor incidents along the way, punctures, mechanicals, wrong turns (guilty), some overheating and a few twinges. The team all reported a good ride linking up with each other and different teams along the way for a convivial and testing day in the saddle. Walford was first home after a 6hrs 5 min non-stop ride but Burkinshaw’s on the road time of 6hrs and four minutes pipped him at the post. But it was a sportive, not a race, so for those interested, other time details can be found on the event website. What goes on tour stays on tour, as they say.
Cycling is a mindful sport which allows much time for reflection and it soon occurred to me that course took the team past various optical practices the first being Tesco Opticians in Edmonton. I briefly had the idea of noting the names of all the optical practices on the route but realised this was both futile and impractical. From memory there followed several branches of Specsavers, Vision Express, Boots and Leightons. The route also passed close to the Institute of Optometry and Optician’s office in Herne Hill. Later it passed close to Keeler’s offices in Windsor. The second day the route headed out through Marlow before skirting close to Grafton Optical’s new headquarters in Berkhampsted. The route later ran down toward Radlett turning off just before Kirit Patel’s Radlett Opticians.
By early evening most of the team were home and enjoying a well-earned beer at the mid-point in Windsor followed by a meal laid on by the race organisers. The carnival atmosphere continued and even a few optical faces, such as Elaine Styles, were recognised. Saturday night was spent in a tent city built on the racecourse which held out well against the torrential rain during the small hours of Sunday. As riders woke, at around 5.00am, the rain stopped heralding a beautiful day’s riding.
The rain had left a legacy though. Many of the small Chiltern lanes were awash with debris which cause the inevitable punctures and mechanical problems. Maxwell suffered no few than five flats leading to long delays and a long day out on the road. Chatham and Walford also succumbed to flats but gradually the whole team made it back.
A great day was had by all and even the fittest of the riders could feel they had the best part of 200 miles in their legs. Being South east based I had a jaunt across London to add to the miles taking in some of the previous day’s sights for a second time.
Please help the team achieve its target by donating at www.cycleforsight.co.uk