Ideal Manufacturing entered two teams of its Wash Cyclists into the ‘Race The Sun’ Challenge on the Isle of Wight in aid of Action Medical Research. The team hopes to have raised £3,600 eventually. Ideal would like to thank everyone in the laundry industry for their help, encouragement and generous sponsorship of the Wash Cyclists.
Here managing director Phillip Kalli gives us his report
After co-ordinating travel, transport & accommodation arrangements with military precision, The Wash Cyclists finally rendezvoused at our secluded hideaway, nestled deep inland on the Isle of Wight sometime in the early evening on Friday 7th July.
Cutting through all the pre-race tactical discussions, and never one to sit still for long, my dad immediately started rustling the pots and pans and got straight to work cooking up an almighty Spaghetti Bolognese for the whole team… to be honest it would have fed the whole island.
The registration hall was full of weekend warriors and M.A.M.I.L.S (Middle Aged Men In Lycra) strutting their stuff… boasting about their hill speeds, sucking on electrolytes and flexing their calf muscles. Rather than rattling our nerves, it sharpened our maverick resolve. We headed home for dinner... to prepare the bikes, pack our bags and get an early night.
Despite the 4am alarm call, we made it to the start looking surprisingly fresh. Some great work from the team unloading the bikes from the trusty ‘Linen Preservation Society’ van and fitting the front wheels with speed and precision meant we were already starting to look like a well drilled outfit… almost.
We started out at 6.06am… and climbed steadily out of Newport with smiles still on our faces - overcoming some mean hills, and winding our way through small villages and over miles of undulating terrain, heading south and then along the coastline up and down the cliffs on the way out to Freshwater Bay. Then up and out to the needles, where the hills started to get more serious.
We sent two teams to the event, from across the business - with a couple of guys from the production team, some of our young chemists, directors and managing directors all riding together.
The first team was trained, drilled and led by our Operations Director and was made up of a hill climbing BMXpert, our prodigious natural cycle-star development chemist and a late-draft gym enthusiast from powder production. These guys pulled way out in front - changing through the gears with maximum efficiency - re-fuelling without stopping, switching front riders tactically, taking hills in their stride and finishing the first section amongst the very top teams. Incredible work, and their weekly team training had clearly paid off.
Meanwhile, my team - made up of my dad, Chris - our field chemist, John Hickman and me... were less about pace and tactics and more about poise, steady progress and loose fitting shorts. We were the domestiques, in it for the long haul - but holding our own through the first section… until half way round the first 25 mile cycle and disaster struck…. Chris lost his left pedal... but somehow managed to keep his bike going with only one for nearly three miles - until we flagged down a bike mechanic who soon had him back on the road. Incredible grit! Having climbed the needles once on the bikes, both teams (although quite a significant distance apart by now) next took on the half marathon trek across the Tennyson Trail in the punishing midday heat. The first team, despite being blighted with some gnarly blisters and minor navigational issues, made it through in good time - still keeping pace with the top teams. My team was getting a little frayed at the edges by this point but we managed to make up serious ground against the other tail-enders on the trek, bounding through the hills like stubborn mountain goats.
The second cycle leg was no less punishing - with the sun sitting fat in the sky by now and the temperature rising beyond 26 degrees… meanwhile, the hills just kept rolling… and rolling, as our skin developed a salt crust and blistered like peppers on the grill. Before long, our first team had roared home at an impressive and consistent pace - not stopping for a moment - and finishing as a tight team of four riders... ready to take on the canoeing section with the joint fastest time of the day! Unbelievable. They finished an impressive 16th out of 49 teams overall, having only been training together for a matter of weeks. Who knows what they could do with a bit more experience?
The second team rolled home in time for tea. Not last... despite having the oldest member in the competition, and almost definitely the least amount of preparation and some questionable bikes - but still smiling through the chaffing, sunburn, dehydration and poor gear management. We finished well before the sun looked like setting - leaving us plenty of time to fire up a BBQ back at base. Somehow, my dad still had the energy to get the coals going and he spent the evening delivering kebabs and steaks to the whole team as we shared battle stories from the road and watched the sun set behind us in defeat!
It was an absolutely brilliant weekend. Thanks again to everyone who helped make it such a tremendous success and great fun, and for both teams for giving up their time for such a good cause. It made us extremely proud. Most importantly, it was all for a genuinely great cause.