i-Team Century Day : Remembering Mark Brookes
Bristolian Mark Brookes was one of the very first riders to join i-Team and rode with our first Etape du Tour team in 2004. Mark died a year later from a heart annominality while riding his bike.
Mark was a full-on, sincere character, with many interests - his love for cycling was infectious and inspiring.
As a fitting tribute, I came up with an idea that would unite the club in a special way for one day each year - The i-Team Century Day.
i-Team members are based all over the UK and as far afield as New Zeeland, India, Argentina, Australia and the Middle East - it would be impossible for all of us to get together - but then as an internet cycling club, we don't have to.
The challenge is to get 100 i-Team members riding 100 miles in the same 24 hour period - wherever they are in the world on that day. It's a loosely organised event - everyone just decides a route and we all a do a ride either solo or in groups. For those of us that met Mark or who knew him from his posts on the member's forums, the purpose will always be to keep Mark's memory alive but for new members etc. you can do it for any reason - just think of something or someone that is/was important to you and do a suitably challenging ride in honour of that purpose.
(As an aside, I remember that when Mark did the Etape, he had little stickers on his top tube with the names of people that were special to him and he would pull off each sticker when he got to a predetermined point of the route - Puy Mary would be for his wife and the last 10 km would be for his daughter and so on - it kept him going when he was tiring )
We need challenges to keep us motivated and strong! - I hope all of our exploits on an overcast day in 2006 will encourage new members to make this a target for 2007.
A selection of individual members thoughts on the 2006 i-Team Century Day:
"A RIDE FOR MARK"
A previous engagement prevented me from joining the rest of the lads in today's ride from Swindon so I decided to contribute by making a solo night ride starting on the Saturday afternoon and finishing after midnight on the Sunday. I had 2 criteria for the route:
1. That it should be as flat as possible since this was meant to be a pleasurable event.
2. That it should be easy to navigate, since I would be on my own and it would be dark.
I selected a route that went north from Winchester circling Salisbury Plain linking a number of military towns, Bulford, Tidworth, Netheravon and Upavon which were familiar to me during my youth. I used B roads to avoid traffic and hoped that a full moon would help me, together with some cheap bike lights, to see where I was going! I calculated that the ride would take me about 8 hours, so decided to leave home at 1600. As this was my first solo ride over a long distance I made sure that I was self sufficient, even carrying a mobile phone to contact my dear wife in the event of an emergency; something I did not normally do!
Feeling confident I set off on time and headed north-west in the direction of Salisbury which I by-passed and then headed due north through well known towns and villages. The terrain was gentle and I felt strong reaping the benefits of months of training through the winter. Darkness was beginning to fall, traffic had reduced and I was beginning to enjoy myself, averaging speeds in excess of 25+kph. It was at this time that I made my first mistake and took a wrong turning in Tidworth that was to cost me dearly, adding some 15 kms extra on my total distance. Fortunately, I found a kindly soul out walking his dog who gave me directions that put me back onto my route. My high point was Burbage where I changed direction and headed due south on fast undulating roads. Picking up the ring road which skirted Andover I headed east on the B3400 to Overton where I recognised the route from a previous Watership Down Audax. My spirits were high as I sensed that the end was in sight and I was enjoying the freedom of my own company. I joined the A30 which by now had little traffic and increased my speeds to 30 kph. I was on familiar ground and in no time I was in Winchester and turning into Oliver's Battery, finishing the ride around 0030.
It was an enjoyable ride and one which allowed me to reflect on the tragic death of Mark Brookes at such an early age. I had never met Mark, but I felt I knew him from the contacts we had made on the i-team website. He had a great sense of humour and a zest for life. Interestingly, we were both insomniacs! I would often get up in the early hours of the morning, invariably as a result of dehydration after a long ride, make myself a cup of tea and turn on the computer and log into the i-team website. On several occasions I found that Mark was on line at the same time and recall on one occasion discussing whether he had gout! To give him reassurance, I even phoned my son who is a doctor and on night duty at a hospital in Plymouth for advice, the details of which I passed onto Mark! I am sure my navigational error this evening, which added an extra 15 kms to the ride, would have brought a wry smile to Mark's face!
I enjoyed Mark's company, he was a good man, a staunch member of the i-team and I for one will miss him.
For the statistically minded:
Duration: 175 kms
Duration: 8 hours 13 minutes
Av Speed: 23 kph
Ascent: 1325 m
I was with the SGS team (that really was the HGH team as we left from Hungerford)
Had a cracking ride, for some reason I have managed to find some fitness and Im loving it! I don't think I had one down point through the whole day which was a fantastic feeling (although Swindon brought me lower!)
My distance recorded was exactly 200Km (after a couple of laps of the car park!)
Everyone did their bit, everyone struggled up Birdlip hill and everyone finished in one piece
Wendy - Thanks for the company in the car
John - Thanks for making me laugh on the way round
Andy and Gerry - Thanks for letting me beat you up Birdlip Hill
Dave - Thanks for the massive pulls on the race for home
Howard - thanks for being the tall guy with the massive hole in the wind following him
Bob - Thanks for the wheel in the through and off
Rob - Thanks for the beans on toast laugh at the cafe
Kent - Thanks for the company in the bunch
Guy - Thanks for sorting the route and everything else, cant believe the amount of work you put in on the bike on so little training!
And the last thing I'll say is thanks to Mark for inspiring the ride
Hooray, hooray the 1st of May, the MBMR is out of the way. Actually I don't mean that, but the original version is not suitable for a public forum and I'd lose more than my dignity if I tried it in this weather anyway :roll: which is really to say how very lucky we were to have such benign conditions for a day I shall store away in the memory bank and think of with immense pleasure and respect for Mark, who was a great long distance/cyclo sportive rider and embodied all that's best about i-Team - it would be hard to think of a better tribute than yesterday's rides in memoriam.
I left home at 0705 (five minutes late) so arrived well warmed up to meet the rest of the Shrewsbury Squadron, consisting of Phil Freeman and guest rider (but soon to be member) Martin Stephens at Radbrook roundabout. We headed off through Meole Brace and down the A49 to Church Stretton with Martin leading us uphill and me riding tempo on the front going down. Once over the Stretton watershed the pace quickened and we arrived at Brimfield having done 62 km in 1hr 58 - the sort of pace Mark usually managed on his own into a headwind :roll: :twisted:
Dave Clarke was due to join us there, having driven up from London, but was delayed by a flat battery :oops: so after 10 mins Phil and I pressed on, leaving Martin to make his way back to Shrewsbury through Bishop's Castle, as he had to be home by lunchtime. Dave arrived about two minutes after we left and overtook us on the road, parking at Hope under Dinmore to join us for the 51 km run to Gloucester. This involved some lovely undulating road through cider country and past the Three Choirs vineyard. Just before Newent, Guy phoned to say the Southern group was running late, so we stopped at the George for a very welcome cup of coffee and some personal admin
The final run in to Gloucester had the wind behind us and we cruised along at 40 kph to arrive at the Docks after 131 km in 4hr 20 mins @ 30.34 kph. We stayed 10 mins longer than we should have at the George, so it was no surprise to find the Bristol boys already tucking into their lunch. The Southern group arrived about 20 mins later and it was a great get together and one which I personally hope will be an annual event, but it was a shame not to have longer to get to know everyone and do some riding together.
How about we make it a weekend event next time :idea: :?: I'd be happy to organise some hostel accommodation, either in Shropshire or N Wales, and it would make a great pre Gran Fondo training camp :idea:
The return trip started off well, with the same 'tailwind' we had enjoyed in the way down (it was actually a 6 mph Westerly, so in effect neutral). Once we got to the Herefordshire hills the legs started to complain and the pace slowed. Dave decided to call it a day at Hope, so Phil and I rode on towards Ludlow. By Craven Arms his legs had done enough and he wisely opted to catch the train after 130 miles and his longest ever ride - congratulations Phil
I pushed on for Shrewsbury, still feeling strong, and once over the Stretton watershed was able to up the pace to 40+ kph, arriving back at Mytton at 1855.
Distance travelled: 262.95km
Time: 9hrs 8 mins
Average: 28.95kph (18.09mph)
Thanks to Mark for inspiring such a wonderful day and giving me the legs to do it :twisted: 8) if my dear wife hadn't organised for us to go out to dinner, I would happily have gone on to Oswestry and back to complete my first double century. Instead it was hot and cold treatment whilst I sucked down 800cc of ReGo and trying to stay awake until midnight (failed :oops: )
What a great day out on the bike. I was feeling a bit apprehensive as I had been ill all week not to mention the hundred plus miles on the island the previous Sunday, so I decided to take in the Saturday ride just to see if I was up to it. Felt ok so it was an early start Sunday morning with Bob arriving at 6.45am to pick me up for the trip to Hungerford.
After a brief photo opportunity and with pockets stuffed with gels and energy bars we set off and within a hundred yards we made a wrong turn! :oops: , a quick look at the map and we were on our way.
After a few miles we dropped down a long decent which I thought at the time would be a bit of a killer on the way back. This soon led to a flatter terrain and we soon settled into a steady through and off which raised our pace and started to make good time.
With some good navigation from Guy and his map (which was more like the Bayeux Tapestry) the flatter terrain became more lumpy as we approached our destination, it was at this point that although we were going well with no problems it became apparent that we were going to exceed our objective of 50 miles each way and were going to arrive in Gloucester a little later than anticipated.
After some cracking descents we were into Gloucester and down to the docks, our meeting point. It was great to meet up with the other guys who were already well into refueling for the return leg. It was a good to relax a bit and have some lunch, but after a group photo we were on our way again.
A slightly different route out of Gloucester ( avoiding the pedestrian precinct :oops: ) had us heading towards Birdlip. I had been over there a number of times when I was a lad and had remembered it as being a long way up and relatively steep. I was sure that my memory from all those years back had somehow accentuated its severity……..it had not :shock: , you do not remember a hill from some 30 years ago without good reason. I was really pleased that I had a 12-27 cassette fitted a few days before, mainly in preparation for the GFC at the end of the month. I was pleased to get to the top in one piece although a bit on the warm side. Many thanks to Rob and Guy for being slower up than myself, giving me chance to recover before we cracked on .
A slightly different route back required a few more map stops which in such pleasant countryside wasn't such a bad thing with the rolling hills, dry stone walls and bleating newborn lambs reminded me why I enjoyed cycling so much, added to the fact of riding in such good company as well.
Before long we were back onto the flattish stuff and the pace rose to between 22 to 25 mph, although at this point I still felt ok, sitting on the back was the best I could do as I knew there was still more to come.
It came in the shape of Swindon, not my favorite place before yesterday and definitely not today. Navigating in Swindon is fine if you want to go to Cirencester or Wootten Bassett, we did not, so after a sightseeing tour of Swindon ( which there is nothing to see apart from the magic roundabout which was the only thing we didn't see ! ) we left it behind on a long drag up over the M4. After regrouping Guy suggested to run at our own pace back to Hungerford which was now about twenty minutes away. I had at this point used all of my bars, gels, and drink so it was an easy decision to let the guys at front disappear into the distance, leaving myself, Wendy and Rob to bring up the rear. A few miles left to go and an i-team jersey came into view, despite being very tired it was like a red rag to bull, Wendy and I decided to chase it down :twisted: . It was Guy with Wendy catching him first then I did about half a mile out of Hungerford. Wendy and I went on while Guy dropped back for Rob who was just behind.
It was so good to see the sign for Hungerford after a long day in the saddle.
Many thanks to everyone who came along for a great ride on a occasion such as this.
Thanks also Guy for sorting out the route and for getting us there and back.
And well done to everyone else who did their own thing on Sunday.
Total distance may be a bit down on others as the auto-pause function was set at 5mph :oops
Phew! ok first i think we did Mark proud today, I for one was proud to be a rider today and a member of i-team, and i am certain that mark would be smiling down on us as we struggled up birdslip hill.
second a MASSIVE thanks to everyone who helped me out today, sorry if i slowed the pace towards the end, damn chest :x :x i will get it right one day.
it was an awsome day great company beautiful countryside, shame about the beans on toast.
kent will i am sure give a full account of the distance , meters climbed as he had the garmin thingy.
thank once again everyone
and it was good to meet all the other guys at the cafe
total was 120 miles in the end i think??
and a huge thanks to guy for organsising the route, maybe smaller map next time guy.
i think i will leave it to one of the others to give a detailed report.
An early start for me, leaving the house at 06:15 to drive to Jon's house in Bristol. I arrived there just after 7:30 but but the time I was setup it wasn't until 7:50 before we setoff.
A gentle 13 miles took us to the foot of the Old Severn Bridge where we were greeted by Matt Zorn and Simon Hendy (there to take a photo and say hello). We then crossed the bridge and went through the Forest of Dean, Matt keeping us going at a nice steady pace. There was some sort of Sportive ride on there today so on certain sections we had other riders for company. This included our biggest climb of the day (looking at Jon's data I'd say about 280m of climbing in about 2.5 miles). We dropped out of the Forest and came into Gloucester from the North. Being first to arrive at the cafe we were able to order hot drinks and food without there being a massive delay.
How nice to see all the faces we've been looking at on the forum arrive. Jonnie and the Central lads arrive about 15 minutes after us, and then Guy and the Southern team arrived about half an hour later on. Good that so many of us got together (17 in total I think).
Our route back to Bristol was straight down the A38, quite easy really if you hadn't already done 55 hilly miles. Matt turned off about 5 miles north of Bristol, and then Jon and I realised we were going to be short of miles (ie wouldn't make it to 100 if we went straight on). So we had to add a loop of about 8 miles, this included the hill Mike Beard has trouble with (Westerly hill?). The road up there has been recently resurfaced and it's a cracking road to ride on. You Western people should go up and down that a couple of times each ride.
By the time we got back to Jon's we'd covered 162.3 km at an average just short of 24 kph.
Thoroughly enjoyed the day, good company, good cycling and not bad weather. Thanks all.
Agree a great day! I'm feeling completely stuffed but walking around the house with a big grin on my face. Steve has summed up our ride well (apart from the fact that it was his and Matts back wheels that got me round).
It was great to meet up with you all at Gloucester, the photoshoot moment with the late arrival with the coffee being the best moment.
My 'Mark' moment of the day was (as Steve mentioned) when we realised we needed to do a few more mile to hit the century. We arrived at a T-Junction and (unknown to Steve) had the choice of going right (easy option) toward home and a few loops round the estate or left (hard option) up Westerleigh Hill and round through the strangely named village of Pucklechurch. As we approached the junction I was working on the right (easy) option but shouted out to Steve "Your choice" and moved over to the left hand side of the road. Steve decided left (good man) so we then took the hard option – as Mark would have done (again and again).
I'm with Rob that today has made me feel proud to have been a rider on this, proud of all of you, and proud of being a member of i-team and all it stands for.
Mark would be smiling and also be proud of us (he'd also be telling me to try harder next time).
Rob Shannon and I made a late start from Southampton heading out at 9.30ish into the Meon Valley for the local 100 miler.
Having plotted the route before I had warned Rob that the route was tricky with twist and turns, plenty of backroad and more ginger map lines then I care to remember, think they call them contours :wink: .
Indeed it proved very correct with moans galore on the way back from both parties and aching legs or limbs in my case. Not one stretch of road stayed flat for long and if we weren't climbing we was descending. Of course naturally friendly competition got the better of us and the pace was kept high considering all the twist and turns with Rob having a cracking bit around the 110km mark and my legs crying enough with the 39/23 gearing.
Still we both finished strongly bowling into Southampton after some devious loops thrown in to ensure the 100miles was obtained.
Still a good hard days ride, difficult roads with a persistent head wind. (did anyone else notice the wind changing direction during the day??). Only one puncture to boot.
Ride time was 6hr 18min with 1820metres of climbing.
Having worked 2 out of the last 3 nights, and been up at 4.00 to see off the family to the IOM on the other, I didn't manage to make it up in time to get to Hungerfrod for 0800 - sorry guys.
So instead I set off at around 0830 for my days ride.
Headed out from home up thru Romsey, Stockbridge and out to Inkpen Beacon via he Test Valley. Passed within 3 miles of Hungerford ( saved the petrol) before heading south again via the Chute causeway, passing west of Thruxton and back down thru Romsey.
A gentle head wind all the way out, the wind changing direction to give a increasing headwind all the way home!! You were right Paul.
Some lovely quiet lanes, so quiet in fact I struggled for somewhere to refill by bottles.
A great days ride, shame it was so chilly - at least it stayed dry.
Av 25.8 k/h
Played the solo card, but ticked the box.
In preparation for the Fred Whitton I chose a nice lumpy route taking in Beacon hill, Old Wichester, Butser, Ditcham Park, Harting Hill, The Trundle, Black Down (only 2nd Ascent for me, short but super hard 3km East of Fenhurst as the crow flies), Selbourne Common, Little Switzerland & Mercury.
Tagged a 15mile run to the end and an ice bath (which was harder to get myself to do than the run or the bike!).
Theme for the day - How lucky I was to be out there.
I left home in Nailsworth at 7 to ride down to the Severn Bridge to hook up with Jon and Steve. It was a cold start, but fortunately I had about 200m of steady climbing from the front door to warm up, followed by a brisk descent into Wotton-Under-Edge to get me freezing again. After that it was a steady roll down to the Severn Bridge interrupted by cycling through the remains of a lorry tyre which left some bits of steel wire sticking out of my front tyre. Arriving at the bridge to meet Simon Hendy for a photoshoot, it was clear that I had a puncture, so a quick tube change while waiting for the other two to turn up. A lovely ride up the Wye valley from Chepstow to Monmouth followed, where we found ourselves on the route of a Sportive for 10 miles or so. Steve disappeared up the 2 mile hill from Monmouth like a rat up a drainpipe, chasing the Sportive riders :shock: Jon and I went up more steadily and ground our way to the top. Forest of Dean lumpiness followed followed by a surprisingly fast 8 miles into Gloucester. First there, we got quick service in the Cafe.
It was great to meet up with so many i-teamers in one go on my first i-team ride. It's great to feel a part of something on rides like this.
After an hour or so, the 3 of us headed south down the A38, until I peeled off for the final climb back the Wotton, over the edge and down to Nailsworth. Final distance was 99 miles, so I had to go up and down the road to make the 100. Thanks for a great day out, folks!
Jon & Steve give me a tow down the A38:
What a day indeed! I'd only completed a total of 30 hours training since Xmas, made up of weekly 2 hour rides, so I thought that I'd be OK for a couple of hours and then hang on as long as I could.
All smiles at the off - from left to right: John Clutterbuck, Rob Towers, Howard Radcliffe, Steve Smith, Kent Thompson, Andy Jones, Guy Watson, Gerry McDougall, Wendy Spruce, Dave Shaw.
To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to what I thought would be an enevitable day of pain and suffering. In the end I only had 2 bad patches lasting around 10 minutes each (the first one just in time for Birdlip Hill - not nice on 39x23 - cheers for waiting guys.)
Wendy Spruce & Steve Smith at the Hungerford Start
We started out from Hungerford a bit late around 08:30. We had some brief sunshine until the sun had risen above the cloudbase and it became overcast. There were some darkening skies ahead - we hoped it wasn't going be a wet afternoon....
After a gentle 30 mins riding in pairs, we started riding 'through and off' - pro-style! (we looked goooood!) changing the direction of rotation as the side wind came from opposite side. We kept Swindon to our left and headed up through The Lambournes to Highworth using the B4000.
Then we crossed over the A419 at Broad Blunsdon and took to the lanes around Cricklade on the way to Cirencester, making a few map-stops to make sure that we didn't end up on the A416 trunk road.
We exited Cirencester on the A417 for a few miles and then turned off on to the yellow and white lanes to Edgeworth and Miserdon. Up to now we had been riding up some gentle escarpments and dropping off on the North facing steep side - nothing to make us get out of the saddle. Then at Edgeworth we got to the Frome Valley - 1:8 to the bottom / 1:6 up the other side. The roads were narrow and technical - I was loving it!
We then headed on towards the Cotswolds proper via Whiteway and Cranham - here we found the best descent of the day - a technical 1:8 drop followed by about 500m of straight road towards Upton St. Leonards at 1:8 - I think a few of us got near to or just over 50mph.
Gloucester was great meeting the guys from the other areas - I recognised Stephen instantly - as he said, the way we try to have a recognisable Avatar on this forum really helps when we meet up at events like this. those of us that had met Mark agreed that he would have liked the fact that this was just a loosely organised day where we just rode our bikes for a challenge.
After a 30 min refueling stop (where I totally OD'd on Caffine and Maple Syrup flapjacks,) we were off again. I knew it would be a lot harder getting out of Gloucester on the right road than it was coming in - we didn't manage it, although we could see the ridge of the Cotswolds to the South, so we knew which direction to head for - we were just looking for the lowest bit to cross!
Paradoxically, all choices lead to the highest / hardest point - Birdlip Hill. I'd heard of this monster from the 80's when it regularly featured on the Tour of Britain 'Milk Race' route. It was more impressive than I expected - not mega steep - about 1:8 / 1:10 - but it went on and on - took me about 20 mins to get up it on 'impulse drive.' I wasn't suffering, I just had no energy and was cramping.
Seeing all the guys were waiting for me at the made me feel good though and after a few miles down hill, I started digesting the food that I had earlier and had my best couple of hours of the day as we headed to Winstone to pick up our outward route and retrace back to Swindon.
Remembering those steep drop-offs to the North East of Swindon on the way out, I opted to go through Swindon and pick up the B4192 that lead straight back to Hungerford.
We lost our sense of direction a bit and ignored signs for 'West Swindon' thinking that would take us away from the town centre. But we were actually quite a way West of Swindon at the time, so riding towards 'West Swindon' would actually have been heading East! Luckily, the M4 was a good marker and we headed East / North East around the bottom of Swindon instead of going straight though it.
Swindon's a big place (although I nearly missed it ) - and I'm sure some guys were thinking that we were going round in circles! - I guess Kent's Garmin download will reveal all! We had to make a few Map-Stops to make sure that we didn't exit Swindon on the wrong road.
Everyone needed to see a sign for Hungerford at this stage and eventually we got on to the B4192 that we needed. There was one climb left back over the M4 and then the last 15 miles was through some great rolling countryside.
Here we all decided to go for home at our own pace and this is where Me, Steve, John, Andy and Bob went to off up the road Team Time Trial Style, with Howard and Gerry just behind.
I dropped off the pace until Kent, Rob and Wendy caught up and after meeting the others refueling outside a shop in the High Street, we all rode back together.
I really got a lot out of today - I think I'd lost a lot of confidence and forgot that I could still pull a ride like this out of the bag - would like to do some training though so that I wouldn't have to spend quite so long on the bike though!
122 miles (199.3 km)in the bag (200k for Steve!)
Great Ride, Great Company, loved the route - Awesome day.
All smiles at the finish. No GPS for us - the 1:1 Map is still in tact and ready to use next year!