When the going gets tough...
Last Saturday, the 17th June I had occasion to visit the Eroica festival being held in the hills of Derbyshire.
It had been many years since I had visited the Peak District and the weather was on course for a lovely weekend.
The unspoiled beauty of the undulating landscape was both idyllic and inspiring and yet I approached with a sense of both foreboding and trepidation.
You may ask "why?"
A little history!
Some months ago, our Velosure managers Chris and Stacy had an idea: “let's go for the world record for the largest number of riders to participate in a relay over an 8 hour period on a static bike with no more than 20 second intervals between riders.”
Chris then informed me that in 2014 a group of Polish people had managed to achieve the record by pre-arranging for people to queue up and had achieved a record of 321 in 8 hours.
Chris said he wanted to register with the Guinness book of records team on that very day and asked if I would I back him.
I looked around the room and the vote went 7 to 1 against the proposal.
“Too expensive”, “a logistical nightmare”, “egg on our face” were some of the comments and so it went on.
Sometimes in life you have to take a chance so on this occasion I said yes!
Out the message went on social media. “Velosure needs YOU” was the rallying cry for our Guinness World Records attempt.
As I approached the festival with my wife to join our team, I was worried; had we bitten off more than we could chew?
As I saw our tent, my nerves crept in.
It looked great with blue and white balloons and all our signage but was no more than 12 feet by 10 in size and one of the smallest tents we have had at a show!
The invigilator was there from Guinness and had been though the rules. As you would expect they were very strict with the video of everyone’s ride and written permission from everyone required before they could run; one staff member would blow the whistle at the end of every kilometre for eight hours and another would help take the details.
We had Gavin our techno wiz who set up the video and managed the data under the watchful eye of the man from Guinness World Records.
Myself, the two managers Chris and Stacy, along with David, the two Daniels and Chloe, Daniel Massey’s girlfriend (who thought she was away for a quiet weekend with her boyfriend but was roped in to assist us!) took the details of participants, so our team consisted of 10.
We started at 11:07 am and for the first hour it was very quiet. Eroica is an amazing event with so many attractions from music to memorabilia, vintage bikes and hundreds of stalls.
The two Daniels and Chloe worked on the young vote while Chris, Stacy and I worked on all the other visitors.
As the second hour passed, we were still on track but started to slow down.
The keen cyclists had participated and we were going quieter; we needed at least 10 in our queue or else we were in danger of missing the 20-second relay rule - but asking people to help was one thing, asking them to queue another.
Another 2 hours passed; by this time, we were all flagging. Nobody had eaten, we were dehydrated and the sun was baking down.
Somehow people kept turning up. The stall holder next door, Dieter, who was selling posh Merino wool sweaters, left his stall to take part; a couple on a 1930’s tandem dismounted and mounted the static bike with style and aplomb.
Three very dapper gentlemen on vintage bikes dressed to the nines managed to complete the kilometre without breaking sweat.
A rugby player, whose girlfriend said he was too muscle bound to cycle wagered a fiver with me he wouldn't do it – and got it wrong when he sailed through. (She gave me a high five rather than a fiver)
Three brothers who raced against each other achieved fantastic times.
There were the stallholders who stopped selling their burgers and pizzas to pop in and do it and on it went and the hours passed one by one in a daze.
And then Dean Downing, the retired professional road cyclist who is now a coach came by and did the record time with ease – he then tweeted to his followers and some of those appeared.
Into the last hour and we were behind on the clock and running out of time and people.
An 82-year-old man cycled with ease as our oldest entrant.
And then all of a sudden there was a buzz of excitement and people started to gather round; four guys fromRaleigh came over and a couple from Bianchi raced through their times. People from Bubble Inc, Mille London, The Camden Watch Company and many others were also on hand to help.
At seven minutes past seven, following 8 gruelling hours, 329 people had cycled their kilometre in our record breaking attempted relay and we believed we had broken the record, although we did not know for some time until everything had been checked carefully by the Invigilator.
About 30 minutes later we were told we had done it.
When it was all over and I had time to reflect on the day I was in awe that 320 + strangers of all ages had decided in the boiling hot sun to enter an airless tent 12 by 10 feet to ride a KM on a static bike in pursuit of a record that was highly unlikely to be realised.
I understood that we all want to help each other to achieve something that is important and it is so much easier to work together than to break apart. If you work with others, there is so much you can achieve. I knew for sure that when the going gets tough - you can rely on the Brits and their friends to help.
I would like to thank all the participants who took part and your certificates to confirm you participated in your successful World record will follow, as well as JE James for the provision of technical equipment that helped us achieve our record.