Club rider's cycling adventure for Prostate Cancer UK
Marc Jones was AFC Wimbledon’s sole representative in the London to Amsterdam charity cycling event, but he passed the challenge with flying colours and certainly had one or two interesting stories to tell afterwards!
, with 140-plus in a peloton that also included former England international Luther Blissett (pictured right with Marc above).Prostate Cancer UKCyclists from clubs around the country took part to support Men United, a movement to raise funds for
Marc put together a diary all about the gruelling 150-mile cycling test, which started at Leyton Orient FC and ended at Ajax’s ArenA Amsterdam, and his experiences are published below.
Day one started following registration at Leyton Orient FC bright and early last Friday. Once signed in, we were under starter’s orders for a long road ahead. I rode alongside Talksport’s Perry Groves, though I must confess I did not recognise him in his cycling gear. We wound our way through the outer edges of East London using underpasses and busy roads before hitting the home of UKIP and golf clubs - Essex. School kids began to appear on their way to a day in class and I thought to myself that I’d still be riding when they were later passing me to go home. Despite fears we may be riding in temperamental weather, it was delightfully hot and that made the ride slightly trickier Thankfully, the few climbs on that first day were long drags and nothing too extreme.
By the time we stopped for lunch, the peloton had spread out. A mixture of ability was on display but everyone was working hard and as the day wore on we became closer as a group. The opening question was often “how are the legs?” Quickly followed by “Who are you representing?” Watford, led by their commercial manager, were probably the liveliest bunch (I soon gravitated towards them for the train journey home and shared a few beers). However, on this first leg I joined up with two Millwall riders having taken the challenge on as a solo act for the Dons - a South London show of strength perhaps!
The next section included a water and jelly baby stop at Colchester United’s Community Stadium. The spread of comments from the various supporters was interesting. I settled for “I’ll take one of these in Plough Lane any day thanks!” Off again and through quiet country lanes, Harwich crept closer with a couple of leg testing upward crawls, eventually ending at a working men’s club, where an isotonic beer was enjoyed with a bag of crisps (ride to live, man). Following a recovery meal and briefing, we all hobbled onto the awaiting ferry. With our gamut of bikes secured among the cars below decks, most made their way to the bar to reflect on day one before attempting a few hours’ sleep as we crossed the thankfully placid water towards Holland.
Morning broke far too early - they wake you up in your cabin with Bobby McFerrin’s ‘Don’t Worry be Happy’ - an awful signal for another full day’s cycling! Following a quick English meets Continental breakfast on board, we were off again. The second day started with three groups heading off on much smaller cycle paths through sand dunes along the coastal path north. Holland’s hottest day of the year meant a flood of locals heading to the beach. As everyone knows, apart from more cars, that also equalled more cyclists to avoid.
A distance of 245 km had been nailed and a sum of money raised for an impressive charity. There was time for lunch at a casino in Lisse (no tables played) and then off for the final leg to Amsterdam ArenA. This was the Holland I expected; canals and one or two windmills (although I’d expected to see hundreds and there was only the two on route). They were all on perfect roads where you could really put the hammer down. Although it wasn’t a race, I came in with about 15 of the 140-plus riders in front of me and had left all I had “on the bike” rather than in my legs.
I couldn’t resist a bit of souvenir shopping in the AFC Ajax shop, a couple of photos, and then we made our way to the hotel where a cold beer awaited. I topped that night off in style with a Paul Weller gig and ended up edging over my fundraising target with an extra £100 in the pot courtesy of his charming young wife.
All in all, one of the best rides I have ever done alongside all abilities and ages and you can bet your clogs I will be riding again next year. Hopefully, with a bigger team of Dons out in force to raise a few bob for a brilliant charity.
I’d like to thank all of the people who helped out with donations, aside from having a great time I never lost focus on why I was doing the ride. You can be assured that however small the donation, you have helped improve the chances and care for lots of men.
Marc surpassed his target of £1,000 thanks to contributions from fans and there’s still time to donate for this worthy cause by clicking on Prostate Cancer UK .