Dons pair did the club proud in event
AFC Wimbledon pair Robin Bedford and Marc Jones completed the London to Amsterdam cycle challenge with flying colours – and they even left a Dons hero trailing in their wake on day one!
Our representatives successfully came through a gruelling 165-mile cycle and they raised over £5,000 for Prostate Cancer UK in the process, thanks to generation donations from supporters and sales of official AFC Wimbledon cycling jerseys.
With plenty of stories to tell, including passing Wimbledon’s FA Cup hero Lawrie Sanchez, our kit man Robin put together a diary about the eventful weekend.
There was a rather long “warm-up” to complete before joining up with the 250-strong peloton, which included representatives from clubs around the country. It was an early start for me as I set out from the Cherry Red Records Stadium in time to meet Marc at Plough Lane for 6.00 am. We then joined the commuter traffic for our unofficial warm up, as we headed into central London, crossing London Bridge and through the Olympic Park.
After reaching Leyton Orient FC at 7.30am, we dropped our bags off and joined our fellow riders in the stands for a briefing. At 9.00 am, it was underway with former AC Milan and Watford striker Luther Blissett, who is pictured centre with me (left) and Mark (right), joined by fellow PCUK ambassadors Sanchez, Matt Holland and Terry Butcher, in the peloton.
Looking smart in our new AFC Wimbledon cycle jerseys, we were officially given the green light and off we went, winding our way through the outer edges of East London, via underpasses and busy roads, before hitting Essex. Despite fears we may be riding in temperamental weather, it was delightfully warm. Thankfully, the few climbs on that first day were long drags and nothing too extreme (although Lawrie Sanchez didn’t seem to be enjoying going uphill that much as we rode past him!)
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?” This would quickly be followed by “Who are you representing?” Ipswich, led by their Head of Academy, Simon Milton, were the liveliest bunch (55 riders meant they were easily the most represented team).
The next section took us past two grounds from our Ryman League days with Maldon & Tiptree and Heybridge Swifts both coming into view. Then followed a water and jelly baby stop for a quick energy boost at Colchester United’s Community Stadium. We were soon off again though, through quiet and twisting country lanes. Harwich slowly crept closer with a couple of leg testing upward crawls, eventually our toils ending at the local rugby club with 100 miles for the day clocked.
Recuperation started with a freezing cold shower! Then everyone tucked into a plentiful supply of curry and chocolate cake (ride to live, man!). We then boarded the ferry, to meet our room-mates for the night - a lovely couple from AFC Bournemouth. Most of the group 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 – and it didn’t help that we were woken up with Bobby McFerrin’s classic “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” That was an awful signal for another full day of cycling. Following a good English breakfast on board, we were off again. The second day started off on much smaller cycle paths through sand dunes along the coastal path north. Holland’s weather didn’t oblige and we were greeted with cold, wind and light rain.
This was when the drama started as we headed into a village and the first section of road on Dutch soil. As we negotiated a large intersection with cars approaching from opposite directions and a tram crossing, this caused some confusion within the group of riders we were in. Marc was squeezed into the tram tracks - and crashed to the floor. Having brushed himself down, we were on our way again. However, barely a mile down the road Marc was on the floor again, caught by a gust of wind! It was more than just cuts and bruises this time though and Marc had to complete the remaining 30 miles of the ride unable to change gear.
Following a stop for lunch and refuelling on mustard soup, we were away on the final leg to Amsterdam ArenA. This was the Holland I expected; pan flat landscape, canals and one or two windmills. They were all on perfect roads, where you could really put the hammer down. Over the 15-mile leg we managed to make up some significant time on our fellow riders, including flying past those representing a team up the M1!
A total distance of 165 miles had been nailed over two days and a great sum of money raised for an impressive charity. Upon our arrival at AFC Ajax we were treated to a glass of bubbly and a congratulatory handshake from the impressive Matt Holland, who made the effort to personally thank everyone. We couldn’t resist grabbing a souvenir from the AFC Ajax shop, a couple of photos, and then we made our way to the hotel, where a cold beer awaited.
All in all, a very enjoyable ride alongside other football/cycling fans of all abilities and ages and you can bet your clogs we 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.
Robin and Marc wished to thank Sports Interactive, John Green, Cherry Red Records and Chemflow for their generous support, along with all those who purchased AFC Wimbledon cycle jerseys, or donated to a great cause.
Robin added: “We raised over £5,000, and aside from having a great time we never lost focus on why we were doing the ride. You can be assured that however small the donation, you have helped improve the chances and care for lots of men suffering from Prostate Cancer.”
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has sent a message of thanks to all 72 clubs for helping the charity, along with those supporters who donated. The third annual PCUK cycle ride raised over £300,000 and that figure is still rising.Prostate Cancer UK