Yesterday I had the pleasure of being on a group ride with Britain’s newly crowned World Champion Mark Cavendish at Redbridge Cycling Centre in Essex (known locally as Hog Hll).
Believe it or not, Going Going Bike doesn’t always have access to such cycling events as we aren’t really press.
Our presence at the Mark Cavendish ride was by means of being chosen in a Facebook competition open to Joe Public. That competition was organised by the Holiday Inn hotel chain as part of Holiday Inn’s Athlete Engagement Programme with the London 2012 Olympics in mind.
The Holiday Inn kindly supports 50 British athletes by giving them more than 1,500 free room nights while they train for the Olympics. So this event was an effort to give something back to fans, while also a bit of self promotion for Holiday Inn.
Overall, 150 fans were invited having responded to the competition and they along with me got the chance to do 10 laps of the Hog Hill circuit with Mark.
The participants in group ride mirrored the current boom in cycling with men and women of differing abilities joining in. There weren’t just only expensive geared bikes on show. My clapped out Fixie was one of two such machines out on the ride, though it was hard work, especially as there was a climb on the course.
Mark and an elite group safely cycled away from me and after doing five laps, I got off my bike to take some pictures.
Mark seemed very proud of wearing his Rainbow stripes as world champion on the ride. He has previously said he gets quite emotional every time he puts it on, and yesterday was no different.
After the ride finished, and having completed media duties, Mark was good enough to take the time to sign autographs, pose for photographs and chat.
Mark was a consummate professional throughout the morning and nothing like the spiky character that he has been portrayed as in the media in the past. He’ll be an asset to getting more people on bikes in the future both as a leisure and sporting activity. He seemed mindful of that responsibility yesterday.
*Cyclists can use the track at Redbridge Cycling Centre for £3.80 for two hours use. There is also a mountain bike track at the facility.