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July 10, 2011

A truly great effort as 40 riders complete the cricket ground cycle challenge : 44 miles & £2,000 inspired by a young man who is loved so much

by huw15

A day when Huw was remembered in a loving, respectful and truly gutsy way resulted in achievements that the cyclists will remember for the rest of their lives.  The event included a lot of laughs, pride, personal victories and of course some aches and pains!  40 cyclists took part in a (hilly) ride over some 44 miles with participants ranging from 10 years old up to those in their 50s!  For some it was the furthest they had ever cycled in one day.  It was a team effort involving a great support team throughout the day and together we raised around £2,000 for Huw’s Trust.  Huw continues to inspire great things 🙂

Things started off with bacon sandwiches at the Cricket Club at 10.00 with the first team of 10 riders setting off 5 minutes early at 10.25 to the cheers of a great group who had come along to wave us off.  It was n’t long before the first incident of the day which involved Nick T having a burst tyre after half a mile – so a discussion is needed with Craig Woolhouse who lent Nick the bike!  After help from Russ Balmforth, Kev Girdlestone and Jenny, Nick was back on the road but not without a delay of 25 mins!  This meant Nick and Kev were playing catch up until we got to Almondbury but it was a real pleasure to spend the first hour and a half having a good work out to catch up with a great guy like Kev.

The support crew included Jenny, Russ and Caroline Balmforth, Anne Marie O’Dea, Rob Oakley and Russ Briggs.  The cyclists really appreciated the support guys – we were grateful to see them with drinks, energy snacks and smiles at each stop and were spurred on by their encouragement at various stages.  Most of all it was hilarious to see them standing in the middle of the main roads holding up the traffic at certain points to wave through a long line of cyclists.  Russ Briggs just loved that hi-vis jacket – so much so that he was seen wearing it in the bar at the Club House late into the evening.  Russ is now considering a career change as a lollipop man 🙂 

It was a tough ride – we spent some of it speeding down hills but the majority of it working hard getting up the hills in the first place.  So not only was it 44 miles but it was a hard 44 miles.  Every rider should be really pleased with themselves, especially the younger riders – Indya Sheeney, Riona Lang, Naimh O’Dea, Ben Balmforth, William Bullingham, Alistair, George Oakley and Carys.  Also some of the riders completed it without any training – Sam Briggs, George Oakely, Cam France and Steve Hobson (and there were probably  others) – due to cricket and other commitments.  That is a testament to their fitness and determination, although at times they may have wished they had put in some miles on the road beforehand!

I’m not sure of the names of the 2 oldest riders but at least 2 were well over 50 – that means there was over 40 years covering the oldest and youngest; that made it a real community event – a community that Huw was so much part of and that he valued so much. 

Nick and Carys were in a great team with Sean and Dave Brennan, Joy, Sam Briggs, Cam France, George Oakley, Heather Smith and Steve Hobson.  Everyone will have their own story to tell about the day, but our team took one of the prizes at the end of the day for the early attempt at singing!  And also because we had the 2 major mechanical problems of the day – Nick’s puncture and Cam’s bike that gave  up the ghost meaning he had to get on the spare!  Oh and Cam and 2 others decided to miss the turning to Skelmanthorpe and take a detour to Denby Dale (ha ha – as if it wasn’t long enough already!)

Highlights for Nick, Jenny and Carys were visiting Honley and Scholes cricket grounds where we had seen Huw hit sixes into the back gardens of neighbouring houses last season – and also Meltham which was next to the football ground where he scored 2 goals in 10 minutes in 2010 – one direct from a corner and the other a towering shot from over 40 yards!  Of the 15 cricket grounds visited, Huw had played at 9 of them over the years.

Everyone received a medal for participating and prizes were also deservedly won by Riona Lang, Tom Charlesworth and Andy Charlesworth.  The day was rounded off with drinks and chilli at the cricket club – oh and some cricket and football for the teenagers who had extra energy to burn off 🙂

It was a pleasure to spend some time with friends, meet some new people and turn some acquantances into friendships.  We were also glad to see the local MP Jason McCartney who joined us for part of the ride and offered to get a bottle of House of Commons Whisky signed by the Prime Minister for a future raffle for the Trust.  And all of us are indebted to Joy for organising the day – she did such a good job.  It was such an inventive idea and she spent hours preparing for it – thank you to the Oakleys for a great experience.  Joy had a smile and words of encouragement for everyone – and had even arranged sponsorship for the event.  I know Joy got a lot out of the day – and so she should – just a great effort from a lovely family.  

We also want to thank all the participants, their sponsors, the support drivers, Taylor’s food store for the bananas, Sainsbury’s for the snacks, Henry’s wine bar in Skelmanthorpe, Cobwood Trophies for the awards and medals, Joy’s brother in law for the water, Sooty and Sue at the Cricket Club bar, Rob for the great chilli afterwards and everyone at all 15 cricket clubs who donated so generously and made us so welcome.  It was also lovely to be cheered on at each cricket ground and by people on the roadside in and around Holmfirth.

It was a day full of friendship and support which was typical of Huw, and the ride was just the right thing to do; doing something positive, with friends, remembering Huw and raising money for brain injured people.  Another day in a long list of days to remember one of the most popular members of Upperthong Junior Cricket Club.

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For the record the cricket clubs visited were Upperthong, Thongsbridge, Skelmanthorpe, Shelley, Kirkburton, Almondbury Weslyans, Hall Bower, Armitage Bridge, Leymoor, Golcar, Slathwaite, Meltham, Honley, Scholes, Holmfirth and the long climb back up to Upperthong.  15 cricket grounds – one for each of Huw’s years x x x

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