Day Ten - The End is in Sight
After nine long days riding, our final day was upon us and we were all delighted to open our curtains and see the blue sky – surely we would get good weather on our final day?! Nick Collins had re-joined the team so we had 8 riders including Gary and Elizabeth from the U.S. team.
We decided to start early given we still had nearly fifty miles to cycle and we had to be in Brighton for 2pm at the latest for the start of the Leadership Conference. We split the team into two groups to each visit a nursery so we could try and make up some time. After our last hotel breakfast (James again was delighted to see that Coco pops were on offer), we left just before 8am with one group going to kidsunlimited Reigate and another going to Teddies Crawley. The first hours riding was a mix of riding fast on main roads and some classic Google Map inspired off road tracks/ fields where the pace was anything but fast!
Both nurseries greeted the teams with pre school children offering drinks and refreshments – we really could get used to this treatment! By 10.30am, both teams met up at Teddies Crawley where Caley was again struggling with a puncture! The group left Crawley at 11, giving us 2.5 hours to try and get to Brighton for our planned 1.30pm arrival.
Typically the blue sky was starting to turn rather grey and before long we were enduring yet more heavy rain which later on developed into a mini hail storm. However the team were excited to get to Brighton and soon we started to see signs for Brighton which lifted everyone’s spirits. But our challenges weren’t over yet…..after yet more off road challenges (which we all agreed we actually quite enjoyed) cycling through a forestry area, Cheryl had her first puncture and soon after Caley developed yet another puncture. However we were on the outskirts of Brighton and so we decided to stop every mile, pump up Caley’s tyre and try and get there as soon as possible.
At 1.30pm, the team cycled into sunny Brighton, passed the Pavillion, passed the pier and cycled down to a beach side bar where we celebrated the end of the ride! The feeling of satisfaction and achievement will live with us for the rest of our lives.
After numerous photos, hugs and phone calls to our families, we were off to make our grand entrance at the Leadership Conference at the Grand Hotel….and what a welcome we were given. To the most amazing amount of cheering, the team one by one walked into the main conference hall and we were warmly welcomed by circa 350 of our Bright Horizons' colleagues and ushered up onto stage to be interviewed by Lydia and Stephen. It was a fabulous welcome and hugely appreciated by the team.
So, after ten hard days of cycling, we were in Brighton, the six core cyclists have now raised just over £12,000 for the Foundation and in total including suppliers donations, money raised by the team in the U.S. and various nurseries in the U.K., we have now raised over £40,000 which is truly amazing. I know a lot more nurseries are planning fund raising events and so we are very confident that by the end of June we will have raised over £50,000.
Thank you to everyone who has been involved – in particular I would like to thank Sarah Coffey, Penny Ainge, Tracy Wilkes-Green, Caroline Reed, Steve Hickson, Peter Hill, Heidi Falconer, Abi and Adrian, Rob Booth, Katherine Smith, Elizabeth Boland, Gary O’Neil, Keith Henderson, Darren & Avril at Wellingborough Cycles, Claire from Altens, Debra Smith, our main sponsors - Smudge and Dribble, Cool Milk, FMS, Cofely and Matrix Uniforms and of course our wonderful cyclists – Lee, Caley, Nick, Cheryl, James, the nurseries who all welcomed us so well and everyone who has been kind enough to sponsor us or played a part in the fundraising efforts.