The Italian Cycle Challenge
Earlier this month, OSE was involved in the Italian Cycle Challenge, an epic cycle ride from the Mediterranean coastline of Italy to the Adriatic, crossing the Tuscan Hills, Apennine Mountains and mountain principality of San Marino along the way.
As well as providing three fundraising riders, OSE also donated its logistics support, in the form of two vehicles and drivers, for the duration of the event to assist with transporting the bikes, luggage and equipment to Italy and back, as well as further day-to-day support during the cycle challenge.
OSE’s involvement began on 1st June when the 40 participants’ bikes were carefully packaged and loaded onto the specially prepared vehicle to ensure a safe trip to Italy. Although holding no previous experience in the transportation of bikes, OSE are specialists in the transportation of high value and fragile goods as well as providing event logistics support for occasions such as the Graduate Fashion Week in London.
After completing the 2000km drive and arriving to Cecina, on the west coast of Italy, on Tuesday 3rd June, the OSE vehicles were met by the cycle challenge support team who helped to unload the vehicles and prepare them for the participants’ arrival the next day.
Upon arriving to the start-point in Cecina, the 40 cyclists including OSE’s David Bradley, Robert Cornell and Richard Lynn, were given a briefing by the tour manager before starting out on the ambitious challenge.
The cycle started with an absolute baptism of fire in sweltering conditions with a gruelling climb to the Tuscan hilltop towns of Montecatini and Volterra.
More experienced cyclists on the trip were amazed that the OSE trio were attempting the challenge in trainers rather than the more conventional cycling shoes and cleats with OSE Operations Executive Rob Cornell dubbed ‘the Converse Kid’ for his choice of footwear!
At the end of each day, after dinner, a yellow jersey was presented to the best performing rider of that day. Sadly for OSE, David, Robert and Richard were never really in contention for this accolade but none-the-less all thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
On the second morning, the group left the hotel in San Gimignano at 8.30am before climbing up to Castellina in Chianti. The Tuscan vistas were fantastic as we progressed through the Radda before ending the day at Laterina, North West of Arezzo. A total of 54 miles and 1560 metres ascent covered!
Good progress through the day meant that there was time for a swim in the hotel pool before dinner. However Robert Cornell was so exhausted after the day’s cycling that he went straight to bed at 16:00 and was not seen again until the following day!
Day 3 was by far the hardest day of the challenge. An early start saw us make our way to Capolona and then up high into the high mountains of the Apennines. If the early morning climb wasn’t enough, further climbing took us from Tuscany into the province of Emilia-Romagna. Luckily, the next stage was a magnificent 15 mile downhill experience. The mountain scenery in this area was absolutely breathtaking.
However, what we weren’t prepared for, after 70 miles of cycling already that day, was that the final 6 miles of the day was severely uphill and actually part of the 2014 Giro d’Italia route. For those nearer the back of the group (Team OSE) this section took nearly 3 hours and meant that we arrived to the hotel after 8pm, a gruelling 12-hour day!
Dinner was very much enjoyed that evening and a nice bed has never felt so good!
The final day had originally been planned as a pleasant 34 mile descent into Rimini, via the independent province of San Marino. However, the event organisers deemed this as not challenging enough and decided to almost double the total distance covered for the day!
Despite the additional mileage, when we reached the endpoint by cycling the final mile in a large procession, the sense of achievement was overwhelming. The Foundation of Light did a fantastic job in organising such a great event and the money raised is going to a brilliant and worthwhile cause.
David Bradley, Marketing Manager at OSE, said:
“It was by far the hardest, yet best and most rewarding experience of my life. The third day in particular was a big struggle but I am incredibly proud to not only complete the challenge but also to have personally raised over £1500 for the Foundation of Light, an incredibly worthwhile cause. Despite still aching I am already looking forward to being involved in next year’s challenge! It was also brilliant for OSE to be involved with the event logistics and our relationship with the Foundation of Light, as well as friendships made on the trip, is something we look forward to continuing in the future”
In total, the Foundation of Light hopes to raise over £70,000 from the Italian Cycle Challenge, with all proceeds going directly towards involving, educating, inspiring and motivating young people and their families in the north east through football.
We would be so grateful if you could support this fantastic cause by donating to OSE’s Foundation of Light JustGiving page at http://www.justgiving.com/teams/oseeuro.