The Longest Day

The group have continued their Wednesday social rides throughout May and June. Included in those sessions was an extended 32 mile day out via the Nottingham Canal to Beeston weir by the River Trent and back to Hucknall on National Cycle Route (NCN) 6.
Since 8 of our members were committed to taking part in the Great Notts Cycle Ride 50 mile event on Sunday 21st June an additional Sunday 42 mile ride was arranged on Sunday 14th on a route suggested and ably led by John ‘Bradley’ Saunders from Hucknall to Calverton, Epperstone, Hoveringham and Gunthorpe where we joined the River Trent path to Colwick Park and then onto Trent Bridge before returning to Hucknall again on NCN route 6.
June 21st Midsummer Day, the longest day and for some of the team their longest ride. The Great Notts Cycle Ride is an established event that now starts and finishes on the Embankment.
With some encouragement from more experienced colleagues 8 of our group registered for this event, some of the proceeds from the entry fee go to a nominated charity and in addition some of the 3000 riders also raise money for a range of other charities. There are 25, 50 and 100 mile options and we entered for the 50 miles. We registered our group name as ‘The Easy Wheelers’ partly as an acknowledgement to Alan Snape who started the group under this name from the early days of Hucknall U3A and was the co-ordinator until last year. Thank you Alan.
Mention must be made of the anxiety felt by Irene Astill, Val Gant, Jean Cragg and Roy Beadle who had never attempted that distance before. They were assured that it was mainly downhill apart from the uphill bits.
We set off in a convoy from Hucknall Market at 7.30am on a clear, dry but very windy day which made the uphill sections that I had forgotten to mention hard going.
On the day we were joined by some younger family members who tried to keep up with us. It was a great day out riding with a range of people of all ages, sizes and cycling experience.
An impressive feat was the unicyclist who completed the 50 mile route and the surprising sight of a group of rather large Raleigh Chopper riders in full fancy dress on the 25miles and who were finishing around the same time as we were crossing the finishing line at 2.30pm after nearly 5 hours in the saddle.
U3A is about learning and taking part in social, physical and intellectual activities to enable that. What was learnt? I believe the main lesson was that you can do things that at one time you never thought you could. The commitment to do something beyond previous experience led to a sense of satisfaction around the achievement of a group goal that had to be worked for over a period of time. It was not about racing, or being first, it was about doing something as a group where we learnt from each other.
Next year it’s on June 26th and I’m sure we will be there.
David Rose / Irene Astill

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