On an otherwise uneventful lunchtime on 26 November Dan and I set off from NR HQ to Broadgate Circus to take part in the IG Markets Square Mile Challenge – a series of one mile races on static Wattbikes against four of the professional Team Sky riders. This promised to be a great event and would be a one-off chance to test our sprint speed against one of the Sky team which consisted of: 3 time Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins; Olympic gold medallist and current British Road Champion Geraint Thomas; European Under-23 track champion Ben Swift; and former National Road Race champion Russell Downing. A formidable line-up!!
We arrived at Broadgate Circus to be greeted by the sound of Wattbikes spinning and the commentator urging people to push through the pain to try to get near the Sky riders’ times. After a quick check-in Dan and I found ourselves lining up against Geraint Thomas along with 5 other riders for our race. Having never used Wattbikes before we listened to the brief instructions that were being barked out, Dan tried to use some mind games on Geraint by offering him some “advice”, and then we were off…
Everyone dashed out of the blocks and it was pretty level across the board for the first 400 metres. As fatigue started to set in a few of the riders dropped back, and a quick glance at the virtual race display showed Geraint, Dan, one other rider and I pushing ahead. One kilometre gone and the legs are starting to scream – but we keep pushing and for a brief moment Dan and I shared the lead. 1400 metres gone and it’s a case of just trying to hang in till the finish line – everyone is starting to tire, except Geraint Thomas who has built up a lead of a couple of second. Finally the finish line is crossed and a look at the final race display shows Geraint Thomas in first as expected, with Dan and I 4 seconds back. One other rider just pipped us for second place, but that didn’t detract too much from any otherwise enjoyable race. Our efforts didn’t quite manage to secure one of the new Pinarello bikes that were up from grabs for setting the fastest time of the day or beating one of the Sky riders (although a successful “prediction” on IG Markets’ “guess the closing mark of the FTSE” competition did) but it was great to see the Sky riders in action and has given us some more encouragement to push a bit harder in our interval training sessions!
After we got our breathes back, we were lucky enough to get chatting with a couple of the PR team from Team Sky / British Cycling about RAAM next year. Special thanks go to Abby and Katy for organising some signed jerseys that we will auction/raffle off as part of our fundraising for Barretstown in the coming months.