It’s not every day you get the chance to cycle with a former Tour de France winner but on the day of Tuesday May 9th in London at the Adobe Digital Marketing Conference I got just that chance!
The opportunity came about thanks to Adobe Cycling arranging a handful of bike rides from the ExCel centre in East London as part of the conference’s networking event. I found out about it quite late on via Twitter, signed up as quick as I could but initially ended up on the reserve list. A reserve list to cycle with the 2011 Tour de France winner – Cadel Evans! Check out his book on Amazon – ‘Cadel Evans: The Long Road To Paris’.
Shortly after my initial application some good news came through, I was riding, but not on the supplied BMC bikes but on whatever I could get to London for 7:30 am. That being my Brompton fold-up bike as it’s not easy to get anything full-size on the trains into London at that time of day!
As it happened a bike with my name on it had been set up, albeit was a bit too big for me, but nethertheless, I was now riding and wouldn’t look out of place trying to keep up on a folding bike. Although Cadel did jibe that I was the only one wearing trainers (I didn’t think I’d need my SPDs) and that I was sporting a very retro, circa mid 1990s Banesto top … before swapping to a better looking L’Alpe d’Huez one. Having cycled up Alpe d’Huez with my girlfriend last September it was fresh in my mind, so I asked him whether he’d ever cycled up it! Doh! Being a seasoned Tour de France rider the answer from Cadel was an unsurprising “Err – yes I have.” lol
Once everybody had arrived, had tried out their bikes and supped a cup of wake-up coffee we were all set to go and headed off into the East London commuter traffic. After a few detours due to the group getting split up at various traffic lights we took a route down some graffitted canalpaths, close to the notoriously dangerous Bow roundabout. Here we decided wisely to hop off our bikes and use the pedestrian crossing.
Soon after we arrived safely at the Olympic Park. It was just before this, sandwiched between the pavement and the stationary traffic that a young lad on his road bike pulled up alongside us. Wanting to “share the wealth” I acknowledged that it looked like he was a cycling fan, and that he should see if he could recognise the guy in front of us. He instantly said “Cadel Evans?” and so I gestured for him to roll over and say a quick “hello”, which he did, so I hope that made his day that morning too.
Our group was on the small side so we each had the opportunity to ride alongside Cadel and chat away with him. As I was behind Cadel Evans on the narrow camel path section it was at me that he directed “rider up” (cyclist coming towards us) and “pole” (which errr meant there was a pole in the ground!). I probably took more than my fair share of his time but also chatted to who I thought was just another conference attendeee when in fact it was the CEO of BMC bikes who was riding the latest piece of BMC road bike porn.
At the Olympic Park we headed to the velodrome to have a quick look round. I’d been fortunate enough to witness Bradley Wiggins’ 1hr time-trial record there as well as having a “taster” session on the track itself just one year before so it was good to be back. For a lot of the riders in the group it was their first time! Shame we couldn’t go for a quick spin 😉
I didn’t need to worry about keeping up during the ride as although most ot the other attendees looked like seasoned enthusiasts the idea was to have a gentle ride, and anyway racing through the streets of London isn’t really an option at that time in the morning.
So all in all it was a great (but very early) fun morning bike ride that only came about through a work conference and a chance tweet from @AdobeCycling pointed out to me by a colleague. If someone had said back in 2011 while watching the “Tour” on the tele that I’d be out riding with that year’s winner 6 years later I’d have thought they were a bit barmy! Cadel was perfectly friendly and happy to answer a lot of my inane questions. “Take the opportunity of a lifetime during the lifetime of the opportunity” and all that 🙂