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Department of Plant Sciences

Miles on wheels

James Barlow, a technician in David Baulcombe's group, has pledged himself to ride 20,000km on his bicycle in aid of Papworth Trust.  As well as cycling in to work and at least one day of the weekend he, with a group of other like-minded people, attempts long distance rides and has currently completed the Hotchillee London to Paris 3 day stage ride this past week (see the report below).

James and his friend Jon Summerson also completed a 243km ride in one day, cycling from St Ives-Birmingham-Melton Mowbray-Rutland and back into St Ives 14hrs later.

James has also done the full length Liege-Bastogne-Liege 280km in one day through the Ardennes region and the Jurassic Beast 160km in Dorset.

James and his group we want to raise £12,000 and currently have a total of £3,000.  If you wish to add your support you can do so at his JustGiving page.

Hotchillee report:

The Papworth Trust Challengers took part in the Hotchillee London to Paris 3 day stage ride this past week. James Barlow and Jon Summerson were racing with the British Professionals including Greg Mansell (yes Nigel's son) and former UK champion/teamGB Dean (Deano) Downing, as well as some very professional amateurs in Group 1. Meanwhile Dan Hawes with old trusty (£650 aluminium Claud Butler) and Kieran Caulfield were pushing around a very tough route in Group 6, unfortunately K had to pull out 40km into stage2 with medical/technical issues.

Day 1 Esher,Surrey to Folkestone, group 1 was very twitchy as everyone settled into riding together, with great support from the Hotchillee ride captains, especially The Bull! Day 1 was full of crashes in all groups, all the Challengers came through unscathed. In group 1 James and Jon raced each other during the General Classification (GC), King of the Mountains (KOM) and Sprint, all taken by James.

Day 2 Calais to Amiens, group 1 was a lot better, with everyone getting used to who they were riding with and again the challengers came through unscathed. Dan got a soaking in the afternoon, as well as Hailstone therapy. There was crashes in group 3 down to 6 but nothing in group 1. Group 1 pace was up on day 1, with both the GC and KOM twice as long as day 1. James again took all 3 race sections ahead of Jon, with the 20km GC being lumpy with a strong headwind, James nearly made it onto the pro lead group but didn't get on and settled down into a high pace tempo ride, Jon came in on his own as well, well up the standings. On the KOM James was nicely placed at the foot of the climb and managed to claw his way up to 14th by the finish. In the sprint we stayed in the lead group, James sitting on Jon's wheel and then zipping by with 50m left to take it from Jon.

Final day Amiens to Paris, Dan was sent away in group 6 first thing, James and Jon finally had a lay in. Up first was the GC, another 20km blast with some rolling hills but nothing hard and lighter winds. This time the main Peloton stayed together, with most being dropped managing to get back on. Both James and Jon worked to stay in and eventually a bunch of around 30 broke away. James had managed to stay in the front group and settled down mid bunch as we motored towards midway. Just before the 10km mark, Deano, Greg and 3 others went off the front, but the first group managed to keep them well in sight. The front group settled into stalemate but with about 2.5km to go James caught them napping and shot of the front, but was caught and taken back into what was now a group of 15, finishing about 100m behind the 5 leaders. KOM as with day 2 was just over 2km, not as steep but a really nice spinning grind through the woods. With the section starting beyond the bottom of the hill, this meant the peloton thinned well before the KOM section, James powered up, keeping the leaders well in sight most of the way, Jon had a good day to and we finished 12th and 16th. In the sprint James and Jon didn't really bother but Jon maintained a high pace on the run in and finished ahead of James.

After lunch Dan, James and Jon all joined up and we cycled within the massive 6 group peloton to Paris in the rain, Dan riding the last 4km on thin air with a front wheel slow puncture (skills) over slippery cobbles leading to the Eiffel tower.

First result is the special award top speed, goes to the downhill Demon Daniel Hawes, with a whisker under 45mph.

Skills award, Daniel Hawes, for riding the rim on cobbles.

So here are the GC times for each stage and overall, with the final finishing position in brackets (group 1 only for each stage, but ranking all groups for the overall), followed by Team Papworth Challengers overall place. Please remember, the timings are for GC race sections only, we didn't get to Paris that quickly!

James Jon Dan Kieran
Total ride moving time was 16hrs:46mins:43sec
  • day1 17mins:31sec (57)
  • day2 37mins:11sec (44)
  • day3 no time posted on site
  • overall 1hr:27min:42sec (40)
  • day1 18mins:32sec (82)
  • day2 39mins:22sec (64)
  • day3 no time posted on site
  • overall 1hr:34min:31sec (69)
  • day1 32mins:22sec
  • day2 58mins:26sec
  • day3 no time posted on site
  • Overall 2hrs:26min:08sec (276)
  • day1 32mins:23sec
  • day2 58mins:44sec

Papworth Trust Challengers finished 5hrs:27mins:51sec in 18th place out of 38 teams, with the leading team on 4hrs:03min:38sec.