Velusso and The Starr Trust – Brighton to Amsterdam
Cycling more than 500km from Brighton to Amsterdam requires a good reason to do so, which is where The Starr Trust features, a family run charity based in Brighton & Hove that supports young people aged 10 –18 to fulfil their potential in sports, arts & education.
With around 50 riders, split into four groups, we threw our legs over the saddle and set about ticking the kilometres off, one by one. Velusso’s Sara Leatherland was along for the ride and recounts the trip day-by-day.
Day 1 – Wednesday 26th June – Virgin Active, Falmer to Folkstone 132km
Day one was the toughest day in regards to elevation and the fact that we were riding into headwind all the way. Despite this everyone made it safely and on time – one group did leave at 6am to ensure they wouldn’t miss the Eurotunnel! I started in Group 2 to assist ride leader Chris with leading the group which contained many lesser experienced riders, none of whom had attempted an event before like this either.
Day 2 – Thursday – Calais to Gent 144km
After the first stop I moved to Group 1 to help Fran with ride leading, taking the front navigation role. There were lots of beginners in this group so dealing with bike fitness, agility, group riding and mental state of mind at times too – the longest day – nearly broke a few of them, with one lady having to do the last 30km in the van to save herself for the following day. The tram lines in Gent caused a few issues, but everyone made it to the end of day two safe and sound, excited for the second half and the ride into The Netherlands.
Day 3 – Friday – Gent to Tilburg 122km
Day three was definitely a better day for people, as after two days in many were beginning to get into the flow and become used to the pain which comes with the long efforts in the saddle. As the photo shows, it was a lovely ride through Antwerp, almost enough to forgot the pain in the legs.
Day 4 – Saturday – Tilburg to Amsterdam 114km
The final day was by far my favourite day! Beautiful scenery, everyone on the path to completion, lovely barge rides to break up the day and a visit to a pancake barge for a welcome first stop. We all regrouped about 8-10k from the finish and I then led the whole group to the finish line.
It was great for Velusso to be playing a part of this event, with their supported training rides from Virgin Active Falmer and the Velusso Café Ditchling with friends Fran and Chris, as well as assisting with some of the food and drinks for feed stations.
Undoubtedly, day four was the highlight for me, seeing those beginner riders making it safely to Amsterdam having committed to training from January. Seeing it all come together through the pain, tears, heat and all – that’s what made it so special for me.
It’s impossible not to mention the camaraderie of both the two groups I was in, a lot of love and respect for each other amongst the ranks. You put a different bunch of people together for endurance and a challenge like this and teamwork kicks in – it is a good feeling – people become really supportive of each other. I think these two groups gained the most out of it. People found it tough being in the saddle for hours and hours, day after day and it was getting hotter each day too – Saturday was a scorcher so had to ensure everyone kept drinking. The fact they now love cycling and just want to do more is pretty satisfying too!