Here are our Founder’s thoughts on the epic 125 mile cycling adventure…
Where do I even begin? I cannot describe just how incredible my Miles4Mintridge experience was on Monday 20th May 2019, on what was quite literally a trip down memory lane alongside friends, students and teachers.
ENJOY THE JOURNEY AND NOT JUST THE DESTINATION!
This is something that I failed to remember on my personal hockey journey, and I am determined to not let happen on my Mintridge one. Hopefully, this was echoed in my enjoyment throughout my time in the saddle on the #Miles4Mintridge cycle.
Ten years on from leaving school, I was determined to mark the occasion in the best possible way to give just a little something back to the three schools that I attended from 1995 – 2009. Cranford Primary School, Kimbolton Prep School and Gresham’s School are integral to Mintridge’s journey. This was to be achieved by cycling between the three schools and delivering assemblies and presentations in each school to showcase just what is possible once you leave. In doing so, I hope that students realised that with passion and purpose, anything can be achieved. Money raised along the way has gone into supporting the continued work of the Mintridge Foundation.
The route plan can be found here: https://www.mapmyride.com/workout/3504862198
No words in this blog will give the support that Mintridge received on the day justice, so thank you. Yes, I was riding the bike, but as one of our World Record Holding Ambassadors, James Golding always says, there is always a team that gets you there and as I look back from my deciding on my initial little crazy idea, here are the people that made the journey possible (which I believe to be well over 400 people):
- The greatest support network around me that continuously allow me to be me and to follow my dream – MY FAMILY!
My fiancé, Pistol Pete, you put up with my crazy ideas, my nerves, my training and even joined the end of the cycle support team, less than 24 hours after the end of your stag do. Thank you, you are the reason that I can do what I do and continuously lift me up! You were also able to bring Flick (our wonderful cocker spaniel) along on the route when I needed the biggest pick me up of them all at around 100 miles in!
My mum, Joey P, you have been there through it all, and you know me inside out! From driving the route with me beforehand, calming me the night before with face masks and a bucket of pasta, to keeping me on track physically and mentally for the 13 hours in the saddle! I strive to make you proud for the selfless commitment that you give to my sporting journey.
My dad, Normski / Normatron 3000, wow, you are the hardest working person in my life and an amazing mentor for the ups and downs of building Team Mintridge. Your support in the lead up kept me sane and to maintain sight of the end goal. Thank you for just being you.
My brother, Sam and your remarkable fiancé Emma, for continuously being there for me, especially with flags outside your farm gates in support of the #Miles4Mintridge journey. To be nearly knocked off my bike by Tyskie (Sam and Emma’s Labrador) was a close shave but added a little excitement to the day! Your successful career and thirst for life is the greatest showcase for a younger sibling!
To Nana and Auntie Mandy, who were there either at the start or during the cycle with beaming smiles to support me. Thank you! Nana, delaying your tee off time for goal has not gone unnoticed and I will make it up to you with a large glass of vino rouge!
- Our fantastic partners, Squadkit
Your passion for supporting Mintridge is so very appreciated and we are very grateful. In particular, for the #Miles4Mintridge cycle, we would like to thank Lucy and Mark for kitting all the cyclists and support team out in brilliant tops but also having the highly sought after Squadkit minis leading the way and transporting various individuals to different points made our lives much, much easier! Thank you.
- Our Mintridge Trustees
Wowzers, Lucinda Berry and Tara Belcher, your commitment to supporting Mintridge is remarkable but to have you join me on the first stage of the cycle was just what I wanted and needed (if only to stop Max getting annoyed with me wanting to play I SPY en route). Thank you for all that you do to support the Foundation and especially for getting in the saddle as well. This is the definition of “GIRL POWER” and you certainly inspired a certain Olivia Berry on the day which is the very essence of Mintridge.
- Our Mintridge Team
The day ran like absolute clockwork which enabled me to just focus on pedal power. This is thanks to our Programme Manager, Katie Smith and the Mintridge staff for being the best team behind the team ensuring that everything was in place throughout the day amongst a very busy schedule of programmes with our partner schools.
Thank you very much to Holly Skelton for the preparation that you gave me in the lead up to the cycle. The focus on the glutes and hamstrings in the tough gym sessions made the recovery that much easier!
- Eat Prepped
Thank you very much to the Eat Prepped team that created a bespoke menu in the weeks leading up to the cycle following advice from British Cycling. I felt strong heading in and a lot of that is down to your time, thank you.
- Cranford Primary School
Cranford Primary School staff and students set the bar extremely high with their level of support to kickstart the next 125 miles. I thoroughly enjoyed delivering my assembly to the students before being slightly struck with emotion at the “Sending Off” Party! Having the students lined up with banners was simply magical and their chants of “Go, Alex, go!” were heard as I made my way across the A14 to enjoy the rest of the journey! It was great to be back at the school that my passion for sport really began and I hope that it isn’t our last visit. I would like to particularly thank Mr Albert, Mrs Leesing and Mr Hole for supporting the initiative and really getting behind what we do and the values of Mintridge. The magnificent “Mufti4Mintridge” day was a wonderful bonus and created greater awareness of our cause, thank you!
- Kimbolton Prep School
Mr Foley, every Headteacher should be like you! Your idea of joining me with the students for well over ten miles enabled us to showcase the importance of physical activity. Being back in the Prep Sports Hall to deliver an assembly to the entire Prep about my journey from being Wingfield House Captain through to winning the Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Award, twenty years on, I hope showed students how different pathways can lead to brilliant things (as well as showing some rather embarrassing old school snaps as well). I loved leaving the school gates with you and Mrs Ainsworth as we made our way to Grafham Water and beyond, thank you both very much for your generosity.
Anna, George, Beatrix, Elizabeth, Arthur, Charles and Jude, House Captains of the Prep, you should be extremely proud of your contribution to the day. Your 10-mile cycle had some very tough elements to it and all that I could see was the absolute determination to succeed. I loved cycling alongside you and getting to know what you enjoyed doing in and out of school. I know that there were a few students that wanted to continue onto Norfolk with me, so we might have to look at another trip next year!
- Gresham’s School
To be greeted with Gresham’s flapjacks at Haddenham Library after approximately 50 miles of cycling, was a sure sign that I was going to be in safe hands for my journey onto Holt! Jo Thomas – Howard was the very first person that I spoke to from Gresham’s about the Miles4Mintridge idea, and she has driven it forward from day one, so thank you for all of the support in the lead up to it and your energy and positivity as part of the support team for the final 74 miles was WONDERFUL. Alongside, Chris Manders in the Gresham’s minibus, I am sorry to you both that I wasn’t going just a little faster as you patiently drove behind for the remainder of the trip, thank you both.
Paul Barrett, Julie Flower and Howard Olby – wow, I just did not expect the level of support that you gave me. Paul, particularly in the lead up, thank you very much for keeping me updated with what was happening at Gresham’s to putting plans in place. Thank you to each of you for sharing the journey with me, I would love to say that I loved every minute of it, but the bleakness of the Fens was really testing me! I am so grateful that you were there alongside me pushing forward and keeping me chatting, ensuring that I wasn’t hallucinating and discussing all things wedding for the summer ahead! Julie, thank you to you and Nigel for hosting Mum and me for the evening as I waddled up the stairs and dived into a bed as far away from a bike as possible!
Gresham’s is a very special community that I hold very close to my heart and I feel privileged to be part of it, but why, oh why is it so far from home on a bike? I kept asking myself this! The special community was highlighted in Matt Durke, an OG that left the year before me that demonstrated such kindness for my cycle. I haven’t seen Matt since he left Gresham’s in 2008 but he was an integral part of the day. Matt guided me with various tips for long distances, as well as keeping the cyclists safe on his motorbike just ahead or just behind the pack at all times.
Katie Walton, I never thought I would be as happy to see anyone in Fakenham Morrisons Car Park as I was to see you there raring to go for the final push. Thank you very much to Colin Scholes for dropping Katie off to support me towards the final straight. Katie, I wasn’t as chatty as I normally am but your encouragement was amazing, I loved catching up with you and hearing how everyone is getting on. I felt like it was 2008, back on the hockey bus on an away match again having a good old chin wag – just perfect!
My biggest apology must go to Dr Fern, Matron and the Edinburgh Girls as I didn’t arrive on time for your wonderful reception. Thank you very much to Tyler and Matron for coming out to greet me with the delicious cake and fantastic wheels and I am so pleased that I was able to share the experience with everyone the following morning. Being back in Edinburgh was rather emotional (I am sorry about the tears) and I loved meeting such an enthusiastic group of girls in a wonderfully decorated common room full of bike wheels to mark the occasion. “EDDIE, EDDIE, EDDIE! OI OI OI!” Thank you to Edinburgh, Oakeley and Queen’s House Girls for joining in with the #Miles4Mintridge on your indoor bikes in the Common Room. Collectively, everyone cycled 125 miles which was just amazing for everyone to be part of the journey with me. This was particularly special as some of our Mintridge mentees were involved that have worked alongside the dynamic duo of Eboni Usoro – Brown and Pamela Cookey!
- My Wonderful, Wonderful Friends
A huge thanks to my wonderful friends that couldn’t be there on the day but have put up with my endless planning for the cycle and have known that my focus has been towards this for the last few months. Jo, I am sorry that I had to leave your hen party early to get the final bits of preparation ready, I can confirm that I will make up for it at your wedding and I will show that dancefloor what the greatest Spice Girls fan can do.
Thank you to all my friends that have donated from near and far, your support means the world to me as I know you all realise the determination that I have for Team Mintridge to succeed!
Here’s to my friends that joined me along the course, so, in order of appearance:
Shemilt – Where do I even start? 21 years on from standing at the very same
school gates waiting to pick us up from school, I absolutely loved having you
there cheering me off on the long journey ahead. The journey back might have
been slightly different for you, but I hope that the Budweiser waiting for you
in the fridge was still the same. You are Mum’s best friend and your support is
quite simply FANTASTIC, just like you!
- Liz Titheridge – Thank you for accompanying Nana at the start line, to have beaming smiles at Cranford meant that the task in hand was much less daunting!
- Max Hunter – Maxy, Maxy, Maxy, joining me for ten miles of the cycle meant so, so much. As one of the friends that I hold dearest from Kimbolton Prep, it felt only right that you were there to cycle through the Prep Gates with me. Our fun games on the journey kept me laughing and joking which is just what the Doctor ordered, so much so that I would forgive you for being in Montagu! I am also sorry about your flat tyre!
- Robert Rockcliffe – Rocky, from being thankful for keeping Pistol Pete sane post stag to seeing you in deepest, darkest Norfolk on the route, I am very, very grateful!
- Jess Malings – I am writing this shortly after your magical wedding day, but you will always be Robins to me! At Great Massingham, I was at my lowest point and seeing you stood outside the Dabbling Duck gave me a little tear (ok, quite a few tears but my sunglasses hid that) as you selflessly left wedmin with only 5 days to go to join me in support. We won’t tell anyone that you joined me from Holt to Gresham’s as you were ill! You are one of the most loyal people that I know, and my Gresham’s years wouldn’t have been the same without you! It was so fitting for you to be there at the end of the journey with me.
- Alice Lake – From the decadent picnic along the River in a punt on Saturday, I was in a rather different frame of mind at Great Massingham. Seeing you there with Pete was absolutely amazing and gave me the exact boost that I needed heading into the final stage. Thank you!
- Matt Hardy – Fresh back from the Manchester stag do with my husband to be in one piece, to then still be awake and in a positive frame of mind was quite simply remarkable! This was over and above any Best Man duties and that means so much, thank you.
- Team Mintridge Ambassadors
Last and certainly not least, I would like to thank the Mintridge Ambassadors that work tirelessly to showcase the work of the Mintridge Foundation. The videos and messages that you kindly sent through to us throughout the day pushed me forward when I was really struggling. Stevie Eskinazi’s “Tough time don’t last but tough people do!” came at just the right point in that killer “hill” into Holt! Thank you everyone!
The Mintridge Foundation is a registered charity dedicated to enhancing life skills in young people through sport. We provide a support network for young people by harnessing the power of positive sporting role models. The Mintridge Foundation assists young people of all ages, abilities and physical capabilities to develop confidence and resilience, and creates awareness of the importance of mental and physical wellbeing through sport.
Our team of Ambassadors – Olympians, Paralympians and other professional sports stars from over 20 sports, both team and individual – work with young people in schools, clubs and academies across the UK. Starting with visits including assemblies, coaching clinics and classroom sessions tailored to each organisation’s requirements, our ambassadors can then provide one- on- one remote mentoring in a safeguarded environment, delivered via technology such as Skype and Playwaze to build a lasting legacy for individuals.
The Mintridge Foundation’s successes demonstrate the incredible power of sport; from a mentee’s selection to represent Great Britain in their chosen field to enabling disabled children to find confidence and happiness just through participation. Understanding life after sport, we also support our Ambassadors in their transition from active sport to the next stage of their careers.
There is still time to donate, and if you would like to, you can just here: https://themintridgefoundation.charitycheckout.co.uk/cf/MilesForMintridge
If you would like to see the video of the day, you can do so just here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vwfUOVzChw
If you would like to see the album of photos, you can do so just here, please feel free to tag away: https://www.facebook.com/pg/MintridgeFoundation/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1767197853425602&__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARAxyQv9kivRgOt7_TNVdjF-DA2mTgiiZ2c1jXthth5zO8IX9ZvoFxEI81clhR15PJwF9xfFMcZ7jF5POYUgzPeGBQzVLhUIVIApF5puoPHsqJ-yagm6uNMeuuewfAIYDdLa_wfSrKbL6OvQiOfPkkADz-wJZoQVpC6Cq7TeDJG6tB-0ENEg1GIm7egagw6dvYBmyToQxK-sF3X68Mt0MQc0mJF1hqR0ekcAUtjCvRizgvyd8KQSd029UbbNVK8OsLXxWJzIqflH9wyvXKBIr_tIXs6GuXTXLNAnGPu7RSwllQ0knmix1oQaX0QAhcuKvboLTjQxUdJfi5RdUIj9pp2BeXx0RkqMCInWR6p6myKIRFsJ5_Mgcc6qVfjFsiweW4UOJHYehJneOxyQlTxDN5HvOjQ2FTr_atf0CvYYgjJrjzbcg3lQvv5frxLiuNeKXum_M9mwJ65KKZJFQ488&__tn__=-UC-R
It is now time to maintain perspective on what is also very dear to me alongside Mintridge and that is my friends and family. This kickstarts with supporting one of my bestest buddies in the whole world, Miss Laura Sugar, walking down the aisle next week as well as preparing for my own wedding at the end of August. I promise to not be too much of a Bridezilla, Pete…bring on wedmin and spreadsheets!
Over & Out,