Following an awesome feast at the hotel the night before, there was a certain nervousness in the air the morning after-as well as a few flecks of rain to contend with as the team prepared to head out on to the tarmac for the 44 mile morning stint from Consett.
The first challenge of the day, initially dubbed ‘The Monster’ was affectionately misheard as “The Lobster” and that was that. Up The Lobster they went… with a 15% incline at its peak, The Lobster was a beast and really did prove a challenge for even the most experienced riders. But the amazing riders dug deep and conquered The Lobster in fine form, getting past arguably the most challenging bit of the 7 day ride beautifully.
With a further 24 miles of beautiful riding to go to lunch, the euphoric feeling of overcoming the morning stint followed through the day to the doorstep of the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Catterick, Phoenix House.
Here, the riders met up with all the participants and WIS on the North 260 and were taken on a tour of the Recovery Centre in action with Band of Brother’s member Justin Henderson.
Justin works on Phoenix House reception desk three days a week. Prior to that, he served with the Royal Logistics Corps as a postal courier for over 16 years. Justin loved his job in the Army and was devastated when, only 4 months after being promoted to Sergeant, a freak accident while stationed in Germany left him with a broken back and limited mobility. Part of his recovery brought him to Phoenix House to attend courses … and has been here ever since. He says if he can’t be in the Army, working in the Centre is the next best thing!
Justin watched the 2014 Hero Ride pass through Catterick and made a vow to be one of the cyclists this year. His parents Robert and Sue travelled up from York to wave him off. It was the first time they had seen him ride a recumbent bike.
Speaking just before he set off for Harrogate, Justin said: “I am excited and anxious but really looking forward to being part of a large team, all with the same aim – to complete the challenge and raise lots of money for Help for Heroes. I want to give something back to the Charity that has really helped me on my road to recovery and to make my family proud.”
Waved off by school children, the local Fire Brigade and the Dragoons band the riders had doubled in numbers to take on the afternoon stint-40 miles to Harrogate.
One participant had a catastrophic gear cable failure on the route which swiftly repaired at a local shop for no charge at all. The generosity of the Great British public has been immense over the past few days with almost £700 in donations being collected!
Riders reached Harrogate with huge relief following a massively emotional and tough day.
Double the numbers, double the fun! Dinner is at 1920.
Tomorrow we take on a mighty 100 miles, the longest distance we’re covering in one day! Until then…
Big or small, every donation makes a difference to our wounded Servicemen and women and their loved ones.