Instead, they converged upon our Leeds office, ready for a weekend involving a set of handlebars and mile upon mile of open road between them and Slough. The 2017 Telefónica Cycle Challenge, raising money for NSPCC, was underway.
Setting off bright and early on Saturday and taking a tour of various pub & supermarket car parks for pit stops along the way, our group of lycra-clad legends arrived in Newark – their finishing line for the day – after riding 87 miles.
At this point, you’d think they’d be glad to give their rumps a rest, get out of the saddle and enjoy a comfortable lift to their hotel 15 miles away. But no – amazingly, they decided to ride their bikes to the hotel, taking their total mileage for the day to an incredible 102 miles.
Following an early night (although not before managing to coax an extra £32 of donations from unsuspecting locals), the riders began again in earnest on Sunday morning, winding through some beautiful countryside and even travelling through a short section of a pro cycle race, where the marshals even stopped traffic for them. 76 miles of pedalling later, they arrived in Bedford, where they were thankful and amazed to discover that you can buy pizza by the square metre.
Having battled their way through the Monday morning rush, our cycling stars finished at 1.30pm looking like they’d taken the 17 hours’ saddle time completely in their stride. They rolled across the finish line to the sound of Queen’s “Bicycle Race” and greeted by Patricia, Ann, Ed and some of O2’s finest cheerleaders, before being joined by Mark and presented with commemorative medals and some well-earned chocolate.
And as if cycling 250 miles wasn’t enough of an achievement, their efforts have raised over £8000 for the NSPCC. Although the challenge is complete, you can still make a donation on their JustGiving page.
Huge congratulations to all 23 riders – and a special mention for Tim Burton who, as well as getting sore legs taking part in the ride, got sore fingers sending over 4,600 emails to organise the whole thing.