Ambitious 220 - Why cycling is more than riding a bike
Last weekend the Ambitious 220 took place as a self-supported and self-guided long-distance charity ride in aid of Ambitious about Autism. Rapha set up the challenge in accordance with their annual Manchester to London ride as a remotely ridden challenge on any 220-mile route.
Read more on the challenge itself and Simon Mottram's, CEO Rapha, personal reasons to launch this event on Rapha's website.
René Laurent, procurist at the Argon 18 authorized partner VeloZeit in Hanau doesn't need to think twice when it come to charity rides and connecting people. With the motivation to share memorable experiences and come together in a group, where riders with different backgrounds build a network and support each other he initiated his personal project Chain Gang. He thinks that just like in cycling, the group is always stronger than the individual. In the long run he wants to establish a social club where everyone is welcome and no-one gets dropped. It's all about emotions, fun, cohesion and mutual support.
As kick-off ride René called out to participate in Rapha's Ambitious 220. René himself had to cancel the ride last minute because of health reasons but is planning to reschedule his 354km to a later date. He still brought the group together for a pre-ride dinner in Frankfurt and supported them vigorously throughout the weekend.
Since a lot of competitions and also group rides were cancelled during the last year, Ambitious 220 came up as a great opportunity to challenge oneself, ride for a goal, simultaneously support a charity and get to know new people who are sharing the same passion. That is why the cyclists Christian, David, Laura and Patrick decided to take part.
Day 1 - A bumpy start but still a highlight
The locals Laura and David had planned the 245km route and departure was planned for 6:30 on Saturday morning. Argon 18 Sales Agent in Germany, Christian, and his friend Patrick left the hotel with the first sunray and rode through the empty streets of the sleepy city. Arriving at Laura's and David's place they found out that it was not only the city still sleeping. After overhearing their alarm the couple rushed to get in their cycling gear, had their obligatory espresso, and already survived their hardest moment of the weekend, as Laura told us later.
With a good deal of ambition and anticipation, the group started their first day in Frankfurt, heading to Heidelberg. Christian says that he had never ridden 200 km before. Nevertheless, he felt joyful excitement rather than doubts or concerns when he made his first pedal strokes that day. The cafes and restaurants along the route were good intermediate goals for him and helped to split up the route mentally.
After only 7 km the group had to stop with two sobering tire punctures on account of broken glass on the streets. After the quick repair, they made their way along the river Main towards the first bakery stop. Just a few kilometers before fueling up with coffee and pastry another flat tyre stopped the group again. Against his own expectations, Christian hit his low point after the bakery stop. He argues that due to the bumpy start he didn't got to manage his eating right, overcompensated for that and was then lacking power in his legs. Concerns about the remaining 170km came into his mind but he pushed through it and when the route came to a longer climb he was in his element again.
Bright smiles when the four reached Heidelberg. Everyone was ready for pizza and espresso before hitting the road again for the last 88 km of the day.
All riders name the whole Saturday as their highlight of the weekend. Without knowing each other before the harmony and riding rhythm were marvelous and Patrick sums up:
"The group was perfect, the route was awesome, the atmosphere was so good and the food was fantastic. It was just a lot of fun."
The group found some extra power in their legs when the sun started to set, the air got colder and Frankfurt was in sight. With a thousand impressions from the 15 hours they had to spend on the road, everyone was exhausted but happy and proud that they had finished more than two-thirds of the challenge on their ambitious first day.
The biggest surprise was René and his wife Bella waiting in front of the door with ice-cold beers, excited to hear about the day. Coming home to this was definitely one of the highlights of the weekends and almost more joyful and rewarding than finishing the challenge on Sunday, Laura says. David adds: "It was just the perfect end to a perfect day."
Day 2 - Join the ride
110km were still to ride in order to finish the competition. The riders started a bit later than Saturday and with a bigger group since some more cyclists from Hanau joined for a sunny coffee ride to Mainz.
Through a nature reserve with some gravel sections and beautiful views, the group made their way to a cafe where they took an extensive break, enjoyed good coffee, banana bread, and avocado toast.
After fueling up it was time to bring it home. Ironically it ended how it started - with another flat tire 9 km before Frankfurt. It couldn't wreck the spirit of the group and with a smirk, on their faces, they quickly changed the tube and moved on.
Is it real?
"It felt unreal to arrive in Frankfurt again and even after a cold shower and a big food delivery it was difficult to realize our achievement." David tells. Now it's time to give the legs some rest days and pause for a moment to take in all the impressions and emotions from an exciting weekend. It was an unforgettable experience for everyone involved and the next adventures together are already being planned. Maybe 300km in one day.
This weekend showed us once again that cycling is so much more than just riding a bike. It connects people who were strangers before a joint ride, it makes us support and cheer on each other and encourages us to take on new challenges and adventure.
These are the two routes from Saturday and Sunday.