It is said that a change is as good as a rest. This weekend I found myself with a rare weekend off from my life in orange as at both of the circuits I call home, Anglesey and Oulton Park, there were bike meetings on and for me they just don’t appeal to me like car racing does. This meant that I needed to fill the time with something to keep me out of trouble for a couple of days rather than my usual marshalling duties.
Some like to seek out race meetings away from their home circuit and experience a change of scenery and the opportunity to meet marshals who call that circuit their home. This weekend however I felt my time should be spent getting out and about on my bicycle and start training for a mammoth task later in the year, more of this later. Some sort of motorsport would not be off the agenda though as I am a complete racing addict, and prescribed myself a healthy dose of motorsport was throughout the weekend, with TV coverage of the World Touring Car Championship from Russia, and the Canadian Grand Prix providing my motorsport ‘fix’ from the comfort of my sofa, though it just isn’t the same as being outdoors on the bank marshalling at a club meeting at Anglesey, where you have to get stuck in and get involved in a number of different and challenging duties that you would normally do as a marshal.
So I mentioned the bike, a long neglected friend that lives in my shed, and it was time to let it see the light of day for an early Saturday training run around Ormskirk. This wasn’t just for the love of cycling, as I would not say I love cycling per-sé, but it is in preparation for an epic event that is in aid of a good cause that is close to many within the marshalling ranks. In November this year, a group of marshals will be undertaking a bike ride from Mission Motorsport’s headquarters near Wantage in Oxfordshire to Anglesey Circuit in the week leading up to the 2016 Race of Remembrance, with a cramp inducing 230 miles covered over four days, with the work that Mission Motorsport does to change the lives of medically discharged military service personnel our inspiration. Our route will cover some of the toughest climbs and terrain in the UK as we head over the Shropshire hills, onto Chirk before heading into North Wales and straight over the Snowdonia mountain range.
The idea to take on this challenge and raise money for Mission Motorsport followed the 2015 Race of Remembrance where the challenge was to have our legs waxed, and the Lady Marshals as they do ‘Made it work’ and raised over £1,200 in the process, and we wanted a new challenge that would be a true test of mind over body, and could potentially raise even more money than ‘Operation Leg Wax’ achieved. You may already know about the work that Mission Motorsport do in supporting those who have become injured or sick while serving the UK at home and abroad, but if you haven’t then Mission Motorsport is the forces motorsport charity and aims to provide vocational training and life skills to injured forces personnel and aims to give them back a purpose in life and overcoming barriers to achieving a normal regular life that most of us take for granted, whether that barrier be physical or mental injury, and their vehicle that provides that opportunity is motor sport. Many of the people who have passed through Mission Motorsport’s care since have gone on to take placements at Jaguar Land Rover, Bentley and race teams. A very worthy cause I hope you agree.
The route across North Wales isn’t one that should be taken lightly and therefore some training is clearly required, and with November fast approaching (it’ll soon be Christmas too), that had to begin as soon as possible, and so myself and fellow marshal and Ride of Remembrance participant Rob Lee decided that a 30 mile route around West Lancashire would be a good start to our training program, and one that wasn’t too undulating either.
The ride was set around the roads around Ormskirk and Burscough, and captured the best that Lancashire’s countryside could give us, with fantastic scenery and plenty of wildlife to be seen and heard. The ride started off dry from our starting point near the M58, and remained so for the most part until the last half an hour or so when the heavens began to open, and some welcome rain descended upon us. We got round in approximately 2 and half hours including much needed rest stops for me towards the end of the ride. Clearly more training and a gym membership are now required before I venture onto Anglesey circuit in November, but the great work of Mission Motorsport is inspiring me to make this happen.
Written By Andrew Roberts