Manchester to London 2016

On Sunday 4th September, 169 cyclists rode Manchester to London, a yearly ride from the north to the south of England. Organised by Rapha to raise funds for the British charity Ambitious about Autism, M2L is a 220-mile long day in the saddle characterised by camaraderie on the road, and a long, rewarding route through England’s green heart.

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An ambitious undertaking

“There was no point doing something too easy and achievable,” said Rapha founder Simon Mottram at the event sign-on the previous evening. “Ambitious about Autism is a well-chosen name because we have to be ambitious about helping people with this condition. 220 miles [350km] is not an easy ride, but it’s entirely appropriate that it will stretch you and be tough.”

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Pedals at dawn

A rainy 6am roll-out was a sobering start for the riders, but there were still smiles before the miles ahead. It must have been that heady combination of nerves, bravado and fear. In the shadows of the Manchester velodrome, wet bags were handed in, breakfast wolfed down and instructions issued – it was time to get on the road.

Keep on keeping on

How to approach a ride of this length? Simon Mottram had issued everyone with his own advice the previous evening: “1.) Ride slowly – start slowly, and stay slow. 2.) Eat all the time. 3.) Don’t ride on your own – a minute alone is a minute harder than it should be. 4.) Keep on keeping on – the perfect motto for when we feel broken and need to remind ourselves why we’re here.”

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Club spirit

Over a third of the participants of M2L were members of the Rapha Cycling Club. Some, such as the Belgian Bert Van Lent (pictured above, left), had travelled from afar to take part. “I have a friend with an autistic child and she has a really tough time so the cause is important to me,” said Bert, who raised over £3,000. The club spirit was strong today.

Matchbox Peaks

By far the hardest part of the ride, in terms of weather and terrain, was the Peak District. As the early morning rain hammered down, and amid the gloomy mist of the long rolling hills, those first 50 miles saw many question what torture they had signed themselves up for. With so far to go, every effort uphill seemed another burnt match in a box that hopefully wouldn’t empty before London.

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Checkpoint No. 1

Leaving the Peaks after 48 miles, the riders found the first checkpoint at Carsington Water. Rapha H-Van Pedro served up warming coffee and blankets were available to the shivering riders. A sense of fear hung in the air, but the collective regrouping was a mental boost. This was also the first chance to eat proper food, and the sausage rolls and pies – handmade by a gentleman who completed the ride in 2014 and 2015 – were a sensation.

Head down

With the rain easing and the hills behind them, riders put their heads down for a late morning stretch towards lunch at Bosworth Hall. With many slowed down by the weather, a good average speed was required here to avoid missing the time-cut at the next checkpoint.

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Roadside relief

With the grit of the off-road Monsal Trail section in their rear derailleurs, and cups of coffee in their bladders, these three riders appreciated a squirt of de-greaser and chain lube, and the chance for some light relief by the roadside.

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A stately home for aching bones

After 86 miles, the regal Bosworth Hall offered up its finest carpets and drawing rooms for the riders to stretch out in. It was something to take the mind off the endless tarmac trudgery. Others opted for a quick bite and a moment’s reflection on the steps before riding off again.

A green and pleasant ride

Manchester to London is a quintessentially English ride, a journey from industrial north to metropolitan south through the patchwork green in the middle. Riders from the north wore red caps, and riders from the south blue ones. The signs along the route also changed colour from red to blue halfway along, a moment that elicited cheers from every passing group. We can do this!

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Everyday heroes

Support is a blessed companion on long rides like this. Families who live close to the route came out to cheer on riders, while other supporters left handmade signs offering encouragement. “Seeing those signs made us feel like the world was on our side,” said one rider afterwards.

London calling

As darkness fell, and the participants spread out along the route, the final stretch into London beckoned. Turning bike lights back on was another cornerstone of the day: the lack of daylight was a challenge, and riders needed greater energy and focus to concentrate at a time they had never been so tired. At the same time, the first red buses to pass by signalled a reassuring beginning of the end.

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After the pain, champagne

This tale between two cities ended with a velodrome finish and swigs of celebratory recovery drink. Friends and family cheered in every rider, who had earned their applause 220 times over. With more than £130,000 raised so far, and donations still incoming, Manchester to London provides a big help to Ambitious about Autism’s ongoing work. Congratulations to all of the riders for their strong legs and sterling fundraising.

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Finish line images by Jesse Wild.

Finishing times

Below we present the full list of finishing times for this year’s Manchester to London ride. Results in red are riders from the north, and results in blue are riders from the south. The average times of each side are as follows:

North: 16:02:05
South: 16:00:31

Congratulations once again to the south, although the north is closing the gap…

Number Finish time Participant
72 12:11:57 Simon Holliday
194 12:13:21 Gareth Winter
19 12:23:33 Jake Brodetsky
9 13:13:03 Thomas Bass
21 13:40:26 Manuel Buck
117 13:53:51 Shaun O’dwyer
121 13:53:51 Dov O’Neil
113 13:54:06 Rob Nicholas
53 13:59:43 Matthew Ellam
33 14:02:34 Andrew Clarke
163 14:03:01 Melanie Smith
193 14:04:14 Matthew Williams
57 14:12:06 Henry Farrell
197 14:14:06 Robert Young
14 14:26:25 Nick Bell
176 14:26:27 Jonathan Tobin
199 14:26:27 James Craddock
93 14:26:28 Dan Ledermann
3 14:29:30 Hannah Alton
59 14:38:36 Brian Forrester
64 14:42:30 Simon Frost
131 14:51:07 Christopher Phillips
192 14:51:07 Kev Willers
15 14:52:55* Hillary Benjamin
183 14:52:55* Daniel Versace
140 14:52:56* Yasemin Richards
139 14:52:57* Melissa Richards
102 14:57:25* Donna Marsh
13 14:59:07 Robin Bedford
171 15:00:13 Chris Talks
66 15:00:14 Robert Giles
167 15:00:50 Edward Stringer
187 15:00:50 Brendan Warn
68 15:00:50 Nick Habgood
52 15:06:31 Matt Easton
128 15:06:39 Jeff Pelling
35 15:08:14 Phil Cook
181 15:08:14 Bert Van Lent
180 15:08:30* Patricia Valenzuela
30 15:08:32* Zuzanna Ciszewska
65 15:16:46* Harvey Gallagher
47 15:18:49 Justin Dowdall
185 15:22:58 Dan Walker
73 15:23:14 William Holtam
38 15:23:17 James Corlett
74 15:23:17 Ruth Horn
40 15:23:32 Martyn Craddock
157 15:29:10 Nicholas Seville
142 15:29:11 Steven Roberts
156 15:29:13 Lewis Seville
151 15:35:40 Serge Sarramegna
153 15:39:21 Sean Schofield
174 15:39:44 Andrew Thornley
44 15:40:00 Chris Cullen
11 15:42:04 Ollie Beakbane
37 15:42:05 Eoin Corcoran
86 15:42:05 Ryan Jones
134 15:42:07 Nigel Rayner
99 15:43:39 James Lyon
82 15:43:41 Richard Jackson
98 15:43:44 Peter Lunt
178 15:43:44 Ian Tucker
5 15:43:59 Steven Arrowsmith
116 15:46:08 Julian Oakley
172 15:46:31 Joe Thomas
138 15:46:32 Greg Reynolds
101 15:46:33 Sam Macqueen
198 15:46:33 Luke Young
16 15:50:01 Thomas Booth
149 15:51:01 Paul Ryan
112 15:51:03 Felix Newman
111 15:51:07 Miles Newman
108 15:54:19 Simon Mottram
125 15:54:25 Simon Parker
20 15:54:27 Gavin Brown
61 15:54:29 James Fox
141 15:58:40 Rupert Rittson-thomas
77 16:02:29 Ben Ingham
191 16:02:55 Richard Wilkinson
195 16:02:57 Tom Withers
148 16:02:58 Will Rostron
196 16:02:58 Chris Young
144 16:03:03 Steve Roche
182 16:08:22 Philippe Vandenbroeck
200 16:15:21 Brendan Quirk
84 16:15:36 Alan Johnson
49 16:16:26 Andrew Dudman
168 16:19:23 Steffen Stritzel
137 16:19:28 Patrick Reinhardt
162 16:19:28 Tom Smith
177 16:19:31 Adam Trunoske
105 16:23:26 Chris McILroy
132 16:24:12 Timothy Pulleyn
169 16:24:41 Simon Sumner
58 16:25:02 Aleda Fitzpatrick
154 16:25:02 Roger Seaton
8 16:25:03 Luke Barnard
36 16:25:03 Ben Cope
120 16:25:04 Maria Olsson
135 16:25:04 Fenella Reed
161 16:25:06 Luke Smith
94 16:25:12 Jaewon Lee
164 16:25:47 David Smith
170 16:25:48 Pete Swift
50 16:28:53 Michael Duffield
92 16:28:54 Paul Latter
160 16:29:30 Michael Siviter
22 16:30:08 Mark Bulling
109 16:32:13 Adam Murphy
63 16:32:31 Chris Fraser
28 16:32:58 Graham Cherrill
119 16:33:03 Adam O’Loughlin
122 16:33:50 Phillip O’Neill
155 16:33:59 Gary Sedgwick
45 16:34:00 Rick Denney
79 16:35:31 Nara Ishikawa
7 16:35:38 Tim Barber
43 16:35:39 Ed Cruttenden
166 16:36:22 Rob Steward
165 16:38:00 Anna Stark
75 16:40:57 Toby Hunter
129 16:41:17 Kitty Pemberton-Platt
31 16:42:52 James Clark
32 16:42:52 Sarah Clark
4 16:48:43 Christian Archer
186 16:53:00 Matthew Walsh
145 16:53:02 Max Rose-Collins
152 16:58:03 Mark Schmid
158 17:01:07 Mark Shaffer
173 17:01:11 Campbell Thompson
76 17:04:56 Graham Ilott
78 17:04:57 David Ireland
95 17:05:02 Nathan Lee
69 17:07:10 Paul Harding
41 17:11:01 Martin Crawford
159 17:11:03 Michelle Sharland
46 17:11:15 Bruce Dickerson
146 17:14:47 Matthew Ross
83 17:14:57 David Johnson
175 17:20:31 Phil Thornton
103 17:21:40 Andy Matthews
150 17:23:25 Kevin Sanderson
70 17:23:38 Paul Herbert
190 17:26:33 Stuart Whitehead
189 17:26:34 Andrew Westhead
126 17:27:37 Steve Parry
12 17:27:43 Sam Bedford
107 17:27:44 Cameron Montgomery
48 17:30:01 Stuart Downie
88 17:30:04 Lisa Ketteringham
60 17:30:29 Daniel Foster
56 17:32:20 John Fahey
143 17:34:25 Andrew Robinson
136 17:37:48 John Reid
115 17:42:07 Lorna North
106 17:42:09 Katy Miller
55 17:47:52 Emma Evans
91 17:47:52 Helen Latham
179 17:56:42 Angelica Underwood
17 18:13:28 James Bradley
147 18:39:24 Tony Ross
1 —:—:— Matt Adams
26 —:—:— Andy Carroll
97 —:—:— John Lockwood
104 —:—:— Tamas Matyus
118 —:—:— Rufus Olins
127 —:—:— Davide Pearl
10 DNF Bela Batorfi dr

* These riders did not complete the full distance and so their times were not included in the average calculations.