The Virgin Media Manchester 100 team on their bikes

Virgin Media’s 100-mile cycle challenge

Tristan Dhalla, Lead for Management and Behavioural Skills Development at Virgin Media, tells us how his team of ‘Mamils‘ raised £2,500 for Scope by taking on the Manchester 100-mile bike race.

It’s an inspirational tale of Lycra, teamwork  and questionable post-race nutrition. 

When one of our Directors laid down the challenge for the Virgin Media’s People Team to raise £10k for Scope, riding  100 miles felt like a good idea. Maybe this was because it was at our Christmas party and bravado had been enhanced by a couple of glasses of wine.

Anyway, a small, mediocre but keen group of cyclists from the aforementioned team decided to complete the Manchester 100 challenge around the beautiful countryside of Cheshire in September.

This gave us nine months to lose a few pounds and get in enough training; surely enough time?

The year seemed to fly by, involving two of the team becoming fathers (and thus making training a challenge) and a few of the inevitable niggles surfacing as we turned up the training into the summer.

Sadly, we lost one of our team members who fell off whilst training (she’s fine now, but was not able to ride for a few months so had to withdraw).

The big race

Fundraising for Scope provided us with a great opportunity to promote the work Scope does to change perceptions about disability. We asked with colleagues, suppliers, friends and family to dig deep and before we knew it, we were at the starting line; full of excitement and trepidation in equal measure, proudly wearing our jerseys emblazoned with Virgin Media and Scope logos.

Without a doubt, we were a marvellous example of ‘MAMILs’ –  Middle Aged Men In Lycra.

Thankfully the weather was kind to us and the first half of the ride was relatively uneventful, fueled by malt loaf, flapjacks and bananas (the usual fare of any cyclist).

We merrily pedaled along, chatting to other riders and immersing ourselves in the buzz of the day. The event was really well run, with marshals at each junction – almost like being in the Tour De France, just a lot slower!

We stopped in Nantwich for lunch at one of the designated rest points and munched on much needed sandwiches and cake washed down by the mandatory coffee.

As we ate into the final 50 or so miles, legs were starting to tire, we (temporarily) lost one of our team and those dodgy knees that once seemed to work fine started to hurt. The banter and excitement of the first half subsided as we started to count down the miles to go. The last 25 miles really started to bite, I guess we’d done most of the ride but there was still a fair bit ahead of us.

‘Emergency’ energy gels (basically like concentrated red bull in a sachet) started to come out from our back pockets and with only 10 miles to go, we knuckled down and sheer determination kicked in as our speed started to pick up with a realisation that we were actually going to nail this!

We span to the finish line in Wythenshawe Park motivated by will power, a sense of being part of a team and the knowledge that our efforts had contributed £2500 to the Virgin Media People Team Scope fund.

Post-race refreshments

As we all trickled over the finish line we were met with high-fives and cheers from the crowds who had gathered to watch the spectacle. We each tucked into some deserved cake and some much needed water as we received our certificates of achievement. The Big Mac (my treat I reserve for such auspicious occasions) I ate at the M6 services as I headed home to Bristol had never tasted so good. Next year anyone?