In March 2017, 190 brave cyclists set out on the notorious Cycle to MIPIM – 1,500km cycling challenge from London to Cannes over six days. The event is run by Club Peloton, a fundraising charity that runs cycling events to help disadvantaged young people, bringing together property professionals to network on two wheels.
All participants commit to raising £3,000 for Club Peloton’s beneficiary charities and this year the event raised an astonishing £621,800. Coram is Club Peloton’s main beneficiary – receiving two thirds of all funds raised – and is the UK’s longest running children’s charity with a fascinating history.
Established as The Foundling Hospital in 1739 to care for London’s abandoned babies, Coram has been creating better chances for children for the last 278 years. Founder Captain Thomas Coram campaigned for 17 years and was eventually granted 56 acres in Bloomsbury to lay the foundations for social care in the UK. Today this remarkable legacy lives on as the charity now known as Coram helps 1.25 million vulnerable children and young people each year through its pioneering services. Coram Adoption is its flagship service and is the most successful voluntary adoption agency in the UK. This is the core service that the Cycle to MIPIM participants support, and their hard work enables the Coram team to find safe, loving and permanent homes for some of the country’s most hard to place children.
Chris Lapsa, Director at Gisborne Investment Group, took part in the Cycle to MIPIM for the first time this year, and he and his team raised an astonishing £47,500 – contributing significantly to the overall fundraising total.
We spoke to him a few months on – once the aches and pains had faded! – to get his take on this epic event, and to hear more about his experience.
When did you first start cycling?
I was drafted into the ride late in December 2016 and my wife bought me a road bike and some gear for Christmas. I had thought that playing tennis 3 times a week was keeping me relatively fit – how wrong I was!! My first ride was on Jan 4th when I attempted 20km locally and struggled. After that ride I thought I had made a colossal error of judgement in committing to the event as the sheer magnitude of the challenge hit home. A visit to the pub and a chat with a few people who had already done the MIPIM ride calmed the nerves and so I started training in earnest.
Have you done the Cycle to MIPIM before?
This was my first endurance event since running a couple of London marathons 20 years and quite a few pounds ago.
How did you train for the Cycle to MIPIM?
I took the training seriously given low initial fitness levels, high heart rate and carrying too much weight. I was 87.5kg, standing heart rate of 71bpm and found 20km rides a struggle with an initial pace averaging 18km/h. I did 2 rides of 20km per week for the first few weeks and tried to do 30km at the weekends for the first 3 weeks gradually increasing the long ride at the weekend but still could not manage back to back rides of any note and was not losing any weight.
Around mid Feb things started to change. I was stronger, my heart rate had dropped to 64bpm at rest and I was 85kg. Hills were still an issue and I still had not done more than 50 km as a long ride. Over those last 3 weeks before the event I did 4 rides between 80km and 112km, increased the average speed to 22km/h and was riding 4 times a week at distances between 40km and 60km including some hills. I was still very nervous about the ride and harboured doubts of being able to manage the minimum requirement of 90km per day for 6 days. I was doing spinning classes with some friends on Thursday mornings and also some long rides with them on Sundays. All the time in the saddle really helped.
What was your highlight of this year’s ride?
It is very difficult to pick a single highlight but if I had to, it would be the bonding with my training group. I was already great friends with Gordon Aitchison and Bill Hughes at L&G but Gordon picked an amazing bunch of people with which to train. We took regular spinning classes on Thursday mornings in which I took on various shades of scarlet, and I did 4 long rides with them. The training was one thing but the way in which we all pulled together on the trip – the laughs and encouragement – really carried one through what turned out to be an amazing adventure and an enlightening trip personally in so many ways.
What was the hardest thing about the ride?
The hardest thing was training in such a short period of time but I can honestly say if I can do the ride from my level of fitness, which was extremely low, there is hope for anyone. Two key things. First, get yourself into a group which is positive and trains regularly and second, try to abandon any fear – once you free yourself mentally you can do much more than your mind will initially let you think.
We heard the money raised is going towards Coram. What does Coram mean to you?
On the last night of the ride we had a talk from the Chief Executive of Coram. She gave a fantastic, motivational and moving speech delivered in a sensitive and poignant manner. It was some speech, and there was not a dry eye in the room. My group raised a large sum with a major contribution from my friends at Delancey. Coram is clearly an incredible organisation run by lovely people who selflessly help children who have fallen off the life path which we all take for granted on a daily basis. To be tangential to the staff’s cause in a small way is deeply rewarding.
Will we see you again next year?
No. I intend to bask in the glory of finishing the ride for a few years yet, thank you!! Maybe when I am 60 (which is only a few years down the line).