Blood, Sweat & Gears
Between the months of April and September there is a small ‘war’ occurring between cyclists across the Army; it’s called the Army Cycling Road Race Series. Packed together in a group known as a ‘peleton’ it moves at speeds in excess of 30mph, constantly accelerating and flexing depending on the tactics being applied. Your heart rate is rarely below 85% of its maximum limit and over the space of 1 hour you are pushed to the very limits of your physical and mental ability. Violently jostling for position to stay out of the wind, watching your adversaries for any sign of weakness to exploit, avoiding the crashes, this is what WE do. We, the Gunners are very good at this, so good in fact we have beaten the rest of the Army teams at it for the last 2 years; no mean feat indeed!
Gunner Cycling is not just about competing though, it is about sharing a common passion. Currently Gunner cycling combines three disciplines, road cycling, mountain biking and time trialling (race against the clock). The majority of competitions run from April through into October, leaving the winter to either train for the next season or to cross train. We have our own team kit and also possess road bikes for loan to personnel who are keen to get involved with competitive road cycling. We also run two training camps each year, one in the UK and the other overseas. This year the locations were Thorney Island and Cyprus; next year will be Wales and Majorca. There is also our blue ribbon event of the year, ‘The Great Gunner Ride’, which is a 50 mile bike ride conducted across the beautiful rolling countryside of Wiltshire, starting and finishing in our Gunner home of Larkhill. We also complete numerous endurance rides during the year including the Prudential RideLondon Surrey 100; this year with a team of 20 riders we raised in excess of £4500 for the Defence National Rehabilitation Centre.
The health benefits of cycling are substantial. Low impact, great for the heart and lungs and above all the opportunity to explore all combine to make it a fantastic activity to do. In one hour of cycling you can potentially burn up to 1000 calories so it offers a great weight management tool, and makes you feel good too. Cycling offers personnel recovering from injury the perfect activity to return to full fitness, and there are numerous examples of this in our community of Gunner cyclists.
So if you are tired of running the perimeter fence and fancy improving your personal fitness whilst doing something that will get you out exploring the big wide world then Gunner Cycling is for you! Every Gunner unit has a cycling representative to offer advice and guidance and we have a vibrant Facebook Group. Alternatively get in touch with me and I will enlighten you to the numerous benefits and opportunities our Gunner cycling community has to offer.
SSgt Jake Clapp