This Friday and Saturday, 14th and 15th September 2012, respectively, will be challenging days for me, and will count among two of the most physically demanding days of my life. On Thursday evening I will join my Cisco colleagues taking part in the Deloitte Ride Across Britain (or RAB as we call it), to raise funds for the Paralympics GB team. I’ll forsake my desk and comfortable chair, and over Friday and Saturday, I will cycle 238 miles (close to 400km!), including over 11,000 feet (over 3,300m) of climbing, from just outside Glasgow, in the west of Scotland, to Fort William, and then on to Kyle of Sutherland, which is around 40 miles north of Inverness.
On Thursday and Friday evening, I will join the camps -- yes, tents in a field, no luxury hotels here!! -- as you can see from my short video from last year’s RAB camp at one of the stages.
Wow, this will be quite a change for me! Normally I’m part of the Cisco Data Center Services team -- you may have seen my previous blogs on Cisco Data Center Services, including Cloud and Cisco Intelligent Automation. Let me tell you a bit more about this major Cisco UK and Ireland “Giving Back” initiative, and the role that Cisco technology is playing as we traverse the country.
Over 60 of my colleagues from Cisco UK -- including our senior vice president Phil Smith - are taking part. Many of us are unashamed “MAMILS” -- “Middle Aged Men in Lycra”! A few of my colleagues are already en-route, cycling all 963 miles from Lands End, in Cornwall, England, at the southern-most tip of Great Britain, all the way north over 9 days, to John O’Groats, the northern-most part of Scotland. Most of the Cisco team will tackle one or two stages.
Last year, I completed one stage of this event. This year I’m tackling two stages, from just south east of Glasgow, up through the Trossachs, through the wild and beautiful West Highlands, passing my favourite local ski centre, Glencoe Mountain Resort, through the iconic and historic Glencoe mountains, to Fort William, where we will camp for a night in the shadows of Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis.
On Saturday we’ll continue north, by the famous Loch Ness. No doubt we’ll be looking out for the Loch Ness Monster as we cycle by! Overall there will be 600 cyclists joining us each day in this substantial event -- latest photos and chat are on the Deloitte Ride Across Britain Facebook page.
Our office colleagues are not getting away with just watching: Cisco have established a “Virtual RAB” in each of our UK and Ireland offices -- exercise cycles are available and quite a number of our Cisco UK and Ireland colleagues will compete to see who can do most miles without leaving the office!
The event kicked off last Friday evening, where Tim Reddish, Chairman of the British Paralympic Association and five-time medal winner at three Paralympic Games -- Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney - talked to the Deloitte RAB participants via Cisco TelePresence from the “Cisco House“. The Cisco House, based just outside the London 2012 Olympic Park, is part of Cisco’s presence as the official network infrastructure supplier to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.
There will be other speakers, on most evenings, as the participants gather for a briefing on the next day’s stage. Then it will be back to the tents, with a 5:30am (ouch!) wake-up call -- usually loud music played on huge loudspeakers! -- so that we can get ready to take to the road at 7am. The RAB will conclude next Sunday, 16th September, in John O’Groats, in the very north of Scotland, with participants cycling over 100 miles each day.
Cisco is the official technology partner of the Deloitte Ride Across Britain and is providing the Cisco “NOW” Van -- Network on Wheels -- so that RAB participants can connect to friends and family via a satellite link, provided by our friends at Harris Caprock. At each of the camps -- some of them in pretty remote locations -- we’ll have access to Cisco IP phones and wireless internet access courtesy of the Cisco NOW van.
The Cisco team are aiming to raise £30,000 for the Paralympics GB team. Got to say, I was impressed and inspired by the Olympic athletes during London 2012. That said, I’ve been even more impressed by the Paralympic athletes, their motivation, and their achievements. Truly inspirational. It does, therefore, feel good that we’ll be helping more Paralympic athletes compete at the highest levels in future events.
So ….if the Olympics and Paralympics have entertained and inspired you, perhaps you can help us meet our target by sponsoring us here on the team page, or (shameless plug coming up!) on my fund raising page.
Look out for an update for me next week, where I’ll share some of the experience and some of the pictures en-route. And let’s hope the weather forecast changes from what it currently looks like!