Chatting to Simon Runton about his RideLondon Experience

I’m sitting in the brand new Sensory Play Garden at Cherry Trees chatting to Simon – now one of our Trustees – about his RideLondon experience. Thinking about it, with the sun shining on us, perhaps we should be out on our bikes having this conversation. Anyway, we’re in the garden and I begin with the obvious question, how did you find RideLondon?

‘It was brilliant. It was really, really good. Really enjoyed it. […] It was a lovely, warm, sunny day […] Everyone nailed it. And everyone absolutely loved it.’

‘All the cyclists are just out for a really good time and everyone's in the same boat. Everyone is just helping out, having a chat with each other, it's a very friendly atmosphere’. Simon certainly describes a carnival of cycling excitement that almost makes me think I could manage the 100 miles tomorrow on the back of that energy alone. It is certainly an experience like no other, joining thousands of other cyclists, for a day’s ride with the cheers of crowds rather than the honking of car horns filling the roads.

For Simon, a highlight was cycling past Cherry Trees itself: ‘the support you got from the children out there; they made a real effort. It was lovely’. Simon and the team were specifically raising money for hoists at the time. Equipment that has made such a difference to the care and experiences we offer at Cherry Trees.

A smile comes across Simon’s face as he also reveals that ‘doing it in a really fast time was really, really good’. A time of 4 hours 53 minutes is certainly impressive. It comes with the caveat though that ‘I've never felt so bad after a 100-mile bike ride, having just been on the coat-tails of these guys who are going so much faster than me’.  That doesn’t take away the thrill for him of RideLondon retaining the title of his fastest 100 mile cycle ride ever, but Simon does suggest that others ‘pace it better and stuff the time’ for a more enjoyable ride.

Not to put off any new cyclists, Simon remembers the team’s varied skill levels from cycling novices to a British cycling coach. All the team committed to the challenge and everyone completed the ride. Simon assures riders thinking of taking on the challenge for the first time that 12 weeks is plenty of time to gear the body up. Taking that slower, methodical approach allows you to enjoy, rather than dread, the event.

RideLondon was one of Simon’s first encounters with Cherry Trees. He admits not knowing much about the charity at the time, but Cherry Trees was local to him and a deserving cause he felt he could get behind. The experience of riding for a charity, gave ‘that extra added purpose to it. It was really, really good to do.’

Now a Trustee, he reflects warmly, looking around the garden and over to the main house, that the ‘thing about Cherry Trees is that once you’re involved, you really want to give more […] this place has a real charm. And it makes you want to do more. Well, it certainly did for me. So I've sort of become more involved since taking part’.

Representing a charity means fundraising, which Simon admits wasn’t his strength. ‘It was generally begging friends to give me a few bob […] telling them about Cherry Trees and they were very generous in offering their support’. Luckily for Simon, and many like him, that’s exactly what we’re here for, to support our challenge teams with their fundraising efforts. Simon concurs that ‘the support you guys give is certainly key’.

And with that, a neighbour begins mowing their lawn and our interview comes to an end. There is just time for Simon to add, ‘one day I might do it again…’