Paralympic Cyclist, Crystal Lane is auctioning a Sky Team Jersey signed by no fewer than 22 Paralympic & Olympic Cyclists. All proceeds go to FRANK Water. Place your bids here Read on to find out more about Crystal's ride for FRANK Water.
When FRANK Water asked me to fundraise for them by riding the Wiggle Dragon Ride in Wales my first thought was it would make a nice change to not ride my bike for me but for those people in India who need safe water. I was shocked when I read the facts on their website about how many people still don't have access today. It's something I've taken for granted living in the UK.
I planned to make a weekend of it by camping the night before near Margam Park in a lovely, friendly campsite called Brynhyfryd camping and so travelled down to Wales on Saturday afternoon from my base in Manchester where I live and train as a track sprinter on the para-cycling squad, full-time. Cycling outdoors can be hugely dictated to by the elements and the weather forecast was mixed for the weekend. I had cycled an hour to and from training in the days leading up to the race and been soaked from the rain almost everyday. I don't dislike riding in the rain but I LOVE riding when it's warm and sunny.
The race was actually going to be part of my regular training, set but the coaching staff in Manchester. Normally I do a road ride on a Saturday and rest on Sunday so it made little difference to my schedule and was nice to ride a new route. I was extremely lucky with the weather, the tent was set up in glorious sunshine and I ate my dinner outside on the grass but the resident chickens also wanted a taste and one even tried to get to the chicken breast I was eating! Camping is great for getting an early night and by 9pm I was tucked up in my sleeping bag. Shortly afterwards, it started to rain which is a great sound on the tent.
My alarm went off at 7am - it was warm and the sun was shining. I fuelled well for the riding ahead by eating porridge, boiled eggs and a banana (not all at the same time). Then I drove to the start line along with the other 4,500 people! With my number pinned on the back of my FRANK Water t-shirt I stood at the start line. There were so many people and lots were also riding for charities. People were chatting away asking what previous training people had done in preparation for the event. I knew Wales was hilly as I used to race for a Welsh team a few years back in Abergavenny and the training back then has still, to this day, been some of the hardest I've ever done because the terrain and weather conditions can be very tough.
The route started along a fast dual carriage way and as I started near the back of the group I spent the first couple of miles making it safely towards the front. There were a few hills at the beginning but then a long, fairly steep hill after a couple of miles. A lot of people were walking up it and I'd be lying if I said my legs weren't hurting towards the top, but I didn't have to walk up it thankfully! Eventually I found some people at the similar pace to me and for a few miles we worked together by taking it in turns to ride on the front into a strong head-wind near Porthcawl beach. It was such a sunny day that when the route took us along the seafront I was grateful it was busy with traffic because it meant I could take the opportunity to look at the stunning scenery. The roads were generally free from traffic and I met up with a guy along the route and we rode the last part together back into the green fields near Margam park. It meant I got to chat about FRANK Water too as the t-shirt was a good conversation starter. He was riding for the charity 'Help the Heroes' which is a well-known one but he hadn't heard of FRANK Water and I enjoyed telling him about them.
It was a hilly drag back to the finish line but with my water finished I wanted to get back for some refreshments and also to meet my friends who had come to see me finish the route. There was a great sense of pride to finish the route knowing I'd completed it to help others. I met up with my friends, refuelled and hydrated and then made my way but up to Manchester in preparation for training on Monday afternoon at the velodrome.
Back at the track I spoke to my team-mates, told them what I'd done at the weekend and asked them to sign a brand new Sky cycling jersey to be sold at auction for FRANK Water. Everyone around that day happily signed the top for me and I managed to recruit 22 signatures including multiple Olympic and Paralympic medalists. The auction goes live today for one week.
Place your bids here
If you’re a keen cyclist and would like to ride for FRANK Water, why not sign up for a place at one of our cycling events.
The women-only Cycletta series comprises six events of varying distances. FRANK Water has four places on offer. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
Or for an extended challenge, go for the Tour de FRANK, a ride from London to Paris. Check it out here