Feature interview with Phil Jones, (Managing Director of Brother UK), who not only has helped many a team and rider in the sport through his company’s sponsorship of cycling, but also goes out and raises money to help future champions in his TOB1DA for the Dave Rayner Fund. Read the original article here.
Last week, one day ahead of the professional cyclists in the Tour of Britain, two very giving and keen cyclists, Phil Jones MBE (Managing Director of Brother UK) and James Golding (world record holder for the greatest distance cycled in seven days) rode the same demanding eight-stages in aid of the Dave Rayner Fund.
The cause for which they were riding, the Dave Rayner Fund, is the most well known of several British charity’s that exist in cycling to help riders make the leap from racing as promising young cyclists in Britain to racing abroad in search of that all important professional contract. And the success the Dave Rayner Fund has had over many years shows just how important its existence is for the sport.
The person behind the Tour of Britain 1 Day Ahead ride was someone we have seen supporting the sport for many a year. His keenness as a cyclist was first evident on social media and his website and then came the sponsorship of the Brother UK neutral service car which became multiple cars and they are now an integral part of the convoy at major events.
Then, as if that wasn’t enough, with sponsorship of teams difficult to find these days, Phil and Brother UK started giving a helping hand to both men’s and women’s cycling teams as well as events like the Tour of Britain, Women’s Tour and Tour Series and cycling media points such as Voxwomen and of course VeloUK.
From a VeloUK point of view, I would not have been at half the events I have been at this year if it wasn’t for Brother UK and their support in helping me serve the sport. When I get the feed back like that below from someone in the sport, it is humbling but also an example that one person can make a difference with help from companies like Brother UK.
Quote from a reader of VeloUK – “Your dedication to promoting the UK cycling scene is truly amazing. I don’t know what we would do without you! Yours is the site that we all turn to for the latest news on all things cycling. Your reports and photographs capture the action and results so well and your video interviews are just the best!”
So the influence Phil and Brother UK have on grass roots cycle sport is huge and with their support for the Dave Rayner Fund, that influence is spreading far and wide. Phil said before the big 1 day ahead challenge, “turning 50 in 2018 made me think about doing something big in terms of a physical challenge, while also raising awareness for the excellent work of the Dave Rayner Fund”.
“It’s a tough environment to succeed outside of the elite Olympic development programmes. In Britain, we have so much talent available, and we must provide adequate pathways for those individuals to succeed. When you consider how many of today’s professional riders have been helped by the Dave Rayner Fund, it’s clear to see that if we want to continue producing some of the best athletes in the sport, we need to help fund their racing abroad.”
On the ride itself over eight stages, Phil said before setting off “this will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done on a bike, for sure. Having started road cycling 10 years ago, I’ve experienced first-hand how much progress you can make with your physical and mental wellbeing by riding a bike. My first charity challenge was 30 miles from Manchester to Liverpool in 2008, which felt like a huge challenge, and now I’m ready to join James Golding in taking on the UK’s leading multi-stage race, totalling around 1500km of distance. Cycling has given me so much, and I am keen to give something back to the sport.”
And so Phil, along with James Golding, did just that when they started their ride at Pembrey Park on Saturday, September 1st. Following the riders and their challenge on social media however did not prepare me for the day I spent with them on the longest stage of all, from Nottingham to Mansfield. People look at social media and so on and think only of the ride they are doing, the same distance as the pros were riding over the same roads.
But there was much more to it than that. They were on the road longer because without the aid of a 100 strong peloton to drag them along, the speeds were slower and then there was the unexpected delays from having to stop at traffic lights, or cross busy roads or for punctures to the team car and so on.
On the day I was with them, they rolled out of Nottingham around 9am and rolled into Mansfield at 7.30ish. That is one long day! And then they had to get changed, get into a car and drive to the next hotel. I was exhausted after just one day on a motorbike LoL.
So how special are they for powering through the ride? (and I mean powering…)
I watched as they rode into a headwind all day at the front of the group with some special riders like Olympic medallist Bryan Steel, Paralympian Colin Lynch and absolute legend in British cycling history, Russell Downing. Their endurance and speed was not for the faint hearted. For eight days. Amazing.
So it was quite special to see them finish that ride around the streets of London and then have a chat, starting with the person whose idea it was in the first place, Phil Jones. I started by asking Phil what were his highlights of the week?
“There have been a few things that have stood out this week. For me personally, it was the Bristol to Bristol stage. That day we had Paralympians William Bjergfelt and Jaco van Gass as well as members of the Army cycling team including champion time trialist Ryan Perry. We rolled through Cheddar Gorge and it was spectacular; it was a truly beautiful day. The group was rolling along beautifully too and I felt so proud to be part of that group”.
A key goal for the ride however wasn’t just about riding the bikes as Phil explained. “Sure, we have been focused on riding each day but the key thing we wanted to do with this event was ‘professionalise’ it as much as we could. Have great media and great support so we could make sure we could focus on riding our bikes.”
“One of the major objectives wasn’t just about raising money but also raising awareness of the good work of the Dave Rayner Fund do so I think we have been humbled by the sheer volume of support we have had.”
An example of that support was at the Day Ahead fund raising dinner in London. “When we had our dinner, who should walk in but Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas! We also had Dave Millar too, Rus Downing, Adam Blythe, Brian Smith; it was like an A list of cycling celebrities in the room who had come to support our cause and that too was humbling”.
The idea he had had for this charity ride, which would be something to celebrate his 50th birthday in 2018, was now being full realised and when asked did the reality differ a great deal from what he thought it would be like, Phil replied “no, the reality of the ride hasn’t been a lot different to what I envisaged.”
“Riding the route has been beautiful and from a fitness point of view, I am very happy that my conditioning has been there so a big thank you to my coach Nico who has worked with me for the last year to get my conditioning in place”.
“What people don’t realise though is how tiring the transfers can be and we have had a lot of big transfers. To finish a long day (longer than the one for the Tour riders) and then get in a car for four hours to get some where else, food becomes fuel, sleep becomes important, and you are constantly packing and unpacking, washing kit in a bath and drying it, feeding yourself and then getting back on the bike. So I think that has been a real lesson in how hard riding a big multistage tour is”.
And the toughest day I asked finally? “The queen stage in the Lake District. That was a hard day with beautiful views. They were stunning, and I am sure the viewers on tele would gasp at the sheer beauty of the landscape. But my god, some of that climbing was tough and the stage had the toughest climb of the eight days without a doubt, a 1.5km at 18 per cent climb, hundred miles into the day – that was an absolute leg breaker!!”
It didn’t help that the night before this ride, the team car had had a puncture on the motorway and they didn’t get to their hotel until 3am. So it wasn’t just tired legs that had to be dragged out of bed so they could ride the toughest route of the eight days but very tired and sleep deprived bodies.
But ride it they did and that, and every other day, was an example of how taking on such a challenge was no easy thing to do. Phil and James, with help on and off the bike, from so many supporters of what they were doing, completed the ride in London and even joked about doing the route in reverse back to Pembrey!
Our congratulations to them for completing the route and fingers crossed they meet or even surpass their target for the Dave Rayner Fund.
Footnote: A sad conclusion however of the week long charity rid was that whilst Phil and James recovered from their effort in London, Phil’s Canyon SL Ultimate bike was stolen from the roof a team car. It was a one off bike.
Details of the bike are Pro Tool Cycleworks 50mm wheels, Ultegra groupset, Conti tyres, Look Keo pedals,Bontrager Montrose Elite Saddle (non std), Stages Power meter on LH crank arm (diff colour black than right arm), Red DT Swiss hubs on 50mm Pro-Tool carbon rims (non std). This is an upgraded spec bike to a std SL so it is a one-off.
If you want to see more on the ride, take a look and follow Phil’s Twitter feed.