Proud Dad David Smith will be ushering the whole family down to the start line for this year’s Clatterbridge Cancer Research Circle of Hope charity cycle, joined for the first time by youngest son Alexander, 10, and wife Alison.
Previous years have seen David, a technical team leader at Bank of America in Chester, complete the 100 mile challenge with elder son Christian, now 12. In 2012 the family has high hopes that little brother Alexander will also tackle the longest route with both boys delighted that their Mum is tackling the 15 mile loop.
Christian Smith was just 11 when he signed up to his first long-distance charity cycle ride and last year he became the charity’s ambassador and mascot for the challenge. The ride, which starts and finishes at the village of Hope, Wrexham, and the publicity surrounding it, saw him become something of a celebrity with the organisation, which funds world-class research into cancers particularly affecting the North West.
Both years Christian has tackled the 100 mile route with his Dad, although last year Christian finished about three quarters of an hour ahead of his father.
Says David: “I was never a cyclist. When our youngest boy started playing football I realised I was struggling to run from one side of the pitch to the other. I was very unfit. I told everyone in work I was going to buy a bike and use it to commute every day. I thought that the more people I told, the more I’d have to do it.
“Of course they all agreed that I wouldn’t do it,” he says with a laugh.
“I went out and bought a mountain bike hybrid for about £250 and tackled the daily 5 mile route to work. I lost three stones and got a lot fitter, then we started riding as a family and the boys got interested in ‘proper’ mountain biking.”
The 42 year old now has four bikes, as do both sons. Wife Alison, 41, a civil servant at Wrexham’s benefits agency, has just one.
“We’re training quite seriously for this year’s event. We’re doing 30 miles at weekends, fitting it in around football, and Alexander is taking it in his stride. I don’t think he’ll have a problem with the 100 mile route.”
Christian has so far outstripped his Dad now that he rides with an organised group of serious cyclists so David doesn’t expect he’ll see much of him on the route.
For anyone, 100 miles of pedalling is quite a feat and David says that the worst time for him is about 80 miles into the race and 20 miles from the finish, when the bulk of the ride is behind you but there’s still about an hour and a half to go. His tip is to pair up with another matched rider, to keep each other’s spirits up, and to top up with energy gel sachets, about one every half hour for the last two to three hours of the seven hour run, to supplement blood sugars and carbohydrate levels.
He adds: “You can buy these sachets from sports shops or the supermarket, but they do make a difference. Just be careful to take the wrappers home with you.”
The Smith family will be inviting their supporters to sponsor them again this year to help support the research work carried out by Clatterbridge Cancer Research.