A former CATS College Canterbury staff member who shed seven stone in two years after taking up cycling will be back in the saddle to take part in a 100-mile fundraiser.
Adam Dark, from Ramsgate, will be among 25,000 other cycling fanatics when he takes on the 100 gruelling miles in the 2022 Ride London-Essex 100 on May 29. He will be raising funds for the RNLI.
The 50-year-old, who now works in the probation service, was prompted to get in the saddle in 2019 after piling on the pounds.
Adam said: “I started with an electric folding bike which was fun and could fit in the boot of the car but soon I needed to step up a gear.
“I got the college cycle to work scheme brochure and ordered a hybrid mountain bike. I loved it and put the miles in. Day after day for 2 hours or more, rain or shine, I went out on the bike.
“The weight dropped off and I bought a cheap road bike. Suddenly I was covering huge distances, 20 miles then 30 miles. The first time I did 50 miles in one ride I was astounded.
“Cycling is such fun, you are not in a metal box whooshing past, the scenery a blur, but outside going relatively slowly, you can hear everything and if you see something interesting you can stop, not spend 20 minutes trying to find somewhere to park and pay for parking, but just stop.
“I lost 7 stone in weight by cycling and got so much fitter. I started racing on Zwift (an online cycling site) and worked up to B category but that is my limit I think.
“Now I have put myself up for 100 miles which is further than I have ever ridden. My furthest in real life is 88 miles and on Zwift 108 miles, with many breaks changes of kit and toast. I am a bit worried about the 100 miles as it is a long freaking way but but my training is going well, the bike is working well, I have new wheels, tyres, inner tubes, brake blocks, chain, bar tape, gels, and cables. I think I am ready but we shall see.”
Categories range from D to A with A being elite riders.
Adam has already completed a 62 mile East Kent Big Rode at Betteshanger and would have been first out of the 110 riders except his timing chip failed, meaning his speed could not be confirmed.
The London-Essex 100 is the longest challenge ride in the RideLondon programme. It has been part of RideLondon since it was first held in 2013, with the first seven editions starting and finishing in London with a loop of Surrey in between. Participants set off from Victoria Embankment in central London and into Essex via the historic Epping Forest. Once in Essex, riders glide past some of the county’s most picturesque towns and villages, including Ongar, Fyfield, the Rodings and Great Dunmow, before joining a section of the 2014 Stage Three Tour de France route.
That part of the course guides riders through Felsted and around the county town of Chelmsford before heading through Writtle and back towards Ongar and central London. Once in central London, participants will then complete their ride at Tower Bridge.
Adam hopes to raise at least £500 for the RNLI. As a former pool lifeguard and beach lifeguard working in Thanet as well as being a water safety officer, it is a cause he is passionate about.
He said: “Too many people are still drowning. More than ever we need the RNLI’s help. As a charity, the RNLI depends on our donations so it can go on saving lives and keeping us and our loved ones safe.
“RNLI lifesavers are our lifeline. They’re the lifeboat crews who provide 24-hour search and rescue right around the UK and Ireland; the lifeguards keeping watch on 240 of the busiest beaches in the UK and Channel Islands and the RNLI safety teams and educators working tirelessly to stop people getting into trouble in the first place.”