Paralympian Louis Rolfe unsure cycle team would complete gruelling ride

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The Peloton of core riders arrive at Twickenham Stadium as they come to the finish of to the Road to Twickenham Cycle Ride in association with Gallagher in the build-up to the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final 2022.   A core team of ex-professional rugby players equipped with the Gallagher Premiership Rugby trophy will cycle from Newcastle to Twickenham, stopping off at several Premiership Rugby grounds along the way and covering over 750 miles on route. At each stop, our core riders will meet with day riders who will cycle part of the route alongside the core team. Day 7, 17th June 2022. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK
The Peloton of core riders arrive at Twickenham Stadium as they come to the finish of to the Road to Twickenham Cycle Ride in association with Gallagher in the build-up to the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final 2022.

By Tum Balogun

Cambridge-based Paralympic cyclist Louis Rolfe was not convinced he and his crew would make it to Twickenham after the torrid first day of their charity bike ride.

The Rio 2016 gold medallist was one of several core riders, former professional and international rugby players who embarked on the daunting mission of completing 750 miles in seven days in support of children’s charity, Wooden Spoon.

Gallagher’s Road to Twickenham bike ride built upon the Wooden Spoon’s core values of Passion, Integrity, Teamwork and Fun, while aiming to raise as much money as possible in just seven days.

Wooden Spoon is the children’s charity of rugby, funding life-changing projects across the UK & Ireland that support vulnerable children and young people.

Their aim is that every penny that their volunteers raise is spent on life-changing projects in their local communities.

In the last year, despite the difficult conditions, they funded 43 charitable projects supporting 100,000 vulnerable children and young people. However, more vulnerable children need their help, now more than ever.

Rolfe, who is an ambassador for the charity, admitted the early stages were the most difficult and, despite his composed appearance, insisted he had in fact been put through his paces.

“Looks can be deceiving”, he said, upon completing The Road to Twickenham.

“I am feeling all right but towards the end of that ride today my legs were tensing up.

“When we had a 30 mile an hour headwind just outside of Newcastle and I didn’t even know if we’d be getting into Twickenham but here, we are six or seven days later - I’ve lost count.

“I’m just glad it’s over now and we’ve raised some decent money.”

The Road to Twickenham, supported by Gallagher, took riders on a nationwide tour, stopping off at several Premiership Rugby grounds along the way.

The inaugural event was organised to raise crucial funds and contained a core group of ex-rugby playing riders.

Led by former Scottish international Nathan Hines, Rolfe was joined by the likes of Jonny Arr, Will Hurrell, Jack Clifford, and Charlie Sharples, while former England winger Ugo Monye joined for the final leg.

With the help of the rugby family, Wooden Spoon funds life-changing projects across the UK & Ireland that support vulnerable children and young people.

And the Cambridge born Rolfe, who has recently switched allegiances to compete in the paratriathlon, shared his first-hand experience of the charity's amazing work.

He said: “One of my family friends has an autistic daughter and Wooden Spoon helped fund a sensory garden for her day care centre.

“It’s a charity that is obviously so good, so why not help them raise some more money?”

As the only rider in the core group who was not a rugby player but in fact a former track cyclist, you’d be forgiven for expecting the 24-year-old to be the team’s primary source of optimism.

But Rolfe admitted his appreciation for the size of the task kept him relatively stoic while Clifford and Sharples provided the much-needed energy.

He added: “I was quite quiet throughout the week because I knew what was in store.

“But the lads have been great, there’s been great banter throughout the team, so it’s been a good week.

“I have to say, Jack Clifford and Charlie Sharples, they’ve been on absolute fire this week, so they’ve got me through the week as much as I have.”

Wooden Spoon is the children’s charity of rugby. With the help of you, the rugby family, we fund life-changing projects across the UK & Ireland that support vulnerable children and young people. Text WOODENSPOON 10 to 70085 to donate £10 or visit JustGiving: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/gallaghersbikeride and woodenspoon.org.uk to find out more.

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