Team RNC Cyclists Complete Epic RideLondon Challenge

Pictured L-R: Simon Wilkins (dad), Alex Wilkins (brother), Chris Wilkins and Nicola Wilkins (mum).

In an effort to raise money for The Royal National College for the Blind (RNC), student, Christopher Wilkins, former RNC Principal, Sheila Tallon, and her husband, Bill, formed ‘Team RNC’ and took on the epic PrudentialRideLondon challenge at the weekend.


This year’s event had to adapt due to the pandemic, and rather than being a tour around London, it was cycled across the country from competitors’ home locations.

For Sheila and Bill it didn’t go quite to plan. They both chose a 46-mile route and said:

‘We set out in fog, then hit some awful, thick, clay mud at 10 miles. Both bikes completely seized up. We carried them to the next village and a wonderful village hall manager helped us clean them up a bit. We lost an hour but the weather improved and we enjoyed the rest of the ride.’

The picture shows Bill with his bike caked in mud
Bill with his bike caked in mud

Starting from their home, Sheila and Bill took in many sights of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire before taking a pit stop in Tewkesbury for a well-earned coffee and slice of cake. In all, they clocked 49.7 miles each, in a time of 3:58:32.

Bill stands on a street in Tewkesbury holding a cup of coffee and his phone
Pit stop in Tewkesbury for coffee and cake
Sheila takes a selfie en route as the weather started to perk up

Chris chose to do the 100-mile challenge, and given his visual impairment, decided to do this on his static turbo trainer at home in Bedfordshire. Chris said:

‘I am focusing on gaining qualification to the Paralympics. My training has been strong and productive during lockdown and I have maintained my level of fitness which I’m pleased about.’ 

As you might expect from someone who is planning to compete in the Paralympics, Chris was determined to race against the clock and complete the 100-mile challenge in under five hours. With his family support crew making sure he was fuelled properly and with regular social media updates, Chris was on target throughout. At 66 miles, he did admit to starting to feel ‘a little tired’!

Being cheered on by friends and family around the country really helped him push hard during those final miles and he crossed the finish line in 4:39:24. Chris said:

‘I was extremely happy to get to the end of the 100 miles. I was so glad that I was comfortably under my five-hour target. The donations and support got me through this gruelling challenge and it was a way to give something back to the College who have really helped me rehabilitate and re-learn the skills that I had prior to losing my eyesight.’

You can hear Chris speaking about the challenge to BBC Radio Three Counties’s Breakfast Show on Wednesday 19 August here:

Pictured L-R: Simon Wilkins (dad), Alex Wilkins (brother), Chris Wilkins and Nicola Wilkins (mum).
Chris celebrating, post ride, with his family support crew
Pictured L-R: Simon Wilkins (dad), Alex Wilkins (brother), Chris Wilkins and Nicola Wilkins (mum)

RNC is hugely grateful to Chris, Sheila and Bill for their magnificent cycling escapades. Between them they have raised over £2000 for the charity at this very difficult time.

If you would like to reward their monumental achievements you can still donate here:

 

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