Ed Clancy and Greg Whyte don't really need any introduction. One of them is a four time world champion and two time gold medalist and the other an ex-Olympian and celebrity fitness trainer that famously made Davina McCall cry during a Comic Relief challenge. So it's fair to say that when their sponsor 9Bar nutrition invited me to ride with both Ed and Greg for the day I instantly said yes and then started to worry about whether I would be able to keep up for the day, given the ride would take place in the hills of the Peak District.
Thankfully, 9Bar assured me that the ride would be nice and steady with plenty of opportunity to quiz both sportsmen, and with a question and answer over lunch. On the day I arrived in Hope with plenty of time and whilst signing on made sure to collect plenty of 9Bars for the ride, just in case things suddenly turned pro on the road. Whilst we all signed on, Ed and Greg mingled with the other riders, introducing themselves ahead of the ride.
Once we were all signed on, Ed gave us a briefing on ride ahead; 25 miles, 4000ft of climbing and lunch half way. In true pro style Ed had written the route on a sheet of paper stuffed in his pocket so we were certain we would get lost. Greg opted for a slightly more physical introduction and in true personal trainer style took us through a brief warm up in the car park.
Muscles ready, we set off down the valley into the glorious later summer sunshine, forming a tight group behind Ed as he led the way. At this point we started to take it in turns to rotate past Ed and Greg and have a chat with them both. When I pulled alongside Ed we started chatting about the season so far and catching up about the riders we both knew from around Yorkshire already. Having seen Ed at the hilltop finish on Hartside in the Tour of Britain recently I also took the opportunity to poke fun at Ed's hatred of hills and also ask him about how he recovers from such intense races. In true Ed style, he told me about how on rest days he just sits at home on the Xbox playing Grand Theft Auto because he dislikes recovery rides. All of this was said whilst Ed pulled a wheelie up the next hill on the route just to prove he can ride uphill after all.
As expected, Ed's scrap of paper soon got us lost and no wheelie could solve that, so he stopped to consult the local farmer on the best way to the pub. Deep Yorkshire accent translated and we were back underway and rolling along to the pub.
Before long we had arrived in Bakewell and settled into the local pub for a two course lunch and question and answer session with Greg and Ed. The riders had definitely been deep in thought on the road as questions came flowing to both men, Ed receiving questions on his power outputs, training regimes and life on the track. He gave some very insightful replies to all of his questions and a very honest take on his love of cycling- it turns out that he can push approximately 1,200 watts and actually spends more time in the gym that on the bike as you need the explosive power to be able to cope on the track. Although it turns out Ed can't quite leg press as much as Chris Hoy and can 'only' push about 250kg normally...
Greg then took his turn to answer questions about training celebrities and fuelling your training. We were all told how important it was to keep fuelled during rides to stop so it was just as well we'd all eat our 9Bars and demolished our two course meals for the return journey. Greg also told us a story about when he trained David Walliams to swim the Thames, and how he had been forced to stay in the freezing water for an hour after David finished so David was on the camera; that's pretty dedicated training!
Once lunch was over we all ambled back outside to contemplate the return ride full of food; hopefully it would be flatter to get home. Whilst we prepared to head home some of us took the opportunity to take a photo with Ed and Greg so in typical 21st century style I thought i'd grab a cheesy selfie instead!
After checking the now crumpled piece of paper, Ed began to lead us back to Hope along the valley and towards the famous Monsal Hill which is home to one of the most famous hill climb races in the country. Thankfully Ed assured us that we would be going down this hill instead of up it leading a lot of people to breathe a sigh of relief given their slightly full stomachs. Unfortunately Ed forgot to tell us all that we would instead be going up a 25% climb at the other side of the valley and so without warning we were confronted with pretty tough section of road where Ed again took the opportunity to shirk the claims about his climbing and wheelie to the top.
Climbing done for the day, we were able to talk again and Ed decided to tell us all about his retirement plans which consisted of opening a cattery on a countryside farm. According to Ed's it's the perfect retirement plan because cats just need stroking and that makes people happy anyway. So when Ed's JLT Condor team suddenly become 'JLT Cat-dor' we all know what's happened.
The day ended with a two mile descent back into the village and this gave Ed and Greg the opportunity to show everyone a masterclass in descending as they swept from the hairpin turns with ease and breezed down the road. Once we all caught up again we had arrived in the village and Ed took the opportunity to thank all the riders for coming for the day and take a few more photos.
At this point a few people went for another very quick loop with Ed but unfortunately I had to ride back to Sheffield so grabbed a few more 9Bar from the van to fuel me home. At the end of the day I had ridden 65 miles and 5000ft so was pretty thankful for the fuel to get me home. Thanks 9Bar for the opportunity to ride with Ed and Greg!