One of my favourite cycling photos of all time is the ever-young Nick Craig hanging on the wheel of the even younger Charlie Craig, his son - on a climb in Mallorca. It says so much to me about cycling - the effort, the mind games, the focus, the competitiveness, the respect and maybe a bit of bluffing too - and the sheer joy of being on a climb at full gas, but trying to hold something in reserve. I've known Nick a long time, since the early days of the UK MTB race scene, but only met Charlie once - a chance encounter while on holiday with my own sons, we bumped into Nick, Charlie, Tom and Sarah at Aberdaron in North Wales.
But I knew of Charlie before then, and after then as his race results and adventures with Nick were always of interest in my social media feeds. A talented lad, up for a challenge, learning from a true master and taking his time to move up the ranks, with a #noshortcuts approach. Charlie had just won the Under-16 National Trophy Cyclocross Series and was destined for greater things, whether in cycling or life.
It was on 20th January 2017 that Charlie aged only 15, went to bed, fell asleep and stayed asleep. A devastating loss for his family and a shock to the cycling community, Charlie's death has played on my mind ever since and I've wanted to do something to thank him for inspiring me while he was racing and riding and to help in the efforts to prevent other families from experiencing the loss that Nick, Sarah and Tom have endured.
The opportunity took a while to come, but thanks to a random twitter exchange, I will be joining 6 other cyclists to leave my comfort zone and ride non-stop from Geneva to San Remo in August.
The Wolf Pack ride was conceived to raise funds for Save the Children, and I'm piggy-backing it to help Nick, Sarah and Tom as they work to ensure that Charlie's legacy has a lasting impact for other talented young riders..
The ride is 500 km, with 11,000 metres of climbing - we'll set off at sunrise on Saturday 12th August and ride until we get to San Remo - the goal being to reach there before sunset on Sunday 13th. Certainly in time for a pizza and gelato. As well as plenty of ups and downs, we'll take on four major climbs, the Telegraph, Galibier, Vars and Bonette, the highest road in the Alps.
You can see the route in detail here
You can read more about Charlie's life at the Ride for Charlie website - where donations can be made to help develop young cycling talent in memory of Charlie - seeing future talent emerge as a result of the inspiration which Charlie was to many of us would be a fitting tribute to a life lived fast with no shortcuts.
Alternatively you may prefer to donate to C-R-Y to help with research, support, screening, and awareness relating to sudden cardiac death in the young
Thanks for reading and please consider throwing even a small donation in the direct of C-R-Y and/or Ride for Charlie. I'll keep you informed of progress!