Taking the JETRide challenge

Jason Parr, Operations Manager at RAFC Cranwell, is a member of the Ascent team taking part in JETRide 2023. Here he shares his training highlights in the lead up to the event.

Since starting with Ascent in December 2018, I’ve been wanting to ride the JETRide event, but the date has always clashed with triathlon races I’d already booked. Last year I decided to take a break from racing and become a social runner/rider for 2023, so when JETRide was announced this year, I knew I had to do it. 

The reasons are twofold in that selfishly I’ll be doing something I love doing ‘riding’, but more importantly raising funds for an excellent cause. 

For those not in the know, the Blue Skies programme was formed in Lincolnshire in 2012 with just 10 students, Jon Egging Trust (JET) has now supported over 35,000 students across the UK. Many of their students face significant life challenges or lack positive role models.

At JET they know that with the right support, and by building teamwork, leadership and communication skills and raising aspirations, the sky is their limit. By riding JETRide, all riders raise vital funds towards supporting young people facing adversity, giving them the chance to raise their aspirations. 

The event is the brainchild of former Red Arrows and BBMF pilot, Duncan Mason (now at 57 Sqn RAF Cranwell), who wanted to help the charity raise funds for its programmes that help young people who are at risk of dropping out of education to develop vital work and life skills.

My training

My riding has been sporadic and minimal throughout the year, therefore riding 100 miles will be a challenge. However, being among like-minded people, all fundraising for such a fantastic cause, will be an amazing atmosphere, so will surely be worth it. Plus, I hear there are plenty of cakes at the finish line, win, win!  

Before accepting a place, the longest ride I’d done this year was 50 miles, so I knew I’d need to pull my finger out and get pedalling, and soon. Thankfully, this has kick-started my cycling commute, which is by far the best way to start your working day, especially when leaving early to rack up the miles and take advantage of quieter roads. 

If you have a bicycle (and a helmet) then I strongly urge you to ditch the car and ride to work, if only a couple of times a week – it’ll save your wallet, reduce your carbon footprint and above all enhance your wellbeing. 

With a family holiday to Brittany looming, I’d planted the seed for me taking the bike, as 10 days without riding was not good practice for the JETRide (selfishly I just wanted to ride in France), this was met with a rather cynical ‘yeah ok’, result! 

Day 2 in Brittany up early and out for three+ hrs on some of the smoothest roads I’ve ever ridden on, having ridden in Lincolnshire the past five years where the roads are on par with downtown Kabul, I was now in cycling heaven. Not only are Lincolnshire’s roads in utter ruin, but the county is pretty much pan flat, which Brittany certainly isn’t. I managed to squeeze in a couple more rides to not only help burn off the carb overload of the ridiculous amounts of baguettes, croissants and red wine consumed over the holiday, but also to enhance the absurd cyclist’s tan-lines.  

Mountain trails

This had to be the first holiday where I returned fitter than I went, which led nicely into a previously booked two-day Kielder Forest gravel bike event the weekend after. From the lush French roads to the relentlessly challenging mountain trails in Northumberland, the two types of riding couldn’t be more different. 

Day 1 was called ‘The Epic’ which certainly lived up to its name, delivering 8,100ft+ of elevation gain over a challenging 81-mile course, welcomingly littered with on-course Feed Stations to not only fuel the challenge, but offer respite from the unforgiving terrain. 

Day 2 on paper was less a challenge, however, having done ‘The Epic’ the day prior, the reduced mileage and elevation gain was very much appreciated, as by the halfway point I was sick of climbs, sick of gravel, sick of how slow I was going and almost sick of my bike. 

Overall, the two-day challenge of 1,3000ft+ of ascent and 122 miles has almost broken me, but I kept saying to myself – if I can do that then the JETRide will be a doddle…hmmmmm! 

Joking aside, I am very much looking forward to the JETRide on 24 September, knowing that the money raised is for an amazing cause and I’ll be riding it as a member of the Ascent team. For those that have sponsored me, thank you, and for those who would like to sponsor then here is my Enthuse charity link  Jon Egging Trust: JETRide (enthuse.com) 

Thanks for taking the time to read, just remember – if you have a bicycle in the garage or shed that hasn’t seen daylight in a while, you owe it to the bike and yourself to get out and peddle.