‘One Man To Modena’ for The Mat Davis Foundation

Jonny Stenson with his bike

We all know that cyclists are crazy. Pushing their two wheeled machines around whether it be to work, in a race, on a Sportive or just for fun, we all clock up a fair few miles come rain or shine. But none of the cyclist here are quite as crazy as Birmingham Team rider Jonny Stenson.

Jonny has been riding for Specialized for years, and for Specialized Birmingham specifically for the last 3. Usually Jonny turns his hands to XC racing, that’s his forte although he’s pretty handy on the roads too. When Jonny comes into the store you can be sure there’s a crazy proposition not too far away, this time though he has excelled himself. Sitting in the workshop he turns to us all and says, “Lads, I’m thinking of biking on my own from Solihull to Modena”. Our first reaction was to wonder where exactly there was a Modena on the outskirts of Solihull, but it turns out, he wanted to cycle from Solihull, England all the way to Modena, Italy. Unbelievable, we thought, but that wasn’t all. “I’m gonna be doing it on my own, totally self-sufficient. Just me, a bike, a tent and a map. Oh and I’ve only got 20 days to do it.” You could have put this down to whimsy, or a middle-aged (sorry Jonny) fantasy, but we know Jonny and once he sets his mind to something, it’s going to happen. Particularly when he informs us that he is putting himself through 2300 kilometres of tough terrain on his own to raise money for the Mat Davis Foundation. Mat and Jonny never met, but the similarities in their personalities are striking. Mat himself was a very keen cyclist who unfortunately lost his battle with cancer aged only 23. But Mat left a legacy – his last actions weren’t wallowing in self pity. Instead he spent his last days on his bike, raising money for fellow terminally ill cancer patients with a big grin on his face. It was this, and the determination of Mat’s mum Jo to help other sufferers that has spurred Jonny on to take on what will surely be his toughest ever challenge. Jonny asked for our help, so we provided Jonny with a Specialized AWOL touring bike and kitted it out exactly how he wished. We offered Jonny all and any of our services available to do everything we could to help him get to Modena and to pass that £10,000 mark.

You can donate to the cause on his JustGiving page.

So here we are, it’s Friday 9th September and we’re stood outside a Maserati Garage in Solihull as Jonny prepares for his departure. Since talking about it and this day only a matter of a couple of months has passed and Jonny has already raised £7000, well on his way to his £10,000 target. Before he left we grabbed a couple of minutes with him to ask him about the upcoming odyssey he was embarking on.

Interview with Jonny

Name: Jonny Stenson
Discipline: XC/Road
Latest challenge: 2300 km self sufficient ride to Modena, Italy

Jonny, first things first, 2300 kilometres, we have to ask why?

Because I’m an idiot! No, really it’s not about me at all, it’s all about Mat. I know that if he were here, no matter what he viagra en barcelona would have ridden this with me. You only have to see the passion in Mat’s mum Jo, and it’s so inspiring. Once I decided I wanted to raise some money, I thought what can I do to help? What am I good at? I think anyone who know me say I’m good for two things, talking and biking and no one’s gonna pay me for talking are they?! So I though, get on my bike, and that’s how it all started really. At the end of the day, I just want to raise what I can for the foundation.

Why Modena?

I’ve worked with the guys at Graypaul Maserati for years, and when we got talking about the ride idea, we all sort of thought, it would be cool to bike from the gates of Graypaul Maserati and Ferrari in Solihull to the gates of the Maserati and Ferrari factories. And that’s how the idea was born. We’re calling it the Gate to Gate challenge, it just so happens that the finshing gates are very, very cool.


Jonny sets off on his bike

Jonny sets off on his bike – Image courtesy of James Gardner / Specialized Birmingham

Still it’s a massive journey, you must be nervous?

Are you joking? I’m well excited, I can’t wait. I’m buzzing. I mean whatever happens this is going to be the trip of a lifetime. We’ll be going through England, the length of France, over the Alps, which is going to be stunning and into Northern Italy. Who wouldn’t want to do that? Don’t get me wrong there’s gonna be moments when I’ll probably want to stop and just chuck my bike in a ditch, well if I could lift the thing with the amount I’ve got on it. But it’s all going to be worth it, if we hit that target then any issues I have on the road aren’t going to matter one bit. Biking through France isn’t suffering when you compare it to the people we’re raising money for. So I see this as a jolly, it’s going to be cracking, can’t wait, mate. Cannot wait.

Which part of the journey are you looking forward to the most?

Finishing. Ha ha. Well actually, yeah, finishing but not for the reason you’d think. When we finish the ride at the gates of Ferrari we’ve got something pretty special planned. We’re going to get some of the top people at Ferrari and we’re going to do the last kilometre around the Ferrari test track. That’s going to be amazing. The only thing is, I’ll be meeting all these Maserati and Ferrari bigwigs, and I’ll have been on the road on my own for 20 days, I don’t think me or my kits going to smell that great. They’re not exactly going to want to get close for the photos at the end are they?

How have you prepared then to make sure reach those gates and get round that track in Modena?

It’s been such a whirlwind, I don’t know how I’ve managed to get the training in really, but I’ve just ridden as much as I can. I mean, I was at a wedding over in Holland a couple of weeks ago and I took my bike in the van, and I was out on a training ride for a couple of hours the morning of the wedding. No rest for the wicked. So I’ve put the miles in, but as for preparing, it’s been all about getting the right kit in and the right support team, which I’ve definitely got. I also got a bike fit done on the bike I’m using for the challenge, and believe me it’s well worth it. When you’re biking every day for 20 days you’ve got to be as comfortable as possible. So Ash at Specialized Birmingham gave me a Body Geometry Bike Fit to make sure I was riding in the right position and I wasn’t doing anything on the bike that could jeopardise reaching the finish. Could you imagine having to stop on the 18th day because you’d been riding with the wrong saddle height the whole time and you couldn’t take it anymore? You’d be gutted. So I’ve had that sorted now and I’m all ready to go. The only slight hiccup was a small crash this week which has left me with a couple of stitches, some pretty large patches of road rash and a cracked helmet. But the helmets nothing to worry about because it’s not like there’s much going on up top is there? There can’t be, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this would I?!

That just makes it more impressive mate! So you’re all in good shape, sort of, but what about your ride, tell us a little about your bike?

Well, as soon as I decided on the ride, I knew I wasn’t gonna be riding it on my Tarmac, so the guys at Specialized Birmingham suggested the AWOL. It’s a touring bike so it’s built for piling on the luggage and getting through a lot of miles. The crazy thing is I said to the guys, “sounds good but I’m going to need panier racks and this and that”, and they told me it already comes with everything I need. The only change I made to the bike was to treat myself to a Brookes saddle and bar tape, just because I thought it would look cool! The bike is pretty much straight out the box, so that’s saved me so much hassle and time. I literally told the guys in the Shimano Service Centre at Specialized what I needed and it’s just been sorted. Alex and Ash have been building it, tweaking it, checking it, double checking it, checking it again and the craziest thing of all is that it’s the heaviest bike I’ve ever ridden (fully loaded Jonny’s bike weighs 62kg) but I love it! It’s absolutely brilliant, when I get back I’m going to do a crit race on it! Ha ha!

The Mat Davis Foundation Team

The Mat Davis Foundation Team with Jonny before he sets off – Image courtesy of James Gardner / Specialized Birmingham

What else have you got on board?

I’m not quite Bear Grylls, I’ve got a few bits and bobs on me to make it a bit easier. So I’ve got the garmin 1000 which the lads at Specialized loaded up with all the routes so I don’t end up in Instanbul, a GoPro to record as much of the adventure as possible, some spare kit, tubes, other bits and bobs, and obviously a tent and a sleeping bag to kip down in.

So you’re going to be in the middle of nowhere on your own, how will we know how you’re getting on?

Oh , this is brilliant, I’ve got a GPS tracking device on me, like a shark or something. You know when they tag’em, pop them back in and see where they’re swimming too? Well that’s like me! The Graypaul guys are tagging me, letting me out into the wild and they’ll be watching me on their laptops seeing what I’m up to. Only downside is it means I can’t sneak off to a cheeky hotel or cheat! I’m also going to try and text and call a couple of times just to let people know I’m still plodding along up the Alps. (See below for more information on how to follow Jonny on his ride.)

So all preparation and kit sorted, the only thing left to do is swing your leg over the saddle and get going for Modena, good luck Jonny anything else you want to add before we let you go?

Cheers guys, yes, I just want to say a huge thanks to everyone who’s helped me, if I were to sit here and name them all we’d be here all day. But I honestly couldn’t do this without all my sponsors, Graypaul, Maserati, i-Lite, Diamond Box, Village resorts, DH, you boys at Specialized Birmingham and my family, without them this idea wouldn’t have even got off the ground. Also, I want to thank everyone at the Mat Davis foundation, everyone at Graypaul, there’s too many names to list, Alex, Ash and Luke at Specialized for building me the best touring bike in the world and sorting me out. But all this isn’t about me, don’t forget it’s all about Mat and all about the people his foundation helps. So please if you can spare anything go to our justgiving page and chuck in a quid or two, it might sound silly but it will make such a difference. I’ll see you all soon, Ciao Bella! Ha ha.

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