At about 25 kilometers per hour, Stephen Immelt was in the slow group.
The Baltimore attorney rode on a team with other Hogan Lovells lawyers and a few clients that spent three days in the London-Paris 2011, a 550-kilometer bike ride from one city to the next, bridged by a ferry ride from Dover to Calais.
The slow group starts first, and, Immelt said, is eventually passed throughout the day by the three other groups, which ride at incrementally faster speeds, up to 35 kilometers an hour (about 22 mph).
On June 23, his first day, Immelt met with a couple disasters on the road — a flat tire and mechanical bike issues — that could have left him behind and out of the group ride, which provides drafting benefits to cyclists, allowing them to expend less energy.
Luckily for Immelt, who is passionate about cycling and began to seriously ride about eight years ago, he managed to catch up to the group. He said riding with his teammates in the group ride, similar to what you might see pro riders doing in this month’s Tour de France, really helped.
“The effect is there,” he said. “I could tell my heart rate was down.”
By Day 3 of the ride, Immelt was triumphant, winning the morning stage for his group, setting off a loud cheer from his team, according to the team blog written by Rod Freeman, a product liability partner in Hogan’s London office.
The international team from Hogan included three from the United States, three from England, one from Munich and three from Amsterdam. That group included a client whose company owns the cycling race Tour of California and two clients from Shimano Europe, a bicycle manufacturing company.
The team rode in support of Action Against Hunger/ACF International and the Geoff Thomas Foundation, which does leukemia and lymphoma research. They raised £10,280, including matched funds, for the charities.
The ride, which is billed as the professional cycling event for amateur cyclists, attracted “celebrity” riders, including former Formula I world champion Nigel Mansell, former England Rugby captain Will Carling and Tour de France winner Stephen Roche.
For Immelt, who said he tries to ride about 3,000 miles a year and joked that the best part of riding is getting to wear the colorful, Spandex suits, the race was not the toughest he’s done. A couple years ago he rode in the 2009 L’Etape du Tour, completing a stage of the Tour de France with a group of amateur riders.
His best moment, he said, was finally reaching the Mont Ventoux, a famous mountain pass in France.