A Few Important Thank Yous

Following the successful Smuggler Sportive, The Bike Shed team would like to formally thank all riders, volunteers, businesses and establishments that played their part. All of whom are paramount in ensuring the Smuggler Sportive can even proceed, let alone run smoothly. 

Here’s hoping all riders enjoyed this year’s Smuggler Sportive! Hundreds of you turned out in quite questionable conditions… albeit thankfully, the Exmoor views weren’t spoiled. There was a vast group of smiling smugglers at the finish line – some veterans-of-the-sea with years of Smuggler Sportive experience under their belt, others who had just proudly completed their first ever sportive. Chapeau, our hats go off to you all!

Bike Shed are hugely grateful for the sign up: hundreds of hearty Smugglers laughed in the face of adverse weather conditions, dug out their waterproofs and set sail on ‘SS Grand Ship Smuggler’. These brave buccaneers displayed some true #Rule9 badassery, were challenged by some eclectic weather including a few sock-soaking downpours, but were rewarded with breaks of glorious golden sunshine, stunning scenery and far-reaching vistas. 

Most photos are already online: I’ve uploaded a few to our Facebook page already and it was Sportive Photo who you may have seen at the roadside. (It’s safe to say, their photos are much better than mine!) We have a few more coming from our various volunteers’ cameras, so head over to our Facebook page. We should get them all together and uploaded within a few days. 

A number of people have enquired about Colin, the Smuggler who suffered an unfortunate accident whilst riding the Sportive. The latest update is that while still in hospital, we’re happy to hear he’s making progress. Of course, we hope you’ll join us all in wishing him a full and speedy recovery. 


There were a lot of positive reviews back at Ride HQ, but if you have any feedback at all – positive, negative, constructive or otherwise – please fill out our feedback form


Rather than providing prizes for the fastest, we’re drawing a raffle of any rider that submits their activity. To do this, please simply fill out this form

We will pick out 3 people for each of the two Strava segments en-route, for a total of 6 winners. I have extended the deadline for submissions to THURSDAY 20th JUNE. Get them in!


Now without further ado… a few individual thank yous from Mike, the owner of Bike Shed. Without each and every one of these people, The Smuggler sportive wouldn’t have happened. Please note, this is in no particular order. 

Firstly, Keith:

The Captain of the ship. Sometimes more akin to Jack Sparrow than Blackbeard, his countless sleepless nights, meetings, route recce’s, risk assessments and all the admin involved was undertaken by Keith Rawlinson from our Barnstaple store. One large pat on the back for you, sir.

Bike Shed / Bike It Staff (& Families)

Behind the scenes, there’s a lot to be done to ensure The Smuggler Sportive runs smoothly. Everything from signing the routes, making 800 sandwiches, driving the broom-wagon, and a whole load more. The planning and execution of The Smuggler Sportive quite simply needs manpower, and Bike Shed’s army of staff step up to the plate every year.

Amanda & Family

Amanda, the friendly female face you’ll undoubtedly know from our Barnstaple store, returns year-on-year with an ever-larger army of the Tucker family tree. I’m sure she adopts new brothers, cousins and distant aunties every year, just for us. Thank you to the whole family, your commitment is ever-present and never overlooked. 

Sarah (FORCE Cancer Charity) 

Sarah and the FORCE Cancer Charity have long been a friend of The Bike Shed, we can always rely on her help and we’re proud to support FORCE Cancer Charity – I can’t think of a better excuse to ride a bike than doing so whilst helping to save a life! If you’re unsure who Sarah is, you may recognise her voice from the pre-ride briefing and her familiar call of “Go Smuggle!” that set you off on your epic ride. 

Josh C (I’m actually the person writing this). 

It feels a bit self-indulgent, but I’m told I must be on this list – so here goes! My role is ‘the online bit’. To update the website, organise the entry system with British Cycling, and promote the event to ensure that you (the riders) know it’s happening! I am also the handsome chap you might’ve seen at the sign on desk and selling Smuggler t-shirts. If so, it was great to meet you!

Talking of the sign on desk, I ought to put my trusty sidekicks next.

Kayleigh and Claire

At 6:30am when 500 cyclists collectively descend on the marquee to sign on, it can be a bit hectic, to say the least. British as we all are, nobody actually likes queuing, so their help ensured you spent less time waiting and more time enjoying breakfast! I certainly couldn’t have done it without them! 

Josh S

While I was hiding from the rain in the marquees all day, I forewent my usual role of amateur-photographer at ride HQ. Thankfully, Josh Sanders took on the mantle in fine fashion, putting my past efforts to shame. His photos will be up on The Smuggler Sportive Facebook page imminently. 

Next up, BEER! Simon & Anna from Country Life Brewery

Returning to Ride HQ to a refreshing Smuggler Ale. Is there any better way to end a ride? And didn’t it taste great!? All of the beer you hearty Smugglers sank was kindly donated by Country Life Brewery.

Nick & Janet, Exmoor Forest Inn (Simonsbath)

Without Exmoor Forest Inn, there would be no first feed stop – and we all know how terrible that would be! 

Lee Abbey

Feed station number 2, as enjoyed by the 50 and 80-mile route-goers, without Lee Abbey, this pre-Slattenslade feed stop simply wouldn’t have existed. This might’ve made you faster up that one hill, but if you don’t put petrol in the car, it won’t go very far – so the remainder of the return leg would’ve been a struggle – especially with that headwind!

Barnstaple Town Council

For all their help with road closures, risk assessments and ensuring riders had The Square to themselves for the day!

Phil Vanstone

With Phil’s barriers, we were able to keep the road closures clear and obvious to motorists – helping to keep riders safe!

Claremont Marquees

Without their marquee, we’d have just been a bunch of cyclists stood around in The Square. The marquee helped to create a real ‘hub’. In which cyclists could congregate, find shade and pick up their lunch! They kindly offer a discounted rate to ensure more funds are raised for charity, and they are very obliging with their time to help us set up. 

Ricki Hill

Motorbike based first-aid and mechanical assistance for all riders – Ricki could be found voluntarily roaming the course to assist with riders mechanical and medical needs where required. 

Medicare SouthWest

Maria and her team of life-savers were present both at HQ and roaming the routes, providing essential first aid to those in need. 

Sportive Photo

As mentioned above, they provide professional photography to our event year on year, meaning you have the chance to pick up a real souvenir of your day on the bike. They also kindly donate the laminated rider numbers. 

Dave Stanton (Crankhouse Coffee)

Crankhouse Coffee’s Smuggler blend of coffee is the smoothest, most golden cup of coffee I’ve ever tasted – something our Strava winners will find out – as Dave has kindly donated the prize fund!


Provided primarily by local cycling clubs: Taw Velo and Hell Cat Mud Wrestlers, these marshals make-safe any potentially dangerous sections of road, and junctions. They also guide riders around the course while offering a gentle nudge of encouragement along the way. Without them, The Smuggler Sportive simply can’t go ahead. 

Porlock Toll

Without Porlock Toll offering a reduced rate for all cyclists on the day, the Porlock Toll Road could be an expensive inclusion to the route. But their kindness means even more of your entry fee ends up where it should be – in the hands of FORCE Cancer Charity. 

Theresa & Petroc College

The post-ride massages from Petroc College are not only leg savers! They’re quite literally life savers too – year after year, they turn up completely voluntarily, so any donations they receive are donated to FORCE Cancer Charity. I think we can now collectively forgive the pain of that elbow digging into the hamstring. 

Pig & Olive

These local woodfired pizza specialists were on hand on the square with their pizza oven. With a portion of each sale donated to FORCE, we’d like to thank them for helping to feed our hungry cyclists whilst raising additional funds for charity!

Grand Barista

The Grand Barista’s mobile coffee van was also on-hand in the square, providing freshly-ground barista-made coffee to re-awaken our tired little legs! 

And finally, my own addition to the list: Mike (The Boss!)

He’s not put himself on this list. But if I’m writing a thank you to myself (see ‘Josh’ above), then he’s going on the list too! 

Every year, Mike puts into place a number of military-sized operations in order to raise money for our charity partner Force Cancer Charity. The biggest of them is The Smuggler, but you’ll likely be aware of our other annual sportives: (The Nello, The Autumn Series, etc). All require a huge amount of time, effort, resources, and manpower, but they help to raise vital funds for an important charity. That’s why he does it.