The Cycle Slam comes to an end

After gruelling it out for 2,872km across Europe in 22 days – Lawrence Dallaglio, Freddie Flintoff and the rest fo the team have completed the Cycle Slam 2012.

In total, the riders climbed over 1,472,316m and a combined total of over 4,408,904 calories burned across the 22 day cycle.

There have been over 250 riders who have joined the groups throughout the cycle including five people from PizzaExpress and our competition winner Rob Lawton, who was chosen from over 600 entrants to win a place in the fourth stage of the Cycle Slam.

Lawrence pulled in some celebrities for the ride including Lee Dixon and Graeme Le Saux and visits from Sir Richard Branson and his wife Joan, James Cracknell, former GB Rowing Gold medallist and former international professional cyclists Frank Hoj, Jeremy Roy, and Claudio Chiappucci, also joined the team at various stages to offer their support.

As the last leg of the Tour finished up we asked one of the PizzaExpress team members, Sarah Judd, to fill us in on what happened during the final stage to the London Olympic stadium:

Day 1
We were greeted by sunny skies for our preparation day in Bollinger – home of the famous Champagne. The first night was a briefing from Lawrence where he outlined all the relevant information for the coming 4 days – particularly the fines…a shot of spirits. It was noted Sam Branson (Richard Branson’s son) wasn’t at dinner and instead had room service – needless to say he was the recipient of a fine the next night!

Day 2
After such a fun night at Bollinger we changed our route to start our ride at the Bollinger House for photos at the iconic champagne producer.

Graham La Saux and Lee Dixon were on the tandem for the day and arrived at Bollinger House with a tray, plastic glasses and a couple of bottles of champers dressed in white shirts and bow ties. They were hilarious pouring champers as they passed riders all morning.

Day 3
Another early start and possibly too much vino the night before, we set off for a shorter 120km day of cycling. The wind had calmed down and the sun was shining – our spirits were high!

We arrived on homesoil and were greeted by some delicious pizzas – loads of American Hots of course – at our Ashford PizzaEpress. The evening was quite relaxed because we were gearing ourselves up for the final ride where we could meet up with our friends and family.

Day 4
Our last day and our last 5am start (it was even earlier for those of us who forgot to change their clocks back!)
Today we were joined by about 50 extra riders – most of the riders joined us agaion because they wanted one last taste of the Slam.

We all regrouped at the Woolich ferry – 150 riders, support cars and followed by the Discovery Channel helicopter we made our way through the streets of East London to Stratford – home of the 2012 Olympics.

- Sarah

We would like to congratulate all the riders for their hard work, not just for the 22 day cycle but for their fundraising efforts.
And a special shout out must go to Lawrence Dallaglio and Freddie Flintoff – well done guys. You did a great job bringing everyone together for this great cause.

You can still donate to the Cycle Salm 2012 – please head to

The hills are alive….

As the riders set their sights on the fourth stage of the Cycle Slam there was one thing they all shared – conquering the Swiss Alps with 483km and climbing 4,829m in just 4 days.

The fourth stage began in St Moritz, which is well into the formidable Swiss Alps and home of two Winter Olympic Games – so you know they must have experienced some tough climbs.

From all reports the riders were buzzing from the natural beauty of the Alps with its perfect 19c-25c weather and the scenic views – the mountains even induced the odd sing-a-long of ‘the hills are aliveeeee’.

All their singing must have led to some (rain) dancing with the riders experienced their first day of rain.

The rain continued into the next day with the riders even requesting to delay the start to let the rain pass. Unfortunately for them the rain didn’t look like it would clear up so they had to throw on their waterproof clothing and set up for a full day of heavy rain.

Their final day of cycling the fourth stage was a memorable journey. Starting off in Basel, Switzerland, and touching the edge of Germany and then entering France, all within the first 5km of their ride.

Even more memorable was when Sir Richard Branson joined the group for tea. Who knows, if they cancelled on the third day they may missed meeting Sir Richard.

All photos by Robert Cox Photography ©

Bringing Jay’s Voice to the stage

Earlier this month we hosted an evening with Jay Norton, contestant from BBC music show The Voice.

We were delighted to hear that one of our team members was going so well on the show and that someone as influential and respected as showed him so much on national television.

The crowd at The Pheasantry included loads of people from the music and media world, friends and family plus some people who were lucky enough to grab a ticket.

So, on the 1st May Jay rocked up on stage, showcased some of his infectious charm and performed some beautiful acoustic gems backed by his pianist and guitarist.

We just wanted to thank Jay for coming down and performing some songs for us – we wish him all the best as he takes on the world.



Cycle Slam update from the second week

The Cycle Slam continued to roll on into its second week with the riders travelling across Italy.

One of the cool things Cycle Slam have introduced into this year’s ride is a live rider tracker which maps where all the riders are with a GPS set up. We are pretty sure Laurence Dallaglio and Freddie Flintoff wanted to introduce this so they can keep track of the winning group – who would have thought they were so competitive?

With post card views and perfect weather, Marcelo De Paula, PizzaExpress Training and Develpment Manager took time out to fill us in on some of his experiences from his ride.

“I must say I was quite relaxed before I jumped on the Slam as I was expecting we would be drinking wine for lunch rather than water. Boy, I was wrong.

Things started off with a lycra breakfast in the medieval city of Lucca in Italy. Let me tell you that Lycra isn’t the best thing to wear for breakfast.
With the picturesque surroundings for my star, it was the glimpse of mountains surrounding the city that reminded me that water would be my preferred drink for the next few days.

As we began our journey I realised I could some up my ride in one word: hills. So many hills. They never seemed to end.

After Lucca we made our way to Mantona in Lombardy. For all the romantics out there, that’s where Romeo from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was banished. I’m sure he didn’t ride his bicycle when he was banished because I couldn’t imagine he could handle those hills without gears!

It was a lot of hard work but I must admit it was so much fun because all the riders worked so hard together – even though we were (kind of) competing for times we still managed to joke about and grab a well-earned drink at the local.”

As we rode through the Italian Alps we ended the third stage in Aprica, a ski resort. A relaxed resort was the perfect way to end the stage and my journey.”

25p from each American Hot sold at our restaurants will be donated to Cycle Slam.
You can make a donation by visiting

Valentine Warner’s Fennel & Salami pizza

Fresh thinly sliced fennel and rocket tossed in lemon oil and lemon zest – that’s only the finishing touches for Valentine Warner’s new Fennel & Salami pizza.

We haven’t even mentioned the soft fennel salami – specially made for us by award winning charcuterie Trealy Farm. The fennel salami is placed on a classic base with chilli flakes, fennel seeds and mozzarella sprinkled on top.

As it comes out of the oven our pizzaiolos pepper the pizza with grated grana padano and top it off with the fennel and rocket. The heat from the pizza and the coolness of the fennel and rocket really brings the pizza to life.

We are so proud of Valentine’s ‘Summery’ creation. And Valentine is also so proud to present a pizza with his favourite ingredient – fennel.

Introduced on the 24th April, Valentine’s Fennel & Salami pizza is proving to be extremely popular with PizzaExpress fans – make sure you drop by and try it for yourself.

Win a Chef’s Table experience with Valentine Warner – where he will cook for especially for you and five friends.

Click to enter.


Cycle Slam update from the first week

The Cycle Slam kicked off last week and we have been inundated with stories of the cyclists journey.

Alex Whitelaw, one of the PizzaExpress team, filled us in on some of the events that took place.

“The first day started with Lawrence Dallaglio and Freddie Flintoff being presented with an olive tree by the Mayor of Olympia. The 170km ride was exhausting but rather eventful, especially with Freddie getting his team lost twice.

© Robert Cox Photography

With a 6.30am start on the second day, we were greeted with the news that Lee Dixon was to replace Graeme Le Saux as leader for their group. Unfortunately this didn’t deter Graeme as he led the group to the end. All rather confusing.

Freddie organised some entertainment for Lawrence and the group that evening – some local traditional Greek dancers. The best part was that Freddie couldn’t resist adding some breakdance moves to assist the dancers.

We were lucky enough to sleep in to 8.30am on the third day. The day included another meeting with a local Mayor for Lawrence and Freddie – A daily occurrence it would seem.

© Robert Cox Photography 

 The remainder of the week involved more climbing of hills, pit stops at the local, angry dogs attempting to jump into bike spokes and stunning scenery.

The final day of the first week quickly arrived and we were all feeling the distance. Steve Easterbrook, PizzaExpress CEO, couldn’t resist catching a lift towards the end of the day. By ‘lift’, I mean holding on to the back of the Discovery Channel truck. I probably shouldn’t have said that!”

Don’t forget that you can still donate at the Cycle Slam website or buy purchasing an American Hot at any PizzaExpress restaurant – a discretionary 25p will be donated on your behalf.

Lawrence Dallaglio’s fundraiser, the ‘Dallaglio Flintoff Cycle Slam 2012′, raises funds for
cancer research and children’s rehabilitation projects.