Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Day 5 The Final

Cardiff to Swansea forecast 50 miles, actual 54 miles

This is me at 6 in the morning having completed 98.8 miles the night before, that's how you get that look, I fell out of bed 20  mins ago having ate a piece of toast and a danish.

Ashley and I set off with Phil still looking really rough having thrown up all night, he was having stomach cramps and sat in the back of the motorhome. There was still pressure though Ashley and I set off and the area around the airport was quite rolling. I kept appraising Ashley of how far we'd come 5 miles at a time, We got to 10 pretty quickly but painfully, I persuaded Ashley to take regular but short stops for water and map checking but really to rest. We went through Lantwit Major on to St Brides Major where we met Phil and Pops, Phil was thumbs down under a warm looking sheet. Ashley and I were a bit stiff but tea and lemon cake helped. We pushed on but as we saw the coast I could see where we would have to cycle across and it looked hilly. We went North to Bridgend, Ashley and I wasted at least half an hour trying to go along a closed road but alas we couldn't get through some fences. Before long we found ourselves in Margam in a layby and Phil was really chipper, he'd made a miraculous recovery and was ready to join the ride his steel steed, back in the pack. I was excited as was Pops it was 100 and we we're well on time, we smashed it through Taibacha nd Port Talbot before getting lost after crossing the Tawe in Swansea but then just following the fans to the Liberty Stadium.

Arriving at Jersey Marine 1130 to an advance reception party.

By this time we were really excited but tired, some bucket shaking and then waiting in the stadium watching the match on the big screen but looking down the players tunnels, really weird. Eventually we went out on to the pitch at halftime and waved wildly. We then had a can of Carling each in Morrisons car park before heading back towards Bishopston 7 miles from the Liberty.  The Mayals hill stands between us, 3 phases of painful hell until we reach the Common, both Phil and Ashley loved this section. Crossing the common we were flagged down by Aluna, who liked celebrity stalker followed us to the Plough and mercifully bought us all a drink, mercifully as we had no cash and were tired, damp and very thirsty. We rested in the Plough for a while and fueled up on beer, crisps and nuts. After a while we headed over to the Joiners to a mad reception.

Time for beer and more celebrations

Photo: DSC_0264

Yellow jerseyed I drank and celebrated with all Lucy's good friends in the J and the Valley, sang Salt n Pepa's Push It on the karaoke. An out of body and unbelievable experience, thanks and big love to all that supported us. For Lucy, for Lung Cancer xxx

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Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Day 4 Darkness descends

Day 4 Chippenham to Cardiff Airport forecast 61 miles, actual 98.8 miles.

That's me, Phil (tired but happy) and Ashley (freshly joined that morning), we're revving up in the car park of Chippenham's Premier Inn. Things we're about to get jolly, we bashed along and met up with Pops in a layby outside Corsham on the A4 it was a busy road and an unpleasing ride. A nice chap in the layby gave us a tenner as he was a fellow cyclist and shared our pain. We then left our support and headed on to the Bath to Bristol cycleway along the route of an old railway line. The boys were quite jolly and bowled along, whereas someone had set my saddle on fire and I could barely sit on it, let alone pedal. We reached Bath and wriggled through the town, I must admit they are big on Bath stone there, which can get a bit samey. We soon reached the edge of Britsol demarked by the number of people hanging round under railway bridges smoking weed. Phil overtook a young lad on what can only be described as a £80 full suspension bike that only had one gear, he actually had 21 but on being insulted by Phil passing him he pedaled like billy-o to get past him. It was pointless by then Phil had completed about 150 miles in the last few days and was fully in the grove and over time and despite some desperate and furious cycling from one-gear boy Phil slowly but surely outstripped him. To leave him disconsolately pedaling at a more normal looking rate, still in the same gear.

I had stuck behind an old man who had tutted us earlier for standing on the cycleway so he had to make a 6mm diversion to go around us. He was quite big and really took the headwind for me, I was dragged along behind him for miles and I couldn't build up the energy to pass him. Eventually I did and we ended up navigating our way to EA Head Office. We met up with Phil Stonelake, struggled to pass security, ate some flapjacks, drank tea, shook a bucket and then left. Really that delay was a bit too long we met the support crew late for lunch again around 2 pm at Severn Beach, a scenic location on the Severn Estuary. Bristol is hilly and no-one liked the perverse route but heck that how it was.

We headed off and had a great run across the old road road bridge on the first crossing M48. It was amazing to cross the big brown river but it very busy and there's a slow gentle incline on the other side for about 1 mile. We ground along until we reached a junction, it was hard going with a head wind and this slow incline. Ashley caught up with us and asked "Sorry but anyone else not find that tough?" I laughed he wasn't alone that really was tough. I can't remember what happened next but we cycled and it absolutely hammered down, we cycled through it all, cold, wet and tired. I became a bit confused and we got colder and more tired until we were run into the ground we called Pops and he agreed to meet us nearby. We all decided we'd get into the motorhome as it was approach 6pm and we needed our energy for the next day having cycled 65 miles. Ashley with no training had done his money and was bushed and Phil was starting to feel really ill. We met up with Pops about half and hour later but I was feeling better and better. The boys got in the motorhome and I decided to commit to it fully. I crammed in some cake and nuts, more nut bag and nut sack jokes, added extra lights to nyself and the bike and headed off into the darkness with rousing applause from the boys.

I don't know what came over me but I cycled hard, with the wind slightly which I took advantage of. I quickly negotiated Newport in the failing light and rain. I found my way out onto the flat lands between Newport and Cardiff and picked up a little tail wind and started to get my head down with a view to crunching some miles. Soon I could see Rumney coming up on the up on the map. I was elated it a suburb of Cardiff I was nearly there, half hour later I was in the centre of Cardiff, mapping went out the window and the city sprung up around me, the nightlife of Cardiff sprang out infront of me. I didn't fancy that so carried on through light rain and darkness until I reached the outskirts of Cardiff on the west side, an area full of car dealerships but at night, prostitutes, truck drivers and probably murderers. So cycled out of there. I had simply drawn a straight line to Cardiff airport and bashed a road route as straight as possible regardless of hills.

I got out of Cardiff and called Helen, she was so relieved to hear from me and really pleased. I pushed on and found a short cut through a minor road, unlit, my lights were LED for others to see me but not to light the road. I was plunged into darkness and had to navigate down hills at speed in the dark, only using the light reflecting of puddles to give me a target to aim for. Frightened, I began to hear things in the bushes, see things on the road, I was chanting "Dedication's what you need if you wanna be a record breaker!" I couldn't remember the rest of the words so just chanted the mantra until I could find a way out. I then found my way out onto the main roads, I ground up a long hill the odometer now reading 90 miles. At the top, Helen called again to tell me the Hotel was stopping serving food what did I want, cars were zooming past me in the rain, A lad was walking a moped on the other side of the road, I was on the edge of Barry Island and I wasn't in the mood. I battled on and soon could see the lights of the Holiday Inn Express. Waves of elation came over me, I saw Pops standing on the road cheering and rolled towards him it was around 10pm. I met Helen in the Hotel foyer, wet, cold and dazed, very dazed. Helen was pleased at how chilled I was actually I was completely out of it, I nipped up to the room got changed into dry clothes and got a curry which I inhaled and a pint of Brains SA courtesy of Pops. I felt amazing, dazed but amazing, I'd amazed myself. I went up to bed having said good night to Pops who was literally sleeping in the motorhome in a layby. I had a gorgeous hot shower and slipped into crisp clean sheets alongside Tomos for a cuddle in his bed. I then sat in my pyjamas drinking a bottle of ale while Helen read the boys stories, feeling high and tired, mint though.

Monday, 3 September 2012

day 3 Megasaurus

Thursday 23rd

Reading to Chippenham forecast 55mile actual mileage 65.

In this picture you can see we haven't got lost and ended up at Checkpoint Charlie but leaving the safety of Reading Central's Premier Inn where superstar Toni Barber manager at the site was so supportive donating her own precious pennies to support us. Phil and I were surprisingly up for it, Phil had refuelled on pasta at his cousin's house and was feeling chipper, his shorts were still illegally tight but we had hoped he'd lose some weight over the course of the day so we couldn't see his vegetables.  This isn't footage recorded by Glen Mulcaire but actually my wife, David Bailey look out. We set off feeling jolly ambled out through the town of Reading and along the Kennet and Avon canal towpath. We headed out to Theale and then Newbury heading to Malborough by lunch. sadly that's not what happened Phil and I bowled along at a hideous pace with Phil shouting "Squeeze" periodically, which means cycle faster. 

By "lunch" were at Kintbury we sat in the ground of a pub with dad and Caroline who had parked illegally at a nearby mill. I was at an all time low to be honest, I was questioning whether I could carry on, just internally. To everyone else I was just extremely moody and down hearted so I don’t think anyone noticed. We pushed on but we were off the towpath and Phil wasn’t happy about the hills. We saw lots and hills and eventually we went into Savernake Forest, a wonderful place if it were not so bloody rolling and with speed bumps. We negotiated that and started to get frantic calls about “lunch”  in Marlborough as it was nearly 3 pm. I was frazzled and we knew where we were but not how it would take to get to Marlborough so I just shouted we were trying our best. We got out onto the main road and rode down a 1 mile long hill at 30 plus miles an hour straight into Marlborough with 4 mins of my hissy fit. We “lunched” at Marlborough with the rest of the gang, then Phil and I decided to head for the major roads and quicken up the pace so we could get in a bit earlier.

That went well except as soon as we left Marlborough we found Avebury Mount, an impressive Neolithic structure on a another bloody big hill, lots more bloody big hills but then we began to grind our way towards Chippenham which we arrived into in good time. We were lucky enough to have Brewers Fayre on site doing an all you can eat curry night. I had Gammon and Egg as a starter and Helen had the all you can eat curry and I had everything she could eat, i.e two meat curries. A cold bath, a bottle of Hobgoblin, Newcastle Brown Ale (don’t it’s the only ale Brewers Fayre serve) and another ale I cannot remember, a cracking night’s sleep and that’s the end of day 3.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Day 2 London Madness

Wednesday 22nd

Welwyn to Reading predicted mileage 57 miles, actual 76 miles.

I set off from Welewyn and absolutely slammed it to South Mimms Services 13 odd miles away I was flying. A quick cake stop and I was off again down into London weaving my way down through Barnet to Hamstead Heath where Lucy used to ride her bike while she lived in London. I had to ignore the highway code a bit as traffic lights and queues were tiring. I arrived at Hamstead Heath ready for a picnic.

 Phil Moss and I then set off, cruising through the hot streets of London until we reached the outskirts we soon picked up the Kennet and Avon Canal which got us through the urban areas fast and when it started to get dark we didn't really worry. We stumbled into the rowing lake getting ready for the paralympics and were told by security there was no way through, I blame Phil's jihadist beard. We didn't really worrying until it got really dark and we didn't have any lights and Reading didn't appear after 57 miles or 60 or 67 miles. We belted along on cycleways beside the A4, couples were out in the warm evening air sitting on rugs drinking chilled white wine, we had flapjacks and water. Eventually we turned up in Reading centre which is quite high rise so we could really see the Premier Inn, we crashed through plazas of people eating, swerved through carparks until we heard Ruth on the phone shouting "I can see you, can you see me waving?" I replied "No." "Oh no sorry that's not you." Eventually we rounded a corner in the dark and on the pavement and we were so glad to get in. Another lasagna, another 3 pints of London Pride and a good sleep were in  order and achieved.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Day 1 Fun

Day 1 Tuesday 21st August

Somersham, Cambridgeshire to Welwyn Garden City
Planned distance 50 miles, actual 64 miles.

Chris Tate and I set out to cycle to Welwyn from Somersham and made what we thought was good time down the Brampton Office of the Environment Agency only to find the support crew of my, Mum, my sister Ruth and my wife Helen had already been there for some time and that Dad and Caroline had got lost en route but also been there for a while. En route we received a call from John Harrison our 3rd rider to say his VW van had started and run on the Monday but refused to start Tuesday morning at the key time, good old 70's campers. Poor old John was ready to join us but completely stranded, we had to push on. Chris and I then made a tactical error when I lead us into a short cut across a bog, that got both out feet wet in stinking water and when I stopped suddenly Chris fell off, this was a pattern that repeated itself across the course of the day. We failed to meet the support vehicle at the first location but then met up with them by accident. Confident that we were only a few miles from the lunch spot, actually we were 12 miles away and wouldn’t reach them until 1500.

But when we did at The Crown at Henlow……we ended up with a lovely pint and a Butcher’s sausage roll in home-made pastry, delicious! It was great to see Mum, Ruth, Helen and the boys.

Chris and I pushed on increasingly tired as the country became more rolling and Chris talked about geology and how we we’d soon hit the chalk hills, I tried to stay awake. We slowed down and eventually were about to crawl to a halt when we saw my Dad and Caroline in the support vehicle (Motorhome) they were parked at the top of a hill. As we approach I shouted “Chris do you know what I could do with?” he shouted back “A cup of tea?” Just proving as a true Yorkshireman Chris really was powered by ale, tea and cake, we only needed a pie to top it off. Bouyed up we cracked on but began to get a bit confused in the suburbs of the Garden City of Welwyn, Chris’s phone failed, my GPS failed all technology failed and it started to rain. We pulled over some enthusiastic but dim students who located the Premier Inn and we were on our way. We arrived to a warm welcome and a pint of London Pride, not Chris and I’s favourite but even ‘Pride tasted good.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

I said I wouldn't do it

I'm back, having spent two days wrestling my front derailluer, I've ended up stripping one from Helen's bikes, which now looks forlorn as I had to take the chain off to remove it. Time is ticking on, we haven't got too much done today, not as much as we'd like. Helen's baked herself into a hot sweat, baking away in 30 degree plus heat. But it's calling........

Saturday, 18 August 2012

aaaah you're here

The last training run has been completed 40 miles in the glorious sunshine. I still can't get the GPS fully working and so far I've spent around 20 hours solidly working on it, I've sent back the last of the wrong fittings for the GPS to fit on the handlebars several times. I can happily say that whilst extremely helpful on the phone Garmin make difficult to use products and poorly described accessories.

I've got a stock of new T shirts from Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, a collecting tin and I'm all set I'm to visit two of our offices  to shake a bucket enroute. I asked Tomos whether he's excited about the challenge he said "Yes, but not as excited as I am about something else.." I asked "What's that?" and he replied "Going to big school." I was a bit puzzled "You're not off to big school for 14 months and 50:50:50 is next week?", he looked at me and said "I know but I'm still excited about big school." We'll see how that goes. I'm nearly ready and I'll be joined by Ashley "Wonky Knees" Moore from Chippenham to Swansea with no training. He's run a Marathon before and so I'm confident this will be easy for him. I'm nearly ready and will stop blogging soon as Ruth will take over on the Twitter and Facebook for updates.

I'd thought I'd include a picture of Lucy here with one of her celebrity friends, that's right Tom Jones, doesn't he look tall.