Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Thanks Vicky....

an unbelievably generous donation - particularly when added to your earlier contribution.

Thanks Vicky xx

Goodbye May.....

I've just been out for a quick spin around the lanes - it's windy but not too bad - the last day of May... where has the time gone?

My mileage for the month stands at 517 - that's probably about right - I wonder if I might have done more but I'm reasonably happy with my overall preparation.

Our total sponsorship now stands at £3792.64 - We're getting there!

Thanks Barry...

Barry Boulton is a friend of ours from Bellringing, he has ridden LeJog and as such deserves special respect!

And now we must also thank him for his recent kind donation to our fundraising efforts. Thanks Baz - hopefully see you on Wednesday for the beer ride?


My plan to beat the 'cold' bug seems to have worked.

Over the past couple of days I have swallowed a viscious concoction of drugs and alcohol - and the 'Night Nurse' I took on Sunday evening sent me into a coma for the whole of yesterday - however, by luck or judgement, I seem to have beaten the infection - I have woken today with no sore throat and no other signs of a cold at all - no sniffling, no runny nose, no coughing.... I still feel a bit hazy and spaced out and I could probably do with some more sleep - but I can ride!! - at least I think I can.

The rain here has stopped now and the sky looks clear - its a cold start but all the indications are that today will be fine and I hope to be out this evening for a ride with Gary.

I've just updated our 'money raised' page - we're up to £3612.64 - Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far - we are still hoping to make it to £5000 - some of which will hopefully be donated on our return via the collection buckets at The Pokey Hole.

Anyone who is thinking of making a donation - please do it!!! - the links at the top of the right hand column column mean you can make a donation safely and securely on-line. Cheers!!!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Liposuction........Is the Only Answer

I've just seen the shape of the shirts that we have sorted for the ride. Judging by the photo there is only one way it is going to fit me.....
As Paul has said, I have almost recovered from the Bug. It all seems crazy to me. Six weeks ago the weather was great, I felt great, the miles were speeding by. Now however, the weather is wet and cold, I feel like I haven't been out for a month and the thought of cycling a thousand miles is a nightmare.
I hope all the miles covered in the Winter and early Spring count for something

Sunday, 29 May 2011

The worst thing!....

... that could have happened, may have happened!

Gary has been suffering from a cold - he's over the worst of it now, my youngest daughter also has a similar infection - and now I supect I might have picked up the bug.

I have the sore throat - the usual early indication that things can only get worse. I'm taking everything I can lay can my hands on at the moment - Vitamin C in copious quantities, Lemsip, Honey, Vitamin tablets, Brandy, Whisky ... you name it I've tried it - even all those new remedies that you spray up your nose. If I get a dope test before setting out I'll be off the scale I should imagine.

I know that none of this will make a difference - if I've got it, it will have to take its course. But after all the hard work and effort, all the planning and training, it will be a total disaster to have to attempt this challenge suffering from a cold!!! - I know that riding those distances and especially the uphill slogs will be impossible unless I am fully fit - last year I rode a 60k Audax with a congested chest and I suffered badly for about a week afterwards. I'm not sure what I can do? - Early nights, sleep and rest perhaps?

I'll see how I feel tomorrow - we're planning a ride up the steepest hills around here as a tester - If I can do that without any adverse effects maybe it will be okay?? - I just don't know?

Friday, 27 May 2011

We need to look the part!....

When we're out there racking up the miles, we need to look good and let people know what we're doing - and when we stop for refreshment (there are many good pubs on the route) we will have the opportunity to use our collection buckets to add to the funds.

So I've put together a shirt design that we can produce easily - we only need two!

A local company has agreed to produce them and hopefully I'll be paying them a visit today.

Should look something like this - printed both sides on a suitable cycling jersey.
Front                                                      Back

Thursday, 26 May 2011

John Thompson....

Last nights 'Training' was our weekly Pub ride - this week we went out to Ingleby to visit The John Thompson Inn.

There were only three of us - don't know what happened to the usual motley crew? - But we went anyway, riding through Burton on Trent, out to Newton Solney then a steady up hill climb to Repton followed by Milton before a speedy descent to Ingleby.

The John Thompson is a highly acclaimed traditional brew pub, with extensive gardens set in idyllic countryside besides the banks of the River Trent. It is renowned locally and afar for the excellent quality of its home brewed ales - as a testament, the pub is one of only 66 throughout the UK to have been listed as a main entry in every edition of The Good Pub Guide.

The bar of The John Thompson
We enjoyed a couple of pints of their 'Gold' beer - a pale, light zesty brew.

Gary is still suffering a bit with his cold so we set off for home a little earlier than usual, we climbed quite a long steep hill up to Ticknall and then more climbing to Hartshorne and up to Woodville before a flatter ride to Overseal and finally on to Netherseal.

It was a good ride, it seemed like further than the 28 miles recorded, probably because there was a far bit of climbing!

Bike challenge will be like going up Everest twice...

So reads the headline in our local newspaper - The Burton Mail!

We were interviewed and had our photo taken last Friday and the article actually appears today. Here's what it says:

TWO South Derbyshire cyclists are embarking on the trip of a lifetime to raise £5,000 for two charities.
Gary Gee and Paul Hathaway
Gary Gee and Paul Hathaway
Gary Gee and Paul Hathaway, both of Netherseal, have set themselves the daunting task of cycling the 1,000 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats in just 10 days.
The pair became friends when they met in the village and rediscovered cycling around the same time.
The 53-year-olds, who are members of Mercia Cycling Club, decided to put their new-found hobby to good use by raising money for charity.
They have already raised £3,500 through sponsors and are hoping to reach their target of £5,000 by the time they finish their challenge next month.
Mr Hathaway said: “The idea came about last October. We were in the pub when we had this crazy idea to raise money for charity by cycling. We decided to do it from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
“We started training that month, through the winter, and bought new bikes in the new year.
“Training has now become more serious — we do about 300 to 400 miles a month. Last month we did 850 miles.” The duo have decided to donate the money raised to Guide Dogs for the Blind and Help for Heroes, as Gary’s wife works with guide dogs, and they have seen a lot of work done by Help for Heroes, which raises money for wounded ex-servicemen and women.
Paul said: “We have every intention of completing this. I know that at least one of us will complete it, we have said that.
“We are excited and a bit nervous but we are just training as much as we can.
“Gary and I intend to complete the course — around 1,000 miles — in 10 days, which is 100 miles a day.
“The route from Land’s End to John O’Groats involves a fair amount of hills — by the time we have finished we will have cycled the equivalent of going up Mount Everest twice.” Practical Car and Van Rental in Burton is helping by providing a support vehicle for the trip.
Anyone who would like to make a donation, check the route or see how the training is going can find the pair’s blog at www.paulandgaryaremad.blogspot. com.

Monday, 23 May 2011

A birthday and an anniversary ride....

It's Sunday, the sun is shining, the rain that came during the night has now subsided, everything looks and smells fresh and sparkly. Gary has called me this morning to say he won't be able to make it on our planned excursion with Mercia Cycling Club to visit the cyclist's war memorial at Meriden, Warwickshire and take part in their 90th memorial service. He seems to have picked up a cold - best that he stays in and rests, certainly I don't want to catch it! - Oh, and it's my birthday as well!

Okay, the Cyclist's Memorial - let me explain. Meriden has historically been recognised as 'the centre of England' geographically. As such it was chosen, in 1919, to be the site of a lasting memorial to those cyclists who gave their lives in the Great War of 1914-1918. £1200 was raised from cyclists throughout the UK and on May 21st 1921 the memorial was unveiled by the Lord Chancellor. The Green was packed for as far as the eye could see, some 20,000 cyclists had assembled and the throng overflowed on both sides of the highway, all traffic ceased and the adjoing meadows were packed with thousands of machines parked by their owners. Buglers sounded the 'last post' and a simple dedicatory prayer was read by the Reverend B.G. Bourchier who had been a most generous patron of the memorial fund. There followed an informal laying of wreaths at the foot of the memorial, including a decorated racing wheel from the cycle of one of the unnamed heroes who had fallen. The key-note of the whole memorial was: simplicity and strength without ornament. The obelisk was built on a concrete base with a concrete column which is 30 feet high and faced with Cornish Granite. On 14th June 1923 His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales visited the memorial. A service has been held every year since the unveiling, with the highest attendances in the 1920's and 1930's, yet Meridan today is still one of the largest gatherings of cyclists in the country. A bronze plaque was affixed to the memorial in 1963 to commemorate those cyclists who had died during World War Two.

Fast forward to 2011 - the 90th Anniversary of the unveiling. There may not be the swelling crowds of yesteryear but nevertheless this event still has a certain attraction for many cyclists. For me this was my first visit, we arrived at around 11.00am and the Green was covered with bikes and cyclists. The Bulkington Silver Band were playing and the Atherstone Chorale were leading the singing. The welcome was by Mr Peter Wright of St Laurence Church in the Parish of Meriden and Packington and the reading was by Lewis Hall of British Cycling. The address was by The Reverend Canon John Eardley. Hymns were sang and wreaths were placed. A bugler played the last post followed by a one minute silence whereupon the bugle played 'reveille'. Blessings and further prayer were followed by a rousing rendition of the National Anthem and then it was a short ride to the Village Hall for refreshments of tea and home-made cakes.

Here's a video clip to give you an idea....


It was a moving service and it is perhaps worth reflecting that on the 90th anniversary of the unveiling of a memorial to those who lost their lives fighting in the 'Great War', Gary and I will be riding to help raise funds for servicemen and women who are still involved in conflict almost 100 years later.

We rode home through some pretty countryside. The Forest of Arden - absolutely beautiful, simple and peaceful. We managed, somehow to lose our leader - hope you got back okay Norman?.  Total mileage for the day 75

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Two Weeks to Go. Granny Gear or Not ?

This month has not been as active as last month, but I guess I should be winding down a little, ready for the big challenge. I have managed to stay fit and healthy throughout the winter, but this weekend I feel lousy, a sore throat and cough. A pity really as I was looking forward to a ride to Meriden for the 90th Annual Cyclists Memorial Service.

I need to get over this, get out on the bike and build up for the ride in a fortnights time.

The Sirrus has had new chain rings, chain and rear cassette fitted along with a full service. This was done at the Specialized Concept Store Birmingham. The staff were very pleasant and helpful.

I have been riding the Roubaix for about 1300 miles. What a bike it is. At first I thought it was a big mistake. I had been riding my flat bar Sirrus for 15 months and found it to be light and responsive. When I rode the Roubaix it seemed unstable and uncomfortable. Now with the miles completed it is very responsive, very fast and handles like a dream. I can climb hills quite well on it and flat roads are despatched at speed. It certainly puts a smile on my face when racing down the country lanes.

I have a problem though....Just how bad are the Devon and Cornwall hills, will I need the granny gear on the Sirrus ? The jury is out on this at the moment.

Friday saw us being photographed by The Burton Mail, hopefully this will generate some more interest. No doubt Paul will say more about it.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Reach for the Sky!.....

Our LeJog ride inevitably involves a considerable amount of climbing - I think Gary worked it out that by the finish we will have climbed Mount Everest - twice!!

But spare a thought for the riders currently racing The Giro d'Italia - I've just read that they will climb 60,000 metres during the course of the race. This years Giro is tough! - amazingly the riders will have climbed beyond the Stratosphere, into the Mesosphere - wow!!!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Hill Ridware...

This Week our 'Beer Run' saw us head into sunny Staffordshire for a visit to The Chadwick Arms at Hill Ridware. Except it wasn't sunny, and for once, I felt this pub didn't live up to expectations. Our Wednesday rides have long been something to look forward to; to savour and relish. And so it was this evening, our ride from Burton on Trent took us through some idyllic countryside and quintessential English villages. But the destination, the end result, was a pub that seemed to be struggling for an identity.

The flagstone floor looked like a fairly recent addition, not original flagstones but more B&Q circa 2000. The beer selection was minimal - Banks's, Pedigree and Merry Monk - I chose Banks's which was okay but could easily have been dispensed from a supermarket can. The pub also boasts a fully functioning Cantonese Restaurant, tacked onto the side as seems to be the fashion in quite a few pubs in the Midlands these days, no doubt due to the economy and the desire to attract more trade. In my experience these pub/take-away establishments never quite work - they confuse me and the whole thing just doesn't feel right - I'm too old-fashioned maybe?

The Mercia 'Elders' - left to right, Ken, Peter, Tim and Norman
The 'elders' of the cycling club - Peter, Tim, Norman and Ken are setting off for a cycle tour of Northern France next week. Sacre Bleu!!

Somehow I wished I was going with them - the whole adventure sounds like an upcoming episode from Last of the Summer Wine!

Mileage tonight - 62

Monday, 16 May 2011

Tragedy at the Giro d'Italia....

Whatever the outcome of the Giro d'Italia, be it victory for Alberto Contador or anything else, the race will be remembered for an incident that has convulsed professional cycling: the death of the Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt. He crashed heavily on the descent from Passo del Bocco, lost a large volume of blood and never regained consciousness.

As with coal miners and fishermen, life on the professional cycling circuit is one of shared and mutually appreciated danger. Riders know that what happened to Weylandt could have happened to any one of their number. The risks he took were routine, taken by a rider who was very much one of the pack.

Weylandt was a journeyman professional, 26 years old, faster than average with a number of sprint wins to his credit, and this was an everyday descent – technical admittedly, but no worse than many others – on a routine stage. That explains in part the expressions of dismay and grief from his fellows and from cycling fans.

The same feelings were present at the last death of a cyclist in one of the major Tours, the fatal accident to Fabio Casartelli in the 1995 Tour de France.

Professional cyclists risk their lives in every single metre of the course said Scot David Millar who added that Wouter's death "shows what cycling is about. It's pretty extreme. There's no point even dedicating anything to Wouter, because it doesn't even come close to making up for what has happened. The bottom line is that the guys here are the best cyclists in the world, and the best guys in the world can have a mechanical fault or find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Life-threatening accidents occur frequently in the professional peleton, such as the 2009 Giro crash in which the Spaniard Pedro Horrillo fell 60 metres into a ravine, after which he had to be put into an induced coma. The riders staged a go-slow in protest after that event and something similar happened after a spate of crashes on a descent in the Ardennes during the 2010 Tour de France.

Casartelli's death led to a debate around helmet use in cycling that had no immediate outcome and it took a further death, that of the Kazakh Andrei Kivilev in the 2003 Paris-Nice before their use became compulsory. It is the second time in recent years that Belgium has been hit, following the death of the Spaniard Isaac Gálvez in the Ghent Six-Day track race in 2006. Those incidents came after the helmet rule came in and serve as a tragic reminder that, no matter what precautions are taken, cycling remains a sport of risk and its practitioners, amateur and professional, ride in the full knowledge of that fact.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Bikes ready!!!

As the 'start' date looms ever nearer, Gary and I have been making sure that our bikes (if not our bodies) will be up to muster.

We are both taking two bikes, we have the considerable luxury of a 'support vehicle' with cavernous storage facilities. Spare parts, indeed spare bikes, is a rare luxury for End-to-Enders, so we are keen to take advantage.

My old Trek has been in for a service and is now back in tip-top condition - new tyres, new spoke to the front wheel, a new chain and rear casette - it feels good and I am confident it won't let me down. My new Trek has been treated to a new chain - this was maybe not essential - but having covered around 1300 miles on it since the new year, the chain had stretched considerably - with additional training rides, plus the ride itself, damage would have been inflicted on those expensive Ultegra chainrings and gears!

So, with the bikes all preened and beautiful the only worry now is us!!!! - We went out on Friday evening with a group of CAMRA beer enthusiasts - a round trip of around 34 miles for me, which included 8 miles before we started. It was an enjoyable evening - hardly serious training but sometimes it's good to relax, pedal easy and not worry about mileage. Plus we tasted some good beers, visiting The Plough at Stapenhill, The White Lion at Harlaston, The Black Horse at Coton in the Elms and finally The Bulls Head at Rosliston.

This weekend sees us both busy with various 'other stuff' including a 50th Birthday party tonight - riding opportunities are therfore scarce, I think that the hard work we've put in over the last 12 months will stand us in good stead, but I'll be trying to get a few miles in during the coming week.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Spring into summer....

The lanes I ride along are narrowing daily as the verges are fattening. The early wild flowers have already been eclipsed, cast into shade by the stingers and the froth of cow parsley. This ubiquitous perennial is one of the first to stir in spring, the finely divided foliage pushing through ahead of the rest; but it will be over in a flash as spring breaks and steams towards summer.

I have taken my bike in (Trek 1) for it's 'pre LeJog' service today. I know it will need a new chain, rear cassette and probably two chainwheels - also I have a broken spoke at the front and the rear brake is not working efficiently - plus I'm treating it to two new tyres, the existing ones having served me well for the past two years. Trek 2 (the new bike) is now well worn in - in fact I suspect I will need to change the chain on that one too.

Gary and I have agreed to ride on a CAMRA Real Ale bike outing this Friday evening - we can't make it to the usual Wednesday Beer Run - so it seemed justified that we make an extra special effort to attend the Friday event! - Peter Rose from Mercia Cycling Club is the organiser - a stalwart of the Real Ale scene around Burton on Trent, An enjoyable evening is guaranteed!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Thanks Vicky....

Great to see you last weekend - and special thanks for your kind and generous donation.

Saturday, 7 May 2011


Many thanks to our latest sponsors Bearing Man Ltd.


This week our Wednesday night 'Beer Ride' took us to the charming South Derbyshire village of Lullington.

The Colvile Arms, Lullington
Approached by quiet lanes, Lullington hosts 'The Colvile Arms' a lively local pub and our destination this evening. The Colvile is traditional, convivial and for the most part unspoilt. There is a charm about the place which translates into a relaxing atmosphere, its unhurried, gentle, there's a feeling of stepping back in time - it's that sort of place. Good beer from Church End Brewery along with the staples of Pedigree and Guinness is all that's needed - there's no food here unless you count the cheese and onion cobs.

Located in the National Forest, Lullington sits compactly at the meeting point of several roads, with All Saints Church, mostly 14th century, prominently sited at the crossing point. The Old School c. 1843, has been well preserved and is now used as the Village Hall. Lullington has several times been awarded the Best Kept Village in Derbyshire as well as being the winner of the Britain in Bloom Competition. It preserves its estate village character with a square and compasses displayed on the old Joiner's shop and a horseshoe on the blacksmith's shop. There's also a thriving cricket club. Mileage this evening 38.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Into May.....

Farewell then to April - the warmest on record I believe. Temperatures have soared, everywhere there are people lolling around, lying on grass that should, according to the date, be too damp!

Men of a certain age have dug out the Baden-Powell shorts and been silly enough to wear them. Thirsty plants in dry gardens have been relieved by water from as yet unbanned hosepipes. And a summer shines down on us, the righteous and unrighteous; the AVer's and the No to AVer's. Blessed be the British in the spring of 2011 - for we are warmer than Los Angeles, drier than Madrid and cosier than Corfu. This could well be the defining springtime of our lives, the vivid, varied greeness that expands daily in the treetops and hedgerows, the lengthening lightness, the infant lambs tottering across warm fields - it has been a spring to savour.

Then of course we had the Royal Wedding - I couldn't not mention it! - Although this is strictly a cycling blog I think it is made more interesting by the the mention of memorable news - when I look back in years to come I'll remember that on the morning of the Will and Kate's wedding I rode 25 miles in sunshine with a hard headwind! - But the wedding was great I thought - Royal occasions are something at which Britain is undeniably world class, anyone still harping for a republic should forget it , at least until the fever has died down! I watched on TV and couldn't help thinking what a great pageant, what splendor, what history - fantastic, and good luck to both of them.

As for training, my monthly total for April was 855 miles - I thought about pushing for 900 but in the end decided against it. I have ridden everyday for the past 3 months and I feel I've done enough. I need a rest! - So I've had the last two days off - I will be going out today for a couple of hours but I think May will be gentle - we do have a couple of longish rides planned and as D-Day gets closer it will be important to rest and save ourselves for the real thing.