12 May 2017
I've been cycling for three or four years and every year set myself a target to get me through the hard winter months of training. This year I think I've got a bit carried away as I'm planning to ruin my May half-term by cycling from Land's End to John O'Groats, in hopefully just eight days (and yes I've heard that direction is allegedly uphill). My excuse is that it is a special birthday this year, unfortunately for me 50; hence the crazy project.
Two years ago my cycling targets included riding the Tour of Flanders, followed by The Hell of the North (Paris Roubaix). These were both over around 90 miles. The former included around a dozen short sharp climbs on cobbled hills, and Paris Roubaix included 20 miles of rough cobbled farm roads. Last year, I spent many an hour riding our local hills, trying to shed excess pounds, in preparation for an attack on some of the Tour de France iconic climbs including the Col De Croix de Fer, Col du Galibier and the 21 hairpins of Alpe D’ Huez.
So, this year it is all about distance, and quite a lot of hills. To add to the challenge, I'm also doing it solo, which means riding it alone carrying my own kit. I am expecting some company on the first two legs, and again on stage 4 when, after a night in my own bed, I'll head through Croston on my way to Carlisle. The plan is 880 miles, 10,000 metres and around 80,000 calories in 8 days (you can see my itinery over the page).
What am I most looking forward to? The Severn bridge, the flat Lancashire lanes around here, getting over Shap, Scotland north of Stirling and finishing; oh yes, and my own bed at the end of day three.
What am I most worried about? Coping with repeat 10 hour days in the saddle, mostly alone. The possibility of strong head winds, and the nagging fear of mechanical problems, especially if they occur in the wilds of Scotland. The constant short, sharp climbs throughout the first two days in Cornwall and Devon and being able to consume enough food to fuel my legs.
So that I can't back out from this stupid challenge, I'm doing it for the following charities, and in memory of four special people. The first is Bloodwise, formerly Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, a blood cancer charity, in memory of Edward Walton-Doyle. Asthma UK in memory of Hannah Wilson. Cancer Research and British Heart Foundation, to remember my best friend Gareth Miller and Phil, my dad respectively.
Gill Loveday, who coordinates the schools community and charity work, is being a great support. The non-uniform on 7th April raised £1000 for my four chosen charities, so thank you already for your support.
I would greatly welcome any additional donations in my attempt to make £4000 for these important charities. My just giving site details are below. Think of it as an investment to make sure a teacher suffers in his holiday. I'll also be keeping a blog so you can hear how my preparation and 8 days of pain go. Many thanks in anticipation of your support and please pray for warm, strong dry winds from the south during the May half-term.