Friday, July 31, 2009

The LEL is cracked!

Distance: 875 miles

Time of ride: 117 hrs 30 mins

Time of arrival: 12.00 Friday 31st July within given ride time

After a not so pleasant trip around the M25 this morning I got to spend a pleasant morning sat in the sunshine(!) outside the Lee Valley Youth Hostel in Cheshunt. The time passed quickly as there were riders at all stages (from those who finished yesterday to those just rolling in) telling their war stories of hailstorms, floods, crashes, aches and pains etc but none of this puts them off. Every rider arriving was greeted with enthusiasm whether they were first or last to arrive.

Paul arrived at midday exactly still within the official qualifying time of the ride as 2 extra hours had been allowed for the extreme conditions experienced in Scotland.

He's tired and sore but full of enthusiasm and a sense of achievement. Once he has had an opportunity to recover a little I will try and get him to give you an account of his own.

Given the age and shared mentality of many of the riders there I think I have many more long distance rides to go through yet.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nearly there!

Status as of:8.40pm

Distance travelled miles: 777 miles

Nearest largest town: Lincoln

As Susie implied in her message this is one of the hardest patches of any long distance event when you are tired and it is a day of hard slog with still another one to follow. Its the time you realise why we all need good friends. You need a friend who understands the thrill of pushing yourself this hard, to tell you you're great, to keep going and keep pushing yourself even if it hurts. Someone you know is always at the other end of a phone and who (unlike your girlfriend) isn't going to tell you to stop or worry more than you are. For this I need to thank Euclid for being Paul's biggest fan and being there every step of the way for him.

Paul has been going strong all day for many hours and isn't stopping yet as he is determined to try and complete the ride in the given time. By the time he stops tonight he will only have 93 miles to go! He thinks it will be close (he has until 11.10am tomorrow to finish) but knowing Paul he will find it from somewhere.

For all of you following his progress I am afraid to disappoint you but you will have to wait a while to find out how Paul did. I have something very important to do tomorrow which means I won't be doing the blog straight away. I need to be waiting on a finish line to greet one amazing man.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Come on Paul!

You've broken the back of it now so just keep pedalling and think of that lovely comfy bed you'll sleep in soon!

Pain is temporary, pride is forever.

Back on track!

Wednesday 29th July

Status as of 7.41pm

Distance covered: 602 miles

Nearest largest town: Middlesbrough

Given the start to the day Paul is making fantastic progress now. I think the day is best told in his own words taken from his texts.


'Eskdalemuir 7.24. Some flooded roads, literally up to the wheel axles. Less wind now and a better outlook


Just stopped in Longtown for 4th breakfast since midnight. Slight showers doing okay.


Alston. Now back over Yad moss. Plenty of energy....

....and so they continue. I know he is wet through, has hardly slept and has the inevitable aches and pains but as you can see that's not going to stop him or even dampen his enthusiasm.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The summer weather strikes

Wedneday 29th July

Last night the Scottish summer hit in full force. Audax UK (the ride organiser) pulled the riders from the hills deeming the conditions too dangerous to continue. Paul is safe and spent some of the night in an emergency shelter in Traquir.
He reported much more settled conditions at first light this morning and has set out again. All riders have been allowed an extra 2 hours completion time.

Here's hoping for a better day.


Tuesday 28th July

After a day of very hilly terrain Paul made Edinburgh at 5.40 tonight!!! He arrived there in 51hrs putting him right on track to make it back in the given time and to qualify for a ride medal (I think he deserves one anyway).

Before he left Dalkeith he sent the following message:

'Last section was fantastic. Stunning views, 5 long climbs each several miles long. Descents were awesome and a good strong tail wind. Last descent was 17k long. But now its all in reverse so 17k up!' .....only a cyclist could love those numbers.

Today I had a cake sale in work and my generous colleagues helped raise another £84.29 towards our very good cause. Talking to them really highlighted what Paul is doing and what an achievement completing something like this is.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Paul's progress - Monday 27th July

Monday 27th July

Status as of 7.11pm

Distance covered: 287 miles

Nearest large town: Middlesbrough

Paul is doing brilliantly having ridden London to York in just 24hrs. He is aiming for Alston in Pennines before he stops for a while (369 miles). Paul is saving his phone battery so I only get texts but the last one read Yad moss on this leg :-/ They say a picture says a thousand words you can almost feel the hill!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Paul's progress - overnight Sunday 26th June/Monday 27th

Monday 27th June am

Status as of 6.20am

Distance travelled: 158 miles

Nearest large town: Market Rasen

The London, Edingburgh London begins...

Early this morning (5am) Paul and I set off for the Lee Vally Youth Hostel near Cheshunt on the outskirts of London. This is the home of the start of the London, Edinburgh, London cycle ride. We arrived about 7am in order for Paul to register. Even at this time there were cyclists everywhere. 600 in total from 29 different countries of all ages and on all kinds of bikes. They had one thing in common though - the belief that cycling 875 miles pretty much non stop is normal and fun!
The cyclist leave in waves throughout the day. Paul had been allocated a 2.45pm start time so our day was a strange mixture of the enjoying the atmosphere at the hostel, the excitement of watching groups start and long periods of hanging around a railway station car park. Paul's good friend Euclid came to join us and wish him well which helped speed up the wait and left me at a loss as the two of them admired wheels, lights, spokes and all sorts of other things which most of us think of as just bits of bikes.
Paul had been worrying that he had taken too much with him (he has everything in the two small bags in the photo) but soon found he was in good company. He was also in good company in many other ways. All the riders were very friendly and despite the language differences a common subject was all they needed to spark up conversations.

Paul finally set off at 2.30pm. By 5.15 he was texting me to say he was already past the check point in Gamlingay some 65K from the start. As I started to write this blog I realised this did not mean much to me or probably any non long distance cyclist reading this blog so here is a more user friendly version:

Sunday 26th June 2009

Status as of 5.15 pm

Distance travelled: 40 miles

Nearest large town: Cambridge

Monday, July 20, 2009

Good luck Paul!

Tomorrow sees the start of Paul's little bike ride. May your legs be strong, the weather be kind and the miles fly by without incident. Take care Captain. Love and best wishes, Susie and Mike xxx

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The London Edinburgh London looms large

Nearly a year ago when Paul said he was going to ride nearly 800 miles in four(?) days for the Alzheimer's Research Trust it seemed ages away and I had visions of a large organised event, with lots of support for the riders and with Paul having done loads of cycling to prepare.
The reality is somewhat different! Yes the LEL is a big organised event attracting cyclists from all over the world but the cyclists leave in waves with very little support (apart from a mobile mechanic and check points to ensure they have completed the route). Most the time the cyclist is alone somewhere on route. Sleep is grabbed in small amounts as progress allows sometimes in a check point but other times in a bus stop or other handy local feature.
Its now only 11 days away and Paul's start time is early afternoon on Sunday 26th July. Is Paul prepared? Well the last few weeks have been a mixture of building wheels and haggling for parts on e-bay to get his bike back into working order. He has done some riding but not that much considering what he is about to do.Still on this note Paul is like Susie and will just go for it.
I can't follow Paul as support on route is not allowed. Therefore I'm confined to worrying at home with just a mobile phone for updates. You can see the route Paul will take on the official LEL website .
Even for an experienced rider this a tough event but I know Paul will give it his best and I'm very proud of him for what he is doing. To follow Paul's progress once the event starts look out for a daily blog update.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

World Wide Knit in Public Day

Well, WWKIP day has been and gone and a jolly hot day it was too! We were scheduled to hold our collection in the afternoon so I was worried about where on earth I would be able to park that didn't cost a fortune - town centre car parks charge extortionate prices for a long stay. I headed along Marina Drive getting more and more despondent as every space was taken. I turned around at the very end, heading back towards town and was just about to give up hope when I espied a parked vehicle with its engine running. I pulled alongside to see that the driver was just waiting to finish his ice cream before moving off and so my luck was in and I managed to park up - about 100 yards from the Pier where I'd arranged to meet Paul and Sarah.

It wasn't long before I met Sarah's mum and dad who'd travelled by bus and then Paul and Sarah arrived on the tandem.
Here we are outside the Brighton Pier. I sat on the back of the tandem and pedalled for a bout 2.5 hours whilst knitting using the lovely purple yarn provided by Sue at Kangaroo but my heart really wasn't in the knitting part as my knitting mojo has deserted me at the moment.

Mike had to work so couldn't be with us but Sarah, her mum and dad stood around in the intense heat with their collecting tins and managed to collect £127.56 whilst the Kangaroo team collected an additional £50.24 at the Lewes carnival. For anyone who's never collected in this way it is jolly hard work and there are so many rules and regulations to follow - you mustn't approach people or shake the collecting tins, you must stay in one designated area between specific times. It's mostly thankless work but every so often someone will make a donation and thank you for doing it and that makes it all worthwhile.

It was very busy (as one would expect for a seaside town on a hot day!) and Paul had his work cut out to avoid all the pedestrians who just walk out in front of you on the cycle track. On several occasions he nearly had a knitting needle up his bum!

I was very impressed that Simon, a photographer from The Argus newspaper managed to spot us and we ended up being featured as Picture of the week!

We encountered many different people as Brighton attracts hen parties, stag parties, street entertainers and people hawking tourist souvenirs out of suitcases before the Police move them on. A very nice young man gave us this little card about World Naked Bike Ride day and the very thought of that saddle on my bare bits made me laugh out loud - eurgh!

We were entertained by a man dressed as a clown, playing a tuba whilst balancing on stilts. The only trouble was his repertoire was rather limited and when you'd heard "Liberty Bell" for the 20th time it did begin to irritate! We also encountered a group of men celebrating a gay civil partnership. The 2 men making their commitment were dressed as pantomime dames and looked very fetching. They asked us if they could sit on the tandem and have their photo taken and Paul was very enterprising and asked them all to make a donation which they duly did, netting us an additional £12 by my reckoning. Sadly we didn't get a photo as I hadn't taken my camera with me.

The other thing was that a photographer from The Argus popped along to take some photos for an article that Siobhan had written about us so hopefully that will have gained some more publicity for the Alzheimer's Research Trust.