As I sit on the plane somewhere above France with Mike, Barry and Bob weaving their way to Santander for the overnight ferry it seems like an appropriate time to put down a few thoughts on the challenge.
All those weeks ago it seemed like another crazy idea to put 10 guys together to cycle from Wrexham to Gibraltar. Well it seemed crazy to other people but not to Mike, Barry or I. We have become defined by these challenges and in truth we love them.
We love the planning the organising the detail, yes we like to moan a lot about it but that’s half the fun, right?
There is a bond, a warmth that exists between a group of people on the same journey. That’s not to say that it’s all lovey-dovey, there are disagreements and at times you crave solitude more than anything else. As a group we have been fortunate, the spirt of the group is defined by its leaders and this has clearly shone through under the leadership of Barry J.
Barry’s ability to guide the team during difficult periods is legendary and none more so than on this trip, where under severe pressure he managed not only to find the right routes but also to keep the group together and functioning properly
New addition to the group Chris G did a brilliant job, an accomplished athlete he led from the front taking more of the work load than anyone else. We also discovered he doesn’t like anchovies!
His bike knowledge was also called for on more than occasion. I am particularly grateful for his roadside cable change and spoke repair.
The naughty section this year was led by Med Evans ably assisted by Lee Yandle and Stephen Richards. Their constant stream of ‘banter’, finger gestures and innuendo kept spirits high and definitely lightened the mood when things got tough.
On the basis of ‘what goes on tour stays on tour’ I am forbidden from repeating any of their antics but maybe when the film is released under assumed names it can be enjoyed by the many.
What I can tell you is that the new ‘fines’ system worked really well. Each night 2 members of the team would take charge and issue fines for incidents or comments made during the day. Without giving too much away Mike P ended up quite a bit lighter in the wallet!
Memorable moments? There are many, oh so many and I’m not just saying that, every day returned something that made us laugh, say wow or on occasion much worse.
For me meeting Bob at City Hall when we thought he was still lost over the border and would miss the photos ranks highly and of course the final ascent to the top of the rock will never be forgotten
At this point we must give Bob and BarryW a special mention for theirs is the really difficult job. Yes there were moment when things went awry that’s inevitable but without them this whole challenge would not be possible. I can’t begin to tell you how it feels to see the van waiting for you after a really hard section with water food and a smile, priceless!
Low points must include saying goodbye to BarryW in Madrid and of course the storms in central Spain.
The dinner on the last night is always special. This is when we all say a few words about the trip our reasons for going and what it means to us is always a highlight, not least as this year some people even made notes! I must confess to being emotional this time for a variety of reasons but being amongst friends helped greatly.
There have been many messages of support from all over the world which has been brilliant. Many of us shared our messages with the group and it was touching to hear such heart warming comments.
We have watched the fundraising site tick up consistently and each day we would have a roll call of donors each one met with a cheer.
We are grateful to everyone who has donated to the four charities Marie Curie, Crohns & Colitis, Leonard Cheshire and Hope House Children Hospice. Every penny donated will help these charities provide support to those who need it most.
We would also like to thanks our sponsors without whom it would not be possible to undertake this challenge. We remain eternally grateful.
The last thank you must go to the WAGS and families without whom events like this would not be possible. Knowing their support is unwavering gives us all confidence and strength to carry on. Simply having people to call at the difficult times means a great deal.
To our our families Thank you with all our hearts.
Till the next time
The reluctant cyclists