Never sit down………….

‘Never stand up when you can sit down, and never sit down when you can lie down.’ -Winston Churchill.

One of the interesting things about completing an event like this is the preparation that has to go into it.   After a hard week at work the thought of a 6-15 alarm call to cycle 100 miles around North Wales in single figure temperatures may not thrill everyone. Despite the views.

Perhaps that is why this weekend I just forgot to set it.

You may expect the rest of this blog to be about the mad dash that then ensues.  Picture something akin to the scene at the start of Four Weddings and a Funeral as Hugh Grant and Charlotte Coleman try desperately to be on time for the wedding except instead of morning suits, bridesmaid dress and a dash in a mini it is lycra, crash helmet straps being clipped in on the go and pedalling with only one shoe on.  However, here is the odd thing;  I woke bright as a button at 6-10.  Training is hard for anything but as you have seen in the earlier blogs it is also enjoyable to be out in a team riding and improving together so I was looking forward to it so much I woke up unassisted. Which really brings me to the topic of this blog.

If you think of any cycling event from the team pursuit at the Olympics where the four cyclists swap position every lap by flying up the track to join the back in perfect synchronisation or the 198 strong Tour de France peleton  sweeping through the breathtaking French countryside you rarely see a cyclist by themselves.

The reason for this at elite level is that the group will go faster by taking turns to be at the front and recovering in the small vacuum created when they ride behind others. In the team pursuit where they are travelling at over 60kph for four kilometres the fourth person is using around half of the energy of the first person.  At a very different scale this is also true for our group.

As I  have been away for a few weeks and due to other commitments I have not managed to ride in the group as much as I should. This has however given me the perspective on just how much everyone is improving not only in their own fitness but on riding in a group.

In partcular on one part of this ride, the seven of us rode along the north wales coast in a line similar to the Olympic Team pursuiters.  Our three extra people and couple of hundred more kilos in power obviously resulting in an increase in speed of an amazing minus 30kph.  We were not trying win an Olympic gold but to keep going for another 50ish Miles at roughly the same speed. We held both this form and speed until we hit traffic lights. Not literally this week I am pleased to report.

The quote by Winston Churchill in the title of this blog could be a cyclist mantra. When we are all due to expend so much energy in the coming weeks ironically we will all be focussed on saving every calorie we can.

Barry J

Wrexham to Gibraltar Charity Cycle Ride

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/

Pains, Trains and cycle lanes!

With 4 weeks to go training sessions were coming thick and fast. The psychological need to get the first hundred under our belt had been on our agenda for sometime. Saturday was the first opportunity for a small group to get out to achieve this milestone.

Five eager souls appeared at 8 o’clock on Saturday morning to head out to Ruabon Oswestry and then to Shewsbury, on to Shawbury, Audlem and then home having visited Cheshire briefly.

A beautiful still morning, ideal for cycling, we set off quickly leaving Wrexham and passing through Ruabon before stopping briefly in Oswestry to admire the Iron Age Hill fort.

Paul had been around for the opening but we suspected this was for the visitor area not the fort itself.

Shrewsbury quickly appeared and we were stunned by the beauty of the old quarry and the river path. Children played, old couples walked along the river and we passed a Tai Chi class in full flow.

The route took us out along the river and before long we were on the outskirts of Shrewsbury passing the retail Park and heading for the Shawbury road.

Now life can be a cruel mistress and on Saturday she dealt me a glancing blow.

Whilst negotiating the perilous cycle lanes outside the retail park I was distracted by the interesting sheep display at the entrance to Tesco, unfortunately, my appreciation of the ruminant mamals caused me to miss the signpost which had been placed in the middle of the cycle path!

Several minutes in the recovery position on the path allowed me to regain my senses and realign my knee cap. The pain relatively short-lived subsided and I was left with a large swelling to the knee. My ride was over.

We regrouped at McDonalds and after a coffee and some ice it was decided I would limp home on the train and the guys would carry on.

Now the rest of their ride was equally eventful and I’m told the 2nd half of the story will follow shortly.

What I can tell you is that due to a navigational issue with Mikes North Korean sat nav they completed ‘a Nelson’ (111 miles) and thus the 100 mile psychological barrier.

I on the other hand caught the train home bike in hand surrounded by dozens of ladies on a hen party heading for the races.

They were very kind and loved the fact I was dressed in pink. I declined their offer of an afternoon as their mascot at the races and headed home.

I am grateful to my cycling buddies who checked on my wellbeing before mercilessly ridiculing me and to the several members of the public who offered their assistance as I lay on the ground.

Faith in humanity restored!

The reluctant cyclist.

Wrexham to Gibraltar Charity Cycle Ride

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/

Team Williams

With only 4 weeks left until Richard and Barry set off on their latest charity challenge, we are asking for your help and support.

On May 19th, Richard and seven other cyclists will be leaving Wrexham on a thirteen day sponsored ride to Gibraltar. Barry will be chief navigator in the support bus behind them.

Richard will be cycling a total of 1,400 miles and completing over 60,000 feet of climb all in 13 days.

The route will take the team through some gruelling terrain including crossing the Pyrenees. The day they cross the North West end of the Pyrenees contains a climb the equivalent of climbing twice the height of Snowdon in one day.

Their first cycling challenge was in 2008, cycling Hadrian’s Wall. In 2010, they successfully cycled around Wales in eight days, from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 2013 and in 2015 they completed the epic ride from Wrexham to Monte Carlo.

Thanks to your generosity and support, these events have raised over £30,000 to support the vital work of Hope House, Sparks, Leonard Cheshire Disability and Bloodwise.

Now, with expectations growing, Wrexham to Gibraltar is by far their most difficult challenge yet. They are hoping to raise £15,000 for four important charities, Hope House, Marie Curie, Leonard Cheshire Disability and Crohn’s and Colitis UK.

We would be very grateful if you could sponsor Richard and Barry at

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/WrexhamtoGibraltarCharityCycleRide or cheques can be made payable to Wrexham to Gibraltar and sent to Richard at Williams Financial Planning Ltd.

You can follow Richard’s progress on his blog The Reluctant Cyclist at

Http://wrexhamtomonico.wordpress.com

Thank you for your generosity and continued wonderful support.

Frequently asked questions

What are you doing?

We are cycling from Wrexham to Gibraltar from May 19th to June 2nd. We will be covering 1,400 miles over 13 days and completing over 60,000 feet of climb.

Why?

Simple! We are aiming to raise 15,000 for four charities; Hope House, Leonard Cheshire, Marie Curie and Crohn’s & Colitis.

Why Gibraltar?

Having cycled the length of Wales, the UK and France, it only seemed fair to cycle across Spain. Unfortunately, Spain on its own whilst a challenge, wouldn’t be sufficient for most of our supporters so the idea of cycling from Wrexham was hatched.

Despite popular opinion, this has nothing to do with Brexit!

How many people are doing the challenge?

We have 8 cyclists, Barry J or Red1 (leader on road) Mike, Med, Chris, Steve, Lee, Neil and I. We are supported by Bob (driver) and Barry (navigator).

How many challenges have you done?

This will be our fifth challenge.  We started in 2008 cycling Hadrian’s wall, carrying all our own kit. Then in 2010 we cycled around wales in 8 days. In 2013 we cycled Land’s End to John O’Groats and then in 2015 we cycled from Wrexham to Monte Carlo.

With the support of friends, colleagues and family, we have raised funds in excess £30,000. This has gone towards supporting the vital work of Hope House, Sparks, Leonard Cheshire and BloodWise.

Does all the money you raise go to Charity?

We are fortunate to be able to pay for our food and accommodation ourselves. We are lucky to have a group of corporate sponsors who sponsor items such as the mini bus, the ferry crossing and the hoodies.

Everything we raise from individuals or via our web page goes straight to the good causes we are supporting.

What route will you be taking?

What hurts most?

The obvious answer is ‘the bum’. Even after hundreds of miles of training to ‘toughen up’ the posterior this is still the area of the body that takes the biggest beating. After that it’s knees, ankles and wrists.

Thankfully years of experience have taught us how to deal with all these inconveniences.

Creams pre and post ride are vital. I won’t go into any detail in case you are eating.

How do you get you re-supplied?

Through one of our corporate sponsors we hire a mini bus. The bus is a 17 seater which we modify for the challenge by removing the back three rows of seats and build a platform to sit the bikes on.

During the ride we meet the bus on route every 20 miles or 90 minutes, whichever comes first, to stock up on water and food. The van also carries spare equipment, emergency kit and a defibrillator.

Barry and Bob will select meeting points where we can safely get off the road.

Obviously these are just a short selection of questions, if you have any other questions that you would like answers to please feel free to ask.

The reluctant cyclist 🚴‍♀️

Wrexham to Gibraltar Charity Cycle Ride

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/

“No greater therapy than time spent with friends”

I guess there is no easy way for a doctor to tell you that you have a cancerous lesion on your head.

He did his best and in a clearly rehearsed speech he told me what to expect from my next visit to the hospital. It was at this point that it dawned on me that things would be a little different going forward.

With my genetics and my family history it was inevitable that at some point I would end up having the ‘C’ conversation but I had hoped I would get a few more years in first!

Now don’t get me wrong I’m not at all bothered by my ‘skin condition’, my father has been having bumps and bits and even fingers removed for years. He has dealt with these inconveniences in the same way he responded to the last 17 years of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He’s just got on with it!

But this was me and for the first time in my life I considered what could happen, and it made me feel uncomfortable.

With the ride looming this couldn’t have come at a worse time or actually having had time to reflect, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

The position of the lesion is where my cycling helmet sits and therefore having it removed would make wearing the helmet difficult and healing could be disrupted. Also, if I did need a small skin graft then coming from my posterior could also be a problem as I currently have a bottom like a baboon from all the cycling.

Despite everything, training has to continue and Friday saw 11 of our cycling group out on a training ride. Having felt a little below par I hadn’t looked forward to the ride.

It’s almost inevitable that when a group of men get together they automatically assume the age of the youngest member of the group, in our case Lee’s 21 year old son, Matty.

To cut a long story short Mike had accidentally handed his cycling gear to the local charity shop who had promptly sold it. (Details to follow in a later blog), anyway the ribbing Mike received was merciless. The charity shop in question was Shelter, the homeless charity, and all day stories of the less fortunate walking around in mikes gear came out.

Mikes expensive cycling helmet had gone, a state of the art electronic helmet with radio Bluetooth and phone capabilities. It had taken the best part of 6 months for him to ‘pair’ his helmet to his phone. We had visions of some homeless guy hearing voices from his new hat as he intercepted Mikes phone calls.

82 miles and several hours later we arrived home having laughed non stop.

Now they say there is no greater therapy than time spent with good friends and I for one could not agree more.

Fridays ride was a great opportunity to hit the reset button and from here it’s onwards and upwards.

Oh and if you see a homeless person in Mikes kit, please buy it back for him.

The reluctant cyclist

Wrexham to Gibraltar Charity Cycle Ride

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/

Powered by bantor

For those that are not aware 8 ordinary guys are looking to cycle from Wrexham to Gibraltar on the 19 May over 13 days with an average of 107 miles a day!! No rest days.

Here’s my cheeky suggestion before you kindly sponsor one of four great charities try this. They say to get perspective walk a mile in another person’s shoes. Go and bike for ten miles see how you feel and then contemplate doing that x 11 in a day then x 12 more days. This will be one of the toughest tests we have ever done.

Good Friday, It’s a bank holiday so time to enjoy a lie in!!! Alarm goes off at 6am time to put on the lycra cycling gear, gotta love the lycra that time in the morning!!

Three egg omelette two pieces of brown toast pint of water later I’m ready to leave, I get the bike out put the lights on and head for Wrexham to meet the motley crew. Its cold a slight head wind and my eyes are watering, after about a mile I get a bit of leg burn, the remanence from the previous bike ride, your motivation is pretty low at this stage but mile by mile land mark by land mark minute by minute you press on 1 hr 20 mins later I’ve made it to Wrexham, that’s my solo bit over.

Six meet at the rendezvous point and 15 mins later the motley crew tops out at 11 cyclists.

We cycle from Wrexham to Chester then onto Peckforton , Bunbury, Nantwich to Audlem where we stop for coffee and a bite to eat, I can safely say that I have not laughed so much in that hour than I have for years, when you put 11 men together the banter is relentless usually at someone else’s expense!!

I have learnt this over the years, that when life gets tough you need your friends it helps put where you are in perspective and the task ahead no matter how tough just seems a little easier.

That day we covered between 82-100 miles, yes certain parts were painful, joints hurt, your bottom is sore, your legs burn but powered by banter we all came through it.

For us to achieve this major feat, we will have highs and lows , however that banter will be our kryptonite and see us through.

Our effort for these charities, Hope House, leonard Cheshire, Marie Curie and Crohns disease are not achieved in 13 days but the 1000’s of hours collective training we have done and continue to do in our training to hopefully be in a position to succeed.

We sacrifice time and our family and partners are kind, patient and tolerant in sharing this journey we have so much to thank them for,

Every pound of donation goes straight to these charities we pay for the trip ourselves. Please have a look at our site.

Med

Wrexham to Gibraltar Charity Cycle Ride

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/WrexhamtoGibraltarCharityCycleRide