Alain Jourdain – A tribute to kindness

So after yesterday’s little quiz, I have another one for you. Even easier than yesterday’s this one. Ready?

Question 1 of 1:

What is this:

Not tricky is it?

Correct – it is a watch. But not any old watch, I promise you. I highlight it here for two reasons. The first is that it is the watch that I wore when I went up Kilimanjaro. It is just a cheap Timex job, and is very unspectacular. It was cheap, it glows in the dark, and is water resistant. That was all I needed.

You will also have noticed that it is a watch that is a bit scratched, and has the strap broken. This brings me onto the point of this post, and the title itself:

Today I went cycling at lunchtime from work. The weather conditions were absolutely atrocious, and it rained cats and dogs. Three of us did about twenty two miles, and I have perhaps never been as wet through in my whole life. Stupidly and unfortunately, after about a mile or so in, I turned round to talk to Neil, one of the guys that I was riding with, as he had just taken a mouthful of water from the back wheel of my bike.

As I turned back to face the front, my front wheel went from below me on a wet manhole cover. I tried to regain control but couldn’t, and I ended up flying into the kerb where I went over the handlebars and into a hedge and a fence. Having picked myself up again and counted that my fingers and toes were all still there, I discovered two very bloody knees and a few scratches up my arm, and that was it. I was very very lucky indeed.

So anyway, the ride continued, and about halfway round I notice that my watch is missing. I was very unhappy. It went up Kilimanjaro with me, and it is extremely special, probably because it is a cheap Timex, and that I bought it for the mountain only. I was wearing it today because my normal watch is broken and needs a repair. At the end of the ride I retraced my steps and searched high and low for the watch, checking the kerb, gutter, pavement, the hedge, and it was not to be found. I was gutted. I returned to the office quite upset, as it was something that I wanted to be able to look at in years to come and reminisce with.

After being back in the office for about an hour a few people had said to me that I should go and have my leg seen to, but all I cared about was my watch. I then had to go into a meeting for a couple of hours, and came out wondering whether I should go back one more time and retrace my steps. As I came out, the other guy who had been riding with us, Alain, was holding in his hand my watch, and told me he had gone and searched for it and had found it in the hedge!

I have to say, that in terms of a wonderful thing to do, this is off the scale. Firstly it was absolutely teeming down with rain, secondly he is stupidly busy with work, and thirdly it is not his watch. He did it because he is simply a wonderful and kind hearted person, who would give the shirt off his back to make any difference at all to other people. I have been fortunate to work with him for about nine months, and this is just the sort of person he is – utterly selfless, and wonderfully kind-hearted and good natured.

I was almost in tears as I thanked him, and I sent him a gushing note to express my thanks, and to which he replied with thanks as his humble, grateful and outstanding self. He deserves more than just thanks, and the world should have more people like Alain Jourdain.

Alain, I salute you. my scratches and bruises from today will fade, but the memory of a wonderful act of kindness never will. You are a prince amongst humanity, and so I thank you, truly, from the very bottom of my heart.

Nappy Rash

So I have a quiz for you folks out there. Only one question, and so it should be easy:

Question 1:

What is the difference between this:

"A jar of cream"

And this:

"Also a jar of cream"

Stumped? Then I shall tell you. The answer is £15. OK, so the former may contain Dimethicone Silicate Crosspolymer, which the second does not. It also contains Hamamelis Virginia Extract, which the second also does not. And also the former has an instruction on the jar which says “Do not use in direct contact with mucous membrane”. The second most definitely does not. I had to look at myself closely to decide whether I actually had a mucous membrane or not, and was worried in case I didn’t. I decided on balance that I do, and so tried to keep it away.

Anyway, the reason why the difference is £15 (and the only practical difference, other than the above), is that one is made by Assos of Switzerland, who are certainly legendary in cycling accessory terms, and the other is made by Tesco, and is clearly made for babies, who probably don’t have £16 odd to spend on a jar of nappy cream.

There is actually another difference too, which I didn’t tell you about. One works much much better than the other, at least on my non-mucous-membrane parts it does.

I speak from authority, having tried out both in the last two days. The former I used on my Saturday ride, where I got rather wet in a big downpour. By the time I got back (I will spare you the gory details), I was rather “chafed” in certain areas. I was adorned liberally with the Swiss cream. Today I liberally applied the non-Swiss cream, onto the chafed and non-chafed areas, and all I can say is that it is all right again down there. In fact the chafing from yesterday is even better.

So now I know how it feels to be a baby again and have nappy rash. I now know why babies cry, is all I can say – it is not to be recommended!

25 Days to Go!

I can hardly believe that there are just 25 days to go until I get to Lands End for the Great British Bike Ride. It seems rather surreal. I say this as someone who is filled with dread at the prospect of cycling 330 miles – I actually am very unsure as to whether I am physically capable of that at all. I have no idea what cycling more than 50 miles feels like currently, and time is rather running out.

I went out yesterday for my first cycle in almost a fortnight, and thankfully felt fine. I thought my holiday would rather have caught up with me (although I did do a few exercise bike sessions in the gym at the hotel, but it was hardly very much), but the legs apparently still work. I did 25 miles, at rather a good pace (averaging 20 mph, my best ever) and so all is back on track as such.

I got a call from Mike at the GBBR to ask if I wanted to go on their training weekend on the 13th August, but I have a big family party that weekend which I am hosting, so cannot do it. The weekend will be therefore rather a setback, as it will be no bike riding and probably a lot of vodka drinking (these things have to do be done sometimes :)). So much is happening now as far as the event is concerned, and I have a lot of organising to do. I still need quite a bit of kit, including some extra bib shorts as it is important to have a clean pair for each day, so I had better get the credit card out again. I have to sort out my transport down there too – I am hoping that I can get on the train with my bike, and then I have to work out how I get from Penzance to Lands End – I won’t be able to cycle as I will have too much kit to carry, so it could be interesting. Maybe they have big taxis down those parts….

Oh and another exciting piece of news that I picked up via Richard Hill’s twitter page ( – apparently Martin Johnson no less, will be riding day Three (Yeovil to Winchester) with us – how exciting is that?

So, with 25 days to go, that means I will be out probably only another 8 or so times in anger on the training front. The last week before the ride we have been told to take it very easy and get some rest before the event. I have only two weekends of riding therefore, and I need to make them count. Tomorrow therefore I am intending to do 80 miles, and then follow it with 60 on Sunday morning. There’ll be a few hills in there too. This will give me a taster of what is to come and how far I need to progress still. It is daunting, but very exciting too. It is interesting how you do progress with time, as the thought of 80 miles just four weeks ago would have terrified me, but now I am rather looking forward to it.

On Sunday after an early morning ride I am getting a visit from Darina and Paul, who are doing Kilimanjaro next month. They originally contacted me via this blog, and are coming to have a look at my pictures and stuff. I get to talk about Kilimanjaro all over again – yippee! Here is a link to their blog so you can see how they are getting on:

OK that’s all for now – off to work, and have just got my head together after an early morning swim in the Thames. Yes you read that right, I must be flipping nuts!


And so further to my last post on the demerits of Health & Safety policies, I have been in touch with the nice folks at The Great British Bike Ride. It seems that what happened is the following:

When I signed up for the GBBR (I was the 24th person to do so), it was the intention that we would indeed all be cycling into Twickenham. It seems however that the RFU then decided that this would not be a good idea from a Health & Safety perspective, and suggested that we could perhaps ‘stand in the corner of the stadium’ or something like that. It seems then that various conversations took place with the GBBR people, and that eventually a compromise was reached whereupon 10 people will be allowed to cycle into the stadium, and the others can walk or jog behind. I was told that this all happened about two months ago, and that subsequently people who signed up were told this, and so I was the only one who piped up as I didn’t know. I apologised to Barry at the the GBBR for causing any consternation with either my blog or the email that I sent him whilst on holiday, and he said he understood why I felt aggrieved as I was not party to this information.

So all is fine and ‘water under the bridge’ as it were. I still think it is a shame that we can’t cycle in, but I now understand the reasons why, and so that is the end of the matter as far as I am concerned.

I am very fired up for the GBBR. It is clearly a fantastically well organised event, and I am very impressed by everything the orgnaisers have done. I  just hope I do myself justice.

So meantime I need to get on with the cycling. I have just got back from holiday last night, and so this evening will be my first time in the saddle for 10 days. I think it is going to hurt………I shall let you know how I get on.

Health & Safety My Arse

So I am currently on holiday on the island of Crete, and having a lovely time. I should therefore have much better things to do than be posting to my blog, and indeed I do, but I feel compelled to put my feelings down here, as I am far from happy. The reason for this is an email which to me highlights the stupidity of modern society – that ridiculous and sometimes shameful umbrella called ‘Health & Safety’. 

Let me explain:

For a few weeks now I have been very much looking forward to receiving the instruction pack for The Great British Bike Ride. It will contain instructions on things that I have been waiting to know about for some time, and the event is only four weeks away. I have to say that the organization for the event has been excellent all the way so far, and the communications very thorough. 

So last night a 16 page email arrived telling me where to be every step of the way, what we will be fed, what to bring, and every conceivable question seems to have been answered up front. I know how many people are staying in each tent, what time we will get up each morning (5.15 on the final day for example – ouch!) etc. I read the whole thing eagerly (although I shouldn’t be doing such things on my holidays), and there appears to be nothing left to learn or to be left to chance. Excellent, apart from one item, almost hidden in the small print.

There on page 8 of 16 were the words “good old Health and Safety has dictated that we won’t all be able to cycle into Twickenham and instead only 10 bicycles will be allowed, and the rest will have to walk/jog behind……” I could not believe what I was reading. 

People sign up to do things for various reasons, and those reasons by and large keep them going as they slog away over their months of training. In my case one of the driving reasons was the thought of arriving into Twickenham in front of 70,000 people, something that drew my eye the first time I saw the advertisement for the event, and something that I have said to people quite a few times since.

So now it seems that I cannot do that at all. Someone in their infinite wisdom has decided that it contradicts something or other. How ridiculous is that?  We will all of us just have cycled some 330 miles on all sorts of public roads across half of the country, and then someone sees fit to say it is a hazard to Christ knows who (and I’d love to find out who) for us to cycle inside a rugby ground. I mean, seriously, get a fucking grip.

I have written a note to Barry Clayton, the Event Director of the GBBR, to express my disappointment. As I sit here now I am gutted quite frankly. I have spent a lot of time and effort and indeed money on getting this far, and now I am not even sure if I want to do it any more. Without wanting to appear over-petulant (which I might, please let me know if you think I am) it feels to me like climbing a mountain only to be told just before you get to the top that you can’t actually walk to the summit. Someone has just said that you have to go there by helicopter instead. 

I even paid for four tickets for the rugby game for people who certainly aren’t interested in the rugby so they could see me ride into the stadium. Two of them are my kids. I even had imagined riding in to the ground, absolutely knackered, but with tears in my eyes, looking out for them, and they’d be just a tiny bit proud of their old Dad for doing a 330 mile ride for various good causes etc. It just doesn’t feel the same for the cyclists to be walking behind ten bikes – what will the rest of the crowd there think as the cyclists enter – that most of us walked the final part as we were all too tired? That really really makes me sad and mad, and it has tarnished the whole thing for me. 

So in the words of the grandma on The Catherine Tate Show: “what a load of old shit”, and as I put in the title here, “Health and Safety My Arse”  

And that, in the words of Forrest Gump, “is all I have to say about that”.