Time to start sorting the kit out!

So this coming weekend will be my last big cycle before the event itself, now a mere 11 days away:o. The weekend before the ride we are advised to take it easy (now that is the sort of instruction I can really relate to:)), and also to ‘carb load’ (doesn’t sound too troublesome either), and also to hydrate as much as we can (probably doesn’t include wine and beer sadly, although I’m sure they both have carbs in them:)) and also ‘get plenty of sleep’. All in all I think I can just about manage that lot.

This weekend however is different – I didn’t get out at all last week, as it was a vodka-fuelled family knees-up of great proportions for (literally) the whole weekend. This weekend therefore I have to make it count – I am going to try to do at least 160 miles, which will be close to what I have to attempt on the first two days of the event itself, albeit without the Cornish hills. The weather forecast this weekend is sadly shocking, with heavy rain and strong winds forecast. I suppose I have to just put up with that however, as when the event comes if we have awful weather then I can hardly look out of my tent and say that I am not going to bother can I? I also fell off my bike last time I went out in heavy rain, so I will just have to take it easy I suppose and hope for the best.

Meantime I have started assembling my stuff for Lands End! I have begun to realise how much I have to take, and also that getting it all in is going to be a greater challenge than packing for Kilimanjaro. We are only allowed to take one bag, weighing 15kg in total, and that is going to be a very tall order.

This is just the start.....

Assembled so far are just some of the things that I will need to have, but you will see that amongst the melee, some very exciting (little things please little minds and all that) things have arrived this week. Two of those were my GBBR cycling top and bib shorts, which I have to say look great. They also fit too, which is an even bigger bonus! You may also spot in there my rider number (024!), and tent number etc., which arrived with another information pack this week. One of the weight issues I am going to have is that my bike lock weighs about 3kg on its own, and so this is going to be very very tight all round.

The list of things that I should have with me is as follows:

Arm warmers (x2)
Baby wipes
Bike lights
Bike lock
Bottle holders (x2) Drink bottle (x1) as you will be
given one by Clif Bar
Camping pillow
Chain lube
Chamois cream/Vaseline
Credit or debit card
Cycling gloves
Cycling jersey (x3)
Cycling shoes
Cycling shorts (x4)
Cycling tights (x1)
Ear plugs
Evening clothes
Eye mask
Gilet (x1)
Helmet (with replacement helmet pads)
Inner tubes (you need to carry at least three with you
at any one time)
Leg warmers (x1)
Long sleeve thermal vests/Undershirts
Medication (where appropriate)
Mini bike pump
Mobile phone
Mobile phone charger (labelled with your name)
Mosquito/insect repellent
Multitool (including allen keys)
Pen knife
Personal fi rst aid kit (e.g. deep heat gel)
Plastic bags (to keep things dry)
Puncture repair kit
Refl ective clothing
Sewing kit/safety pins
Self infl ating mattress
Sleeping bag (Summer)
Sun cream
Toilet paper (for use on route)
Torch, camera etc
Towels (x2)
Warm clothes (particularly for the evenings and
Wash kit and personal toiletries (ideally
biodegradable/environmentally friendly)
Waterproof jacket (x1)
Waterproof overshoes
Waterproof trousers

Now I do not even possess half of these items I have to say, and I am also hoping that things like thermal undershirts are not exactly required in Cornwall at this time of year. If they are then I am going to have a big problem as I won’t be packing any! Oh yes, and the eye mask – I assume that is for those who have trouble sleeping in mass tents containing ten people, probably. For me the bar at the rugby clubs will be my aid:)

So anyway, I will let you know how I get on on Monday. Meanwhile please sponsor me if you can, and that’s my final final plug, I promise!


Does anyone else wish to sponsor me for my ride please?

So far I have managed to raise just £87 in sponsorship for my ride, which is pretty crap really. I have done a poor job of shaking the tin therefore, whilst obviously being very grateful for those people who have kindly donated to date.

Worse for me, is that I have had a note saying that unless I manage to raise the £300 target by next week, then I cannot take part in the event. Now that won’t be happening, as I will probably have to pay the remaining £213 myself. To explain, the ride cost me £414 to take part, but it was also a precondition that each rider raises a minimum of an additional £300 for the ride’s chosen charities.

If anyone therefore is thinking about (or would now like to consider) donating for Help For Heroes etc., then please do it now:

Link is here:


Shameless plug over, and thank you in advance very sincerely to anyone who is able to make a contribution, however small.

Getting to Lands End…..

Where do I start with this one?

So exciting it is!

So in no particular order, I have to tell you about the journey to Lands End, my pack of stuff for the ride, my new cycling attire, and who knows what else. It is so close now, only 13 days to go, and that is downright scary.

So about a week ago I thought I had better sort out the logistics of getting to and from Lands End. Now getting back is not going to be a problem, as Dan and also Mel will be coming down to watch the rugby and see me arrive at the stadium (walking of course :p) in Twickenham. Thankfully Mel has a car big enough to get my bike in (thanks Mel :)) and so I can at least get back at the end of it all.

Getting down to Lands End is another matter. If you happen to live in London then the GBBR people have arranged transport for both people and bikes, which is great. Trouble is everything leaves at 7am, and so if I wanted to take advantage of that it would probably mean a 3am start to get there, which would not exactly be ideal preparation for the rigours ahead.

I therefore decided to ‘let the train take the strain’. Easier said than done, at least for the bike. If it was just me, it would have been no problem. I could have got any of about 10 trains that day via a number of routes to get me from Didcot to Penzance. Penzance lies about 7 miles from The Sea View Holiday Park, our camping location for the evening before the ride. However, with a bike, you cannot just turn up these days and lob it in the guards van. Oh no, sir! You have to register it, and it has to be booked in, as they only allow (I think) 6 bikes per train. Health and Safety or something you see, probably :).

Anyway at least if I get it booked I am at least guaranteed to get on and get there. Trouble is, what would have been the choice of any train at any price, (cheapest would have been £30 for a single journey), turned into a half hour on the phone to ‘a British Rail call centre’ and the outcome was that there was only one train in the whole day where I could book my bike on. I got off the phone £93 worse off. Ouch!

So I leave on a 7.56am train on the 31st August, and get to Penzance at about 3pm. There I will get picked up by some nice army chap (employed by the GBBR guys for this purpose), who will take me and my bike the remainder of the way. Apparently we assemble sometime before 5pm that afternoon for registration and a photograph. Sounds good, and I hope very much that there is no bar open when I get there – did I ever mention to you that I have a willpower problem?

So having run out of time here I will put the other stuff on my next post. Oh and I must tell you about my visit last weekend from Darina and Paul too!

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 (http://twitter.com/rhillrugby) – 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.