I retired at the end of October 2012 and wanted to do something for myself after years working hard for someone else and at the same time trying to help others as a double motivation. I've just completed a 5-day ride of 353 miles from coast to coast. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and have now set my sights on joining the London | Paris: Be Unstoppable next year in June, as my next big challenge.
Before retiring, I was 18st with a painful neck issue after years working on computers. At the moment, I'm 15st 6 lb, and neck pain free. Looking back, each step along the way I was guided and helped. The best bit of advice I got was: sort out your neck, buy a good bike and find a charity that means something to you.
Luckily for me when I went to see Anna at a local NHS practice she sorted out my neck with simple exercises I have to do every day and whilst there, I discovered that Anna loved cycling. She highly recommended I visit Langdale Lightweights to buy a bike. Without Anna’s help I could never have started this adventure.
Mick Green at Langdale Lightweights is not only a friendly man who gives advice freely his knowledge and construction skills are well known locally and he is held in great esteem by so many club cyclists. Together we decided on a Langdale Lombardy which has been the perfect buy, carrying me through the terrible winter of 2012 – 13 to over 3,500 training miles. Thank you Mick for your support.
My event bike was a custom built Cervelo R5 with Sram Red group set and Zipp Firecrest 303 wheels which is a dream machine and the first time in my life I thought I’m buying something just for me and it was worth it. I feel so lucky to be riding this great piece of kit and at 7 lbs. less than even the Lombardy it helps me up the hills.
Mick Green’s help has been incredible and he has encouraged me sometimes in subtle ways. I discovered my chosen charity was very close to Mick’s heart as his wife Karen died of leukemia only a few years ago.
It is so important when selecting a charity that you have the support and connection to help, advise and motivate you as there are times when you training that the weather is terrible you get a cold, your legs hurt and yes some doubt you can do it.
I found my support in Bekah Morris at Leukemia and Lymphoma and she has encouraged me through firstly a free jersey which I was grateful for and far beyond that she engaged in humour and help throughout. So much so that recently when I had over-trained the month before my ride and energy levels were low and I doubted myself, Bekah sent me the e-mail below which to me sums up her brilliant support:
I had originally planned a different charity for next year’s ride but the support I have felt has made me decide to stick with Bekah Morris as I feel I’ve found the right cause and the right support.
An additional happenstance occurred when I asked the Head at my Grandson's school if they'd be interested in using me to raise funds for the school. She was delighted, as the school was about to start a project on eating well and exercising. She did however insist it should be for my own charity. This culminated in me talking to the children in assembly two weeks before my ride to a very enthusiastic set of 5 to 7 year olds who engaged in the presentation as I wore my kit and charity jersey and showed them my bike.
A big thank you to Fernwood Infants School for their support
Added to that, I was asked to start my Nottingham leg to Mablethorpe from the school playgrounds and I admit I was choked up when I turned up as all the children, teachers and some parents were waiting for me to arrive cycle around and cheer me on my way; what an experience I will treasure and never forget.
I have found that the more you give of yourself even in my own small way the more you get back. I was always a positive person but my faith in good people has been refreshed.
Whilst I was in a café during training a couple saw my charity jersey and asked if they could donate £5 - to me, a stranger. There is good out there, if you give it a chance to find you.
A big thank you to Darley Limited for their support: