A Nice Surprise

Got sent the January 2011 edition of The Christie Supporters Magazine which is called Successes, and there on page 36 is a short article and pictures of Ian, Pete and myself on last years Lejog.

Also in the magazine is an article about the new £35m patient treatment centre and it’s nice to know that in some small way every single person who sponsored us contributed to that.

Of course this year I’m asking for sponsorship again, although this time for a different, yet equally worthy cause.  It would be great if you could find it in your hearts (and pockets!) to help again.

Many Thanks.


2010 Cycling Roundup

Whilst 2010 has not been a particularly fulfilling year for me professionally, that has been more than made up for in my cycling.  One of my New Year resolutions for 2010 was to cycle more than 1500 miles this year.  Here’s what I’ve done this year on the bike

  • 328 rides
  • 6,157 miles at an average of just over 15mph
  • 17 days, 8 hours, 44 minutes of riding time
  • 309,108 kcalories of energy used (equivalent to over 6 stones of fat)
  • 240,270ft of ascent (or 8 Mount Everests)

Monthly distance

In doing the above I’ve

  • Helped raise over £13,000 for The Christie and Macmillan cancer charities by cycling from Land’s End to John o’ Groats
  • Been part of a world record breaking attempt run by Soreen and raising £10,000 for The Christie
  • Cycled in England, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall, in total probably 20 or so counties
  • Cycled in temperatures from -11.3°C to 26.2°C
  • Fallen off 3 times
  • Had 7 punctures, 4 of them within the last 6 weeks
  • Completed 4 audax, 5 sportives, 2 charity rides and a 10 mile time trial, becoming an unofficial Radonneur and Grimpeur in the process!
  • Done 11 imperial centuries and a further 25 metric centuries

I’ve also “achieved” the following personal bests

  • Ridden at a maximum speed of 51.13mph on the Tour of Britain ride
  • Ridden 140.4 miles in one ride
  • Climbed 8,259ft in one ride
  • Hit a heartrate of 199 going up Mow Cop, and gone over 190 (my theoretical maximum HR) 9 times
  • Used 6,763 kcalories in one ride

One of the best things I did during 2010 was join a cycling club – North Cheshire Clarion.  Around 2,400 miles have been done on club runs and with members on audaxes and sportives.  Riding in a group is physically easier, is infinitely more sociable and of course you pick up great hints, tips and information.  If you are thinking about goals for 2011, as I am, then I would strongly recommend joining a club if you aren’t already.  Not only will it help you improve, it will make achieving your target a whole lot easier.  And I obviously recommend North Cheshire Clarion!

Finally, I hope you achieved your aims in 2010.  I have to say the highlight for me was LEJOG.  If you have the opportunity to challenge yourself like this, and perhaps raise a bit of money for a worthy cause, then I say go for it.

Wishing you happy and safe cycling in 2011.


Job done

#lejog #kickcancer sponsorship update – over £13,000!!!

Been away working and when I came back I had a cheque from my company, Steria, made out to The Christie waiting for me.  The company does a part-matching funds scheme so that’s really good of them.  So I decided to look up what all four of us had raised – I guess this will be the total

Ade – The Christie – £3,631 + £729.67 gift aid

Ian – The Christie – £2,733 + £653.65 gift aid

Pete – The Christie – £2,910 + £566.08 gift aid

Rob – Macmillan – £1,734 + £238.33 gift aid

Total – £11,008 + £2,187.73 gift aid = £13,195.73

Very, very pleased with that.

Post Event Depression?

I’ve suffered an interesting reaction this week following the LEJOG.  After the initial euphoria of completing the challenge my thoughts soon turned to what would occupy me and provide a goal to aim for?

Putting it into context I’d spent 5 months building up to the event.  I’d focussed on getting fit, building up my strength, improving my climbing ability and get better all-round at “cyclecraft”.  I’d enjoyed the planning of the routes, setting up and writing this blog, reading other peoples experiences and tips and, more than anything, the anticipation of doing it.

Actually doing the LEJOG itself was wonderful.  Each 12-16 hour day was effectively the same – get up, put your cycling gear on, breakfast, prepare your bike, ride, snack, ride, lunch, ride, snack, ride, bath/shower, dinner, sleep.  It was very tiring but it never felt like work.  It felt great.  I imagine, in some small way, that is how professional sportsman feel every day.  At least until they become cynical and disinterested (England Football squad take note).  I also imagine that 99% of people would jump at the opportunity to do their chosen hobby/pastime/sport every day and make a living from it, even a very basic living.  Back on the theme of the England Football squad – these guys have absolutely no idea how very, very lucky they are.

So it was probably only natural that I would feel a bit “empty” afterwards.  I wasn’t prepared, though, for how low I actually did feel this last week.  I’ve resented being back at work and I’ve struggled to keep my mind on non-cycling things.  It took me by surprise but it’s time to move on and stop feeling sorry for myself.

For the rest of this year I’m going to ride with the club, enter Sportives and Audaxes and I may even try my hand at Time Trials.  I’ve ordered this book and am aiming to start ticking as many hills off as I can.

I am, however, in the market for next years challenge!

#Lejog Final Roundup

Final set of statistics now they’ve been uploaded and software corrected

Day 1 – 8hrs 31mins, 110.2 miles, 12.9mph, 8,259ft climbing, 6763kcals, average HR 132bpm, average cadence 44

Day 2 – 9hrs 14mins, 140.1 miles, 15.2mph, 4,842ft climbing, 6520kcals, average HR 123bpm, average cadence 51

Day 3 – 10hrs 9mins, 118.3 miles, 11.6mph, 4,639ft climbing, 6706kcals, average HR 116bpm, average cadence 44

Day 4 – 7hrs 23mins, 100.9 miles, 13.6mph, 2,387ft climbing, 4315kcals, average HR 112bpm, average cadence 46

Day 5 – 6hrs 58mins, 97.6 miles, 14mph, 4,703ft climbing, 4166kcals, average HR 112bpm, average cadence 44

Day 6 – 7hrs 42mins, 100.2 miles, 13mph, 3,908ft climbing, 4004kcals, average HR 104bpm, average cadence 45

Day 7 – 8hrs 39mins, 133miles, 15.4mph, 3,626ft climbing, 5330kcals, average HR 114bpm, average cadence 56

Day 8 – 7hrs 58mins, 119.3miles, 15mph, 3,906ft climbing, 4820kcals, average HR 113bpm, average cadence 52

Overall  – 66hrs 38mins, 919.7miles, 13.8mph, 36,567ft climbing, 42,624kcals, 191,014 pedal strokes!

#Lejog Day 8 Update

So the final day began in an overcast Beauly.  A few pictures and we were off.

Caledonian Hotel, Beauly

My bike had been making a scraping noise from the bottom bracket and it soon started again, which was a big worry.  So near and yet so far!  A quick google the night before (ooh matron!) had suggested there was a bike shop in Brora 60 miles away.  That was my target so I left the guys behind and set off to get as far as I could as quickly as possible.

Cycling the A9 is hard.  It’s a narrow road and yet the traffic moves very quickly.  Consequently there is a lot of roadkill, including yet more deer.  The guys were unfortunate to see (and almost be hit by) a cat get killed.  An unpleasant experience.  On a lighter note, apparently Ian was having a moment of serenity, admiring a particularly lovely countryside scene – mountains in the background, heather, sunshine, cows munching grass.  Then Rob’s brummie voice rang out.  “Look at the size of the balls on that bull!”  Fair ruined the moment.

When I reached Brora it turned out that there was no bike shop, but there was a bloke with a shed who “dabbled”.  I politely declined and decided to take my chances.

We stopped outside a house in Dunbeath and the chap who lived there came out to chat after seeing the Prescot Hockey Club livery on the van.  He was originally from Huyton!  He invited us in for a cup of tea and then gave us a tenner to the charity fund as we left!  It really has been amazing how kind people have been on this trip.

The noise was getting worse and I thought I detected a faint smell of burning so I was now only pedalling when necessary, and gliding down hills.  And there were still a few cheeky hills remaining – of the 13-17% variety!  And 3 miles long too.  Call it a kick in the tail!  To cap it all I was nearly wiped out by a “lady” turning left in her car across my path (referred to as a left-hook).  Luckily I was alert and on the brakes quickly enough to avoid her – but she hadn’t seen me at all.

Anyway, we finally regrouped about 4 miles out of John o’ Groats, put our charity T-Shirts on and rolled down the final hill to John o’ Groats.

As well as a great sense of achievement, if I’m honest, there was a hint of anti-climax and sadness that it was over.  I’ve put near enough 5 months into this and I was already thinking “what next?”.

I carried a set of flags attached to the back of my bike all the way from Land’s End – a Cornish flag, a St George, a Saltire and a Union Jack.

As a memento the guys signed the St George at the end

Anyway, a glass of champers and a mooch around (there’s not much there) and we we left for the hotel and some beers…

Job done


#Lejog Day 7 – Perth to Beauly

Today was an awesome ride and we’re now 800 miles in.

On day 4 Ian wore his Bianchi shorts (that match his bike) for the first time. Apparently he developed blisters in places they have no right being. I know this because it’s the subject of a daily morning update at the breakfast table, whether we like it or not (not). So today started with us getting up quite early, breakfast, bottom updates and making an earlier start than usual.

It was quite a tedious ride in many respects. 90% of it was on the A9, which is a major road which has traffic whizzing past at high speed. So it was just head down and go really. Nearly 30 miles of it was uphill but Rob set a cracking pace. Pete and Ian did try the cycleway next to the road for a while but it’s designed for mountain bikes so didn’t really work.

Unfortunately we saw a couple of dead deer by the road, and a lot of dead hawk/kite type birds too.

The Scottish scenery is quite spectacular. From large, imposing hills to beatuiful-smelling pine forests to wide rivers and streams. Of course the forests provide the ideal gentlemen’s ablution facility as and when required. Which for some strange reason has changed from “hardly” on the first few days to “not again” today.

Ian, or Lucky Ian as he shall now be known, had another puncture today. And then inner tube problems and pump problems. He also lost his pump on the A9 to confirm his nickname.

Speaking of which, my bike started making an unfamiliar noise from the bottom bracket. I just hope it lasts another 123 miles!

At various stops today we were attacked by gangs of small sparrows. I believe the locals up here refer to them as Midgies – they are bloody annoying.

So we rode north from Perth through Dalwhinney, Aviemore and Inverness.

The last leg of the ride took us past the Beauly Firth which was beautiful with the sun streaming across it.

Our host at the Caledonian Hotel rustled up a smashing meal for us and told us it was on the house for our charity. One of his regulars also gave us a tenner too. More lovely folk that we’ve met. And I also met my best mate Rick who’s working up here so a great end to a great day.

Garmin stats
133 miles
8 hrs 39 mins
15.4 mph
8002 kcals used
About 5000ft of climbing

Final day tomorrow. 123 miles to go. I really hope the bike holds out – that’s my only concern at the moment. Unfortunately limited signal here so no pictures.

#Lejog Day 6 – Hawick to Perth (Scone)

A hearty breakfast at Hizzy’s (highly recommended – nothing too much trouble, even our washing!) saw us ready to leave Hawick.  A couple of mornings ago Ian had joked that his now-fabled rear tyre was flat, and apparently my face was a picture.  Unfortunately this morning, it was flat again.  We pumped it up and it seemed to hold the pressure so we set off immediately up a large climb on the A7.

Our first stop was in Stow and lo and behold the tyre had lost pressure, so Ian had the wheel off and put yet another inner tube into it.  Whilst he was fiddling with that, a nice old lady who had been chatting to us gave us a pound towards the charity.  People really are nice.

Whilst Ian went to the toilet, Pete let his tyre down and then we stood waiting for him, cameras at the ready.  Suffice to say he took it in good spirits whilst we rolled around laughing.

Our route took us through Edinburgh so we stopped for a photo on the Royal Mile.  We absolutely did not get lost, and we absolutely did not need to ask for directions.  We then went to go over the Forth Road Bridge.  For such a blooming great bridge finding the route to it (for bikes) was nigh on impossible.  The roads were car only and the cycle track was a half-overgrown path which took us to a road with concrete blocks and a “Road Closed” sign on it.  We were forced to ask for directions and then when we got to the bridge the cycle path on our side was closed, so we went under the subway and set off across the bridge.  It’s very high, very windy and it shakes in the middle.  I was fine on it until I happened to look down and to my right and saw the sea several hundred feet below.  At that point my vertigo kicked in and I picked up the pace to get off the bridge!  Despite that, the views are stunning.

We then headed past Loch Leven and through Kinross.  Pete needed some new cycling glasses so called at Loch Leven Cycles, who were extremely helpful, so many thanks to them.

The wind had been mostly behind us today, but had also been in our faces and a crosswind too at various times.  As we swung west towards Perth we ran straight into it, which made life hard for a good few miles.

We’re staying at the SkyLodge at Perth Airport tonight.  Dinner in the Aviator Club was excellent, with great service.

Garmin stats

  • 7hrs 36m
  • 99.3 miles
  • 5734 kcals
  • 4662ft climbed
  • 13.1mph average

Today felt pretty easy.  I don’t know if it was a lack of effort on my part, or improving fitness, but my average heart-rate for the ride was 106bpm.  I didn’t really enjoy today as much as earlier days.  I think it’s because I’m tired – I tend to be up late completing this blog and I haven’t had an unbroken nights sleep yet.  Hopefully tomorrow will be back on track – it’s a monster of a day with 132 miles over the Cairngorms through Newtonmore and Aviemore.  Wish us luck…

#Lejog Day 5 – Kendal to Hawick

Yesterday I wondered if we’d get away on time on day 5.  Of course we didn’t – what were you thinking?  When we did eventually set off we headed out of Kendal and after a brief stint on the not-very-pleasant A591 turned off to start going uphill on some very nice country lanes.  The weather, scorchio so far, was cloudy and overcast, with a hint of rain in the air.  Our first big challenge was Kirkstone Pass.  In parts the Garmin registered an 18% gradient, and you go up for several miles.  You may have seen David Walliams falling off his bike in exhaustion on Sport Relief going up Kirkstone.  Not us (not even Timber).  Each of us went up successfully and decided to balance the camera on a rock and take a timer photo of the 4 of us.  This is the first attempt

Timing is everything

This is the second

Second time lucky

After fixing Pete’s front derailleur (it wouldn’t shift onto the big ring when it was already on it) the descent down the other side was fast and exhilarating – apart from being stuck behind a car.  The scenery was quite spectacular as we rode along the shores of Ullswater, stopping for a well earned lemonade

Our route took us through Penrith and then onto Carlisle with a lunch stop in Longtown just on the edge of the Scottish border.  Carrying on we very soon came to the Scottish border

Heathens at the border

We pushed on hoping to find somewhere to watch at least some of the England match.  Pete managed to spot a deer on the treeline watching him ride by and we eventually came into a village called Newcastleton, and a pub called The Grapes Hotel.

Bearing in mind we were in Scotland looking for an England match, the staff made us very welcome, allowing us to take our bikes through and watch the last 15 minutes of the game.  We also got donations of £4 and £5 whilst we were there.  Another demonstration of the kindness of folk.

The last 18 miles to Hawick took us through yet more picture-postcard scenery – rolling hills, forests, moorland, giant Redwood trees (apparently they were normal trees on a hill – who knew) – it had the lot.  Oh, and a bizarre pig farm where the pigs appeared to have individual rooms (pens).  Which makes them one up on Pete.

We got another pleasant surprise in Hawick with the guesthouse we are staying at – Hizzy’s.  Best room for me so far.

Some interesting stats and facts so far

  • No. of times lost – 0 (men don’t get lost)
  • No. of times asked for directions – 0 (see above + men don’t ask for directions)
  • No. of punctures – 1
  • No. of inner tubes used – 273
  • No. of hills climbed – 47
  • No. of times Pete has claimed we could have gone through a valley instead – 47
  • No. times the two Garmins have disagreed – lots

Garmin stats for the day

  • 97 miles
  • 6039ft climbed
  • 14.1mph average
  • 6hrs 53mins riding
  • 6150 kcals used

568 miles completed so far!  Tomorrow we travel through Edinburgh and over the Forth Road Bridge.  Can’t wait.