My local newspaper is the weekly Halifax Courier (it long since lost its prefix ‘Evening’) and the letters page is always a good read. It’s a (mercifully) watered down version of the comments that appear on the paper’s Facebook page (a scary, dark place, frequented by ill-informed people who probably spend much of their lives shouting) but […]
Here we go again! I have not posted on this blog for a while but its not been all quiet on the cycling front. In 2016 I clocked up more miles and climbed higher than in 2015 when I first set up this blog to promote my Geneva to Milan challenge.
Most notable last year was my climb up Mont Ventoux followed by Sa Calobra in Mallorca.
The Ventoux ride was something I always wanted to do but never thought I could. For those who remember I was quite unfit and overweight. The Alpine challenge was to reset my body and mind clock and get fit again during which I lost 14kg (nearly 2 stones) in weight. At the invitation of my friend and fellow retired GP Dr Trevor Hall I decided to attempt Ventoux.
In early October, starting from our base in Tour Tour in Provence, a two hour car ride brought us to the pretty town of Sault at the base of this mighty mountain. I had preordered a bike from Albion Cycles (I rated them 5 Star on TripAdvisor) and after a brief warmup was on my way.
The total distance is 26km with 1210m of climbing. After leaving the heady aroma of lavender fields the road gently climbs through a beautiful pine laden forest area until it reaches Chalet Reynard. After a brief stop for refreshments from my excellent support team (Singh and Hall family) the road jacks up to an average 8% gradient and enters the unique “lunar” windswept landscape for the last 6km. Getting over the final km with a gradient of 10% is very emotional and you can see many a cyclist in tears of pain and relief.
Final push, at the top and “lunar” landscape road to hell. Proud cyclist representing Shepshed Cycling Club.
For me this was a great personal achievement. But an even greater feat was to follow. I was already booked to go on a cycling holiday with some of the Hope riders that were part of my group on the Geneva to Milan ride.
On the day we set off from Porte de Pollençia and after some incredible scenic riding reached Coll dels Reise from where the road descends steeply into the sleepy fishing village of Sa Calobra. Some say the treacherous descent is more difficult and technical than the ascent. One thing I am sure of is the sheer trepidation with each switchback descent and and the sinking feeling that I’ll have to climb this way back again!
After a lovely lunch to stock up on body carb stores it was time to climb the 9km back to the top. One beauty of cycling is the comradeship one develops with fellow cyclists. I am sure if I didn’t have this invisible force urging me up I would have found it very difficult to get to the top. After some more carb intake at the summit it was time to hit the road back to base, made more exciting with two heavy showers and fading October sunlight.
The Mallorca trip brought 2016 to a very satisfactory end. Over the winter I have managed to keep up some indoor cycling but like most people over the holiday festivities put on some weight. Looking ahead I am hoping to get back to my ideal weight. I also have an amazing challenge for 2017.
I am revisiting Ventoux in June. They say that to climb up this mountain once is a feat that every cyclist aspires to, to ride up it twice is quite a challenge but to go up this mountain three times in one day is insane. No wonder cyclists try and do this to gain entry to the coveted Club des Cinglés de Mont Ventoux, cinglés being French slang for nutter or mad.
Normally it would be very difficult to organise this kind of challenge due to the logistics involved. Fortunately our local Air Ambulance has come to the rescue as far as logistics are concerned. They are organising this ride and I am joining 9 other riders in attempting this great feat. Inevitably to do something like this involves fund raising. I think it is a great privilege that I am able to do so for this very worthwhile cause. The Air Ambulance is entirely funded by voluntary donations and as each rescue costs upwards of £2000 I will be glad to raise even half this amount.
To this affect I have started a fund raising page and any donations however small are most welcome:
For the rest of the year I have various rides planned and I shall go into these in more detail over the next few weeks and months. I also hope to continue to promote cycling especially in my community and to talk about the role of exercise in maintaining good health.
Another excellent blog from Andrew Sykes. It’s about time to nail the constant lies and misrepresentation from Brexiters
If you watched last night’s programme on BBC 2 about EU immigration to the UK, you may remember the woman at the start who lived and worked in Clacton-on-Sea. She blamed the lack of availability of housing in the area on EU immigrants. Clacton is part of the Tendring council area. The percentage of EU migrants in the UK is 3.7%. In Essex – the county including Clacton – it is 2.2%. In Tendring? Just 1.6%… I’ll leave you to come up with a reason why she blamed foreigners. Once you’ve finished reflecting upon that, consider the fact that there are 1 million immigrants in the EU which rarely get a mention; those British people who choose to live in one of the other EU countries.
The following infographic has been produced by the UNITE trade union. It’s worth a read:
Having been silent for a very long time for which there are many reasons, today I reblog a very good piece by my friend Andrew Sykes. Andrew was one of the people who inspired me to take up my challenge in the Alps and I have a huge amount of respect for him. Please read his piece carefully and particularly explore the links to the Infacts and the Guardian articles. I hope to write my own piece as well but I doubt if I’ll be able to improve on this.
If you follow this blog via Twitter or Facebook I should perhaps start with an apology that over recent weeks, the tweets and posts about cycling and travelling have been far outnumbered by those on the subject of the EU referendum next week. It’s a hollow apology however as I think the importance of the vote on June 23rd far outweighs most other things in 2016. It will come as no surprise that next week I will be voting for Britain to remain in the EU.
For much of my life I have had the opportunity to travel widely across the European continent, meet countless other Europeans and have even lived and worked in another EU country. That’s all very nice but it’s not the main reason why I am so supportive of the EU. Last year I had the opportunity to cycle from Tarifa in the Spain to Nordkapp in…
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If anybody had said at the beginning of this year that I would be cycling through the Alps raising over £10,000 for Hope Against Cancer and lose two stone in weight I would have found it difficult to comprehend.
360 miles over four days, climbing 17,000ft over 5 mountain passes later I have not only achieved an amazing feat but also made some fantastic friends for life through my new found passion for cycling. In addition, through my blog I have reached out to people from across the world and through my fund raising found humility and kindness in hundreds of people.
I could not have achieved any of this without the dedication and support of my family, particularly Val, my wife. My suffering in the Alps was nothing compared to what she went through her multiple operations and chemotherapy.
I started this blog to motivate myself and to regularly remind myself as to what this challenge was all about and in the process spread the message of Hope and health to as many people as I could reach. Locally I generated enough interest to get a club – Shepshed Cycling Club – going. With our regular Sunday outings the cub is already a regular feature of life in Shepshed. To date we have 40 members and rising.
At times like this you don’t know where and who to start thanking, as the list is too long, but I have to thank my family first and the charity Hope Against Cancer who put on this challenge. Kudos to every cyclist involved in the training and ride itself especially the leaders. Everyone was so patient with me.
I also would like to thank local businesses and Rose Bond’s proteges at the Charnwood Swimming Club in raising donations for my effort. My thanks also go out to individual people of Shepshed and beyond who either directly sponsored or raised funds for Hope, particularly the tireless Diane Portsmouth and her daughter Becs who held several raffles. Many thanks to so many ex patients who donated.
Thanks also to all those who read this blog and gave me encouragement through regular comments. My thoughts also go out to my late brother in law Kuldeep who was a regular reader and supporter who died so suddenly and tragically a few days before the ride, and my brother Bhagwant who died earlier this year after a long illness.
Many people missed one of my most read blogs about the spoof interview with Bradley Wiggins. Of course you can go back through the archives and read any of my entries but here is a shortcut to this particular posting:
Here is the complete list of postings:
Finally thanks to the local media – Shepshed Eye, Loughborough Eye, Loughborough Echo, Leicester Mercury and BBC Radio Leicester for their fantastic support via regular coverage.
To date I have raised nearly £14,000 via virginmoneygiving, justgiving, gift aid and from the sale of Christmas Cards designed by Val who is an illustrator. This total does not include money that still has to be reclaimed via gift aid so it is difficult to give an exact total but all said and done reaching £15,000 is not impossible. So A BIG THANK YOU to all!
Many people now want to know what next? To start with this is going to be the healthiest start to a new year ever for our family. There are lots of exciting things happening and there is so much to look forward to. In terms of cycling, I have entered a few national sportive events with the ultimate aim to climb Mont Ventoux in Provence, France sometime later in 2016. More of this later but for now I am very happy to be cycling with my friends from Hope’s Italian Job and the Shepshed Cycling Club.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my family, friends and readers of this blog a fantastic New Year full of happiness and health.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,600 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.
When I started writing this blog 10 months ago I had no idea as to how it will be received. I started the blog on the advice of my daughter Hannah who rightly said that to reach as many people as possible with my message I had to embrace social media, including FaceBook.
The other thing she so rightly mentioned was that writing a blog would bring a sense of structure into my preparation and would not only motivate me but if I ever had a change of heart would prevent me from pulling out! Once I was out in the public there was only one way – onwards and upwards.
As to what I have achieved has still not sunk in fully. I am extremely grateful for the support and overwhelmed by the messages people have sent me. I have raised an incredible amount – over £8000 for Hope. I have lost over two stone in weight, found muscles in my legs I had only seen on other cyclists and having dropped two waist sizes, feel more energetic and a new person.
It will be a shame to stop writing the blog as I would like to continue spreading the message of health and weight loss through diet and exercise as well as on cancer, diabetes and heart disease prevention. The intensity of training, fund raising and blogging has been all consuming and I hope that I would reduce the blogging to once a month or less. If you have subscribed to receive my updates you will automatically get a notification via email when I post a blog. If you have not subscribed now is the time to do so. If you want to reblog or copy and paste my messages please feel free to do so. The more people we can reach the better.
Finally I would like to mention that whilst we cyclists were doing our challenge, Val, my wife who is an illustrator has designed a Christmas card to raise funds for Hope Against Cancer. The card is based on the cycling challenge theme. (Any resemblance of Santa to me is purely coincidental!) The cards are on sale for £5.50 for a pack of 10 and orders are beginning to come in. Postage and packing will be £1.00 per pack, £3.50 for packs of five or more. Locally people can collect or if unable we can deliver. Here is an image of the card:
If you wish to donate here are all the different ways that you can sponsor me and make that big difference – I am keeping these sites going for a while.
text GURU67 with £amount (from £1 to £10) to 70070
Until next time – Ciao.
Got back last night to an amazing feeling. Having had a very tough four days of cycling it was wonderful to be home and sink into a warm bath. Proud of having shared so many wonderful memories with a fantastic group of people. It has been a long and determined journey but worth every bit of blood, sweat and tears.
There have been so many memorable moments throughout training and the actual ride over the last few days and apart from the emotional entry into the piazza del Duomo in Milan the ride on the Monza race track was a unique experience. Hope office managed to get permission for all the riders to ride around this historic race track only three days after a Grand Prix.
The support I have had from so many people has been a humbling experience and played a big part in getting me up those monstrous mountain climbs. There have been many messages of goodwill, good luck cards and a sponsorship money. It will take me a few days to get all the money in. My current total from all sources is just over £7500 and I am hoping that it will get to £8000. A massive thank you to everyone.
If you wish to donate here are all the different ways that you can sponsor me and make that big difference:
text GURU67 with £amount (from £1 to £10) to 70070
Sponsorship forms are still available at Charnwood Pharmacy, Bloomin’ Marvellous, Dilip’s Multi Store, The Black Swan, The Crown, Ryatt’s Optometrist, Hall Croft Opticians, Janine Soars hairdresser at “Sheardesire” in Hall Croft, Rosebery Medical Centre, Rosebery Pharmacy, Forest Edge and Outwoods Surgeries, Bridge Street Medical Centre and Pedal Power in Loughborough. Don’t forget Livio of Livio’s Italian Restaurant is also collecting a voluntary £1 donation from his diners and promising to match it. The Black Swan is also raffling some quality wine donated by Naked Wines
Further information about Hope Against Cancer: http://www.hfcr.org
This blog should have gone out yesterday but due to iPad failure didn’t happen! Brief summary:
It must have been an amazing sight for the Milanese and countless surprised tourists as 72 riders all in Hope’s Italian Job tops cycled into the Piazza del Duomo yesterday evening. Cameras clicking, bubbly flowing, many hugs (even from strangers) and whoops of delight filled the air.
The entry into the centre of Milan was as treacherous as the previous days of cycling. Dodging the chaotic Italian drivers required a completely different skill set.
Earlier in the day we had set off from Lugano and after crossing Lake Como another killer mountain awaited us with steep greatness – leading up to the spectacular Museo del Ciclismo on the Madonna del Ghisallo. Here is a complete record of all the cycling heroes that have graced the tough Giro d’Italia. What better place to stop with our own hero Johnno.
The evening at the hotel was overwhelming as I officially got crowned as the Singh of the Mountains! We had many emotional moments and very tired bodies but an early night was elusive.