Hello everyone….I think we’ve probably all done our facebook entries, so you know we did it and have seen the photos as evidence! It all feels very surreal…were we really cycling around Paris for 9 hours on Saturday night? There were so many brilliant moments leading up to Saturday’s Nightrider… Frank parking the van literally across the road from le tour Eiffel..and arriving to find everyone having a cup of tea with twinkly lights behind them…. The ride itself… Our group leader got lost at least 3 times in the first half hour, which would have been really funny if we hadn’t glad 9 hours cycling to go…then he tripped over a pavement on his bike and finally careered into Annabel’s bike and damaged her spokes! She breathed deeply and even managed a desperate smile! Then we changed leaders and directions were suddenly much clearer..then there was our group guide at the back of our group who had a huge beat box (rubbish music too!) There were some really moving stories and we were all really sad when one guy, in a kind of go kart bike that he worked with his arms had an accident and he and his friend had to pull out.. All through the night different episodes and different people living Paris at night… sunrise seemed to come all of a sudden… And the last few hours, as Paris woke up, were extraordinary…. Cycling through Pigalle as people left the clubs…people going to work from about 5… All of us we in yellow reflector vests and back lights flashing red..so it was special to feel part of this group of people cycling for all kinds of reasons through the night! The end came all of a sudden…and we were on the left bank of the Seine…where people were waiting with medals and porridge! Back to Lille for a rest and a shower and some food, then to Zeebruges… A drink or two in the bar, then us 4 girls into our bunk beds and next thing we knew it was morning and we were in Hull… So we’re talking now of Coast to Coast or Paris to Budapest perhaps…we feel well and relaxed….Reka went back into chemo today and I reflected on why we do these rides and felt very strongly that it’s so important to keep cycling… it takes a lot of effort, a lot of patience from partners, children…. These rides aren’t convenient we know…but they’re not a luxury or just a bit of fun… For Reka and I, we think they are helping to keep us well… But it would be even harder to do them without the company and support of friends and family….we appreciate all that more than you can imagine…. We believe that more people with cancer can have more fun during treatment, that our bodies can manage adventures that are physically challenging. Our favourite comment in our exhibition comments book was ‘having seen your ride, I’m going home from treatment to get my bike out.’ That’s what it’s about x x x x
Thank you to Francoise and Serge at St Martin l’hortier……the hotel was beautiful and your warmth and It was wonderful cycling on the route… and then it stopped ‘temporarily!’ So, we did what we thought was the right direction and 2 hours later, there we were about 5 kilometers away! But there were lots of brambles and a few hills. We met a lovely girl in stripes and spots and alternative cycling gear with panniers full of camping gear..she was Polish but lived in Brighton and she was going to a vintage bike festival in Italy! we stopped to eat lunch and met another cyclist called Rakesh who was going to Paris. Amazingly, he was a cancer surgeon and specialized in colo-rectal cancer and knew Reka’s surgeon! Incredible coincidence! So 5 of us shared lunch, Rakesh bought us fruit tarts….and we put the flowers that Chris had sent to Reka for their wedding anniversary…on our table in the village square…. We plan to bring out the anniversary flowers for all our picnics… Thank you Chris for Reka’s flowers, which you were clever enough to send to the hotel to arrive on time and which we are all enjoying!…..we chickens have arrived Jemilla, your Mum was well impressed with your message in French and we all get very emotional when we get messages from our families…. Thank you for commenting and keeping us going everyone!……lots of love x x x x
Here we are on the ‘avenue verte’ well on the way to Paris..quick 2 day catch up..lots of rain and wind for the last UK days and hills too…Monday was finally finished at Joe and Barbara’s house… Our 7 p.m. arrival had finally become 10 p.m. But they couldn’t have been more welcoming and had loads of dinner waiting for us…hot showers and comfy beds, all so gorgeous when you’re wet and stiff. In the morning we set off refreshed and happy so thank you to Joe and Barbara…loads! The route from there to Brighton was very pretty along the North Downs way and through Christ’s hospital… It was all cycle path the first part but it rained and it rained and it rained! I went off to my sisters with cycling clothes to wash and dry and we all met up at the hotel ‘guest and the city’ in Brighton. Massive thank you to Mardi and Dan, who have also been touched by a personal cancer story. They offered us free rooms, lovely breakfast, brought our bikes in out of the rain, and just couldn’t have been kinder. If anyone is ever going to stay in Brighton, go and stay there. you’ll love it… We will do our trip adviser pages when we come back but for now…they get about a 120 out of 10! We had dinner at ‘terre a terre, a beautiful vegetarian restaurant, which could have been intimidatingly smart but their staff were so lovely they made us all feel not only relaxed but as though they had been looking forward to seeing us, which really is the mark of a special restaurant. I’m aware that this blog is becoming a bit of a thank you page, but we just seem to have met the nicest people this week. We set off to bike the 10 miles from Brighton to Newhaven to catch the ferry along the cliffs… Gentle hills, clear skies, grey sea… Perfect! Ferry wasn’t too rough, although Reka did go a bit green for a moment! We found our way out of Dieppe and were rewarded with the start of l’avenue verte..45 miles of uninterrupted cycling paths along a disused railway line…flat, smooth… Time to look up and see Norman water mills, wooden houses… Early sunsets… And…. Will fill you in tonight on the rest….. X
sorry no blog yesterday, late arrival, will explain why later! lovely breakfast at Malmaison… their staff were so friendly and kind, took our bikes down to the garage, gave us iced water for our water bottles, just couldn’t have been more hospitable.. we decided the mark of a gorgeous hotel is the detail and the attention to stuff….thank you so much to Malmaison…even down to the good luck cards in our rooms!
beautiful morning and great cycle path through Oxford, Abingdon and the Oxfordshire countryside…. there were red kites flying overhead, amazing birds and wooded, river side cycling paths. We cycled about 35 miles then stopped at a little pub that seemed to appear out of nowhere.. they were just closing but the landlord brought us a tray of tea and coffee and waved our money away when he knew we were doing a charity ride. Thats the best thing about these rides, peoples’ generosity of spirit and meeting other cyclists, people stopping to chat when we’ve stopped…. our sponsored hotels…. I started off after the pub all downhill, which was gorgeous but after half an hour, blow out of back tyre! Frank came back for me and my wheel needs a good sort out, so he’ll do that now but that was my cycling over after about 40 miles, still.. first day so a few more to go before Saturday! Reka and Annabel cycled off into the distance..Frank, Lisa and i set off in ‘Arriba’ Frank’s camper and had a traffic jam ride down to Godalming, during which we realised that although tough physically, there’s something so amazing about cycling from A to B.. Now Reka and Annabel wouldn’t have agreed yesterday because after following the cycling route all together for the morning, from late afternoon apparently all the signage disappeared, villages listed were no longer villages and finally at 9 p.m. they made it to Godalming and we were guided into Joe and Barbara’s house just before 10 p.m. Thank you to Joe and Barbara for comfy beds, baked potatoes and loads of other food, hot showers and everything we needed! So hopefully Frank will get my wheel fixed now and we’ll be setting off to Brighton…Anyone out there with insomnia start cycling…. your head hits the pillow and suddenly its morning! x
Penny here . I joined everyone last night in Oxford. Funny journey down, trains overcrowded and delayed, but ended up on floor outside Guards Van with 4 other people with bikes, so we stopped stories and listened to a Canadian woman who kept going past us in the corridor and telling us we had to write to our MPs when we got home to complain about the British rail service…which one?!
My lovely sister, brother in law and nephew met me with newly downloaded personal play list and iPod and no ear speakers! The other arrived at Malmaison at the same time and thank you to the Rusty Bike in Oxford for generous sponsorship of dinner. it was delicious. So, just to fill you in from Reka as she is re packing her bag… They had a lovely night at the Swan in Bedford….thank you so much to them for sponsorship, their spa, their dinner and their bed for the night…they set off yesterday morning in sunshine but with the promises of dark clouds and storms overhead… And the promise was fulfilled…winds got up and helped prevent the rain to start with..then the rain started and the hills ‘with no benefits!’ How can hills have no downs? But they didn’t! Frank apparently has been a superstar… Driving, mending punctures, supporting… Lisa is very proud of her Dad.. We left him last night feeling very guilty as we slept in our comfy beds in Malmaison and he went off to sleep in the van, but he assured everyone that was what he preferred! But thank you Frank from everyone! Reka slipped off her bike yesterday, on a rubber pathway that had been laid up to a marquee outside what they think might have been Richard Branson’s house, so her fall was his fault if it was! Photos to follow tonight everyone…breakfast calling… Already day 4.. But day 1 for me… So ready for stiffness and soreness tonight! x x x
Time to realize we are getting very close to the ride 2013! I had a lovely ride last night out to the Flamborough light house with my friend Karen. It’s such an unexpected pleasure to have Karen joining us on Nightrider. We have known each other from being about 3 years old… But went to different secondary schools,both moved away from Bridlington and lost touch. She came back to bring her boys up here and when I bought my flat here, we reconnected and we got to know her husband Phil too, which has been such a lovely part of my times now in Bridlington. So we are cycling together and determined to cross the 25 mile casual rides we have been doing, so Sunday we’ ll go for a longer ride! Reka will be back soon and somehow we’ll connect before we leave! We have to get funding applications in to the World Cancer Fund and Healthy Hull soon now, for post production of our film, so lots to do……I still haven’t got myself together for hotels between Dieppe and Paris…..where do the hours go??!! But we’ll get there…. We will….x x x x
I’ve just realised that we haven’t really told you what ‘theride2013’ involves! No, not around UK cities this time and the bits inbetween but this year we will cycle from Hull down to cross the channel at Newhaven, then from Dieppe to Paris, where we will join ‘Nightriders’ around Paris by night…. so the last 100 k of this year’s ride will be with hundreds of other people around Paris ! We’re not sure just yet how many of us there will be, or for how long some people can join the 2013 ride… but all will be worked out within the next few weeks…
Again, we want to make sure that any of our friends who want to join us to raise money aren’t prevented from doing so by lack of funds, which is why we’re shamelessly asking for accomodation and even the odd dinner! Funding, is for editing and post production of the film of last year’s epic ride, so that we can have it as broadcast quality, so that people will take it seriously and even distribute it.
Our aim as lasat year is to say to people that we are in no way elite athletes or even very serious amateur cyclists… we do these rides and all the little ones in between, because Reka and I both passionately believe that sustained exercise, like cycling, is helping us to keep well.
It’s keeping our immune system strong and our mental state (to be argued by some close to us!) balanced, strong and positive… through the film and the exhibition and the rides, we just want to say to other people having cancer treatment ‘give it a go, it just might help!’ Reka and I have been dealing with cancer in our lives for years rather than months and this is one of the ways we not just cope but have brilliant and amazing quality of lives!
So hope that explains a bit… we’ll start on Friday 13th September (but of course friday 13th!!) and the Paris night bit will be on 21st September..
Reka and I want to do a ride next Spring for young people in the middle of cancer treatments, so we’ll keep you informed but for now… any help lovely friends and sponsors….will get us to Paris!!
Penny here in Bridlington starting to prepare for ‘the ride’ …. 24 miles there and back to Filey through Flamborough has been my best for the last few weeks, which is a bit pathetic, so from friday, it’s serious training!!! I have very sweet grandsons staying this week, but that means no cycling… so stretching and digging sand castles on the beach, sand caves and running up and down, well… walking really, to the sea to get water to put in the sand cave! I keep kidding myself that bending up and down to pick up adornements, like feathers, pebbles and shells is good for the stomach muscles and waistline (who am I kidding?) and I know its not serious enough to get me through a couple of hundred kilometres again!
As last year, we have been immediately overwhelmed with peoples’ kindness. UK clothes companies, gorgeous hotels…. people are starting to respond to help us get to Paris and around it! Without this help, I don’t think we could do these rides…. so it’s amazing that people want to help. There are so many cancer stories out there, all of them inspiring, so ours is one of many.. but it is our story and the way we deal with cancer and the treatments around it.
So September 21st isn’t so far away and with Reka in Hungary and me in Yorkshire, it will probably be early September before we really start to co-ordinate…
Any tiny bit of help is so appreciated….. Thank you at this stage and specially to ‘Whistles,’ the gorgeous clothing company, that Reka and I dreamt of wearing before chemo and will dream of wearing when we have finished our ‘nothing but loads of green juice for 10 days’… to have a personal reply and offer of support from their lovely CEO makes you do a big ‘hooray for great people!’ Thank you to the fantastic ‘Malmaison’ chain of hotels, who are even prepared to have our sweaty selves and our dirty bikes to stay! and to Goretex, to Kraft…. and the next mail will thank more of you!
So…. sun is calling… yoga and stretching on the beach, to the amusement of little grandsons… and plans for a long weekend ride!
We are hoping to put in applications to get the film finished to Healthy Hull and to the World Cancer Research fund… we just know and believe so passionately in the power of exercise!
We start September with very sad news. Mike Baker, who joined us for the ride and was part of our core team, died last Friday. He organised our Wales itinerary and cycled with us for 2 of the days of our mega ride. Much more than that, Mike was one of the first people to respond to Réka’s posting of information about the ride and his enthusiasm and positive spirit really encouraged our preparations. By the time we met Mike in Holyhead, we felt he was already a friend and we laughed and talked continually during these 2 days. I have an overriding memory of Mike at the top of a steep hill, cycling down past me at high speed and weaving in and out of the other cyclists to reach the bottom of the hill. As e rode he told me he would try to keep cycling to the end as on his bike he had a feeling of being untouched by cancer and free from being someone with cancer. We wanted him to be invincible and although we could see he was having a really tough time, I think we all somehow believed he could get through all his treatment and come through the other side. I read his education postings too and found them insightful and intelligent. You could read in his postings the depth of his understanding as the BBC Education correspondent for over 20 years. I felt so sad to read on Friday that he had died www.mikebakereducation.co.uk/beatingcancer . It feels as though we have lost a friend. We have some film footage of him laughing as we all pushed our bikes up the hill we couldn’t ride up and Carl recited Racine in French! My thoughts are with Chrissie and Mike’s daughters and I feel privileged and very happy that he was able to share those magical days with us in July. You can see a lovely photo of Mike and Chrissie earlier on this blog, as Mike rested and picknicked during the ride.
It’s already a strange transition to be on terra firma so thought I would just post a little blog detailing adjustment policy! Today it was a 6 mile ride with Rio, my 6 year old grandson, across the harbour from Bridlington up to Sewerby Cliffs. He’s just learnt to ride without stabilisers and as we left, him on his bike with new helmet, on a ‘massive ride’ in his words. The biggest challenge was to persuade him to look ahead whilst he was cycling and less at people at the side and behind him. It was my first real cycling responsibility as somehow I’d just assumed all the adults I’d cycled with would take responsibility for me?! We had a slight crisis when he realised I had a water bottle on my bike and he didn’t, so I had to make frequent stops so that he could drink out of my water bottle, particularly when there was any kind of incline! There was a quiet companionship in cycling together at a very leisurely speed and it was so nice to feel his sense of achievement when he arrived. He lay down for 5 minutes then suddenly found the energy to play rugby, football and practice gymnastics with my brother for the next 2 hours… It’s quite hard to come down from the routine we had over the last 16 days…. Carl took in downloaded material to Castle Hill for Reka and Chris to look through during her mega chemo day on Monday. He filmed too, her consultation and chemo… somehow it felt that yesterday was really the last day of the ride… and today is the first day of processing as we begin to try to decide how to work with all the material we have gathered…. how to keep the sense of well being I have now? I have to make a decision soon about whether to have more surgery to remove tiny tumours remaining or to go for more chemo option when the remaining tumours make a more substantial appearance… at the moment am thinking no surgery and more biking, vegan diet etc over the next few months so that they may not even make an appearance but will disappear of their own accord… I was supposed to see the surgeon on Monday but have postponed until 20th August, when I’ll also see one of the research doctors to find out if I can be part of a trial of a new drug to be added to exemestene, which is supposed to delay re-occurence. But meanwhile, am going to enjoy the summer…. Edinburgh next week for a few festival days, then Arles for the photography festival and the South of France to see Carl’s family… hopefully a few rides inbetween!! We will take the bikes… of course…The Lancet medical journal is talking about the importance of sustained and intense exercise re cancer…. yes!
So, we all met again in Richmond Park where there was about to be a huge cycling race. The cycling lanes were marked and as the race hadn’t begun, the stewards let us cycle through and film and photograph. Carl told the waiting crowd about our journey and Reka was spontaneously applauded as she cycled through, much to Carl’s delight and Reka’s complete embarassement! After a lovely lunch prepared by Liz, our lovely friend and host, Carl, Reka and I set off to cycle to no 10 Downing Street, where we had decided to end the ride. It was a beautiful ride, sunny and warm and along the towpath right into the city. It was the first cycling Olympic event, so again all roads closed except to cyclists. SO… the three of us cycled all the way from Hammersmith to Downing Street in the middle of the road, playing around at Trafalgar Square, round in circles at Speakers Corner… just having fun and loving all the bikes owning the roads of central London. We saw the Olympic cyclists speed past at about the same speed we had been doing!! and got to no 10 for our designated 4.30 p.m. slot. We gave in our passports and the policeman came back to tell us we weren’t on the official list! Suddenly, our world wasn’t so bright… symbolically Reka wanted to finish by standing at the door of no 10 and it didn’t look possible. We cajoled and persuaded and begged, but the police said they just couldn’t do it. Suddenly a second policeman came over ‘gorgeous Jason’ and listened to our story. He went away and conferred, then said he would take Carl’s camera and take a shot of no 10. We did say thank you and Carl took a photo of him taking a photo of the door with his camera! But it wasn’t quite what we wanted and Jason the policeman saw that… SO…. finally, he said he would accompany Reka in.. but we had to wait for a slot between Cameron leaving and the new police arriving… 2 hours later…. we did it… Cameron left no 10… the vans with the change over police began to draw up and whoosh, Jason took Reka in and took photos of her infront of no 10 with Carl’s camera!! So we finished as we meant to…..
And then it really was over…. we cycled magically back to Richmond from no 10 in the evening sunlight…. no cars on the roads…. just us and thousands of other bikes….
It was so late that we decided to sleep for a few hours and finally left London (massive thank you to Liz for the extra lunch, dinner and night) at 3.30 this morning. Carl drove out of London in record time as there was no one on the road and took us the first 2 hours. Then we stopped and I had my first expresso coffee for 6 months! Enough to mean I was very happy to take over the driving and get us to Hull. We made it in 3 hours 40 minutes which for those of you who have driven that route is only possible at that time of the morning on a Sunday! I felt the most incredible sense of well being than I can remember feeling for a very long time. The sun came up slowly on another sunny day and the Humber bridge came into sight about 6.45 a.m. The three of us sang very loudly and badly for the last half hour in the car… and arrived for breakfast at Ella Street not long after 7.00 a.m. Within minutes, lovely Lisa was there… and then John, Leila with roses.. and then other of Reka’s lovely friends, who we feel are our friends too now, thanks to Reka and Chris. After laughter and breakfast, we went off to support Reka lead the Hull ‘race for life’ as lead cyclist. Suddenly Reka had me in a red cycling support for the race jacket and I was with 4 women also in red jackets with Reka, leading the race… and suddently I was cycling another 5k with 2000 women in pink behind me! Much more scary than those Scottish mountains! No, it was lots of fun… and finally Carl and I left…. Reka and I didn’t say goodbye…. we both knew what the other was feeling….
It’s hard at the moment to express my emotions.. above all a sense of well being and physically, mentally feeling strong and energised; a sense of deep friendship, of new important relationships…. I hadn’t prepared physically or mentally for these last 2 weeks and yet somehow it had all been ok.. and I think I know what to do next time! There will be a next time…. it will be different and not this same journey but with new challenges but certainly with more of the laughter and joy we found on this one. I daren’t ask Carl to crop and download photos tonight so bit more patience everyone for the last set of photos. We’ve got lots of work now… editing, writing….. thinking about how and when we will be able to show you our little film, the exhibition of photos and texts we want to put together.. But you will all be invited and so so welcome when we do finally get things together to give you what we believe will be the representation that works for all of us of the ride. Carl will go to the hospital with Reka tomorrow and will film her consultaion and chemo. My consultation is delayed until a week tomorrow…. Through the generosity of family, friends, hotels, couch surfing hosts…. we managed to spend as little as we could so any money we have left will go into Reka and I forming a small community interest company ‘the ride’ which will go on to advocate the importance of real and sustained exercise during cancer treatments and beyone… we are already excited about what we can do from September…. don’t leave the blog…. photos will go up next week and more thoughts from all of us…. please all the riders comment, make yourself a biog on the riders page.. Pru, Toddy, John, Lisa, Rita…. and others… So no goodbyes from me either… just yet….
Yesterday we left Chippenham in the morning. We couch surfed with Alex, well we didn’t actually, he gave us both his bedrooms and he couched surfed in his own house! It’s extraordinary the lovely friendships we’ve immediately forged with our hosts. I think they’re probably all quite special people to open their homes to people they don’t know who are travelling, doing stuff like us etc. I hadn’t thought of offering my home in this way before the ride, but now I see what a lovely way it is of thinking about trust, other currency than money and making friendships. It’s taken the people on this journey to show me… so thank you all our amazing couch surfing hosts… We took the cycle canal route from Chippenham to Reading, which was beautiful but quite slow in terms of terrain, gorgeous with a mountain bike and all day to spare but tricky when there’s over 70 miles to go to next destination. I made the first section, then all of a sudden in the middle of the countryside, my seat suddenly fell off and screws went all over the road! At that exact moment, to within seconds, Carl drove up as he’d decided to find us rather than waiting to the next meeting point!! How amazing was that.. so Réka went on and Carl and I went to get my seat mended in Marlborough… we caught up with Réka again and Carl did a 30 plus ride with Réka. At 9.30 in fading light and still with 40 miles to go, we decided that the last day really would be saturday, so all came back to sleep in Richmond with my friend Liz… just in time to watch our first bit of tv, the opening ceremony of the Olympics.. Carl and Réka were off at 7 this morning so Réka could re-start where she finished last night. We are all meeting up at Richmond Park in an hour so that we change and ride into Downing Street for our 4.30 p.m; photo opportunity. Thanks Pru for following this up and Diane Johnson MP’s office…. We are allowed to take photos infront of no 10 and the policeman will put our bikes in a pen!
So, nearly there everyone… Réka will have completed her 1000 miles as of course we all knew she would. The rest of us have all surprised ourselves. I think I have made nearly 600 miles, which is beyond what I thought I could do and finally, finally no longer have a sore bottom when I climb onto the bike in the morning. I feel so proud to have shared this journey with Réka, her vision and commitment inspired us all. To everyone else, Carl firstly, for filming, photographing, driving, cycling and making us all laugh at the top of hills…. all the other riders… we’ll talk more about you all next week! To Chris, Réka’s husband, for his support for the ride, for coming with the boys to see Réka at a time when she was missing them so much. We’ll do all our thank you’s when we really have ended today and headed back up the M1 to Hull and Bridlington. Réka will lead Hull’s ‘race for life’ tomorrow, so we will be there to film that and on Monday, we both have consultations at Castle Hill. Réka will have another 8 hours of chemo. Speak to you again everyone really, really at the end of this amazing 15 days x x x
Started the day yesterday with a lovely ride up to lunch at the mountain cafe. Met up with Mike and Chrissie there; this was Mike’s last ride with us. It has been such a pleasure having him, Ian and Brian with us and meeting Chrissie and Debbie. Our second swim of the ride, water lovely and cool on a hot day… Rita, Reka’s sister, got her ride in at the end of the day and cycled with Reka into Cardiff. It was Pru and Toddy’s last ride too. Hard to believe they were going home. We have had an intensive week and from being strangers have shared emotionally and physically intense moments constantly, so friendships have developed very quickly. Pru has been caring and considerate throughout the week and riding much more than she thought she would. Toddy has been great too… checking our bikes, giving me much needed cycling tips and support. We have all laughed and worried and felt the sunshine and the height of the hills…. Everyone left this morning after our photo shoot and interviews at the hospital…. thank you Cardiff Velindra Centre for Cancerl for your lovely welcome and for your openness. We had a second interview with the Head of Services at the Penny Brohn Cancer Care Centre in Bristol this afternoon. Everyone agrees that the benefits of sustained and consistent exercise during cancer diagnosis and treatments are undisputed… Wales is introducing a national exercise referral scheme from the Autumn for people with a cancer diagnosis. There is still so much more to do in terms of awareness raising…. Reka and I are beginning to think of what we can do when we get back. A new awareness has to be more accepted down from the oncologists and surgeons to specialised nursing staff etc. No one really says how much better you’ll feel even if you just have a walk in the park, rather than the standard advice which is to take it easy and be kind to yourself. Cancer cells hate oxygen and exercise….
I had a special evening yesterday aswe stayed with my lovely friend Ruth, who was waiting with empty washing machine, hot water by the bathfull and dinner….. we showed her moments of the film and she came with us to meet the rest of the riders this morning.. It was a brief but very happy reunion…. Reka said goodbye to the boys and Chris, but only until Saturday. We will deliver her back to them on saturday evening. I have only ridden for the first part of the day today… I seem to have developed a wobbly stomach and a bit of sickness, probably a mixture of too much heat and the fatigue that is gradually coming over us now. Carl is riding with her now and I am waiting for them in Bath, before our last ride to Chippenham. So hard to believe tomorrow will be our last real ride. On Saturday, we will cycle into the city and finish at Downing Street…. we will do lots of publicity shots for the ride! Reka just keeps going, encouraging us, understanding and focused on completing this extraordinary journey. I was watching her ride today and just felt so full of admiration and respect for her…. she will hate me saying that, she says it’s just the way of living that she understands. We are questioning ourselves less now about the ride and why we embarked on this adventure I think as we engage with more and more people who have the same ideas as us about exercise and cancer management…. but we are tired now… Reka won’t let herself be tired until saturday afternoon…. so I am trying to do the same. What a journey! Safe home everyone who left us today….. Chippenham to sleep tonight….
It will be day 15 tomorrow of riding…. can’t quite believe it really!
Started the day in the mountain hostel in Tremadogh…. Pru made a full Welsh breakfast. She is definitely picnic queen and makes sure we all eat and drink when we need to. Reka has her boys here now for a few days, so that’s really great. It was a long cycle yesterday and Réka finished alone at 10.15 p.m. We felt as though we were crossing the whole of Snowdonia. The mountains and valleys were amazing and the day was our first really warm and sunny ride. Late night curry thanks to Russ and then we all piled into a great bunk house. We will send links to all these places later….Today has been really special. Mike had planned a lovely route across the national cycle paths to Brecon. 46 miles about, so not a heavy mileage day but some killer hills at the end. Lisa was our yellow jersey for the morning and zoomed off. We all stopped for a late lunch by the river and the brave ones amongst us had a dip…. it felt warm compared to our Scottish waterfall! We weren’t rushing to cover mileage so the day felt very relaxed and we all had moments to chat as we cycled up and down. Réka and I said that we both felt a bit strange that we only had 4 days to go, the last 12 days have been such an extraordinary challenge and adventure. Thank you all for your comments and replies. We just haven’t quite got the energy to reply at the moment. It’s usually 10 at night by the time we get to a computer, so try to keep you up to date with our events and then fall into bed! We were all saying how deeply and soundly we were all sleeping…so if anyone has insomnia, have a few 10 hour bike rides! I’m sorry my blog entries sometimes read like an itinerary of our day. I have so many thoughts about this journey going through my head but feel I will need time to process many of them at the end of the ride. We have crossed many of our cities now; Inverness, Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin, Cardiff tomorrow and then just London remains on this journey. It was a very happy day today…
Arrived in Dublin. Thank you to the Croke Park Hotel and to Pru and Toddy’s hosts too. Tony and his family. Réka, Carl and I talked a lot about the film and exhibition over late dinner. We always seem to be arriving when the kitchen is closing but somehow we always get dinner somewhere. Early start and met the others at the ferry terminal. Suddenly Carl realised in our rush and our extra full van, the vital suitcase with the computer was still in the hotel. Tony, who had already very kindly brought Pru and Toddy to the docks, dashed back to the hotel with Carl in his car and with 5 minutes to spare, they were back with the suitcase and we were on the Stena line crossing to Wales. Stena line gave us access to their v i p lounge and we had a lovely crossing. Had another fashion photo shoot with our Cath Kidson and Boden clothes, by the way all clothes will be available on ebay after the ride! We were up on deck in strong winds and Pru even modelled the gorgeous sequin shorts! It was a lovely half hour, all about friendship and fun and laughing!
Mike and Ian were waiting for us at the other end and after having communicated with Mike by mail and blog, it was lovely to finally meet him and Chrissie, his wife. Brian arrived just after us and we set off, this time as a group of 7 cyclists. Mike had planned the cycle route and we rode with them for about 30 miles before saying goodbye till tuesday. it was a very special few hours, stopping by the river for lunch and having moments to chat and get to know the group a little as we cycled. We had a wind against us but not too strong. Réka had a middle section cycle alone and then Toddy and I did the last stretch. Arrived to Réka’s family and friends and lots of pasta….. sleep, sleep…. all night long!
Woke up in our wonderful house in Belfast to dry and clean cycling clothes, amazing breakfast to start the day(I know Sam likes to know what we have for breakfast!) porridge, fruit of all descriptions, toast, croissants, tea, coffee! Di and Zac cycled with us to find the national cycle network which gives Zac at 11 the status of our youngest rider! Thank you again Di, Stephen, Matt, Ben and Zac for your warmth and hospitality. You made us feel relaxed, comfortable, nurtured and as Di said ‘we all felt like we’d known each other for ages.’ Zac wore the yellow jersey and showed us the way and paid us our big compliment of the day when he told us he thought we might be boring and not say anything, but actually we were very nice!! Thank you Zac! Carl went off to find Pru and Toddy in their accomodation and Reka and I set off to meet them at lunchtime. It was a beautiful journey from Belfast to Killileagh… very hilly so as we both felt a bit weak and tired to start the day, we took it gently and enjoyed the beauty of the hills, lakes and huge skies. No rain! We arrived at Forkhill… and just from the description, you can imagine how hilly that bit was. Everyone met up and we had our usual big lunch at 2… Reka and I covered about 26 miles in the morning… there was still a long way to go… about 60 miles…. Carl, Toddy, Pru and Reka set off after lunch… we have 4 bikes between 5 of us and as Reka is riding every mile… 3 bikes between 4 of us and 1 driver.. and now everyone wants to cycle as much as they can! It was a long ride for the rest of the day and I re-joined for the last part into Ardee… I somehow have to always do the first part of the day and the last. It was a real up and down journey yesterday.. hills after hills after hills… but we do love the cycle routes even though they often take much longer. We cycled up to the most beautiful old rectory and wonderful Paul and his Mum, Jane were there to meet us with warmth and care and hot water ready, dinner on the table. The house is full of history and wonderful things. Reka says she keeps wanting to open cupboards to look at treasures. Jane is 90 and a total joy…. we’ve all been chatting with her and she’s shown us her garden which goes down to the river. The roses are out and huge red roses frame the windows.. Paul has taken our bikes down to the bike shop in Ardee and again servicing has come without charge… so thank you again Ardee bike shop… Off we go now to Dublin, late start as downloading film etc takes time and we finished late last night….. Photos hopefully from Dublin tonight… more fashion shoots to do too in our sponsored clothes! We have over 1000 hits now on this blog which is great. Please keep commenting and adding thoughts to it…. the more comments we have and the more in the blog, the more we can prove the evidence that people are interested in the importance of exercise during cancer treatment…. so reply, reply… please…. will send you more photos asap… x x x
Sorry we missed updating you yesterday. Just to explain why; we woke up to driving rain, a yellow weather warning for central Scotland and winds. My nephew, Connor joined us for the start and arrived soaking wet just from the other side of Edinburgh! He wasn’t put off though and started with us. Carl filmed from the back of Robert’s van, so the film may have lots of close ups of our wet, streaming faces. Time restrictions meant we had a long stint to do on the A71, so you can imagine.. lorries hurtling past sending extra water and wind and lots of mud our way too…. Robert found us after 35 miles and bought soup and sandwiches… and we gradually thawed out and got a bit of strength back. Carl took over from me for a couple of hours and although it was dry, there were some serious hills. I got back on my bike to join Reka who of course was cycling without any break, although she did stop in a bus shelter in pouring rain for a moment to phone her lovely husband! I managed the last 15 miles into Troon, again in more rain. We finallly arrived at the wonderful South Beach Hotel in Troon, where the lovely, welcoming staff met us with big smiles, help with our bags, took our bikes to be locked up and an hour later,after a hot bath, a Glenmorangie and dry clothes… we were all smiles again. Pru and Toddy arrived from Troon station to ride the Ireland stretch with us. It was lovely to have their fresh enthusiasm and excitement and to know they would be with us for the next few days. Thank you everyone at the South Beach Hotel in Troon. They sponsored us with lovely rooms, breakfasts and just couldn’t do enough for us. So anyone going to Troon for any reason, that’s the hotel to go to. Took the ferry to Larne this morning and met David, antoher cyclist from Belfast on his way home. He’d been staying in our hotel and very kindly offfered to start us off on the best route to Belfast, via Glenoe waterfall. So of course, we had to stop for a dip in (photos to follow as evidence)the fall. Thank you David for taking the time to start us off. Oh and thank you P and O Ferries for very cheap ferry tickets! Pru had bought a perfect picnic so just a few hours after our usual huge breakfast, we were ready to demolish a picnic with ease… We got into Belfast about 4 and decided today was the first day we had the time to do a photo shoot with our Boden sponsored clothes… a 25 mile ride today has felt like luxury…. So Reka, Pru and I had a brilliant fun hour trying on dresses for the photo shoot. We went into Belfast and did a shoot underneath a beautiful mural made by a local primary school near the Antrim Road. Whilst we were modelling our sponsored dresses for Boden, a group of little girls came to see what was happening and it turned out that they’d been involved in the mural and showed us the flowers and spots they had painted. Thank you Melissa, Paula and Emily… and for being in our photos! Don’t forget to follow the blog with us. Pru and Toddy are staying at the Somerton House hotel, big thank yous to Mannix and Elaine for their sponsorship and Global Village in Belfast also offered rooms, infact Belfast has been amazing for hospitality. Reka, Carl and I are staying with Di and Stephen and their lovely family in theri gorgeous house tonight so as I’m blogging, Stephen and Reka are working out tomorrow’s route, our wet and dirty cycyling clothes are in their washing machine, our trainers are in their drying rooom and a sunny day is forecast for tomorrow so although it’s going to be a long route, about 75 miles, the countryside looks beautiful and no rain means so much! Forgot to say thank you to Jury’s Inn, who gave us all a 3 course dinner earlier this evening. Carl has promised to crop some photos for tomorrow… he’s filming, driving, photographing and cycling, plus downloading film every night so we have to be patient… It’s been a couple of days of big ups and downs, huge hills, busy roads, lots of weather… but also generous and lovely people, warm dinners and comfy beds, laughter and survival….. which leaves us with big smiles and warmed hearts at the end of the days.
Bye for now…..
Massive breakfasts in the Station Hotel, Carl did some filming with Reka and John… then Reka and I cycled off to start the day….. up the most massive and long hill you have ever seen in your life. As it was the first hour of the day and I couldn’t give up in hour 1, I somehow got to the top, painfully, slowly and with my eyes firmly looking down rather than ahead so that I couldn’t see how much further I had to go! Luckily the sun was shining and no rain, so that was a big help. There was a lovely ride once at the top, so by 2.00 p.m. had covered 25 miles. Carl took over for an hour but unfortunately it was one of the worst hills so far but he too managed it slowly and painfully to the top, then happily passed back to me! We found a national cycle network path for the last 19 miles. Carl took lots of photos and filmed as we were crossing the Forth Road Bridge, the only person probably to lie down in the middle of the cycle track going across the bridge to film us biking past. Coming into Edinburgh across the bridge, we were so aware of traffic fumes, noise that even Adele on my ipod couldn’t mask and speed of traffic that we were tempted to go around the roundabout and back up North… but then we had a lovely experience. We called in at the Maggie Cancer Care centre in Edinburgh to say hello, as somehow it seemed appropriate and we had a warm and welcoming reception from the whole team, who were interested and enthusiastic about the ride and made us feel it was important. They even had tea and cakes for us! Their warmth really lifted our tired bodies and minds… thank you lovely Maggie’s Edinburgh staff. We went off to the massive cycle shop ‘Evans’ in Edinburgh for a quick bike check and lovely Jack, the Manager, after having spoken earlier with my brother Robert about the ride, gave both our bikes a full service, which would have cost us lots for free and said it was the least they could do! So if you live in Edinburgh and cycle, go to Evans…. they finished our day off perfectly. Reka of course has been her usual amazing self. Just quietly and determined she gets on her bike and starts pedalling and finishes at the end of the day. Looks after her support team and encourages us, waiting for us, motivating us to get up those hills. I wish I was faster so that sometimes she doesn’t have to be at the front but am getting stronger each day and Reka told me i would never have made today’s hill last Friday, so who knows, either I’ll be completely finished by next week or maybe a bit stronger every day. We do have lots of fun and laughter though. It’s not all about my dread of the hills! We’ve just had a massive dinner to go with our massive I breakfast with Rob and Helen. Most importantly, I had my first bath since last thursday with muscle relaxant and bath salts in it. Only the call to dinner got me out…. So many parallels between this ride and medical treatments… ups and downs of hills and descents… warm baths and driving rain…. free bike servicing and impatient motorists… my sweet little niece filming and photographing alongside me writing this blog! It’s great to get your messages on the blog. Reka and i read them to each other over breakfast, which feels like you are all with us… Just a few messages now for my family….Hello Rio, I’ve thought about you lots today in your last week at school, new baby at home and all kinds of things happening in your life. i can’t wait for you to come for your summer holidays. You, me and Jayden are going to build the biggest sandcastle anyone has ever seen in their lives. Scarlett, you too in your last week in this first year of being a newly qualified teacher…hope India plans are going well, Mark and Amanda, hope you’re getting some sleep and keep sending photos of the baby .. love and miss you all…. Photos to follow..
It was hard getting on yesterday! My spirit was willing but body was trying to do swerve away from my lovely, if slightly bruised bike. We set off on perhaps one of the most beautiful parts of the ride so far down to Perth. It really was ‘down’ most of the way… hurray for national cycle routes. Even by the edge of the road, you can be surrounded by greenery, so you forget you’re so close to the road. Energy was good but needed more barrier cream, even through two pairs of padded shorts! John came to the rescue and insisted on transferring his gel padded bike seat cover onto mine and suddenly the world was a brighter place! He also lent me his spare i pod with a hilarious collection of Christmas music on it, so I was cycling along listening to ‘Driving home for Christmas’ and ‘All I want for Christmas.’ The trees were spectacular and for at least 20 miles, there were no big hills, I had a comfy seat, funny music and gradually a sense of freedom and well being. I think Réka, John and Carl all felt the same way as the three of us were cycling along dancing to our respective i pods and Carl kept appearing magically, having found our cycle routes to capture moments. Réka is beginning to have a really fun relationship with the camera and Carl behind it. We all feel a bit sad this morning as John has finished his stint with us and leaves to go home to his family; he even missed his little boy’s first day at nursery to be with us. What a star! So today is just Réka and I. Carl cycled for 20 miles yesterday whilst John and I played in a cycle shop in Pitlochry, we were like children in a sweet shop… saying ooo qnd aaaah to all the gadgets. If I can’t manage the ride in total today, Carl will do some… phew! You’re right Mike, Réka is our Bradley Wiggins, but she is patient and caring with us novices too. Waits at the tops of hills, when it has taken me three times as long as her to get to the top and is always encouraging. I feel myself getting a little stronger each day but still dread the onset of hills! Will post some photos this evening. Should be in Edinburgh for 6 ish, if all goes well.. The Maggie Centres are going to do an article about the ride in their magazine in October, which is great! Carl is working hard each day, filming, interviewing, photographing…. Each time i get into the car and negotiate meeting points, other motorists etc, I realise how straightforward cycling is.
We have become a team these last few days, so goodbye and thank you to John for being lots of fun, his terrible french accent and his fast growing grasp of french swear words learnt from Carl, his looking after our bikes, lending his gel seat, his Christmas music; we’ll miss you and will think of you freewheeling down massive hills, arms outstretched with a huge smile! Speak to you all later…. we had great sponsorship from the Station hotel in Perth, rooms for free and they were so nice, so we all love the Station Hotel in Perth. Bye for now……
Hello everyone….. so sorry not to have blogged before now. Its been a bit of a few days, as they say in Yorkshire! These early days of intensive cycling have taken it out of all of us I think, physically and mentally, but we’re fine and managing to support Réka as much as we can. I’m gradually increasing my distances, 42 miles on saturday and about 45 yesterday. I was ready to keep going but had a puncture at the bottom of the hill, 8 miles from home and in the pouring rain etc, brought the bike back to the b and b for fixing. John working on it, as i write. Réka carries on, sometimes with us, sometimes alone….. but always from start to finish. We have been through epic weather already, driving rain, gentle rain, sunshine, cold, warm; you name it, we’ve had it! We’ve already met all kinds of people…. warm, welcoming and kind…. and also the guest house manager who tutted when we asked for more toast and told me off for sitting down for breakfast without being told which table to sit on!! The seagull poo story was really funny and started us all off laughing. When it’s good, the sun is out and we are all cycling together, it’s really fantastic. When it’s pouring rain, uphill and your whole body aches, it’s really tough. But we’re happy to be here on this journey and beginning to work out what we’re doing this for. Yesterday, when we had stopped to talk to a man Réka had cycled with earlier in the day, his wife told us that after our conversation she was going to take up cycling and do the charity ride her husband was doing next year, so that felt good. We have seen red deer, forest sculpture, the most beautiful beaches you could imagine, cycled through pine forests where the smell is intense, especially after the rain, countryside of wild highland moors and greenness that goes on forever. Arrived at stop off points so hungry we couldn’t speak until we had eaten something, panicked if our water supply was getting low, all kind of firsts in terms of feelings. Réka and I have talked sometimes as we cycle, about life, cancer, happiness, humour, the wonder of our children, the kindness of our partners and families, the importance of friends… and then she’s sped off and I’ve been happy to see Carl drive up and realised that the 40 miles or so I’ve managed have already been a challenge. It’s great to have Carl and John here with us. John keeps our bikes in order, fixing and oiling and reminding us to fill up our water bottles, Carl is there for us all the time, photographing, filming, sorting the car out, picking us up when we just have to stop… thank you Carl for taking this time to be with me on this adventure…. we’re looking for a line for the film and the exhibition. I think this week is about gathering as much information as possible and I think the story line will follow. Réka is becoming very comfortable with the camera and her 5 minute talking to camera each morning. We keep thinking and talking about what will inspire people to keep going during cancer diagnosis and treatment with exercise and physically going forward when your body is trying to take you backwards and somewhere you don’t want to go. We want people to watch it and look at the images, read the text and think ‘I can do stuff too.’ So if anyone has ideas, this is the week to contact us! John has fixed my bike, hurray! Time to go soon. Thank you evryone again for generous and caring support in all kinds of ways. On Sunday, when it was pouring down and I was pushing my bike up a very steep hill, i thought of all your support and got right to the top. So you see, all those messages, as well as your generosity are not just an added bonus, they have been absolutely the difference between us being here and not been able to be here, between challenging ourselves and thinking I can’t do any more… Will try to blog again soon. Thank you all you lovely people x x x x x
Carl has arrived on the boat from Zeebruges into Hull. He will start filming today. On his way now to collect Reka and John and then come to Bridlington to collect me and my bike. We’re up to Edinburgh today and will stay overnight at Rob and Helens’ house tonight. Early start tomorrow and should be in John O Groats for afternoon. Afternoon/evening ride from John O’Groats….. beautiful sunny and fresh morning to start us off. Blue sky and sea in Yorkshire and as close to summer weather as we’ve had for a few weeks! My son Mark phoned at 5.00 a.m. to say my latest grandson had been born.. a wonderful start to the ride!
So our idea is that we get as many comments as possible from as many people as possible, about the importance of exercise, preferably in fresh air.. during and after cancer treatments. Whatever you think about it, please reply to this post on this site and hopefully we can get loads of comments and take those to some politicians and health care practitioners who have some influence. It’s so difficult to get exercise referral programmes if you have a cancer diagnosis and yet so much evidence is there (see Reka’s earlier postings)… so please help us tell the government we need joined up thinking on exercise referral, targeted resources going into exercise programmes specifically for people being treated for cancer and much, much greater awareness of the importance of some form of exercise every day during chemo, radiotherapy, post treatment, between treatments…. These are the times that it’s really hard to find the motivation to have that walk in the park, get on your bike, whatever and yet, with enough encouragement from professional people and resources to help you…. all the evidence says not only will it improve your quality of life but could actually help in management of cancer. So look at the evidence and if you agree, reply to this blog posting… even if its just to say ‘good luck’.. the more signatures the better… Thank you, thank you! 1 day to go!
For those of you who don’t know, couch surfing is a site where people offer hospitality to people for a night or two who are travelling or doing stuff like this bike ride. We’ve been really excited about how open and friendly and helpful people have been and also through friends of friends, even of their friends sometimes, we have had offers of beds for the night, some hot food, a hot shower and even breakfast! It really makes you believe in the kindness of strangers!
Last few days of preparation. This morning I cycled from Bridlington to Flamborough, to Filey and back through the East Yorkshire countryside. For those of you who don’t know East Yorkshire, it’s beautiful coast and countryside…. Reka has her mega 8 hour chemo stint tomorrow, then we just have tuesday and wednesday for last minute preparations. Wel’ll be driving up to Edinburgh on thursday and hope to reach John O Groats on friday lunchtime. Carl will have our mobile phones… so you will be able to reach us at most times. We will post a blog before we leave with our contacts and details of start and finish of each day for those people joining us for a day ride… thank you again everyone.. please blog us during the next few weeks!
Please feel free to phone up your local radio station, tell your local newspaper, or do whatever you can to help us promote the ride. Every story might just encourage another person, feeling very tired and possibly very low during cancer treatment, to challenge themselves to have that walk in the park or cycle down to the sea front or have a swim in the local pool. Or it might encourage that health care professional, working with people with a cancer diagnosis, to remember to suggest even gentle exercise in their advice and support plans. Even if just hearing about the ride makes those people smile, it would be worth something! We’re hoping to film as much as we can of events along the way, so hopefully in a few months time, you can see what happened on this blog, but for now, tell people, find us and join us even for a few hours. We’ll keep you in touch with where we are and how we are as often as we can…
So this weather isn’t the best for trying to do a bit of last minute training…. Fingers crossed, the skies will emply everything out before next saturday.. Reka and I are really grateful to you all for so much support coming in…. knowing that our ferry crossings are going to be paid etc makes things so much less stressful. Apparently we have new sponsorship in kind consisting of lots of Top Man Jeans and a pair of designer sequined shorts?! So if you see photos of us in lots of mens’ jeans with a pair of sequined shorts making an appearance at some stage.. that’s why! Aome people have asked if it’s ok just to turn up and cycle with us for odd days.. It is and we will try to blog each day so you know our starting points…. we just have one back up vehicle so places in the car are limited but even an hour’s riding would be lovely company for us! It’s so fantastic that so many friends and family are trying so hard to help us pull all this together with us. We appreciate it sooooo much.
Toni and Marc have offered to edit any filming we do and make it look professional and able to be distributed! Hurray…. they are professional editor and producer (BBC) so that will be a massive help and very exciting! Are there any of our riders who don’t want to be filmed by the way? Mike, will all the Wales crew be happy to be filmed? Reka and I have already decided that wet and tired with red faces will probably be ‘our look’ for most of the film although we may insist on a post ride bit, in which we don’t have sweaty faces and bodies and even a bit of make up and a frock on!!
hello everyone. We are still short of our sponsorship target, although we have had amazing support in terms of cash, in kind, free rental of equipment, beds and accomodation subsidies etc but we still need more to cover our costs and to ensure that we can have a professionally edited documentary film and exhibition that we can distribute throughout oncology and cancer support centres. We believe so passionately in the importance of exercise during and after cancer treatment, for well being, for reduction in tumours, for prevention of re-occurrence that we want to advocate more exercise for everyone from cancer diagnosis, to during treatment, to post treatment support……. please help with whatever you can find if you dig very deep!!! We know it’s tough but every little will help us loads… thank you x x x
been in Northern France for 10 days, tried to get out on the bike between very heavy downpours but hard to get more than an hour or so in each day and as Lille is very flat, training hasn’t been very serious, but back in Yorkshire on tuesday so will try to have a last spurt for the week before we start…..