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
We got to Reading a bit less than we thought but hey. Tomorrow is our last day and it’s going to be an other long one …
But we are going to Downing St for half past 4 so will start early and peddal very fast (… I hope their jam scones are up to standard.)
If you are reading this please leave us a message/ comment on the blog it would be really quite lovely and special to read them when we done
… No ifs no buts … It is tomorrow !!! (actually it is today as when I am writing this is well over midnight)
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
The radio warned of floods and it was Amber/Red weather alert for the mid part of Scotland … Yep you have guessed it … I woke up for the sound of rain. Ok I thought than I quickly changed my mind, actually it is not ok but not much I could do about it. Rob, Penny’s brother who was absolutely lovely and put us up for a night said it is soft rain. Well didn’t stay soft for long by the time we got out of Edinburg my coat was giving up so as the three pair of cycling shorts I was wearing. It was awful, bloody awful. It kept easing off a bit just to gather strength and come back with a gust. I was dripping and cold and after 25 miles I was a bit shaky I pulled up at a bus shelter and called Chris talking in half intelligible sentences, getting more and more upset about the weather. He did some magic which got me back on the bike. I felt angry I could not change the weather it was nothing I could do just carry on and brave it so I did. And than, the bloody rain bloody stopped bloody marvellous !!!!! Penny has done so extremely well, braving the weather the hill she is an absolute superstar it is such a joy sharing the journey with her.
Rob has brought us lunch how extremely very kind. I was riding with Carl in that afternoon, who does make me laugh a lot … for his afternoon ride he was wearing a long scarf and one of my helmet … He really really looked like he was just about to be ready to be fired out of a cannon. We finished the ride with Penny in the rain once more.
Pru and Toddy are joining us tonight!
The hotel was funny the we have been told of for sitting at wrong places, asking for more toast, downloading pictures apparently slowing the whole system down (?)… felt like a naughty kid but the sun was shining and I could not care less about anything else. We really needed a good dry day. The route looked like a gentle up and a gentle down. And yes it was an easy steady uphill in a great pace, wonderful company and stunning landscape ( number 2 after Tongue) … the down the down the down was just pure joy, it was so so lovely. Jon was riding front of me in a near distance and dancing on his bike in the sunshine … It was one of the moment I will treasure It was all freedom and happiness. It was exhilarating … Manford and son in my ear, zooming through forest and I just wanted to shout really really loud and out this came from down below this deep bellowing of a sound … I found what I was so longing a day before, such an opposite from yesterday desperation. I was feeling strong again and the world was on my side.
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……
“It will be flat … actually a bit up, but not for much.” The famous last words. I did not really believe Liath as I remembered not liking the look of the gradients of the third day. Turned out of the house and that’s where we met the first hill of the day, which kept ‘hilling’ for a good 40 minutes… Warm up done. That’s where Jon and Penny joined me again. It was a great cruz down till Inverness. Than a bit up again till Culloden. Than set off on my own to meet the gang 20 miles up the road.
It was very difficult. Up hill seemed constant and the rain showers just kept on coming at in an erratic and with ever increasing furiosity twinning up with strong head wind. I was struggling I really had to dig deep but it felt was nothing left to be found down there i felt empty. What the hell I am doing here. I remember sitting on the kitchen floor not long after diagnosis and thinking what about just giving up … Maybe that what I should do, sometimes we just have to surrender, it is one of the option it wasn’t a flippant thought there was one of the options … And i was there again … the rain and my tears was pouring down on my face I had enough and a bloody hill was staring in my face again I couldn’t see the point anymore. I marched on. I felt very vulnerable and my sense of invincibility was going.
Penny has joined me for the last 20 miles.
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
Tongue to Alahar one of the most beautiful ride I have ever done. The baron study hills the lochs mirroring the angry sky … I wish you were there it was heartstoppingly beautiful. The weather stayed with us for a while but it changed its mind not far from Lairg just at the point when I started to get a bit weary and tired and needed to stop. Not long and it was so heavy I started to shake my fist at the sky … nop it did not work. Penny and John behind me. And then like in the stories really, in the middle of nowhere this inn (crask inn) appeared with a velvet voiced, full smile and kindness landlady Kay. And the others arrived. The fire was on and the drinks were wonderful… And that’s one of the most important part which makes the journey ever so special the people we meet the lives we are connecting for a little while.
We were couchsurfing that night (people offering their extra room to say) on the Black Isles near Inverness. We took the ferry to Cromarty and than cycled to Jemmiville( got a bit confused with the direction but helped out and escorted to the right spot). Our host Liath was waiting for us, what a lovely lovely fellow, unbelievably not just willing to share his house but prepared us a fantastic meal. We had a really lovely evening … and Jon had a nasty hangover this morning.
The alarm went off the painful time of 5.42, but we need to get going. It is an other 4 hours by car than 60 Miles. So … Well… Calculations are funny things and they are always go on their own stretchy way. We got to John O Groats about 2ish. Quick cup of tea and we trundled off to The sign. We were all standing there ready for the big adventure smiling hopefully in Carl’s camera when an evil seagull came and thought Hahaaaa…. and landed a huge sploshy poo on right top of my head. Good luck hey… Silly silly concept. (and the tonight programme is …. washing my hair … not as would anybody ask me out). Anyway 3 of us finally set off just after 3. The first 20 miles were really good mood is high, landscape stunning,weather fine. After Thurso I continued on my own still ok for an other 20 miles. But then I got a bit beyond myself and the hills just kept coming towards me in a relentless manner, it was hard. Arrived 10.15 pm to the youth hostel. Lovely Penny has prepared this fantastic meal which was just a life saver. Shower and my hair smells nice not a speckle of bird poo. Off to bed now … Long day tomorrow
The morning of Setting off with full of excitement, expectation and a fair share of empty mindedness in a bit of a manic la-la mode. I do the usual things, how predictable how utterly useless, running up and down looking for things … Which I can live without and no importance what so ever my orange hair slide … Do I really need it?
My lovely people started to arrive to see the bonkers adventure begin. Carl is here so as John no we just need Penny. The bike carrier looks dodgy but it just done 4 bikes London and back so bound to be. (?) we pick Penny up and off we go north. After 2 hours we hit a small bump and things start to unravel the dodgy carrier passed the dodgy stage and entered the can’t carry on with this AND somehow penny s shiny new bike has wheel buckled. The clouds of darkness hit us but plans were forming. Find a shop and just get the stuff so two towns and two shops later cheeriness and fresh air have found us again. Well just laughing in the face of adversity, we are quite good at that.
We are in Edinburg now just finished a enormous ball of past … Bring on the carbs…. planning for tomorrow
6 hours to John o groats and 60 miles on the bike so I am going to sleep now, yes I better
I had the last chemotherapy session on Monday and am having another batch straight after I get home in 3 weeks time instead of my usual 2 weeks… that feels good, a bit more breathing space… and don’t have to bear the smell of hospital … which I have found increasingly difficult, but hey, it does keep me ticking. I had a treat on Tuesday and went to have Reiki and Reflexology with gorgeous Val and as I was flicking between trying to empty my mind (falling asleep occasionally) and going on a killing spree and telling the nasties it is time to go … out of the blue it suddenly hit me, the 1000 miles thing … a bit out of nowhere (which is a bit ridiculously silly as i have been breathing this ride for the last couple of months) … and started laughing my head off … thinking for the first time that it is a bit bonkers… and you know maybe it is. I haven’t really thought about it that way… I guess it is a 1000 miles in a chemotherapy sandwich … but I always think things will just work out … never-ending bloody optimism that’s me … but hey it is working for me … usually.
But I am ready to roll around the country with lovely people and meet new ones and have some stories to tell… so here we go with a big grin on my face; it will be a hell of adventure!
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We will write, upload pictures and take video every day.
So see you tomorrow at John o Groats. Have a lovely day. I am sure I will.
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…..