In the time honoured tradition of post payday emails requesting sponsorship for various charity events, I sent mine out today.
It’s always a little thrill when the Just Giving notification pops up on my phone and today was no different until I realised that I had broken the £1,000 sponsorship mark. I know Adam and I are undertaking something that is quite considerable, but the generosity that my friends, colleagues and suppliers have shown towards the cause is quite overwhelming so thank you to everyone who has donated or pledged support.
With just under 6 months to go until we push off for Paris I’m hopeful that I can get to the £2,500 mark, that would mean so much to a great charity
I know Adam has started his funds drive too so we could be sitting on a very healthy joint donation pot come July
Today marks 6 months till Le Grand Depart, 6 months till Adam and I saddle up and set off for Paris on our great adventure.
I’ll be honest, I think it’s crept up on us both a little bit. With Christmas and New year in the books its time to really knuckle down, get a bit fitter and get miles into the lazy winter legs. Adam has a new bike, of which I am slightly jealous, and he’s busy reinventing his whole existence by the sounds of it. I, meanwhile, have been keeping my twice weekly gym ritual to get some strength work in but I did get out on my bike for the first time this year last weekend. It was horrible. A combination of freezing winds, residual snow, ice, fallen trees and closed roads turned my journey into a very stop start 14 miles.
Stopping to take that photo got compacted snow in my cleats, I couldn’t clip back in and I got fed up. Hopefully the weather will be a little bit more favourable this weekend!
I know six months is a long time but I’ve got a feeling July will be on us before we know it! Onwards and upwards!
Sometimes fate has a nasty habit of giving you a reminder of the fleeting, fragile nature of human life. It cuts straight through the day to day and shocks you to the core.
Some of you may have seen the awful accident involving a tram in Croydon this week, in which 7 people tragically lost their lives. It was a terrible event that hushed the streets of Croydon, everyone was genuinely shocked that it had happened. Then, yet again, fate intervened and brought the accident much closer to home than I cared for. The only lady to die in the accident was a parent of one of my wife’s pupils at the school where she works and she’d taught her other daughter 2 years ago. How do you begin to tell those girls that their mum isn’t coming home? How does the father cope with managing his grief process while also being responsible for the girls and their emotional wellbeing?
The shock element of the above adds an additional factor to an already difficult situation and it is a completely different process, but it reminded me of why we’re doing what we’re doing. The difference we can make to people experiencing a seismic shift in their lives caused by unwanted and unexpected intrusions is immeasurable and the clarity provided by the events of this week has really brought that home.
After such a strong start to my get fitter regime I have to say that the last week has been a bit ‘uphill’!
You would think that attending something so powerful as the Rainbow Trust’s 30th birthday celebration and meeting all of those wonderful people would have focussed the mind, but it would appear not!
Real life has a habit of getting in the way, doesn’t it? It gives no quarter and takes no prisoners, but all at different levels of importance. That was one of the messages that I took away from the Rainbow Trust event, how do those families carry on with the day to day grind when they have to add extraordinary care circumstances into their lives from straight out of left field?
In the past week I have had several supplier meetings plus a son with a bout of croup to deal with so I haven’t been to the gym at all (shocking)! I am promising myself that, from now, I am back on my game and re-focussing my efforts into getting fitter.
The weather looks good for the weekend, well Sunday at least, so I should be able to get a long bike ride in.
Yesterday afternoon Iain and I enjoyed the serene surroundings of St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden to help Rainbow Trust celebrate their 30th Anniversary.
Otherwise known as the Actors Church, there are an incredible number of plaques in remembrance to the great and the good who have had their ashes scattered or kept there.
Here is my favourite
We were there as Rainbow had asked me to address the assembled mass of friends and family of the charity. To tell our story, and to really instil the importance of what Rainbow does for those families they care for.
As you can see, I looked jolly smart – prompting my colleagues to ask I had a job interview – those wags!
The event was overseen by the patron of the charity Lord Fellowes of West Stafford, and he did an amusing and considered job of shoving proceedings along, while really taking the time to get across a serious point.
I was there to share our story – about Iris’ illness, her treatment and quite what Rainbow means to us. It has never got any easier – it must be the tenth time I have spoken on their behalf, and it gets me every time – either talking about Mary, our Family Support Worker, the process of treatment and tests and the eventual loss of our daughter.
With Anne from the charity setting out their future aspirations, and some lovely musical interludes it was a special afternoon – rounded out with champagne and canapes!
Prizes were shared with some of their top fundraisers, some amazing people who have selflessly dedicated themselves to raise the money that the charity needs to keep going, and grow into new regions.
And therein lies the issue – the charity needs to become famous – it needs to become a household name. Spoken about in the same breath as CRUK or RNLI, they have national aspirations, and it can only happen with an increase in funding. In our small way, Iain and I are working hard to plug into that.
When we get on our bikes in July 2017, it will be with Iris in mind to drive us up those hills, and the thought of those families in the future, wherever they are in the country, whatever the universe throws at them – that Rainbow are there and able to help.
West Midlands Police made an interesting announcement this week when thy confirmed that they are actively going to target and prosecute drivers who do not give enough room when passing cyclists. By the laws of road in the UK, drivers should give cyclists at least the same space as vehicles, widely considered to be 1.5m (4.9ft).
While this has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response from cyclists, many of whom who have been knocked off or rattled by drivers that are too close, the same cannot be said for the driving community. I don’t usually read the comments on internet sites as it is usually the territory of the uninformed and/or the unintelligent but some of them made me chuckle. For the very numerous drivers shouting “they don’t pay road tax!” there were an equal number of cyclists shouting “neither do you, it’s vehicle excise duty calculated on the emissions of your car. A bike has none, some cars don’t either!” and so it went on….. and on…. and on. Each side of the argument getting more and more frustrated as a few in the middle tried desperately to reason with everyone but failed miserably.
As a user of both methods of transport I resisted the urge to add my own thoughts to the comments thread, preferring to detail it here. The fact of the matter is this – there are bad drivers, there are bad cyclists, there are bad motorcyclists, there are bad pedestrians. The only thing that we can do is to make sure that we take it upon ourselves to be better, more respectful of the law and others and more conscientious in our approach to road use. Only then will things start to get better. Last week Adam and I were out and about in Surrey – we were climbing a short rise with a car behind us, when we hit the top and I could see the coast was clear so I waved the driver past and he beeped his appreciation as he went by. It just shows that we can all use the road safely and cordially if we’re appreciative of the fact that EVERYONE has a right to be there.
It infuriates me when I see a cyclist go through a red light or run a junction, just as much as it infuriates me when I see a motorcyclist overtake in slow moving traffic then cut a car up to get back in as traffic comes the other way or that car who doesn’t indicate or that pedestrian who crosses from a bad locations. It infuriates me so I make sure I don’t do those things, it’s not a difficult conundrum to solve. The growth in popularity of dash cams and helmet cams is a sad sign that we are more worried about what everyone else is doing and waiting for someone to blame rather than being better ourselves. I quite often see these on vehicles and bikes of people that are breaking one or more laws themselves, I’m sure they don’t use that evidence to shop themselves to the cops! What’s that biblical saying about those without sin casting the first stone?!
WMP have taken a positive step here to increase protection for cyclists and I hope this is replicated across the country but, when you’re out and about on your bike this weekend and any time in the future, make sure you’re obeying the road rules as marginal gains can work in all areas of cycling, not just the technical side.
For the first time we managed to get together and get out on our bikes. We set out with the intention of covering some 25 miles, including a few hills and a stop for coffee!
Warlingham and out into the Surrey/Kent border is a pretty hilly area, you can’t leave my house without having to go up a pretty steep climb on your return. Despite riding on the flat most of the time, Adam was determined to get some climbs under his belt so he came over to my house and we set out from there. I think it’s fair to say that Adam found out the nature of the terrain round my way pretty early on but enjoyed hurtling down Titsey Hill immensely!
I was enjoying getting to grips with my new bike on a longer and more challenging ride, it was brilliant to push it around the Surrey roads to see just how different it was to my old Specialized hybrid bike. All credit to Proops, he kept going and we rewarded ourselves with coffee and cake at the Westerham Cyclery.
We’d never been to the Westerham Cyclery before but I shall definitely be going back, it’s great. As well as the drop in cafe there is a bike shop and a workshop. There are secure bike racks and free locks to borrow from the main desk which is great if you’re only planning a quick stop on your ride and don’t want to carry round a heavy lock. We took our choice of drink and slice of cake and set out back towards home, still with around 10 miles to go and the largest climb of the day.
It’s a tough climb up Clarks Lane at any time, let alone nearing the end of a ride, but there is nowhere to hide on the route (no pavements or stopping areas) so you have to get through it. I’d done the climb a few times so I knew what to expect but it was a bit tougher for Adam – he made it though so that was a massive achievement in itself.
I really enjoyed the outing and, despite it hurting quite a bit, Adam was pleased to get some hill experience into his legs. Our motto of the day was borrowed from Jens Voight – “Shut Up Legs!”. We just about managed to beat the weather so that was a bonus and we managed a very respectable 26 mile trip.
I think we both realised we’ve got lots to achieve before the Paris trip but, thankfully, we’ve got lots of time to do it!
Looking forward to the next outing already