September 2, 2012, by David Greenaway

The VC’s Life Cycle 2 Blog: Day 9 – Wetherby to Lincoln

Another 83 miles covered today. Some bodies are hurting, twelve to be precise. Hardly surprising, after 701 miles and cumulative climbs of over 37,000 feet.

There is also a fair amount of fatigue. That obviously comes partly from the battering our bodies from day after day of 80 or 90 miles on a saddle. There is also the unrelenting daily routine: up at six, get sorted, breakfast at seven, get on the bike, eat and drink when you can, get in, do washing, out to dinner, bed and start again.

And it is not just physical fatigue. It is essential to maintain full concentration for six to eight hours on the road. One misjudgement on a fast descent, one mistake on a busy road, and the consequences could be catastrophic.

But, for all that, spirits remain remarkably high. Breaks and dinners are times to catch up with and wind up each other, and despite lengthy and full days, the Support Team also play a vital part in lifting riders when needed. It is also clear to me that the cause for which we are doing this not only keeps riders motivated, it lifts them.

Today the terrain from Wetherby to Lincoln was flat and featureless, and how we welcomed flat and featureless. I was out last with Steve and Nick. After using the first half hour to work off soreness in our legs, Steve set a fast pace and for ten or so miles we belted along at up to 20mph. I couldn’t sustain that all day, but after all the hill climbing it was great to have a fast run on a flat surface.

We went south through Tadcaster and Selby, around Drax Power Station and met up with Chris J, Karen, Kate and Penelope at Fullers Bakery and Coffee Stop in Goole. We were also joined there by our second leg rider, David Walker. David rode John O’Groats to Land’s End with us last year and is doing the legs to Lincoln and Nottingham this year.

Steve peeled off to see some friends in Gainsborough and we rode out the rest of the day as a group. We did subsequently pick him up again after his latest Spar success. He always stocks up in Spar shops and has a 100% record of coming out with a donation.

He stayed with us for a meal in Gainsborough, where the others took great pleasure in pointing out that I was eligible for the senior citizens discount. As you can see Penelope took the opportunity to catch up on some sleep in the restaurant – she is enviably adept at power naps.

The final stretch was just battling the strengthening headwinds in to the University of Lincoln, where we are staying in a Hall of Residence. Having a flat ride meant we were all in by half past four, which was just great. Andy, Gavin and Neville were first in to Lincoln, but Chris R was first to the University, so he gets the yellow jersey.

Now, your daily updates on Team matters.

What a sensational start to the day. Paul did his usual random checks on riders’ bags to search for any illegal cream or other performance enhancing supplements. Unfortunately for Andy, he was sampled this morning and the missing pink bell was discovered in his bag. He claims it was a plant, but the evidence looked pretty damning. I left it for the Support Team to deal with him and he now has two pink bells and one pink chicken on his special bike.

I’m afraid I have another traffic violation to report. At a temporary set of lights, two of our female riders thought they could beat the change and didn’t quite make it. Being chivalrous I will not name them. However so she is not implicated, I have to say it was not Karen.

Shock of the day: Mike persuaded Chris R to stop at a garden centre. He actually had lunch: quiche, cabbage and potatoes (quiche, chou et pommes). They were also given several donations. Will this change Chris R’s riding routine forever?

Accomplishment of the day: is shared by two of our Support Team. First, Paul for showing uncanny intuition in his random search, and solving the mystery of the missing pink bell. Second Barry, for the first time in over 30 years of marriage he has spent a week away from his wife. That’s real commitment to the cause. (By the way Barry, I had an email from Mavis saying she has used the voucher for the car wash and is generally having a great time. She also said it’s okay by her if the team have to take an extra week to get to Dover).

Quote of the day: surprisingly I did not get one which was up to the mark. So I am using one from a couple of days ago, when Kate’s puncture response scooped. Just after that we were climbing a 1,200 foot hill at Shap. About three quarters of the way up, Chris J pulled alongside me. ‘Eeh Dave’ he said, ‘fifteen months ago, who would have thought two old fogies like us would be climbing hills like these’. Cheers Chris. Very moving.

Tonight we have been joined by another leg rider. Ahmad Jauhari Yahya is an Engineering graduate and now Chief Executive of Malaysia Airlines. He is keen to support what we are doing and has come over from Malaysia to ride with us all the way to Dover.

Everyone is looking forward to tomorrow and riding to the University. Over 50 riders will be doing the 55 mile leg from Lincoln, which is just fabulous. They include University staff and students, alumni, members of the broader community and sponsors. They also include a number of family members: my son Stuart, Kate’s husband Nic, and Penelope’s partner Greg and daughter Martha. The ride and event at University Park will give the riders second wind for the final 400 miles.

Finally, it was 25 years today that I joined the University of Nottingham. I am very proud of that and can’t think of a better way of marking it than by doing what we are doing.

Professor David Greenaway


Posted in Life Cycle 2