August 29, 2013, by David Greenaway
The VC’s Life Cycle 3 Blog: Day 10 – Swansea to Cardiff
Today was another day. What a contrast to yesterday.
We ate very late last night, joined by Susan and Jenny. Despite that, all riders were at breakfast before 0700 and ready to go shortly after 0800.
Roger, who knows this part of Wales like the back of his hand, suggested some adjustments to the route, including taking in the coast to the south east of Bridgend. But, after yesterday the bikers that brunch had other ideas. For us, this was not a sightseeing day; it was a get the job done day. Route 1 stuff.
So when the group came to split at around 18 miles, Kate joined Roger’s long snake of riders, and Stefano joined Karen, Marion, Nick and me. Heads down on the A48, counting down the miles to Cardiff.
It was not pretty. The A48 ranges from fast to very fast and requires a different kind of concentration to cycling inland. But we stayed tight and focused, and set a quick pace. We stopped for a second breakfast at Oscar’s in Cowbridge.
Cowbridge has a delightful town centre and Oscar’s is on the main street, with tables outside, so we could maintain body heat in the warm sunshine. Reinvigorated by milk shakes, smoothies, eggy bread, sausage cobs and bacon cobs, with excellent coffee to finish, we set off for the final stretch to Cardiff. We were first to reach the Millennium Stadium, so that’s an inaugural yellow jersey for the bikers that brunch.
I grew up watching football at Ibrox and Hampden in Glasgow and in the 1960s crowds in excess of 100,000 were not unusual. That is where my love of great sporting theatres originates; they have a magnetic effect on me.
I have been to the Millennium Stadium a number of times, for Wales Test Matches and Heineken Cup Finals. It is a magnificent theatre. So we were all excited by the Stadium being the venue for the photo shoot at our fourth capital city. But it was even more memorable than we could have hoped, Roger had arranged for Sam Warburton, captain of Wales and the British and Irish Lions, to greet us. (He is the tallest one in the picture).
After that, we rode into and around the Stadium, pinching ourselves. Once you are at field level, you get a real sense of scale. It is hard to imagine what it must be like to be on the field of play with 80,000 spectators out there. Spine chilling.
We had planned a shorter cycling day today, so we could have an alumni event at the Stadium this evening. As well as many guests, we had several colleagues and students from the University, Susan, Julie Miles, and a close friend of Nick and Julie.
I find it invigorating to host alumni events, and to hear what our graduates have achieved. Tonight we had alumni from 1954 through to 2012. George Reed, a Mining Engineering graduate and one of the ‘Bevan Boys’ was the 1954 alumnus. He had paid us the compliment of driving over from Bristol and had a wonderful career to recount.
Both Roger and Marion made presentations: Roger on his fascinating journey from a Nottingham Music graduate to one of the most high profile jobs in Wales, CEO of the Welsh Rugby Union; Marion on the life changing research she has pioneered at Nottingham on stroke rehabilitation. Both were inspiring.
After the presentations, Roger had arranged a tour of the Stadium for our guests, which was very well received.
Now for an update on some team matters:
Competition to join the bikers that brunch is becoming ever more fierce. We are monitoring applications and entreaties carefully; it is not a group for any old riff-raff.
Just the one puncture today, one of our leg riders, David W. That takes the total for the ride to 17. David returned to Nottingham tonight, having been with us for three legs. It was good to have you along, David.
Confession of the day: Stefano had been tracking the Forest vs. Millwall score on his iPhone. When it went to 2-1 (Forest) he said, ‘If Forest draw Leeds in the next round, I won’t know which shirt to wear’.
Quotes of the day:
Nick, whilst reading the Day 9 blog, was telling Karen and Marion about the alumna in the picture with Andy. They had not heard the story last night, so Nick explained, ‘During the war, they excavated her from Goldsmiths to Nottingham’.
When we returned to the hotel for a night cap, Celtic were on TV playing in a Champions League qualifier against Shahkter, who I had never heard of. Neville asked, ‘So, is this being played at Ibrox then?’
Interview of the day: when Simon and Paul reached the post-match interview studio on the tour of the Millennium Stadium, they agreed to do an interview on Kerby. It went down very well with our alumni (but we do need to review the recording to ensure not too much was given away before negotiations on licencing rights; there is already speculation about Kerby being in the 2024 Olympics).
It has been an unusual Life Cycle day, but a memorable one. At 52 miles it was the shortest leg of this challenge. But dropping down to this distance to fit in an alumni event came at exactly the right time, following a series of tough days. We all have had bonus recovery time and actually ate quite early.
But, back to reality, tomorrow is an estimated 92 miles to Wantage.
I learned this evening we have 153 leg riders on Sunday for the final leg from Nevill Holt to Nottingham, and 128 cyclists on the Community ride. Isn’t that just amazing? What a wonderful day Sunday is promising to be.
Our total mileage now stands at 789. By the end of tomorrow we will be close to 900.
Professor David Greenaway