August 31, 2013, by David Greenaway
The VC’s Life Cycle 3 Blog: Day 12 – Wantage to Hatfield
It was so much simpler getting out of Wantage than Cardiff, a straightforward one way arrangement which did not take much working out, and we were away.
I have no idea of the order of departure. I had a blog to finalise, and was last out with Stefano and Nick. With Stefano leading we made excellent progress through Didcot and Wallingford to Henley on Thames, where we ran into Chris and Penelope.
Our scheduled stop was at Maidenhead. We missed it; the others got there, but it was not serving food! So they and we made the same call and decided to find somewhere in Windsor. All eleven of us ended up at a cabin café by the Thames, where we were met by Louise Wilson. Louise is a Nottingham Politics alumna, a Member of the University Council and Chairs our Strategy and Planning Committee. Before we parted she made a spontaneous donation of £1,000. Louise, it was great to see you in your home town, and thank you for your generosity.
It had been straightforward finding our way to Windsor. From there we had to get to Twickenham, then through north London to our overnight accommodation at Hertfordshire University. I thought that would be a real nightmare. As it turned out, it was relatively straightforward, due to a combination of clever route planning by Sebastian and faultless way finding by Stefano, Andy, Steve and Chris in the various groups that formed and reformed.
Twickenham was the agreed photo shoot venue for our fifth and final capital, another magnificent sporting arena which I have been to many times (and flown over even more times on arriving back at Heathrow). We all arrived more or less simultaneously and had our picture with Gerald Laing’s iconic line-out sculpture, a magnificent 27ft tall bronze.
We quickly broke up into three groups after Twickenham, driven by different eating preferences: Chris and Penelope headed to the local Tesco; Andy, Karen, Kate, Steve and Neville pressed on; Marion, Stefano, Nick and I needed a meal, not another sandwich.
We stopped on Ealing Road outside The New Inn, wondering where to eat. The owner came out, told us we could bring our bikes through the pub and use the back garden. As we were ordering, she asked us what we were doing, then told us we could have our food and drinks for free. Thank you Caroline, that was very generous, we will put the value of our meals up as a donation from you.
Descriptive statistics tell you a lot about London’s ethnic and cultural diversity; when cycling through the city you get an even sharper sense of its remarkable diversity. We gradually picked our way up through Brentford, Wembley, Ealing and Harrow into Hertfordshire, when the landscapes became greener again. We decided on a final stop in Radlett, partly to just get out of the saddle, partly to enjoy some coffee outdoors in the late afternoon sunshine.
We were last in, at around 1815. But that was fine, we were not staying at a spa and were happy to trade off an extra stop for a later arrival.
As far as I am aware, there were no punctures today; it is some time since that happened.
Now for some updates on various team matters.
I approached Marion last September with good news / bad news: good news, there will be a Life Cycle 3 and we will ride for stroke rehabilitation research; bad news, you have to ride. Her reaction was, I have not been on a bike since I was 15, I can’t do that. You can see a measure of her progress in today’s final picture, taken at the top of a steep hill, with some of us in the background, wasted.
Just as we arrived this evening, the fire alarm in the accommodation went off. Karen and Neville, the culprits of the two previous fire alarm evacuations were out like a shot claiming innocence. Was it Polonius who famously said ‘My Lord methinks (he / she) protest too much’?
Having had their aspirations raised by playing Kerby at the Millennium Stadium, it was not long before a match was underway on the Twickenham forecourt, between Ian and the current champion Simon. It resulted in a 10-6 victory for Ian. Although it was a bigger pitch than usual, Nick and Steve decided to try their hands, with an overwhelming victory for Nick: 10-2 or 11-2 depending on which of the contestants you believe. Either way, in my book, that’s a thumping.
There was a lot of activity on eBay yesterday for the Millennium Stadium kerb. The last I saw before going to bed was that it had reached £120, and still three days to go.
Accomplishment of the day goes to Penelope, who was first in and wins her inaugural yellow jersey. Well done, Penelope.
Quotes of the day include:
Andy when chatting with Steve: ‘If you wrote the blog it would be even more ridiculous than David’s’. Thanks Andy.
Gavin had a haircut today. Simon’s comment was ‘I don’t know how he has the time to have a haircut on a job like this’; Paul responded ‘Actually, I did it in the van and will finish it tomorrow’.
When we were having a sandwich in Windsor, I remarked that Nick’s school was nearby. ‘Nick, did you go to Eton?’ asked Louise.
So, a further 85 miles covered today, bringing our total mileage to 975. We are now back on our way north, heading for Nevill Holt tomorrow. I think we will pass 1,000 miles between Flitwick and Ampthill (though some riders think they have already done that). Legs are getting heavier and it is getting more difficult to end a break, but we are now on the final stretch and homeward bound.
Finally, I managed to catch up and read comments on this blog from recent days. Thanks to all of you and many thanks also for your support as our total nears £240,000.
Professor David Greenaway