August 15, 2014, by David Greenaway

The VC’s Life Cycle 4 Blog: Day 0 – Nottingham, Newquay, and Land’s End to Truro

LC4 riders leaving University Park16:25, Thursday September 8th 2011, was the last time I was at Land’s End.

We had just finished the first Life Cycle (from John O’Groats). I said a few words to the team, including ‘my next birthday will be my sixtieth…..I will not be doing this again… are all much younger and might…..but just in case, enjoy the moment’. Well, economists have a questionable reputation when it comes to forecasting.

But, there we are and here we are, again. This time Land’s End to John O’Groats, but the mega long way there, 1,400 miles in all.

For the first two Life Cycles, Day 0 was getting to the start. That was true today. However, given the scale of this challenge, we slipped in a late afternoon 40 miles to get us started. So let’s begin with getting started.

Thirteen of us travelled by minibus (DG cabs of course) from University Park to Birmingham, picked up Andy Foote and flew to Newquay. Straightforward, apart from being held up by creams in security.

Andy had two tubes in his hand luggage. Predictably, security officials wanted to confiscate them. Andy does not like waste, so he smothered his nether regions with the cream rather than dump it. I do not like waste either, but struggle to see how applying two weeks of protection in one go does the job, unless of course there are no plans to shower for two weeks. (At one point today I thought my bike had developed a really annoying squeak, until I realised Andy was riding just behind me, and it was him squelching around on his saddle).

Chris J with creamChris Jagger was not going to be caught so easily. So he cunningly scraped out the contents of a full tub of his cream (he uses ‘Butt Butter’) into one of those sealable plastic bags they offer you at airports for small liquid necessities like nail varnish. Guess what, his cream was confiscated, as was the empty tub. He tried various arguments involving some combination of: 1,400 miles / chafing / I was told it was okay, etc., to no avail. The best substitute he could find after security was a tub of Sudocream (which will obviously be just the job if he gets nappy rash).

Now to our team. We lost three of our LC3 riders: Kate Robertson, Andy Noyes and Neville Wylie. Kate’s action was the most drastic, she moved to Australia to avoid another Life Cycle. Andy just could not handle another summer of stress, fretting about his special bike unguarded behind some café, or in the bowels of some ferry. And Lord Neville de Wylie took umbrage when I told him he could not bring his butler. I did point out we all have to make sacrifices for this endeavour; I might just as well have suggested he shell his own quails’ eggs.

But we still have 15 riders: five who completed all three previous Life Cycles (me, Karen Cox, Chris Rudd, Nick Miles, Steve Wright); two who have completed two (Chris Jagger, Penelope Griffin); three who have completed one (Marion Walker, David Walker, Steve Walton); and five newbies (Svenja Adolphs, Susan Anderson, Andy Foote, Nieves la Casta, Doug Thomson).

I will introduce our newbies in subsequent blogs, beginning tomorrow. First I have to sort out names, so everyone is clear who I am referring to hereafter.

We have two Davids (Greenaway, Walker) so that’s easy, David G / W. We have two Chrises (Jagger and Rudd) which is equally easy. Again we have two Steves, but they are both Steve W.

Last year I solved this by building on the fact that Steve Wright trained in the Dolomites and wanted to be known as Stefano. With no Italian speakers in this team he has abandoned that persona. Once he knew Nieves was riding, he began training in Galicia, and insisted on being called Esteban (or Eth-tay-ban as he puts it). I pointed out that in Svenja we also had a German speaker, but his reaction was instant: ‘GermanhastoomanyverylongwordswhichIfinddifficulttocopewithdankeschön’. Fair enough, Esteban it is. (Good luck Nieves, I hope his Spanish is better than his Italian).

We also have a terrific Support Team, led by Helen Rutherford, with our veteran Paul Barrett, and Andy Marshall and Adam Batty.

Pink ChickenTo complete the line-up, we have our pink chicken. Readers of last year’s blog will remember he was run over by a lorry near Edinburgh and lost an eye. Despite an appeal for donors, we could not secure a match. But, as you can see from the picture, he now has a fetching ’Thomas the Tank Engine’ plaster. (Esteban asked me to rename him ‘pollo de color rosado’. Too big a mouthful, so pink chicken it is).

We eventually set from Land’s End at around 16:30, and quickly broke up into various groups, with Doug, David W and Chris R out front and various groups behind. I did most of the stage with Karen, Marion, Susan, Nick and Andy. It was only 38 miles, to get us started, a good start. Being delayed meant we missed the bad weather and had a straightforward run to our accommodation at Carnon Downs, where we were all in by 19:30.

We often have riders join us and friends for dinner. This first day / evening was no exception. David Ross, graduate, member of the University Council, and wonderful friend of our University rode the first stage with his friend Ottilie Windsor. They will probably be with us for some days.

At dinner we were joined by another Council Member, Baroness Brenda Dean and her husband Keith. I have worked with Brenda for many years. As a professional she has exquisite judgement, and she and Keith are wonderful company.

John and Barbara Shipley joined us for dinner too. It was their 38th wedding anniversary, and I was their best man. What a thrill it was to see them again. And Andy’s friends, Val and Rich, also joined us.

Tomorrow I will write about why we are doing this and begin introducing the children we are riding in honour of. For now, let me close by saying we are at last on the road, spirits are high, and everyone is now resting before the first of our 100 mile days tomorrow.

Professor Sir David Greenaway

Posted in Life Cycle 4