August 21, 2014, by David Greenaway
The VC’s Life Cycle 4 Blog: Day 6 – Guildford to Chipping Campden
Last night we stayed in the Travelodge at Guildford. Tonight we are staying at The Kings Hotel in Chipping Campden. The latter is unambiguously superior in every respect bar one: to write a blog you need a table and chair, this (otherwise very nice room) has neither. So I am writing perched on the thing you put your suitcase on. I hope I do not fall asleep writing this one.
It was Charlie Dodd’s day, and Chris R was riding in his honour. Chris’s comment was ‘Charlie had a short but happy life that never made it into adulthood. Understanding the pain suffered by the family and profound commitment to improving the odds for the next youngster with this condition are what LC4 is all about. It places in perspective the aching limbs, tired brain and long days in the saddle. It is a real privilege to be an LC4 rider and, most poignantly, to wear Charlie’s bracelet today’.
Again, I had no idea who left when this morning. It seems Doug and Steve were off first: Doug was going to see his Mother, then meet his family at Chipping Campden; Steve was also meeting his family there. Chris R and Penelope left together, followed by Chris J, Karen, Marion, Svenja, Nieves and Nick. David W, Susan, Andy and Esteban waited for me, and we left around 0845.
Getting clear of Guildford was not straightforward. I think Esteban had his Spanish maps loaded! But, we got away eventually, through Camberley, Wokingham and Sandhurst, then skirting Reading to the north.
At Wokingham we stopped to check maps. Two things happened. First, a lady called Kate Hirst asked if we were raising funds and made a donation. It turned out her daughter had suffered a brain tumour, so we spent a bit of time in conversation with her.
Second, Susan made the innocent comment: ‘do you realise we have done 500 miles?’. I immediately thought of The Proclaimers and their anthemic ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)’ which gets played at Hampden before a match to get the crowd jumping (then the opposition score and that quietens them down). I found it on my iPhone and before you knew it, Susan, Andy, David W and me were singing, and dancing to ‘500 miles’, by a roundabout in Wokingham. Goodness knows what passing drivers thought. To cap it all, our van suddenly appeared on the other side of the island with a bemused Adam and Andy wondering if the strain had finally flipped us. Esteban filmed the entire thing. But it is not footage which will reach the public domain, a still shot will suffice!
Anyway, it cheered us up no end and we pressed on to the agreed lunch stop at The Cherry Tree Inn in Stoke Row. By the time we arrived, Karen, Chris J, Nick, Marion, Nieves and Svenja had left; and Chris R and Penelope were just preparing to go. But, as pre-arranged, Graham Curren was still there. He is CEO of Sondrel, a very successful company we have a great partnership with in Ningbo. Graham’s offices are nearby. He joined us with his colleague, Hilary, and bought everyone lunch. Louise Wilson also came over from Windsor to see us. Louise is an alumna, and Member of the University Council. Whilst there, she pledged £1,000 to our cause. Thank you Louise.
From Stoke Row we headed north west through Wallingford, Didcot and Abingdon, taking a final feed stop at The Emporium in Eynsham. At Bladon, we joined the A44 for the final push, through Chipping Norton and Moreton-in-Marsh to Chipping Campden. Andy and David W split off at Eynsham, and Esteban, Susan and I were last in at 1945. David R cycled the whole route and arrived just before us.
We had been out for 11 hours today, covering 97 miles. That said, the actual riding time was seven and a half hours, the rest being taken up with eating breaks, just getting out of the saddle for a stretch, and way finding.
Conditions were again good, generally bright and sunny, and although the winds were from the west, you could hardly call them winds; they were light breezes. The terrain was undulating, with only a few tough climbs (although one of those was right at the end!). And the route planners had done a great job. We passed through a seemingly endless succession of picturesque villages, as well as some of my favourite Cotswold towns, including Moreton-in-Marsh and Chipping Campden.
This evening, Steve, Andy and Doug had their families join us; as did Steve and Julie Davenport – Steve will be a leg rider with us tomorrow as we head for Market Drayton. Susan, too, was with us again.
Unfortunately, we had another fall today. Marion came off at the bottom of a steep hill, where gravel had accumulated and sustained lacerations on her knee. Fortunately, Karen was again on hand to administer reassurance and care. Even more fortunately, Marion did not have a nose bleed.
One mechanical problem today: a broken spoke for Chris R, so he will be on my spare bike tomorrow. Two punctures, one for Esteban and one for Steve. In the case of the latter, it was the first puncture he had ever had. Doug was on hand to sort it out for Steve. I held the dust cap for Esteban (and showed Susan how to do it in case she ended up in the same position on another occasion).
Speaking of Esteban, Paul brought an Italian guest to meet him in the hotel this evening. It was a very confusing conversation.
We have reached that stage of the challenge where garments have started disappearing; in my case a pair of gel shorts. I think I will work with one pair less rather than risk picking up someone else’s from the back of the van (which doubles up as a mobile dryer).
Finally, Andy was in his bright blue shorts today. In training he also has a bright blue top. The first time Karen saw him in this kit, she described him as a smurf. I did not get it, until someone sent me a picture of Andy at a secret training camp. Now I see the resemblance.
In total we have covered 585 miles which, for this number of days in, is pretty amazing. Everyone is inevitably getting more tired, but still grinding out the miles, and our Support Team do everything they possibly can to make life easier and keep spirits up. They have long days, but are endlessly cheerful.
Tomorrow is an 80 mile ride to Market Drayton. I am looking forward to getting in a bit earlier, and maybe even having the chance to answer a few emails!
Professor Sir David Greenaway
Well done team, another day down and another step closer to the end of your monumental challenge. I can’t believe you are not sharing the video of your impromptu performance, I shall have to have a word with Esteban tonight, maybe we can make it go viral! I hope Marion is not too shaken or hurt and that there are no more tumbles today. Looking forward to seeing you all later and cheering you in. Safe riding!
Keep going everyone – you’ve certainly ground out the miles thus far. Hard to believe that you’re thinking of 80 miles as a light day! Hope the ride is as good as day 6 and hoping you and your bikes make the trip in one piece!
Well done for surviving all the bumps and bruises and for getting over the 500 mark. We were surprised here in Ningbo that Nick was not in the list of those with punctures … yet. We are of course expecting a group rendition of The Proclaimers at the UNNC talent show next year.
Take care everyone,
Fantastic work – 500 miles and a new anthem for UoN when somebody has a microphone, and on a stage.
Friday tomorrow and the weekend to look foward to ….. ahhhh, hold on!
Brilliant stuff once again. Keep going!
Sorry to hear about Marion’s tumble. Hope the knee heals quickly and isn’t too sore. Thanks for looking after her Karen.
What a shame! I was looking forward to the ‘500 miles’ video footage. We’ll have to nobble Esteban on his return.
Today’s thought: Got up to 30 minutes on the exercise bike today. Next week I’m going to try turning the pedals!
Congratulations on the first 500 miles – it certainly sounds as if riders have needed to “dig deep” at various times. The riding in honour videos have been brilliant and really helped bring the cause alive.
Good luck for the event tonight. Sorry I can’t be there- I’m moving house!
Wow…missed the first 500 miles so have just spent a few minutes catching up on your exploits – great blog posts as ever David. Now I’m wishing I had been able to share the journey with you all. My ‘special bike’ is missing its annual tour of the island…it doesn’t get out much at the moment. Hopefully your bodies and bikes are surviving the bumps and breaks…
Fantastic effort on the fundraising
Another gruelling day for all but lots of bright faces and sunny dispositions at dinner. I really don’t know you do it. Looking forward to seeing everyone tonight. Keep safe. Susan x
Fantastic stuff Dad, I can’t imagine how tough this must be, but how amazing and inspiring this ride is. Hope the shoulder’s easing up and Marion’s knee is ok. Probably best the 500 miles footage stays on tour, although I’ve heard whisper that there is a future X factor contestant in your midst! Incredible stuff everybody, keep chins up, legs pedalling and overtaking Esteban at every opportunity.
PS. Arlo has told on numerous occasion this evening that Grandad is on holiday riding on his bike…I let you address the holiday part on your return!
A big well done to you David and all the riders and supporting team! I have just caught up on all your blogs, which have made me smile and filled me with admiration for you all. Although it sounds as if there have been some minor injuries along the way, thankfully on the whole you have all kept safe. I am sure there must be many scary moments along the route, especially if you have to ride on busy roads or in bad weather. It is one thing to ride 80 or 90 miles in a day(although I certainly would find that exhausting! No probably impossible!), but to then keep getting up and doing the same thing day after day takes a lot of guts and determination. I think it is a great cause that you are all doing this for and I wish you all well in the days to come.
All the very best.
Loving the Proclaimers references. If I had cycled 500 miles inside a week I’d be ‘Havering’ by now, to quote the song! Congrats on superb progress so far (in miles and £s) and good luck for the journey North.
[…] can see another section of the map where it looks as if they backtracked. On day 6, the blog […]