August 22, 2014, by David Greenaway

The VC’s Life Cycle 4 Blog: Day 7 – Chipping Campden to Market Drayton

At 82 miles, today was shorter, and I was in by 1800. But more of that later, let’s begin with the most important aspect of today.

It was Joseph Foote’s day, and Andy was riding in his honour. Andy and Jude lost Joe age 9 and their determination to transform tragedy into hope for others was a big factor for me in deciding we ride for this cause. In Andy’s words: ‘Joe was a born competitor and humour came easy to him. But his most remarkable characteristic was compassion. His top priority was his friends, his sister, and his Grandparents. He used his humour to deal with the cruel deficits surgery left him with: he was unable to walk, breathe properly, or eat. The dining table was his pitch, and he laughed his way through. It was truly an honour for me to ride for my son today, and on behalf of Judy and Nancy. He was a great kid, and will always be part of our lives’.

Conditions were cool but bright when we left Chipping Campden this morning. Chris and Penelope were out first, with Andy, who was scheduled to pick up three of his cycling friends thirty miles into the route. Karen was next out with Nick, Doug, Nieves, Susan and Svenja. I was last out, but part of a big group. Chris J, Marion, Esteban, Steve and David W all waited. In addition, we had Steve Davenport as a leg rider, and David R and Ottilie, who had stayed at the same hotel, set off with us. So we actually began with nine riders, which included three Davids and three Steves (gratuitous I know, but interesting).Photo 1 - David W, Steve W, David G, Marion W

We did not depart until 0900, partly because almost all of my blog had to be written this morning, and partly because, just as we were leaving, Esteban noticed a bleb on his front tyre. Some readers may be wondering whether ‘bleb’ is Spanish, Italian or a bit of Yorkshire idiom. It actually describes a hole in the tyre, with a bit of inner tube poking through. Not to be ridden on, so a last minute tyre change was essential.

After the climbs into Chipping Campden last night, I expected climbs to get out. In fact, it was pretty flat and we made excellent progress. We lost David R and Ottilie after 15 miles, then rode on to lunch at a Garden Centre near Stourbridge which did excellent baked potatoes and sausage and mash. Whilst we were there, all of the others were in eateries nearby: Chris R and his group in a small one-man café; and Doug and his group in ‘Coffee and Confusion’ which evidently doubled up as a casino and spray tan parlour. His team obviously enjoyed the experience.

Our route planners did another terrific job, keeping us on quiet roads, and getting us through a densely built up area very efficiently. The first part of the day was rural and rolling, followed by quite a long stretch negotiating our way through the west of the Birmingham conurbation. My group had four excellent way finders (Chris J, Steve, Esteban and David W) so we found our way through pretty easily.

After that it was back into rural terrain in Staffordshire, gradually working our way north west. Our final stop was at Nan’s Café Bar in Shifnal, where Chris R, Penelope, Andy and his friends were, and where Karen and the others arrived before we left.

Photo 2 - Charlie Dodds' parents, D Walkers wife, daughterChris and Penelope were in first, followed by David W and Steve Davenport who broke away at Shifnal, and my group shortly after. Andy and his friends were next, having been lost several times; then Karen and her group. The reception we got was fantastic. A large contingent of Andy’s extended family were there, as were Charlie Dodds’ parents, Susan, Marion’s husband and daughter, David W’s wife and daughter and a number of members of the CARO Team.

Now let’s pick up on team matters.

Helen did the rounds yesterday, ahead of a trip to the pharmacy. The only thing people asked for was Sudocrem. There are some really serious rear end problems this year (and that is enough by way of detail).

As far as I am aware, there were no accidents (apart from a routine cleat tumble for Steve Davenport, but that does not really count; we have all had that humiliating experience). And there was only one puncture. Under Life Cycle rules, Esteban’s tyre change counts as a puncture, so he moves on to two (just one behind the joint leaders David W and Nieves).

Photo 4 - Elvis + JaggerettesIt was Adam’s birthday today. We obviously had a little cake and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ at dinner. We also had a collection from all the riders and Support Team to buy him a voucher for Evans. He is now ‘phoning round to see what he can buy for £2.65p.

Last night I went to the bar after dinner, it had been a long day and I fancied a malt. Now, most people do not know Chris J is a bit of a star on the music front. We saw first-hand evidence, with an impromptu performance at the Red Lion in Burnsall. Virtuoso stuff. I hope we get the chance to see him perform on this trip.

Photo 3 - Ronnie Wood, Elton John, KrankiesAnyway, he is now clearly mixing with some big shots, and back to the bar last night, one turned up, hoping to jam with him. Almost all the Jaggerettes had gone to bed so it did not happen and we were left to speculate on who the celebrity was (we were not introduced). I have included a picture, you can see why some thought it was Ronnie Wood, some thought Elton John, some thought one of the Krankies.

I have some reportable Quotes of the Day:

First, when we took our second break at Shifnal, Steve said: ‘Did you know one of the greatest living English martyrs was born in Shifnal? It is my Wife’. Interestingly no-one challenged him.

Second, at one of the cafés today Nick asked if they had wifi. The waitress said: ‘yes of course, here is the list. They are screw tops but very good’. He still had 24 miles to ride so did not bother.

Third, my Grandson Arlo told his Dad tonight: ‘Grandad is on holiday on his bike’. Sss not funny Arlo.

So, another 82 miles covered, making 667 miles in our legs so far. You can never describe 80+ as easy. But it was a bit more comfortable than recent days. Tomorrow we are back to 90 miles, but will pass the half-way point.

Professor Sir David Greenaway

Posted in Life Cycle 4