We are more than half way to John O’Groats!
For the ‘unsung heroes’
Why are we doing this? Well we’re doing it for those whom I entitle the unsung heroes. They’re essential workers; they don’t get paid; they never have a break; they don’t get clapped on a Thursday evening; and their cause is not championed by the media.
Their responsibilities will endure long after Lockdown. They’re just schoolchildren upon whom huge responsibilities devolve, which they fulfil with love and devotion.
These are the young carers. They ask for nothing – but they do need support. But most of all, they need recognition – your recognition. So what I’m asking today is that you give them a symbol of your appreciation – give them a clap by going to our fundraising page and hitting the donate button, and giving £10 or less.
Any small amount will do, because it will serve to show them that the work that they’re doing is appreciated by everybody. Thank you so much for your help.
Introducing the Bikers!
As they complete their first day out on the road or at least all bar one was on the road of which more in a moment , let me introduce you to the two biking teams: Two Cranks and a Chain and the CareFree Wheelers.
Two Cranks and a Chain are led by Alec Armitage, supported by his wife, Vivvi, daughter Rosie and her husband Pete, together with two friends who wish to remain ‘under the radar’.
If I said that when they volunteered for this, Pete and Rosie thought they were being asked to do 100 miles a day each, you might get some idea of how craftily Alec has chosen his team.
Alec and Vivvi are themselves veteran bikers, albeit aided by the odd battery or two, having ridden most of the way around Southern Europe. It’s a strong team riding for Cure Parkinson’s and we wish them well with their fundraising. The PC Plodders have been tasked with ensuring that Pete breaks no speed limits.
The Carefree Wheelers – or are they the Carefree Free-Wheelers? – are led by my niece Lucy Petrie, who is no stranger to a challenge. She has swum the Channel once in a team and just missed out on doing it as an individual; and she competes and wins in international swimming races in the Arctic, where they cut the race lane out of the ice!
She has ridden this route before, but a while ago, as is evident from the fashion statement below.
She is supported by her son Gus and her husband Al. Al plays the part of Michael Groff , the devilish headmaster, in the Netflix blockbuster Sex Education and in character we see that he has opted for an exercise bike, perhaps learning his lines for the next series.
The stewards are looking into this. Is this taking virtual biking a crank too far? Certainly he looks agonised but remember he is quite an accomplished performer.
Also part of The Free-wheelers, more like ‘Downhill and with the Wind’, is Tom Paton Smith, a cousin-in-law and no doubt volunteered by his wife Vic, but he looks as though he has done a few miles.
He is biking around Suffolk and, showing total commitment to his marriage and the cause, went and bought himself a bike to take part. Ruth Mullender, a swimming friend of Lucy’s (and she must be, to volunteer for this), makes up the team.
It looks as though they have all completed the first leg of 100 miles (that is, the aggregated sum of the miles each has contributed), and are therefore well on track to be at the finishing line at about the same time as the walkers. It should make for an exciting finish, assuming no punctures and the Armitages’ batteries don’t run out!
LEJOG 1979 – Part Two
By Tom Bagge
More from Tom Bagge on his ride north a while ago. Some B&B suggestions for the two teams and one or two other tips..
The agony of getting back into the saddle on the second morning remains a vivid and painful memory.
By the afternoon of Day 2, I had a problem with my knee but it recovered overnight, staying near Exeter with the Lockwood family – John was on our course at Cirencester.
1979 was pre mobiles and we failed to let Julia X know that my knee was better so she drove passed the agreed meeting point at speed; she had been expecting to see us on our bikes, not lying in the grass. I am embarrassed to admit that I left Jonathan on point duty while I slipped off to swim chez the Maitlands – Andrew, who was also at Cirencester; he had appeared out of the blue doing a 200m road test on his bike. Luckily Julia forgave us; she was even kind enough to house the excess baggage, including sleeping bags, which we decided to abandon with her.
Night 4 we stayed with Jonathan’s parents where we were spoilt in every way including having our washing done. It was then a long hard slog on the roads and in B&Bs. I recall the Warrington area as being especially tedious. I was disappointed not to take the opportunity to visit Blackpool but the thought of a return detour of 20 miles was too much.
For Night 6 we walked into David & Annabel Stapleton’s house at Armathwaite to find their house party watching the Wimbledon finals. They were very kind hosts and we set off with invigorated spirits to head into Scotland, where Jonathan decided to raise the saddle on his bike – oh, the joy as it made biking much for him …. this demonstrated what real amateurs we were.
Night 7 was spent in a dreadful B&B at Blair Atholl from where we escaped in the early morning to bike in a head wind on the A9 through the Cairngorns. On reaching Dalwhinnie I waited for Jonathan before heading to the nearest cafe where I ordered two full English breakfasts – having devoured both, I asked a lorry driver if he had seen a cyclist … the answer was yes, to the north of Dalwhinnie! We met again in Aviemore where the unhappy Jonathan was sitting on the grass with a can of coke and a mars bar!
Night 8 saw us in a B&B at Bonar Bridge. The following morning we had not been going for long on the A9 when I heard a crash and looked back to see Jonathan had hit the deck for no obvious reason.
The last day to John O’Groats and back to Wick was about 120 miles with a lot of ups and downs as we crossed the various rivers. While waiting for Jonathan within sight of the end, I had a conversation with a crofter who told me a cyclist was trying to break the record for the same route we had covered and he had been caught for speeding in Penzance!
Return to Norfolk – From the train window near Perth I saw the ‘speeding’ cyclist pass; he completed the 870 miles in 1 day and 23 hours – it took us 9 days! …… the current record is 1 day 19 hours and 25 minutes. On arriving at Peterborough station in the early morning I decided to bike back to Stradsett.