I posted a couple of weeks ago that I had decided I would start the annual Acorn Charity 100k (that's 62 miles in old money) Sponsored Bike Ride http://www.acorncharity.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=frontpage&Itemid=17which took place last Saturday. A number of people kindly got in touch to say that they would sponsor me as I would be cycling in aid of Acorn (dementia and scleroderma research) and the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre at Harrogate Hospital where I had some of my cancer treatment. The deal, if you read the blog, was that I would only cycle if the weather was very, very kind. But then, so many folks offered to sponsor me that I felt that there would have to be the combination of a tsunami, tornado, snow drifts and a plague of something from the Old Testament (frogs, locusts etc) for me not to cycle. Hoist by my own petard, as it were.
I did the absolute minimum of training - 3 rides including 1 fall and then the weather was too wet and windy to do anything more. I had originally planned to cycle to Helperby on Bike Ride day which is 11 miles but then I was getting giddy with the thought that I might be able to cycle further so I settled on Easingwold which is 17 miles and I thought that I could do that fairly comfortably. You see, the thing is, I think I can do these things, and then once I start, my competitive spirit kicks in and I don't want to stop. However, realistically, and given that I have my first 3-month cancer check-up this Thursday, I simply have to squash that instinct and be sensible - duh! (There's a first time for everything!)
My next challenge was to acquire a cycling buddy as the singing, dancing doctor couldn't face doing another care-in-the-community cycle ride with me, as he so kindly calls it. But my most long-standing cycle partner actually volunteered for the job and his girlfriend Mandy even more kindly volunteered to pick us up from Easingwold. Tim was the most wonderful cycle buddy because a) he always has lots to chat about and b) unbeknownst to me prior to the event, he is very strict!
Now when I woke up on Saturday morning, as my beloved crashed about in preparation for a day's Acorn signage duty (and a very nice lunch in Helperby apparently!) I looked out of the window and it was both drizzling and blowing. Not good omens. Resisting the very strong urge to turn over and go back to sleep, I donned the lycra and loaded the car with the cakes that I and my friend Susan had spent all of Friday knocking out. The Acorn Bike Ride is rightly famous for its cakes!
At Bishop Monkton Village Hall all was as it always is on Bike Ride day. As I pulled into the car park, Roly, our longtime car park attendant didn't recognise me straight away - a big reminder to me that I am not the person I was twelve months ago. The usual razzmatazz of cyclists greeting each other, registering and doing the last minute checks on their bikes. And then the lovely Tim arrived and we got ready to go.
When you haven't done a lot of cycling in a very long time, it's hard to get your rhythm but we soon got going and as I waved goodbye to number 2 child who was marshalling at the start, Tim told me that he had had the very hard word from herself that 'Mummy is not allowed to do too much'. Tim told me that he had joined the club of folks who are more scared of number 2 than they are of me and that we would be stopping at Easingwold whatever!
So an hour or so later we got to Easingwold but I wasn't done yet! With a bit of cajoling my cycling buddy reluctantly agreed to cycle as far as Stillington which is the last proper place to stop before Sheriff Hutton which is half way and lunch - and which the old me would usually have eaten at about 10.30am. As we reached Stillington, the rain started to come down and waving goodbye to braver, fitter folks who were continuing, we loaded our bikes in the boot of Mandy's car and with Chloe, the terrier, on my lap acting as a hot water bottle, we headed back to Bishop Monkton for cakes and tea - the only time I have been back first ever! The first proper cyclist who had done the whole route arrived half an hour later.
So, first of all, thank you to all the marshals, registration team, kitchen teams, car parking (especially Roly), water stops, signage crew, Giles and Jenna for taking the photographs http://www.gilesrocholl.com/, Chevin Cycles http://www.chevincycles.com/, St John Ambulance and all the cyclists taking part who raised over £35,000. A special thank you to Tim and Mandy who kept me safe, stopped me doing too much - even when I wanted to - and were great buddies in my own personal challenge.
If you offered to sponsor me for either Acorn or the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre at Harrogate Hospital, thank you so much. I cycled 21miles or 34.5k. If you would like to send me a cheque to either of those causes, that would be wonderful. If you would prefer to BACS me, just message me with which charity you would like to support and I will send you my bank details.
This will be my last Bike Ride as part of the Acorn Committee as the time has come for me to resign and do other things with my life. Being so ill makes you re-evaluate what challenges and adventures are still left to take on. But Acorn has been a big part of my life for 15 years and some of the things we have achieved in that time will be highlights of my life. And friends I have made through Acorn will be with me always. Thank you.