Having cycled to the Manchester MD convention in 2014 to fundraise for Alzheimer research, I thought it would be a good idea to do it again. Due to logistical reasons the trip was from Eastbourne to Solihull. That was a better plan as it made the last day of the ride less pressurized.
The use of Google maps on a smartphone, using the bicycle setting, is fantastic. You put headphones in your ears and instructions lead you mainly over very cycle friendly paths. Sometimes the paths are very rough. Nevertheless, A roads can’t be ignored and perhaps 25 miles out of 180 odd where on busy A roads with not much of cycle lane to speak off. The fear of a distracted driver (mobile phone on the ear) hitting you in the back was always there.
I was sent on my way by Simon Moss, 105 CC. The trip started with a stiff hill, called Warren Hill. It was a sign of things to come. It turned out that England is hillier when you start to cycle. A large part of the trip was dragging a heavy bike up hills. The ride down was enjoyable, but did not compensate for the pain of climbing the hill in the first place. A nice point was seeing the start of the Newhaven, Peacehaven and Seaford Lions Club half marathon. Lions in action is always a nice sight.
The trip then passed Brighton, with the worst in town cycle infrastructure on the trip. After a few miles on the A23, the trip went on the Downs Link, a disused railway that had been converted into cycle/walking path. Beautiful, but paving wasn’t there, so the fear of a puncture from a sharp stone was always there. A belted Galloway in the distance was an interesting sight. This is a rare breed cattle and I thought of Richard Williams (Kidderminster LC) dealer in cattle semen. The route passed Guildford and ended that day at the Pheasant Inn in Winnersh which sponsored the ride by offering a free B&B for the night.
The next day was more trying with the mind over body game becoming more and more difficult. The route went via Reading, Oxford, Banbury and Warwick to Solihull. At, now more frequent, stops I was glad to read supporting text messages from fellow club members. They did help and just before 20.00 I rode into Solihull, witnessed by Shirley Club President Martin Wright. I estimate that almost £1,000 will be raised for The Parkinson Cure Trust. Having received thanks from various people who are suffering from the disease, it is clear that the cause was right.
Although this was a crazy idea, next year’s Blackpool MD convention is 150 miles away, not close to 200 and the route is flatter. One person has indicated he is willing to join. So if there are more volunteers, let’s raise some serious dough!