Care to Cycle? ……..

I’m in a quandary. I’ve been raising money now for the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer over the past 3 years and I hope I’ve been reasonably successful at it, or at the very least played my part .  The Arch to Arc Cycle Ride is clearly the one thing that I can point at and call an achievement, yes it would have been nice to have had a few more riders this year however it’s the first time it’s been done and it’s been kept deliberately small this year whilst we find our feet and discover the SNAFUs with a smaller more manageable group.

The great news is for this year, we’ve hit out £20,000 target, which I think for a dozen or so people is an absolutely amazing achievement, so yet again, thanks to everyone on the team, you’ve all been brilliant! and I’m so looking forward to just getting on and doing it in a few weeks time.

It has to be said that no matter how much advice you glean from others that have run these types of events it’s still a learning experience when you do it.  It’s a bit like riding a bike really, you can be told exactly what to do and how to do it, but it still takes a while to find your balance once you get on.  I know there maybe some folks that felt it might have been best if we’d gone with a larger group.  Well, we did take that into consideration but the Fund really wanted to do this for themselves, and I can see why.  If you go with a larger group of charities you’re diluting the message you want to get across.  It does mean the growth and learning curve is going to be steep, but the net result, we hope, is that we have an event that is wholly specific to Kidney Cancer…. “from little acorns” as they say.

So what’s my quandary?  Well, it’s that steep growth curve I want to achieve.  There are two things that concern me.  One is personal:

  • How do I raise £2000/£3000  year on year? How do I go back to my friends and colleagues each year asking again and again? It’s a big ask.  Everyone has been very generous and I get a sense that people get “Giving Fatigue” … I know I do.

So what do I do?  Do I get a new set of friends? …. well that’s not terribly logical and I’m quite happy with the ones I’ve got.  However, if I can’t keep on asking for their money maybe I need to engage people in a different way and ask them to push the event harder on their own Social Networks i.e. Friends of Friends. That’s one way I guess, but I sense the message will get more and more diluted the further the degrees of separation.

I think the real answers for me are four fold

  1. I need to engage local business more than I’ve done so far and get out there and pound the streets a bit.  It’s the annual donations that will really make a difference.
  2. Look at doing little mini-events like Curry nights or maybe even mini-cycle events.  We could look at creating a James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer Sportif around the Watford area (or Cambridge where the charity’s based)
  3. Try and engage the Social networking wizzards like JP to see if they have ideas on how you can mobilise an army of twitter & facebook friends/followers
  4. Make sure that we publicise what the charity will be using this money for and how it can help patients and their families.  I’ve often been asked that question this year, especially from those people who work in a health related profession.  I can’t tell you how important that is, there are quite a few people out there that are reticent to give because they’re not sure if the money will be used wisely.

My seconnd quandry is less personal but still relevant to the first one:

  • How do we attract up to 200 people onto this event, year on year?  What’s the hook?  What will make people choose the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer instead of something else?

I really don’t have any real answers to this, but plenty of ideas

  • Clearly, we’re going to have to make it good … year on year.
  • Get each of the major cycle shops (like Evans and Cyclesurgery) to put adverts up on their web-sites and in their shops
  • Advertise in the cycle trade journals
  • Write articles for one of the trade journals on this years event

However what I really want to do is to tap into the family and friends of Kidney Cancer patients.  I think this is where we could make this event a really special thing.  I love the fact that as a Kidney Cancer survivor myself I can give back by taking on this type of challenge, and there has to be more folks like me that feel the same way.  I have my health, which is the one thing I can give.  If you’re in the US or anywhere else in the world this could be a great way of tying it into a European holiday.

So to all you fellow survivors or patients, pass this message onto you nearest and dearest, and to your friends.  See if they want to come along to next year’s event.  Lets see if we can grow this event into something really special.

If anyone has good ideas or ways to push this then please let me know, I could use all the help I can get!

Please sponsor me by clicking on either of these links VirginGiving or JustGiving

Posted under Arch To Arc 2010, Arch To Arc 2011, General

This post was written by AndyThomas on May 28, 2010

Supporters at Marble Arch and Paris for our cyclists please!!

Well we’re less than a month away now and everyone’s been training and working hard to make this a sucess. It  looks as though we’re going to exceed our £20,000 target by a decent amount so we’ve ticked all the boxes.

Now we need your help, clearly if you haven’t donated then please click on the links at the bottom of this blog and give all you can, however it would be great to see as many of you as possible at the start line at 7:30 am Thursday 24th June. It’s an early start but if you could make it there to wish us well we’d love to see you.

For those of you who want to plan a weekend away in Paris at that time then we’ll be at The Arc de Triomphe on Sunday 27th June at around 1pm – 2pm, after an event such as this it’s always nice to see people at the start and finish to wish you well.

I have a friend who works in Paris who says he may join us on his bike for some of the last leg of the journey.

So come on down to London or come on over to Paris and help us raise awareness for Kidney Cancer… we’d love to see you!

Please sponsor me by clicking on either of these links VirginGiving or JustGiving

Posted under Arch To Arc 2010

This post was written by AndyThomas on May 26, 2010

Arch to Arc 2010 – Last few weeks before the off!

Before I move onto the Arch to Arc ride I thought I’d report on my time at the KCA patient day a couple of weeks ago in London.  It was a long but interesting day covering a varied set of topics ranging from the very scientific to the practicalities of dealing day to day with the side effects of treatments.

I did take some notes on the day but to be honest looking back on them they’re probably of little value to anyone.  Anything that helps raise awareness is always a good thing.  What it did highlight to me (and I dont mean this to sound bad) is that most of the questions were directed at the nurses who were able to provide really good practical advice to patients about the control of side effects and the various treatment options.

There was one area they touched upon and that was patient appeals for drugs not approved by NICE and I wanted to bring readers attention to that.  Please dont feel you’re alone with this; Rose Woodward and Julia Black are always available to help you wade through this.  If you want to contact either of them then go via the James Whale Fund forum (Kidney Cancer Support Network).  Appeals can be very fraught, so realise there is help out there.

Anyway, onto the Arch to Arc. We’re down to the last few weeks before we set off and I’m getting really twitchy and excited by it.  Myself, Nikki and Sarah from the fund are off on a jaunt to Paris next weekend after the riders get together in Cambridge on Saturday.  Why are we doing this?  Well, we want to check the route one more time (by car) so everyone is comfortable that we know where we’re going and where the best stop off points are along the route.  Yes I cycled it a month back but I have to admit that it was hard work and I wasn’t as able to take as many notes as I’d hoped.

What we want to do is break the route out into 20 mile’ish chunks so we all get regular breaks which is pretty much what you’d expect on an organised ride of any sort.  We want it to be a fun run, not a race!

I know lots of the team are starting to do really long rides (75 Miles+).   I’m so pleased that we’re all out there training, it at least means we know what we’re in for.  I get the odd message from Sally, Sam, Trevor and Jeanie telling me of their exploits (which is spurring me on to do more training).  Some of them have been doing these things called “Sportives” which seem to be events organised by local cycle clubs that can give you a 50 – 100Mile organised run, you may want to check them out, here’s the link.

I had a great ride this weekend called the Hyde900 (Wantage to Winchester) with Ptol (another of the riders). It was about 53 Miles through rolling countryside. I’m for sure going to do that one again next year as it was so much better than the London to Brighton.

However here’s a lesson for all us riders. Please, please make sure your bike has had a good service through a reputable bike shop before you embark on this.  I had mine serviced just before I went to Paris last time and it’s already worn out.  I need new front cogs, a new crank shaft, new headset bearings and pedals (some of it was in a pretty dangerous state).  I took it in by chance today to get a “granny” gear fitted only to find that was the least of my problems.

If you’re like me you just get on the bike and ride it, I’m not much for servicing it myself or doing general maintenance, ergo it gradually starts wearing out without me knowing it.  So dont forget, get somebody to give your cycle a quick look over, dont rely wholly on your own judgment no matter how experienced you are.

Good news as ever!! We’ve collectively hit over 90% of the £20,000 target and the money keeps on coming in.  This money is going to really help, and I think for the first year it’s an amazing effort.  Special Thanks has to goto Sally Hewitt who has raised over 1/4 of the money so far … go team Sally!!

So, we’re onto next year then … who’s up for it? We’re starting to take names, our target is 50 people to raise £50,000.  It’s an ambitious target but you have to have ambition, right? If you want to sign up then the details can be found on either facebook or at the James Whale Fund web-site.  Pass the word round to those who wanted to do it this year or who expressed an interest.  If you’re cycling in these Sportive type events then pass it along to those you meet on the way.

Keep on pedalling and hope to see most of you this Saturday, if not then see you at the Arch!

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Posted under Arch To Arc 2010, Arch To Arc 2011

This post was written by AndyThomas on May 17, 2010

Arch to Arc Update ……….

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog, however it’s been a very busy time for me having just started a new job.  My focus has been elsewhere, however it hasn’t stopped me training and getting myself ready.

The biggest pain I’ve had to deal with is thinking I’d be able to commute to my new job and have a safe place to put my bike, sadly no …..  so I’ve had to purchase a foldaway bike that I can keep by my desk.  I’m amazed at how good it is, clearly it’s not quite as fast as my road bike, but it’s pretty close and has the same riding position.  So I’ve done 120 miles on it this week!

I’ve also got a couple of big rides coming up, the Wantage to Winchester and the London to Brighton.  Both of these are around 50 miles so will be great warm ups for the London to Paris, and dont forget that those of you on the team that want to get together, we have the 22nd May to look forward to.  I hope that everyone on the team has been busy building up their mileage, it’s not long now before the big event.

Jane, my wife’s, been busy and completed the London Marathon in an impressive 4hrs 20mins for the James Whale Fund

London Marathon 2010

Quite a day, I’ve never been to one before and it’s great to see London with no cars.  I might try for it myself next year if I can summon up the energy to do all that training.

The Arch to Arc fund raising is going very well, we’re getting really close to our £20,000 target and it’s made me think that it’s time to start contemplating 2011.

It may seem a little early to start planing the next ride, but to be honest I’d like to see if we can get 50 riders signed up next year.  I’ll be creating a facebook page inviting people to sign up so for those of you who missed out this year and want to be part of it in 2011 then now’s your chance.  Just get in touch with me.

To bring the need of raising awareness a little closer to home for me an ex-work colleague of mine sadly passed away this week of Kidney Cancer (so I’ve been told).  It was a total shock to us and I dont think many of us even knew he’d been ill.  Such a shame, he was a great guy and well liked, and so young.  My heart goes out to his family.

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Posted under Andy Thomas, Arch To Arc 2010, Arch To Arc 2011

This post was written by AndyThomas on May 2, 2010

Here we go Again – the Postcode Lottery

If you are in the nightmare situation of having to fight to get treatment for Kidney cancer – please don’t think you have to do this on your own – we can help you and we will . We have many friends who are themselves patients and carers and family members who can talk with you and hold your hand to help you get through the appalling situation you find yourself in.

If your Oncologist wishes to prescribe treatment for your Kidney Cancer and yet your Local Health Authority ( England – Primary Care Trust -PCT or Wales and Scotland a Local Health Board – LHB ) refuses to provide funding then please email Rose and Julia at; we can provide expert advice, individual letters and contacts to lead you through the process and help you understand the policies and how you can challenge the system to make sure you have the best chance possible to get access to the best available treatments.

Julia and Rose have been helping cancer patients in 100′s of PCT’s to get access to proven and effective kidney cancer treatments for nearly 4 long years, sadly here we are 4 years down the line and the NHS are still refusing to provide active cancer treatment to desperately ill kidney cancer patients – we are fighting exactly the same battles now as 4 years ago.

In this day and age it is scandalous that patients not only have to fight their diagnosis of cancer, but they have to use vital time and energy battling with the very organisations that are meant to care for us. We are passionate believers in the NHS and universal care but how can we stand by and let administrators and managers decide who to treat and who not to treat. The decision whether and how to treat patients MUST be made by Oncoligists/Clinicians in Hospitals and not adminstrators sitting behind desks in PCT Offices. We cannot turn our back on our fellow cancer patients and watch them and their families suffer because “the system” will not allow new and innovative, clinically effective treatments to be prescribed to NHS patients.

We are not running a  business, we don’t even have a bank account and we certainly  don’t take money from the Pharmacuetical companies who make the drugs patients need. We are able to do it because we are helped by the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer Charity. All over the UK  patients and families donate money, leave legacies and run marathons, hold coffee mornings, curry parties , cycle on fundraisers   to make sure this vital  help is always there for the next person who needs it.  But Julia and I  also do it because we have to;  because  as cancer patients ourselves, we understand  what facing an uncertain future means  and the last thing on your mind should be whether your Doctor will be “allowed ” to prescribe you the treatment  you need in order to keep you alive.

NHS Constitution…….1st paragraph…….The NHS belongs to the people.
It is there to improve our health and well-being, supporting us to keep mentally and physically well, to get better when we are ill and, when we cannot fully recover, to stay as well as we can to the end of our lives. It works at the limits of science – bringing the highest levels of human knowledge and skill to save lives and improve health. It touches our lives at times of basic human need, when care and compassion are what matter most.

Posted under Arch To Arc 2010, Britain's Biggest Curry Party, Campaigns, Cancer Drugs, Fund Raising, N.I.C.E., Rose Woodward, Uncategorized

This post was written by Rose Woodward on April 30, 2010

What’s been going on then?

It’s been an interesting few weeks for me since I came back from my trip from France. I dont seem to have had the chance to stand still and it looks like my days of unemployment are coming to an end (shame). I start a new job on monday as a part-time consultant/contractor. Now part-time to me means 3 days a week, but I suspect they may want a little more out of me initially, but I’m so lucky to have found a part-time position that I’m more than willing to take the rough with the smooth.

On the Arch to Arc front we’ve got another addition to the riders bringing our total up to 15 which I think is fantastic for the first year, and even better we’ve reached over 80% of our target of £20,000 which I think is absolutely amazing at this stage, so yet again a big thanks to all the riders who’ve been plugging away.  Looking at all the facebook pages and blogs training has started in earnest for most of us …. only 2 months now!! Having done it once I’m really excited about doing it again in a group, it’ll be great fun.

I’m going for a cycle with Trevor Coultart (one of the riders) this evening which should be a giggle, he’s set the course so I’m in his hands.  I seem to be raising my average speed gradually but I have to admit I’ve been playing more music and generally fiddling around at home …. I really should have being out there on the bike.

On the Kidney Cancer front it’s also been exciting times, with the election looming Cancer is getting a good press as the parties jockey for position, if you want to see some of the news and how hard the likes of Clive Stone and Rose Woodward have been working then check out this link and you can read through a selection of press items.  I received a typically patronising letter back from my current MP when I asked for help on the Afinitor issue (so I know where my votes NOT going).

It’s also worth noting that the Kidney Cancer Association (one of the Kidney Cancer groups based in the USA) are coming over this year to hold a Patient Day and the James Whale Fund welcomes them to the UK.  I would suggest you make a note in your diary if you want to attend. It will be interesting to see a different perspective and how they are dealing with this in the US.

Some exciting news is that they’ve unearthed a Kidney Cancer Urine test that potentially identifies certain proteins that can indicate the presence of Kidney Cancer, this will be a big leap forward and should mean early diagnosis is quick and simple cutting down on the number of deaths each year.  Kidney Cancer is known as a silent killer in that symptoms dont often display themselves until the later stages of the disease, and it can often be too late, if caught early enough surgery is usually all you need and this Urine test will go a long way to helping …. so bring it on!!

It’s going to be a busy summer in the world of Kidney Cancer in the UK so watch this space and the news feed on the James Whale Fund web-site to find out what’s going on.

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Posted under Andy Thomas, Arch To Arc 2010, General

This post was written by AndyThomas on April 15, 2010

Paris trip Day 4 – Beauvais to Paris

First of all I must say a massive thank you to everyone who sent wishes of support to me, it made a huge difference knowing there was a whole bunch of people wanting me to finish. Now it’s complete I need to start nudging people for donations to get us to our target of £20,000. Amazingly since I set-off the team has raised nearly 75% which is a 10% increase on where we were on Thursday … great work!

For those reading this who want to donate then please click on this link and give as much as you’re able, all this money will make a huge difference to Kidney Cancer patients in the UK.

The final leg was harder than I thought it was going to be I guess because my legs had had enough, however I did have the joy of knowing that it was only 44 miles and not 50 (which is what the route had initially told me) that made it much more bearable. Way more hills than the profile suggested, but quite a few of them downwards to compensate a little.

The clocks had gone forward which meant that my 6am start was really 5am and cycling in the dark is never easy, and it was a tad fresh to say the least,  but by 8am it had warmed up a bit and I was back in full light winding my way through country villages. My breakfast was a stop off at a village bakery that had just opened as I was passing through, Warm Pain au Chocalat …. cant beat it. The roads were quiet until I hit the outskirts of Paris but given it was Sunday it’s nowhere near as bad as London.

Once I’d got to Saint Denis I knew I’d finished, it was just a case of navigating myself through the streets of Paris.  My “mate” the Garmin sent me off wrong once but did a pretty good job otherwise, if only the battery on the iPhone was of any use I’d have used that because GeoLives is a fantastic app that places your route on google maps and you can see your position as you go.  Whenever the Garmin failed me I used it to get myself back on track.

Coming up to the Arch de Triomphe is so cool, no matter how many times I come here it’s always an impressive site. Thankfully the traffic was quiet and I could cycle round it a few times without feeling I was putting my life in any danger.  I did get to the middle and took a few photos but sadly the police asked me to take the bike back onto the Champs Elysee, they didn’t have a great explanation as to why bikes aren’t allowed but they weren’t unpleasant about it, and I always try not to argue with people with guns :)

I also had a welcoming party with Paul and Caroline and their kids and my mother so I wasn’t left alone and it was great to see them!  Straight into a cafe, Streak, Frittes, beer, banana split! (well what did you expect after 14000 calories of effort? Salad and orange juice?). Then a nice Apres lunch walk around the back streets of the Louvre and then to the station. Lots of strange looks from the locals as I was walking around in my Bermuda shorts and flip-flops in the rain (lightest things to carry), but if I offered some amusement…..

The only real disappointment of the whole trip was the lack of little bars and restaurants along the route. I was expecting many many more. Overall it’s do-able, June will be warmer, we’ll have a support van full of food and drink, and each other to push ourselves along.

Some lessons learnt:

  • Probably best we stay in Dover on Day 1 so we can take our time and not panic about chasing ferry times.  It does mean a very early start the next day but we can rest a bit on the ferry
  • Take extra cleats.  I admit there were hills I had to walk and it wore out my cleats which made them tough to lock in.
  • Dont wear my carbon fibre shoes, they’re too stiff and my big toes were always numb by the end of the day and quite painful. So I’ll be buying easier to wear shoes.
  • Get lights that a) Fit (so I dont have to hold them on) and b) Work.  I suspect we wont need them in June as it will always be light, but just in case.
  • Dont ever ever ever carry a rucksack.  If you’re doing it on your own then take an Mountain Bike and stock it with decent paniers.  Road bikes in a group will be fine because we have the van.
  • If you’ve got gadgets, then learn how to use them before you go :)
  • Make sure the van is well stocked with food and drink along in the way, there are plenty of lovely spots to stop but few shops except in the towns we pass through.
  • Do a lot more hill training to get the legs in shape

All the spare tubes and bits and pieces I took I used none of, but would still have been crazy not to have taken them along the way.  I came across 2 bikes shops en-route (which I needed for lights and cleats).  One in Boulogne sur mer in the town centre, very helpful chap, and the other in Abberville (very close to the hotel and opens at 10am), again very nice and helpful.  I’m pretty sure there will be ones in Beauvais as well but I admit to just wanting to get to the hotel and crash.

I’m sure I’ll think of other things and as I do I’ll stick them up on the forum at this link. As Trevor says, it’s a bit quite on the forum at the moment but as we all get into the training it should liven up a bit.

Am I looking forward to doing it again in June? Yes, but I need a decent week off to let my legs and shoulders recover :)

I wonder what happened to that lock?

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Posted under Andy Thomas, Arch To Arc 2010

This post was written by AndyThomas on March 29, 2010

Paris trip Day 3 – Abbeville to Beauvais

OK, so the Garmin is re-instated and the user has been sacked, what a muppet! You would have thought that a gadget freak like me would have at least checked to see if there were any options, you know the ones like “Ignore Off Road Tracks”, “Follow Route” etc, but no, much easier to swear at it, blame Garmin for being incompetent.  So, after I set the gadget up correctly, guess what? … it worked like a charm.

I admit to having a sense of humour failure yesterday as I was walking down essentially a ploughed up field, but today …… much much better.  The route was flat(‘ish) most of the way and I was able to crack on at a reasonable pace getting me to Beauvais at around 4:30pm and I set-off at 10am.

Beauvais is a lovely little town, great shopping area and a fantastic Cathedral, maybe if we all set-off a little earlier in the morning in June we’ll have time to explore a little, but to be honest I was very grateful for the lie in.

Compared to yesterday this was a breeze and it was nice to kick back a bit and just enjoy the ride.  I’ve discovered that the French seem to have more a fascination for dogs than the English do, all barking in support for me along the route, or just wishing they could leap over the fences and take a piece out of me, I’m pretty sure it was the latter.

I have come down with a dose of fully blown “man flu” which isn’t helping much I just hope it goes as quickly as it came.  I’m coughing, spluttering and sneezing …… Hah, ’tis but a flesh wound.

Oh yeah, somehow I managed to “lose” the 2.8kg lock I was carrying … it must be somewhere, possibly under the bed at the hotel in Abbeville :)  Boy what a difference that made I can’t wait to do this with no rucksack as well in June.  The hotel must have though I was nuts, but “losing” it was the best decision I’ve made.

So tomorrow, it’s a 6am start with the hope of getting to Paris by noon to meet my Mother (who’s in Paris as well) and friends of ours Paul and Caroline who live there.  Now getting up a 5am to be ready for the off at 6 isn’t so bad, but of course I would choose the weekend the clocks go forward, which means no breaky, so I’m stocking up on some carbs now before hitting the sack.

No rain today, so please no rain tomorrow. I’m not going to pretend this has been easy, I do need to work on my fitness and leg strength fort June.  I ache everywhere, but if it was easy it would be no challenge, and that’s the point.  For me if this raises awareness and money for Kidney Cancer then job done!  Behind the scenes the fund is working hard to get as much publicity as we can and it’s not an easy subject so if anyone has any ideas then let me know and I’ll pass it on, or just contact them direct.

As a quick rejoinder I had a chat with Nick Turkentine today who runs the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer and there are some really exciting things in the pipeline that the fund is working on.  It was a reminder of why we’re all doing this so fellow Arch to Arcer’s and readers tell your family, friends and work colleagues that we need to raise as much money as we can for this event.  Everyone has done so well to date and we’re up above 65% of our target of £20,000.  Click on the links below or the links on the top left hand side of the web-site and give what you can.

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Posted under Andy Thomas, Arch To Arc 2010

This post was written by AndyThomas on March 27, 2010

Paris trip Day 2 – Boulogne sur mer to Abbeville

Yowser am I tired, got little if any sleep last night as the day was flying round my head, but I forced myself out of bed with surprisingly few aches and pains.  I expected sore shoulders because of the rucksack, and I wasn’t disappointed, however the great thing is I wont have to wear this for the actual event because we have the support van.

I left the hotel and pedalled my way down to the  ferry terminal, checked in at about 5:30am (as requested), and went to the front of the queue and waited …. and waited, only to discover the ferry was delayed by at least an hour.  No rain thankfully but it was cold just standing about.  I did have one of those bizzarre meetings you have in life, I met Wolfgang Stars from my Dresdner days (head of risk) so at least that passed the time.

Eventually they let me on the boat at around 7:10am.  It arrived around 12 noon so immediately I was on the back foot to try and make up some time.  Boulogne is not a bad little town in the old parts and I found a nice little bike shop so I could replace my cleats, like an idiot I forgot to get my back light fixed and that would come back to bite me later in the day.

Getting out of Boulogne was quite hilly but then it was flatish for a while and then the hills started again.  Tired from yesterday and now with a streaming cold I struggled to keep going.  For the actual event we’ll need to ensure the van is well stocked with food because I found very few places to eat, a lot of places were shut…..  so I did the whole day on an egg mayonaise sandwich and a pain au chocolat …  not a good move.

The countryside is lovely so we’ll have nice terrain along the way and it was all gentle country roads with very little traffic. With the weather with me most of the day I only got wet a couple of times.

It went a bit wrong around 20 miles from the end.   The garmin decided to take me off down a track that then turned into field tracks …… it is fired!!  so I ended up having to walk a fair few miles to get back onto the road by which point it was dark. I did cycle a bit but with a broken light but I was getting quite a bit of grief from passing drivers so had to walk again.

Huge relief to arrive at the hotel and to get dinner and a hot bath.

Tomorrow the garmin is fired! the 2.5kg lock is fired! (I’m leaving it here as it’s bruised my hips so badly and it’s slowing me down)

Lets hope the weather holds and I can crack on tomorrow! There is a cycle shop in Abbeville so I’ll swing by there in the morning….. sadly it doesn’t open til 10am … shucks I’ll have to lie in :)  Hope the cold goes.

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Posted under Andy Thomas, Arch To Arc 2010

This post was written by AndyThomas on March 27, 2010

Paris trip Day 1 – London to Dover

After a restless night’s sleep I got up at around 4:30am to get myself ready, showered, check packing and to grab a cup of tea before heading out the door at around 5:30am.  What I did notice on the pedal through Watford to the station was how all the traffic lights were green, so it only took me about 7 mins to get there, hence I arrived very early at Euston.

After much fiddling with the Garmin Edge 705 at Euston working out how the navigation operated (should have checked that) I trundled over to Marble Arch and then decided to kill the remaining hour or so having breakfast in a cafe behind Selfridges that does a mean scrambled eggs on toast. They also had SKY TV on in the background  which meant I caught the latter end of James Whale’s slot … as if I needed reminding of why I got up this morning :)

About 3o miles in and am so glad that the route takes us off main roads and onto country lanes.  With the exception of the first 5 miles it’s been pretty quite and uneventful.  I was relieved when the route didn’t go onto the A20 where I thought it would but ran in parallel instead on a quieter main road, so no worries Hugh … no motorways as yet (I’ve gone under the M25 and over the M20 so far. There was a bit of a steepish climb from Horton Kirby to where I stopped for a coffee so I think this looks like a natural mid to late morning stop for the group, the cake is great, tea good and they’re used to cyclists and dont mind us en-mass.  

Not sure exactly how many miles I did since the coffee stop, the garmin timer stopped and I didn’t notice for about an hour.  The garmin sat nav feature is a bit flaky, I’ve gone down the wrong tracks a few times and at one point it sent me down a raod that put me 20 miles out of my way so I had to double back, but I guess that’s why I’m doing it now so at least one of us knows where we’re going.  Of couse the Garmin was off as I was getting lost so I wont be able to see what I did :(

It got to about 1pm and then the rain came and by 2pm I was soaked to the skin so I held up at the Park Inn next to Leeds Castle and here I’ll stayed until got dry and the rain stopped.  I didn’t have to be in Dover by any specific time because I’m now taking the morning ferry.  So I to relaxed and take it easy…..big mistake.

The route thus far had been hilly but went through some pretty villages to compensate and if we’re not chasing ferry times then we can all chill out and just enjoy the day, walk where we need to and make up some time where we can.

About an hour after I left the pub Mr Cock-up and his entire family joined me and I went totally off course, and it was getting dark. The garmin was next to useless as was it’s operator and it kept on sending me off in all sorts of directions. The rain started again and it became obvious that I needed to stop following the sat nav and just get to Dover. I’ll put it down to experience and have a go on my motorbike when I get back to ensure the route is mapped out properly. Lots of upydowny bits as it got towards Dover. However I reckon my 80 mile ride turned into well over 100 with all the ponsing around I did towards the end. One minute the Garmin said I was 10 miles away and then next it said 15 … nuts!! Bring back the good old map an compass.

Once I got to Dover the temperature dropped considerably as I sailed down the hill to the port and I was grateful for a warm welcome and a hot bath at the Premier inn. I have to say they are good hotels, clean, comfortable, big rooms and quite. Yes the location is always bad but the rest compensates for it.

Got very little sleep to be honest and I was up again at 4:30am to get myself for the ferry …. which of course was late anyway :)

All in all I had a great day, made some mistakes, didn’t go as fast as I wanted but with about 12kg of stuff on my back it was to be expected (wont need this for the real thing as we’ve got a support van …. phew!!). Also there were a few aspects of the route I wasn’t happy with that need to be looked at. Please, please, please …. no more rain!

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Posted under Andy Thomas, Arch To Arc 2010

This post was written by AndyThomas on March 25, 2010