This coming June I will be cycling 330 miles through 4 countries in 4 days on a bike my dad bought in 1949  

Follow me on my journey as I endeavour to get fit enough to cycle from Darent Valley Hospital to Amsterdam while raising money for the Valley Hospital Charity

June 15th 2019 - Ride4Life Challenge COMPLETE!!!

 

HE'S DONE IT !!!!!!!

Breda to Amsterdam !    91 miles done today!!

344 miles in total !!

Part 3

 

At 7.15 PM Local time - Grahame rang to say that he was at The Holiday Inn, Amsterdam - Arena Towers...... 

HE HAS COMPLETED THE CHALLENGE !!!

 

 

AND, for the last 5 miles, they got Grahame to lead the Group to the Finish, which is an amazing honour, and for which he was very proud and humble! 

 

It was an hour before others started to show up at the RVP (some had stopped for coffee on the way), so lots of celebrations and relief for them all that they have ALL completed this Challenge with a plastic cup of Champagne all round!.   

 

What an experience they have all had, plagued by punctures, weather - heavy rain, cross winds, scorching sunshine causing sunburn, the odd tumble, though luckily no-one was seriously hurt, and everyone facing their own challenges, but they have all kept each other going from start to finish, and have been so supportive of Grahame who has cycled a lot of this ride on his own to keep ahead and not let the team down by holding them up, and I am delighted for you all!   Well done everyone!  

 

Grahame said that this is ABSOLUTELY MEGA!   He really didn't think he would or could do it, but he has!   The bike has held up, just a couple of cable ties used in the whole trip, and 2 punctures.  He has achy bits, but the time today without the padding on the 70 year old Brookes B17 saddle was the most comfortable he'd been all day (!), and the others had more aches than him overall, so there was something to be said for slow and steady!

 

  • OMG!!!   I cannot express how in awe and so very proud I am of my wonderful Husband, Grahame, and all the challenges, ups and downs that he has faced, both physically and mentally, in the last four days, let alone the last year.    Sweetheart, you have done it and I know that you believe that Roy was with you, giving you strength on the way, and he would be so delighted of this amazing achievement (and probably wishing that he'd done it too!).   But YOU pedalled, mile after mile, through all sorts of adverse weather, on a 70 year old Evelyn Hamilton bicycle without modern gears, certainly not lightweight, that only suffered two punctures in the back tyre (the front 35+ yr old tyre is still intact!), often without knowing whether you would finish the day, let alone make it to the next stop, with little training due to illness, wearing a building site reflective, jeans tucked into your socks and a hoody, but most of all in memory and honour of your wonderful Dad, and YOU would be Roy's Hero today without a doubt!   xxxxx  Sarah xxxxx

 

Later Grahame rang to say that they had had a lovely meal in the hotel to celebrate their achievements, and he had received his medal and certificate for completing the Challenge.  They had also handed out awards in the shape of the Orange Markers that had guided their way, and he had received, to the biggest cheers and claps, the ......

 

PMA GG The Tortoise Award!!  

Positive Mental Attitude Grahame Green, The Tortoise!

Ride4Life DVH to AMSTERDAM 2019 

 

xxx

 

June 15th - Ride4Life The Final Day!

At the RVP in Amsterdam 5 miles from The Finish! 

86 miles done!!

Part 2

 

At 3.45 pm BST, I receive a call from Grahame...   HE WAS 5 MILES FROM THE FINISH!!!

 

He was the first one there and Ricky, from Discover Adventure (the organisers) was ecstatic to see him!!  Woohoo!

 

He was now wearing the official Ride4Life shirt, and his Dad's cravat, and the saddle and his bottom both had no padding, so that he would finish as his Dad would have done!    He couldn't explain how he really felt, but Amazing and Emotional were two words that he used.   

 

He had cycled on his own for most of the day which had been dry in the later part, but had pulled something in his left ankle after lunch, when he felt so very trashed, but a high dosage of Ibruprofen had that sorted, and he was now officially in Amsterdam at Sarphati Park, and had had some nutritional bars to make up for no lunch!

 

The weather had been dry, his legs had been soaked from sweat from wearing his waterproofs from earlier, but he'd not wanted to stop for anything, or hold anyone up and had therefore SMASHED IT!!   

 

I am delighted and so glad that he did actually give this Challenge a go.... not only did he not think he could, but he would have regretted not trying..... and now look at him!      I'm such a very proud, and slightly emotional, weepy with joy, wife!  

 

He feels PROUD, and so he should!   And he said that today has certainly made up for the first day, when he'd had to get in the van for the third quarter, but since then he has just soldiered on, mile after mile, orange marker after orange marker. 

 

The plan was that they would ALL ride to the finish together..... so he just now had to wait for the others...... and still 5 miles to go! 

 

June 15th - Ride4Life Day 4

The Final Day.... Breda to Amsterdam & The Finish!  91 miles today?

Part 1

 

When I first spoke to Grahame today around 12 noon local time, he was was already at the lunch stop at Pontje Bij Schoonhoven having done 38 miles so far.   They'd travelled on two mini ferries, one at 15 miles and this one for their lunch stop. 

 

It had been hard work, having set off ahead of the rest from Breda expecting a shower and black clouds looming, but had stayed relatively dry, although the headwind was savage.  On his own, his legs hadn't really woken up, and he was just taking one mile at a time, which was an advantage mentally, but physically it was hard. 

 

He felt wrecked....  running on empty, as he had been sick last night and again after breakfast, so was stuggling for body fuel, and was very aware that he may hold everyone up on this important last day.

 

There was a certain buzz in the air from the rest, as it was sinking in that in 40 miles, they would have completed the challenge, but he still wasn't sure that he could do it....

 

 

Day 3 Ride4Life Complete!! 

Bruges to Breda

257 miles done !!!

3/4 OF THE WAY THERE!!!

As a group, these wonderful people, their friends and family have now just passed the amazing figure of

£50,000 for the Valley Hospital Charity !!!

 

Amsterdam tomorrow .... 91 miles

Well done everyone !!!! 

Part 5

 

BREDA, HOLLAND!!!   97 Miles from Bruges ..

& Cycled ALL the way!!    

 

It has been tough today, but thanks to the wonderful Howard (pictured at the last water stop with Grahame), who has been with him, and Ross (with the beard below), they have made it to Breda around 6.30 pm local time today!!! 

 

Howard had suggested that they cycle round Breda for an extra 3 miles to make it up to 100 miles today, but when it came to it, even Howard admitted his bum hurt!

 

He is so grateful to these guys for cycling with him for most of the day, and Howard has insisted already that they cycle into Amsterdam tomorrow together, and will make sure that it will happen!

 

His bum, feet and blisters hurt, but he has got through and cycled the whole day,  and now they are staying at the posh Golden Tulip Hotel in Breda for the evening.

 

Grahame's had a lovely dinner at the hotel, and has been behaving with his portion sizes (cutting off most of his steak to give away before being tempted to eat it all!).   He has also bought the amazing Howard a beer as a thank you for his support today, and genuinely believes that he couldn't have done it without him and the others.  

 

"Today, I am sure that I can do this all now!"

 

 

Part 4

 

At 81 miles, 16 to go to Breda !!

 

Drink stop... .81 miles down, and 'only' 16 miles to the end of the day's cycling.    Absolutely amazing!!  

 

Howard has been riding with Grahame most of the way from the lunch stop in Kapelle, with Ricky one of the organisers, both sitting on his wheel to assist him, which has been great for the company and the help!   

 

The sun is shining, quite gorgeous really, and they were the last ones to arrive at the water stop.  

 

However Grahame did get a puncture (so he spoke too soon in Part 2!), and he needed to sort his gears that got out of sync following the puncture before the next phase.

 

Just look at that smile! 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 3

 

30 miles from the Ferry at Vlissingen to Lunch at a cafe in Kapelle in what was finally established to be.... Holland!!!   They only found this out when the waiter told them that coffee is spelt that way in Dutch!

 

They were all ready for lunch by then around 1.15 local time.   It had stopped raining since the ferry, but with both head and tail winds along a fairly flat route, it was still challenging (and still another 30 miles!).    

 

Grahame felt good and he had been not too far behind the group by just keeping his head down - 52 miles so far......  but would see how he felt after some food.... 

 

Part 2

10am local time - call from Grahame - currently waiting for the Ferry from Breskens to Vlissingen.   There have been lots of punctures today (but not him so far).   He feels good, but it has been really raining, though now they had hot sun, so many were drying themselves out.  

The 'Quick Boys' had been looking after him well, though it wasn't as windy as yesterday, and the hard part of cycling with people is not to push to their speed (because he just can't keep up), but to pace himself at his own speed, but it has been great cycling with people - much nicer.

 

Everyone in their cycle gear was feeling chilly and shivering after the rain and, in one of those moments when you wish you had a voice recorder going, someone muttered these iconic words

"I wish I was dressed like Grahame!'

 

My husband..... The only one NOT in lycra, with his jeans still tucked in his socks, his reflective from a building site, Black T-Shirt, and a green hoody is a Fashion Icon !!!!

 

June 14th - Ride4Life Day 3

Bruges to Breda, Holland!  97 miles today?

Part 1

 

Grahame was up and about and determined to get as far as he can today, as this is a long one - around 10 hours cycling.  The weather was dry, and the winds had dropped, but it was raining in Breda.

 

The plan is 22 miles to the Ferry to Vlissingen (which saves them 50 miles).  This will act as a water stop and the 'Quick Guys' had offered to sit on his wheel to help Grahame along.  He was setting off shortly around 7.30 am Belgian time so that he could get the mileage in and be able to catch the ferry.  

Day 2 Ride4Life Complete!! 

Calais to Bruges 

160 miles done

HALFWAY THERE!!!

 What does tomorrow hold?, I asked. "I plan to stay in bed all day!", he said!    We'll see!  

 

Breda in Holland next.... 97 miles

 

Well done everyone !!!! 

 

Part 4

So after a lovely meal in Bruges, I got a call from Grahame around 10pm Belgian time, to say that three of them, including Speed were walking round Bruges town trying to find their hotel!!   Of course none of them had taken any notice when they went out, how they would find their way back to Martin's Hotel, or exactly where it was!!     It would have been quite funny if he didn't feel so tired and the sole hadn't fallen off the only other pair of shoes he had taken with him and, so far, the others had refused to just call a taxi and be done with it.   

 

Update - 15 mins later, they'd found the hotel and Grahame was now in bed!   

 

Why is it than men never ask for directions??   LOL! x

 

Part 3

 

BRUGES !!!   81 Miles from Calais ..

& Cycled ALL the way!!    

 

Grahame has got to Bruges by 5pm Belgian time!!!    Third country in two days!!

 

He said that he has given every ounce today, and did cycle all the way this afternoon after lunch of just a starter, and then set off ahead of everyone without being asked.  He has pretty much been on his own all day, battling the harsh wind, and honestly didn't think before lunch that he would leave there on his bike!   But his determination won out!

 

The three fast boys caught him up at one point and surrounded him to shield him from the strong wind for a while, which is what they had been doing for each other, and it was a welcome relief for a time.    They acknowledged that it is harder to cycle on your own in these conditions for that very reason.

 

There has been a bit of rain, but a strong head wind and cross winds all day, which has found him leaning into it, first one way and then another, which in itself has been tiring.

 

He'd arrived in Bruges by just following those orange signs all day, mile after mile, and arrived to the wonderful cobbled streets of Bruges (which didn't help the aches and pains!), and rang on the Hotel door bell a number of times before they came to open the door, by which time he was almost falling off with tiredness waiting for them!

 

He had had a lovely hot bath by the time I spoke to him, though the effects were wearing off very quickly, and could hardly move when I rang.

 

Everything aches, muscles, bottom, neck and he has a blister on the sole of his right foot, possible due to standing up to cycle harder on that foot.  Anticeptic cream and Radion B to the rescue tonight, me thinks!

 

The group are off to a local restaurant tonight, and it will be good for him to catch up with them.   Speed has had a good day, though suffered punctures early on, and had to play catch up (which he loves), and some of the group had stopped off to see the War Trenches, which Grahame saw in passing, but just couldn't afford to stop. 

 

Everyone taking part, apart from Grahame are regular cyclists so, not only had he only done only 13 miles before this Ride (!), but he's on the oldest by far bike there, and the others are now starting to get it.... However mad he may seem, he must be winning respect for the determination he is showing in all sorts of adversity, the reasons behind him riding his Dad's bike, and the challenges that he is personally facing physically and mentally.

 

I know that I am biased, but I am so proud of Grahame, words cannot express how much, and I'm sending him all my love and healing kisses, and wishing you a fun evening with the Ride4Life gang!

 

Sarah xxx

 

 

 

 

 

Today's Route from Calais to Bruges

Part 2 

 

Lunch Stop at 39 miles (half way)

 

It has been a very tough morning.   Grahame has cycled pretty much on his own for this first half of the day, as they set him out before everyone again to keep him ahead.

 

Everyone has told him it is flat, but it has been so windy, and has rained on and off, it has been very tough.  He said that he was running on empty, having been up for so long last night, and now that the rain has dried up, his waterproofs were making him sweat, but he didn't want to stop to take them off !   

 

Some riders had caught him up at the first water stop at 18 miles, and apparently there have been beautiful views along the way, but he has just been staring at the tarmac to get himself to the next orange marker, mile after mile....

 

Grahame really didn't know whether he would be able to get back out for the Third Leg of the Ride today, let alone finish the day or the Tour...

 

June 13th - Ride4Life Day 2 

Calais to Bruges!

Part 1

 

So Grahame was up bright and early (though not as early as yesterday!), after quite a rough night's sleep coughing unfortunately, so didn't feel too enthusiastic about today at all and very tired,  especially as the chances of getting wet again were pretty high too!  He was surprised about how much he could actually move, after the strains and stresses of yesterday! 

 

Although bags needed to be re-packed (roll not fold Sweetheart!), they were all showered and breakfasted, and were due to set off at 8.30 am French time, so 7.30 am BST.      Unfortunately, it turned out, and to quote Winnie the Pooh 

 

" It's (been) a rather Blustery Day" !!!

Day 1 Ride4Life Complete!! 

Darent Valley Hospital to Calais Ibis Hotel

80 miles to Dover minus 20 in the van after lunch to the afternoon waterstop

3 miles to The Ibis Hotel in Calais 

And so to the Bar for a well-earned catch up with the other riders.... and bed !!!

 

Well done everyone !!!! 

 

June 12th - Ride4Life Day 1!!  

Part 4a

Woohoo! He's GOT TO DOVER !!!!   

 

Last I spoke to him, Burger King Chicken Burger & Chips never tasted so good after 80 miles & they were waiting for the 6.45 pm ferry to Calais, and from there a little 3 mile ride to the hotel for the evening.....   then Sleeeeeep!

 

Unfortunately two riders had crashed on the last leg (and Speed nearly came off on the same sharp bend after a hill), both are OK, though one is borrowing a bike tomorrow, and the other who broke a brake lever, popped into Halfords and bought a new bike!!  Grahame being on his wonderful 70 year old bike with slightly dodgy brakes and gears, and not going half as fast anyway, has been taking it steadier, so no crashes!

 

I am so proud of my wonderful Husband, doing this amazing ride in memory of Roy, and after everything he has been through in the last year, and even in the last few months!   My thanks again to Speed for being there with him, and for being so supportive and sending all you readers my love for your continued support, and I'll update you all when I can tomorrow !

 

Sarah xxx

 

Part 4

 

This was today's route.... Water stop at 22 miles, lunch at 38 miles, another water stop at 55 miles and in total nearly 80 miles of up hills and down dales to Dover!

 

12 noon - Grahame made it to lunch at The Chequers Inn, Doddington, tired and had walked up the hills, suffered a puncture, fell sideways when he stopped at a set of traffic lights due to his toe clips, and was way behind the others, but 1/8th of the way there!  

 

After lunch the organisers decided for Grahame's sake (and probably to be able to make up time to the ferry!) that he should ride in the support van to the next water stop, and were not going to take no for an answer! 

 

However, HE was adamant that he would NOT ride in the van from there to Dover, as that was not what he signed up for, and yes, even though it was really raining, set off before the others to get a head start and pretty much did the last 20+ miles on his own, getting to Dover before he saw any other Ride4Life cyclists!  So 4pm..... Wet, soggy feet, tired, numb bum.....

 

June 12th 2019, Day 1 Ride4 Life @ 7.21am 

Part 3 

 

And they're off!   

Part 2

Finally, and looking more like a proper cyclist, Grahame was Registered, Ride4Life official top on, gloves on, banana eaten, water bottle filled, but still Grahame with his hoody slung round his waist, and of course his jeans tucked in his socks in memory and honour of his Dad!

 

Then about a half an hour's wait for the last to arrive, the safety announcements and instructions given by the organisers to follow the orange arrows, which should be seen approx every mile, and that the lady in orange would be at the back ie.  following Grahame!

 

Last kisses and good lucks and love yous, hugs for Speed too and the riders all lined up for a group photo.......

 

 

June 12th - Ride4Life Day 1!!!  Posts & Photos by Sarah

Darenth Valley Hospital to Calais

So a very early start for us both this morning - up at 4am, car packed up and all sorts of bike and Grahame gubinalia in the boot, and off we went! 

 

This is it!  Ride Day 1! 

 

We were so early that no-one else had arrived, so Grahame put his bike together, broke a bit, fixed it with a cable tie (of course) and others started to trickle into the Darent Valley Hospital car park, looking much more "together" than we felt!   

 

Colin (Speed) Ashcroft and his lovely wife Debbi arrived, him dressed in the proper cycling gear ie. Lycra, layers and looking very professional.   He and Grahame have known each other since childhood, and Speed is doing the ride and will be supporting Grahame along the way.... Brave man!

 

Grahame on the other hand had jeans on, T-Shirt and a hoody (he had succumbed to cycle shorts under the jeans though!).     Finally, the bike was together, the last few bits attached to it, day bag, pump, tool kit etc, and we went to join the other riders and their families (with me lugging his overnight bag!).  

June 11th - Less than 10 hours to go....

You have probably been wondering what had happened to this blog. No posts for two months! 

It's because I really didn't know what to say. For virtually every day this year I had been bringing back up everything I had eaten. As much as I have tried, my attempts at training has been really tough with very little fuel inside and very little sleep too. I can't knock the NHS as it has been none stop tests, x-rays, endoscopys and scans at DVH, Guys and St Thomas's.

Well finally they found a drug that has worked for me. For five days I've kept everything down that I've eaten and have had three really good nights sleep - Woohoo!! :-)

 

 

 

 

So, one year on from my big operation I am going to attempt this ride. To say I am not ready is an understatement. The most I have managed in the last few months is 13 miles at an average of 10mph and every upward incline has been hell - so the trip to Dover from DVH in the morning is going to be quite some challenge to say the least - wish me luck...... I am so gonna need it!

 

 

 

April 12th - That feeling you get....

 

.....when you realise that your braces match the handlebar tape on the bike you have borrowed ;-)

 

While the Evelyn Hamilton (my Dad's bike) is still in pieces my good friend Speed has kindly loaned me one of his bikes so that I could carry on with the 'training'.

I hate to admit though that I have not been spending as much time in the saddle as I would have liked to due to both work commitments and the still unsolved 'keeping food down' issue that I am hoping may be resolved when I see the consultant at the hospital on Monday.

Whatever happens, I am determined to do this - so it is time for me to stop with the excuses and get pedalling!

 

Oh, and I have just been informed that we have less than 9 weeks before we go - Gulp!!!

 

April 9th - A new coat....

 

Any of you readers who knew Roy (my Dad) would know what a perfectionist he was and how he took great pride in maintaining and making the best of everything he owned. Unfortunately the paint job that I gave his bike way back in the 70's had not coped so well with the test of time and being stored away in the loft for quite some time. While there was no sign of rust and the primer/undercoat had held on pretty well, the topcoat was quite badly cracked and peeling.

As a big part of me doing this ride on my Dad's bike is as a tribute to him I thjought it only right that the bike should be treated to a fresh coat of paint so last week I stripped off all the components from the frame and dropped it off to Curtis of CPS Shotblasting and Powdercoating in Borough Green to be blasted and coated.

 

Well tonight I picked up the frame - and I have to say it looks amazing! The new colour is now a lot closer to how I remember it from when Dad handed it down to me as a teenager and before I got the aerosols out.

I know Dad would totally approve and have to admit to feeling a little bit emotional. Thanks for a top job Curtis. I would totally recommend you to anyone looking for a top powdercoating job and will no doubt be bringing my Mum's bike frame to you at some point soon.

 

 

March 22 2019 - Back in the saddle

 

Over the last couple of weeks just walking the dog has been tiring and I have just not had enough left in me to do much on the bike at all, so it was a very welcome surprise to wake up this morning feeling refreshed for the first time in over six weeks – and I mean really refreshed!

Without going into too much detail, since my last operation I have been struggling to eat, drink (and sleep) and whatever I have managed to consume has not stayed put for long resulting in a significant loss in both body weight and more importantly, energy!

I hope I’m not celebrating too soon but it’s now been 24hours with everything I’ve eaten staying put and today saw me back on the rollers again and hopefully back on my way to getting fit enough for the mission ahead.

March 8th 2019 - Things are looking up!

 

This lack of stamina thing has really been bugging me and I know that if it continues it will be the thing that is going to stop me completing this trip. I have been wondering how much of it could be a mental block, simply a matter of self preservation that kicks in as soon as I start to get tired.

Today I got back on the rollers and true to form I was beaten at a minute. A while later I tried again and pushed it to 2mins

Then once more 2mins 30sec, then 3mins. Each time seemed like an eternity and I am really having to push myself to get this far. Then I tried putting on a slideshow to watch as I pedalled. As if by magic - 4mins, 5mins and finally 6minutes!!!!

OK, so I still have a long way to go but today, for the first time, I feel I am making progress! :-)

 

March 7th 2019 - They see me rollin' 

 

It was bright start to the morning that soon turned into a cold, damp and rather windy day cycling around the farm resulting in a lot quicker ride down the farm road than coming back up!  It wasn’t too long before the lure of a warm flat with kettle won me over and I was back indoors. Now if you have been following this blog you may have seen me mention that I have struggled to ride on the training rollers for more than a minute. Anything past that finds me desperately out of breath or a crumpled mess on the floor with the bike on top of me! 

Well today I pushed and pushed, wobbled and recovered until finally I kept going for a whole 3 minutes and 7 seconds!! At this point I can hear the jeering and heckling of all you cyclists and those who do ‘spinning’ classes laughing at my lack of stamina, but this is where I am at right now. Admittedly I was never fitness freak but since the chemo and radiotherapy and my operations last year and earlier this year I have been struggling to get my energy levels back up. So for me, 3 minutes on the rollers today was quite an achievement and is one step closer to being fit enough to cycle to Amsterdam in 14 weeks time J

March 3rd 2019 - my first 20 miles (with some help!)

 

Storm Freya was blowing a gale all night and I woke up to a very grey, wet and windy day. This was to be my first real venture out of the farm on the bike and against my better judgment I loaded bike into car and drove to Cyclopark in Gravesend where at least there was one ray of sunshine waiting for me in the form of my gorgeous wife Sarah, ready to see me off with camera in hand.

As I built my bike up in the boot of the car my childhood friend Speed (Colin) turned up. He had already ridden from Bexleyheath – no doubt at a blistering pace as he still cycles with The West Kent RC and competes regularly.

Sarah nagged me for faffing about as we were due to leave at 10am prompt with the group who we are doing the trip to Amsterdam with in June. A quick introduction to the group, a wave to Sarah and we set off. Storm Freya gave us a firm push most of the way to the Cliffe Cafe where upon arrival I promptly fell off rather unceremoniously at the entrance! Several of our group offered to help me up but for a while it was just nice to lay there without pedaling.

 

A cup of tea, slice of cake and some good banter flew by all too quickly before I found myself in the saddle once again although this time Freya was doing her best to stop us getting back. To even things up slightly Speed (Colin) gave me a push for a fair bit of the way.

Even with his assistance I am ashamed to admit that the last hill beat me and I walked up with my tail between my legs instead of my bike.

Finally we made it back at the Cyclopark where we all grouped up briefly to pat each other on our backs and then head off home into the storm.

 

 

I must admit that my Mum’s birthday meal this afternoon provided a very welcome sit down out of the wind and rain and on a seat quite a bit wider and a lot comfier than a 70 year old Brookes B17!!!!

February 28th 2019 - A wheel good day

 

Less than 24 hours after I dropped my wheel off to Geoff of The Bike Site I was back picking it up - how's that for super fast service! Geoff had even dished and centred the wheel to accomodate the 7-speed freewheel and supplied a few 'just in case' spokes.

On the way home I called in on Tim at West Malling Cycles to drop in some money I owed him and bought a cycle helmet for the ride out this weekend.

Back at the farm I hastily refitted the back wheel, fitted the new chain and adjusted the gears before a 15 minute test ride around the farm.

Both myself and my knees think that the lower gears are REALLY nice!!!!

February 27th 2019 - The right gear

 

Admitting to myself that the gearing on my bike was too high for my current level of fitness I went to see Tim of West Malling Cycles and purchased a 7-speed freewheel with a 28 tooth first gear replacing my current 21 tooth along with a matching chain. 

Discussing the loose spokes in my rear wheel, Tim reffered me to Geoff of The Bike Site in East Malling who is a whizz at wheel building. Geoff came across as another thoroughly decent chap and said he would do his best to get the wheel sorted in the next couple of days.

February 24th 2019 - 

 

20mins of cycling around the farm – Ron (John) joined me on his mtb and I set up my camera to capture some pics of both of us on the farm road. Ratso chased us for some of the time. Rode up the ‘hill of shame’ albeit standing up and breathing quite heavily – did a few more farm laps and farm road as a wind down. Later in the day I did another 15mins more around farm.

Still finding it hard to keep food down and I am losing a bit of weight but the hospital is not concerned - they expect things to settle down for me.

February 23rd 2019 - Keeping my feet up

 

After 40 minutes of cycling around the farm I was determined to try the 'hill of shame' again. On the way out of the farm gates I managed to get not just one but two punctures! 

A short drive to West Malling Cycles found me being looked after by Tim, the owner, who took great care of me and I came away with inner tubes, a rear wheel spindle and cones, a fresh set of brake blocks, shims for the rear sprocket and a cone spanner that Tim had very kindly and trustingly lent me.

 

Back home I fitted the new rear wheel spindle and cones, new brake blocks and straightened the front wheel. Unfortunately the spokes in the rear wheel were quite loose but too siezed to risk tightening without replacements on hand. With the new inner tubes and tyres refitted a quick test ride proved the new brake blocks to have a distict advantage over the old ones when it came to bringing the bike to a stop.

Finally I got back to re-climbing the 'hill of shame' and this time I made it without my feet touching the ground :-)

 

 

February 22nd 2019 - Hill of shame

 

Cycled around the farm for 20 minutes. Having a letter to post I thought I would take the opportunity to cycle to the post box. It is only just out of the farm gates, down the hill and round the corner, not far at all. Going there was no problem at all but coming back up the hill I felt very ashamed as before I got to the top of the hill I had run out of puff and had to push my bike the rest of the way - something I cannot remember ever having to do as a teenager.

This afternoon Speed came over and expressed concerns that I might be overdoing it and suggested that maybe we opted for an easier ride......

 

 

February 19th 2019 - Fit enough

 

Finally got my signed forms back from the doctors today to say that I am fit enough to do this ride. I'm not so sure he would have signed them if he had come to the farm to see me puffing and panting as I complete another lap of the farm units at a snails pace, but it means that the organisers should be OK with my entry. Now to get fit enough in the real world (not just on a medical form) :-)

February 5th 2019 - Through the keyhole

 

Today saw me back in hospital for a relatively minor operation. This time it was for a hiatus hernia. As a result of losing weight after my last operation, my colon had managed to find it's way up into my chest - not too uncommon so they tell me. This was all repaired with keyhole surgery  - a few small holes and a couple of crochet hooks and the job was a good'un. With an overnight stay in hospital I was free to go home the next day

January 29th 2019 - It's snowing again!

 

I don't really feel like I'm getting any fitter yet. The rollers still throw me off after a minute and the farm road that is virtually flat still slows me down on the way back up and makes my knees ache.

This fresh flurry of snow was just what I needed to give me the excuse to take some more selfies to convince you all that I'm out there in all weathers, giving this training my all.....

January 23rd 2019 - It's snowing!

 

Given that I’m struggling to ride on the rollers, the snow outside looks like the best option for a bit of training today. The word ‘training’ still sticks in my throat a bit as it is something that I tend to associate with atheletes rather than someone as unfit as I am pedalling around the farm slowly and still getting out of breath.

To make myself feel better I set up my camera to the side of the farm road to take some pics as I rode by giving my best “this is easy” and “I’m so fit” poses.

January 22nd 2019 - Crash test

 

This morning I rode around the farm for around 20 minutes just getting used to being in the saddle again. In the afternoon my good friend Speed dropped off a set of training rollers.

I recognised these as the West Kent RC rollers we had when I was a member as a teenager. Knowing that I might need a little support to get going I positioned the rollers next to my wardrobes giving me something to lean on.

I also set up my camera on a tripod with a very slow shutter speed to give the impression of me pedalling really fast ;-)

Forty years ago I could ride on these rollers for ages with no problem at all so it came as quite a shock to discover that I am now unable to even do a minute on them without collapsing from exhaustion or more frequently just crashing!!! 

January 20th 2019 - A refreshing change to cycling

 

Woke up this morning to the sound of the neighbours scraping their windscreens before they headed off to church. It’s far too cold for going out on the bike (or that is my excuse) so Sarah and I opted for wrapping up warmly for a nice dog walk. However, somewhere along the way we forgot how bitterly cold it was and ended up taking selfies as we splashed around in a river while Rhodee looked on from the river bank. Maybe a training ride on the bike would have been a better idea after all!

January 19th 2019

 

OK, the plan is to start getting myself fit enough for this ride by cycling around the farm where I live. There are concrete roads here around the work units that I can do laps on and if I then go down the farm road there is a gentle slope back up and something a bit steeper coming back up to the workshops.

The benefits for me of starting my training here (at the 'funny farm' as I call it) are: 

1) It’s just outside my front door,

2) Virtually no traffic so Rhodee Rat-Dog can run around with me,

3) There are other people about to chat to and to pick me up if (or when) I fall off!

4) And probably most important of all: my bed is really close-by for me to collapse into!!!

January 18th 2019 - Back in time

 

So today saw me venture into the loft at my Mum's house to retrieve the bike that I intend to ride to Amsterdam in June. This is the bike that my Dad saved up for seventy years ago and bought with his wages from working in an off licence. The same bike that he rode while courting my Mum and that he handed over to me when I was a teenager. 

I subsequently rode this bike with the West Kent RC until at around the age of 19, beer, cars and girls took preference over cycling.

Up in the loft for the past 35 years or more keeping it company was my Mum's old bike too, so we thought it was only right to get a photo of us with both the bikes.

Two flat tyres put paid to me being able to have a quick test ride and guessing the tyres and inner tubes had probably perished by now I headed off to Harry Perry Cycles in Woolwich.

I had been told that the owner, Paul Mepham, was a jolly nice chap and had quite a collection of older bikes. I was not to be dissapointed and I cannot recommend Paul and his shop highly enough. Now armed with new inner tubes and some basic cycle tools I headed off home with excitement to have my first ride of the bike in over three decades.....

January 12th 2019 - The dumb idea

 

Walking Ratso in the woods today and feeling tired and out of breath as usual I returned to my flat wondering how should I go about getting fit. As I pondered this while making myself a cup of tea, issue 310 of Town & Country Post dropped through my letter box. 

Surely this had to be a sign from above as when I picked it up it fell open at the page advertising a charity cycle ride in aid of Darent Valley Hospital (one of the hospitals who had given such great care to my Dad and I over the last couple of years).

So without giving it too much thought I hastily (should that read foolishly?) signed up for what I now realise is quite an undertaking, even for a regular cyclist with a fair few less years behind them than I have.This ride will be taking place exactly one year since I was in hospital recovering from my esophagectomy operation and more than 35 years or more since I last cycled anywhere!

My Dad with the bike that I will be cycling to Amsterdam on in June

 

 

 

 

In loving memory of Roy Green 1931-2018 - Forever my Dad, forever my hero.

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