A Cornish return

No walking today. It’s been a tiring week and a long day yesterday. It’s also wet, windy and cold, and I’m not in specific training just yet to make it that vital or worthwhile. But I have been thinking hard about a new walking challenge and I think I’ve found the one. It’s the Atlantic Coast Challenge 5-7 October next year and what effectively consists of three marathon distance walks on three consecutive days Friday to Sunday. But – as they say on I’m A Celebrity – I won’t be alone in there. This is one that I would really like to do with a few friends. There has already been some interest and some pledges to do this in a team. It is quite an exciting yet daunting challenge, and that is the combination that usually works.

Atlantic Coast Challenge

The route follows the North Cornwall coast from around Padstow to Land’s End along the South West Coast Path. I have walked some of that route, though in the opposite direction. It will be beautiful and with lovely Atlantic views, but also tough walking. We can only hope that the weather won’t be too bad. Photos from that last visit……

I’m leaving it for a few days while these guys have a cooling off period prior to committing to this event (the Cornish pasty for finishing will surely persuade one of them, in particular). As ever, there is some expense involved – but slightly cheaper if we all commit prior to 30th December. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to some walking over the Christmas holiday period to build up a little bit of fitness once again. As we get to spring and summer, I will build in some off-road walking with plenty of hills. The not very hilly New Forest and the slightly more hilly South Downs beckon.


Worth getting out of bed for

Sometimes there is simply too much going on for my one-dimensional brain (perhaps two-dimensional at a stretch) to handle. Issues and concerns both inside and outside the office are pretty difficult when they all come at once.

I certainly needed to get back out there on the road, press the endorphins and temper some of the toxins of trouble. No doubt over the following month I will be considering some fairly implausible walking challenges before setting on something very challenging but marginally manageable given a following wind, hopefully both interesting and manageable.

For today, a jolly jaunt along familiar tracks. A coffee stop, a couple of drivers beeping their horns in greeting, a couple of instances of rather reckless driving. Just another day at my ‘walking office’ and how great it felt. Well, great for at least about nine or ten miles. It is a few weeks since I’ve done anything near this distance. Strangely, my walking trousers felt tight, not around the belt as much as round the thighs. Blimey, that cycling had an effect. At one time, 13.5 miles would have been easy and a hardly-worth-getting-out-of-bed-for distance. Today, it was more than that. Likely to be stiff and achy tomorrow.

Cycle Challenge Day 9

Well that’s that. Another challenge completed. The final day was a bit more comfortable than I expected, though it was still over 50 miles on the bike, and around 2 hours 45 minutes. I’m glad to finish and have a certain warmth that I did manage it. However, this thing has pretty much taken over my life after work this week, and most of any free time over the last weekend.  Bye bye to the gym for a while – I am sick of the sight of that bike.


Day 9 Distance: 86.3 km (53.6 miles)

Total Distance: 804.7 km (500 miles)

Where am I on the London to Glasgow route: Glasgow. Finished at 7:10pm. The kids of CiN have mooched in just before 9. Well done to all of them, through all kinds of weather and inclines. Over £5 million raised so far. If you want to show your appreciation for them, please donate here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1gRFL3txwwWdMPshdNwRNRg/the-rickshaw-challenge-2017

Here are my heroes:

Thanks ever so much for reading. This is obviously the last blog post for this challenge. I am as stiff as a board – I reckon I need to go for a long walk soon……….

Cycle Challenge Day 8

158.3 km and so less than 100 miles to go, at the start of Day 8. Stuck in the middle of nowhere last night with only a distant phone box for company, so thank goodness that the bike started this morning. The seven days have been tiring and the mornings are not fun, my body having a certain aura of reticence and inertia about it now. Once I start, it is not so bad for a decent while with some sort of sense of achievement just round the metaphorical corner. There has never been much doubt in my mind since the weekend that I will complete the distance, only how much it would hurt.

It is odd – and somewhat masochistic (in some but not all senses of the word) – when you know that an activity that is entirely voluntary is not necessarily going to be enjoyable but what you do know is that it is going to hurt. I’m not certain I can get my head round that, but only that I keep going there. There is a near analogy of continually banging your head against a wall; it feels really good when you’ve finished. Perhaps, for me, it is that I can call myself a sportsman. I was always decent, but not brilliant, at a number of sports with no specifically great achievements that would impress too many people other than my mum and dad.

After those 10 weeks’ walking in 2014, I did introduce myself to a couple of people, quite straight-facedly, as a former full-time athlete. The walking (and now cycling) achievements are more a victory for stubbornness over talent, and a difficulty in accepting to give up – ok, don’t mention Isle of Wight. And I’m in no danger of giving up on this one, despite another two and a quarter hours and a bit riding and bouncing up and down on the saddle after work today. It reminded me of Not The Nine O’clock News sketch with the song I Like Bouncing and Rowan Atkinson belting out the classic lyrics “I like bouncing boing boing boing, Up and down until I get a pain in me groin”  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOUTimHYj5w) and I sure did have a pain in me groin, and me thighs too tonight. I was looking to get close to halving the remaining distance today, and I knew that I needed 71.5 km to keep those kids behind me. Competitive Dad and all that.


Day 8 Distance: 72 km (44.7 miles)

Total Distance: 718.4 km (446.4 miles)

Where am I on the London to Glasgow route: The route has shifted eastwards to Edinburgh. About 700 yards ahead of the kids of CiN. I’m not gloating about this – I’m only trying to help by letting them ride in my slipstream tomorrow, the final day.


Image result for pictures of edinburgh

The ‘Ride to the Clyde’. Just this one day left, a jaunt from Edinburgh to Glasgow. What a fantastic achievement by me those kids. Please think about making a donation:


Cycle Challenge Day 7

I need to get wound up more often. Over the course of today, I turned from Cool Calm and Collected Spice to Sarcastic Spice to Irritated Spice to Angry Spice and then (most satisfyingly) to Stroppy Spice. A couple of innocent, or partly innocent, people got in the way. It gave me the aggression and drive to give it everything on the bike when I got home. I forgot the increasing stiffness and achiness in my legs and cycled away much further than I had planned.

What made me angry? Well, all sorts of things, work related. Being taken for granted, being taken for an idiot, having my advice completely ignored. Just all part of a day’s work. We’ve all had those sorts of days. It’s funny that very few personal insults can upset me since I can usually bat those away, but questioning integrity is on an absolutely different level. That really got my goat, in fact, a whole tribe of goats, but it helped to instil so much energy to burn off and channel to the pedals.

I’ve calmed down now. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. Maybe you don’t like me anyway. I’ll try to be Normal Spice tomorrow.

Day 7 Distance: 92 km (57.2 miles)

Total Distance: 646.4 km (401.7 miles)

Where am I on the London to Glasgow route: In the middle of nowhere, but 8.7 miles ahead of the kids of CiN, apparently snuggled up in Hawick.

Image result for pictures of in the middle of nowhere in scotland

Now those kids on the BBC Children in Need Rickshaw Challenge. They have really got things to be angry about, to be bitter with the world. Their resilience is to be admired. As I write this, I’m reaching for my phone to donate. This ride – the one that I’m doing – is obviously a virtual ride of 500 miles over 9 days and it is in tribute to all of them who are really on the roads and hills. Please read one or two of their stories within the link below. I don’t envy them for one minute for what they’ve gone through in their lives; they deserve their moments of fame this week on the ‘Ride to the Clyde’.


Cycle Challenge Day 6

This morning was the first during this challenge when I have felt stiffness in my legs and it was an effort to get myself going today. It was even more of an effort, after a full day’s work, to start on the bike. It was TV all the way with the regular fare of Pointless, The Chase and The One Show, followed by the build up and first few minutes of the England match v Brazil. After about an hour and a half and 45-50 km, it was at best a grind and I pushed myself a bit harder just to get to around 80 km in order to keep the distance required down to 250 km in three days. That should be manageable but I will be glad now when it’s all over. A big effort needed and some deep digging to do. In other news, chicken and beans for tea, which apparently was Alan Shearer’s pre-match meal of choice.

Day 6 Distance: 81 km (50.3 miles)

Total Distance: 554.4 km (344.5 miles)

Where am I on the London to Glasgow route: In the southern outskirts of Carlisle, in Cumbria. The kids of CiN apparently went through hell today in the wind, cold and rain and up a number of steep peaks. They somehow managed to close the gap on me to a mere 17.5 miles. Hats off to them; they probably had it harder than me.


Image result for pictures of carlisle england

Watching The One Show today was truly emotional as the stories of a couple of the riders were played out, highlighting how fortunate most of us are in our own lives. You’ll hear this time and time again this week, but…….please donate whatever you can: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1gRFL3txwwWdMPshdNwRNRg/the-rickshaw-challenge-2017

Cycle Challenge Day 5

Our gym was built when we converted our garage about seven years ago. It is a fairly small affair with a cycle, rowing machine, bench and weights, and a vibro exercise plate. The gym lies largely unused for long periods in between spells of high activity, but it is being tested to the full at present, or at least the bike is. After work today, I was in the gym by just after 5:30pm and the temperature reading was a frisky 6 degrees Celsius.

It soon warmed up as I trundled away steadily, belting out a bit of Bon Jovi after 10 km. I was halfway there but not really living on a prayer. At the start of proceedings, with a little more than 400 km to go in 5 days, it doesn’t take a career statistician to tell you that that is around 80 km per day. I would be more than happy to leave myself a bit more on the Friday if I have to.

I am really in the rhythm now and this is becoming part of a routine, though not routine enough for it to be too easy. Make no mistake, this is damned hard and I am gradually becoming slightly more reticent to start off each day. The Land’s End to John O’Groats walk is in a different league, but of all the other challenges this one feels to be the hardest since it is sustained over a number of days and the need to do a lot of the legwork on top of a day at work. The 100 km walks were very hard but mostly in recovery than during the events when adrenaline was everything.

Today, the contestants won the jackpot on Pointless (BBC), didn’t win the jackpot on The Chase (ITV+1), but England won their own jackpot of The Ashes at The Oval (DVD+8 years). Tomorrow, there is the England football team playing, so yes, er, really something to which to look forward to watching.

Day 5 Distance: 81 km (50.3 miles)

Total Distance: 473.4 km (294.2 miles)

Where am I on the London to Glasgow route: Crosthwaite, a small parish in the heart of the Lake District, around 5 miles west of Kendal. Crosthwaite has a population of around 600 and a median age of 51, so (if you’re reading this after about 8pm) most of them are in bed by now. There is a nice church. Meanwhile, the kids of BBC CiN are a full marathon (26.2 miles) behind in Morecambe. Take that, suckers! They may well catch me up on Day 8, I reckon, but we will all be happy families in Glasgow at the end of Day 9.


A stone church tower, on a sunny winter morning.

Details of the BBC Children in Need Rickshaw Challenge are in the following link. Please be encouraged to donate whatever you can: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1gRFL3txwwWdMPshdNwRNRg/the-rickshaw-challenge-2017