28th March - 3rd April
A few days on from the end of my tour I am certainly recovering well, I hope to be back in training over the next week once my knee has had a chance to calm down. I certainly have some people to thank, without them the tour simply couldn't have gone ahead:
- Firstly everyone who provided accommodation (Harriet Fender- Exeter, Rhododendron House- Lyme Regis, Southvile Guest house- Weymouth, Megan Goodes- Bristol, Tom Walker- Oxford, Nick Smith- Leicester, Norfolk Arms- Sheffield, Charlotte Campion- Manchester) This was vital for the tour to go ahead, you were all extremely generous giving up your bed for the night!
-The sponsorship total currently is over £2,200 which is a lot more than I originally had hoped to raise. A massive thanks to all of you who donated, shared the website and spread the word. There is a lot of money going to some really amazing causes!
- Andy Walker and Richard Tapley, I felt it was really important to keep everyone up to date with all the latest news from the tour. Without you two this certainly wouldn't have been as entertaining!
- Alan Stockton (Dad) without the routes and GPS, it certainly would have been a lot longer than 420 miles!
I have already been asked "what is next?" .... The next challenge for me will be the UK Ironman in Bolton 20th July, beyond that I will certainly look to organise another fundraiser over the next couple of years! What exactly that will involve I don't know yet, but I can assure you it will be tougher and more exciting than this tour.
The day started in a heavy veil of very thick fog. When I looked out of the window we could not even see the other side of the road and I reckon visibility was down to about 15 metres. The final leg of the tour was therefore delayed until about 10.00am for safety reasons.
I had decided that this leg would be by bike (40 miles) rather than running because my knee was getting worse and worse and I felt that I still wanted to be able to walk, run, bike and do my job in the future- not that a 40 mile ride through the hills of the Peak District is particularly great therapy!
I was with my trusty partner again (Dad) and we set off on some very "high up" roads where the fog was still thick (I think if I had been running there would have been some real danger from cars).We had a couple of short "malt loaf stops" on route but otherwise kept up a good steady pace despite the challenging terrain. As we hit the outskirts of Manchester we were able to complete a good section of the ride on the canal paths - they were more suited to a mountain bike but it was good to be away from traffic.
The final stage of the tour finished in the heart of Manchester with a surge across the quickly erected finish line that Mum, Amy and Charlotte had put in place by means of a large banner!
It was fantastic to finish and achieve what I had set out to do, in particular it is genuinely rewarding to think about all the money you have helped me raise for some amazingly good causes that I hope will continue to help as many people as possible.
It is only when I look at the map and see that I started way down south 7 days ago and now I am up here in the North of England that I realise what I have achieved. Thanks for all your support ....I am off to eat a Chorizo Risotto with my cousin Charlotte and then have a few drinks. It has been fun....thanks for sharing it with me.
I woke up this morning with a distinctive smell in my nostrils, no, Dad had not arrived early.... it was the first whiff of the finishing line which was now only today's ride (80 miles) and one more day (of about 40 miles) away.
Dad had arrived by train this morning and we met at the station around 8.00am. We peddled off together from Leicester on the way up North! The destination today was Sheffield. Did you know "The Full Monty" was set in that great city....nope, nor did I, but then the only "full" I was interested in this morning was a breakfast of the English variety!
The weather was ok and we managed to survive all the sand from the Sahara, bark pollen and other pollution that I hear is advancing across the country. It was great to have a cycle buddy (not just because I could take a break in his slip stream) but a bit of company and help with navigation was a real bonus. I think we went at a faster pace with the two of us together.
There were a lot more cycle tracks today and we spent some time on the canal paths in and around Nottingham which was good. The lunch today deserves an honorary mention as we got our hands on some of the biggest baps you have ever seen ...pure bacon and sausage heaven from a quality bakery.
As we approached Sheffield (in the dark and fog?) the cycling got harder and the roads got worse and worse. The pot holes were terrible and the traffic (rush hour) did not help. The hilly roads were a real challenge and it was definitely the hardest bit of riding so far (lucky old Dad). My knee is suffering a lot at the moment and the hard ride today did not help. It was about 90 miles and I have to say it felt like it towards the end.
We rode into Sheffield at about 5.30pm. Only one more day to go......the plan is for Matt Tapley to join us for part of the journey as we head into the Peak District .I am looking forward to the finish in Manchester on Thursday. I am "mad for it".........good night duck!
Still glowing with immense pride and re-living the beautiful compliment that my host offered me last night as I arrived in Oxford "You don't actually look that much of a mess" I jumped (well...stepped gingerly) onto my bike this morning for the journey North to Leicester and the very heart of the Midlands.
The wise (young) man I know told me some more interesting city facts about my destination.... Did you know that Leicester was declared 'Sporting Capital of the UK' in 1997 when Leicester City Football Club won the (then) Coca Cola Cup, Leicester Tigers Rugby Union Club won the Pilkington Cup and Leicestershire County Cricket Club held the County Championship... maybe they will declare it again in 2014 if a young lad on a bike arrives there following a fair few miles running and cycling!? (In the meantime I will make do with my own declaration to the deli shop that I visited yesterday as the Scotch egg capital of the south).
Anyway, enough of this......another good ride today in lovely weather. Oxford was shrouded in fog as I set off at 9.15am this morning on the 72 mile journey (72 miles!)... When I actually think about these distances or write them down it seems a bit more real...probably best if I stick to thinking about food. It was the best weather so far and I decided to celebrate with a lunch break at Aldi - no special edition Scotch Eggs but I feasted on a clutch of pork pies! Annoyingly, I had two punctures when I was about 25 miles out of Leicester but still managed to arrive in the city at 5.30pm.
Dad is arriving early tomorrow to bike the penultimate leg to Sheffield with me. Blimey, that sounds very Northern......eeh by gum. I hope those granite hard northerners don't spot his shaved and waxed legs! Looking forward to a good night's rest. Night, night Pet!
It was goodbye to Bristol this morning as I mounted the trusty bike to take on the next leg of the tour and make my way (in a north easterly direction) towards the city of Oxford. Did you know that Hitler was planning to make Oxford his capital if he conquered England, which is one of the reasons it was not bombed?! Nope....nor did I until I was told this evening by a very wise (young) man. Still, he didn't and it wasn't...... so I was able to cycle merrily and freely on my way to complete day 4 of my challenge.
The ride was similar to yesterday really. I think the biking is actually helping my legs to recover. It was a relatively incident free journey with one puncture that I fixed road side and one closed railway bridge that I had to take a diversion around.
The highlight of this leg however was without doubt the purchase of the best Scotch egg I have ever eaten and a massive slab of quiche (only real men eat that) which I bought at a little village deli. I had a bit of rain after lunch but nothing that stopped me relishing the food I had just eaten.
I arrived in Oxford at around 5.30pm......there are a lot of tourists around at the moment and I did think (only for a few seconds though) how interesting it would have been to complete a few miles of my journey by punt! Well, maybe next time...... I am staying at Tom Walkers, who was very encouraging in his assessment of me "you don't look too much of a mess" - praise indeed. Lucky he did not see me with my nose bleed on day one! I finished my traditional (massive) dinner which included the Scotch egg and am looking forward to my bed and dreams of..... Food, food and more food. The weather looks dry for me when I leave for Leicester in the morning. Hope you are all well. Laters!
I actually lost an hour of valuable sleep last night you know, like I am not tired or anything and can afford to give those precious 60 minutes away! Still, time for a bike ride this morning.....after a couple of hard days running (the equivalent of three back to back marathons) it was almost a pleasure to get into the saddle and hit the road on two wheels.
I had a massive breakfast to re-fuel and set me up for the day ahead. The target was Bristol (according to the statistics it is one of the warmest cities in the UK - hopefully no hail stones today then) which is around 100 miles from my starting point....blimey, now I say it aloud, that actually sounds like quite a lot of miles!
I felt a bit stiff to start with (not really a surprise) but the weather was good and it was cycle track all the way out of Weymouth so a good, easy ride really to begin with. There were a few big hills during the day and I stopped off at around 45 miles to have some food. It was so much better on my bike and I made it to my destination at about 4.30pm.
The route was mainly minor roads and mostly very limited traffic which was good, the biggest problem was navigating my way around Bristol and I did an unscheduled tour (or two) of this great city.
I am relaxing in some quality student University accommodation (courtesy of Megan Goode) this evening...I hope they keep the noise down and my bike does not end up tied to a lamp post with a traffic cone on its saddle !
Anyway, I am off to bed now to catch up with that sadly lost hour. Have a good Monday everybody and think of me as I make the long cycle journey (I reckon about 65 miles) to the "dreaming spires" of Oxford......and a step nearer to my final destination.
It had to be a better day today than yesterday......and guess what my friends....? It was.
I set off at just after 9.30am to start the 30 mile journey to Weymouth and made my way along the undulating coast path tracks towards a rendezvous with my bike. I have to say; the undulations felt they were only one way though.
I basically followed the line of the coast, in and out, in and out and of course, up and down and up and down and up and up and up again! It was harder running that I expected and was not assisted by a strong head wind and more harshly, a regular carpet of thousands of pebbles. The recent storms had washed up masses of stones onto the paths anywhere near the water and it was like running on quick sand (but definitely without the quick!)
The weather was better than yesterday and the run was certainly less eventful. I arrived in Weymouth about 5.30pm and made an early visit to a local waffle shop to try and start catching up with some of the calories I desperately need (despite the fish and chips I devoured on arrival in Lyme Regis) I am not even sure if it is possible to try and eat the amount my body now needs. I estimate I burnt around 7000 calories during my little jaunt yesterday (45 miles) and probably not much less today.
I will put some data on the site about my calorific burn and hill profiles in due course (I bet you can't wait). In the meantime I am off to celebrate with as many waffles as I can cram in, and........a blood free nose.
Have a good Saturday night, oh, and don't forget to put your clocks forward tonight.
Bye for now.
P.S Talking of strong "head winds", no Mum, don't worry I am not going to talk about you.......my mates Matt and Ross made the journey to London today for the famous "Head of the River race" and after getting onto the water and ready to race, it was all cancelled after only a few of the 400+ crews had finished. The winds were so bad some of the crews had crashed and it got too dangerous. Bad luck guys. Hope to catch up soon and look forward to seeing you on my tour.
Feeling pretty good, nothing major to worry about other than the expected stiffness. Weather looks a lot better today no wind or any sign of rain! Milage should be about 30 miles which compared to yesterdays 45 should be slightly more comfortable.
Well, well, well.....I was after a nice solid start, smooth, with no problems. It did not happen my friends! If it could have gone wrong today, it did. I started on my way at about 9.30am and within a few minutes I hit some very strong hail stones and rain. No bother, I carried on running, following the canal for about 10 miles on my way to the ferry crossing to get over the estuary. Woops, no ferry today young man! I had checked but the ferry was not available so the only option was to re-trace my steps for 6 miles...back to the Exeter boathouse where I could traverse the river. I had been on the go for about 2.5 hours and was only just out of Exeter!
I used the GPS and Dad's knowledge to help me set a route to Sidmouth (the town of folk festivals) following a network of roads and paths. I was off my planned route and decided to get a bus to set me back on schedule. I was planning to get a bus from Sidmouth to Seaton but after waiting for a long time, I was getting cold so made the decision to start running to Seaton.
I was cold so was fully wrapped in hat, gloves and jackets...I am sure it all looked a bit strange for anyone who saw me. However, in keeping with the day so far the route to Seaton was blocked as there had been a cliff collapse and the only route to the holy grail of Seaton was on an A road. With next to no light left in the day I decided that this was not the best plan so went for a taxi from Beer to Lyme Regis.
Not exactly what I had planned but an eventful and interesting first day on the road. Stay with me guys , I need your support. Oh, by the way....I had two nose bleeds on route just to make sure I was kept on my toes.
It is the night before I start my big adventure and I can think of no better way to spend it than eating pasta in an Exeter pub with Harriet Fender. (What a great place to live Harriet)
I dropped my bike off safely in Weymouth today and I am now truly ready for action. I have not checked the forecast for tomorrow but my rucksack is packed (yes I will be running with that on my back) and it contains everything I need and some stuff I hope I will not. I have Dad's Garmin GPS safely wrapped and ready but hopefully, if I keep the sea on my right and stick to the path I should not get lost. Probably, will not stop for a cream tea this time but I think I have enough energy bars to see me through, not very traditional, I know, but much easier to pack.
I feel quite relaxed about it and just want to start now...I think this first leg will be the hardest and want to get the first 40 miles under my belt.
Thanks for all your support so far...sleep well !
Wow....many thanks to everyone for all your support, the great news is with your kind donations I've receieved from Just Giving and offline I have reached my target of £1500! However, you know me...I like to set goals and constantly challenge myself, so, I have decided to aim for a new amount and want to hit the £2000 mark.
The other target (and much harder than the sponsorship goal) is the attempt at getting all my kit ready and sorted for the challenge. I can sort my bike out, no problem, but where is Mum when you need her to wash, press and fold all my clothes? Still, I will attempt to get everything under control and make sure I don't forget the Lycra (I think Dad wants to borrow it when he goes out on the town)
I will be leaving my home base camp on Thursday morning to get ready, set and prepared for the start of my journey - Will is soon to be..... on tour!
So... with the smell of cut grass in my nostrils and the sound of lawn mowers floating through the warm air, it seems as if winter has finally gone. The optimism that a new season brings and feel of lighter days has really helped to put a spring in my step (see what I did there?) which is just as well as I will need all the help I can get as we approach "lift off" for Will on Tour.
There is less than a week now until the start of the tour and I have shunned the urge to join the students lying on the glass with their high cut shorts, tight sun tops and strapless dresses (and that is just the boys) My training has been going well and I finished off with a couple of 2k tests on the rowing machine as a bit of a change from the bike. I am then aiming to finish off ( I think they call it tapering) with a few days of rest and eating, before the hard work starts!
The promotion of the challenge has also gone well. The publicity included a feature in a local newspaper and the circulation of over 700 cards around the country to friends, family, cafe owner, pets and estate agents to name just a few! The fundraising is now up beyond £1000 which is great and I am well on course to reach the target so a huge thanks to all of you that have contributed so far! There is still time to pledge more to this great cause so don't be shy and feel free to circulate information far and wide.
Once the tour has started there will be daily updates on the website to keep you posted on my progress!
Thanks for your support and interest so far...