Thursday, March 24, 2011

From A to B

I'm looking forward to cycling this... mmm...

One of the most pleasing aspects of my job is that I get to oversee our community programme.  Every year, hundreds of people across the company raise money by shaving their heads, walking over mountains, or  whatever challenge captures their imagination.  Others volunteer their time, sharing their expertise or simply getting involved with some hard graft when a good cause needs it.

And every year, I don't set the best of examples... too much on; too many pressures - too comfortable more like!

So as I approach my fiftieth birthday I've decided to do something about it. This June I'll be joining some of my colleagues and riding a bike from our most western depot in Aberystwyth, to our most eastern, which is called Bertrams in Norwich. So from A to B... then on to the coast, just for the heck of it.

That's about 360 miles and I know it's going to hurt - a lot. But actually, it'll be great fun too and already I'm enjoying the training. Last week as I rode through the lanes I glimpsed a Bullfinch calling from the hedgerow, its great puffed breast a sure sign of spring.

And I thought, how lucky am I?  I've riden bikes since I was six and always loved them. From my first wobbles down Holystone Avenue, to cycle touring as a lad, to crossing the Pyrenees on a tandem and the Alps with my son - whose effortless climbing brought me to tears.  Bikes are so simple, yet they've given me more freedom and joy than any other piece of technology I can think of.

But not everyone is so lucky.

And that's why I'm riding for Whizz-Kidz. It's a charity we've been involved with for some years and they do a fantastic job helping disabled kids to have some of the mobility and independence that I've taken for granted.  Their website sums it up well:

Whizz-Kidz provides disabled children with the wheelchairs and other mobility equipment they need to lead fun and active childhoods. But that's just the start. All around the country disabled children are meeting and making friends at a growing network of Whizz-Kidz clubs. They’re having fun around obstacle courses, knocking over skittles, doing wheelies and learning about boring but important things like road safety. They’re also forming campaign groups and meeting MPs, contacting the press, and designing campaign badges and posters. And because growing up can be a bit scary, they’re taking part in work placement programmes and life skills events.

In riding from A to B I'm hoping to raise at least £2000 from personal donations, and as a group we're targeting up to £50,000 by the time we've called in a few favours with suppliers and supporters at work. But every encouragement counts, and all the more so if it comes from friends and supporters.

If you'd like to leave a message of support that would be great, or to sponsor me click my just-giving pageBut most of all, think of me the next time you get in the car to drive anything approaching 360 miles - it's a long way by bike.


  1. Good luck to you. Tis a worthy cause too. I'm sure you'll achieve this and then some, even if it costs you a sore crutch. Unlike me, my parents were marathon 'Claude Butler' tandem peddlers, regularly cycling from London to Cornwall and back. I wont offer a pledge of money as we are commited to other similar causes, but I'll wish you a safe and successful journey to the Norfolk coast.

  2. Best of luck with the ride, Mark. I never learned to cycle so am in some awe at what you're undertaking. I'll wave as you pass through our bit of Mid-Wales.

  3. Best of luck - what a brilliant thing to be doing and for an excellent cause.

  4. Good for you! What a fabulous charity. I hope you're stocking up on loads of "Radox" for after the ride :-D

  5. Good luck Mark. Let's hope the weather in Norwich is as good for you when you get there as it is now, sunny and warm for the fourth day in a row, not a cloud to be seen.
    I have never got on with bikes.... just had so little sense of balance that I could never stay on one, and now have even more balance problems I wouldn't even try. Though I do have this mental image of myself on a three wheeler, basket on the front with a small pooch of some sort in it. Trouble is, the road is just too busy with buses as well as the usual cars, and then sugar beet lorries at certain times of the year too. Nah, don't think I'll bother!

  6. you'll need a gusset of leather!

    good luck matey


  7. I do hope that you are successful in your adventure across the countryside. Fifty is not spring chicken, as they say here, but nothing works like it did when you were 20.

  8. Good on you! I'm full of admiration. I think I'd rather just shave my head! It would be a much easier option for me. The last time I rode a bike I fell off right in front of the police station and my daughter and I made so much noise, her laughing and me accusing of cutting me off that a policeman came out to investigate.
    Good luck with your training and the ride.

  9. Good luck! My only experience of riding a tandem involved a very hard, sore saddle and I hope never to repeat it! At least you'll have your own bike and company en route. Hope the weather's in your favour too!

  10. I put the right picture in the slot.

  11. I'll certainly sponsor you, and I hope it doesn't hurt too much! It sounds like a much more satisfying undertaking than shaving your head...

  12. From my distant memories of riding bikes, I recall that it was quite pleasant as long as you weren't riding up a hill. Whilst the closing part of your marathon wont be too bad, the early stages will test you. You should have cycled canal towpaths instead - always guaranteed to be flat.