Well, as you have read, or seen were all safely back home.
We have been on a long journey, and I don't just mean the miles we've push under our tyres but metaphorically speaking too.
Thinking back to Saturday 28th April 2012, I'm not 100% certain how confident we all were when we set off for Griffin Park about our 180 mile cycling venture, but complete it, we certainly did with a variety of trials and tribulations along the way. I hope you enjoy reading about our venture.
Saturday 28 April 2012
The Saturday started early and we met at the Wednesdayite car park at 08:30 (myself getting Jonathan Cunningham en route) to catch the coach.
The trip down was a good one and the inclusion of a quiz and a game of Football Bingo helped to pass the travel time (if you're reading this Jonathan, I did say the answer to the Jamaican International was Deon Burton and not Jermaine Johnson (which would have won us the quiz!)).
Nothing of great note appertained on the trip down, we chatted about the Mighty Owls, the pending chances of Wednesday gaining automatic promotion by the end of the season and a certain Blades striker was also touched upon too!
We arrived into Brentford at around 13:00hrs and headed straight for the nearest public house, the New Inn. In there we met (what’s the collective noun for a group of Wednesdayites, massive?) a 'Massive’ of Wednesday fans inclusive of eDDie, Mrs. eDDie and Master eDDie, little Tommy who's aged four years old. Tommy took the pub over and while standing on a chair had the whole pub singing along to a medley of Wednesday songs!!
So, onto the match, we went from the New Inn over to the ground and took our seats accordingly. Jonathan and I took to the upper tier while the majority of the remaining cycling group took to the lower. The match started nervously, as did the atmosphere in the Wednesday end, but as time went on the nervousness seemed to subside as Wednesday started playing more openly.
As previously agreed, on 35 minutes we left our seats to join up with the cycling team to attain our bikes from our support vehicle, at which point we all missed the opening Wednesday goal (albeit we did hear the roar from the Wednesday end!). We transported our bikes and collection buckets for our charity cause into the Brentford home end and were introduced to the crowd via the tannoy system explaining our challenge and including details of Bluebell Wood, the charitable good cause which we are collecting for.
We paraded ourselves, bikes and buckets around the pitch and got a rapturous round of applause from all four sides of the ground. We collected just shy of £500 in that 15 minute interval from a combination of Wednesday and Brentford fans. That proved to be a brilliant return for our efforts and I would like to personally thank everyone who was involved and donated.
We took the bikes back to our support vehicle and (of course) missed the penalty incident whist doing so. So we left at 0-0 at arrived back at 1-1 (mind, we were £500 up on our charity cause!). As the majority of you will know, the second half saw our Magic Llera turn the ball home to eventually gain Wednesday the much needed three points!!
Post match, we were invited for a buffet tea in the ground hospitality area which we jointly snaffled whilst watching the Blades match. Jonathan and I wandered to the local pub for a couple of pints and saw the end of the first half; the entire pub erupted when Stevenage got their first goal!! Alas we had strict time constraints because of the daylight, we had to set off on our bikes at around 18:00hrs, we got back to the ground and met a few recognisable faces, Jose Semedo, Rob Jones, Stephen Bywater and had our photographs taken with the legendary Ron Atkinson (he's got a better tan than Nigel has!).
So, shortly afterwards, we were off, sporting an array of varying Lycra fitted tops and shorts (yes ladies, please control yourselves!). We struggled through the hectic London traffic and arrived ‘en mass’ at Wembley. The obligatory photos were taken on Wembley way and in front of the Bobby Moore statue, and again, we were quickly on our way to our first stop in Boreham Wood.
Paul Holmes, who booked the accommodation, had played his pocket aces with the first choice of hotel (one that was connected to a Toby Carvery pub)! We all checked in, got showered and changed and met in the Bar. Many discussions were undertaken; obviously the main topic of conversation was based on the afternoon / evening’s Football results and the likelihood of Wednesday achieving automatic promotion at Hillsborough the following weekend. As you’ll all know Wednesday never quite achieve anything the ‘easy’ way, so I expect some edge of the seat moments come the Wycombe match!!
After our obligatory Carvery for tea, Jonathan and I were chatting about our bike ride and were overheard by a bystander and his partner, we explained our Charity cause and challenge to him and he kindly donated £20 to us – thank you very much that man!
It was getting late, and after the journey to the Big Smoke, the match and the bike ride back to Boreham Wood we were all tired and we retired for the evening.
Sunday 29 April 2012
I awoke to the sound of rain pelting against my bedroom window and drew back the curtains to reveal the full extent of the torrential weather (brilliant, I thought!). As I mentioned previously, the hotel housed an entrance straight into the Toby Carvery which served all you can eat breakfast!! I didn’t fancy a big belly full of pork and eggs so I chose to have the (more unusual) option of Chocolate Brownies which had been baked by my sister outlaw Louise, (thank you Darlin!!).
Because of the weather I practically wore all my cycling gear and of course, all my waterproofs!! Anyone who knows me well will confirm my neshness (I get it off my Mum)!! It had been decided over breakfast that, because of the weather, we would delay our start time by 30 minutes. In addition to that we also experienced a few minor mechanical problems with Paul Senior’s bicycle; he needed a replacement inner tube fitting, so I got to work on that while the others were getting ready.
After an initial worry about our route (as Paul Holmes’ Satellite Navigation system decided to go on the blink) we found our way to our first of three stops for the day after approximately ten miles. A quick drink and a bun later we were on our way again for a much longer and gruelling stint in the saddle. The rain kept driving down, not only keeping us cold and wet but also making the road conditions treacherous and the visibility was nearly nonexistent!!
We finally arrived at our ‘lunch stop’ a Hungry Horse pub where we enjoyed some well deserved shelter from the rain, and I of course had my standard lunch of a Prawn Cocktail sandwich. Whilst in there we managed to catch some of the Chelsea v QPR match, Nigel informed me that his son ‘Our Dan™’ had predicted a 5-0 score to Chelsea and a Torres hat-trick!! This prediction hadn’t been backed as Dan is not of the requisite age to be able to gamble in the UK, but that aside we were all pleased when Chelsea scored their sixth goal which would have nullified any bet anyway.
We set off again and were very pleased that the rain had subsided and even the sun was trying to make an appearance. I had found that I personally preferred to set off on each stage a few minutes behind ‘the pack’ and put my efforts into catching each rider one by one – I found it something of a challenge to myself and concentrate my focus on. The next scheduled stop was the Stadium MK, I managed to catch up with Peter for the final five miles of this ride and we took advantage of the excellent cycling paths and network to arrive at our destination at the head of the group.
A trip to McDonalds’ later we set off again for our final stint of the day. The rain had come again and we were all very cold and wet. Paul Senior’s son Matthew had got himself into my slipstream and we cycled together for around 10miles. At about 18:30hrs with approximately five miles to go I had a problem, the dreaded rear wheel puncture! It was decided for the best, based on the number of miles we were away from our destination and the time we were on that I should retire for the day and I put my bike (and of course myself) into the back of the transit van and get changed. It’s not easy, I can tell you, trying to get changed out of wet sweaty cycling Lycra into a pair of jeans and a jumper in the back of a moving transit van whilst eating a chocolate bun!
We shortly got to our accommodation in Northampton, another Travelodge in a complex that housed a few restaurants, a Marks and Sparks store and a petrol station. We plumped to eat at TGI Friday’s which was very nice, Chicken Wings and Salad for me, and again after another gruelling day, we retired for the evening.
Monday 30th April
I awoke at approximately 08:00hrs and peered out of the window expecting a further prolonged bout of the torrential weather that we’d previously experienced. To my delight, the sun was shining brightly and there was not a cloud in the sky!!
First things first though, I had to fix my previously acquired puncture from yesterday, so I quickly ate some breakfast (chocolate brownies again) and trekked outside. I was greeted by a fellow that some of you Wednesday fans may have heard of, David Hirst. We chatted about our forthcoming ride and David confirmed that he hadn’t used his bike since our last charity trip out on the Coast 2 Coast ride in September 2009. Knowing now after the ride and writing this journal, I’m not entirely persuaded that what he said was 100% correct as he was regularly at the front of our ‘pack’!
David needed a spare inner tube as his rear wheel had got a damaged valve; I set upon refitting both wheels damaged wheels accordingly. The tube on my bike wouldn’t fit correctly however, so needed further assistance; Richard Davies kindly drove me and my wheel up to Halfords, just five minutes away. Just under an hour later I was all fixed and was on my way, I had a lot of catching up to do as the other riders had set off well before me!!
The first stage of Monday was a 20 mile stretch between Northampton and Market Harborough. I pushed myself well into this stage as I didn’t want the other riders waiting for me, I managed to catch both Paul and Matthew Senior and then I noticed that Peter and Nigel had stopped with one of the support vehicles. I followed suit and took a Twix on board, and quickly carried on, eventually I did catch Jonathan about 200yards away our next stopping point where we met up and waited for each rider to join us. I was very pleased that I’d managed to catch the peloton up and was back with the others. We continued our ride and had a very pleasant run into Market Harborough, parked the bikes up and went for lunch in the Black Bull, another Prawn Cocktail sandwich for lunch for me and a drink to wash it down with.
After Market Harborough I was really wanting a quick stage to attempt to drag the group along for an early Monday finish in Nottingham, this was so we could view the Manchester Derby and hopefully see Manchester United choke and lose to City. I hit the bike hard and pulled out a decent sized lead; this was confirmed by Richard, one of our support team. He said that he drove from the rider behind me up to where I was and it took him about 20 minutes! Nearer the end of the stage and coming into Melton Mowbray Richard came past me again, this time with David Hirst in his car, David had suffered a mechanical problem with his gears and he had to accept assistance. I arrived where David was about five minutes later at the Kettleby Cross, a JD Wetherspoons pub in Melton Mowbray.
David and I sat in the sun awaiting the arrival of the remaining riders. One by One they rolled in about 45 minutes later and we all sat down for around another 20 minutes. When we were all eventually ready and the required loo breaks had been taken we set off again for our final leg of the day, just a 20mile stretch to Nottingham.
The ride went well for the first 15 miles, but then, the wall came about (not an actual wall but when you literally cannot continue without some food / energy inside yourself). I desperately looked around for a support vehicle, but none were to be seen, I struggled on another few hundred yards in agony and spotted a petrol station in the distance, getting closer and closer to it I was deciding what to get myself to energize me for the remaining portion of the journey, Twix I thought.
At my arrival at the petrol station, to my disappointment, the shop was closed. There was a sign that stated that the nearest village was ¼ mile away so I attempted that, I got about 100yards in and couldn’t pedal any further so dismounted my bike and laid out on the grass verge for around ten minutes. After a decent rest, I gulped the remaining portion of Orange Juice that I had and decided to plough on back to the main road and continue the ride as best I could do.
After negotiating a small slope I was pleased to see that there was a nice long straight downhill section which looked like it culminated in a busy junction (1 which I hoped would house a service station of some description). Upon my approach, I was delighted to see an open petrol station; I started to make my way across, but then noticed one of our support vehicles parked up with three others riders munching on some snacks, I went straight there and joined in the food. Phew, that felt better, I had chosen a Twix to eat and it felt brilliant!
After the brief interlude, we again set off for our last five mile push into Nottingham. James Holmes had held onto my slipstream and we had our support vehicle behind for assistance. At some point we unfortunately managed to get ourselves onto the main road into Nottingham, which was a five lane motorway! James and I were very glad of the support vehicle at this stage to help cover us from the traffic. We got the next exit off the motorway (for obvious reasons) and we eventually found our way to our accommodation for the evening.
We checked in quickly, got showered and changed and met the rest of the riders and support crew to watch the Manchester Derby in Nottingham, we were all (I think) rooting for a Manchester City win (no one likes Manchester United do they?) and therefore of course we were happy with the result.
Grabbed something quick for tea and it was another early(ish) night in preparation for the final stint back to Sheffield for the next day.
Tuesday 1st May
We awoke for Breakfast and prepared ourselves for the ride to North Anston to get to Bluebell Wood for 16:00hrs we had organised for the Sheffield Star to be there for a photo shoot to further promote our efforts and ultimately gain more sponsorship for our cause.
The ride was a pleasant one and we pushed all the way in tow to Worksop where unfortunately I gained another puncture, the support vehicle helped me out and again I was on my way. My final leg again was cut short for yet another puncture but I got to the finish line regardless.
We arrived at Bluebell Wood and the Newspaper photographers were awaiting, a few snaps later and we went into the Hospice for a spot of tea after our ride (this was very gratefully appreciated). Did the obligatory congratulations with each of the riders and support crew and was each presented a certificate for our efforts.
After the event it seemed like an anti climax as we were all delighted at our physical achievement, the level of fundraising that we had attained, yet disappointed that our journey had finished. We had achieved our goal, and all that was left was to go home and recuperate. I did this on the Wednesday (and wrote this journal about our experience).
I must sincerely thank everyone who was involved in this enjoyable experience, the Bluebell Wood representatives, the press photographers, the backup team and my fellow riders. None of this however could have taken place if it wasn’t for Peter Shaw who organised the whole trip from start to finish.
I hope you have enjoyed the read as much as I enjoyed the ride, I would also politely urge you to donate to the charity which this event was meant for and we would all be very grateful for your efforts on doing this, you can do this via our JustGiving site at www.justgivingcom/wednesdayite.
Thanks very much for reading.
Donate now – simply point your web browser at www.justgiving.com/wednesdayite