A Birthday Surprise – Seeing the Tour de France live!

Thank you Richard! On Saturday, I was told to be awake early, and then asked to open one of my birthday cards a couple of days before time. Inside were TGV tickets (first class!) to Besançon, where the Tour de France was due to finish Stage 14.


So I spent my day with Richard day tripping into the French countryside, and getting to see the Tour de France ‘for real’ in it’s natural habitat. I’ve been spending this week in Paris, and watching the tour on TV live every day has been quite a treat. Seeing it for real was, however, amazing. It may fly by in a few minutes, but the town spent the day building up to it, and it was great to be a part of that. Seeing people arrive on the same train as us, picking up details of a local tour history exhibit at the tourist office, and then spotting fellow fans throughout the day created quite an atmosphere.

Richard had chosen the stage well – Besançon is a medieval fort town, with incredible fortifications. We did not have long, but exploring the citadel in the afternoon was very rewarding – there were great views from its battlements. I would certainly like to return and spend more time exploring.

My photos are here. A birthday I will remember for a long time.


Norwich 50 completed!

Ride details

A couple of months ago I got back on my bike, with the aim of completing a BHF charity ride in Norwich. It rapidly became clear that my level of (un)fitness meant I should aim to complete the Norwich 50, while my cycling partners Mikey and Liam trained for the Norwich 100 (yes miles!).

Yesterday was the big day, and we all succeeded in our aims and completed the ride. Well done to Liam and Mikey. A big thank you to everyone who supported us, and to my sponsors who were so generous.

It is not too late to make a donation to the BHF – if you want to congratulate me, and donate to them, you can do so via my JustGiving page.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself, although it was not without its low moments. The weather wasn’t stunning, but the low for me was spending a couple of hours with a flat tyre, contemplating having to skip some of the ride to get a repair done, having destroyed two inner tubes en route already. I think my Dad also had a more interesting day than he planned, because he helped direct traffic at the scene of an accident (a rider broke some bones on a sharp, wet, downhill bend), and in a stroke of luck, was able to give me and my flat tyre a lift to the nearest mechanic stop.

Fortunately the next stop was on the ‘100 route, so by the time I fixed the tyre and doubled back onto the 50, I still did the full distance I planned! Waiting for an opportunity to buy a new inner tube for two hours wasn’t great, but it reflected the good organisation of the ride overall – the wait was simply due to the volume of punctures on the day (much higher than normal, probably because of the weather), and the fact that the mechanics were mobile – helping people out en route.

In the end, the generosity of a fellow cyclist cut short my wait by giving me a spare puncture repair kit. I hadn’t packed one myself (I just carry an inner tube, pump and tyre levers), because I rarely succeed to get them to work. Sure enough, I needed two attempts to get a patch to take, and then I rode gingerly to the next fixed mechanic point and replaced the tube there. I left behind some of my tyre levers with other cyclists repairing flats who had broken the set they were carrying!

A highlight of the day was meeting an old friend – John Swindells – and riding part of the route with him. He put my fitness in perspective by setting a fast pace (we overtook lots of other cyclists), while towing three of his children. The exclamations from people we overtook, as they realised the load John was towing (particularly uphill), were entertaining.

As I have mentioned before, while I was training my Nanna, Jasmin Holdgate, passed away after a short illness. Given the timing, I felt that using this ride to also raise money for Marie Curie and the work of their nurses was appropriate. As of this writing I have raised £221.21 for the BHF, so I will be making a matching donation to Marie Curie in memory of my Nanna in the next few days.

I would like to specifically thank Richard for providing much needed encouragement, and my Dad and Brett for their practical help on the day. Liam and Mikey were fun to ride with, and I have to credit Liam with getting me started on the whole thing. Thank you both. Of course, I am pleased by the generosity of my sponsors, and they provided a much needed encouragement to keep me training. Thank you all.

Now, when is next year’s ride?

Cycling Miscellanea

Cycling for the British Heart Foundation and Marie Curie Cancer Care

In just under 2 weeks, I’m hoping to ride 50 miles around Norwich. I’d like to ask you to sponsor me in this effort. 50 miles will be the longest ride I’ve completed in many years, and provides an opportunity to raise some money for good causes.

Richard’s been egging me on, and the story started earlier this year when Liam persuaded me to put this in as a goal to encourage me to cycle more this year. There are two rides on the day, and three of us heading up to Norwich. Liam and another friend, Mikey, will be aiming to complete the 100 mile version, having much more cycling under their belts than me.

I’ve been training a while, and completed a good milestone last weekend when the three of us did a 70K ride that undulated its way over the South Downs in Kent.

The Norwich ride is organised to provide support for The British Heart Foundation, and I’ve ridden on their behalf before. I’m asking you to support them and me by sponsoring me over at

On a personal note, as many of you know, my Grandmother passed away recently. I will therefore be taking this opportunity to also support the Marie Curie nurses in their work. Whatever the total sponsorship I raise for The British Heart Foundation, I will personally match and donate to Marie Curie Cancer Care.

I’m looking forward to the ride, so thank you in advance for your support, and please be be generous!

PS – subscribe to my twitter feed for progress updates!