Tag Archives: Charity Cycle

ECC Day 1: Finding the right group

So, Day 1 of the Euro City Cycle experience is coming to an end (or Day 2 has started depending on whether you’ve re-set your clock to Central European Time) and we’re all settling in to life on the open sea for the next few hours.  As we rest (hopefully sleep!) the ferry will take us from Harwich to the Hook of Holland, where our adventure will continue.

Team photo prior to departure

Day 1 saw us ride from Brentwood to Harwich, 65 – 70 miles (depending on how many times and how badly you got lost) into our journey.  We have had a day cycling along meandering lanes through, picturesque villages, on our way to the coast.

It wasn’t the longest day ever in terms of physical miles travelled, but it’s seen a big step forward many of the participants; Introductions have been made, general nerves have been laid to rest, cycling groups have been formed (based primarily on pace)… we’re under way.

For some people there are still many questions to be answered:  Will the ferry make me ill?  Which cycling group suits me best?  How do I work these brakes?  I haven’t spotted the berk yet, does that mean it’s me?  Have I made a huge mistake?  These will be answered as our journey unfolds.

The weather held out during the day with only a few spots of rain.  As a result, there were some pink faces this evening (including my own) where the sun and the breeze had worked their combined magic.  Much more rain is forecast… it could dampen our spirits as we hit the continent.

For me, any concerns about general fitness are gone.  I was comfortable today, the training has been worth it!  There is still a question about the cumulative effort over the four days, but I’m trying to pace myself (both on and off the bike) to give myself every chance of a successful outcome.  If this means I need to be selfish and just look after myself from time to time then that’s how it has to be.

Tomorrow we head to Amsterdam and a whole new set of challenges… wish us luck!

The view from just up the road from the Holiday Inn, Brentwood. Definitive proof that Brentwood counts as “London”.

I’m ready!

My preparations are almost complete.  I’ve successfully completed my final training ride.  The dirty kit is in the washing machine.  The train tickets are printed.  Time to put my feet up!

If I needed convincing that I am ready to start the Euro City Cycle, today’s ride was enough.  A steady 60 miles, however it featured an ascent of the Suie (from the North, i.e. the hard way).

The hill has become a bit of a mythical beast over the past weeks, not helped by the fact that it’s the feature climb on the Ride the North.  It’s an elevation of just over 230 metres at gradients of up to 12%.  There are more challenging mountains to take on, I just haven’t cycled up them yet.

The nerves were jangling as we approached the lower slopes, but it didn’t take long for them to be wiped out by the physical exertion.  In the end there weren’t any major dramas.  There was a bit of huffing and puffing, but a successful climb was never in doubt!

The beast tamed.  My physical preparations are complete.  🙂

The view from the top. Worth the effort in so many ways!

Logistical preparations are also complete, although a Tube Strike in London promises to make the transfer a little bit less predictable.  I’m going to have to just suck it and see.  Hopefully a considerate cabbie will take pity on me!

A few hours of focused packing will complete the kit preparation.  Louise thinks it’s hysterical that I’ve given so much thought to the kit and associated packing.  I’ve never been one to spend a lot of time preparing for travel.  I’ve always taken the view that as long as I have my passport and a credit card then nothing can go wrong.

For this trip, there are so many items that could ruin (or at least significantly disrupt) the trip in so many different ways, that I’m a bit nervous.  In no particular order:  bike, passport, medication, rail tickets, wallet, cycling shoes, towel, laptop, helmet, etc. etc.

As I say, a few hours of focused packing is required!

To Do List 2

That just leaves me with the small matter of “raising money and awareness”.  I’m really grateful to everyone that has sponsored me.  Together we’ve raised over £2,500 for the British Heart Foundation.  It’s not too late contribute… just click here.

As far as awareness is concerned, I’m also very grateful for your help!  I’ve been working on the basis that if my experiences help one other person than it’s been worthwhile.  The more people that are aware of the risks of heart disease, or able to recognise the symptoms of a heart attack, or understand that a major medical incident doesn’t necessarily take away hope, the better.

I appreciate I’m very lucky.  I’m hoping we can give other people a little bit of luck too!

Just outside Amsterdam

I woke up yesterday morning in a hotel room just outside Amsterdam. (It was fortunate really as that’s where I went to bed the previous night!). In 3 weeks time I hope to do the same thing, but under very different circumstances…

3 weeks today I should be half way through the Euro City Cycle. Having left the roads of Blighty behind us, and survived a night on a ferry, we should have made our way to “Amsterdam” at the end of the second leg of our journey.

I say “Amsterdam” as we’re actually going to be staying in Hoofddorp, an area on the outskirts of Schipol Airport. Ironically I’ve spent a lot of time in Hoofddorp over the past few years with work.  Even the hotel we’ll be staying in is very familiar to me, it was a regular haunt, located about 10 minutes walk from the office.

Amsterdam 1

Amsterdam… sunny and flat. That’ll do for me!

It made me smile when I saw the detailed itinerary. Rather like the fact the “London” leg of the trip starts in Brentwood, Hoofddorp isn’t quite Amsterdam. It’s pleasant enough. I’ve had some fun times there. It’s just not Amsterdam.

I guess circumstances are everything!

It will be a novel and, I’m sure, exciting experience rolling in to Hoofddorp under my own steam. I suspect we’ll be a little jaded, with 2 days cycling and a night on a boat under our belts. It’ll feel very different to the drudgery of working away from home, of endless Club Sandwiches, “healthy” chips (the fat ones) and too many Club Room beers.

The Hoofddorp I know and love! 🙂

Hopefully by that stage of the trip we’ll all feel part of a team; like we’re collectively achieving something.

It certainly feels like the collective excitement is building. Rooms mates have been selected / appointed and we’re starting to get to know each other; social media is good for some things!

For me it’s eyes down to the big event. Less than 20 sleeps. Final Wiggle order to place and assorted creams to purchase… I’m definitely looking forward to being back in the Netherlands again very soon!

Milestones along the way

Today I visited the British Heart Foundation website about 15 minutes before registration for the London to Brighton Bike Ride opened.  To be honest, it was a complete coincidence.  I was actually going to read the latest news on Heart Research, but found myself in a “Waiting Room”, approximately 650th in the queue.  So I waited.

London to Brighton is an annual event.  I have watched it from afar but never participated – For a few years I lived just off Clapham Common where it starts.  It attracts thousands of people (27,000 last year) so the atmosphere looks amazing.  I always fancied it, my non-participation was mostly due to laziness.  Given I was already in the queue , I figured “Why not?”.

This is the 3rd event I have lined up for the Summer.  I’m really excited about them all.  Each will act as a mini-milestone, something to focus on and build up to.  Each has a slightly different motivation too…

The Euro City Cycle is really for me.  It’s over four days, and was the challenge I set myself back in August when I really didn’t have any idea what I’d be capable of.  I guess in a way it was two fingers to the Heart Attack and putting the Rehabilitation I was undergoing into some context.

It seems like a lifetime ago now, but many of the anxieties still exist, just not to the same degree.  I can’t imagine how I’ll feel when I finish the event in Brussels (other than a bit sore of course!).


London to Brighton will be a community event.  it’s the British Heart Foundation’s flagship fundraising event so there’ll be a big team there.  I would imagine there will also be a number of people other than myself doing both events.

I think there is something magical about large crowds.  I’ve always got a buzz from attending big sporting events, or concerts.  On a couple of occasions I’ve had the privilege of being in  the middle as a competitor.  I think London to Brighton will be a bit of both:  Spectator and Participant at the same time.

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It happens that London to Brighton takes place on the anniversary of my Heart Attack.  That will make it a little bit more special.  It will be a really nice way of closing out the year and looking forward to the future.

Finally, I have the Ride the North event in late August:  Inverness to Aberdeen over two days.  This is probably the most challenging (a bit more bumpy than Belgium and Holland!), so lucky it’s last!  I’m going to participate in with some friends, so it’ll have a different feel to the others.

Of course, the plan is to raise money for the British Heart Foundation over the course of the year too (You can help by donating here), but selfishly there’s a lot more to it for me.


I’ve never done anything like this before.  In a way it’s strange that it took a Heart Attack to prompt me into action.  At the same time it had to be something fairly drastic to break the habits of the past.

Either way, I’m excited about the summer’s plans and passing some memorable milestones on my journey!