Say hello to our third team rider, John...
Hello, This is The Reluctant Cyclist, sneaking onto the blog and trying to make sense of everything. How had it come to be that an out of condition 54 year old Essex man who has barely been near a bike since school ended up cycling on frightening roads in Suffolk at 7 o'clock most mornings to raise money for charity?
Well the inspiration of course was my Toni; the loveliest, bravest girl who was taken from us too soon. Toni, who battled illness with a smile and who ignored her cancer to marry me in March. Toni, who spent the last 7 weeks of her life telling us all how blessed she was at St Elizabeth Hospice.
And the Hospice is indeed a wonderful place which allows people to live in beautiful surroundings with exceptional care. It confounded my preconceptions about hospices. There is so much love there.
Ride for Toni was and is the brain child and project of her father, Alwyn or Olle as we know him. I was in awe of the ambition of the idea and overwhelmed by the pouring in of goodwill as well as the generosity of donors to the amazing St Elizabeth Hospice.
Feeling I had to do more than just travel with the team in a support vehicle, I wondered one day whether there would be enough time to get trained up from scratch for this 250 mile, 5 day ordeal...er I mean fun ride... in just two months time.
Well apparently I had said it out loud. "Of course", I heard Olle say. He can be quietly persuasive and 10 minutes later we were in the Cycle Revolution bike shop and soon I was wobbling about on my new purchase with a funny piece of headwear.
The cycling community in general and Olle in particular are a very encouraging and helpful lot and I have soon got up to doing regular 16 mile rides on real roads with grown ups in cars and everything!
We upped it to a near 30 mile return trip to Felixstowe with Olle and Emma last Friday. Well, a lifetime of lethargy, poor posture and worse diet took its revenge at this point and gave me sharp pains in the shoulder the next day.
A perfect excuse to pull out of this madness you might think. But no. Toni wouldn't have let me off that easily! Off to John Reynolds Soft Tissue Therapy I went. We talked about cricket and cycling while he expertly pummelled and kneaded the affected area before strapping it up with "Gareth Bale" tape. I then found a use for the bag of peas that had been in the freezer since October to make an ice pack. I knew these vegetables had a purpose.
A strangely sleepless night later and I was ready to again irritate motorists on their way to work. I actually enjoyed the ride. A lot.
A weight was literally lifted from my shoulders and I felt more positive than ever. I know I can do this ride. We're doing it for Toni and we're doing it for the Hospice.
Every time there is a donation to St Elizabeth's via Toni's website it gives us all ridiculously huge boost so if you have a minute or two please go to ridefortoni.co.uk - spare a bob or two and give an old Essex boy a spring in his pedals.
**Thank you to Justin at Cycle Revolution, AGAIN, for all of his help with our bikes***