Archive for the ‘The Journey’ Category


It is always invidious to talk about good days and bad days, good meetings and bad meetings or good presentations and bad presentations but Sunday was definitely a GOOD day.

First I had lunch with a long-time friend and owner of Mr O’s Thai Restaurant in Crouch End. The steep hills were made easier in the knowledge that we would have a great meal in a convivial atmosphere. The killer climb up Muswell Hill (I pushed!) was also made easier or at least more pleasant by a number of glimpses of Arsenal’s new ground (The Emirates Stadium) in the distance. Sadly, time beat me but I will be back to add it to the other 91 clubs,

Then I was off to Barnet (Club 6). It is a small village team just outside London and a club which only escaped relegation out of the football league on the last day of the season. It’s probably 15 years since I was last there and sadly few other fans have passed through the turnstiles either as The Bees have one of the lowest average attendances in England. Anyway, they are club 6 and equally welcome as their bigger brothers to the project. (Update: some 115 days later I was delighted to be presented a Barnet shirt by the Vision BNI chapter who had made contact with the club and whose chairman, Tony Kleanthous, obliged. Thanks Mr Kleanthous and thanks Vision.)

Vision BNI (Southgate) present a signed Barnet shirt.

The day was finished with a superb meal and hospitality chez Wil and Paula in Watford. Wil Corker is a man with a mission and I was delighted to hear all about it, He has committed to attend the Homeless World Cup in Brazil this autumn. You can (and should!) read more about his challenge here. It was a great evening and a shower and bed were much appreciated. Thanks and good luck.

Day 8

Great News! After a number of false dawns, broken promises and vague offers, I now have a bike. Please say “hi” to Sidcup Cycle Centre. Finally, I have a bike organised. Thanks, guys!

I saw the Centre advertised in Esporta, Chislehurst and walked the few miles to the store. It is a very impressive, impeccably clean and professional showroom and workshops near Sidcup railway station. I explained my situation to Nigel and he quickly took me through the options. I confirmed that the project had no funding nor corporate sponsorship and was not in a position to lay out 2000 GBP for a new bike. I continued that I tried to earn 20 pounds per day and that this was the entire funding for the project. I offered a deposit and to pay weekly out of my “earnings” for a quality pre-owned bike. I am delighted to confirm that we quickly came to an agreement.

I am absolutely delighted to welcome Nigel and his team to the project. I feel very “safe” being supported by such a professional organisation.

If you are in London or north west Kent, I would recommend the Sidcup Cycle Centre.

Day 5

Ricky Valance

Day 4 London

The REAL news today was NOT about the UK leg but rather about Bjorn in South Africa.

The first “draft” of sewing the shirts together was hugely successful but even more important was the endorsement from the President of South Africa, Mr Jacob Zuma, who signed the shirts at the South Africa World Cup. A hugely important addition as a “friend”. From a PR point of view this will open many doors.

In London, I was delighted to meet up with my friend Enfield Rob who eats, breathes and sleeps football at all levels and who has himself been to the vast majority of the 92 grounds …… and 100s of amateur and semi-pro grounds too. I was proud to receive a shirt from Futsal Enfield who play in the top level of futsal in the UK. Rob is also a FC Torrevieja fan AND has been out to the refugees in Rwanda coaching futsal. He found me a limited edition Futsal Enfield shirt which will fly proudly in the breeze in South Africa. THANKS!

Day 3 Milton Keynes

After three nights of very little sleep, I woke today refreshed and ready for action! There was a huge orange ball shining brightly in the sky and I knew that my training was going to be tough in the direct sunlight. Needed to be done though!

Then I got one of “those” calls. Ecademist and GREAT supporter of the project, Dean “Warrior Coach” Grimshawe had driven up to see me! Humbled. Dean is passionate about his Warrior Coaching which is about aggressively striving to maximise Performance. This level of Coaching is a little hard for most people to face so it is only recommended for those who take their goals seriously! Dean has “promised” (threatened!) to “support'” me (push me!) to get through the 92 clubs and, more to the point, the 3,000 miles. Dean, I am sure when I have a puncture in the driving rain on some barren Yorkshire Moor that I will need you! THANKS!

What was even more pleasing is that he had his charming life-partner with him, Sara. In fact to be more accurate she had Dean as it was Sara who was driving! There is always something special about being introduced to a friend’s family and I am delighted to have met Sara. They make a lovely couple. I could, of course, say that she is far too good for Dean ……but I am not that brave!

Anyway, if you ARE that brave then I suggest you see how Dean can take you to the next level.

Day 2 Milton Keynes

Yes, I know. I have heard all the jokes but it is true. They DO have concrete cows in Milton Keynes. The good news is that they do not throw themselves in front of the bike!

I came to this new town to see my friend Neil Muxlow who had a business lunch organised and to see my sponsor. Sadly, the sponsor seems to have “evaporated” and is no longer responding to emails nor calls. I guess I have to expect that people will not always do what they say. It is one of the things that Björn and I have learned from his trip. So, already off my itinerary and back looking for a sponsor. Life!

Anyway, the MOST important news is that Björn is now in South Africa. Yes! after 11 months in the saddle he has now crossed the border and is in South Africa, the land of the World Cup and his final destination. You will be able to read all about his arrival and the wonderful reception here. I am simply amazed and inspired by his achievement. Congratulations, bold, bald, bad Norwegian.

Thanks hugely to Neil at Business Alive and to my “sponsor” for the day, The Ramada Encore. This is a superb new hotel in the very centre of Milton Keynes. The service was superb and I thank Neil for organising the sponsorship.

D Day

Well, this is it I am OFF!

What an amazing day. It started at 4am (yes!) when I started a 3 train-journey to BNI Hogarth, then it was on Excel London for some meetings and it concluded with a fantastic Ecademy meeting in Victoria. Well, the “fun” bit did. The hard yards were getting me to Milton Keynes for 3am! A long but massively successful day!

I have a terrific relationship with BNI and in particular national director Charlie Lawson and locally John Coupland. My target is to visit each of their 34 regions in the UK to go to at least one of their local chapters. A great organisation offering excellent support to The Shirt. I have a BNI shirt which I am getting signed in each region and we are passing it on like a baton. When I have finished I will return it to John and Charlie ….with a minimum of 1000 signatures I am sure.

So, the first chapter I visited was Hogarth in Chiswick in West London. It was a fine meeting with a good buzz and I was warmly welcomed. Thanks.

From there I hot-footed it to Excel for a business exhibition where a friend was in attendance. Always good to shake hands with old faces (!) and I was delighted that next to him was the Regus organisation. I quickly explained the project and almost before I had finished they were clambering to be in. They really “saw” The Shirt and were delighted to commit. Thanks, all.

The very first person outside of the Shirt team I spoke to about my little contribution was Penny Power, the founder of Ecademy. She has given me unstinting support and encouragement from Day One and last night in the prestigious Grosvenor Hotel she officially endorsed the project and very generously presented me with a superb video camera. See her live here!
I have set myself a target of collecting the signatures of 1000 Ecademy members as I cycle through the UK.

This is Ben the owner of where I have spent two great nights. It’s just by Dollis Hill tube and close to Willesden so easy access to Central London. If all the accommodation is as good as this I will be happy! Thanks, guys!

Long Day

It’s 4,30am. I started at 10am.

I am tired, I am hungry, I am thirsty and a whole pile of people have not returned calls, emails etc.
I ask myself why I am even considering cycling for nearly four months.

Then I look at the photo above and read this and this and I know I will be fine.

Thanks, guys, for being with me. It is appreciated.