Day 127 + 8

Back to the keyboard

It’s been a long time since I have felt inspired to write. I left the UK safely after my last BNI meeting at Vision (Southgate) and have had a few days to chill, relax and look at the world. The journey definitely took more out of me than I thought and some of the news I have received in the past week has kicked me hard too. So, it’s good to feel fresher and motivated and start back on the keyboard. Not to dwell on the negative, I lost all my possessions in a Storage Company blaze in Spain. Sadly they have not come through with the insurance money and they are now telling me to claim against a third party electrical company! I see hassle with a capital “H”. Glad I have great solicitors.

One of the people who has motivated me this week is Vin Cox. I have only just heard of him and he definitely goes into my super-hero list.
He has cycled the entire world this summer and this amazing feat has now officially been ratified by the Guiness Book of Records. He is the new holder of the Guinness World Record for circumnavigating the world by bicycle in 18,225.7 miles through 17 countries in 163 days, 6 hours, 58 minutes! Let’s put this is perspective that’s only 35 days more than I took to cycle around the UK! Respect to him!


Today, my good friends at Round Town News also ran an update. They have been following me since day one and I thank them for their constant support.

The Party’s Over…….as the song goes.

I set out to visit all 92 league grounds in England and Wales …….and I did it! Yes, after 127 days in the saddle when I experienced every emotion under the sun (and rain!) I cycled up to the famous Upton Park home of West Ham United to complete the tour. In the morning, I had got absolutely soaked to the skin doing grounds 90 and 91 which were Leyton Orient and Dagenham & Redbridge respectively and then it was just the short trip to the historic Upton Park ground where I had been promised a media circus. So it was to be: lights, camera, action. I was photographed and videoed from every angle and asked every question possible about the journey. I was presented with a signed pennant from the current West Ham squad and then I was on my way. That was it: done, dusted, hecho and immediately a feeling of emptiness filled me. Fortunately, I had three talks to give in the next 24 hours which gave me something to focus on but it was nevertheless a strange sensation. The London commuter traffic got heavier as I headed for the first of the talks and my mind was soon occupied with avoiding buses, taxis and bikes.

London must now be challenging Amsterdam as the bike capital of Europe and after 10 years away from the UK the sheer volume of bikes on the road and the number of cycle routes, cyclists and cycle shops is quite amazing. I suppose after 127 days and 3780 miles I am now part of the cycling phenomenon that is evident in the UK. I am not a “Mamil” (Middle-Aged Man In Lycra!) which was an acronym I had never heard before a few weeks ago but I must say that I am taken by the sport, hobby, method of transport, insanity or however you consider cycling.

Certainly in the last few days of the tour, I had felt much more confident and was covering more miles, more quickly which is just as well as I had the little matter of 18 clubs to visit in 14 days. I have made many mistakes on the tour and I realise I have a lot to do as far as route-planning is concerned but when all is said and done I achieved what I set out to achieve and whilst I was involved in a near-fatal road accident and lost all my possessions in the storage centre fire I am here to tell the tale. I would not have been able to do this without the incredible support I have received from so many people and I have a few days ahead of me updating and thanking everybody. That’s going to be one of the more pleasurable parts of the journey!

Obviously, I want to thank Round Town News for their great support throughout the last four months. I mean this most sincerely. It’s a great feeling to know that those “back home” are supporting me. Now, I hope I can count on the paper’s and its readers support for the next four years. Why? Well, as wrote in RTN last time, I am already planning the next stage of this project and am looking to ride from the very north of Norway to the very south of the country in 25 days next summer. That’s over 100 kilometres per day through some of the most challenging landscapes in Europe. There is no way I can achieve this without improving my fitness and acquiring a professional bike so after a few days out of the saddle, I will be back in training from this weekend.

Then, it is “The Big One.” I intend to cycle from Spain through Europe and up to Norway to meet Bjørn Heidenstrom who was the man who inspired me to get involved in the whole project. Then it’s a Trans-Atlantic cruise liner (spinning in their gyms, of course!) before a trip of a lifetime cycling from New York through Mexico, Central America and on to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup finals! This will be a two year challenge and one which I trust will end with Spain retaining the World Cup they won in South Africa this summer.

The support of all the Round Town News readers has been hugely appreciated this summer and I trust that I count on your continued support. So, please continue following me on www.theshirt2010.co.uk where I will update all the way through to Brazil.

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