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Peggy

I cycled 200 miles in 2 days.....

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THE BIG BIKE RIDE

OXFORD TO BRIGHTON AND BACK! 8TH AND 9TH SEPTEMBER 2006

I just realised i never posted about this at the time! I went with a group of (able bodied, male) firefighters! i was the only girl (and the only one with a disability!)

We were told we were crazy (which was probably right). We were told we would never make it, but we did! 200 miles (well 205.33 on my cycle computer – but that’s because I was always in the group that got lost! – nothing to do with my navigational skills I was just following them!) From Oxford (Slade fire station) to Brighton AND BACK!

Friday morning started at 06:15am with a group Breakfast, which consisted of Egg and/or Beans on toast, or Porridge or Cereals. I Opted for Egg on toast (and a can of red bull) we all sat round the mess table and I think it would be pretty accurate to say we were all very apprehensive! Once Breakfast was over me, and the rest of the group got our things ready. We did some stretches and said our goodbyes to our loved ones who had come to see us off (in my case mum and dad). One of the lads from work who had been telling us we would never make it came to see us off, as did the Chief (armed with a box of bubble bath and chocolate bars for all which was a nice touch) and a Gentleman for the charity “ROSY” for which we were cycling for.

We got away at around 07:30 and were making good progress until… WATLINGTON HILL!!!!!!! You may or may not know it but it’s a very long, very steep hill…..We were all struggling up the hill, one or 2 people had to dismount some of the way up, and I could almost see the top when Greg came past me and said “are you alright Lauren” I turned to answer him and crashed into the verge – so that was me off as well!!!!! Once we were at the top – it was time to get a bit more food on board and recover from the evils of that hill – A lot of swearing happened in those 5 minutes of cycling up it!!!!! It was BIG!

Most of us recovered relatively quickly (myself included) but to be honest that hill put 2 people right of their stroke and the 2 of them struggled all the way to Brighton bless them! Unfortunately that hill was in the first 30 or so miles – we hadn’t even got out of Oxfordshire yet!!!!!

We kept peddling along to Henley and something very painful kept happening to me – my artificial foot kept flying off the pedal (as I couldn’t feel where it was on the pedal) and then the Pedal would crash right into the hole at the back of it into my tendon!!!! BIG OUCH. So Wiggy Invented “foot drill” - every time they noticed my foot get a bit close to the edge someone would shout “FOOT DRILL” and I knew I had to move it!!!! “Foot drill” along with “HOLE” and “DRAIN” and “GLASS” was probably the most said thing of the 2 days!!!!!

We split off into 2 groups of 6 so it would be easier for cars to get around us, and the first group into Henley went ahead as the traffic lights went red on us – that was the first time we got lost! Nobby (as nicknamed as he apparently looks like nobby the sheep from one of them Saturday morning TV shows from a few years ago- I don’t think he does but that’s his nick name) Said we had to turn into Church street….. which was a dead end…. It then turned out he had got a bit ahead on his directions sheet and it was Church street about 30 miles away NOT in Henley!!!!! Oops – we soon caught up with the others.

Apart from the odd hill nothing major happened for a while until we were about half way there and we go round a bend “Oh dear there’s a white van in the ditch” someone said…… then “Hang on a minute….. THAT’S OUR WHITE VAN!” We all rushed to the scene and are relieved to see the driver – Gordon is fine (His new nickname from that moment is CRASH GORDON) We used one of the other vans to drag it from the ditch and were relieved to see a small scratch was the only damage done! (Poor Crash Gordon – his reputation as a driving instructor is ruined!!!!)

We got over that drama and nothing major happened Apart from a Puncture and a near bike pile up when Little Steve fell off going up a hill when we were all cycling quite close together!

I will just say it’s a bit hairy scary cycling on a dual carriageway and round roundabouts – BLIMEY!!!!!

When we got into Brighton just before 6 (which was roughly 7 and a half hours on the bike) the traffic lights stopped by the fire station and we couldn’t have done this again if we tried – they got called out so the bells went down, the doors opened and 2 fire engines went wailing off with their blue lights flashing and 2 tone horns sounding! (Kind of appropriate!!!) We arrived at the sea front and were greeted by a lady and 2 kids with some very welcome Jaffa cakes (still not 100% sure who they were but I think they might have been something to do with Kev as he has family in Brighton!)

After sitting down on some steps for a few minutes we made our way down the beach to 3 massage people who had very kindly set up for us for free to massage and stretch out all of our achy muscles! Was a very nice experience having a massage on the beach – although I refused to take my top off with the lads all looking on so I didn’t really get a proper one!

After that we checked into the Hotel – hmmmmm the hotel……. Originally the Holiday Inn in Brighton had agreed to put us up for nothing as we were doing a charity event, but the week before they e mailed to tell us this was no longer possible! It became my job to find an alternative – I must have phoned about 30 places and most of them didn’t have room for 15 people, the rest didn’t want a group of lads and that was before I’d asked them to give it to us as a donation!!!! Eventually I found a place that had enough beds (although they were all doubles – ha-ha) and gave us a “really good deal” of £30 each a night – looking on their website it seemed a very good deal – they were charging up to £69 per person per night so I thought I’d done well! Then I got an e mail booking confirmation with a different hotel name on it – I enquired and they said it was the sister hotel and they shared the reception. That seemed a reasonable explanation and I was so pleased to actually find 15 beds I didn’t enquire any more! Well, we got to the hotel and allocated the rooms out – me and Drew (The lady Firefighter on my watch – she drove one of the vans) Shared as we were the only girls on the trip and then the lads had to argue amongst themselves to decide who was sleeping in whose bed!!!! We had 5 rooms in the hotel and out of the 5 only 1 shower worked – which we were thrilled about! – My room had no toilet in it and the toilet on out floor was out of order, which we were also extremely pleased about! And the 1 shower that did work just trickled out like a leaky tap!!!! There were also dirty sheets in 1 room and brown water in the taps of another!!!!! All this topped off by the big banner outside advertising rooms for £20 a night!!!!!!!!!!! We tried to complain but all of the managers were on holiday allegedly so we had to pay the bill and were told to complain once they were back! DON’T STAY IN CECIL HOUSE IN BRIGHTON – EVER!!!!!!!!!

Once we had all (sort of) had a shower we headed to a nice Italian place and had a nice meal and then went straight to bed! Up at 6 and back in the saddle by 7 - The journey back passed with no serious disasters and again only 1 puncture. The only trouble was – the hill I mentioned earlier – we had to come up the other side its called (rather appropriately) “PISHILL” Which is Just outside of Henley – it’s a gentler climb but its around THREE MILES long! Amazingly we all managed to get up it still in the saddle apart from 1 (again little Steve – don’t think he likes hills much bless him!)

We cycled back into the Slade to a huge group of people – with a BBQ and champagne and Big Steve’s wife even brought me a gorgeous bunch of white roses bless her! One of the children that gets help from the Charity we raised money for was there and it makes you feel so humble. Even though I feel like I got run over by a truck today (this was written the day after the event!) it was well worth it!

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