Week 1

The end of an eventful first week on my 407 mile challenge.

Getting used to being up and at’em first thing is not a musician’s natural cycle [forgive the pun]. We are usually nocturnal, hence we can jump around on a stage at 11pm or later.

So on a dark cold February morning, getting up and stretching for twenty minutes, then putting on socks, shoes, cycling shorts, back supporter, shirt, tie, knee pads, drinking a coffee, eating an energy bar and getting on my bike for an hour is so not me!

As I got into the week, I started to enjoy myself and settled into a routine. It was pure chance that I was ten miles out of North Shields, the birthplace of Animals guitarist Hilton Valentine on the day he sadly died.

When I was a kid, not only did I wish I was called Hilton Valentine but I, like so many kids in the Sixties, spent hours trying to play Hilton’s unforgettable opening guitar arpeggio to ‘House of The Rising Sun’.

Friends at work and I this week were joking that the intro to that song would be guessed in less than two seconds by half the population, it’s so distinctive. RIP Hilton and thanks.

On Thursday, I got a text asking me to go for my jab the following day. I had very mixed emotions. On the one hand, really pleased. On the other hand, incredibly frustrated that there are hundreds of disabled people still dying every single day who are not being prioritised. I’m at a loss and it will be hard to forgive the Department of Health when we’ve put it right under their noses since before Christmas.

I was determined not to be late for the jab and fell head over heels on one of the many rubbish pavements in Wandsworth. Low council taxes are all very well, but you get what you pay for and they are a real hazard for me and other blind folks, wheelchair users, elderly people and the like. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a road crew sorting out a pavement in Wandsworth in the 12 years I’ve lived here.

I took Saturday off and had a couple of long Epsom salts baths, after consulting the oracle that is Google. I’ve got bruises in places I didn’t know I had places, if you know what I mean.

So back on the road today, circled round York and 20 good strong miles, listening to Spurs winning at last and Man City demolishing Liverpool at Anfield… I even showed off at the end with a burst of speed to overtake a virtual bus.

Breaking the 300 mile barrier was a good moment. We need these little victories to spur us on. Shelley is being a great pit crew and Joey and Joe are providing all the socials. I’ve had wonderful messages from Scope staff up and down the country, many doing their own challenges. I am privileged to have this role and I will try to make a difference.

Here is my itinerary and the story so far – next stop Lincoln!

Challenge itinerary

  • Hexham to Durham = 38 miles
  • Durham to York = 72 miles
  • York to Lincoln = 72 miles
  • Lincoln to Peterborough = 58 miles
  • Peterborough to Cambridge = 34 miles
  • Cambridge to Enfield = 45 miles
  • Enfield to Clapham = 14 miles
  • Clapham to Maidstone = 34 miles
  • Maidstone to Dover = 40 miles

Total = 407 miles


Monday Feb 1st (Day 1)

  • Morning: 10 miles
  • Evening: 8 miles

Tuesday Feb 2nd (Day 2)

  • Morning: 11 miles
  • Evening: 8 miles

Arrived Durham

Wednesday Feb 3rd (Day 3)

  • Morning: 10 miles, including ‘House of the Rising Sun’
  • Afternoon: 10 miles

Thursday Feb 4th  (Day 4)

  • Morning: 10 miles. Difficult.
  • Evening: 12 miles. First time. Really hard on the saddle. Wow

Friday feb 5th (Day 5) 

  • Morning: 15 miles
  • Evening: 3 miles after I fell on the street.

Saturday Feb 6th (Day 6)

Rest day

Sunday Feb 7th (Day 7)

  • Morning: 12 good miles
  • Afternoon: 8 miles including overtaking a bus at the end!


Running total: 117 miles

Miles remaining: 290