Week 2

Here’s how my second week in the saddle went down:

Sunday Feb 7th (Day 7)

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

I was definitely getting cocky in lycra. I’d had a rest day – thanks Kev, very good advice – so I was full of energy. I gave a couple of bursts of speed at the end of the second ride – showing off! Confident of no side-effects from Friday’s vaccination.

Monday Feb 8th (Day 8)

  • Morning: 11 miles
  • Afternoon: 10 miles through storm D’Arcy – apparently the correct name for this year’s beast from the east – so I should call this pm ride ‘Ride and Prejudice’ – oh dear, not great.
    Twenty one miles is just about my maximum in the saddle, but I was clearly still driving on…the 200- mile barrier up ahead was a big incentive. By the end of the afternoon, I was starting to come down with what felt like the mother of all flus.

Tuesday Feb 9th (Day 9)

  • Morning 13 miles with a temperature, including overtaking two tractors near the end!
  • Evening 8 miles.

I was definitely hallucinating all day. High fever. Thumping headache … so that’s what they mean by the vaccine delayed reaction. Somehow when you know why you’re feeling rubbish, it’s not as much of a bother as a mystery illness. Spoke to my housekeeper in Marrakesh, where we haven’t been since March. The aircon is bust, the fridge is bust, it’s 28 degrees and sunny every day, and I’m here on my bike – but I’m a lucky guy in many ways.

Wednesday Feb 10th (Day 10)
Target of £30,000 smashed!

  • Morning: a beautiful 10 miles in the cold crisp air
  • Evening: 8 miles high!

I’m still pinching myself that all you wonderful folks got us across the £30,000 barrier when I was still under half distance. That money pays for 3,000 expert responses to the Scope Help line – that’s 3,000 people, up against it, looking for advice, love, compassion. How brilliant is that?

Thursday 11 Feb (Day 11)

  • Morning 5 miles short stint
  • Afternoon 9 miles. May try another short stint later
  • Evening 5 miles – sore

So, 19 miles for the day is ok.

This report, written on the day, doesn’t tell the whole story. I think I had a come-down after reaching the money target and knowing I was less than half way through the ride. So now it’s all down to man vs machine. The three stints was an experiment, but I don’t think I’ll repeat it. By this time I was getting seriously saddle sore. It’s cumulative over the whole period. I’m on my fourth different style of padded shorts, but I can’t find an inflatable seat anywhere….either that or I need an inflatable bottom!

Friday 12 Feb (Day 12)

  • Morning: 8 miles

Cracked the 200-mile barrier after 4 miles and the halfway point at 7.5 miles. A good feeling but more chilling stats from the Office for National Statistics.

That was a weird day. Getting to the midway point was amazing but the Office For National Statistics figures finally finally broke cover and shocked the media and the nation. No-one can quite believe that 6 out of 10 deaths [from Coronavirus Jan-Nov 2020] were disabled people, and that even young people with mild disability are over twice as likely to die….how the hell do I get this message across? Matt Hancock hasn’t acknowledged either letter sent in December.

The glorious Cathy Newman picked up the story and was beyond angry. She got me straight on to her drivetime show on the excellent Times Radio and gave me the time to set out clearly what needs to happen now. Well done Cathy.

Scope have asked me to stretch my target – apparently that’s a technical charity giving phrase. Well Scopers, I’ve been stretching just about everything else for the last two weeks, so might as well. Another five grand is another 500 phone calls responded to, and another 500 distressed or isolated folks given quality time.

Saturday 13 Feb (Day 13)

  • Afternoon: 16 miles in a single stint today. Angry that government are still ignoring disabled people for vaccination. This will be my only ride today.

I’ve written another letter and sent it to Mr Hancock’s Parliament address. Bounced back as I’m not a constituent. Grrr

Sunday 14 February (Day 14)
My first thought was Valentine’s Day massacre. I’m so frustrated. I wrote an open letter to Matt Hancock and sent it to The Times and The Sunday Times. Both papers rejected the letter. Why? There was nothing offensive at all. In the end, sent it off to The Telegraph who have acknowledged receipt. I’m sure the Scope team will find a way to deliver the note. They are a determined lot.
Rest day today. Epsom salts beckon.

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

Running total: 220 miles

Miles remaining: 187