The 7th & 8th September saw the charity ride I organised in aid of “Pembrokeshire Cancer Support” raise a grand total of £6000. The ride was generously supported by the Shaw Group UK Ltd.
Also joining me was Andy Veitch, Steve Clark, Jamie Barlow and Rob Holland. The journey was from Derby to Pembroke over 2 days which covered 240 miles of minor and major roads. We covered by chance one of the major stage routes for this years Tour of Britain.
On the 8th September a group of cyclists set of from Derby with the intention of cycling to Pembroke in just two days. The route consisted of nearly 240 miles of mainly A & B roads winding down from the East Midlands to South Wales. So what inspired this journey, and why Pembrokeshire Cancer Support? Shaw Group UK Ltd are currently constructing five HRSG boilers for Alstom Power at the new 2000MW RWE Power Station at Pembroke. On numerous occasions I have had the pleasure of having to drive from Derby to Pembroke and vice versa which even in a car is a tortuous journey, which many of my colleagues will confirm.
While speaking on the telephone to a colleague who was making their way to Pembroke from Derby in typical monsoon summer weather, I had the sadistic thought of actually cycling there. The thought would not leave me and started to grow so much that I actually found myself starting to plan the route!! I then ran the idea past a couple of Directors who thought it would be a good challenge and potentially generate a bit of money for a local charity. The idea was now reality and set the date of the 8th & 9th September to do it.
Initially the plan was to do the ride solo, however a number of people thankfully asked if they could join me and the team was set. Myself, Andy Veitch, Steve Clark, Rob Holland and Jamie Barlow
It was then I decided to look for a local charity to Pembroke and spent a little time googling various charities until I came across Pembrokeshire Cancer Support. I telephoned them and was put through to a Lyn Neville who very enthusiastic about the challenge and also explained what the charity was about. We also discussed getting the charity registered with the website JustGiving.com as from previous experience really helps to reach out further. So now the charity was set and it was just a case of putting it all together. As there were now five of us I decided to look at the option of a support vehicle to carry our gear and food etc. We also needed a driver and John Richardson from our IT department volunteered for this arduous task and turned out to be a real superstar. We also worked a way for everyone to be able to track our progress live which proved popular.
Day1: Derby to Llandrindod Wells (140mls)
So all it meant now was to “do it” and on the morning of the 8th Sept I, Andy, Steve and Jamie met for breakfast just after 6am. We were all very quiet and realising the task ahead was here, the first day seeing us pedal nearly 140 miles! We met Rob at Shaw Group UK HQ at 7:30am with a number of people making the effort to come and wave the crazy fools off!! The weather cold but clear off we set, first destination Newport the other side of Stafford. We used a GPS for navigation that took a little while to get used to and saw us take a number of wrong turns early on, also losing the support van in the process.
It all came back together when we reached Uttoxeter and the weather was looking good with a slight tail wind. Reaching Newport we stopped for a coffee and was soon on our way again with the next stop been Newtown. The pace was relentless with some big turns on the front seeing paces of 25mph plus and fracturing the group a little on some of the climbs. The team was showing some signs of fatigue on the run into Newtown and conversation was of the minimum, however it soon returned after tucking into some mega calorie food at the Little Chef.
The next leg saw us take the main A483 to Llandindod Wells which would see us complete the first day, coincidentally this was also the route for the Tour of Britain stage on the following Monday (13th Sept). The pace started to pick up as people could see the end of the first day, however the team all arrived safely at Holly Farm in LLandrindod Wells. Peggy Hatton had found us a quiet B&B where we could also store our bikes; however the Landlady was shocked when we asked for breakfast at 7am. You had to be there!
Day 2: Llandrindod Wells to Pembroke (100mls)
After a relatively tame breakfast we left the farm and headed out on to what I can only describe as a lumpy road. We were either climbing or descending and it made for a long morning while also trying to find a comfortable way to sit on the saddle. Miraculously the sun was shining on us after all the rain had dropped during the night. Our first destination was Carmarthen which we were all pleased to see and after struggling to find a café we decided to hit McDonalds! John took a picture of us scoffing and little did we know at the time how far and wide this picture would go!
The next destination was Tenby and after an agonising climb up the main A477 which saw a bit of a traffic jam form behind us, we all tucked into fresh coffee at Dennis Café. The final leg was here Tenby to Pembroke and although tired we all started to feel the sense of achievement. We all cycled into Pembroke and knew we had done it, with a few of us doing a little extra to ensure that we clocked over 100 miles for the day. …and not one puncture between all five of us for the whole of the 240 miles, unbelievable!!
We had a welcome drink and buffet at the Harlequin Rugby Club and we sat down to discuss how much we had finally raised. Our initial target was £2000 and it soon became clear we had smashed this, the generous donations by all we had now reached a staggering figure of £6000.
The next day we presented the cheque for £6000 to the trustees of Pembrokeshire Cancer Support and they congratulated us all on our successful ride and fundraising.