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Saturday, June 20, 2015

All in a Spin

 During the earlier part of the year when people were talking about the shortest rather than  the longest day, I sought solace in the gym in order to maintain my cycling experience through undertaking almost daily spinning classes.

I unashamedly am happy to identify the Velocity gym at the Village Hotel in Warrington as my choice of venue. They provide a comprehensive spin programme with a variety of different classes and if you are shy or don't like dance music, you can tailor your own workouts through 'my ride-virtual spin'.
Mark who hosts a double spin class on Tuesdays knows a bit about cycling and tries to replicate the road cycling experience in the class both with his workouts and through his imaginative commentary.After one class he told me that we had just ridden on the A5004 from Whaley Bridge to Buxton up 'Long Hill'. Judging by the amount of sweat that soaked the wooden floor beneath me, id say that we probably did.

Spinning gave me a lot this year with 'summer form arriving' in April, personal bests served to me on most rides, and the ability to climb and find others still behind me when i get to the top. Despite the better weather I still spin once a week on Tuesdays with the promise of further Peak district Hills.

Spinning also brought me something else.........Sarah May

Each winter night whilst I was trying to keep my personal data on the 'myzone screen' in the red, other far more impressive challenges were going on behind me.

Sarah and her husband Jeff were spinning too.
I had passed the time of day with Jeff on a number of occasions after he had commented on my Mule Jersey and determined that the spin studio was my winter retreat.

I soon convinced him that I also rotated pedals in a way that moved you forwards.
He exclaimed that was what Sarah was doing
Moving forwards.

It was then that I learned that it was not that long ago that Sarah was on a dialysis machine with a grim prognosis after kidney failure.
The only help would be through a new Kidney.

It was then that my education began, firstly I did not realise how many people have kidney failure through a variety of reasons and secondly how difficult it is to find a kidney that would match.The process is long and drawn out providing a roller coaster of emotion.

Amazingly in Sarah's case she got a kidney that came from her brother. 
For most people after going through such trauma, being well again would be enough, but not for Sarah.
She wanted to help others in the same predicament and became heavily involved in a charity called 'Kidneys for Life'

Sarah does not take her health for granted and rejoices in being 'Well' 
She decided that this summer she would ride with a few friends on a sponsored cycle ride from London to Paris.
Such is her infectious personality and positivity she has now persuaded others to join her, surgeons,other transplant patients, friends and family.

Knowing that there was not a great deal of cycling experience I offered to help out with some coaching but Sarah and Jeff soon persuaded me that I ought to cycle the trip too.

What could I say

Cycling from London to Paris has always on my bucket list and I look forward to completing it. I hope that over the coming months I can in some small way help Sarah and all the other riders to provide them with the confidence, stamina and ability to reach the Eiffel Tour with me.

Any money raised will go to helping people live lives that we take for granted.
This is where my readers come in.
Please support us.
I have provided a link to my just giving page on the right hand column

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Tour de Winterfell

I love Music. During my impressionable years I would listen to music constantly, from Blue grass to Grand Opera there were no horizons on my route of discovery I wanted to embrace it all.
I would rejoice in often finding an artist who would inspire me. Who would present a complete package of lyrics, musicality and harmony, to provide me with an irresistible audible treat.

I would deliberately seek those who were lesser known, so that I could covert them for myself, then  in time delight in telling people of the Jewel that I had found.
This contradictory action never served me well as universal popularity was never far away.
I don't like sharing.

When the Tour de France came to Winterfell (Yorkshire) I could not have been more proud.
To see all of my cycling heroes ride, sweat, bleed and suffer on the same stretches of road as I have ridden, it was awe inspiring.

Of course I knew that everyone south of the wall would be searching for their winter coats and shoe covers prior to leaving  Kings Landing. For the total urbanites within the metropolis, enquiries were made to see if roads and rail links stretched this far or whether our hostelries still heated water over an open fire.
 During the two day visit to the White Rose County the population of Yorkshire probably doubled where the foreigners to the south of Westeros were treated to the delights of the northern lands and hospitality, with the odd wildling emerging from the roadside crowd from time to time.

Their famous "Box Hill" may feature in Britain's 100 Greatest Climbs but surely such a visit would  put it into some sort of perspective, its  nowt but a sleeping policeman compared to some of tut Yorkshire hills us Folk would say.

When the tour moved south to Cambridge and finished at Kings Landing it thankfully drew the likes of the"Lanisters" back home, leaving Winterfell for us Yorkshire folk to cycle in at our leisure.

I was not ready to tell people about Winterfell, but with the exposure of 'Le Tour' it was out in the open. Having now realised that we can offer hot and cold running water, breath taking scenery and a passion for cycling that you could only find in some parts of Italy it was soon announced that Winterfell would have its very own Tour.
So it came to pass that in May 2015 the first Tour De Winterfell took place.
Stage 1 from Bridlington to Scarborough taking in the North Yorkshire moors
Stage 2 from Selby to York taking in the East Yorkshire Wolds including Newbald (My village) for which we now have the famous "Cote De Newbald Climb"
Stage 3 from Wakefield to Leeds via the Yorkshire Pennines which also ran an amateur sportive held on the same course hours before the professional race.

 Once again the crowds flocked in and the participants were treated to a right royal welcome by us Yorkshire folk, each village was adorned with bunting yellow and blue painted bikes and cheering crowds. I had the good fortune to gain a place within the sportive and was privileged to have a taste of 'a view from the road' on the professional circuit with thousands of cheering supporters.

The weather was horrendous with heavy driving rain and a chill in the air which made the arduous course all the more challenging. Climbing up Howarth Main Street on wet cobbles was the highlight  of the day.  Something that will resonate for years

Of course as soon as the pros started the clouds disappeared and the sun came out ensuring that their experience of Winterfell would not be dampened by the elements and provided further evidence that if god was a mortal, he would have been a Yorkshireman!

One month on, the bunting and bikes remain on the route although the graffiti on the roads is now fading, what we do have though, is an influx of new riders finding the treasures that I have encountered for the past 8 years cycling around the lands of Yorkshire.
Sometimes it is good to share.