Too much sleep could kill you

IMGP0029I’ll take my chances thanks

So, I’ve got a tonne to say and it’s late and this has already been written and accidentaly deleted… GRRR!

Can’t even begin to do the last 24 hours any kind of justice. The stories will have to be told over pints I guess.

I’ve been blown away by the generosity of my hosts everywhere I’ve visited, so here’s a couple more selfies. The first, Kieren and Ella, my hosts for Manchester, taken at silly’oclock this morning.

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Then taken just now, at silly o’clock at night, Charlotte and Alasdair:

IMGP0045And I can still blog with a face like that.

Ahh, I want to write more but I’m just shattered now. Need sleep, biggest ride of the trip tomorrow into Cambridge, and the earliest gig… that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Suffice to say Manchester and Nottingham have been ace. Lovely people, lovely gigs, great venues and a real honor to take part in such loveliness. Lovely.

So yeah, night people. See you in Cambridge. Oooh, I’ll do a quick check of the weather: Yeah, wish I hadn’t.

Manchester, Kieren, Ella and all at the 3MT, thank you, Mouthy Poets of Nottingham, thank you! (A really tallented bunch of young people and a great organisation.

It was nice to meet some of Lizzie’s family in Nottingham too, and hear about how she’s still helping No5 even though she’s no longer with us.

Now, cambridge, I’m coming for thee.

Oh, damn it, stats, 74 miles today over the peak district and it was about 12.4 ish average speed. Today I also ticked over into the 400 miles for the tour so far.

Goodnight! x

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Manchester baby!

I’ve got lots to say and pictures to post, but very little time so you’ll have to make do with a mini whirl wind tour of my last 24 hours!

But – we raised about £80 last night for Open Door Youth Counselling, with a small crowd but a lovely night. Thank you to everyone involved.

So now I’m in Manchester, skipping over the 82 miles to get here. (RAIN! hills, cold, headwind, moan, moan)

I’ve been given a BRILLIANT welcome by my hosts Kieren and Ella (and Manchester in general) and I’m sat in fantastic venue waiting for it to start.

I’m feeling pretty good, my legs seem to be adjusting to the demands, as long as I cram enough calories in. My bike is coping, a bit of a shoddy gearshift creeping in but nothing too problematic.

So yeah, I might not have much time for proper updates between here and Cambridge, but I’ll see what I can do!

Oh and day FIVE baby – HALFWAY HOME!

I’m actually having to stop myself thinking too much about the final gig when I’m riding. It’s starting to feel possible, and that makes me very emotional indeed.

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Day Four – Cream Crackered

Got settled into my travelodge home for the night, then went out to eat and find the venue. Wandered about trying to find somewhere cheap and cheerful in this very posh part of Brum, and eventually found a nice down to earth pub.

While I waited for my food my hands started shaking with hunger. Despite cramming the chicken burger and chips down me, and now polishing off a large hot chocolate in the lovely cafe that’s our poetry home for the night, I’m still shakey. Maybe I didn’t eat enough during the day, or maybe, and this is pretty likely, I just really need some SLEEP!

Hope it ends at a reasonable time tonight, I’ll certainly not be having post gig drinks. Slightly worried now about tomorrow – and the 90ish miles to Manchester. I think this is where the hard work of this tour is really starting to begin. I’m into unknown territory as far as my fitness goes. I’ll not be updating again tonight, and maybe not in the morning. Good night folks!

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Day 4 – finding the touring mindset

I’m feeling a bit more refreshed, sat in my Travelodge room with a cup of tea and having had a stupendously good shower. I almost feel guilty about the amount of water I’ve just sent rushing to the sea. It was like a firehose! Anway, enough plugging of Travelodge.

I woke this morning feeling distinctly grumpy and tired, having had a rubbish night’s sleep, and feeling very achy and lacking energy. It was then a bit of a challenge to pack up, get showered, breakfasted, check I’ve not left anything behind again, and get going before my deadline of 8.30. This is just my reality for the next few days though, gotta suck it up! I can’t say I was particularly happy as I carried my bags over to the bike and clipped them on.

I must say a huge thank you to my friend Marie who hosted me last night, she fed and watered me very well indeed! Last night was salty roast chicken, cream sauce and pasta – with leftovers for lunch today!

Here’s the obigatory morning selfie, note my boundless energy that comes across in this picture:

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I got on my bike though, and the first turn of the pedal put a smile on my face. Just getting moving helps shake the grump away. It might be a bit of a physical challenge, but I don’t have to think too hard about it, all I have to keep doing is turning the pedals and don’t get lost.

This was all helped by looking at the map and realising I had what looked like a nice route into Birmingham, albeit with a bit of a headwind according to the forecast.

And so it proved, I wasn’t sure how far it was but as I started eating up the miles it became clear that this wasn’t going to be a killer day. In fact I really enjoyed it on the whole. Nice roads, not too hilly, lovely scenery and I managed to sit by the river in Stratford and eat my lunch in a spot of sunshine. This is about the first time I’ve been warm on the whole trip!

IMGP0025The bike enjoying its well earned rest…

IMGP0026And me, looking a bit more cheeful.

I also took the decision early on that I wasn’t going to stress about how quickly I could make it in. Yesterday – partly because I left Bristol 2 hours late (Blimey, I was in Bristol yesterday?) and because I wanted to arrive as early as I could to get some washing done – I raced myself into Oxford, trying to up my average speed all the time.

Consequently, although I enjoyed the ride, by the time I arrived I was shattered. Today however, I realised that I had no time pressure, and there was no point in pushing myself too hard. So I just sank into a nice rhythm and let the miles take care of themselves.

After all, it’s not me against the clock (on most days at least) it’s me against fatigue! I need to have legs left to tackle some of the harder days that are coming up next. Birmingham – Manchester, Manchester to Nottingham, and Nottingham to Cambridge are the three days in the middle of the tour that I fear the most, either of them on their own would be bad enough.

I nearly forgot – STAT ATTACK! My final total yesterday was about 82 miles, I say about, as my computer failed (and then came back to life) on my way to the gig, and I forgot to put it back on at the end of the gig. These computers are horribly unreliable, I spent hours trying to swap sensors over between by bikes so I might have one that worked for the tour, and I’m concerned it might fail on me before the end. Sounds silly, but it makes a huge difference psycologically when I’m riding to know how many miles I’ve covered, and when I can take my next break. Anyhoo, it’s working for now. Enjoy the stats while you can! So today I did 64 miles at an average of 12.3 miles an hour. I was at about 12.6 until the last few miles into Brum and traffic lights and roundabouts etc interfered. Anyway, given the headwind, and my new chilled approach, I’m pretty pleased with that. Hopefully I’ve saved some legs for tomorrow… I think that makes one million miles done so far on the tour, or rounding down, about 246.

So yeah, it’s been a nice day, even getting into Birmingham itself wasn’t too bad. I’ve got a few more hours to kill before the gig, I think I’ll spend them stuffing my face if I can. GIVE ME CALORIES!

Big day tomorrow, but before then, I can’t wait to see what the Birmingham gig has in store. It’s got a lot to live up to after the first three.

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Day Three gig and day four morning

Just a quick update to say how much I enjoyed last night’s gig. It was a really lovely evening, with fantastic performers and a giant audience full of friendly faces! Couldn’t have asked for it to go better so big thanks to all concerned.

Even managed to get out afterwards for a quick (non aloholic) drink with friends old and new which was a nice break away from all the mad movement and planning.

I’ll try and post more about it later.

Woke up this morning however and I’m tired, well I say woke up, that would imply I got some sleep. You’d think during all this sleep would be the easy bit right? I’ve not really had enough sleep at all yet – which was always going to be a problem with late nights and early mornings, but I thought at least I’d not be waking up in the night.

Oh well. My limbs are now feeling it too, they definitely know they’ve been used.

Anyway, enough moaning, onwards to Birmingham! Can’t believe it’s Wednesday already! My route looks quite nice today so fingers crossed for another good ride. I might have a kip this afternoon if I arrive in good time!

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Day Three – with keys

So first I need  to say a massive thankyou to my friend Alix who absolutely came to my rescue last night, gave me a place to stay close to my immobile bike and fed and watered me very comprehensively! Here’s a picture!

IMGP0019She also stopped me having a meltdown over my lack of bike lock keys!

So we went back to the cafe, banging on the door at 9.30 before they opened at 10 and there they were, hanging up on their key rack. THANK GOODNESS! (Or words to that effect)

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What I have lost is the t-shirt I was wearing yesterday, I’d assumed it’d be with the keys but no. So, someone has a very sweaty memento of their time at the Arts House.

Seriouslty though, at the rate I keep losing things I’ll be riding or even walking naked by the time I hit Reading – and no one wants that. As some work colleagues would say I’m leaving a ‘trail of Dave’ across the country!

I left Bristol at about ten, at least an hour and a hour and a half later than planned, but what a ride.

I had a tail wind most of the way, and no rain! For at least the first 50 miles I loved every minute of it. Yes, this whole thing is an endurance test, but (whisper it) sometimes cycling’s just a lot of fun!

I know the weather’s not looking so kind for then next couple of days so I need to enjoy it while I can, but if I get another day like today I’ll be happy. I even cut out a bananna break I was feeling so good.

I can’t say the last 20 miles or so were quite so pleasant, bum ache and tired limbs did creep up on me and arriving at my friends house in Oxford I was just about done in.

STAT ATTACK! Up to the edge of Oxford I’d done 75 miles at an average speed of 14.6 miles an hour! My total time was also and hour and a half less than yesterday at about 5 hours, maybe less. Really pleased with that and compared to yesterday it shows just how much of a difference the wind direction makes – and a relative lack of hills! I’ve alread added a couple of miles to that and I suspect I’ll be on over 80 miles for the day once I get back from the gig.

Now, just catching up on the mountain of emails and social networking duties before I need to actually sort my set out for tonight!

Can’t wait!

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Day Two – Gig

What a night!

Bristol you blew my mind. From the cheesecake the cafe served to the gig itself, I had a fantastic evening, and I know lots of others did too.

LOTS of others, it was standing room only in the basement, we really crammed them in there!

The poetry was quite honestly intimidatingly good. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a gig with such a consistently high standard of open mike, let alone Rebecca and Stef Mo, our host and feature poet respectively. I was feeling distinctly nervous following all the excellence that had come before but as soon as I got on stage all the nerves fell away. I really enjoyed myself and got into the poems and banter in a way I’d not managed the night before (in my mildly incoherent state at the start of the tour).

It was lovely to see so many familiar faces, and loads of friendly new ones, yeah, I had a blast, hope you all did too.

The icing on the cake is we raised £150 for Womenkind, what a result.

After the gig  – things weren’t so good.

I said good bye to everyone, packed up my stuff, went to cycle the couple of miles to my friends house aaaannd – couldn’t find my bike keys! By the time I’d realised, the cafe was closed so I couldn’t check in there.

Yup, I’d locked my bike up and now had no way of releasing it, bit of a problem when you need to cycle the next day to Oxford.

So after much swearing and kicking things I was rescued by an old friend Alix who let me stay at her house, just around the corner, and we made plans to go to the cafe early before it opened and try to get in and if the keys weren’t there then several options involving angle grinders and new locks were explored and declared doable. I worked out how long I could wait before leaving for Oxford and I reckoned if I left Bristol by 11ish I should be fine.

After a bowl of gorgeous food and much calming down by Alex it was time to try and sleep, which surprisingly I managed.

Did I find my keys? Did I make it to Oxford? (Spoiler, guess where I’m typing this from?)

Find out in the next installment…

My just giving page has started going mad, and we’ve raised over £600 so far. Thanks so much to everyone who’s donated so far. It really means a lot. If you want to join the cool kids… click here!

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