Bath time.

I’ve just had a bath.

Can you feel the deep sense of satisfaction oozing from that sentence? It was warm and wonderful. Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Moving on, I’m now in London in a flat I’m borrowing for the night because my friends aren’t here. Thank you Luke and Katie!

I’ve had a bath. Think about that for a moment. Mmmmmm.

Anyway, just about to head off to try and find our venue for tonight, The Oxford in Kentish town.  I’m really looking forward to it, but nervous about how many people will turn up, it’s been hard to predict all along. Some amazing turnouts and others less so.

Before I go out for the night, here are my gorgeous hosts from last night, the Tasker Family!

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I just realised it’s now March. I’ve been looking forward to March for months, now the end of the tour is so close I can almost taste it.

It will be weird not to be cycling for hours each day, and I shall miss meeting new and old faces along the way.

I won’t miss cycling into horrendous headwinds though. This morning was awful, Cambridgeshire was not kind to me. Headwinds all the way. After that, horrible London traffic, I don’t know how anyone could drive here every day. So far I’m up to 52ish miles for this leg, I’ll be adding a few more as I head to and from the gig.

I’ve just seen we’re creeping up to the magic £1000 barrier on just giving donations. Thanks so much to everyone who’s donated so far, if you haven’t, come on, let’s push it over the edge!

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End of the century

I’m writing this from a very comfortable bed in Cambridge. Do I have to leave it? Really? My alarm’s not gone off yet so I’m safe for a few minutes at least.

My legs definitely have some new aches and pains they didn’t have yesterday. But, I did it! The longest ride of the tour is in the bag. 106 miles, further by 11 miles than I’ve ever cycled in a day before.

To celebrate, here’s some music…

It might actually have been a nice ride, the flat roads once in Cambridgeshire should have given me a bit of a break, but no.

The wind, the wind the wind the wind the WIND!

Have I mentioned the wind? Feck, it was relentless, and for most of the ride pretty much IN MY FACE!

The last 45 miles were just brutal, a constant slog, like endleslly climbing a hill.

Still, me being a silly sod, if I’d had that as a tail wind (oh that would have been nice) I’d have somehow felt like I cheated! At least this way I know I’ve done an epic challenge, and got through.

By the skin of my teeth mind, I’d left extra early, hitting the road at 7.30am because I knew it might be tight getting into Cambridge for the gig, in the end I arrived at 6.20pm, the gig having already started.

Sorry to the performers who I couldn’t quite pay attention to, I was focussing on standing, and cramming cake and hot chocolate in my gob. Thanks to my friends for looking after me, you bunch of feeders.

I then quickly got changed and before I knew it I was performing. Quite a surreal experience so soon after the ride. I was still writing down my haiku as I was being announced.

Thanks to everyone who came, it was lovely to see you all, old faces and new faces. We raised a good chunk of money for Centre 33. Fay did tell me how much but my brain has spat out the figure. Twas over £100 though.

Massive thanks to Fay for organising, and the Espresso Library for allowing us to use the venue.

So, a relatively short distance into London today, but with a very tired body and the wind still playing up I’m not sure it’ll be the easy run in I’d hoped for.

Can’t wait for the gig though, it’s gonna be great. Please come along if you’re anywhere near.

My alarm’s gone off now…. bugger. Not long to go now though before I can have a lie in.

It’s definitely not too late to sponsor me, and it’s all going to fantastic causes, any and all donations really appreciated.

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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

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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