Have we vanquished an enemy? None but ourselves. Have we gained success? That word means nothing here. Have we won a kingdom? No. . . and yes. We have achieved an ultimate satisfaction. . . fulfilled a destiny. . . To struggle and to understand – never this last without the other; such is the law. . .
Fourteen friends from Aylesham and the surrounding area are set for an epic charity ride, cycling from Aylesham to Barcelona which is about 900 miles in eight days. We will be raising money for two very worthy causes.
Kobi Turnbull; a young lad from the village who has recently been diagnosed with Bone Cancer. We hope to support Kobi’s parents in providing much needed help during this difficult time.
Slide Away; This is a charity offering support to children and young people in Kent who have been bereaved of a family member or friend. They also support children and young people who have a parent or sibling with a life limiting illness.
The team includes four father/son pairs; Carl & Mark Moses; Andy Stupples & Conor; Keith (Bingo) & Linford House and Dale & Rylan House, who will be joined by Dave Austen, Cathal Bartolo, Mark Tonks, Mark Jordan, Glen Dobson and Steve Richards. The team will be supported by their van driver Eric Norton.
They hope to raise over £4000 to be shared equally by both causes. They are due to set off from Aylesham on Thursday 30th June 2022.
Lovely moon last night over the Norfolk /Cambridgeshire border. All slept well, with a little autumnal chill & dew in the air. Up with the larks and a spring in our steps with Stubbsy left over spicy chicken things and lashings of hot tea and coffee, Bingo been up since 5 stoking the stove just to make sure the lads are fed and watered.
On the the road quite early whizzing along the lanes with a cheeky good morning to all and sundry, heading towards Ely foremost to see if we could get Daves back wheel fixed and have a well earned rest. Another childhood memory, walking around the city and cathedral, must admit quite spectacular, not sure I appreciated so much in the day though.
We then headed for Newmarket seeing the race horses on the gallops and putting up with the quips that all the guys were the same height as me, put up for lots of banter, all in good spirits has we headed out of the town past the racehorse gallops and stables.
Back onto the country roads and rollings hills, up to a farm, the tractor driver gave us a wrly smile and a wave, he knew what lay ahead, a bridleway for the next few miles pretty tough going at places, finally rejoined the road after a bit of huffing and puffing.
The shout went up to stop at the next pub for light refreshments well that was easier said than done. Even worse was to follow the captain had a flat, the 1st of the tour not bad as at least 40% has been off road. We decided to limp to the next village and change the tube then, after around 6 miles and pumping the tyre up couple of times, we mended the inner tube outside a village shop, with a bottle of beer and sandwiches as always the work was done in the normal calm and collective manner the captain always maintains.
Finally back on the road, with a message to regroup at the 8 Bells, after talking with some locals they directed us to Sudbury and the 5 Bells, Bingo, Dave and Mark were already there another message we said we were 15mins away on the railway track, bit of a silence they did go down a track, that was clear when we arrived they were not there a few messages and confirmed we were furthest on the route, within 15mins all reunited,
Connor had booked rooms just outside Chelmsford, so with a bit of rerouting of we set for the final 20 odd miles, with big Dave leading us, all good as found the hotel together, few beers and meal all in all another eventful day on the bikes
Eventually we had a lovely meal in the end last night. We were kept waiting for a table at the hotel for 3/4hour only then to be told they had no food left. The cylist were OK with it though Stubbsy daughter had just done a 12 hr shift at Bath hospital which is far harder than cycling. She was not best pleased. But all’s well that ends well as we found a great Italian restaurant less than 50m away.
We woke up to a lovely sunny morning had a bit of breakfast and then hit the road just after 8. It was a bit of a steep climb out of Chepstow as we headed for Newport for a quick meet up with Chris and Lester Powell. It was great seeing them both looking very fit and well. We had a little chat then wished them all well. Chris gave us a big bag of Welsh cakes: Bingo promptly took ownership of them.
We pressed on through Newport and passed the famous transporter bridge – a marvelous feet of engineering. After finally getting out of Newport we headed towards the Rhondda valley and picked up the Sustrans Cycle Route 4 or maybe Route 8 [Ed: or both; 4 goes E/W to Fishguard and 8 goes S/N to Anglesey]. It’s a credit to the Welsh tourist board as it was excellent, fully paved and a joy to ride on.
Before we knew it we were climbing steadily up the valley, going through Caerphilly where we stopped for a photo shoot of the castle and the statue of Tommy Cooper (I did not know he was Welsh [Ed: now you do, just like that!]). Then we stopped for lunch at a cafe in Pontypridd. Big Dave is making sure we have a dry lunch – he is a good lad. From there we carried onto Porth and then up the Valley to Ynysir where my Dad was born.
We had a few pictures taken along William Street and remembered holidays from the past playing football with Graham on the Oval and wearing a horrible tweed tweed suit that Dad had brought for Keith and I to name a few. Personally I was really pleased we went up the Ynysir valley. I loved it, but anyway that’s enough of the sentimental stuff as we had the first of two big climbs in front of us.
We had already started the the climb upto Maerdy. It was our first proper climb and it was good stuff as that’s what we came for.
All of us were laughing and joking as we rode up to Aberdare, and with big Dave ditching the no beer thing Keith and I went in the Aberdare Constitutional Club. Dave and Andy had a beer outside a coffee shop then joined us. It was just a timing and thirsty thing. The club was full of sporting memorabilia and the host was a great guy as he showed us all the bits and pieces.
Finally we left the club and struggled for a while to get out of the town. Then we hit another climb up to Merthyr Tydfil. On the descent we headed off towards Brecon for a good few miles, and stopped by a small hamlet on the side of a reservior. We tried a few B&Bs here to no avail and finally settled for a wild camp on the banks of the Llwyn-On reservior which is a lovely spo. We managed to put the water through the purifier, so we had coffee, 1/4 egg roll, 1/4 Soren Malt loaf each for dinner tand hen an early night.