And so it begins…

Oh my gosh the day of days has arrived! All those months of planning and in a few short hours we will be on our way! My stomach is feeling slightly full of butterflies but at the same time I am so excited to get started. We hope that quite a few of you are going to be able to turn out today to see us set off, or even if you just wave at us on route.

I guess for the next 9 days me and my bike are going to become the best of friends, though how much I am still going to like Betty after she has killed my legs and bottom is still to be decided!!

Yesterday we got all our packing done so I think we are ready to go, if there is anything you think I desperately need but might have forgotten or not even though about please message me ASAP. Thank you. Though I have to say I feel as though my bike looks like this: (actually let me re-phase that and say I think DAN’S bike looks like this)

One fully loaded bike!

One fully loaded bike!

But then again I was the one in charge of getting the first aid ready and I am not saying I am a hypochondriac or anything, but the first aid kit was starting to look a little more like this:

Well you never know what might go wrong!

Well you never know what might go wrong!

Fingers crossed we won’t need it! Well I am sorry this is only going to be a quick post, I can’t stay on long due to the whole setting off today thing, but what I did want to do most importantly is say some very big THANK YOU’S! There have been some amazingly generous people out there, and not just the people who have sponsored us on our Virgin money giving page but those as well who have helped us in other ways such as those lovely people who have come along to our events and bought tickets and played the raffle etc and all those amazing people who have put money into our collection tins.

We would also like to thank Kathryn and Jim for donating  a French Supermarket voucher, The staff at Spar, Barrowford for having a collection between them so we have another English voucher for food, Emily and Charlotte again for food vouchers! Also like to thank Gayle for putting us up tonight, Michael for putting us up tomorrow night, Ethos hotel in Oxford for our third night and Mandy in Basingstoke for our fourth. We would also like to say thank you to Doreen in Congleton for agreeing to make us a packed lunch today as we pass, Steven and Tracey Henderson in Pangbourne for doing the same, and Jim and Frieda in Portsmouth for making us one last meal before we get on the Ferry.

As far as France is concerned we have a big thank you to say to Colette at Le Petit Billot in Vitre, to the staff at the Etape Hotel in Angers as well as Keith and Jocelyn in Lageon for both putting us up and making us a meal as well as the wonderful people at Rimbard Manor for everything they are doing to make our last day as perfect as possible!

Finally I have another big thank you, however this one is a little different as I am not sure who to thank. However we would both like to say the BIGGEST thank you possible to the amazingly kind anonymous donater who has sent us £90 on a prepaid MasterCard for us to use as food money along the way! It is safe to say any worries I had about not getting the right amount of food in me have now vanished. Honestly we can not thank you all enough, it means the world to us!

We hope to see you all on route and please if you haven’t done so already please consider donating towards this amazing charity! You can do so at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge thank you!

Nikki xx

 

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We all have off days

As Nikki said, I have been working long hours recently, so when it came to writing a blog entry, all I wanted to do was fall asleep! But, after a full nights sleep, I’m back!

So, as the title says, we all have off days, however on my off days it seems that I injure myself on the bike. Last thursday was no exception!

We were on the way to Skipton, when just outside Gargrave I came off the bike again, or rather didn’t as the case was. The front wheel must have hit a rock and I lost balance, but as I was clipped on, I went down with the bike. Nikki, who was behind, had the horrible feeling that I’d broken my leg given how I landed. Thankfully it was just swollen and bruised. Its now one massive bruise!

As well as the huge bruise, I also got road rash. Now Nikki thinks this should be a game of spot the body part, so heres a poll for you to pick an answer from.

One thing about the day I found highly amusing was Nikki’s trainers. This was the first day that our cycle clothing was matching, making it clear we were doing something for the NSPCC. As my cycle shoes are a dark grey colour, Nikki had bought some new trainers, as her old ones had a hole in the sole. Nikki hates trainers! The amusing part was the quote of “I’ll happily pay over £100 for a pair of heels, but I’m not willing to pay more than £10 for trainers!”. To be honest, I think she’d rather cycle bare foot than wearing them!

Today we are both unable to go out on the bikes, even though we wish we could given the practically tropical weather we have here at the minute (its sunny AND warm! In the north of the UK!). The reason for this is that both bikes are currently in the shops being checked over ready for the trip, which is now only a week away! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about it! However, tonight is another R2R milestone, the Charity Gig at Koko’s in Burnley. Its not too late to get tickets. Sahara will be headlining the event, then DJ Jim Random of NSB Radio will keep the party going till the early hours! We hope to see you all there! you can get tickets in the following ways…

1) Buy them from http://www.sahara-online.co.uk

2) Buy them directly from Nikki or myself

3) Contact us directly and we will add you to the guest list so that you pay £5 at the door

4) Donate £5 at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge and we will add you to the pre-paid guestlist

5) Show up with a flyer that will be distributed in town tonight for £5 entry

or 6) Just show up (although that will be £8 on the door)

All proceeds will go to the NSPCC.

Dan

Donations, Donations, Donations!

English: An appeal for funds by the NSPCC made...

Helping to raise money for the NSPCC

I know I promise Dan that I would do a blog post last night, but my head was bad and instead of being all bright and perky and ready to write a blog instead I looked liked this:

Bad bad head day!

(Please no one ask me what I will do if I have one of my bad days while on the actual cycle as I have already had my mother ask me and the truth is I just don’t know!) Anyhoo, so yeah, that’s why I have to apologise to Dan about my lack of blogging as not even the prospect of laughing at Big Fat Gypsy Wedding on Channel 4 could get me out of bed yesterday!

But anyway back to whats going on in the world of R2R! For a start can you believe it is only 16 days away… yes you did just read that right I said 16 days, as in just over two weeks…. I am not scared yet at all, honestly….

Dan and I have been training, obviously, in fact Dan even got up really early on Saturday morning and went for a 3 hour-long ride before then going to work and doing a crazily long shift til 11pm, now that is dedication! If you want to have a look at his ride you can click on this link here. Then we have of course been out on rides together, in fact on Monday I went out on my bike instead of spending time with my Daddy on one of his rare trips to England so I would say I am pretty dedicated myself! Speaking of Monday’s ride I have discovered something I like….. SPEED!!! As we cycled along the canal I discovered that I liked going fast. Now if you are only just tuning into this blog this might sound like a strange thing to say as surely it is a very normal thing to like going fast, however, if you have followed me from the beginning you will know that I am the female equivalent of James May, I am Princess Slow, I am the girl who brakes when going down hill and who has never needed her top speed as she has never gone fast enough to warrant using it.  After Monday that has changed, it is like Dan and I where racing and he struggled to keep up at times!! I admit at first I was a little scared I would go INTO the canal and not along side it, but when I got past that fear it was awesome!! Speed has a slight side effect on me though… it sends me a little bit crazy, just ask Dan about that, I think I maybe did his head in just a tad!

In other good news about our Monday ride, we spread the word like crazy about what we are doing, people seemed genuinely interested, and one really kind lady donated £5! I was a very happy smiley little cyclist!

Speaking of donations we are doing so well! More donations are coming in through the website at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge including a very generous donation of £50 from Tim and Esnayder. Donations are also coming in thick and fast from the lovely kind shoppers at Spar Barrowford where Dan works! Big yay!! 😀 We have also had £20 donated on a gift card from Tesco’s Great Harwood for food along the way. Our shiny voucher from Tesco Great Harwood But the best news yet… we have all our nights accommodation sorted!! More about that coming soon, just watch this space….

In other news, tickets are selling well for the Charity concert that Sahara are putting on for us at KoKo’s in Burnley on 23rd March. More information can be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/336810539702961/ Tickets can be purchased from either myself and Dan or from http://www.sahara-online.co.uk/ Tickets are £5 if purchased in advanced and £8 on the door, all the money raised is going to the NSPCC. We hope to see you all there!

Thank you to everyone for the support that you are giving us, we are starting to get nervous now but the continued support you are giving is definitely helping to quell those nerves! If you would like to donate please go to http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge all the money raised is going to the NSPCC to help stop cruelty to children.

Nikki xx

 

 

R.I.P. “Cleatus”

Hi all!

It feels like AGES since I made an entry!

There has been a development with my bike, that being that I no longer own it!

Nikki and Dan by the canal with their bikes

From left to right and above to below: Nikki, Dan, Betty, and Cleatus

At this point I think I should point something out. Nikki, as sad as she is (joking) has named her bike Betty, and thinks that my bike needs a name. Seeing as my shoes have cleats to clip onto the pedals, and also because the bike handles like something a hillbilly would drive, it got named Cleatus. As you all know, my bike, an Apollo Target, has had nothing but problems since day 1 (literally!), and so I was close to the end of my tether with the thing. Sunday pushed me over the edge!

Our original intention was to cycle to Bolton and back on Sunday. We set of and headed for the canal to cut out Whitebirk roundabout, which is one big ass, scary roundabout on the outskirts of Blackburn. All seemed to be going well, Nikki was keeping up, and I was testing out the new cycle glasses with a built in camera. While cycling along the canal Nikki noticed it looked as though it was frozen, so I stopped to throw a twig at it to see if it was. It was! We then set off again, or rather, Nikki set off. I noticed a strange noise emanating from the back of my bike. We spent a good 20 minutes trying to figure out what it was, thinking it was the rear mudguard catching, but had no luck in fixing it. While riding, it sounded as though the motor off a hairdryer with wheels… sorry, a moped, had been attached. We decided to head into Blackburn to see if we could get it fixed. First point of call was Blackburn Cycle and Scooter Centre, hopeful as we were that like some other shops in the town centre, it might be open on a Sunday. Alas, no it was not. So we headed to the store the bike originally came from… As Nikki asked, does anybody in Blackburn actually know what customer service is? If at Spar I was to treat people in the way we have be treated repeatedly in Blackburn, I’d have been sacked long ago! The staff were either “arsey” with us and instantly on the defensive as soon as the bike’s problems were mentioned, or the equivalent of a zombie who’d had the urge to eat flesh removed! The woman who was “serving” us was also instantly on the defensive when we said it had been to Blackburn Cycle and Scooter centre. Sorry love but I think they know a bit more about bikes than you! After a while of me having to stay silent while Nikki spoke to them, it transpired that the bike was in worse shape than we thought. The front wheel was buckled, the brakes needed replacing, and the gears were shot at. All we could do was cycle away because no mechanic (and I use that term in the loosest possible manner) could look at it until today. Now, these people are supposed to have some knowledge of how a bike works…. how is it that while cycling back up to the canal we noticed a fault that they had not, and not just a little one, it was a biggie! The back wheel was wobbling about and catching the frame as the bike moved, hence the strange moped like noise! Now neither me nor Nikki are experts about the mechanical workings of a bike, however we both know that is not meant to happen! At this point we had to be picked up by my dad as I could not cycle on the bike, and I could not walk because I would damage the cleats on my shoes.

Fast forward to Monday. I took the bike back to the Burnley store of the shop it came from (where may I add, the staff are A LOT more helpful and friendly!) wanting a refund for “Cleatus”. When I told my parents that I was going to do this the night before, they both said “Take Nikki with you, she’s better at this kind of thing than you”… Thanks! It is true, but still! lol. The manager of the store said that he could either do a refund, or a deal on a better bike. I know that two men who work there are very knowledgeable about bikes and cyclists themselves, and so I returned later that night when they were both working to get their opinions as to which bike I should get for the 650 mile trip. The correct bike for the job was selected, I had to pay a bit more towards it, minus the cost of the Apollo Target and some discount, and I now have a bike suitable for the trip. So, I introduce to you all, the Carrera Crossfire 1…

Carrera Crossfire 1

Like “Cleatus”, the Crossfire is a hybrid, although overall the Crossfire is a much better bike, and the quality of the components is clear just from looking at it. Complete with front suspension, high pressure inner tubes in the tyres, a lightweight aluminium frame, and a 21 speed gear set, I am confident that this bike will get me to France! I have now kitted it out with “Cleatus’s” pannier rack and SPD pedals, however the tyres will not allow the mudguards to be fitted. Now comes the part that clearly has Nikki stamped all over it. The Crossfire needs a name. Personally I say Crossfire, but apparently it has to go to a public vote, so please leave suggestions in the comments below.

Now that I have had a new lease of life, please help support our endeavours to aid the NSPCC by donating whatever you can at www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge. Also, please “like” our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/r2rchallenge.

Thanks

Dan

Three for the price of one

Hi all!

As promised, I am doing a proper blog. A bit later than planned because as I was writing it last night, the day caught up with me, and I fell asleep!

So firstly, a few days ago, Nikki hinted that I had pushed myself the most I had done so far in training. This is true. On monday I cycled just over 42 miles! This trip took me from Barrowford to Gisburn (along the most dangerous road in the UK!), towards Clitheroe, through Great Harwood into Rishton, into Blackburn, back to Rishton, then to a friends’ house in Burnley.

http://maps.google.com/?q=http://share.abvio.com/596f/10ad/4e82/d477/Cyclemeter-Cycle-20120109-1149.kml

According to Cyclemeter, 2012 calories were burnt that day! Strangely though, the next day I didn’t ache at all, in fact, I felt as though I could do it again! The only thing stopping me was the fact that I was working.

Throughout the week, I did several random trips, one of which was a 10 mile round trip to Burnley. All the way round the bike seemed to be having trouble gearing into 1 on its main gears, however, by the time I got home it wouldn’t move at all, it was stuck in 3! So, yet again, another trip to Blackburn Cycle and Scooter Centre! I should have just bought the bike from there! I’m sure that I wouldn’t have had all these problems if I had done! Needless to say though, after all the problems with the thing, the company it came from will be getting a letter of complaint!

So, yesterday… Lancaster!

All I can say is if you’re gonna go to Lancaster when temperatures are around -1, go in a car! It was bloody freezing! By the end of the ride, I couldn’t feel my fingers or my feet! Don’t get me wrong though, the actual ride was quite enjoyable!

Nikki and the bikes outside Lancaster castle

   

After seeing a few sights in Lancaster, then having dinner, we set off. On this ride we tried to implement a walkie talkie system to communicate with one another, as its hard to shout over the noise of cars, especially if you’re out of breath. First attempt at it and it didn’t work! I ended up holding the walkie talkie while trying to cycle as it had become unclipped. Obviously not a good idea! We did however manage to come up with a beep system on them to say when we needed to slow down or stop.

Because of being on bikes, for obvious reasons we could not use the motorways meaning we had to use A roads on our trip down to Preston. If the roads we encounter on the actual trip are any bit like the ones from Lancaster to Preston, I will be happy! I think I must be getting fitter because I didn’t feel to be overly exerting myself.

Nikki also did well with the roads, and any stops we made were generally due to sorting out her iPod rather than her having a problem.

While riding in the VIP lane (AKA Cycle lane), I noticed that all the bike symbols painted on the floor seemed to be different, ranging from what looked like road bikes, to mountain bikes. This gave Nikki the idea that on the actual trip to France, we should take photos of anything bike related that we see.

On a final note, I would like to know where the real Nikki is! Last year she wanted to cycle wearing vintage clothes and stiletto shoes, now, cycle wear and trainers! I think it’s clear that the real Nikki has been abducted and replaced with a cyclist impostor! =P

Who are you and what have you done with the real Nikki?

Please help make our efforts worthwhile and visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge to aid the work done by the NSPCC.

Dan

 

Bike Mods

Hi all,

So… its been a while! I hope you all had a good Christmas and New Year!

During our little break, I have to admit that I haven’t been on the bike as much as I should, mainly because of a promotion at work. As Nikki mentioned way back when we first started this crazy adventure, I have my own video production company, Bluevortex. As this is in its infancy, I also work at a Spar store in Barrowford. Over the Christmas period, I was running the place, and so had little opportunity to get out on the bike training. However, new year, new start; as of today (yesterday and today were included) I will be cycling to and from work each day, and days when I am not working, I’ll be out on the bike. Days when I can’t really be bothered going out (come on, we all have them!), there’s the exercise bike, although I am dubious about the stats from its computer!

Over the festive period, my bike has been outfitted with several modifications; I’m not kidding! My love of gadgets has extended onto the bike! For starters, the crankset (as I’ve said in a previous post) has been replaced with parts from Blackburn Cycle and Scooter Centre, so hopefully the chain taking out its guard will no longer be an issue. Secondly, I got a set of “bicygnals” for Christmas. These are basically bike lights , however, they have indicators! Also, using wireless technology, the front and back lights sync with one another.

Mounted to the front of the handlebars there is a tiny camera to capture action shots for the documentary. Apparently it records in HD 720, but I’ll believe that when I see it! For the £15 it cost from Groupon, I highly doubt it!

Finally, the latest modifications, which I have literally just finished adding, are mudguards and an iPhone holder. You might be saying “hang on, I’ve seen photos of your bike, and you already had those!”, which is true, but they have been upgraded. I recently received as a gift an iBike iPhone holder which encases the phone and also makes it weatherproof. However, due to the mount being the same as that of the bicygnals, both could not be on at the same time. Wrong! Using a bit of creative thinking, and some long screws, I managed to mount both items onto the handlebars, and both work perfectly! As for the mudguards, I cycled to work this morning, only to be hit in the face by all the water from the front wheel all the way there. This afternoon I bought a set of front and back guards and fitted them once I got home. I think I made things difficult for myself by not taking the back wheel off, and so had to remove the bike stand and the pannier rack in order to get to the areas I needed. I also now have a massive blood blister on my thumb where I trapped it in a pair of pliers while attempting to loosen a screw which had threaded. Even now, I can feel my heartbeat in it, although I suppose typing doesn’t help!

The big day is only 3 months away now! 9am on the 31st March 2012, we will leave Rishton, along with all our money. Cyclemeter will be tracking the entire journey so you’ll all be able to tell where we have got to along the way. Please help support our efforts and the work done by the NSPCC by donating what you can at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge!

Thanks

Dan

Money money money

Hi!

This is slightly later and shorter than planned! I wanted to write it last night, but to be honest, I fell asleep, and now I’ve just finished work (its another friday blog when i’ve finished work at 11pm).

Last night was the night of the quiz at the White Bear Inn, Barrowford. Nikki and myself got there early to set things up and also to get food because we knew we wouldn’t get chance later! I have to admit, it was a bit worrying when it was about 7pm and the pub was still a bit quiet! Fortunately it picked up a bit towards 8pm when we had an influx of family, friends, and random people showing up.

Shortly after 8pm, the quiz was underway, although both Nikki and myself were a bit disappointed that only 6 teams took part in the quiz. The thought “come on people! Its for charity!” came to mind, but I was amazed by how many raffle tickets we sold! Over 200!!

The quiz was met with some very positive feedback, and we were told by the vast majority involved that they had enjoyed themselves and that the quiz was very good! (Thank you Niall!) The raffle was also a success, and I would like to thank each and everyone of the local businesses for their contributions to that! Without them, we quite literally would not have been able to do it!

Altogether last night, we raised a total sum of £175.50 for the NSPCC! If you would like to add to the money raised so far, please donate at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge! Also, please like our Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/r2rchallenge, for all the latest news about our challenge!

Dan