Day 8 – The more the merrier!

Dan and I awoke with a spring in our step… ok so that is a total lie being that both of us felt like we were actually dying by this point, however we also knew today was our last full day of cycling as the final day was only going to be a half day. Surely we could push ourselves through another full day of pain!

So I bet you are asking yourselves just how did the above picture get taken if we are both cycling… well we did have another reason to be pleased today… we had the amazingness of an entourage!!! Think Tour Du France support cars! (Ok think Tour Du France if that too is a big green Range Rover covered in NSPCC balloons and posters!) Said support car was driven by Nikki’s very lovely Daddy and had in her mother, sister and brother all wearing very fetching green NSPCC t-shirts, to the french we must have looked like a bunch of escaped mental patient, or just simple ‘The Crazy English’.

The support from Nikki’s family was especially appreciated today as both Dan and I were starting to flag, now that’s putting it nicely! They did for us the best thing possible… they put all our panniers bags in the back of the car thereby making our wonderful bikes as light as a feather. Brilliant idea yes? That is until we hit wind, suddenly our bikes were so light Dan and I struggled to keep control of them as they felt very very different to the bikes we had been riding and had got used to over the last 7 days. To any one watching us it would probably have looked like it was wine in our water bottles instead and we were clearly three sheets to the wind! Of course this is already the recommended way to ride a bike in France, so we probably didn’t look that out of place!

The other slight predicament we came across with having a support car was they took our water. So although we both kept one bottle this we obviously drained quite quickly, not a problem surely we will just fill them back up at the car, that’s if we ever came close to the car again! We would see the car in the distance parked in the lay-by, a little burst of speed and we would be with them, so speed we did! We would get to about 5 meters away ready to stop and fill up, but noooo as soon as we got anywhere near they would set off again into the distance and stop. It was like a perpetual game of leap frog and we were losing badly!  We considered hand signals, waving frantically, weaving down the road, a flare if we had one, or even a siren (There was one on Nikki’s bike but alas it wasn’t loud enough!) anything to try and get the cars attention. Finally after about 8 times of doing it they did finally stop and allow us to fill up, their excuse for keep driving off… they were motivating us!! Uh huh… safe to say we were both already motivated enough thank you very much!

However we both got our own back. When we stopped to have a picnic on the grass, they all came and sat down with us… we looked like a lovely family of crazy green t-shirt wearers. As many of you cyclist will know, although riding the bike is hot work when you stop you feel the chill, therefore we went to put our jumpers on while we ate, as we opened the panniers bags it was like a mass exodus away from us! Safe to say the rest of the family didn’t eat much lunch after that… oh well that just meant more for us. One would think us and our panniers bags were starting to stink slightly!

At this point Nikki would also like to say a big thank you to her big Sister who is a trained occupational therapist. For the last two or three days Nikki had started to struggle with a pain in her knee and ankle, resulting in numerous pain killers and ibrophen gel having to be constantly applied, however with Kat part of the entourage today Nikki’s knee and ankle were nicely bandaged so she could continue on! That however didn’t stop them swelling and swell they did, her leg was now starting to resemble an elephants more than a humans! Thankfully we were near the end of our adventure and she would be able to rest it soon!

Nikki also encountered another problem today! Due to the consumption of food and water the desire to pee made itself know in a bad way. Now Nikki is not one to pee outdoors, in fact she has never done it before in her life, so unlike for Dan peeing in a bush was not an option for Nikki. That is until we had gone a further 2o+ miles down the same road and still found no toilet, by this stage the pee prance was actually painful for her and she was desperado! She was finally convinced to pee being a bush, as long as we never spoke about it (whoops there goes that promise!). So with a now thankfully empty bladder we got back on the bikes, less than 5 mins of cycling and suddenly we see a sign…. 500 meters and there is a rest stop with toilet!!! Safe to say that is the loudest Nikki has ever cursed!

While cycling through one of the numerous small towns France has to offer, we became separated from our entourage vehicle due to a diversion. The diversion sent them round the outskirts of the town but as we were on bikes we saw no reason why we couldn’t go through it, upon cycling about 100m down the road we found out just why there was a diversion…. one big ass fun fair!! Safe to say we had to get through it as fast as possible, as never mind Nikki’s head, Dan’s head was ready to explode with all the different sounds coming from every stall! We think each stall holder was having a competitions with the other stalls on how loud they could be and how many songs they could play, mix that with the sound of the children laughing and screaming and we were glad when we got to the end of it. I think it was possibly the most surreal moment of our day and not anything that we had expected!

After what had been a long and interesting day we were both very glad when the Largeon sign came into view, not much longer to go now! Upon arriving at the house there was such an amazing atmosphere, we were greeted like heroes returning from battle, OK so I admit that that is a little dramatic but you try cycling for 8 days and trust me you will feel that that is the response too! Keith and Jocelyn, our host for the night were really really lovely, we both can not thank them enough. They even agreed to doing our washing, though I imagine they probably needed clothes pegs on their noises (that or full on gas masks) as they put our washing in the machine. When we got to their house we were also greeted by a family friend of Nikki’s, the Blot family! It was lovely to see them and the thought that they had driven so far just to come and see us and wish us luck meant so much, although trying to follow a french conversation while so tired certainly had its problems. Dan and I were also well aware of the state we probably looked, with our sun burnt faces, crazy helmet hair, elephant leg, nasty clothes and of course that horrid stench that was now following us everywhere… if we had been Sims we would have had a green fog surrounding us! But the Blot’s didn’t seem to mind, or at least were polite enough to not mention it!

They stayed talking to us for about an hour and when they left we were finally able to grabs showers each and put on clean clothes, this was especially needed as the Hall’s (our hosts) and the Henderson’s (my family) decided to take us out for a meal. Being able to wear a dress again and feel girly was amazing, I can only imagine Nikki felt the same! (I am joking of course it was Nikki wearing the dress not me!).

The meal was lovely, though I think due to just the sheer exhausting we both found eating a full meal a little difficult, however our left overs were bagged up ready for the day after ( it was pizza, so easy to box up). Though the strangest part of the meal was that everyone in the entire restaurant seemed to know exactly who we were and what we were doing! It was like being minor celebrities, the feeling was rather freaky… although that wouldn’t be the last time on this trip we felt like celebrities…..

Thank you to everyone who supported us while we were doing this, we really can not thank you all enough! Our donation page is still open if you would like to contribute. Please go to http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge and remember all the money raised will go to the NSPCC to help prevent cruelty to children! Thank you so much!

Nikki & Dan xx

 

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Its voting time!!!

English: Bikes lined up as part of the Barclay...

Image via Wikipedia

Good morning all…. a little early for me to be doing an entry I know, lets hope I am more awake than I currently feel and this doesn’t just end up being a jumble of words that don’t make sense!

Thought I would give you all a quick update on what has been going on with the world of R2R! As you may have seen from Dans last blog he has a new bike, finally death came to Cleatus. Am I allowed to say now how much I did not like that bike?!? As for this new bike, despite Dan having got it a week and a half a go I have yet to see it… why I hear you all ask?  Well I have been in Sunny London. Ok so the weather might not have been exactly ‘sunny’ but compare it to what we have up here its been practically tropical!

I bet you are all thinking I was down in the south for something glamorous like a TV interview… I wish! No I was there simply visiting family, but I have done some networking, telling the whole world it would seem about my bike ride and handing out so many cards! So fingers crossed something will come of it soon! Can you believe it is just slightly over a month away, time seems to be going so darn fast.

While in London though I did however hire one of the Barclay’s bikes to get around. Such a wonderful idea and so easy and cheap to us. The London roads however, now they are one scary thing! I thought I was about to loose my life so many times, you really have to have all your wits about you if you are going to cycle on the roads. I think the moment I got a little more freaked out was when I saw the sign calling for witnesses as a fatality had happened on Friday lunch time due to an accident between a cyclist and a coach, now I wonder which one ended up the dead one…. me thinks it wasn’t the coach driver!! Have to say all these people who commute to work everyday by bike in rush hour in the center of London, you have my full respect… in fact I think I would rather be doing my 70 miles a day for nine days than do that!

In other news, we have now been in the Nelson leader as well…. big thank you to Lauren (who I believe Dan went to college with) for doing such a wonderful article, that for once focuses more on Dan than me!

Our Nelson Leader Article!

We also have an article coming out today in the Sandbach Chronicles all about us passing through there, hopefully they are going to send me a couple of the newspapers, so no doubt you will be seeing scans of that one soon too! It really feels like things are starting to come along well! We still have a couple of nights accommodation to find but alas they are in France so I am going to get my awesome translator, also known as my little brother, to translate the letter for me so I can get that sent out to French hotels and B&B etc. We are also starting to get mildly concerned about lack of food…. yeap that’s me for you, always thinking with my stomach! We have written and telephoned loads of the big chain restaurants and supermarkets in the hope of getting some vouchers, so I am keeping my fingers and toes all crossed that something comes from all that, will keep you updated on how that goes!

Route planning is going well, though that is a boring job 😦 For every village and town that we pass through we are also contacting the local newspapers and magazines and sending out posters for people to put out in their shops, so hopefully everyone is going to know who we are as we pass through! Hopefully!

I am at work at the moment, yes I do occasionally work, hence how you are finally getting a blog entry, but Dan is coming round when I finish work so we can go on a ride so I can tell you all about his new bike in more detail tomorrow. Don’t forget that the poll is still open for what Dan’s new bike should be called.

Thank you to everyone who takes the time to vote (Can you guess which are the suggestions I put forward?), and please check out our sponsorship page at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge don’t forget that all money goes to the NSPCC.

Thank you

Nikki xx

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle”

Hello everyone,

Sorry we haven’t done any post the last few days (Whoops good job I actually just checked what I had just typed, as had actually wrote “Sorry we haven’t done any pot the last few days”… that would make this a whole different type of blog!!) Anyway back to biking.

I assumed Dan would write a blog last night as on Monday he stunned both of us by really pushing himself further than he has gone before, but I won’t steal his thunder I will let him tell you all about it himself. But that is why last night was blog silent. So as you haven’t heard much from either of us recently I thought I would tell you about my accomplishments, which in fairness to myself is probably a good thing that I am telling you before Dan tells you what he has done as mine will seem slightly lame in comparison, but I promise I am pushing myself harder than I ever have.

I think this change in mindset has really helped me, as Dan commented on Monday he is not sure who I am or what I have done with the real Nikki, but I just pointed out that maybe I left the old Nikki behind in 2011 alone with all the bad things of the year and this is the new 2012 Nikki starting afresh! But to everyone’s surprise, not least my own, I have got up early every morning and been getting on my bike for 7.30 in the morning! Yes this really is me writing the blog and not some Nikki shaped imposter and you did read that right I am on my bike at 7.30AM BEFORE the sun has properly risen!!!! And not only that, there is more…. I have taken to wearing proper cycling clothes AND flat trainers (Currently even covered in mud). I would mention that I have also gone out numerous mornings without make-up on but that would just scare you all, so I will just keep that bit of information to myself…

Now for the bit that’s less impressive, I admit I am not going as far as I should be. At this stage with just over two months to go I should be aiming for at around 30 miles a day yet I am only doing a pitiful 20, but I am hoping over the next week to build that up. I am also finding that I am still really struggling, especially with hills, and I am not sure why I can not just seem to push through that pain barrier, as at the moment as soon as it starts to hurt I want to stop. Though admittedly I do better at carrying on if I am following someone, so maybe I won’t be too bad on the actual ride.  I keep hoping that this will start getting easier yet it doesn’t seem to be…. any suggestions for what I can be doing to make this easier would be muchly appreciated.

Yesterday I think I did my toughest ride yet… I rode up Pendle hill via Sabden! Now THAT hill did kill me. If you would like to see a rough version of my route (I say rough as google maps won’t let me plot the country foot paths I rode along) click this link here:

http://bit.ly/z3lvug

The main problem with yesterday, once I started up the hill to Sabden the weather decided it was done playing nice with me! At this stage I didn’t have the heart to turn back, so carry on I did… Though why I have no idea! The wind was blowing me all over the place, I was freezing, no longer able to feel my tiny little fingers. And of course there was that horrid rain, which as Peter Kay would say is “That fine stuff that soaks you  through” and soak me through it did. I looked like a drowned rat! There wasn’t an inch of me that was dry. Add to that all the mud that was splattered all over me, you could imagine just how good I looked! I may have to look into some kind of glasses or goggle things as with the rain splattering me face I found it really hard to see where I was going, which isn’t the safest thing on thin little roads with big trucks coming towards you!

Getting into a hot bath when I got home was actual heaven and has just strengthen my believe that no way in hell am I camping at all on the trip I will want a soft bed and hot water every night, so I have now doubled my efforts to get all our evening accommodation donated. If you, or someone you know, would like  put up two cyclist for a night, please get in touch! Please please please. Our Destinations are: 1. Newcastle-Under-Lyme   2. Solihull   3. Oxford   4. Basingstoke   5. Portsmouth (Though we are on the Ferry that night)   6. Vitré    7. Beaucouzé    8. Bressuire     Sounds so easy when I write it down, now I just have to get to those locations! The actually routes should be going up here soon, so even if someone wants to feed us as we are passing you it would be so greatly appreciated by us both!!

Well I feel like I have begged enough for one blog entry so I will shut up now. As for my amusing picture of the day, I am afraid it is not actually bike related (Big shocker I know) but its more a picture of how I felt when I got home on Tuesday soaked to the bone, and to all those people who said I will start to enjoy biking…….

How I felt on Tuesday!

Thank you to everyone who is supporting us with this, it is really helping to keep us both going. If you would like to donate, please go to http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge  all the money raised in going to the NSPCC so it is a really good cause and well worth supporting! Thank you.

Nikki

“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm”

Hello all….

Dear lord it feels like a life time since I talked to you all…. I hope everyone has had an amazing Christmas and Father Christmas brought you all that you asked for. Did everyone enjoy their New Year too, anyone already broken their New Year Resolutions yet? Can you imagine what mine (and probably Dan’s) are? Yeap you guessed right, get on with training and make it to France in April!

So today I came back from Sheffield where I spent new year and it is the first day of the new diet… yeap that’s muchos fun…not! I am sure dieting will go easier though at least I hope so, if nothing else having stopped all* sweet things and alcohol. I will at least feel healthier if nothing else, that’s of course if it doesn’t kill me first!

I have to admit over Christmas I have felt excited to get back on my bike, which is something I didn’t think would every happen, but I can officially announce that yes I was looking forward to riding my bike. However notice my use of the word was, my love for my bike vanished almost instantaneously today, although I hope you will be slightly impressed with me… So here is what happened today….

It all started on Boxing day (For all our none UK readers Boxing day is the 26th December)  as it was the last day my parents where in England we went and did a bit of sale shopping, while at M&S cafe I had a packet of crisps (clearly wasn’t on my diet then) and there was for some reason or another a small stone in my crisp which I didn’t notice and bit down on, resulting in muchos pain and a chipped back tooth. No good I hear you say, but what has this got to do with your bike?!?

Well, here’s where, I obviously complained to M&S who where very good about it all, but said I would have to get it officially checked by a dentist before I could put a claim in, so I made my appointment for today…. Are you starting to get where the bike is coming into this story yet? Yeap you guessed it I decided to cycle to the dentist, which although wasn’t far only about two miles nothing in comparison to what we are doing in 87 days, it was in the worst weather I have cycled in!! The entire way there I was pelted with hailstorm that has actually left me bruised, and winds so strong they actually managed to keep pushing me off course!! I have since been told the weather is so bad as we are in the tail end of a hurricane, wasn’t I just the smartest person going for deciding to cycle in it! Although I was proud of myself when I got there and of course happier still when I got home to my nice warm house! Although some good has come out of me cycling there and back, any doubts Dan had that I have the determination to do this have now gone out the window.

If anyone is mildly interested in what the dentist said by the way, I got a slight telling off for not going to the dentist is 3 years (even quizzed me on if I had gone somewhere else!) but said my teeth where is very good condition and very well looked after (yes I am that much of a swat) however where the stone has cracked my tooth I am going to have to have a filling… my first one in my adult teeth! 😦 Although I did learn something new today, over the course of the last three years all four of my wisdom teeth have come through and I haven’t felt a single one… I even told her I still didn’t have any!!!!

Have to say if this windy weather continues for much longer its going to put a serious dampener on training, I may just have to find a way to use the wind to my advantage… maybe a little bit of extra power!!

Wind power!!

Well no doubt I have bored you all enough, but I do want to say a really quick thank you to everyone who has so far donated as we are now over the £200 pound mark, if you too would like to donate and help us to reach our next mile stone, please go to http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge where all money raised is going to the NSPCC! Thank you!!

Nikki xx

*Except on very special occasions.

This time tomorrow it will all be over….

Oh my gosh can you believe the quiz is tomorrow night…. oh wait scratch that the quiz is today, as we are now past midnight and therefore officially the 8th December!!

I think we have everything ready, the key word there being think. My head seemed to have stopped being able to concentrate now, that is probably the exhaustion kicking in, but it seems to have stopped thinking about what I will need tomorrow night now. Although if you ask Dan he will no doubt tell you that my brain stopped working a lot early than 1am… more precisely in fact around 8pm when he took us to Asda to get last min supplies and left me alone for 5 mins only to find later wandering aimlessly around the store. Or maybe he would argue that my brain switched off even earlier than that, say around 6pm when I fell fast asleep on his bed with seconds of sitting down… So yeah its safe to say as you can tell it has been a long day and I am exhausted.

But saying that it has been a VERY productive day. We went and collected all the raffle prizes, for all you wonderful people coming tomorrow night (tonight), there are 22 raffle prizes included meals, beauty vouchers, clothes vouchers, a designer hat, flowers and wine! There are also first, second and third place raffle prizes, one of which is those amazing cupcakes, as well as second to last place (couldn’t do last places as its far to easy to cheat just to win that prize) and for the half time games, two box of chocolates to be won. As you can tell it should definitely be an amazing night!

I am 98% confident that it will go well… my only slight fear, that I do keep having a slight reoccurring dream over, is that no one will turn up!! That would be a disaster, to have put all this effort in and not raise any money for the NSPCC… Then again if that happens I get to keep all the raffle prizes to myself… oh the possibilities…..

Anyway enough of that train of thought, I would just like to say a few thank you’s, the first to Niall Doherty, for very kindly writing the quiz for us, its safe to say if it had been left to me it would have been both very easy and probably only had about three rounds, so thank you for talking the time to do that for us. Thank you as well to the White Bear for agreeing to host the night for us, without you we would probably be all huddled together in a field under a cheap B&Q marque with teeth chattering too much to be able to hear the questions, and finally thank you to everyone who has kindly donated items for the raffle and quiz, after all a raffle without prizes is not so much a raffle as a crazy lady shouting out random numbers… not that I have ever done that before….

So I think I am going to say goodnight now and try to get some beauty sleep so that I don’t scare anyone tomorrow with the deep dark bags that are currently forming under my eyes as I type. I look forward to seeing you all at the quiz for what should be a cracking night that will raise lots of much-needed funds for the NSPCC! Oh but of course before I go I have the wonderful job of attempting to amuse you all with my picture to end the blog with. Now I know in the last blog that Dan mention the slight drama we had when we managed to lose each other and he offered the suggestion that someone could kindly donate a tandem then there is no chance of us loosing one another. Of course I am well aware of how expensive a tandem is so I present you with an alternative which I assure you I am more than happy with… and of course no way we would lose each other like this… In fact I can picture myself perfectly getting to France just like this…..

A bicycle made for two.

I look forward to hopefully seeing you all at The White Bear, Barrowford, tomorrow night, but if you can’t make it, please consider making a small donation towards this amazing charity where every penny counts, you can donate at http://www.virginmonetgiving.com/r2rchallenege thank you so much.

Nikki xx

“It’s beauty that captures your attention; personality which captures your heart.”

Evening all!

So once again it has come round to being my blog again…. now what to write about….

I could tell you all about the preparation  for the quiz, but I think I have pretty much told you all there is to tell at the moment, though I once again am going to take this opportunity to tell you how amazing the cupcakes are, you have to come the quiz just to try win these cakes!

So as I don’t want to bore you, what else can I tell you about…. I could talk to you about my fashion choices of late, but then again you are probably all a bit bored of that too….

Ok so lets see, that’s a no to the quiz and a no to my fashion choices, what else is there…. of course I could tell you about actually riding the bike, but that might be the shortest blog (even shorter than Dan’s 15 words). The blog about me riding me bike would go something like this: “Sadly I haven’t ridden my bike all weekend… bad me…. the end” Not exactly riveting stuff!

So I need something to talk about, other  than a blog all about The Notebook film as you know how well I would be able to do that, but it’s not greatly bike related…. I know what I’ll talk about…. CHRISTMAS! Just go with me on this one I promise I can make it bike related….

So I know I have said to people that I would prefer none bike related Christmas presents (I like pretty girly things not bike-y sporty things) I have decided I will make one exception…

If any kind person wants to buy me this I would be a very happy girly!

Isn't it pretty!

It’s so pretty! And no for anyone out there who things it is just a bike it’s not, this is an amazing Limited edition Chanel Bike! It has been designed by the one and only Karl Largerfeld and only 50 have ever been made. It has the finest detailing of any bike. The seat is designed by the legendary Brooks Brothers and covered in a quilted calfskin leather embossed with the Channel logo. The handle bars, trouser guard and bike pump are all covered again in quilted lambskin leather and all embossed with the Chanel logo. My favourite part of the bike? It has two leather quilted Chanel bags attached to the back panniers, and a leather quilted jewelry roll holder attached under the seat (because who doesn’t need a jewelry holder on their bike), all of which come with dust-bag and box and the bags can also be detached and used as handbags. If anyone wants to know about the actual bike (though I have to ask who cares about that part?) it’s an Shimano Nexus 8 speed, velo urban city cruiser bike, with internal brakes, dynamo and lights and was made in 2008.

Isn’t it just amazingly stunning! Don’t you all just want one… of course there is the small issue of the price. Its tiny really, I am sure you can all afford it, the bike is after all only £10,330.02 plus £226.04 P&P…. peanuts really! If anyone does want to be kind and buy it me for Christmas here is the link.

Now I do completely understand if people’s finances don’t quite stretch that far, so I will settle for the slightly cheaper Hermès bike, that’s a snip at only $3,500 (Although I should point out its cheaper because it doesn’t come with a bag attached like the Chanel bike). As I don’t find it quite as pretty I am not going to give it as much space on my blog. You can however read about it here: http://www.purseblog.com/hermes/the-hermes-bicycle.htmlThe Hermes bike

So as for my last picture of the day, afraid it is not as funny as the last one, but then again I think it might take me a while to top that one, instead though it is fitting with the Christmas theme of the blog. It’s a stunning Christmas tree completely made of recycled bikes! Now I have to say that is very pretty!!

And so here is where I say goodnight to you all. I am obviously joking about buying me the bike for Christmas, if you would like to do something thought, please consider donating  anything you can at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge all money raised will go to the NSPCC. Thank you so much.

Nikki xx

Tissues and Lemsip at the ready!

Hi everyone!

It would seem that after Nikki being ill at the beginning of the week, the past few days were my turn! I have been full of a cold and unable to ride due to the way my immune system works. When ill, it seems to direct all resources to fight the illness. Ok, it means I get better quicker, however it also means I have very little energy. Thankfully now all that remains is a runny nose, which will hopefully be gone by tomorrow.
On Monday I plan to cycle the original canal route that Nikki and myself first cycled when we bought our bikes. Given that Cyclemeter collected data from that trip, doing so again will mean that comparisons can be made between then and now, and our progress can be measured! Hopefully we will see a vast improvement!
Until then, please visit http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge to read our mission statement and to donate.

Dan

P.s. Regarding the charity quiz at the White Bear, Barrowford, the date is the 8th December and it will start at approximately 8pm. This is subject to change at the minute as the pub needs to check that the date is ok, but all being well, that is when it will be.