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

 

Ethic Etapes Angers

Good morning everyone, hope everyone is having a good Friday thankfully it’s the weekend tomorrow! I hope you all have some plans… I will be impressed if some of you are out on your bikes, feel free to post pictures in the comments below of you all on your bikes!

I hope you all liked the last blog post (sorry it was so long ago, life seems to have got in the way) and hope it managed to make some of you smile (I know it made my daddy chuckle!) as you can see Dan and I are slowly catching up on blog posts, real life and this over whelming desire to sleep seem to keep getting in the way. Dan and I have christened this desire to get so much sleep a ‘bike hangover’ if you too have ever felt this you have my full sympathies!

I am afraid this isn’t going to be such an amusing post as the last one, but we will be back on funny form soon telling you all about our day cycling to Largeon. Today instead I am going to quickly tell you about the hotel in Angers. I know most of it was said in the last post but there are a few things I felt the need to mention.

Despite its basic-ness I did enjoy staying in this hotel and if you are ever in the area I promise you won’t find a more relaxing location, we were right by the lake and surrounded by trees and open spaces it was lovely. There were no cars, in fact despite the fact that the main by-pass was quite close there was no car noise at all, from the location of the hotel I would think that I was in the country and not a big city. However if it is city life that you are wanting you can walk back into the city centre in less than 15 mins, so really  you have the best of both worlds. Although we didn’t look into it as we were only at the hotel for one night and were rather sleepy I believe that activities can be arranged such as sailing things etc (wow can’t you tell I am an out-door girl… not!).

As for the hotel itself it is slightly basic, so if you are looking for a holiday with luxury this maybe isn’t the hotel for you! The check in desk, bar and breakfast area as well as communal seating area are all in a different building to what our room was in. Checking in was a slight challenge as the gentleman on the desk once again spoke no English which wasn’t too much of a problem, however his computer system having gone down earlier in the day was a little more of a problem. I simply had to find my name on a piece of paper of people due to check in that day and then assure them that it was me!!!

The walk to our building was not far and we were given a code number to unlock the door to the building after 9pm (not that we planned on going out we were feeling a little like zombies at this stage!) Of course our favourite part was the kennels for our bikes to keep them dry overnight! I thought that was a genius idea, can’t say I had ever seen it before but I felt very happy leaving my bike there and knowing it would be safe all night long.

The little bike huts!

The little bike huts!

As for the room itself, yes it was basic yet spacious (mostly likely as our suspicions were correct and we had been given a disabled room). It had two single beds, a wardrobe and a desk, in the bathroom there was a walk in shower with seat, a ridiculously high toilet and basin, along with numerous grab rails… like we said we did have the slight suspicions that it was a disabled room, I don’t know what gave it away…  But saying that after all the cycling we had done and the way our limbs and bottoms were feeling the high toilet, seat in the shower and grab rails were very muchly appreciated!

The beds were very comfortable, which if you are staying at this hotel and intend for an ‘adventure’ holiday that is exactly what you want. We both slept really well, but then again there wasn’t much option other than to sleep in this room as the Ethic Etape hotels do NOT come with televisions in the room, they believe you should share the experience by conversing with the others in your room rather than watching tv. Therefore if you are there are your own I hope you like your own company! Although we cheated and found a way round that by watching a film on the iPad…. bad Nikki and Dan breaking the Ethic Etape rule!

Next morning breakfast was disappointing to say the least… the picture below says it all….

Just so you know that spoon is a TEASPOON

Just so you know that spoon is a TEASPOON

So as you can imagine after that wholesome and filling breakfast we managed to cycled really far before needing to refuel again… NOT. We actually made it a grand total of about 2 miles. Therefore my recommendation for this hotel if you are going to stay is find somewhere else to have breakfast or take your own. Now I can not comment on the cost of the hotel as obviously they were very generous to donate the room and the breakfast free of charge, however I did notice while checking in that for normal guests (yes that’s right I don’t class us as normal!) breakfast was charged at 5 euros, which I personally would not have been happy paying based on how shocking breakfast was. Now in case people are thinking we just didn’t fill our bowls up very much and therefore that isn’t a true representation on breakfast, rest assured everyone, everything you see in that picture is all there was available!

Overall we slept well, and it was such a lovely peaceful environment and the bikes were 100% safe over night, the only disappointment was breakfast and the slightly thin walls, however if those are things you think you could cope with then we full recommend a stay in the Ethic Etapes in Angers.

Nikki & Dan

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

 

“Advice after injury is like medicine after death”

Good morning everyone… I am so sorry I dropped off the radar for the last few days. Don’t worry I haven’t had a change of heart and am backing out I am still very excited for the set off on Saturday morning. The reason however for my absence is all due to a family emergency. Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook will already know what happened, but for those of you who don’t I will explain….

On Monday Dan and I had had a good day on the bikes, I was full of confidence etc and I had just home and got my laptop out and was starting to think about going over the route and getting things ready for packing etc, when I received a phone call from my grandmothers neighbor. It seemed my grandmother has fallen in the garden (and yes it was a fall in the garden and not her having a go on my bike as suggested) and looked to have broken her arm so they where calling for an ambulance!! 😦 So I ran downstairs, got my bike out and cycled to my grandmothers, though I think my bike may have had this modification added….

Added bike rocket booster!

Added bike rocket booster!

I managed to make the journey to my grandmother’s house which is just over a mile in the grand total of just over three minuets! I think that is a brand new speed record for me! It’s safe to say I am definitely loving this speed thing now!

As for my grandmother I got to her house is time for the ambulance arriving and off we went to A&E (If anyone is wondering why the grand-daughter went to hospital it’s because I am the family member who lives closest) anyhoo… my gosh I did not expect to be in casualty as long as we were! We arrived at 7.30 ish and left at around 2am! Yes you read that right 6 and half hours in A&E with a 86-year-old lady! I was rather disgusted!

Turns out that she has badly broken her left arm, fractured her hand and needed stitches in her head. Add on to that the two bandaged legs she already has from ulcers and she is starting to look a bit like a halloween mummy! Anyway as you can imagine trying to get the carers and everything sorted for her has been a slightly stressful job, and has delayed me slightly this week with planning, not something I needed! So now we are on hyper drive to make sure that everything is ready for our little trip at the weekend!

I can’t believe it is counting down so fast, though I actually think I have gone past fear now and a starting to look forward to it! On Saturday morning there is going to be a film crew as well as photographers all coming to watch us set off, so lets hope I don’t have a wiggly start as that wouldn’t look good! On day one a good friend of ours has decided to cycle some of the way with us, so feel free to do the same and join us as well. We also have a few friends meeting us in Manchester and happy to buy us lunch, so that gives us something to look forward to.

If you haven’t donated yet I really urge you too, as 650 miles is still seeming a long way to cycle so any support would be so greatly appreciated by us both. If you do want to donate you can easily do so on our website which accepts PayPal as well as all major credit and debit card, remember all money raised is going to the NSPCC, the web address is http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge thank you to everyone who has donated so far, it really does mean the world to us.

Finally as we haven’t had a funny picture in a while though I would end on this one… strangely enough Dan didn’t seem to like this idea of a way for us to get to France…

Of course I would be the one in the armchair!

Of course I would be the one in the armchair!

Nikki xx

“Feelings are not supposed to be logical. Dangerous is the man who has rationalized his emotions.”

How come whenever during training we have gone out on the bikes its has usually been cold and maybe just a little bit wet as well but today when the weather is lovely and sunny and all I want to do is go out on my bike (yes you did just read that right I WANT to go on my bike!) my bikes is currently at Blackburn Cycle and Scooter center having it’s last check. In fairness it is obviously important that the bikes do get checked over as it is a hell of a long way that we will be cycling on them, and Betty has started to develop a few click-y noises, but we will be re-united on Monday. Dan’s bike is also in having its MOT at the moment and will have his back tomorrow.

I have to say my emotions feel a little bit like they are all over the place. I am scared and occasionally just realise exactly what it is that I am doing and start to panic and my heart beats crazy fast and I feel like I am about to be sick! But then other times I get really excited about whats to come and I think about crossing that finishing line and how amazing it is going to feel knowing that I have done this. So yeah I feel a little bit like a wreck at the moment and can’t believe I have another week of dealing with these emotions war-ing inside of me! Grrr!

But the big news of the day: THIS TIME NEXT WEEK WE WILL HAVE SET OFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How much of a scary thought is that! The last 6 months seem to have completely and utterly flown by, seriously can people believe it was 6 months ago that I came up with this crazy idea to cycle to France. It all sounded so easy when we planned it!

I just want to say a thank you to those who came last night, and thank you to Sahara as they where really good, but then again I expected no less! I had such a good night it was a brilliant send off!!

So our next date now is at the start line, hope to see you there!

Me and Dan at the moment with our bikes having their MOT's!

Me and Dan at the moment with our bikes having their MOT's!

Thank you to everyone for all the support these last 6 months and who are continuing to support us. If you would like to like to donate just like Carl & Michelle, Georgina, David & Amanda, Tim & Esnayder, Matt and Les then please got to http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge all the money that we raise is going to the NSPCC to help prevent cruelty to children, so please everyone show your support for this amazing charity!

Nikki xx

 

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

Reason numerous dos on why you HAVE to join us tonight!

Ok so today I am one excited little bunny because for one night I get to get my dancing groove on (though I beg of you please no one laugh at said dancing groove!) I get to wear a dress and heels and PARTY!!!! Yay! (Aren’t you all glad you don’t live in a house with this crazy person!)

However I bet some of you are still unsure on whether or not to join us tonight, which I have to ask why you would even debate not coming to such an awesome night, but just in case I have argument number two on just why you should join us. That argument comes in the form of a certain Mr Jim Random!

Who is that I hear you all ask… well Jim Random is going to be the amazing DJ that takes over from our awesome band Sahara!

Jim Random at his best!

Jim Random at his best!

Nottingham born Jim has been DJ-ing for over 10 years now, however his love of music started at an early age with influences coming from his older brother. Jim really got into his DJ-ing stride though when he went to Sheffield Halam University is the early 2000’s, from there Jim has gone from strength to strength with his’ Jim Random’ dj-ing persona.

Me and my sister posing next to the RAWR monster back in 2008

Me and my sister posing next to the RAWR monster back in 2008

With the creation of RAWR nights in 2007 at the famous DQ club in Sheffield Jim’s popularity continued to grow both around Sheffield and further afield.

Jim Random has done guest sets both nationally and internationally in some of the best clubs around, including Bed and the O2 academy in Sheffield and Herbal in London.

In 2009 Jim was offered a short-term guest spot on NSB radio, however that short-term guest spot soon turned into a permanent feature as he was offered the role of DJ-ing every alternate Sunday from 5pm til 7pm. NSB can be listened to on the internet and I for one have been known to log on every other Sunday just to listen to the Randoms play!

Jim has also entered into numerous competitions which has helped spread his name around, including on 29th Oct 2010 Jim came 3rd in the Eastern UK Thre3style Competition hosted by Redbull. The DJ’s had 15 minutes to play at least 3 styles/genres of music to impress the judges, which included none other than the legendary A Skillz.

Of course his best set (in my opinion) of all was at my 21st Birthday in 2008, when him came suitably attired for a fancy dress party….

Who knew Storm Troopers made awesome DJs

Who knew Storm Troopers made awesome DJs

Just a few of Jim’s amazing mixes can be heard on SoundCloud:  http://soundcloud.com/the-randoms/jim-randoms-thre3style-mix I recommend having a listen to and maybe a boogie round your living room!

So I think I have done all I can to convince you all to come and celebrate our leaving do with us tonight! I really hope to see you all there! If however you really really can’t make it but still want to donate towards the NSPCC then please go to our site http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge thank you so much and I look forward to seeing you all tonight!

Nikki xx