Matt Halfpenny’s charity bike blog

Back in the early days of the New Year, when the idea was first mooted, it all seemed such a long way away. Now there’s only just over a week to go until we set out for Paris.

By News Reporter
Friday, 16th May 2014, 1:43 pm

Excitement – and trepidation – is building in the ranks… how are we going to get on covering more than 200 miles in two days with little or no sleep?

All the lads have been out most days this week getting some miles into the legs while we still can and Tuesday saw our first outing en masse since the early days, which prompted the taking of unofficial team photos.

The only problem was that as the one who suggested it, I was (rightly) lambasted for not remembering to bring along my Parkinson’s top to mark the occasion. My protests of a late dash back from work being to blame fell on deaf ears.

The ride itself through Warsop, Creswell, Clowne, Langwith, Shirebrook and Pleasley Vale looked as if it would be a treacherous one given the heavy rain that had fallen in the previous few hours, so we were thankful that the roads dried up quickly in the early evening sun. Rain is the last thing we will want when we do it for real, too.

It’s good to see that some of us are well prepared at least. Andy Charles has got his bike fitted out with an old skool rack, so he can carry everything he needs. He might have sacrificed a bit in the way of aerodynamics, and been given a bit of stick for it looking like he should be nipping down the shops to drop off a parcel, but at least he’ll have a whole lot less problems than his team-mates should he suffer a flat.

Alex Etches, meanwhile, has been a whole lot less prepared so far – as we discovered when out riding last week. He complained of unbearable pain and was struggling really badly, not just because he has stepped up his training a little later than the rest of us.

The reason was down to his seat, which was about eight inches too low for his height and sticking up in the air at about a 30 degree angle. No wonder he was riding around like a clown on one of those tiny toy bikes. And no wonder he’s been a great more proficient since adjusting it.

Seating has also been a concern for our support vehicle driver Mark Osborne, who has been working out how to get us all down to London in the van without having to sit on the floor.

He’s come up with the perfect solution; some temporary seats that fit like a Montague Burton suit. Even if we’re far from at ease once we climb into our saddles, we’ll be riding down the motorway to set off on our journey without the sore backsides.

A trip to Bakewell on Sunday will be our last long-distance outing before we head down to the capital a week on Saturday. After that, the last-minute work-outs are going to be whatever we can each fit in after work in the evenings before it gets dark.

Going over the border to Derbyshire will definitely provide a few testing uphill slogs to give us a chance to build up those stamina reserves. It’s just a pity that at the height of our training we won’t be able to nip into any of the beautiful village pubs for a quick pint!

On a more serious note, we’d all like to thank everyone who has sponsored us so far and, at the time of writing, almost £1,500 has been pledged on-line when including gift aid. There’s been a number of people who have filled in our paper forms as well.

We all know people who have yet to chip in, so we’re hoping they can come up trumps and dig deep for us and get that figure even higher for what is a very worthy cause. To back the Parkinson’s cause, please follow this link: