5 days to go!

Ok, so this is it. With only 5 days before jumping on my bicycle this is the last pre-ride update. Life is currently extremely busy, to the point of serious stress. In 2 days I will be leaving my current job and my current house on the same day (and after 4 years, there is still a lot of packing and a lot of cleaning to do!). My house is currently all in boxes, with piles for charity and rubbish sitting alongside various suitcases (set up for 2 days in Bangor, 1 night in York, 1 night in London, 1 night in Plymouth. Alongside this are piles of maps (roughly sorted in to day order) and energy gels/powders/other essential on bike energy. The aim is to post packages of maps and magical potions to avoid carrying too much weight.

Maps. Maps everywhere.
Maps. Maps everywhere.

So, what has happened since the last proper update? The bike has had a full service, had various odds and sods upgraded, had mudguards added, and just generally been fettled to try and make sure that nothing can go wrong. Massive thanks to Evolution bikes who have been very helpful and kind in getting the bike ready. Bangor Quidditch Team very kindly gave me a horn to make sure that everyone knows where I am – this has been stuck on the bike in pride of place. I’ve brought my second water bottle, and as mentioned various lotions and potions have been purchased. I’ve had long discussions with various people – particular thanks to my cousins Tom and Helen and James from the Bangor Tri club for giving me the wisdom of their cycling experience and a crash course in sports nutrition. Various other little things have been sorted out – new water bottles, setting up the roof rack – all the little jobs that sit behind such a mammoth bike ride. I’m now fairly happy with the bike set up – and just hope it stays on the car until Plymouth!

In terms of ride logistics, I’m almost entirely sorted now. From strangers contacted over the internet to family, and from friends to friends of friends I’ve had so many generous offers of accommodation. Everyone is treating me royally, providing all the facilities and food a sweaty and hungry cyclist needs after a day in the saddle – I just can’t wait to get underway and meet all the people who are putting me up! Even the B+B I’m staying in at Wick has offered me half price accommodation. I’m now only after a bed in Pitlochry and Inverness – if you know anyone who might be able to help please do drop me a message or comment below. My train is booked back for the day after I finish – the cost of the ticket being generously donated.

And fundraising continues! I’m continuing to get funding after hitting the £10,000 barrier (which still astounds me!), and I know that as we move towards the ride I’ll get more donations.

In terms of training… Well… Yes. This remains the weak spot. I’ll be honest – I’ve not yet broken the 50 mile barrier for a ride that will average 70 miles a day (check out the rote online here). I am confident that I can do the ride – I’ve got the time to spend in the saddle – but the outcome of this lack of preparation will surely be pain. I’m in for a tough time, and I’m sure that each hill will bring on obscene utterings on the past self that didn’t train every waking hour.

Finally, as this ride is taking over my life it is only fitting to mention how the rest of my life is going. I have put in some job applications, but have yet to get a positive response. I’d like to, indeed I should have, put in more applications, but the pressures of preparing for the ride have got in the way. Indeed, I should probably e working on my CV for a new tranche of jobs rather than writing this… I’ve also been avidly cleaning and packing, and am very grateful to everyone who has given me a hand in getting the house moved out of. In between moving out and starting the ride I’ll be popping to London with Lizzie to see Les Mis (which will be AWESOME!!), and after the ride I’ll be beginning the process of ending two years of long distance relationship as we look to move in together. An exciting and terrifying time, enough to give you happy butterflys in your rumbling tummy. I’ll continue to look for jobs (potentially even whilst on the ride) in the hope that I can conquer my own future before it conquers me. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, tomorrow I’ll be celebrating another year of staying alive…

So – onwards and (quite literally) upwards. During the ride I’ll be posting a daily blog here, and I’ll be tweeting and facebooking during the day. You can keep in touch via @antonybutcher and www.facebook.com/antonybutcher, and donate at www.justgiving.com/antonybutcher. Thanks to everyone who has sent supportive messages. I’ve been blown away by the support and love people have been showing me as I set out on this adventure, and it is the this which keeps me going each and every day.

P.S. – please join me in hoping that the rain stays away!!


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