At 6am Wednesday Patrick set off for Glastonbury with his friend Mark. They were volunteering for Water Aid manning one of the water kiosks providing free water to the assembled crowd.
It sounded much better than cleaning toilets (the 3 of us did this two years ago). He enjoyed volunteering and supporting their campaign to bring clean water and sage, hygienic toilets to the world’s poorest communities. No cycling training for Patrick over the next 6 days.
When he returned I asked what the highlight had been. He thought the Killers were particularly good, but what trumped that was grandpa dancing (a step on from dad dancing!) to the Proclaimers with grandchildren Romy and Rocco.
Meanwhile back in civilisation, Ruby and I were on a road trip up north, visiting family and friends and doing a recce of a couple of areas on our route for N2S4CRUK.
On Friday Ruby checked out a cycle route through Derby. As the sun shone, cycling along the flat, tarmaced path alongside the river Derwent was an absolute pleasure. When the surface switched to a gravel canal tow path, it was time for Ruby to stop. A helpful cyclist suggested I needed to stop at Swarkestone lock and switch to the road. All noted for our N2S4CRUK in 6 weeks’ time.
On passing through the city of Derby, I couldn’t help thinking that we wouldn’t be seeing these signs in the future.
On Saturday Ruby rode in the car up to Newcastle. A city which I’m very fond of as I spent 5 years here at uni numerous decades ago. I’d got particular concerns about the route we’d take out of Newcastle on day 1. If you’ve ever traveled from the centre of the city down to Gateshead you’ll be aware that knots of urban motorways and dual carriageways abound on both sides of the River Tyne. I couldn’t imagine how we’d negotiate our way out. However, with the aid of a draft route plotted on Gerry the Garmin, Google maps on my iPhone and several helpful locals (who proactively volunteered advice whenever I stopped to look at Google maps), I managed to sort out a route which I’m confident will be safe and get us on our way southwards without wasting lots of time getting lost (a regular feature of city centre cycling). Ruby enjoyed crossing the Tyne using both the High Level and Swing bridges and I enjoyed driving across the Tyne bridge.
On Sunday morning I set my alarm for 6.30am and Ruby and I set off to check where our starting point was for N2S4CRUK – the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre. I felt slightly emotional when I arrived! We’ve had great support from the CRUK research nurse at this centre, Ben Hood along with Amy Fawcett, the Research Engagement Manager and are so looking forward to meeting them and some of the other staff on August 12th. These people are so passionate and committed to improving cancer outcomes – we’ve got utmost respect for them.
We then went on to explore some old haunts, including the quayside, where the Sunday market was one of the few things which hadn’t changed over the last 38 years! Having ‘done’ 3 bridges the previous day we ‘did’ the millennium bridge as well.
I got into conversation with a fellow cyclist, Peter, who came from Sunderland. We exchanged views on numerous cycling related topics including the variation of cycle paths in England, what was needed to get a healthier nation and Peter advised that cycling in Belgium and the Netherlands was a pleasure and cyclists were not an afterthought when routes were developed. Peter, if you’re reading this blog – thank you, it was a pleasure speaking with you.
Sadly time was running out as I needed to check out of my hotel by 11am. I felt like a kid who’d been told that I needed to stop playing and come in. It had been a very enjoyable few days, cycling around in the sunshine at a more leisurely pace than Patrick and I do on our training rides. I’m looking forward to returning to Newcastle in 6 weeks for the start of our adventure.