Thursday, 27 September 2012

Best start at the beginning...Stuart's story

Hi Sophie/Dom/Warren, where to start! I arrived home last night, after an epic train ride from Southampton to Loughborough and it is slowly starting to sink in what has happened.

Best start at the beginning...

When I signed up for Bike to Bestival I didn't have a bicycle that was working ( I did have 2 broken ones) and hadn't cycled for a year. But I couldn't resist. Then I saw the people on the facebook group and some of them looked accomplished cyclists, so I decided I had to train for this. I can remember rainy, cold mornings, getting out the door at 6am and cycling a 15 mile loop before work ( ) which was tough going. I pushed on and later decided to ride half the way to Leicester and back on Route 6, changed my mind and rode the whole way and made it back. I cycled 25 miles! Before work! I was hooked. I kept going and after a few weeks this was just something I did and enjoyed. The last weekend before leaving I did a run out to Derby, took a cider fuelled detour along this route ( ) up to Beeston and turned back again. I must have covered 80 miles, which is a long way from the 15 miles I struggled to do weeks earlier.

The Ride
I was thinking about asking to lead a group for ages and was put off by the ride through London. I hadn't cycled in London for 5 years and wasn't sure how I would handle it. I spoke to a friend, who said I would be great at it, so I signed up. Then I panicked...I didn't know the route well, or have a GPS or smartphone, what if we got lost! A week before leaving I fell ill with a chest infection, I tried cycling 5 miles and threw up 10 times, clearly, even I had to admit I was ill. 2 days in bed whilst going over the route on Google Street view and I just knew the London part of the route. I didn't look at the directions or map from Lambeth Palace to Walton on Thames and if I close my eyes I can still see it. My team were a very interesting, mixed bunch from "Oscar" a bike courier on a fixie who spent the first part of the ride steering with his knees and listening to music to Amanda who hadn't cycled long distances before but was always smiling.

I absolutely loved the ride through London, especially Richmond Park. There was so much to see on the way...
The afternoon ride was tough for me, I was up at 4.30am to catch an early train to London with my bike and was shattered. I was dehydrating without realising it and the last hour through Alice Holt I dashed into a pub holding my now empty water bottle in front of me. The barman smiled and filled it up, without any words being exchanged and even added ice. We pushed on through this last bit and arrived at the site as one group.
My sister came to meet me at Mellow Farm and the evening around the campfire singing was like a dream, I was so tired but had to stay....

Day 2
The next day we got ready and I decided we should all wear the Cancer Research T-shirts to bond the now larger group ( image attached - this picture is going on my wall). I also announced there was a gold medal up for grabs for the Bestest Cyclist. We set off and Tom, who just joined us, knew the route, as he lived locally. It was good for me to just relax and enjoy the cycling. We stopped for a break before the 10 miles on the A32  and stopped at a pub for a well earned cider ( my bicycle runs on cider and porridge - very low carbon) which Iain kindly bought me. It was fun relaxing in a beer garden, watching the ducks, lying in the sun and not sitting on a saddle ( my bike has earned a new Brookes one :-).
We carried on and finally arrived at Southampton! I had a pint with Iain and soaked up the sun, let the sweat evaporate and felt relief that we were nearly there. The grinding out the miles bit was over and the fun was on the horizon...
On the way from the ferry I snagged my arm on a bramble and really didn't care. I have had a few cycling cuts in my time...
At the Waverley I met lots of Bestifriends from the forum camping last year ( ) and felt at home. The singing in the pub was a group of friends having a laugh and the crowd really enjoyed it. I had thought about learning an instrument for the songs but I loved the singing so much.

Day 3
We cycled to the site and I had no idea of how to get there, other than it was uphill. It was tricky getting into the site as there was no bike park and they didn't know who we were but I pushed through with a combination of charm, anger and blagging.
We met at 4pm to open the Festival, did I say we were OPENING BESTIVAL and I got chatting to a lady who about as old as my mum and was interested in what we were doing. We spoke for ages about her cycling ( 20 miles each weekend - more than I could do when I started training ) and she asked if Rob da Bank was coming to watch. I said that maybe he was busy, she told me she was his Mum! I looked down at her pass and recognised the surname Gorman. If you are reading this Rob, you have a very cool mum. Going backstage was amazing and exciting, I was tingling all over, we were opening on the stage that Hot Chip were playing on later that evening :-) We all sang our hearts out and it was awesome. After we all got very drunk and chatted and drank more beer.......

Bestival - hasn't sunk in yet.....

After Bestival finished, I got up early on the Monday and cycled with all my gear, in the rain to the Waverley where I spent the next 5 nights. I cycled all over the North east part of the island and saw Red Squirrels, Donkeys, Pigs, Horses, Castles, Bookshops, Monks, Beaches, Bike Shops, Forests, Portsmouth, Old Rosie Cider, Proper Breakfasts, Energy Bars and had an amazing time but that is another story..........sorry but my allotment is calling me and those Sweetcorn won't pick themselves...

Sunday, 16 September 2012

So what next?!

Yesterday Dominic and I attended the Cancer Research UK London Fundraisers Forum.
We were joined by the CRUK London Area Volunteer Managers and other fundraisers from across the region, ranging from individuals organising one-off events to groups and committees which have been fundraising for up to 30 years.
We heard from speakers including:
Helen Trenchard, Senior Manager of the Business Support Team
Dr Justine Reise, Clinical Trials Manager at Imperial CRUK Centre/ICTU-Cancer
Louise from Stand up to Cancer
Harry Baines, Cancer Research UK Intern and Cancer Survivor

It was a fascinating day and a great reminder of why we put so much work into making ‘Bike to Bestival’ a success.
We heard some amazing statistics:
·       97% of men who get testicular cancer now survive
·       Cancer Research UK spent £332million on research last year
·       £650,000 was raised in the London and Surrey areas by volunteers alone!
·       Cancer Research UK funds 50% of all research into Cancer in the UK and they get no government funding.

Cancer Research UK had a funding gap of £30million last year though, so what does this mean?
Essentially they had research programmes which had gone through the vetting process which they believed would contribute to the fight against cancer, however they were £30million short of funds to pay for them.

This all reminds us of how important projects like ours are to Cancer Research UK.
So to all of you who took part in ‘Bike to Bestival 2012’ a big big thankyou from the three of us and the staff at Cancer Research UK.  We were invited to this event as we are raising so much money for their cause and they all took the opportunity to pass on their thanks.
We would particularly like to mention Andrew and Max who have blown us away with their amazing fundraising. You’ve more than made up for your lack of musical ability guys!!

Lastly, if you haven’t heard of ‘Stand up to Cancer’ yet, then watch this space. 
On Friday October 19th 2012 there will be a live TV event on Channel 4.  Watch a taster of what to expect on the YouTube link below.  They are also on facebook and twitter so don’t forget to follow them. 

If you want to do any of your own fundraising for ‘Stand up to Cancer’, please let us know or drop us an email telling us what you’re doing and we’ll post it on the blog/facebook/twitter.


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

We're back

Over the coming days/weeks it'd be great to get your stories and experiences up on the blog. If you could mail them to that's be great. There are still a few posts to get up here, but for now I'd just like to say a few words.

Firstly, it has been a pleasure and a privilege to meet, travel and perform with you guys. You are all brilliant and beautiful people. As it was explained to me over the weekend, there was always a chance that we'd all get along (Think of a Venn diagram with three circles "Likes Cycling", "Wants to go to Bestival" and "Wants to perform music"... we were that crossover.). That said you were all nicer and more helpful people than we could have hoped for..

Secondly, we raised a lot of money for Cancer Research UK through our justgiving page. (If you have only just found us there is a newly created team donation page here to keep that seperate from the individual fundraising. Please donate there.) This is a great thing to do and you should all be very proud.

Thirdly check out the video that the Times guys did about the trip. Doesn't that look like something you'd want to do (If you hadn't already)

And finally... THANKS!!! (That's a massive thanks) to Ros, Peter and Mike (For cooking, driving and general anything-we-needed help)...Legendary volumes of cheese sandwiches.

I'd also like to thank Veleco (for our t-shirts and hats and generally being nice), Cocofina (for donating lots of coconut water) and Dovesfarm (for donating enough cereal for all of us). This all helped us keep the costs down for all the riders.

That's all for now. It's be lovely to hear your trip reports or thoughts and I hope to see you all soon.