Big ThanksPosted by Paul Collins Sun, August 09, 2009 20:30:11
Many thanks to all who helped in any way to make the Half Way Bash such a resounding
success, especially everyone who bought tickets, turned up on the night and all the
sponsors of our big wheel prizes and of course the Wellington Park Hotel. Over 2.5k was
raised on the night so the biggest winner was Roses Gift.
STARPLAN......£500 voucher Stephev Convery
ANTRIM FLOORING.......£400 voucher plus bedroom floor fit Stella McCorry
EARTH NIGHT CLUB......Night at Lifford Dogs for 6 Donna Riley
O'NEILLS SPORT SHOP ANDERSONSTOWN....£100 voucher Pauline Hutchinson
MOYOLA GOLF CLUB........4 Ball plus Fairway Wood Stephen Drysdale
BALMORAL HOTEL.........Meal for 2 plus wine Peter Price
WORLD TOURIST ATTRACTIONS.......VIP Tickets for Belfast Wheel Peter Price
ULSTER COLLEGES........... Two All-Ireland Hurling Tickets Mickey Kelly
SEAN LACEY......................Two All Ireland Football Tickets Joseph Maher
JOHN DEVLIN..........5 Personal Training Sessions David Price
BELFAST CASTLE.......Meal for 2 Stella McCorry
WE WILL TRY AND GET ALL VOUCHERS AND PRIZES TO ALL WINNERS THIS WEEK .
TrainingPosted by Neil Fri, August 07, 2009 16:23:54
If getting all the way to John O'Groats wasn't testing enough, the journey back home from the most North Easterly point proved tricky. Paul and myself convinced the rest of the team to set off early on the last day as we had booked train tickets back home..they all agreed to this as none of them wanted us to win, Eoin's competitive streak shone through brightly here insisting he would come with us even if the others stayed in bed, bless..! Winning aside it was great to finish this together after a jouney of highs and lows physically, mentally and spiritually.
I can't begin to desribe the feeling of waking up with the rain sheeting down jumping on the bike to ride 100 miles through the hills of South Wales and then finish in the relentless rain..where was the summer we were promised?
Arriving in Ireland was a turning point for many of us, 2 countries down 2 to go - half way in that respect, even if we hadn't completed half the mileage. Taking the ferry from Belfast to Stranraer after the night before was thankfully very smooth otherwise some of us could have been ill...arriving in Scotland and cycling up the coast to Ayr was breathtaking and Scotland became the highlight for many of us. We were blessed with the weather and what a place..we were very lucky to have riden through it..not so sold on the cusine though; the masters of deep frying rustled up some great fish and chips in Ayr but served up a deep fried pie in Fort William - what the hell was that about?
Arriving at the finish post was a great feeling there were a lot of smiles and laughter we were all very proud of completing this marathon. The journey back was another marathon - 4.5 hours from Thurso to Inverness, apparently the train line was built before the bridges so the train goes around the houses..we were told that we could not take the bikes onto the train at Thurso as we had not reserved places, this was not for lack of trying but the massive allocation of 4 bikes had already been taken... the first reaction was to lob the bikes into the nearest hedge but we were prepared for this eventuality even though we didn't want to resort to it.."if we put the bikes into bags can we take them on as hand luggage?" the railway people had no answer to this so we took out what can only be described as giant carrier bags and stuffed the bikes inside. Job done - hopped on the train and got stuck onto the supplies we had bought ourselves from Lidl - thank god for recovery drink, refreshing the parts other recovery drink just doesn't reach - you can relax now lads, no more protein shake..
Got to Inverness, same nonsense on the train apart from the sleeper was massive with a hundred carriages and only space for 3 bikes! Basically we had to stuff both bikes into our sleeper cabin, it turned getting in to top bunk into some kind of high ropes activity. As I was trying to stuff these bikes into the cabin Paul disappered to rustle up some food, I was relieved to see him appear with a couple of portions of chips about 1 minute before the train set off. As you can imagine the cabin was a bit cramped with the bikes in there so we set off to find some empty seats near the buffet car for more a bit more recovery drink only to be shouted at by the guard for taking our own food in..not to worry it was a case of mistaken identity he didn't know we were the Brantham duo..2 dads inspired by Rose..
After a great night's sleep we got into Euston about 7.30 in the morning only to be told there was a train strike on Anglia Railways..handily our bikes were still bagged up, we hopped into a black cab across to Liverpool St. and to our joy there were only a few trains running but one of them was ours.. We were picked up at Manningtree station at 9.30 - thankfully Lisa, my wife, had not had our baby..my life would have been tougher if that had happened whilst I was away.
TrainingPosted by Eoin Fri, August 07, 2009 14:01:38
Final day!! I am having to write this from Belfast as it’s first chance I’ve had since we made it to JOG. The computer left with the van and Caithness and Orkney would be a challenge for Bear Grylls to get around never mind locate an internet facility.
We set off from Invergordan after Pippa and Robin had once again shown us more selfless hospitality by getting up at the scrake of dawn to make a big breakfast and see us off safely. We had to get up extra early as we had 103 miles of unknown terrain to cover and Robin had managed to plant the seeds of fear in us when he laughed after Paul Abrahams asked was the run up along the coast flat. We heard of 2 mythical steep slopes and got ourselves prepared for these mentally. We also had to get off as Neil and Paul had to head back immediately on completing the ride to Colchester as the ‘Colchester Duo’ had an open top bus reception and media profiling to do the following morning. There was only one train from Thurso and it took 4 hours to get to Inverness, this was causing us concern as we had planned to cycle the same distance in 5 ½ hours. To be sure the celebs would make the train we all mucked in to ensure Andrew would be ready on time.
We were actually on the bikes for 6:45am right on schedule and a first for the Rosesgift team. The first problem came as we left Pippa’s drive, is it left or right? As usual we all knew best and so Paul Abrahams used the force and turned left on advice from one of the neighbours at the party. We bombed along expecting to get lost but we didn’t and Paul's assuredness had paid off. Neil and I were no help. Neil had a smashed hand and I had a swollen black eye from the evening before where we showed off our ‘Hurling’ prowess to the amassed crowds of 2. I demonstrated how to catch a ball with your face and Neil showed them what happens when you pick the ball off the ground with your hand. Our combined natural skill was well exposed.
We kicked on, making fast progress in beautiful sunny weather which was totally unexpected and notched up 30 miles before 8:15 when we had a quick stop. The run was undulating and the scenery lovely as we crossed the Cromarty Firth and up the coast with the Black Isle behind us. There was definitely a new sense of energy and enthusiasm in the air this morning and the tired fatigued legs were being buried with a sense of urgency. Most of us will have imagined what this last day was going to be like and as we sailed along it felt good. Then we met the hilly bit. Everyone got into their own tempo for the hill and heads down, we set off. Andrew once again shot off but Paul K, Trombone and myself gave chase. This mini ego session turned into an almost full scale sprint to the top as trombone and myself managed to get the jump on Andrew as he got distracted by some image in his head. Andrew responded like a raging animal and tore on. We stopped to regroup only to find everyone all doing this charge. Paul Collins rolled in and quietly pointed out that we had 70 or so miles to go! Good point but at least we had one of the 2 hills out of the way. Then we rounded a corner and saw the real hill ahead, so we had just raced up a bump knackering ourselves before the first climb.
Still we recovered and this charging up the hills became order of the day. We came upon a road accident which sobered us all up a bit but we wanted to keep going so we left Joe in the van behind relieved at not having to drive at 20 miles an hour behind a load of arses bobbing up and down (or side to side in Stephen, Neil and Jims case) and we crossed through the accident. We plodded on hoping the support would catch us up for lunch and at the 70 mile mark we still hadn’t stopped. Eventually Joe caught us and the girls with the families in the cars were just behind. They overtook us just outside Wick, Alison tried to wipe us all out with an overtaking manoeuvre which tested the Sudo and chamois cream to the limit. We were desperate to eat and we pulled into the scenic Lidl car park in Wick for a pit stop.
Refreshed we set out for the last 20 miles and into a very strong wind. It’s so windy up here there are no trees and so the wind was relentless. There wasn’t much talking during this phase Neil was grimacing and pulling faces like he was in childbirth but when we saw the sign for John O’Groats we felt utter excitement. We lined out and rolled towards the land mark sign and were greeted by Alison, Kelly, Fiona, Katy and all the kids Popping champagne. Milo got confused by the spectacle and thought the objective was to pour out all the champagne on my legs it was a job to stop Sean licking me to prevent the waste.
Finally as we stood by the sign for an official photograph taken by the lad who was locked up downstairs in the Goonies it was a relief to feel that it was done. Well done to all the lads and more importantly to all the people who supported us on the ride to make it a possibility. Thanks to everyone who selflessly offered help and support in making this a reality. Watch out for the handing over of the cheques as the real reason for all of this will hopefully be seen in some small way by other children and their families faced with real tests of endurance. Look out in the thank you blog to see everyone who contributed to helping us through.
TrainingPosted by Paul Collins Mon, August 03, 2009 17:53:55
After all the blood ,sweat and rashes of the last 7 months the pelaton finally rolled into John O' Groats, mission accomplished!! Exactly how this was achieved by this motely crew I'm still not quite sure, but we were welcomed like home coming heros by the WAGS and siblings and the overall feelin was one of relief!! Champagne flowed along with a few tears, hugs were exchanged and promises to never set foot on a bike again were solemony sworn.
How it was achieved I'm not so sure,why it was achieved, is easy.
Over the 12 days egos came and went and came back again, only to be banished by collective piss takin, thick skins were quickly acquired in spite of the copious amounts of sudo cream.
Everyone contributed in their own unique way to make this a trip of a life time.
Thanks to Jim we can spot Rose bay willow herb from 100 yards and are able to distinquish the call of the Osyster catcher from the Yellow Hammer(not a social disease!!)
Andrew has taught us that cheatin doesnt pay and has commenced community service, Neil's love of cycling was as infectious as swine flu and continued to be a strong motivational factor thru out!
Steve has promised to undertake an anger management course and has given an assurance that from here on will always share his fig rolls.
Sean"the map" Roberts has since been headhunted by TomTom, while Paul Abhs has been approached by Calvin Klein, not to model, Calvin just liked the cut of him!!
Eoin has decided to go back to pig farming in Draperstown and Posh Tom is workin as a huds man on a building site in Brixton,while Paul Kelly couldnt resist the bright lights and has returned to his day job as bingo caller(see above!!).
All in all a fantastic experience and one I was delighted to have played a small part in. Thanks to all who fed us, massaged us and drove the cars and van and to everyone who has supported us all the way.
My bike is now on E bay as I have officially retired from cycling!!
FundraisingPosted by Helen Kelly Sun, August 02, 2009 17:07:27
Big ThanksPosted by Andrew McManus Sat, August 01, 2009 20:35:36
The Rose's Gift Team completed their long, arduous & eventful journey on schedule on Thursday 30th July....!! We rolled into John O'Groats and were greeted by a warm hero's welcome by being soaked in champagne. Nothin' like a dosing in champagne to take away the pain of a sore bottom...!
A Full Blog entry charting the final day's events will be added soon by our captain Eoin. But in the meantime here's a picture of us looking all victorious & proud of ourselves.... and why not.
FundraisingPosted by Stephen Collins Thu, July 30, 2009 06:27:22
A bit like Jeff
Goldblum in The Fly, Andrew continues the frightening metamorphosis from human
to Mike (half-man, half-bike). He emerged from the hostel this morning with oil
all over his clothes and legs. It seems oil now pumps around his veins, carbon
fibres replacing his skin. His speed up a hill is too fast to measure.
We set off early from
Fort William bound for Invergordon. Except we didn’t, as some fool (don’t ask …)
suffered a puncture before a wheel was turned. It didn’t matter it was raining,
as we’d barely dried out from the day before. So, off we set into the driving
The long rides have
had a startling effect on young Sean Roberts. On Day One, he was a wee slip of
a lad, adored by truck drivers across the South East of England for his boyish
looks. By Day Eleven, he has become so manly and strong, he broke his second
front mech of the ride – this time on Posh Tom’s spare bike.
Tom wept crocodile
tears, knowing it would give him the perfect excuse to tell his wife, Katie, he
really needed to buy a new spare Bianchi.
To while away the time
as Sean’s bike was being fixed roadside, some of the lads, feeling cold and
lonely and looking for love, played sardines in the cab of the van (parp, parp
went Paul Kelly’s hooter under the gentle hand of the more experienced Paul
We got going again and
whizzed on past Loch Lochy (so called as it’s a bit Loch-like), then – after
the now obligatory twice-daily 45 minute coffee/cake/chocolate/anything edible
left in the van stop in Fort Augustus – we passed dark, brooding Loch Ness. No
sign of the eponymous monster. Instead, we stopped for lunch on Drumnachdrochit
green with the WAGs and children.
Post-lunch, a version
of the beautiful game ensued, but not one Pele would have recognised. Blatant
fouling and flopping beer bellies abounded – the numerical victory of the
Abrahams’ team was cancelled out by a wicked foul on PK by the man Abrahams
himself. Where was the red card ref? (Joe Marr – an otherwise exemplary driver
and saviour on many occasions – missed that one).
During the afternoon,
as we headed inexorably north, a strange pale yellow disc appeared in the sky.
Apparently, it is called The Sun. It was all too much for Neil, who decided to lie down in the
middle of the road to wait for the next passing lorry to end his misery. Somehow
it missed. But with a kind wind, we easily crossed the Moray and Cromaty Firths
and finally reached Invergordon , chez Pippa and Robin. Pippa and Robin,
supported by a cast of thousands of local friends, put on a lavish feast with
tongues wagging, wine flowing and dancing girls (actually, I made that last bit
up – but the eating, drinking and making merry are true). Pippa and Robin’s generosity and
hospitality are boundless, and we’re immensely grateful to them.
As I write this, the
lads are in the garden already reflecting on the journey so far. It has been a
true experience for us all – something we all feel privileged to be a part of.
One day and a 100 miles to go. Now, where’s that cream?
TrainingPosted by Eoin Wed, July 29, 2009 22:39:48
We enjoyed the experience of staying in Loch Lomond hostel which is basically a castle and were treated to a Paul Abrahams Breakfast. It was nice and sunny so we waited, farted around with our bikes until it was wet enough to set off.
We managed to stop 15 times before we got to the end of the loch. One of those stops involved Stephen pretending he needed to change a tyre but he was seen hoekin for recovery drinks in the van. At one point we stopped where some Australians had littered the site of outstanding beauty with their barbie stuff. We peed into the loch and set off. At the end of the Loch we started our climb up through the Trussochs and into the Highlands.
Head down arse up, no time for jokes, snots running down our faces and up the hill. Is it a man is it a bike no its a MIKE Andrew the Machine raced up the Black mountain pass like it was a speed bump the rest of us snorted farted and gasped our way up. It does have to be said that the scenery up in this route is breathtaking. We stopped at the Kings House hotel not long after Neil had some road kill flicked up into his face by the bikes ahead. Katie (trombones wife) rolled in driving passed with black smoke blowing out the exhaust. Again the Roses gift team where rescued by the AA our 3rd emergency service called to help again. The dramatic landscapes made this closer to lands end to John O Groats in 1000 photos. At least captain Fuy (stephen) managed to take the photos while he cycled, Collins wanted to stop and take a picture of every road sign just to prove he was there. Maureen his wife cant wait to see those special snaps I would bet my mortgage those will remain as thumbnails for ever. After 90 miles through the highlands it was lashing down as per usual when we rolled into Fort William to our hostel. The town itself is a bit like a Cookstown or Magherafelt in the 1970s before it was bombed. It has a charm although its not very easy to define it. Sean tried when he treated Kelly (His wife and our support team member) to a slap up meal in the Osin Hotel or the Os n hotel as the sign outside read. I went in to see them but found it difficult to walk across the floor my shoes came off when they stuck to the gunk on the floor. They finished their deep fried Fray Bentos and met us for a pint after. Neil and Paul the colchester duo had 2 pints for recovery purposes in the ben Nevis and frightened some Welshman on his holidays into donating £10. He did give it to Joe as he looked more responsible. I don't want to be harsh because the scenery in this part of the world is unique and stunning it is impossible not to be invigorated on the descent through Glen Coe. Each leg of this trip the experience just seems to get better and better and after the ride I will come back through here with the family to spend some time in this area. This country gets better and better so we look forward to our spin through the great Glen tomorrow on the banks for Loch Ness. Next stop Invergordon.