My goal in 2016 (the year of my 70th birthday), was to complete four challenges and raise as much money as possible, for Macmillan Cancer Support Jersey, for which I’m Chairman. In the event, I managed only three challenges as a business trip coincided with ‘Ride London’, but I did manage to raise in excess of £37K due to amazing support from so many wonderful people. Ride London therefore remained unfinished business, but as I had rolled over my entry to 2017, it was once again in the diary for the end of July this year.
However, there was something of a hurdle put in my way, when in December 2016, on my cycle cleats, I slipped on and landed on a metal runner in my garage & broke my pelvis. The result was a 4-½ hour operation, two stainless steel plates, lots of screws and stitches and 3 months on crutches. Some months on, I can only bless a wonderful surgeon in Mr. Dunlop who has put the pieces back together again and has made me almost as good as new. It is interesting that such a repair (rather than a replacement hip) was possible because I had what the surgeon and A&E both describes as a ‘young person’s injury’ i.e. that the bones broke and didn’t merely shatter. This may well be partly down to genetics, but was also considerably helped by regular cycling.
With lots of exercise and physio through the early part of the year, Ride London began to look more and more achievable, as I got closer to the due date and so plans were made to travel from Jersey to London, along with my son in law George and four other mates, in a transit hire van very kindly loaned to us by Craig Seager of Falles Garage in Jersey.
I did Ride London in 2014 but the weather was so horrendous that the route was diverted to take out some of the hills and avoid what could have been carnage, with over 25,000 riders taking part. We therefore ended up doing only 86 miles of the 100 we anticipated. This time around therefore, our minds were very much on the weather when we got up, before 5.00 on the 30th July, not least as the rain had been hammering down most of the night and I had slept very little. However, the rain had abated as the first three of our group set off, just before 6.00. Thankfully & despite threatening skies, it remained dry for the rest of the day.
My son in law, George, had promised my wife that he would ride with me, given my operation and also a recent heart diagnosis of Atrial Fibrillation, although I had been given permission to ride by my doctor and was feeling fine. I continued to feel fine and in fact we were having a wonderful ride until around the 20 mile mark when a gentleman with the word ‘Caerphilly’ emblazoned on his Jersey, tried to find a space on my left that just wasn’t there and brought me crashing down on my left hand side, the one with steel and scars and very recent memories of pain! I was beside myself with fear of further damage, not helped as the guy who caused the crash actually stopped, returned and graciously and profusely apologised, when all I wanted to do was kill him! I always carry some first aid gear, but even a couple of large gauzes were insufficient to stem the flow of blood from my elbow and left knee, but luckily, within less than a mile there was a support hub and a very welcome St John’s Ambulance tent. The Guys in the tent were absolutely wonderful and could not do enough to help; washing the wounds, bandaging and re-bandaging and giving me drinks and painkillers and about 1 1/2 hours after the accident, I was reluctantly given permission to carry on. There was one frightening thought in my head, throughout this whole time, and that was how to confess to my wife, who had nursed me through my previous accident and who would be tracking my progress. It was therefore agreed that George would send a message saying ‘we have a bit of a problem with the bike, but will be off again shortly’. This worked as a temporary get out of jail card and in fact the family spotted us on BBC News, going over the line together, some hours later, so any doubts were at least temporarily alleviated, back at home.
The rest of the ride (with a little help from the painkillers!) was actually very enjoyable and the supporters, volunteers, beautiful countryside and party atmosphere were amazing. It was also such a unique treat, to ride closed roads past so many iconic sites in the City. At 8 hours & 6 minutes, my overall finish time was hardly about to break records, but my Strava rolling time of 6 hours 16 minutes and a rolling average of 15.8mph was a little more encouraging and all in all, it made for a most memorable day and 2 weeks on, still a little bruised and battered, I’m pleased I entered and even more pleased, I completed the ride.