Just a week ago I was heading to Everton Football Club to join Dave Cornthwaite for the start of our 3000mile journey on ElliptiGo’s. For Dave this would be Expedition number 8 of his expedition 1000 journey and for me simply a new adventure and something very different, mostly staying close to sea level!
Honestly I’d intended to do more training than I actually did on the ElliptiGo before we left. I managed about 40 or 50 miles in total. However, discovering Dave had done much less I felt fine about it. We both thought it would be an incredibly tough start, but that we’d soon adjust.
We arrived in Liverpool early – so early that they wouldn’t let us in! Building our trailers in a nearby Morrison’s car park wasn’t exactly what I’d expected!
Building Trailers in Morrison’s car Park!
It was lovely starting our trip in the UK, so often my adventures begin in another country and to have my dad there at the start to wave me off and to know that through the UK leg of our journey I’d be seeing both friends and family was really great.
Joined by Daniel, our first guest rider, we set off at 2pm last Tuesday. Within minutes we’d been stopped by a motorist who’d blocked our path with his car, got out and waved us down. He needed to know what on earth we were standing on and what we were doing!
This man stopped us in the road!
As luck would have it our ElliptiGo’s and trailers got in the way (literally) of a cyclist called Paul, who just happened to be a volunteer for the Cycle Network and guided us through Runcorn city centre avoiding roads, traffic and hold ups. Of all the people we could have got in the way of, I’m so glad it was Paul.
As we made our way into Sandbach we stopped at a pub for our first cup of tea. Half an hour later with £20 in donations for Coppafeel from generous locals and staff at the pub we set off having been warned ‘there’s a big hill into Stoke. Good luck!’
The hill wasn’t that big! But it was gone 6pm and we decided to think about finding our first stop – a field to camp in. I looked back to see that Dave was behind and saw a serious looking cyclist over taking him and was rapidly approaching to over take me too. I thought if he was local he might have some advice about the best route we could take, like Paul had done just hours earlier. Amazing how conversations can go… within two minutes Cycling Joe said ‘do you want to come and stay at mine?’
Naturally Dave and I said YES, then waited for Joe to call his wife and wondered if we’d done the right thing – this man was a total stranger! But hey, this was an adventure and gut instincts said Joe was a good guy.
Arriving at Joe’s beautiful home to be greeted by his lovely wife and daughter, a huge bath, comfy beds (complete with teddy bears) and fish and chips for supper. Dave and I did a lot of grinning! It was such a funny evening. We sat around the table with our new friends and laughed a lot… and as I drifted off to sleep that night having done our first 33.4 miles the only muscles that were aching were in my face – from laughing! Surely tomorrow our legs would ache?
The lovely family who took us in on our first night
We departed from Joe’s at 8am after a delicious full English cooked by June and with no aching muscles (? thinking they’d probably ache later on or tomorrow) and we got on the road … to my parent’s house!
Two things spring to mind when I think back to Stoke; approaching the most incredibly fragrant round-about covered in beautiful flowers with a sponsored by Emma Bridgewater sign… just before the Emma Bridgewater factory.
And this -
A quick food break at some road-side services resulted in more donations for Coppafeel from some delightful dustbin men who we struck up a conversation with.
The generous bin men!
As we rode closer to home we were met by our second guest rider, my step dad. He and Dave were talking and only I was visible riding ahead when a small boy, pointed and shouted, “Mummy, look at him!”
Getting home was amazing! Mum cooked a roast, friends came over and the dogs attacked the trailers.
The dog wasn’t keen on our trailers!
On Thursday morning Kris, the founder of Coppafeel, her sister and friend joined Dave and I for breakfast. Kris is 27. She’s an intelligent, bright and beautiful young woman. I knew a lot about Kris before I met her. She founded Coppafeel after being mis diagnosed twice for breast cancer. By the time she was diagnosed she was Stage 4, there is no Stage 5. Meeting the person behind the charity, the person who had been someone I’d only read about and seen photos of stopped me in my tracks. We have one life, it’s precious. We don’t know what’s around the corner or what will happen tomorrow so make the most of everything you have right now.
With Kris founder of Coppafeel
I am proud that our journey is supporting Coppafeel; raising awareness and funds for such a great cause. Check your body regularly – both men and women get breast cancer.
It was a beautiful day, Day 3 of the journey, after breakfast Dave and I went to have a chat with Sally Pepper on BBC Radio Derby and then headed to Leicester, our next stop.
Gorgeous day in Barrow Upon Soar
Joined by Nick and Helen (who made the biggest single donation we’ve had yet – thank you so much!) for the afternoon, we had another stroke of luck with a random meeting. Dutch cyclist Jan, was over in the UK on his bike, he works with the Dutch Cycle Network. He had lots of advice and info for our next country Holland.
Our hosts for the evening, Tony and Sarah (who we’d never met before) had prepared a delicious meal with not one but two desserts (amazing Sarah!). And that evening we did a presentation for Wanlip Sailing Club. It was the first time Dave and I had spoken together. It went really well, it was funny, the sailing club were lovely and listening to Dave speak I realised there was so much I didn’t know about this wonderful and strange ginger fellow who I’d met for a grand total of 3hrs before this trip!
Alice, a 16yr old who came to the presentation told us about her own challenge – to ride her Grandmothers bike 5000 miles in a year in memory of her Grandmother and to raise money for charity. I was very impressed!
Alice joined us on Day 4. We had 55.6 miles to Milton Keynes. Time wise we were doing well, that was until we managed to get 19 punctures in two of our trailer tyres! Who gets 19 punctures??!! Dave has never had a puncture before so maybe he was just getting them all in one go?
It was a freshly cut Hawthorn hedge alongside a canal tow path that did it. Alice had home made flapjack and Dave’s mum and dad appeared with more home made flap jack so that made things much easier to deal with. And Dave’s mum made me giggle when she showed us these!
Love Dave’s mum!
We did puncture repairs and got a mile down the road where we were greeted by my friend’s aunty and uncle with Bakewell tarts! Perfect! Next stop was George Halls Cycle shop who sorted us out with new inner tubes with slime - all labour was free as there donation to supporting our trip. Thank you guys!
Joined by another friend James that afternoon we all finally made it to Milton Keynes. Dave’s mum is a machine on her bike and it’s little wonder Dave is the man he is having met his parents. We did a quick BBC Three Counties Radio interview…
A live Radio interview on the phone!
…had showers and were into our next presentation in no time. A great evening and still Dave and I were waiting for aching muscles?! How could we have ridden 170 miles and not be feeling it?!
Gerrad and Julie, fellow ElliptiGo’ers had come to our talk and offered us beds for the night. Another top evening with good company and new friends.
Gerrad, Julie and Clare joined us for the next Days ride to London and as our group sped along we had even more looks than usual! Julie had a huge supply of food and we had more chocolate than we knew what to do with when more friends gave us the most enthusiastic drive by we’ve had yet and dropped off a couple of kilos of Dairy Milk and Galaxy!
Our arrival in London was funny and protests in Trafalgar Square made for a great welcome party.
Arriving into Trafalgar Square!
Dave and I visited Octopus Clinic where we had a quick acupuncture session and a little rub down. It felt so good – thank you Hazel!
By now our legs were a little tired, but still not really aching or sore?
Sunday was a rest day, we only did 20 miles! Starting off with photos on Abbey Road crossing and finishing with an event in Hyde Park there was lots going on. Joined by the police safety cycling team and Coppafeel boobs we certainly weren’t missed in the park.
Abbey Road Crossing
Copping a feel in Hyde Park!
That night we stayed with ‘Super Cycling Man’, he rides everywhere in a superman outfit. So that’s nice!
Our best show of guest riders was on Monday morning at Clapham Common for the London to Brighton leg.
The London – Brighton starting team!
By the time we reached Ditchling Beacon there were almost 50 of us! The steep ride up the hill was slow, but we got down into bottom gear and made it. The reward of ice cream, views and downhill into Brighton made all the effort worth it.
BBC Radio Sussex did a quick interview with us on arrival and being greeted by our friends (and my god daughter Flo!) on the seafront was the perfect end to the day.
That and the delicious desert Flo made us that evening!
Flo and I
Jelly and fruit (with tiny teeth marks in some pieces!)
Reaching the sea, 300 miles done and the first week over I reflected on what an incredible time we’ve already had.
ElliptiGo’s are amazing; you get a great cardio work out, you cover distance, there are fantastic views from standing tall on them and the best bit…. there’s no impact so your body doesn’t get sore!
Loving the Go’s!
People are so kind and so generous, thank you to everyone who has fed us, provided beds, baths and good company. Thank you for all the donations we’ve received for Coppafeel and thank you for all the shouts of encouragement and good luck wishes. It makes all the difference.
It’s fantastic to be on an adventure at home. I’ve loved sharing this first week with family, friends and all the people we’ve met.
Looking forward to the next few weeks… and getting to know DC even better!
The GO Team!
And if you can spare just £3 to help us reach our £3000 target for 3000 miles please donate by clicking here.