Archives for January 2016

Dover Marathon Coastal Trail Series 2016

There were more reasons for me not to do the Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series (CTS) Marathon in Dover than there were for me to do it. In the interest of banality I shall list them:

  • The expense (275 miles each way plus a night stop)
  • Half a day off work for travelling
  • The fact that Ivybridge Everest was still in my legs from two weeks ago (54 miles, 18 hours, 6244m ascent, 6244m descent)
  • The chest infection that I had been nursing for the past 10 days
  • The mild stomach bug that started two days before the race. Just enough to make me feel hungry and nauseous at the same time for 48 hours.
  • The treatment for large verrucae I have on the bottom of my right foot which is being done by a local podiatrist and makes it painful to walk.

They were trumped by a good weather forecast and what looked to be a stunning route. I had an entry for a couple of months, but I didn’t decide to actually go until Thursday afternoon when I saw the forecast and finally booked a local cheap hotel.

The forecast was bang on. The skies were clear and the wind was freezing. A perfect day for wrapping up and enjoying the countryside. Who wouldn’t want to spend a day running and walking the clifftops between Folkstone and Deal under such conditions?

Once started I was towards the front, for no good reason other than to ensure that I didn’t get stuck in the bottle neck as we ran down into Dover. We started at the National Trust centre on top of the White Cliffs and the first half mile was down some slippery and steep steps. As we ran along the sea front in Dover, past my hotel, I had to call back the leaders as they stomped past the signed right turn. Endurancelife did warn competitors to check the map and make sure they were familiar with the route through Dover. Apparently fast runners don’t also do route finding?! Oh well. I led the race for about 200 yards before they caught me again 🙂

Next we ran up and around Western Heights, a stunning fort looked after by English Heritage. Once again I called back folk in front as they charged past a signed right turn. We then ran along the coast before looping back on ourselves and through a tunnel, past a Channel Tunnel vent and on to Samphire Hoe, In typical Endurancelife sadistic fashion we then made our way onto the deep gravel beach. Trudging onwards at the base of the cliffs everyone’s pace dropped until we reached a more secure footing. A little while later we turned right and zig zagged our way to the top of the cliffs and checkpoint 1. 7 miles into the advertised 28.3 mile route.

I had felt pretty crappy until this point. Lots of aches and niggles worked their way out until I finally felt warmed up with my muscles moving more smoothly as we rolled into the first checkpoint. I grabbed a handful of Jelly Babies, a handful of crisps and moved on. The next quarter rolled along the clifftops for the most part as we made our way back to Dover. Some of the frozen ground was thawing now, making the going a bit more sticky and squelchy. I felt good and picked up a few places, stopping periodically to take a few pics.

As we ran back through Dover I pulled my treat out of my backpack. A bag of salt and vinegar Walkers crisps. Yum! I then walked up the steps back to the National Trust, grabbed a handful of Jelly Babies at checkpoint 2, 13.9 miles in, and topped up a bottle. It was cold so I was only drinking about 500ml per hour, and could get away with carrying slightly less than normal.

The next quarter was pretty brutal. The views were amazing, but the mud was so cloying. It stuck to the bottoms and sides of my shoes, making each foot feel so heavy. Each step was an effort, my glutes started to scream and my poorly foot was causing a skewed running gait. One of the leading ladies caught me at this point. I focussed and ran with her for a few miles. We traded places over and over without saying a word until we descended from the cliffs and another gravel beach section came into view. We stopped, walked and chatted for a bit before the pain in my hips and glutes caused me to slow dramatically. I walked/ran the last mile into checkpoint 3, the turnaround point at Deal. Here I grabbed more Jelly Babies, filled both bottles and added extra electrolyte as my calf muscles were starting to cramp. Before I could grab a handful of crisps a lady slipped while filling her Camelbak and dumped the contents into the container holding them. I didn’t fancy soggy crisps, so I gave the lady the most withering look I could muster (she didn’t notice) and staggered onwards. Each step a struggle. 21 miles in and with a long 7 miles to go. I gritted my teeth, put one foot in front of the other and gave myself a command. “RUN!”

I started off running to the next lamp post or hedge corner. I walked significant uphills and ignored my screaming muscles. This was the WALL. I had depleted my already low reserves and my body wanted me to lie down and stop. There was no way that was going to happen. I rationalised that if I walked this would be a long 2.5 hour leg. If I ran it would be a painful 75 minutes, then I could climb into my car, turn on the engine and let the heated seat do some magic. Out loud I kept saying “RUN!” as I pushed myself forward.

A couple of people overtook me, but then I overtook a few people as well. Some would be on the ultra rather than the marathon, but I didn’t have the energy to find out which. I staggered into checkpoint 4, just a water stop for those on the ultra and marathon, and was about to run past when I saw the food table. A gutteral voice that didn’t sound like mine said

“Jelly Babies.” and I shovelled some into my mouth. The voice then said

“Crisps.” And I shovelled some of those into my mouth.

I looked up to see the lady behind the table looking at me and laughing her arse off. The voice then said “RUN!” and I took off to tackle the last few miles.

I paused briefly as I saw the “1 mile to go” sign to take a picture of it. I then started talking to the chap that I was overtaking, Noel, it turns out that he ran the Fire and Ice ultra in Iceland in 2015 and would be marshalling it while I was taking part in 2016. I picked his brains as we walked and I lost a few more places. With about half a mile of slippery mud to go I left Noel and gave it everything. I clawed back two more marathon places as I sprinted in to the finish. That was easier said than done as I struggled through the mud to get through the 3m wide finishing line, sliding all over the place. My provisional timing was 5:36 and I was 34th out of 127 starters and 116 finishers. I think my highest CTS finish in several years of doing them.

It was a challenging and beautiful day out. The route was as varied as any route I have ever run and is one that I would recommend. The field was largely made up of the typical bonkers but friendly trail/ultra crowd. The weather was as perfect as you can get at this time of year, and I was glad of the extra layer or two that I decided to wear.

My only real gripe for the day would be that the good folk that run Endurancelife don’t seem to appreciate a prompt start as much as their customers. We eventually set off half an hour after the advertised start time, a tardy 0930. This happened the last time I ran with them as well, at the Gower a few months ago, and it would be enough to stop me signing up for their events next year unless they sort it. Another person that I spoke to felt the same. It is such an easy thing to sort out, hopefully they will.

Enjoy the full gallery of photos below. Today I shall mostly be hobbling slowly about south Devon in the search of burgers……HUNGRY!

Oh, and don’t forget: If all else fails…”RUN!”

Dover CTS Marathon 2016 Endurancelife

How do you train for Ivybridge Everest?

Stood on the top of "my" hill, Western Beacon. A few days after Ivybridge Everest.

Stood on the top of “my” hill, Western Beacon. A few days after Ivybridge Everest.

When I was on the hill last weekend for my Ivybridge Everest quite a few folk asked me how I trained for such a thing. My answer was initially quite trite. It was simply “well, I didn’t.” Obviously I didn’t wake up at the end of November one day and go from couch potato to 54 miles with 6244m of climbing in just four weeks. I was relying on what a coach would call my base fitness. I didn’t train specifically for the event because I didn’t give myself enough time to do so. It was a challenge. I wanted to see how far I could get with what I had. I got my answer and simultaneously had the best day in the hills of my life thanks to my epic supporters. You can read more about that in my previous post here.

Anyway, more about base fitness. How could my base fitness allow me to do what I did. I’ll try to summarise how I go about my training. It really is quite simple, but I will have to start at the beginning. I’m not going to tell you what to do. I am going to tell you what I did. If it helps then that is great 🙂

A few years ago I was going through a rough patch with depression, an eating disorder of sorts, and was generally a bit of a mess. Like many forms of depression my life looked good from the outside. I had (and still have :D) a wonderful wife, two great kids, an amazing job and a some good friends. Not many friends, but the kind that matter. None of that made a difference when the depression hit. I had to do something to start climbing out of the well, so I did.

Step 1: Is their a form of exercise you can tolerate? Identify it. Figure out what you like about it and structure it so that you do more of what you like which is now coincidentally more of what makes you fitter. Find the time to do it, and push yourself a little so you get fitter and can do more in the spare time you have. It is an ever rewarding cycle if you get it right. It becomes one of the corner stones of your life, and you end up living it. You aren’t doing a fad, this isn’t temporary. It becomes a part of you and you don’t have to think about it or push yourself to do it.

Hmm. I couldn’t think of a step two, although diet does matter as does your work/life/exercise balance. I guess that does give us a step two, although I don’t know quite how to phrase it to apply to someone else. Here is what I did, take from it what you can.

Step 2: Food. My eating problems turned out to be simply that my stomach couldn’t tolerate products with dairy or egg in them. Once I figured this out, and it took months because normally you only eliminate one thing at a time and I had trouble tracking it to two. When I stopped eating dairy and egg several things happened:

  1. I stopped getting mouth ulcers, a problem I had suffered with since childhood
  2. My ectopic heart beat vanished. It had been quite the cause for concern over the recent couple of years and even had me at an expensive and private cardiologist at one point
  3. Cake and junk food were suddenly removed from my diet. I lost two stone.
  4. Most importantly I no longer felt on the urge of vomiting all the time (the cause of the depression)

Stopping eating dairy and egg wasn’t easy. I had to find other sources of protein and calcium, and on occasion the junk food was hard to resist. I finally figured out that the physical problems weren’t worth the transitory joy of chowing down on that Big Mac or that slab of cake, or that pasty etc etc. I did have to learn that lesson over and over for a while though as my brain/stomach kept saying “maybe it wont be that bad this time.” It always was THAT bad though.

The plus side is that as long as I keep doing step 1, step 2 now takes care of itself. Like I said, take from that anything you can. I would focus on step 1 though.

Step 3: Family and work. Both super important. Following step 1 with the support of my wife and kids means that I am much better at both family and work. Finding the balance takes effort. If you start getting obsessed channel it positively and work it around your family and employment. Don’t do step 1 at the expense of your family and work. EVER! I first entered Ironman Wales for 2013 (I entered in Sept 2012) I withdrew my entry in January 2013 shortly after Sam (my wife) was diagnosed with Leukaemia. I re-entered again in Sept 2013 for 2014 and as soon as Sam was diagnosed with relapsed Leukaemia she turned to me and told me not to cancel my Ironman entry. She wanted me to do it. I almost withdrew anyway as I didn’t know if I could support her through Leukaemia as well as the kids, do my job and still train. With the support of my close friends and family I did it, and had one of the best days of racing in my life. You can read about that here. Sam was waiting at the finish line.

Implementing step 1

Steps 2 and 3 you will have to figure out for yourself. There is no way around that. But I can help you a little with step 1 by taking you through my thought process at the time. Bear in mind that I was two stone heavier than I am now. I was depressed and I was unfit. Here are some questions and the way that I answered them in trying to find a sustainable way to get fit and make myself feel good.

  1. What do you like doing that is outside and could help you get fit? I like standing on the top of hills and looking at beautiful views.
  2. Is there a hill with a good view near by? Yes. Western Beacon.
  3. How can you get there? I’m not fit enough to run it and it is too steep for me to cycle. It is a four mile round trip though and I’m pretty sure that I can walk it in under 90 minutes.
  4. Can you spare 90 minutes? I have to. I need to do this for my health, my life, and my family.

I walked up Western Beacon every day for months. It wasn’t long before I was jogging on the flat bits and the downhills and it wasn’t much longer after that when I could run up it too. I think I started in around October. In May the following year I was at a friend’s house and there was a half marathon nearby. I turned up in shorts, a t-shirt, some shoes and my analogue watch. It didn’t even have a second hand. I buried myself on it and finished in one hour and forty five minutes. I was chuffed with that, but still had a lot to learn. My nipples were chaffed and bleeding so badly that I looked like I had been shot twice in the chest.

Now in my quest for hilltops and good views I have seen some of the best that the UK has to offer. I’m not boasting (well, I sort of am!)  I’m trying to show you what you could achieve from mild beginnings. I’ve done Scafell Pyke and Bow Fell. I’ve done Ben Nevis via the Caern Mor Dearg arete. I’ve done Helvelyn via striding edge. I’ve done the Yorkshire Three Peaks. I’ve done much of the Devon and Cornwall coastal path. I’ve run 82 miles in 24 hours. I’ve done all the Brecon Beacons (before lunch!) I’ve stopped on a cliff top at 3am, turned off my head torch and simply stared at the stars. I’ve done the Original Mountain Marathon and the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon. I’ve had my arse handed to me by the Highland Mountain Marathon and been owned by The Plague ultramarathon. I once ran 54 miles along Dorset’s Jurassic Coast dressed as Superman.

I’m not quick. I’ll never win anything. Bit if you see me out there then I am undoubtedly having a good time. A frown is my natural expression, so don’t be put off by that 😉

Figure out what you love that is good and healthy. Then do more of it. Build on it and never look back.

In the beginning

Don’t be ashamed of going out. Never be ashamed of running, walking, cycling or doing something to improve yourself. You don’t have to make excuses. When I look at you. When I see someone over weight or unfit out and putting one foot in front of the other, dressed in lycra (hopefully multicoloured!) I am proud. I see potential. I see someone trying to improve themselves. I see future company on the hillside. If someone shouts at you, or you think they are laughing at you then that is their problem not yours. It says far more about them than it does about you. Unfortunately there are always arseholes but you don’t have to let them get in the way.

Just in case you are the cynical and judgemental sort, and you’ve somehow read through this far, I’d like to point out that this is an utterly sincere article. Do not let my occasionally flippant use of the English language put you off from getting out there, enjoying yourself and finding out what our beautiful country has to offer.

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A muppet

I almost forgot!

I almost forgot to tell you what to do if something gets in the way. The short answer is identify it understand it and learn how to beat it. Here are a couple of examples:

  1. Knee injuries. Running can damage your knees, but not if you do it right. As my mileage increased I joined a group video analysis session on a track which helped me sort out my posture and technique. I did this for a couple of years in a row. Please note that this is not the gait analysis that your shoe shop will use. it was more useful than that. When an old knee injury (from skiing) flared up I went to a consultant orthopaedic surgeon who told me to give up running and wear heel lifts. I didn’t like that so I went to see another one who told me that running wouldn’t cause any more damage, but I would need to see a physio to help me resolve the issue. I went to see one of the leading physios in the country in patellofemoral pain. It only took one session because I followed her instructions and didn’t need a follow-up. I now run longer and further than ever with no knee pain. Humans were built to run!
  2. Brain problems. Last year I dropped out of The Plague after just 18 miles. I often train longer than that, and couldn’t initially work out why I couldn’t continue. It turned out to be head issues. I spent a month studying exercise psychology at the laymans level and then competed in a race where I ran 82 miles in 24 hours.
  3. Other injuries. I have a cross trainer in my garage. If I am tired out, or have a niggle, but still want to train then I use that on an easy setting and watch something on Netflix to pass the time. It gets me through.

And finally

Unless it is what gets you out the door I can strongly recommend forgetting about being fast. That is mostly because training to be fast is hard and tedious work. It hurts. It’s dull and it requires masses of recovery time. Unless speed is your sole motivation then focus on enjoyment and let the speed come with the fun. As you get fitter some speed work will happen naturally when you are trying to beat Strava records or are running up a steep hill. Ignore the get fit quick articles in the “beginners” magazines and focus on sustainable enjoyment.

Done. Ranting over. I hope someone found it useful/interesting. 🙂

The importance of running socks

Decent running socks are an important and much overlooked piece of equipment. Good socks will last a long time and help to prevent foot problems, bad socks will cause not only surface issues such as blisters but can cause worse problems too. For me a good sock must do two things. It must:

  1. Last a long time (provide good value!)
  2. Wick moisture effectively away from your skin

The wicking is particularly important because it helps your skin to stay dry. This massively reduces the chance of blisters and toenail problems. Soft damp toenails and wrinkled soggy skin are simply not desirable to any runner and the further you go the more important it is to keep them dry.

Some socks last a long time and don’t cost much money like the Quecha Kalenji Eliofeel. These are ÂŁ3.99 for two pairs from Decathlon and I Have a couple of pairs in my drawer that have done literally hundreds of short training runs. I wouldn’t use them for anything longer though because hot spots soon become apparent and the only thing they really do well is not wear out.

Some socks wick but do not last. The Karrimor Dri Max (ÂŁ5 for two pairs) wick reasonably for about 20 miles of running, then they come apart.

So far I have found one sock that seems to do both, the Wigwam Trail Trax Pro (ÂŁ13.99 from It wicks beautifully and I have now run hundreds of miles in them with no obvious sign of wear. Last Saturday when I attempted my Ivybridge Everest for St Luke’s Hospice I destroyed a pair of the Dri Max socks in just a few miles and reverted to my Trail Trax Pros. The ground was so wet that my feet were sodden nearly the whole time. I changed socks three times and in 18 hours of moving forward I did not have a single foot problem. My only criticism of the Trail Trax Pro is that it is a touch warm in summer months, but they wick so well that doesn’t turn into an issue. Wigwam do have plenty of other socks in their range though, so I’m sure I can find a summer equivalent.

In addition to the list of things that a running sock should do there is something that a running sock, in my opinion, shouldn’t do. It should not interfere with the mechanics of your feet. I have tried, and binned, two pairs of expensive socks that did just that. They advertise the fact that they support your foot, however your foot is an incredibly complicated piece of equipment and it is practically impossible for something as simple as a cloth tube to provide any meaningful support, especially when it is mass produced and only comes in a few sizes.

The two socks, that caused me foot pain are:

The Compressport Socks went into a roadside bin 26 miles into an ultramarathon when they caused significant heel pain, and the X-Bionic socks went into a bin when they caused pain in my plantar fascia. I would never buy supportive socks again.

I hope that has helped you to choose a decent pair of running socks. People always seem surprised when I say that so far I have never had any significant issues with my feet, and the reasons I give are decent socks and appropriately fitting running shoes. The former is easy to advise on, but the latter is much more complicated as we are all so different. It took a lot of trial and error to settle on the Brooks Cascadia 10 as my go to trail shoe. Of course they’ll make a change when they bring out the Brooks Cascadia 11 and I’ll have to start the trial and error again!

If you have read this, but you still have foot issues and are convinced that your shoes and socks are the right ones then the book “Fixing Your Feet” by John Vonhof is an excellent read and a very handy reference. It has been regularly updated and you can get the latest version online for ÂŁ11.99.

Ivybridge Everest

On Saturday morning a lady that I had never met before joined me on a not so lonely hill on the southern tip of Dartmoor. She handed me a piece of paper (and two sweets 🙂 ) and said “here are some inspirational words for later.” On that paper was written the following:

Charles Dickens wrote: “They kept on, with unabated perseverance and the hill has not yet lifted its face to heaven that perseverance will not gain the summit of at last.” Perseverance is not a fast option, but it will get you there in the end.

It was one of many touching moments that occurred during my Ivybridge Everest attempt, all of which humbled me, and inspired me onwards. After that piece of writing I am afraid that the rest of this article will seem somewhat inelegant as I will eventually descend into a rather blunt analogy. You’ll soon see what I mean.

Just before 6am on Saturday 2nd January 2016 I got out of my car in David’s Lane just as a Dartmoor Search and Rescue vehicle from the Plymouth team pulled up. I greeted the occupants hit the button on my watch and started walking up the hill. Just over halfway up I bumped into a member of the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team (DSRT) carrying a bunch of large orange flags. He then followed me to the top planting flags as he went so that I could easily find my way up and down in the dark. They continuously tweaked the flag positioning through the day to ensure that when night fell again I would not get lost with my fatigued mind and exhausted body.

Throughout the day I would be returning to the top of the hill, Western Beacon, until I had climbed it 28 times. This is the equivalent, in elevation, of climbing and descending Denali, Alaska, the highest point in the United States of America. I climbed and descended a combined elevation of 12488m in a little over 18 hours including some brief stops. Horizontally this meant I had covered 54 miles.

During the day I only summited the hill twice without company, other than that I always had folk around me, on one occasion summiting with 7 people. Those people kept me moving, they were amazing company in the wet and the mud. They gave me perspective and they gave me stories. They made me laugh and they raised my spirits. They had come from a variety of clubs. Plymouth Triathlon Club. The Erme Valley Harriers. The South Dartmoor Trail Runners. There were families. There were people I had never met before. They had all come out to help me and keep me moving forward. Some came in the morning, then came back in the afternoon or evening. Some were world class athletes like Sarah Pearson, Fin Saunders and Travis Bramley. Some were epic ultra endurance athletes like Ian, whose surname I did not get, who is off to do the Spine Race next weekend and name drops 100 mile races like that is a normal thing to do.

You were all awesome, inspirational, fun and above all selfless in your support. Thank you so much.

On one lap when nobody else was there to run up with me two of the DSRT popped their running togs on and came up for a couple of laps.

When darkness fell DSRT put a land rover at halfway and two chaps on the top. They then checked me and my supporters in up and down the hill to ensure we were safe. They were professional, friendly, amazing people.

I very much feel that I was just the dumbass going up and down the hill. The day was made by the supporters, the donations and the epic weather conditions. At one point it rained for pretty much 6 hours straight. As soon as the rain stopped it got dark, the temperature plummeted and the wind chill started to be felt.

At the end of lap 28, sometime after midnight, I got to the bottom of the hill and turned to start lap 29. I leant onto my walking poles and tried to take a step. I had nothing left. It felt like I had no muscles in my legs. They were heavy and I could barely lift my feet off the floor. I staggered the few metres up to where my car was parked, sat on the lip of the boot, looked at Ian (not the one mentioned earlier), looked at my Mum, and said “I’m done. I can’t go on.” A few moments later John, who had been the one organising DSRT for me, put his arm around my shoulder and said “You’ve done your Dad proud. Well Done.” I squeaked a reply. I couldn’t talk without becoming a blubbering mess.

Dad would have been proud. He would have thought me a total muppet for doing it and then he would have spent the next few weeks telling everyone all about it. What I had done and what I had gone through. You see my Dad was an amazing person, he helped a lot of people often only asking for some respect in return, no more than that. He was there for me absolutely any time I asked for him, literally travelling the length of the country if I needed him to. When he passed away from a brain tumour on January 10th 2015 he left a massive hole in all our lives. At the end of this article you can find a list of just some of the amazing things that Dad did for me as well as some of the amazing feats of endurance that he accomplished himself.

Why was I doing this daft challenge? I was doing it for two reasons. Firstly to remember Dad and to distract from the memories of the pain that we were going through this time last year. Secondly to raise money for St Luke’s Hospice where he spent his final days. They were so compassionate and looked after us and him so very well. If you haven’t donated yet then the page will be open for a little while longer at

Now we get onto the awkward point. The problem with this tale. It isn’t finished. The challenge wasn’t called my Ivybridge Denali, no it was called my Ivybridge Everest. The Ivybridge Everest has not yet been climbed. Climbing the equivalent of Denali felt epic, and it pushed me to my limits, but my work is not yet done. Western Beacon has become the Appollo Creed to my somewhat emaciated Rocky Balboa. I need to run up and down some steps, and get my shit together. I need to come back and I need to run up and down Western Beacon 41 times, cover 77 miles and defeat the Ivybridge Everest. I cannot ask nor expect the same level of support. I doubt that the BBC will chase me up the mountain (they really did) a second time. But even if I am alone I will return. I will park my car, walk to the crossroads, turn, hit the button on my watch and start walking up the hill. Dad wouldn’t give up, and neither will I.

A final thanks to my Mum who was there for almost the entire thing keeping me fuelled, hydrated and moving. And also thanks to my amazing wife and children who did not waver for a second in their support of this silly endeavour.

The video

Below you can find my poorly edited Youtube video (all my own work!) which shows footage of some of the amazing people who joined me, as well as the video we took while I was doing the BBC Radio Devon interview between laps three and four.

I didn’t take too many photos during the event, but here are a few for you.

Oh, and ignore the story put out by Plymouth Herald as they seemed to forget the bit where I said that I made Denali and not Everest. They did correct it on their website, but the paper had already gone out!

Some of my memories of Dad:

  • Dad ran his first marathon at 40 to prove a point
  • Dad cycled Paris-Brest-Paris
  • Dad once got the ferry to Santander and cycled back in just 5 days
  • Dad once rebuilt a motorbike I had crashed and practically destroyed, so I could ride it again.
  • Dad once drove to Scotland to spend a weekend fixing another of my motorbikes that shredded it’s main engine bearing just as I was trying to sell it.
  • Dad once told me I couldn’t do a certain hard trail half marathon in under 2 hours. I did it in 1hr 55 minutes, the canny bastard.
  • Dad rode his mobility scooter from Ivybridge to Plymouth to buy Mum a car just a few days before being admitted to St Luke’s. He had to push it up some of the hills!
  • Dad once rode La Marmot, a mammoth bike ride covering several major alpine climbs including Col de la Croix de Fer, Telegraphe, Galibier, and Alpe d’Huez. Sam joined him on her mountain bike for that final climb and he supported her through two hours of relentless climbing, getting her to the top. He had been in the saddle since dawn and by the time they finished it was getting dark. It was mid-summer.
  • My first car was a Vauxhall Chevette that Dad bought for ÂŁ50 in 1993. He then got it roadworthy (he was a mechanic by trade). I helped him and as part of it we replaced the wings and welded patches over the rust holes in the floor amongst other things. Three weeks after passing my driving test I crashed it into a pole, crumpling one of the new wings and smashing a headlight. Dad didn’t kill me…..
  • A little while later Dad found a newer engine and went to a lot of effort to get it into my beloved Chevette. About a week later the radiator sprung a leak and instead of doing the sensible thing and stopping, I carried on driving it for a good few miles. The engine overheated and was never the same again. Dad didn’t kill me……
  • Dad was in the pits at Mallory Park when I was racing and in an accident that was so bad marshals grabbed their red flags and actually ran onto the circuit to get riders off and back into the pits. I can’t imagine what he went through in those agonising few moments wondering what had happened and then realising that I was one of the few riders not to have come back in.
  • When running trail races Dad used to come along with his camera. I could never tell when he would pop out of the hedge, take a few pics, give me a shout and then vanish only to pop out again somewhere else a few miles later.
  • Dad was absolutely always there. I can’t recall ever asking him for help and not getting it.
  • When I was doing DIY (or just about anything really) Dad would judge how hard the task was by the number of times I would call him for advice while doing it.

Some memories from Mum that she gave me to share:

  • He was a member of Mensa
  • He worked tirelessly for the TRF to keep threatened lanes open
  • When we first met he told me that he had a glass eye!
  • When we were courting he would walk 7 miles there and back to see me
  • We shared a tandem, riding from home to France for 5 days, I couldn’t do my share of the work so worked for both of us
  • He had his pelvis broken in an accident, they said 6 weeks on crutches, he was walking without crutches 2 weeks later
  • He was the first person to ride the northern route in Mongolia on a motorbike and sidecar
  • He found out about his Uncle Mickie who was killed during WW1, he organised a trip to France with his cousins to visit his grave and place a commemorative plaque
  • Trip to Paris to celebrate 30 years of marriage and the poem he wrote.
  • Took me on holiday on the Honda Valkyrie to Barcelona
  • Gave me a ring to celebrate 40 years of knowing each other
  • Our song ‘Young Girl’ by Union Gap
  • Holding my hand following an op that had gone wrong
  • Always being there