Please excuse me if I have already sent this to you-I have lost track!
Sorry I couldn't keep up the Bulletins on the way to Poland-my Blackberry was playing up and of course there was no opportunity to do anything with my lap top. Anyhow there was a blog and you can still have a look at it on www.biketothefuture.org.uk
There is a piece in the local rag, WHT today on page 2.
My fellow survivor of Pancreatic Cancer, Les, whose real name is Lech (named after the polish beer!!) have just completed our Charity Bike ride from London to Krakow in Poland. We have ridden over 1020 miles, as you know to raise funds and awareness for Pancreatic Cancer, the deadliest of all Cancers which claims 97% of its victims! We have done this ride, apart from the fact we like a challenge and are totally mad, as we both are strongly motivated to try to help the survival rates of others who get this dreadful disease. We regard ourselves as the very lucky ones who have survived.
A number of photos are attached. They include ones of both of us and one of us riding with the Mayor of Bedzin en-route to a Civic Reception in Krakow.
It was not at all plain sailing naturally and we had many minor barriers to overcome en-route. In Holland we got lost in a storm on a country road and were completely soaked in a deluge. Riding a bike in two inches of water is no joke. We were then late arriving at our camp site where we were staying over night and we had to put up the tent in the dark and pouring rain. We were too late to find any where to eat and decided to take occupation of the Shower block at the campsite where Joy (wifey) brewed tea (what else!) and ate tuna and Jam sandwiches to the amazement of the Dutch holiday makers! Crackers these Inglisch!
We also had to endure strong headwinds in Germany and high temperatures over many days. So much so that we were so concerned about dehydration that we each drank almost 5l of liquid! How is it possible to have headwinds when you are going the same way as the earth rotates? It was like riding uphill for hours on end. Easy.
When we crossed the border into Poland from Germany we had 5 punctures in 20 minutes followed by several miles of bone-shaking cobbles! Then the cobbles turned into a dual carriageway without a hard shoulder and we had to battle with polish lorries taking no prisoners. The road then became a contra-flow and seeing the shimmering shape of an old figure with no teeth and a syth we got off and walked on the compacted soil and hard core! One day we were sent on a 10 miles detour because of the road works!
I fell off my bike entering the main square in Krakow as my front wheel got stuck in the tram tracks and I fell over-oooch.
We set out from Hammersmith Hospital on 24th and then from Harrow to Harwich on 25th July and arrived in Krakow on August 7th, that's 12 days pedalling and more than one third of a million pedals!. We had two rest days both in Germany. We were aiming to raise over £40,000 for the Charity. We believe we will exceed the fund raising target.
En-route to Krakow, were we interviewed by RTL for German TV as well as Antennae radio and several local German newspapers covered us including the major North German paper , Maerkishe Algemeine. We appeared on national and local Polish TV and radio and in 8 Polish titles. We had a Civic reception near Krakow and were greeted by the Mayor who rode his bicycle with us for part of the way. Likewise, receptions were held in Osnabruck and near Berlin by local well-wishers. See our website www.biketothefuture.org.uk for more details, video footage and blog.
Les was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in 2003 and Trace in 2004. After several major surgical operations, chemotherapy and radio therapy we are continuing to survive. Les got out of hospital the day we started or trip which is even more staggering. I don't know how he did it and for that matter I don't know how I did either! My bum was so sore it is not true.
Our major sponsor was Kone, the finnish lift company who paid for the accomodation and support van though we were also sponsored by SIS (energy drinks), Heinz (food), Sainsurys (more food) and Masternaut X who gave us a pda for transmitting our position on the route back to the map on the website. We were raising funds for www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk.
We travelled through Holland, Germany and Poland to get to Krakow the home of the family of Lech. We stayed under canvas to cut costs on our amazing journey except in Poland where the sites are basically housing estates. And the President of the local region paid for our hotel one night! Everywhere we went people were amazingly kind to us, invited us into their homes and looked after us. We battled though all weathers, storms, floods and some days over 33C, headwinds and encountered all types of road surfaces-especially in Poland. We shared the road with the lorries of Europe as well as the hay-carts! Polish food and hospitality is marvellous. I can recommend their Beetroot soup and Croquetes filled with red and white cabbage and onions, fish-a-la-grek and any sort of beer, now available at Tesco.
I don't think anything happens much in East Germany as the locals came out to see us and talk to us when we stopped!
We were joined en-route by three other friends/relatives, Jordanah Pitchford-Les's niece, Dave Smithson her fiance and stalwart friend Simon Gledhill, our cook. Additionally we were accompanied by a support van, which was driven by many different drivers which carried the gear, and in addition by my wife Joy who drove along in the family car and acted as route planner, lunch director, wasp doctor, stores director and general factotum. We were also joined by more than 20 other bike riders in Holland, Germany and Poland and 13 including my madcap son in UK on the way to Harwich.
Our song of the ride was the Leeds inspired now-a-classic 'Ruby, Ruby, Ruby' which we had to endure all the way augmented with 'Hot, Hot, Hot'! We also had a spell with 'I can see clearly now', 'Baby come back', 'Who are you', 'Californification,' and 'Sore Bum Blues' a nightly blast. Yeh, we had a great experience-not to be missed.
Of the 7000 people who are diagnosed in UK this year (and last year), at the end of the year only 300 will still be alive and many of these will not survive. It is one of the few Cancers whose mortality is getting worse. We are two of the lucky ones.
I checked the Just Giving site a few days ago and there is £12,000 there which is fantastic, so thanks very much.