12 August 2010

Day 13

A relaxed get-away form Aldershot was watched by Corps RSM M Callender, we will just leave it that we didn't exactly pick up any military precision or haste along the way. With an unexpected police escort joining the team, the two policemen on motor bikes put on their brilliant flashing red and blue lights to stop traffic on roundabouts, allowing the team to cruise towards Gosport. Our last lunch, with the ever superb spread of sandwiches and lesser eaten salad, was provided by the most highly underrated group on the entire trip, headed by :

Joanne Roberts (the campaign's primary contact with Ben Parkinson, fund raiser, media communicator, expert dietitian {a major success story in-itself}, procurement officer, chef de tour, navigator & lead car safety enforcer). A very busy and extremely capable lady.

Joanne was incredibly supported en route by Sarah Larwood, Wendy Dean, Jackie Preston, Charlotte Cordy-Redden and Marja Wise, without whom the trip would not have been possible, nor such an enjoyable experience. The team would like to thank Joanne and the Ladies for their unrelenting efforts, for their incredible enthusiasm throughout, for traveling the length of the country executing various roles from excellent map reading, through to driving the lead and rear safety vehicles and for creating an essential support base that ran like clockwork and went largely un-acknowledged. We could definitely not have done this without you.There could not be a better, all round, all-encompassing group. Also Morgan Roberts, who along with Joanne, spent hours on sponsorship placement and he laboured for many days plotting an incredibly safe and scenic cycle route from Northern Scotland to the English south coast, stretching over 870 miles. His attention to detail, was a key to our success.

With ITN waiting to film the finish, the speed was cranked up to greater levels than when following the Harleys in Doncaster. After just under nine hundred miles we motored into Portsmouth at about 25 miles per hour, as a team and over the finish line in Gosport to a champagne finish as friends and families shouted out, waved banners, desperate for a glimpse. The camaraderie that had grown since day one shone through with the team reveling in the moment. Deservedly, Ross "machine" Preston took the final stage,( just as he had pulled the team up the mountainous Cairngorms, Grampians, Cheviots and the Pennines) and had cycled at the front of the peloton all day every day.

Special thanks to the ever smiling Harry Adolphus who took up the idea of a long term association with individual, seriously injured soldiers and set this whole campaign in motion. He spent many many hours working on kit and sponsors and other such matters. He devoted enormous time and energy into igniting the whole process, sacrificing significant opportunities within his academic, school, social and home life. He cycled professionally and  he shared his "media" duties generously with his fellow riders. Morgan, Harry and the team have created a special bond with Ben. Which is simply, after all, the whole point of our campaign. As Harry said to the News At Ten,"we are not trying to build hospitals, just lifelong relationships and mutually supportive friendships with people who have given much more".

Big thanks to James Cordy-Redden who, when asked by Harry, unhesitatingly was the first to agree to join this campaign, (never gave up and drove his body up ever higher peaks, top man James) Josh Wise (stylish and steely, very impressive young man, belies his model looks), Will Dean (quietly determined, never-ever faltered) Ross Preston (yellow jersey on every stage), Will Larwood (flew up mountains) George Farquharson (joined only days after a major shoulder operation, no complaints and weaved an extra 60 miles). Additionally, huge respect from the team to Morgan Roberts who fractured his elbow in an accident when charged at by a car after only 170 miles into the ride, but continued to cycle the balance of 700 miles ('arder that ard). All 8 cyclists added their own special ingredient to the team and discovered that not only could they manage extreme sport but that also there is more in them yet. Every cyclist rode every single yard of the way.

[Thanks also to Freddy Clarke for his two epic stages. On the final stage, Charlie Cowdrey, Ted Croker (the boy cycled with style) Giles Pamplin (heavy bike well ridden) Ben Dean, Sam Mitchell and Tom Fitzgerald (great effort from all three of you)]

After having our bikes as an extension of our bodies for thirteen days, I feel that secretly the gorgeously rhythmic cadence of pedaling, the roar of the wind in our ears and the beauty of cycling the length of Scotland and England will be sorely missed.

It was an epic two weeks and it was an honour to cycle for you Ben Parkinson.

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