The extreme 10:10:1000 challenge saw Carnegie cycle 1000km from Belfast to London, visiting 10 Sported members on-route and taking part in 10 different sports, all in 10 days with no rest!
Here’s a throwback to his diaries:
Early start – won’t talk about making the flight by minutes (standard me!)
Was very excited to get going.
Judith and Brenda provided a great welcome and massive thanks to Chain Reaction for the bike – great bit of kit! Cycling through Belfast was a pleasure.
First stop – a visit to Sported member Gleann Amateur Boxing Club.
What Paul and his team has built is incredible. They’ve produced Commonwealth champions and, most importantly, a welcoming and inclusive club for all young people in the local community. Heard some powerful stories from the young people there, I’ll keep them to myself, but all I can say is that club is literally a life line and saviour for them.
However….not too sure the ‘kids’ got the memo about me getting in the boxing ring.
1. Beaten up (literally) by a 15 year old girl. Ribs have felt better!
2. Getting hit by. 6″1 15 year old ‘boy’ square in the eye….black eye watch for tomorrow.
3. Round 3 was twins. They were 11 years old. I just took the beating so I could move on. Think I landed one punch!!
It was followed by a tour of Belfast on bike with Sported volunteers, John and Seamus joining (massive thanks!), including John (Acting Director of Participation and Facilities at Sport NI) giving me a history lesson on Belfast which was incredible and insightful.
Next…George at the Rathfern Company of Archers. What he has achieved is amazing – clearly so passionate. Check out the little video interview with him below, but he spoke extremely highly of the impact Sported has had on the club, getting him started and acting as a catalyst – underlines why support for small community sport groups is so important.
Final thoughts from me – we need to support the Pauls and Georges of this world…and don’t expect boxers to take it easy on you!
Off to Glasgow we go.
Some of my family arrived to see me off from Glasgow. It was a little colder than expected and the wind was a joke. Not cycled in this type of weather.
My nephew asked if he could see me on TV when he left as he couldn’t see any TV cameras at the start. I didn’t want to crush his vision of his uncle competing in the ‘Olympic cross UK cycle race’ so said they are nearer the end! My sister better get on Eurosport gold or something and pick out a bloke in blue on a bike!
Club visit was Reach for the Sky Basketball in the south of Glasgow. Chatting with Ross Hutton, the Project Co-ordinator made it clear that basketball was just a hook for these young people to get them doing so much more with their life. Graham Hunter, the Managing Director was telling me a few stories about a couple of the guys there. As the club existed it has led them to actually doing something with their lives – his words. He was clear that without it they would never have got the confidence or opportunity to be doing what they do now. Pleasure to hear from some of the parents of the kids too. They said it is a highlight for them. Just to be clear we are talking about a concrete floor with two hoops at the back of an estate. ‘Wow’…. is what I say to those that have turned this into something special.
The cycle continued south. No one warned me about the wind, rain, hills, uneven roads. I feel like I’m still shaking even though I’ve finished. Some of the journey made me smile (after the wind died down a little) as many of the Scottish scenery reminded me of when my mum took us up to Scotland in the summer holidays. I even stopped on a bridge across some water and laughed to myself about what my mum would be saying 25 years ago to us….!
Anyway the cycle was brutal due to the weather. Although it was completed in decent time. Very scenic and some fun climbs and descents. Wary of flying round the corners after seeing the guys crashing yesterday in Brazil (not that I’m comparing).
Day 2 finished in Moffat. Shame about the cold water for a bath. 🙂
Final thought: Amazing what someone’s vision can do with a concrete basketball court and some support.
Sorry kids your uncle is not going to be on TV!!
After a starter and two main courses for dinner last night and a monster breakfast I was ready for Day 3. Will the Scottish weather continue….
Sun was out, but it was cold! Lucky I packed my undergarments…..oh no I didn’t….I just expected it to be sunny and warm for 10 days!! Idiot! A good motivator to pedal faster.
25km in and I stopped at Sports Driving Unlimited. This was chariot racing for the disabled. Had the pleasure of Graham and Charlotte showing me how it is done…! Both been using the club for many years. Charlotte was chatting to me about what the racing means to her and the access to the club – clearly this young lady lives for these horses and chariots! Charlotte is confined to a wheelchair with cerebral palsy, however has developed stronger core muscles due to the riding over the past five years, so much so that she’s now able to walk with a frame!! Incredible that it has had this effect.
Charlotte controlling a horse from a chariot while cheering with happiness is a sight to remember. She races these things at competition, sometimes against able bodied competitors. Fair play!!
Charlotte said to me “I wouldn’t want to live without my horses” the same horses provided by the incredible club at the top of a hill in the middle of southern Scotland! Enough said!
It was a pleasure to meet Alister from Sported (I think he secretly wants to start racing chariots!) and Rosemary from the club.
The cycle was much more enjoyable than yesterday. Wind was blowing but not as bad and warmed up a little. About 60km down to the border. Passed the wedding chapels at Gretna Green, anyone? Haha!
Looped round the countryside a bit, across the border which felt like an achievement and then headed down to Carlisle.
Arrived in Carlisle to a man in his car getting rather angry and frustrated howling at me to “Get a job and buy a car” my friends can guess my sarcastic response!
Anyway an ice bath followed. Self made of course. Eight bags of ice from Sainsbury’s next door and into the bath in my room. Highlight of my day!!
Final though for today – a horse and carriage has helped a young lady get out her wheelchair….even if for a short time has to be worth it
Maybe I should go and trade my bike in for that man’s car and drive the rest….I’ll keep the bike Sir….
A solid 8 hour sleep preceded Day 5. I needed it. That and various bags of ice on various parts of my body. Oh and a curry, a pasta, a burger and an oil salad – this was meant to be tomato and mozzarella but it was swimming in oil so I decided to leave that one! …Two chocolate bars for good measure too.
Loving watching the Olympics too – these individuals are absolute machines.
Today was a 113km cycle through Lancaster, Preston and ending in Chorley. Sun was out and wind was down – happy days!
The vast majority of the cycle – around 90-95km was to get to Preston West View Leisure Centre to visit Preston United Youth Development club. I was looking forward to today as it was my favourite sport – football.
The cycle was enjoyable (wait that does sound a little crazy!) Seeing a part of the country which I have not been before. Weaved in and out of various villages and lots of single tracks roads. Sun was still out…..
Arrived at the club to a warm welcome from about 50 kids, Omar and Rehana. A number of lads came over and said hello and congratulated me on making it – sound like they doubted me – maybe they know something I don’t!
Omar didn’t let me rest and rightfully so. He had me playing touch rugby for the blue team straight away. I sat towards the back and observed mostly. Omar wasn’t having it and had be doing a Gorilla style race against one of the young lads at the club. Was I going to be humiliated by another kid under the age of 15 – it appears so……….This kid can move on all fours like I have never seen! I even tried to cheat and got beat!
Following [another] humiliation I spoke to Omar about the club. It was so much more than sport (common theme here). Omar told me the surrounding area was so deprived that he even picked the kids up in a minibus rather than letting them walk to the club!
Omar has been doing this since 1997! Hats off to you. We spoke in some details about the club off camera which again I will keep much to myself. What was awesome though is how Omar has managed to get a third generation of ‘kids’ involved. He was telling me that the older guys there (20/22 years old) mentor the teenagers and the teenagers mentor the younger kids (aged 10 and above). What a great idea that you have a chain of support and they stay involved and move up a level in time. Omar your passion was clear – thanks for the chat. I then got thrown back in to play football.
Omar thanks for the invite back to play Zorb football – I will be back!
One of the kids asked why I had a black heart on my top! I explained to him it was a charitable foundation that had supported my ride and does so much for many great causes – The Black Heart Foundation. I thought now was a fitting time to say a massive thanks for the support from the Black Heart Foundation – especially to a real gentleman and incredibly generous man – thank you Ric Lewis.
Thank you Omar and Rehana for having me. To all the young men at the club thanks for showing me up and keep up the good work.
“Stop taking on younger kids at any sport! You are embarrassing yourself”!
Omar your longevity and continued passion is incredible. The lads clearly have an unbelievable amount of time and respect for you and what you do for them I suspect is immeasurable. Thumbs up!
This was always the day I was dreading…..it did not disappoint. The football saying of “It’s a game of two halves”, well today was certainly like that. It felt like two full days though.
The morning started the same, alarm….. snooze, alarm…..snooze (some profanity from me). UP. Shake, banana and oats and then my long hot shower and stretch. All pretty normal. Weather check – unhappy me – 100% rain from 7am until 10am! Cracking – I leave at 7.30am off to Liverpool.
The rain did not disappoint. It was hammering down. I was drenched after few minutes but it was pleasantly warm. Warm or the fact that I was flat out going to Liverpool at the fastest average speed I was hitting all week. I had two GPSs going as couldn’t see either – had my normal one that I had used all week and another (using Google maps) hooked to my ear. I followed the Garmin initially for about 20 minutes then switched to the ear piece. 45 minutes later I was back at the hotel where I started – no joke.
I shouted rather loudly and some obscene language. A middle aged gentleman walked over to me and asked if I was lost. I laughed and said no I know exactly where I am – I just went the wrong way but thanked him. He then asked if I was “The Ironman” – I liked the name but had to admit it wasn’t me! Who is this guy and why was he lurking around my parts trying to steal my thunder!
Google maps had taken me to the start of the ride (GPS 2)! I am not sure if that means I am an idiot for not noticing where I was going. In my defence it was a different road. Lovely warm up.
So now I had to really get moving to make the club visit at 10.30. Luckily I was feeling good. I tried Google maps again as needed the ear piece to navigate.
Anyway, made really good progress until I ended up in a farmer’s field dirt track road for a couple of km. This included me jumping over two gates and crossing a rail track (it was a proper crossing for pedestrians). Google maps – I officially don’t trust you! I switched across again.
Anyway back on the main road. I felt like a very wet, poor man’s Chris Froome, in an episode of Challenge Anneka with Bear Grylls waving his finger at me due to my lack of preparation for the poor weather. Crazy as it sounds I loved the cycle down from this point. Made great time, rain hammering down the whole way but I was just enjoying myself. I realised that for every kilometre I am covering nearly £35 is being raised for a great cause. That helps! Massive thank you everyone so far.
I arrived at Positive Futures North Liverpool drenched, got changed and started rock climbing with 12 young ladies. Rock climbing is hard work. I think the girls secretly wanted me to fall off – I was getting a lot of stick from them while trying to hang and swing – there was no technique involved in my climbing. Yes you guessed it, a 15 year old girl made me look silly……
These girls get this opportunity because of great people like Andy at Positive Futures and charities like Sported. Sported helps 59 clubs alone in the Merseyside area. Phenomenal. Heard a great story from Andy about one of the kids at the club – he was telling me what she was like just a year ago and I witnessed a completely different young lady today. Fair play to her.
Radio City Talk called me at 11.30 for a quick on air live chat about the cycle, charity and my visit to Liverpool (click below for the audio). Massive thanks to Conor for the chat.
McDonalds got a quick visit. This was not because the cycling blogs I had read recommended 20 nuggets mid-ride, but I needed to dry off my shoes. McDs’ hand driers you are a saviour…..some nuggets helped too.
45 miles left ahead of me. Let me just remind you I am happy, felt good, stomach full and dry. What could go wrong?
Wales!! I mean seriously Wales you threw everything at me. Can I just say that between the border and the top of the Horse Show passage there is not a single decline. I climbed for what felt like two days. The irony of getting to what you think is a summit, seeing a speed camera sign and wanting to get off your bike and punch it as you are averaging about minus 2 mph!
This was the toughest 90 minutes for me so far this week. Relentless climbs, rain, wind in my face, no phone signal, chicken nuggets sitting in my stomach. Felt like I was not moving at one point. Anyway, I made it to the summit – great view I must say. The downhill was so much fun – long winding roads. Lasted about 10 minutes and loved it.
Anyway arrived at the hotel in Llangollen. Lovely river running right next to it so decided I would dip in that instead of an ice bath today. Refreshing!
Today gave me some time to think…..going up lengthy climbs makes you think a lot – not much else to do, something many of us I am sure do not do very often. Time away from it all. Anyway, lots came to me including thinking about about a few things and changes I will be doing in the not too distant future. What is important – make it happen.
This seems a good time for me to say a massive thanks to whole Sported team, from the Mills family for having the vision and creating Sported to all its regional partners and its volunteers. A huge thanks to my fellow trustees for their hard work and to Liz, Charlotte, Katie, Chris and Matt for making the challenge happen. My legs blame you all.
Final thoughts for today…
-Sport has truly changed someones life and I got to meet them today
-Don’t use 2 GPS’ – mistakes happen!
-If in Wales on a bike try out the Horseshoe Pass – its really fun (not!)
I woke this morning and checked if my legs were still attached to my body. I was worried I would be seriously aching after yesterday but obviously the river Dee water sorted them out.
Morning ritual continued and I had a slightly later start so threw some extra food in the body.
The club visit was right next to the hotel in sunny Wales at the Canolfan Ceiriog Community Centre.
Ellie explained to me how the centre was going to be shut down a few years ago but she managed to lobby and keep the centre open. She explained that for about 20 miles it’s the only one available to the kids. 20 miles in this rural area is just too far. The real challenge though is the lack of transport links to and from the club. The council clearly don’t understand and are not supporting the bus routes – they no longer exist. This I find just shameful. Incredible people, incredible club, incredible facilities, active kids, supportive environment, lack of local infrastructure……must be changed!!
The cycle then properly got underway and I felt great. I thought was superman at one point and wondered what Wales had in their water as I was flying out of Wales and into Shropshire. I then realised I was being blown along by a strong tailwind. Still felt great!
I made amazing time all the way into Telford. Quickest average speed of the week.
Arrived at the sailing club in Telford. PAUL! This was one of my favourite moments of the whole ride so far. Paul Paul Paul….! This man is special. Despite some challenges getting the club up and running Paul does everything from diaries, bookings, fundraising, teaching, mentoring, the list goes on. Paul took me out on his boat (it had a motor) as we were the rescue boat. There were about six sail boats on the lake, one volunteer and one disabled kid learning to sail. Paul taught the volunteers, the volunteers teach the kids and so on….Omar did the same. Great model and clearly it works.
The club had received a grant a while back and spent it on a new sail boat. Paul took me to one side and said he had been waiting for a special moment to do the naming of the boat and would I do it for him. What a lovely thing to be asked. Although I now instantly panicked and wondered if he meant me picking the name or the christening of the boat. Luckily for me he meant pouring some bubbly over it and revealing the new name. He attached the name to the back and called over some of his fellow volunteers. He asked me to reveal ‘BrianDi’. Named after two of the volunteers there. Brain and Diane (husband and wife). What a lovely memory for me.
Luckily for them I didn’t have to choose the name!
A great day cycling, two great club visits in two countries.
-Tail winds are welcome anytime
-Local councils must help. Not having travel is just a stupid reason for kids to not take part
-Paul (your wife and team) are special people.
Flying like the wind!
Today was all about me competing with myself. The winner was always going to be me.
It was (just the) 90km today and no club visit so I decided I would split the ride into three one hour races. Which one would win? Yes this is how I am keeping myself amused and entertained!
Anyway you’ll be pleased to know that I won! In fact it was hour three that won the average speed hour time trail. Very flat ride down, no dramas, no events, no Paul’s or Omar’s, no belligerent man in a car, no wind or rain, no ice bath! Not that I am complaining.
Beginning to think about the end now….
The end nigh…..
I woke up so early (I think someone was a little excited this morning), then I released I still had 230km to London!
My friend Duffers joined me on the cycle today. He agreed to come and join me to drag me to the end. Ex-army legend, so assumed if I needed to throw him a tow rope and make him drag me round then he would be a fitting addition.
Anyway 8am start, 8.12am Duffers gets a puncture. Now I do not want to tempt fate but I have been puncture free through four countries and nine days. He lasted 12 minutes! Anyway quick change and we were on the move. Great cycle down, made amazing time so decided to stop and see a good friend of mine from school in Witney.
We joined him on his power boat on a lake near Witney.
I thought I had not done enough this week so tried my hand at Wakeboading and then a quick spin on the ‘Alligator’ (think Banana Boat) with his son Joey! Was awesome to see both Luke, Hannah and the kids. This gave me my first thought of the day – if people mean something to you in your life MAKE THE BL**DY EFFORT. Sorry Luke and Hannah its taken me so long – was a real pleasure. Pleased to say no injuries so on I went……
Back on the Bike for the final 15km into Oxford and Karate. I was wondering while doing this final stint into Oxford whether Karate was going to be the end of me. I had made it this far. I had no idea what to expect. My Dad also joined me in Oxford. Just popped in to say hello which was awesome.
I saw my first London sign too! 🙂
Ray welcomed me into the class. Ray is Sensei and also the visionary of the Disability Karate Federation. There was about 20 of us in class. All ages (5 years old to 70 year old), able bodied and disabled. We warmed up, learn some moves, shouted very loudly while throwing punches. I think the class thought I was more a bad ballet dancer when trying to do Karate turns. A little girl decided to laugh at me and then grab my hand and swap them round. “Right foot forward left arm back” she says while insisting I moved them!
Now I get called centre stage…..thanks Ray! I get decked to the floor a few times – no idea what the move was but chop to the floor and smash to the ribs. Actually they took it relatively easy.
We played a bit of ‘bulldog’ – well that’s what I called it at school. I was getting picked on and lost pretty quick and joined the middle as the hunters. Anyway I really enjoyed my Karate session. An amazing mix of abilities, ages, capabilities and disabilities – quite amazing seeing the interaction. Ray talked to me a while about why he set the club up. He travels all around the UK teaching and assisting. He said “Creating social change is the most important thing to him. No point otherwise”. Another powerful comment from a man that is passionate about using martial arts to create social change.
It is also a fitting moment to say a massive thank you to Ash at Adventurous Ewe who has been on this journey with me. He is the top man in the van making sure I was on route, safe, fuelled up, hydrated and not losing my mind. Big thanks Ash!
My day finished up with a big feed, thinking about arriving into London tomorrow and the nine days I have had.
Final thought…don’t think about something, just get up and go and do it.
DAY TEN – THE FINAL
The home stretch….
So I had been thinking about this for about 900km, nine days, since the start. In fact, I had been thinking about this day for about ten weeks. I had not slept well the night before, mainly because I was glued to the TV watching the GB team smash their competition to pieces. Seriously proud of what the guys are achieving over in Rio. I was watching Murray and then had to watch the main man himself Mr Bolt (yes I know he is Jamaican before I get some sarcastic comments)! What a machine. I particularly enjoyed his smile going over the line in the semi-final.
Anyway the morning started the same – you know the routine. I decided to start earlier than expected as was excited to get into the London. I was also feeling strong and ready to enjoy the final day. I had Duffers in tow again – he was moaning about anything and everything – from butt to legs which I couldn’t stop laughing at him for. I said to him don’t worry it goes numb after a while!
We started the ride from Oxford to London. 113km. Sun’s out and I enjoyed every minute of this ride. Was reflecting on my ten days and lots of things were whizzing through my head while I was powering my way to London. What had I learnt? What would I take away from the challenge? Will I continue riding? Am I going to follow my own advice (see Day 9)? What will I do next? What challenge shall I do next summer? How can I thank everyone who has supported me? I was clearly having a reflective moment – well couple of hours.
I arrived in London in great time and stopped of at my office to say hello to the guys there. Felt rather lucky that I have such great colleagues. My Mum and Dad were there waiting – both flown in to congratulate me on my arrival. A lovely moment for me personally. Don’t care how old you get – your Mum and Dad saying well done always means the world. I picked up Sir Keith’s London 2012 Olympic Torch and did part of the torch relay to the Olympic Park in Stratford – stopping at a few of the sites on the way – Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square. I then realised why Duffers had actually joined me – he just wanted a picture with the torch riding through London to put on his Facebook profile! Kidding – thanks for joining me mate!
I arrived at the Olympic Park to a welcome from Sported, some colleges and the FRE Flyers. The big screen had my fresh face (Day 0) up in lights. I was thinking that I could get used to the attention. A lovely welcome by a great charity. Also a lovely message from Chris Boardman all the way from Rio too!
“Congratulations on your epic journey. I’m very passionate about the power of sport to help young people and bring communities together, and I look forward to hearing about your adventures when I return from describing Team GB’s triumphs in Rio”.
I joined the FRE Flyers for a knock around on the hockey pitch. I won’t claim this was a game – they showed me a few shots and I scored a goal (into an open goal). I was finished. A few words were said and I passed out my thanks to all those that had helped put the challenge on, helped me round and gave me an unforgettable experience. The last two big shout outs go to the amazing people I met on the way from those behind the clubs, volunteers and the kids and my biggest thanks goes to those that put their hand in their pocket and helped me raise a phenomenal amount of money – thank you all.
So I hope you all enjoyed my little adventure, I certainly did. You may be wondering whether I found the answers to my questions above…..watch this space!