An interim blog post
Is it possible I have not adequately thanked all those who helped me reach the start line? I hope not, but here’s an interim post to my write ups of TCR05 and I hope you will realise that while I single out some individuals (who have received previous personal thanks from me) this message is aimed at you all. I could not have got there without you and you will always have my heartfelt thanks. Ensure you read to the end to see how I am trying to give something back.
I’ve written about the kit I took on this TCR and done a few short reviews, you can read them here: TCR Kit List and TCR Kit Review but lets expand on this, because it was such a crucial part of the journey. After my original bike was stolen just weeks before the start, it seemed really unlikely I would be taking part, that is until I realised what a wonderful community surrounds the TCR and which I now refer to as the ‘TCR family’. The offers of help, with bikes and with kit came flooding in and there was no doubt soon after in my mind that I could make it, even if I didn’t have everything I thought I needed or wanted. You only have to follow the Transcontinental Facebook Page to see what I mean about it being a family, the amount of help offered by both competitors, ‘dot watchers’ and others is staggering.
Then something really extraordinary happened. My colleagues at Team WBR got involved. Stephen Tweed (Tweedy to his friends) set up a fundraising page with an initial £250 target and Jonathan Geddes (Geddy) started sending out emails asking for help. I’ve covered in other posts what happened, but let’s have a timely summary: the fundraiser collected £2,290, a sum that enabled me to replace a great deal of my stolen kit and it is something I will be forever grateful to the WBR community for – I’m already working on a few novel ways of giving back, more on that below.
Tweedy’s part in this was immense, chasing folks and constantly raising the target, but without the goodwill of the community it would never have happened and I hope this will help readers appreciate why I am pretty hard on myself. To be given so much and not deliver, even if events did spiral out of my control, is a bitter pill to swallow. Anyway back to the positives and next it was Jonathan’s turn. In response to his emails, Specialized got in touch and after a conversation with Peter from Specialized Europe B.V. I was offered not only a demo bike (Roubaix) but a shedload of kit and asked to become an Ambassador for them. Incredible and way beyond my wildest dreams.
It didn’t end there though, next email to come in was from HUNT Bike Wheels, where Ollie offered to loan me a SuperDura Disc Dynamo wheelset. With a week to go before the event, I was now almost at the point I had been with my previous bike and kit – a truly amazing turn of events. How do you say ‘thank you’ to all these people? It’s something I’ve pondered on and I hope I have given something back with my previous blog posts, personal messages of thanks and open letters on the forums. Where the kit has performed (which is a given with both Specialized and HUNT) I try my utmost to be very pro-active in talking about it, promoting the kit used. It’s the very least I can do and yet sometimes I still feel it’s not enough.
Over the winter I will be doing more kit testing and training, as I hope to return to do TCR06 next year if I’m fortunate enough to get invited. This will give me the opportunity to further improve my own setup, but also try out different ultra endurance pieces of cycling kit which I will do honest reviews on. If it works I’ll say so, if it doesn’t I’ll say why not. Exciting times ahead and as a friend has offered to add structure to my regime by coaching me in preparation for next season (something I’m truly lazy about) then I’m pretty positive about things. When I’m positive my mind goes into overdrive and here are just a few of the things I have planned, which I hope can be made possible.
In a few weeks time we will be moving from our shoe box apartment into something with a bit more space. This is important, because it was always our intention to open up our home to other cyclists. What I will be doing is setting up a small and low cost bike touring guide business, both for here in The Netherlands and further afield, primarily the Alps and Pyrenees. Now the good bit. If you are visiting, or simply want to have a weekend cycling around Holland, we will give you FREE accommodation and FREE guiding. Get in touch with me and we can sort out your dates. The train network here is superb, so you are not limited to where you can go and what distance rides you wish to undertake. We can even hook up with local club riders or groups (for example Rapha rides) if that is more your thing. I can also arrange guiding (with qualified tour guides for a small fee) around main cities like Amsterdam or The Hague if you are into walking. This is a win-win for us as we gain experience and also a win-win for you as your only costs are getting here. This offer is for anyone who’s part of the TCR community and anyone who has supported World Bicycle Relief (WBR). If this is not you, why not make a donation to WBR and become part of the FREE offer?
Looking further ahead, I will be planning LOW COST training camps in the Alps and Pyrenees. By low cost I mean really low cost, as it’s great when you have sufficient funds to push the boat out, but I’m sure there are many (like me) who wish there was a budget option. Well now there will be. More details will be provided when I get my new website up and running, but feel free to ask questions or show interest now.