We started at West Bromwich Albion, feeling quite nervous, excited and apprehensive. Our aim was to get to Swansea before close at 5pm. What a feeling when the stadium came into view. We had made it and were able to have photos pitch side and we received a very warm welcome. The downside came when turning up at the campsite to find it was not suitable, hence a night in a Premier Inn! It was a dry day perfect for cycling.
This was purely a cycling day, getting us closer to Bournemouth. We decided that doing 30 miles was about right before changing over, giving the driver a chance to eat and recover. We were lucky with another dry day and an overnight stop at a Salisbury campsite.
Our first day of rain and I was first off the block to cycle the 30 miles to Bournemouth. We were unable to gain access due to it being a Sunday. Steve then took the reins to Southampton, again no access, just photos outside. Then it was onto a campsite at Crystal Palace.
We met Paul and Jane at Crystal palace early, the stadium was shut so a quick photo outside. We left the camper van at Crystal Palace so that we could ride together around the London Premier Clubs. We were both nervous and excited about what the day ahead had in store for us. In fact it turned out to be one of our best days cycling. Cycling pass Harrods, Hyde Park Corner, Oxford Street was quite exciting. We got a really warm welcome from Chelsea and were allowed pitch side for photos. Next was Arsenal and we were greeted with an even better welcome, in fact the highlight of the whole challenge! We had a full tour and pitch side photos. Then it was onto Tottenham Hotspurs, but because of all the construction work we were not allowed anywhere near the stadium. Last stop of the day was West Ham United a brilliant looking stadium in the Olympic Park Village. But we weren’t allowed inside as they said they received too many requests, so photos outside. The day went downhill from this point as we could not get back across the Thames, having arrived quite by accident on a road not suitable for cycling on and there was no option for returning the same way! Eventually some kind person pointed us in the right direction. The highlight was cycling over Tower Bridge. Then it was hard cycling to the Watford campsite. It was a lovely sunny day. By the time we got to the campsite we were ready for something to eat and a good night’s rest, but that was how it was most nights!
We arrived at Watford where we were allowed pitch side for photos, and then it was onto Leicester City. Leicester had a big Champion League match on that night, so we were unable to get pitch side, but we did manage to enjoy the atmosphere. Then on to our overnight stop at Lincoln. We were very lucky with another dry and sunny day.
We started off by cycling to Hull City, another warm welcome, meeting up with Richard Fell a CRY representative and Dean Windass an ex Hull player, to give us a full guided tour of the stadium and pitch side photos. Then we continued cycling to our overnight stop at Thirsk. Another dry day perfect for cycling.
My turn first this morning to cycle to Middlesbrough, another warm welcome and pitch side photos. By this time the wind had begun to pick up and was pretty strong, making cycling that bit more challenging. Steve did the 35 miles to Sunderland, narrowly missing getting knocked off his bike by a van, no damage done except a broken wing mirror and that’s the drivers fault for not giving any room when passing a cyclist. We managed to gain access to have some photos, much to the reluctance of the staff! Then on to Skipton for an overnight stop.
I was first out again this morning the wind was quite strong and now raining. Although the weather was not great the roads were a lot better and I really enjoyed the cycling. Because of the bad weather we decided it would be best to cycle for 15 miles each so that we didn’t get too cold and wet. Paul and Jane met us at Burnley, again to spend the day with us. We had another warm welcome and were taken pitch side for some photos to be taken by their photographer. Then onto Manchester City where Paul made them feel guilty that they were refusing us entry to their stadium! So we got in and had photos pitch side. Then it was only 5 miles to Manchester United again we received a warm welcome and were taken pitch side for photos. We even got some professional photos with some of their silverware, which was a nice surprise. Then a race against time to get to Liverpool FC by 5.00pm, which from the outset was pushing it. Unfortunately we missed it by 10 minutes, so just photos outside. Luckily Everton FC is more or less across the road, again photos outside the stadium. Then another 26 miles to our overnight stop at Chester. There was no let up with the drizzly rain, but we had a fantastic day.
Hard to believe that this is our last day, although excited at finishing the challenge there was also sadness. We had 50 miles to cycle to Stoke City, which we did in good time and arrived in plenty of time to meet the other 20 cyclists who were joining us to cycle the last leg back to Weston. We had photos outside the stadium due to the Stoke v Arsenal match later in the day. We had a really good ride back to Weston and were truly amazed at the warm reception we received from the village. A surprise party and a wonderful sense of achievement, while at the same time feeling ‘did we really do that’
We did enjoy the challenge and at times found it very hard, really pushing us to our limits. Then again it is not a challenge if you are not pushed. We can look back on this now with some very fond memories and laugh at the things that at times had us in tears. We certainly hope we achieved our aim in raising awareness and lots of money for these two very worthwhile charities, so they can continue to help those that need it most.
Thank you again to all involved in making this challenge happen, all the hard work put in by those concerned and all those who supported as along the way. Social Media really came into its own and so we never felt alone. THANK YOU STEVE & DONNA.
Date(s) - 10/03/2017 - 18/03/2017
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