Sunday, 30 August 2009

Friday 21st August
Its 2.45am, the alarm clock was set for 3am and its the morning of the big challenge.
Although I went to bed early to get some sleep all you are thinking about is the long 127 miles ride from Liverpool to Leeds following the tow paths of the canal. Every hour you wake up to a point where you think, may as well get up and get started. Phil arrived at my house at 3.45 am and we put his bike in the back of my car, this would save valuable time UN loading the car when we get to Liverpool instead of fastening on the roof of the car. We get to Liverpool for 4.45 am at the start of the canal on a housing estate on a road called Eldonion Way, its strange how the canal starts from a little gardened area of this estate and you can look down and see the journey ahead It was dark and luckily Phil had bought a really good front light, we set of at 5am quite steadily because of the dark and we did not want any accidents. After an hour it was full daylight and we could up the pace.
We got Wigan heights and this was really the 1st challenging bits, there seemed to be an endless amount of locks to clime and when we finally got to the top we had our 1st break, mars bars bananas energy sweets and fluids, 10 Min's later we were on our way, I failed to mention there are loads of stupid gates you have to go through that are not user friendly and you are for ever dismounting from your bike to get through them, over them and sometimes under. Somewhere along here I had my 1st puncture, We had this off to a fine art and within 10 minutes we were on our way again, only trouble is you cannot get enough pressure in your tyre as you would like so you look out for a possible place to get more pressure in. Somewhere here I remember a conversation we had that if the weather stops like this we will be home in know time, famous last words, I cannot believe how heavy the rain came down and if that was not bad enough it started to hail storm, this was my lowest point, wet through, cold and water just running off your whole body, but you cant stop, you have to keep going or you will have no chance of hitting your target.
Eventual Phil saw an ASDA so we diverted down to it to get some valuable extra pressure in the tyres, we were on the forecourt as cars were pulling in for fuel, they looked at us in a rather strange look, look at them nutters its absolutely chucking it down and they are out on bikes, they must be mad, if only they knew what challenge we had set our selves. Soaked to the skin and water running down our arms we set off again. All the time you are supporting each other saying things can only get better, 7 miles later Phil was about 25 yds in front of me and there was this loud bang, the birds on the canal flew off and I thought someone was shooting at us, I looked at Phil and he said my tyre as exploded. We had thought of everything but not a tyre exploding, what do we do now, Phil tried another inner tube with low pressure to see if we could get to a local village and find a bike shop, it exploded again, this was another low point as we thought that's it, end of challenge. We decided that I would go ahead and see if I could find any remote chance of getting a new tyre, Phil would walk on. after about a mile a came across 2 fishermen with their sons and explained the situation, how lucky can you get, they said just up the road there is a car discount store and they sell bike tyres. I got to this store and after 10 minutes of looking he came back with the tyre, I rang Phil and gave him the good news, £20.00 later on my way back to Phil to get fitted, he had walked quite a long way he was at the point where the fishermen were, still bouncing with rain Phil fit the new tyre and inner tube, I stood flapping my arms and jumping in the air to keep warm and once again we were on our way. From here we arranged to meet my wife Denita at foulridge which was a good 3 hours away, it was at this point I was at a low again and my bum was so sore it was unbelievable, we kept each other motivated and kept thinking of all the people that were supporting us, we did not want to let anyone down and the thought of some dry gloves and socks, a coffee and a bite to eat was well worth keeping going for. We arrived a foulridge and seeing my wife was a great boost, whilst I put some dry clothes on she was chatting to Phil and about 15 Min's later we were on our way again. I forgot to mention I had a slow puncture which I kept blowing up every 20 Min's, I just could not be bothered changing the inner tube. From foulridge apart from it being extremely tough going and loads more stupid gates we got to Skipton, here I changed my inner tube and physcologically you think not much further to go. I remember sitting on the grass part of the forecourt to change my inner tube and thinking this is so comfortable I could just lie down, here we got full pressure in our tyres again and set off to Leeds, I forgot its still just as tough from Skipton to Leeds and at this point your body is crying out for help. After 15 hours at 8pm we arrive in Leeds with a great welcome from both our wife's and children, it was one of the nicest parts of my life, we had achieved what we set out to do and in the time we had planned, it was very emotional.
For anyone reading this and thinking of doing the same challenge I strongly advise you do what Phil and I did, loads of training and planning, training on the canal, its no good on the roads they are nothing like the tow paths and have a support team with spare everything, we were lucky to find the bike shop, it saved our day.
I would like to thank Denita, Jane and our 4 children for putting up with all the time spent training every weekend over the last 4 months and all the people that gave us support and encouragement to succeed in this massive challenge, we are extremely proud.
Thank you for reading our storey
kim Raw


Unknown said...

Well done guys, thanks for posting this up, I'm hoping to do it at the weekend, great to have your words of wisdom!

John said...

Well done! Some friends and I are intending to do the same next May.

Quick question, did you use normal nobbly tyres on the MB's or road tyres? Any advice?

Our training can also be followed at