So, I was done with big charity rides having completed two cycling charity events for Help for Heroes, where I cycled across northern Europe. I had agreed with my wife Sharon, that itch has been scratched. No more fund raising, no more asking for sponsorship. Then I met Jon.
In a normal world, I shouldn’t have met Jon. He loves football. I don’t. But nevertheless, our paths were brought together through my ride leading I do with British Cycling. Southampton Football Club’s charity, the Saints Foundation had formed a partnership with British Cycling to help support their annual Big Bike Challenge, which last year was a 3 days cycling event from Manchester to Southampton.
My first memory of Jon is him riding up a hill, in the highest gears possible, breathing and looking like he’s about to have a coronary. To coin the phrase, all the kit, but no idea. On this climb I explained to Jon how to use his gears. I know Jon understood, being unable to talk to me, he selected a better gear and completed the climb without requiring CPR. At the top of the hill, Jon confessed not understanding his gearing between gasping for air, whilst I enjoyed a flapjack.
Over the following months I watched Jon improve as a cyclist, he responded to my encouragement and feedback about his cycling. He still can’t climb for toffee. I’m not sure Jon is aware of Cornwall’s undulations…. However, leading up to and during the Saints event, Jon inspired me, and reminded me why I give up my time for ride leading.
After the Big Bike Challenge, I got a text from Jon asking now what. It was clear Jon wanted to carry on cycling. So, a ride was organised with a few of the Big Bike Ride participants to a cycling event at Thruxton race circuit. On the ride back, over lunch, Jon started talking to me about Tanith and Ewan. He spoke about their family, what had happened to their father Nick. Jon also spoke about Scotty’s Little Soldiers, how they support bereaved forces children around the UK. Jon talked specifically how Scotty’s have supported Tanith and Ewan.
Then the rug was pulled. Jon said he was considering doing LEJOG (Lands End to John O’ Groats). During this conversation was a very delicately placed question of will you do it. The penny drops about the free lunch…..
That evening I retold Tanith’s and Ewan’s story to my wife. There was no question, we agreed I would be riding LEJOG. That would mean hours of cycling to get fit, to support Scotty’s, fund raising events and asking for sponsorship. But, it has got me out of laying a new patio. Cheers Jon!
So, Jon and I started talking about LEJOG, and what that meant to us. My first question I asked, we are not doing this fully supported, are we? Jon was quick to agree to this (the fool). Over the coming months, I will have to start talking to Jon about essential kit. For example, on a 20-mile ride Jon has been known to carry 2 bike bags, 2 mobile phones (yes 2 phones!!!) one running Strava AND a GPS device and 600 lights (okay more like 6). Jon I’m not sure has worked out about weight makes cycling harder. I’m pretty sure he’d pack the kitchen sink in one of those bags if he could.
Some of the money raised will need to help fund the event, which is cheaper than doing an organised event. This is reasonable, and from my experience completing charity events, there is a minimum amount to raise, which is normally the cost of the event per individual (fund raising). The rest often referred to as sponsorship goes to the charity, which is our plan. Over the coming months, there will be plenty of training rides, lots of climbing and me listening to Jon’s heavy breathing. The real reason I drop Jon on climbs becomes clear…
You can sponsor us on the Just Giving page below:
Oh by the way Jon. I snore. *
*That’s fine, I can’t sleep unless someone tickles my back every night – Jon