charity


Every couple of years I like to do something dumb on a bicycle. Ride over the Alps or the Rockies or similar, and I usually combine it with raising a bit of money for charity.  I have not figured out why me riding somewhere makes people reach for their wallets, but as it works, I don’t plan to knock it.

This year I signed up for the the Rapha Manchester to London ride on. It is rather long. 220 Miles, which is over 300 kms, in one day.  We are raising money for Ambitious about Autism.

Autism care and research could do with a lot more attention, so hopefully this helps.

Some background

Rapha’s Manchester to London Challenge is a unique one-day event travelling through the heart of the UK. Setting off at dawn from Manchester Velodrome, each rider will attempt to complete the 220-mile parcours before midnight, arriving at the Lee Valley VeloPark on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. A tough day out for even the most seasoned sportive riders, this will be a celebration of British cycling and culture.

Held on Sunday the 7th September, the route will travel along quiet roads through the Peak District, the Midlands, the Chiltern Hills and across to east London. There will be four feed stops along the route, positioned in quintessentially British villages serving local fare. There will also be roaming mechanical support, but self-sufficiency will be key.

After the success of the Bordeaux-Paris Challenge in 2013, the aim again is to raise money for Ambitious about Autism. Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects 1 in 100 people and the charity is one close to Rapha CEO and founder Simon Mottram, whose son Oscar has autism.

I’ll be riding together with my wife’s cousin, James Hart.

Should be fun and pain. I would appreciate your hard earned cash. So head over here and sponsor me please.

I also need to get training. eek.

This also fits in rather nicely with what my employer, SAP,  is up to, with regards to employing people with Autism.

 

 

 

Got an email today, as one does.

 I’ll just cut and paste it here.
If you work in software and you haven’t donated to Bletchley Park then you really ought to.
I bought the signed hardback, but then I think Sue is cool.  She knows:  Computer Science, WWII coding,  and Stephen Fry.

Hello there!

(Firstly thank you so much if you have already supported my book, you are wonderful :))

If you know me, you probably know that I’ve been involved with Bletchley Park for some years now. In 2003 I went there for a BCS meeting and fell in love with the place. In 2008 I started a campaign to help raise awareness of the amazing contribution of the site and the more than ten thousand young people that worked there during WW2.

In 2008 Bletchley Park was in financial difficulty. I wanted to raise awareness and gain support for the people that worked there and make sure that Bletchley Park would be there for my children and their children to visit, to help them appreciate the tremendous war effort and the contribution that it has made to us enjoying the peace we live in today. The work carried out there has been said to have shortened the war by approximately 2 years, saving millions of lives.

Fast forward four years and things are looking much rosier for Bletchley Park thank goodness, they have received funding from various sources including the Foreign Office just last week.

Lots of people have suggested over the last couple of years that I write up what happened as a book, and I’m delighted to announce that I have found a fabulous publisher called Unbound to help me do that.

I’ll be telling the story of the campaign that I started and also the amazing campaigns previous to that, during one of which the only way to save the Park was to get the trees listed. Crazy!

So, please sign up to buy my book, I get to see the names of everyone who buys, so don’t think you can get away with pretending you have bought it ;))

..and please do encourage your networks to buy the book too, someone said to me just the other day that they thought that raising awareness of Bletchley Park has also raised the profile of women and computer science in the UK, how cool is that?

Thanks for your support, the campaign that I started would not have worked if it weren’t for the thousands of people that got involved and played their part.

Here’s the link, please have a look and pledge your support, remember, I’ll be checking the names of supporters….

My book is currently funded to 76% (in just 4 days) but we still need another 24% to make it happen…

10% of all profits from the book will go to Bletchley Park.

Take care and see you soon,

Sue

 

Last weekend I managed to combine a work trip and bike ride. I did the Double Triple Bypass.

Day one started near Denver and finished near Vail, day two the reverse. 240 miles 20,000 feet of climbing in two days. (400 kms 6000 vm.)

I combined the ride with some charity fundraising, so a big thanks to all that contributed.  1350 pounds towards Cancer Research in memory of Hamish.  You can still donate!

Before I go into details about the ride, I need to say thanks to a  number of people.

  • to my long suffering family who have endured my training and preoccupation with dropping that bit of weight for weeks.
  • to Mike, Juergen and Graeme, who, in various ways, have helped me get and stay in shape.
  • to Wheat ridge Cyclery for the bike rental: a sweet Specialized Roubaix. to Joel and family for the overnight stay in Vail.
  • to  the Hilton Garden Inn in Denver, who went the extra mile.
  • to my management and clients who made the business side of the trip happen.
  • To the organizers, volunteers and local police force.

The ride. Day one.

The ride is 120 miles ( 193 kms) from Evergreen (Bergen Park) to Avon over Juniper Pass (11,140 ft.) (3390 m), Loveland Pass (11,990 ft.) (3654m), Swan Mountain and Vail Pass (10,560 ft.) (3218m). There is over 10,000 feet (3000 m) of climbing. details here on mapmyride.

One of the challenges with the ride is the lack of oxygen.  The lowest point of the ride is higher than most Alpine climbs, and I really felt this.  Ideally, one should spend several weeks getting used to the altitude, but anyway…

I got to the start early, and picked up my number. I headed out at about 5.40am, and watched the sunrise as I rode up the first pass. The climb to Juniper was long and steady, at least 20 kms of climbing. The gradient never really got steep, although towards the end it did get harder. This was probably due to the  altitude rather than the road.  I focused on riding exactly on my heart rate anerobic threshold, and I didnt worry about the steady stream riding past me. I hung out with Ned, a geologist, who had done the event several times. At the top there was a well stocked food and drink stop.  The descent was super, nice wide road in pretty good condition. I was able to pass quite a few people on the descent. My lack of speedometer probably meant I went a bit faster than I usually do. The roubaix handling is very comfortable, and gave me a lot of confidence.

After coasting through Idaho springs, I began the gradual climb through Georgetown,Sliver plume, Bakerville towards Loveland pass. The ride moved off the main road onto a bike path. This was lovely, as it meant no traffic and a lot of nature.  I rode a fair bit of this section with Andy, who was doing his 10th ride.   After another stop, I then did the climb up to Loveland. The last 6 miles of this climb were pretty tough.The gradient is a bit more alpine like much less forgiving. Also the lack of shade reminded me of the the second half of Tourmalet. The 27 cassette came in handy.  Loveland is on the continental divide, and is the highest point of the ride.

Here I am at the top

The descent was fast, as the first part was on the main road. Very few cars, thanks to the work of the organizers.  The next rest stop was in Keystone.   There is a nasty little climb that they forgot to tell me about. Swan mountain. It is short, but I didn’t expect it to hurt as much as it did.  The ride from Frisco up to the top of Vail pass was a gentle, winding climb along a bike path, for the best part of 20 miles (38kms).   Despite the gentle gradient I was riding in the easy gear. It rained a bit between Frisco and Vail pass, but nothing heavy.

The descent to the finish was a mix of  bike trail and main road. The road was in mixed condition, but I descended as fast as I could anyway. Close to Vail town the clouds opened and it poured down with rain.  The last 10 miles or so, although a gentle downhill were pretty miserable.  I was really pleased to get into the finish and hook up with Joel and Dale.  They were both quicker than me by a considerable margin.    According to the polar I used 6832 Kcal.  I think I averaged 22km/h  for the day.

After a quick bike to eat, we headed to the condo and the hottub.The pizza for dinner didn’t touch sides.

Day two

Next morning we woke early and headed out from the condo. The rain had cleared. The climb up to Vail pass wasn’t as bad as I had expected.  I didn’t spend much time at the rest stops on the second day, as I figured that it might rain again.  Loveland was equally tough as on the first day, started off easy and then got nasty near the top. Descent was brilliant. I should ride without a speedometer more often.   For the section between Loveland and the base of Juniper pass I managed to get on the back of a larger group.   I lurked at the back, doing as little as possible time at the front.  Nevertheless, by the time I got to Idaho springs my legs weren’t happy campers.

I was worried about the last climb, as I was now pretty beat.  I got into a comfortable gear and plodded on up.  The climb was long, roughly 20 miles, but it never really got steep.  I did stop to look at the view (nudge nudge)  The last three miles near the  top is a bit frustrating as there are a couple of false summits. It drizzled a bit on the way up, but that wasn’t really an issue.

The descent to the finish was great, but parts of the road weren’t in great condition. The rain held off.

Weirdly, I was quicker on day two than day one.

The welcome at the finish was noisy, lots of folks clapping. I picked up the medal and dashed back to Denver to drop the bike off.

Thanks again to all that made this possible. A really memorable event. Very well run. I hope to be back.

I’ve got a little ride planned in the Rockies on  the 14th and 15th of  July with my mate John. For the cycling types, the ride is roughly 120 miles a day, with over 10,000 feet of climbing per day.

  I figured it would be good idea to combine it with a dose of fundraising, but I’d not got around to getting things set up until now.

In the past few months, I have been to  services for people close to me who died from cancer, one for my uncle Alec and the other a dear friend, Hamish, from my SAP days.  At a very moving service last weekend in Jussy, many people  came to say goodbye to Hamish.  He was one of the good guys. He will be  sorely missed by his family and many friends.  

Hearing the Burns poem, A Mother’s Lament for her son’s death, focuses one’s mind. I have got my act into gear over at justgiving.com 

I’m convinced that eventually scientific research will help  beat the disease.  Please  head over to the justgiving.com page and take out your credit card.  Your dosh will go straight to cancer research.

For those that have not read the poem, here it is.

 I  hope you never have to hear a mother read it.

 A Mother’s Lament for her Son’s Death
 by Robert Burns
 
FATE gave the word, the arrow sped,
And pierc’d my darling’s heart;
And with him all the joys are fled
Life can to me impart.By cruel hands the sapling drops,
In dust dishonour’d laid;
So fell the pride of all my hopes,
My age’s future shade.

The mother-linnet in the brake
Bewails her ravish’d young;
So I, for my lost darling’s sake,
Lament the live-day long.

Death, oft I’ve feared thy fatal blow.
Now, fond, I bare my breast;
O, do thou kindly lay me low
With him I love, at rest!

This clever and moving video arrived on my facebook wall a few days ago. It is worth taking a moment to watch it.

And then this morning a dear friend from South Africa pinged me that he was seeking sponsorship, raising money for the Wildlands Conservation Trust.  David got me into cycling many years ago, introducing me to the joys of the high end bike shop, and the Berkshire and Surrey countryside.  After years of hanging on his back wheel, the least I could do was sponsor him while he rides his mountain bike around Giant’s Castle.

If you would like to help, head over to David’s website for details.  He is only riding 75kms, but it is for a good cause!-)

The final day. 25th August. (sorry for the delay in posting, but today is the first time I’ve had consistent email access in weeks)

My friend Sig joined us for the final day. He blogged an excellent  account of the ride here.  I’ll keep my account short, as Sig covered the details.

His wife Tittin kindly drove him up to the start. (This must have cost many domestic airmiles)

As with every single day on the tour, the sun shone brightly. I drove the support car for the only nasty climb of the day, up above the lake. The view was spectacular.

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Richard and Sig comparing gadgets.

Isabel and Sig cresting the climb.

 

We rode down through beautiful gorges and valleys, finishing the stage about 140kms later at Vence, just inland from Nice.

Things got a little frantic towards the end, as Isabel needed to make the airport, she had to go back work the next day.  Not only did she drop me  on many of the  hills, but she can lead a mean chain gang.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Richard for all his efforts in organising the event. From planning the route, booking hotels and hiring the car, he managed everything. Thanks!

I also wish George a speedy recovery. (he is now back home in SA)

To all that donated to the charity, a special thanks.

And finally to my  family, thank you for the time off to do this.

We were determined to continue with the tour. It might sound a bit corny, but I felt I was going ride up Morti for George. 

Today was  the toughest day of the tour, the Könnigsetape as the Germans say. Climbing well over 3000 metres, including one of the alps’ toughest climbs, the Colle Dei Morti.  (also called Colle della Fauniera)

The full route can be viewed here.

Before we reached the major climb, there was the small matter of about 1800 metres of climbing.  Geoff cleverly bagged the car. Isabel, Richard and I headed out.

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Isabel, Geoff and I  decided to cut out a bit of the flat stage before Monti, as we were worried about it getting dark before we could finish the day. Richard rode the flat bit, as he is a) fast and b) slightly nuts.

Colle dei Monti is famous in cycling circles, partly because of the memorial to Marco Pantani, the pirate. He won the Tour de France and the Giro, but was banned for drug use. He died, alone, of a drug overdose, in a hotel.  There is a good piece in the Observer about him here.

For the cycling types, the climb begins at 824 metres above sea level. It ends at 2481 metres above sea level, 20,9 kms later.  This is a climb of 1657 metres.  This means an average gradient of 7,9. Problem is the first 4 kms have a really easy gradient, you pay for this later.

 

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thanks to this site for the image.

The middle section is especially brutal, from the 7 km mark to about 13 km, as it has an average gradient over 10% and sections reach over 14%.

The climb was tougher than Mont Ventoux. It took me nearly 25 minutes longer than Ventoux did, and it seemed to hurt more.  (Maybe this is also an age thing)

The soundtrack helped a bit.

Richard and Isabel rode up together, and Geoff and I plodded up at the back, Geoff finishing just ahead of me. The last few kms were all about staying on the bike.  Thank goodness for the the 29 cassette.

Geoff took this picture quite near the top, by holding the camera behind his back.

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The monument on top of the mountain, like the Simpson memorial on Ventoux, is not beautiful.  but it  fits the flawed and brittle brilliance of  Il Piratti. I decided to don my pink outfit for the climb, as Pantani wore the magna rosa.  Geoff  named me Il Pinko.

 

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Richard descending back down to the car.

We reached our hotel in Demonte, exhausted but elated. We also heard that George’s operation had gone ahead and seemed to be a success. All in all a good day. We found an excellent restaurant in Demonte and demolished a steak and bottle of barollo.

note: donations to the Zimbabwe Benefit Foundation still open here.

KCal  4483,  Climbed 3710, max HR 180

22nd August.

I decided to drive the car for the first part of today’s ride, as I was tired. For the first few days we didn’t need the car, as we had  hugged the coast  we could use the train to fetch the car at the end of the stage.  Today though, we were heading inland to Garessio.

Geoff and George, Aka the men in black.

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About 50 kms into the ride, disaster struck. George crashed.  Badly.  With the help of a local Italian cyclist, we called the ambulance. 

Richard reckoned that the brakes had locked due to a faulty cable. George hit the road hard. He had broken his leg, badly.  His tour was over, and so was his World Championship participation. 

Eventually George was loaded into the ambulance and taken to Savonna hospital.  Geoff went with the Ambulance, and we took the bikes to the hotel and then headed to see George in the hospital.  Geoff was able to get on the phone to George’s medical aid, and make all the arrangements.  He also spoke with some surgeon friends back in South Africa to try and understand the implications of the injury.  The language gap made it doubly tough in the hospital.

After a while at the hospital  we headed back, subdued.   George, we wish you a safe and rapid recovery.

Anyone wishing to pass on good wishes to George can of course do so here and I’ll pass them on,  or drop me an email and I will send you his SMS contacts.

 

 

21st August, Isabel, Richard’s girlfriend, and demon climber joined us on the fourth day. Geoff decided to rest his knee.  

We headed off from Nervi, and began climbing.  It was really hot,  but the views were fabulous. 

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The demon climbing couple.

George’s technology woes continued, his bike puncturing again. His rims needed new rim tape,  as he had changed from tubeless  mtb tyres to slicks. He decided to head back early and get to the bike shop, supporting the Italian economy.

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We finished at the town of  Varazze,  north of Genova. A busy holiday spot. the last few kms really hurt. By the end of the ride I was pretty shattered. We had ridden over 100 kms, and climbed 2070  metres. 3602 kcals.

At the hotel I ate a pizza as big as a mountain bike wheel without really noticing.

20th August. Geoff, Richard, George  and I headed out.

The ride started at Chivari, but finished at Nervi, 97 kms or so.  Again, a route involving two biggish  climbs.  George and Richard charged up the hills, leaving Geoff and I to plod up behind.  Geoff mentioned his knee on several occasions. I had no excuses other than genetics.

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Here are Richard and George asking what had taken Geoff and I so long.

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The final climb was especially lovely, it had the feel of a proper mountain.

 

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With a spectacular view down to Genova and the sea.

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The descent was a bit hairy, and George’s bike woes continued. His tyre punctured. George and Richard went to fetch the car and tend to George’s bike, while Geoff and I investigated recovery supplements in Nervi Harbour.

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1880 climbing, 97 kms, 3025 kcals.

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