6th September – 37 days done and if I had my optimistic head on I'd say only 80 days to go but unexpectedly my head has been left behind in a location unknown.
4,590 calories burnt. 30,672 eaten.
(This is an extract of Nahlas upcoming book 'An accidental adventurer')
The day started at the wonderful million star Hilton, St Georges Park. (I don't think hotels can get a million stars but I love Hilton so much for supporting me, all their hotels are a million stars. This one might actually be though, its where all the football training happens).
I am beyond tired when I wake up and I wonder if I can get myself ready to go, but I do because thats just what I do. I keep on going even when the walls keep being built, I find a way.
I am packing and thinking about the idea of messaging Claire who I am staying with that night to ask if maybe she might know a physio or similar who might be able to help with my legs. (Lots of mights and maybes) I carry on and then pick up my phone to message her. On there is a message from Claire saying she has asked a physio friend to come over if they can after their own personal challenge he is undertaking.
I was a little freaked out by the coincidence but then breakfast was awaiting and quite frankly right now food occupies all parts of the mush I call my brain.
What a breakfast it was, I ate the following in no particular order. Fried breakfast consisting of two bacon, two sausages, tomatoes, hash brown and mushrooms. Yogurt. Bowl of Blueberries. Bowl of strawberries. Two toast with marmalade. Coco pops. Pancakes with fruit and golden syrup. Hot chocolate. Orange Juice. I would have gone back for a croissant too and had a couple more bits of toast but a large group of kids came in on a football training camp and I thought maybe this was a sign I should stop and actually get on with the day ahead.
I was due to set off at 8am and was seriously struggling with the idea of the 67 mile day that await. I was due to go to Derby then Stoke on Trent then onto Claires home who was kindly putting me up 15 miles the other side of Stoke on Trent. It was too much, I knew it. So I took Derby out of the equation, I knew I would be passing through it on the way back down when I spelt out 'kindness' out and thought actually this would be ok.
(Side note – We spend so long beating ourselves up for not doing everything that we set ourselves, we are our own worst critic but sometimes we need to relent and say, its ok to give myself a break. I won't do it everyday but just when I need to, so that I can carry on to the big end goal without burning out)
So it was 43 miles to Claires via Stoke on Trent and the faffing and planning meant for a 9am leave time. (This trip really is a time vortex). The day started with hills, up and down in quick succession, a pointless activity but one that I have very little choice in. After about 20 miles I stopped off to eat the Quinoa with some honey that I had in my bag and a banana. Those miles were tough, they did get easier as I progressed but the first 10 were the worst. A man came up while I was eating my gourmet lunch and asked me about how far I was going on the bike, his face was a picture when I said 5000 miles. We had a natter and he asked me if I had ever been a speaker at the Adventure Travel Show of which I said I was not but that I had been in touch but had no response. He said he knew the organiser and after a short chat he left. If I had gone to Derby I would not have met him, thats what I think about all things like that.
Stoke on Trent is a city but does not have a cathedral. I found this disappointing and wondered if a firmly worded letter might remedy this. I was enjoying my cathedrals, they were in the most part breathtaking and all of them completely unique so when a city doesn't have one; well its disappointing to say the least, especially when I have cycled so far to see them!
Claire was and is a laid back and funny human who exuberants joy from her persona. She has found things that make her happy, knows herself and I have a lot of respect for any human that is willing to work that out. Her energy is truly infectious.
She went off to pick up some things including her son, and offered for me to help myself to anything, get a shower or bath and such like. She had left out the snack box, I took one thing but wanted to eat many more, because while people say help yourself if I had it would have been empty pretty quick!
She returned and came upstairs to tell me dinner was ready. 'Would you like stuffing' she said.....as we laughed she followed up with '…yes you've come to that house'.
'...and while we are at it, leg or breast.' We laughed at our similar humour and I went down 5 minutes later to find a large stuffing and breast awaiting me on a plate.
I liked Claire a lot. She fed me enough food to fill me up, she bantered and laughed and most of all she was kind. I hope our paths cross again. It really is the best part of the gruelling and relentlessness of this, the people I meet.