We’re Back!!!

Dear Friends,

It’s here. It’s back and it’s just as daft as ever. That’s right The Kidz Klub Cycle Ride is returning on the 26th July 2014 for its third running to truly establish itself as a Biennial fundraising event for Kidz Klub Leeds.

I’m writing this as a call to you, friends, volunteers and supporters of Kidz Klub Leeds or fond readers of this blog, to help us make this another huge success. There are a number of ways that you could get involved the first is to get pedaling and sign up for the ride! We are looking for as large a group as possible to join me as well as a small group of Volunteers and staff who have already committed to this well over a year in advance. The reasons we have already signed up are simple, we want to see the work of Kidz Klub Leeds continue and to grow, reaching more children and more families across the city of Leeds. We had some amazing, unforgettable times doing the rides. Yes they were difficult but we enjoyed it immensely.

Way back in 2010, six of us cycled from Kidz Klub Liverpool to Kidz Klub Leeds all the way along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. 132 miles of towpath and locks, cobbles and gates and one very, very big hill from Bradford. In 2012, eight of us cycled from Hyde Park Leeds to Hyde Park London in two days, 205 miles up hill and down dale, through scorching sunshine and torrential thunderstorms.

Across both years we have raised in excess of £7,500 for Kidz Klub Leeds and we want to see that number grow even further.

In 2014 we welcome Le Tour De France, the world’s greatest cycle race, to Leeds and to Yorkshire. Taking inspiration from this the 2014 Kidz Klub Cycle Ride will be Stage 1 of Le Tour. The route is 120 Miles long and takes us from Leeds, through Ilkley, Skipton and out into the Dales through some spectacular scenery. Then we turn back through Ripon and into Harrogate for a “Sprint” finish.

120 Miles is a long way and it is across some hilly terrain so it will take a good level of fitness and cycling experience to complete it. While we won’t be beginning official group training rides until February 2014, from experience it is good to have some base level fitness already there to build on.

If you don’t feel like you could cycle with us but would like to play a supportive role we are looking for 3 able support car drivers. Over the last two rides these people have been invaluable at providing food, drink, encouragement and the occasional bit of first aid across the ride. You’ll need a car, the day free, preferably a bike rack but most importantly an encouraging attitude towards ratty and tired cyclists. (Putting up with sweaty socks if we have to ride in the car for a bit is an added requirement). On top of that supporters along the route are welcome and if you would like to do this please do let us know and we will keep you posted as to the route and approximate timings.

Over the last two bike rides the cyclists themselves have paid for all the gear, food, accommodation and travel needed. This even includes new bicycles when they have fallen apart mid training ride. We have been happy to do this because we feel the outlay to Kidz Klub will be so much greater than the amount we spend on doing the ride. So this is a request for additional donations to an “Enabling Pot” for the food, fuel and other little things that all add up to ensure that this ride runs as smoothly as possible. Anything left over will go into the main sponsorship pot.

The next request is one for those of you who have business responsibilities, either at a high level or with a boss who is keen to support a local charity making a real difference to children and families in Leeds. We are looking for a company or companies to sponsor the event. As a result you’ll get your name on all of the promotional and media material and your name adorned on our kit, a fetching blue and yellow polka-dot number. One of the major reasons for starting the process so much earlier this year is to allow us to reach and spread the word much further and wider than ever before. This is an incredible opportunity for a business to support amazing work in a very public way.

Finally, I am not a member of Kidz Klub Staff, I am a volunteer and have been for the last 8 years. The drive behind the Cycle Ride back in 2010 originally came from myself and another volunteer, Chris Clarke. We felt that we wanted to organise something away from the staff team who work so hard above and beyond their contracted hours week in week out giving everything through challenging situations. Chris and I both work full time jobs and commit, on top of this up to 8 hours a week to the work of Kidz Klub Leeds for no financial reward, simply because we believe this project makes a real difference to the lives of the children and families we reach. From two blokes who like to cycle and have a laugh doing so this has grown to a major fundraising event for Kidz Klub Leeds, with the possibility of going even further. So, whether you feel like you can give your time and/or your money to this ride, or would like to know more about Kidz Klub Leeds. Get in touch, come and visit and see what is happening across the city.

If you are interested in joining in on the ride this year please contact me through Kidz Klub Leeds or by email on pwoodthorpe@gmail.com. This blog will be back up and running telling the tale of the build up and the rides very soon so take a look here as well!

So, there it is, the countdown begins.

Yours Faithfully

Peter Woodthorpe

KK Ride 2014

Day 2: Part 2

One thing I forgot to mention, either through blocking it out of my memory or because I prefer to focus on the not so life threatening generally was the roundabout of death. As we left Milton Keynes to re-join the A5 proper there was a roundabout, a mixture of A and B roads each with 2 lanes and an awful lot of traffic for early afternoon Saturday. But joy of joys their was a cycle lane across one of the junctions. Then disaster of disasters as we crossed the carriage way we find the cycle lane going the wrong way… urgh. So One by one we go for the journey. Keith in the van led the way followed by Chris C and Chris L. Then we saw Keith come round again to lead the way, I set off, followed by Gracie, then Becca and Dave and finally Andy. On the other side we all lined up… but no Chris’. Time passed, still no Chris’ I think Keith went round a third time to provide some shelter and found the Chris’ on another exit. With a bit of guidance we all re grouped, caught our breath and began an incredibly tough trip along the A5 to Hockcliffe. So we rejoin the story in the blazing sunshine and just two legs left to go of the bike ride. Things are going well…

It’s getting a bit soggy out there…

Of course sometimes the weather has other ideas. We had heard that the road ahead was a bit thundery and wet but we hadn’t seen much in the way of rain since Dunchurch until we started seeing signs of flash floods and very moody clouds on the horizon. As we got closer and closer to St Albans it became very clear we are going to have to go through some horrid stuff before we reach London.

Keith and Laura had been marshalling us pretty close for a while, checking the road ahead and meeting us at some points. We did however get a disturbing meeting with them as the rain began. As we approached they were under an umbrella holding rain jackets and waving at us to slow down. We were informed that the road was “completely flooded” in places and the rain was “monsoon-like” with thunder and lightning. Deep Joy.

We macked up and proceeded into the unknown…

The unknown quickly became the very known, like a bucket of water being thrown at your face. The rain was possibly the worst cycling conditions I’ve ever been in (along with the week before last when a storm nearly washed most of North Leeds into the river). In all honesty we should have stopped, but as with any endurance event if you stop, it becomes so much harder to start again. So we pushed on through what was, at some points, nearly a foot of water on the roads. Fortunately some kind drivers paid attention to our signals and gave us plenty of time and space to negotiate the deepest parts and we had Keith lurking just behind us in the van giving us some cover. We actually made great time through this section, even with a wrong turning and the horrendous conditions.

Chris finding the most Aerodynamic position possible…

As we escaped back onto the A5 the sun finally appeared again and all of a sudden it was as if it had never rained, other than the skittle/granola bar porridge now forming in my jersey rear pocket. We made it through Radlett and onto our final stopping point just before Emsley on the outskirts of Watford but inside the M25. We ended up extending our stop because the storm front once again swept through and we dived for cover in whatever vehicles we had lurking around at the time. Once the rain cleared we made a move, only to be hit by another front and get utterly soaked all over again. The straw that nearly broke the camel’s back was a puncture at the top of a very steep hill where the A5 crosses the M1. Chris was once again the victim making it Chris 3, Dave 1, everybody else (including Jonny “I’ve got 100% puncture resistant tyres” Fearnley) 0. Not bad for 16 wheels cycling 210 miles each really.

As London loomed large in our eyes we could see the beginnings of bus/cycle lanes galore, so much so that with 5 Miles remaining we overtook the support cars and built up a lead that wouldn’t be given up until we stopped in Hyde Park.

The rain came and went, the busy London traffic caused us a few heart stopping moments and a few comedy faces. We consoled our fellow Leeds Rhinos fans on another loss at Wembley in the Challenge Cup Final and pushed deeper into the metropolis. The excitement was beginning to grow.

We made it!

As we hit the 750th set of traffic lights in a mile (or so it felt) we could see the end of the A5, we had reached Hyde Park, that was it, 210 miles and all that was left was a ride across the park to the Royal Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial over the road where we would finish. As we rounded the corner, rolling handshakes were shared by all and a sense of pure disbelief at what we had just achieved.

As the sun set, the Kidz Klub Leeds T-shirts came out and photos were taken, as the rain fell again we sprinted off towards Buckingham Palace with Dave Shaw taking the finish infront of the Queen’s house with me closely behind. We headed for our overnight base in Acton wet, (very wet) cold, tired but very very happy and a little emotional.

It leaves me the duty of saying thank you to the guys at DBC in Dunchurch, especially my Mum, Linda for organising our stop over on Friday. To James Perryman and the guys in Acton who put us up on Saturday night.  To our wonderful support car drivers, Jo, LC and Keith who kept us fed, watered and picked us up when we needed it. Thank you for your support and efforts in making this happen!

Also to the guys at Kidz Klub Leeds for letting us do another stupidly long bike ride and for the constant inspiration that you give us to do these things.

To all of you who have sponsored us, whether it be a fiver or £250, it is amazing to see you be generous in such a difficult time and it will be put to use in very special ways. As it stands we have raised over £3200 and we hope to see this rise even more as the weeks go by. You can still give at our Virgin Money Giving Page for another 3 Months!

Finally to the other bike riders; Chris and Andy Langdale, Dave and Grace Shaw, Becca Bluett-Duncan, Chris Clarke and Jonny Fearnley, for coming along with me on this, putting up with hill after hill (sorry) and generally not complaining that much about the gruelling challenge that you have all completed. It’s been a pleasure.

What shall we do in 2014 then guys?

Pete

Day 2: Part 1

Stretching With Chris

The 2nd Morning began a little later than the first, we only (heh, only) had 90 miles to cover and by the time we had sorted all our stuff out it was just after 8.30am. Of course Jonny had to finish breakfast… his meal of choice? a bowl of granola muesli and some leftover pizza. All while sitting on a tiny wooden chair and looking very very daft. (picture linked to protect the innocent).  Before we left we had a quick session of “stretching with Chris” one of our very favourite past times. The rain continued to fall but as we reached the outskirts of Dunchurch heading towards Daventry the skies lightened and the sun came out. We had a re-shuffle of the general order to keep us together better and ensure directions were followed. Unfortunately this meant me spending long periods of time at the front! Becca had decided she didn’t want to fall back in the group so kept herself at first wheel behind me, this is a great tactic because I would know where she was and be able to control the pace to a far greater level. Actually, this first leg was probably the most positive and swift of the whole trip, the group singing began again and we made really good progress to Towcester. So much so that I can happily gloss over it!

Waiting Patiently in a Very Busy Towcester

When we reached Towcester we stopped and got the chance to read all the messages of support we had received from friends and family around the country. It was a huge boost to see so many as we went along and our thanks goes to everyone who sent a text, a tweet or a facebook message during both days. It really did lift some very tired legs and kept us going that little bit more.

As we left Towcester and made our way through Milton Keynes we were greeted with the happy sight of a segregated cycle lane! Keeping us away from roundabouts and traffic was a welcome relief, the path doesn’t follow the road exactly and goes under and round in places which made for quite a lot of fun but no doubt extended our journey some what!When the cycle lane spat us back out onto the road it did so into a road block and a closed junction so we went industrial estate trundling, went back onto another cycle path and nearly went through the front door of IKEA!

Just keep pedalling…

The final part of the leg was through to Hockcliffe, and just before this little village is a giant hill, I stopped at the top to count everyone through and the look on some faces was that of exhaustion mixed with a little bit of hate. Lunchtime came at just the right time.

During the lunch break we re-assessed how far it was to Hyde Park, London, the next leg would be around 25 miles, followed by a shorter, 15 mile trip into the heart of the capital city. This gave everybody the rousing boost we needed, in my head at least it became a game of knocking each mile off one at a time counting them down to the last stop and also to the finish line at the Albert Hall…

Day 1, Part 2

When we left you last we were making our way through Derbyshire, with around 50 miles left to go on Day one.

Lining up for another stage

As Derby approached the roads got busy again, The A61 reappeared briefly and left just as quickly as we dived under the city and popped out pretty much in the shopping district! We found our support team waiting in the middle of Derby and got ourselves refuelled for the final 45 miles of the day.

For me this was the hardest stage of them all, across both days. 75 to 100 miles is a challenge, but psychologically it was even worse because there was another 20 mile stage to come afterwards! We had no choice but to put our best gurns on and push on. Becca had continued to push on through the pain barrier and to her credit was getting stronger as the day went on. So much so that one particularly large hill (sorry) that we all got off on, she continued and made it to the top without stopping. (Polka-dot Jersey for Miss Bluett-Duncan!) As Hinckley approached I could feel the day getting near to a close, we’d be at our overnight base in a few hours, and best of all they were roads I knew for the last 10 Miles having grown up in Dunchurch and Rugby. We had time for one more calamity before Hinckley, as we stopped to re-group after a long and winding hill (sorry) Grace mis-judged a kerb and took a tumble. Fortunately, she’s made of tough stuff and it didn’t take long to get her back on her pedals.

Derby re-fuelling and stretching

Along the route we had Jo, Keith and Laura doing a fantastic job keeping us going. In particular our thanks and general love goes to Keith whose enthusiasm and encouragement (as well as protection by holding up traffic in the van) meant so much. We even had time to do a Tour De France styled feeding zone with boost bars and drinks delivered to us en route!

As we left Hinckley we had to stop for Chris to look at a puncture, only the 2nd of the day, pretty good going. He said to keep on going and leave Jonny behind to help pace him back to the group. We did just that and set off on the Fosse Way, a flat, straight Roman road known for its flatness and straight nature, (Yay).

Nearly There!

Signs of home were ever more prominent and as we reached Pailton I pretty much hit Auto Pilot leading the group on through Newbold and then into Rugby. Those of you who know Rugby will know that the road from Newbold into the town centre has a hill, its manageable at the best of times, after 115 miles of pedalling it is a struggle, trust me! With the light fading fast we hit the summit and began what felt like a sprint for home. Through the town, out of it, into Dunchurch and up the final hill to our rest point where the support cars waited and we gleefully piled into the Church.

My Mum had organised showers with people around the village, so thank you to David and Ilke, Beverley and Francis and of course my Mum and Dad for housing some sweaty, grimy people, your showers were possibly the best ones we have ever had! With the plan for a big cooked meal foiled by exhaustion and a longer than planned journey we resulted to what we knew best. Take away Pizza, Perfect.

With the rain battering it down outside and us safely into our sleeping bags all we would dream about would be spinning bicycle wheels and the final 90 Miles of our journey the following day…

Remember you can still sponsor us, please help add to the staggering total we have already raised.

Chris, settling in for the night

The Ride: Day 1, Part 1

Here it is, the first of a 4 part ride review, starting off, as is traditional, with Day 1, Part 1

The traditional set off photo!

Day 1 began at the cheery time of 5am for most of us. This is far too early to be doing anything of any significance let alone cycle 120 miles south. But none the less we gathered at Hyde Park Corner, Leeds ready for a 6.30am depart. This of course didn’t happen and we were nice and late leaving!

By the time we hit south Leeds I was longing for my bed, the heavens had opened and it really was horrid weather. It would stay this way through to Wakefield and beyond. We got the hang of cycling in a group and an order had settled, probably not the correct one but we’d sort it out as the day went on. I was leading up the front with everyone else nestled between me and Dave, who took up position as rear gunner. As we reached the otherside of Wakefield and headed off towards Barnsley the dreaded words “we’ve got a puncture!” were bellowed. 13 miles in and one down already! The rain had just about abated which was one bonus. The second was that Keith, our bush mechanic and all round pit crew superstar, was nearby and span the van round (I imagine on a sixpence) and met us within minutes armed with new inner tubes and a track pump.

We got back under way, a little colder and little stiffer and pressed on towards the first of the big hills we had highlighted on the recce. I must admit to using a bit of psychology on the group saying there were hills but only a few of them were really big challenges. With Chris L and Jonny agreeing with me, the rest of the group bought it. (Thanks guys)  We climbed the first one without a big problem, the second one was a walker, tactically it was important to do this, as if we burnt the energy on this hill in Barnsley we would sacrifice performance across the following 180 miles… Chris C wanted to give it a go, I told him off. Nutter.

The first stop was reached and we were all just about intact, we were behind ideal schedule but that had gone out the window fairly early. If we made it to Dunchurch before night fall (around 8pm currently), we’d have done well. As we set off from Barnsley a gleeful Andy spotted a steep downhill, went for it and declared, “ohh I feel like I’ve got this hill for free!” in the most Yorkshire accent possible. Ahh the illusion and psychology of team cycle management was complete. Success.

We pushed on further to the “3rd” of the major hill climbs, (there had been others and I was now feeling a burning pain in my back from the hatred from my companions) but none the less we struggled on. As we reached Sheffield the first real signs of problems occurred. Some members of the team were not enjoying the undulations and I promised Grace that she would like the run into Sheffield. Honest. The A61 in Sheffield is a busy road but not a bypass or anything like that; it runs right through the middle of the city, downhill for a lot of it, and with many traffic lighted junctions. We reached one, the lights went red as we were heading down at plus 30mph, Chris C went through, Grace and I had to slam on the anchors. I over shot the lights but just stopped short of the junction, Grace, I could hear skidding and sliding around behind me (also screaming and possibly other things) did a fantastic job, kept control of her bike and came to a halt alongside me (and promptly collapsed onto her handle bars in relief). Needless to say we took a little more care at lights for the rest of the trip.

Sheffield was reached and the first key junction to hit was successfully negotiated. So came the long crawl out of Sheffield towards Chesterfield. The most frustrating thing about cycling in cities is traffic lights. They are everywhere and not timed for our benefit. So it is stop start, stop start and repeat ad-nausium. This takes quite a lot out of you! As the trip went on Andy and Chris (who are not the most patient of boys) became more and more irked by the task at hand. Fortunately the city thinned out just before they started disconnecting lights and causing a lot of trouble!

As Chesterfield approached we had the crucial decision of when to stop for lunch ahead of us. On the original schedule I had planned for a 1.30 lunch stop in Derby. It was 12.30 and we were only in Chesterfield, It wasn’t a hard choice! We brought Lunch forward and settled in at a retail park just on the way out of Chesterfield.

A break at the top of a rather steep climb

Becca had struggled through the first part of the ride, her knee was not in great shape but she had continued on until we could stop and get a proper look at it. She’s not one to give up lightly and courageously (or crazily) continued through Derbyshire with us. She was rewarded with some stunning scenery and some really brutal hills! (sorry) we reached the top of the peak district and had a short break and conflab about how it was going. Now half way through the day everyone was just about with us and in one piece. The following stretch seemed to take a long, long time, but mercifully it was flat(ish) so we got ourselves into a proper time trial train and trundled through Derbyshire…

This Is It!

Without being all definitive and dramatic this really is it!

We are all stuffed with carbs and packed and ready to go. We set off at 6am tomorrow on the most ridiculous event we have ever done. All that is left is a few wrap up points for you. We will be travelling from 6am until 7pm tomorrow and then from 8am until around 6pm on Saturday. Please keep texts and messages coming through, they will spur us on through the tough bits!

We’ve been stunned and truly blessed by the generosity of some people, we have already raised over £2000 and we haven’t even begun yet! please keep sponsoring us, it is truly and amazing amount of money. You can sponsor us here.

The popular live tracking application will be up and running in the morning. If you check back from around 5.30am you should see a new post.

I’ll be tweeting live, when I can with photos and news, follow me on my account name @ptw86 for all the news.

Finally, you may remember me writing about the Torch Relay even in Harehills a few weeks ago. A video has been produced and I thought it would be great for you to see the kind of outreach projects we are involved in and how much of a difference these can make to communities around the city. A heartfelt thanks goes to the council and the events organisers who invited us in for our own little brand of fun and madness, along with all the other projects in the area. It was a great day!

Until the morning!

Pete