I think it was one of our group who some weeks ago said that we are the lucky ones. At first I wasn’t certain what he meant. Was it that we were privileged and had the time and money to allow us to undertake this task, or that we were healthy and physically capable of completing these challenges? When I thought about it a little more, I realised it was about the love and support of our friends and family who unselfishly give up their time for us to be able to fulfil these adventures.
Of course he was right, we are the lucky ones.
The vast hours of training and preparation required not only eats into your life, but also into the lives of the people around you. It becomes all encompassing. The real sacrifice is that of our families who unselfishly encourage us and motivate us without any thought for their own needs. Families will no doubt be mentioned in a variety of blogs to come and we will say a proper thank you when we have finished.
Now if we are lucky then I am luckier still, for not only do I get the support of my family but actually I get my father to come along with me. Dad has been with us on these challenges since we started. Encouraging us on Hadrian’s Wall, meeting us on the around Wales trip and navigating for the majority of Lands’ End to John O’Groats (LEJOG). He was the navigator for the whole trip from Wrexham to Monte Carlo and will be the navigator all the way to Gibraltar. Not only has he supported us in all of these trips but has also battled cancer throughout. He has suffered with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for the last 17 years but has battled it every step of the way and not for one minute has it dampened his enthusiasm.
Those of you who know us will know that Dad and I started working together when I was in my early 20’s something that continued until his retirement in 2012. Since then and despite having cake and a retirement party, he has continued to support the business providing mentoring support to Lee and I on a day-to-day basis. It therefore seems fitting that he is also there on our challenges.
In later years his support has also been one of provider, literally. On Wrexham to Monte Carlo he was responsible for finding food for lunch and due to a lack of suitable places to eat, he ended up preparing food out of the back of the minibus, something which shocked me and horrified my mother. As I recall, the last time he prepared me food was when Nia was born in 1972!
There are many funny stories and things do often go awry, not least when we were lost somewhere around Lancaster on LEJOG. We called to ask him for directions. ‘I don’t know,’ he said, ‘we’re lost, good luck,’ and hung up. We spotted him shortly afterwards heading to Morecambe in completely the wrong direction.
Now to the team, Dad is a ‘multi tool’. He navigates, finds food, makes food, laughs and jokes and gently ribs those around him. Those are great attributes to have but his main purpose is to remind us that whatever life throws at you, there are always people worse off and we are measured not by how we fall but how we get back up again.
We are the lucky ones.
The reluctant cyclist
Wrexham to Gibraltar Charity Cycle Ride