Day 0: Cambridge to Rhyl 354km (by train)

I’m officially at the starting line. I arrived in Rhyl this afternoon after a relatively uneventful – if desperately overcrowded – three-train journey via Nuneaton and Crewe.

Sunny Rhyl did not disappoint, being a whole 10 degrees cooler than Cambridge, overcast, and with sporadic rain.

Sunny Rhyl, not

This evening I’ve enjoyed a slap up Sunday roast courtesy of my big sister, who is putting me up for the night in Rhyl.

She is an experienced cyclist and has furnished me with chamois cream, guava blocks, and vitamin b supplements; all of which I am told are essential. I also passed a meticulous kit inspection with only the absence of a bumbag being criticised. I declined the generous offer of a loan of hers. Some sibling boundaries just shouldn’t be crossed.

Saying goodbyes

On Friday I started a mini-sabbatical from work, which means that I am properly switching off until the start of September. This will be the longest break I’ve had in 25 years, which is only just starting to sink in.

The sabbatical coupled with the bike ride means that I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past week saying goodbyes. It’s all been rather lovely to be honest and I have really appreciated the advice, encouragement, and banter.

A particular favourite was the friend who confided in me that “No-one thinks for a minute that you’ll finish it, mate. That doesn’t matter, we’re just all looking forward to seeing how far you get”. Quite.

This morning was a little bit emotional as I said goodbye to Jane, Dylan, Bethan and Prim.

Bethan (11YO) made me a good luck card

Jane made breakfast. Bethan made a good luck card. Dylan made it out of bed in time to see me off. Prim made cute doggo faces. In terms of relative effort, Dylan (the teenager) wins hands down. I know I’m only going away for a couple of weeks, but I’m gonna miss those guys. And the rest of you.

Raising funds for Llamau

So far we have raised an incredible £3,000 to support Llamau’s work to end homelessness in Wales. And I haven’t actually started the ride yet.

I originally set a fundraising goal of £2,500 and I am wrestling a bit with whether I should up the target or just keep overachieving. I am sure there is some research somewhere that says which is most effective. Let me know in the comments if you know.

One friend assured me that whenever he posted a photo of Bob Geldof on his fundraising pages, the volume and value of donations increased. Some kind of collective neurolinguistic / visual programming that means we feel compelled to give him the f@*#ing money now.

Bob Geldof swearing on Band Aid 1984

If you haven’t made a donation yet, please do. Llamau does amazing work and with your support they can help many more young people in Wales.

Click here to donate (takes you to Just Giving).

Thinking about blogging

I’ve been thinking a bit about how best to do this blogging thing when on route. Long time readers will know that it was inspired by my mate Chris M who created a daily newsletter when he cycled across the USA.

I was struck last night speaking to several friends who had seen the blog on their social feeds and who all assumed that I had done the ride already. A stark reminder that we are all bombarded with stuff all day long online and we can’t possibly process anything but a fraction of it. The fire-hose as Twitter affectionately calls it.

So I think that this blog is really a kind of journal. A record of what happens over the next two weeks or however long and far it ends up being. Something for me to look back on and for you to read if you want to.

Tomorrow it begins.

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