Pre-Trip Ramblings

1 June 2006
It's only 4 days to go now until we ride off into the sunset, so this is our last diary entry before we leave. For those wishing to see us off, we depart from Forbury Gardens, Reading at 1.30pm on the 5 June. Meridian TV will be there to film this historic event along with Reading MP Martin Salter.

We'll be posting updates here as we go along, but when all depends on finding internet cafes, and being able to ask for directions to internet cafes. If we can figure out the technology (and this is by no means certain) some photos might actually appear on here too. If not, I'm sure we can rustle something up in Paint to give you an idea.

It's not really the time to get weepy, but we will miss all of our family and friends very much, along with having jabs every week, the rest of the F1 season and wearing jeans. Hope you all have as exciting an 18 months as we plan to!

19 May 2006
Since our last entry we did indeed appear in the Reading Chronicle and the Chronicle Extra. We also featured on the BBC website and hopefully regular updates will be posted there too. To see the BBC article click here. In addition, a number of articles are now starting to appear in other publications. During a trip to Northern Ireland, Richard had a solo spot on BBC Radio Ulster which went very well.

We are still scheduled to depart on 5 June, and a bit nearer the time we will post exact details on this page. In the meantime our vaccinations are all but done - I think we counted nearly 12 injections each! Training continues, with a lot of final preparation being squeezed in between. We do still have a fair amount to sort out and we should be ready by the 5th!

13 April 2006
We have now both 'retired' from work. Richard, having left a few weeks before Kat, has made use of his extra time doing his Man Jobs. After I left work last Friday we have stepped up the cycling; our legs and backsides have so far held up well.

Since our last update we've had a chance to test out much of our equipment, on a short but tough ride to Henley and back with a night's camping in between. It started raining almost as soon as we got there, and we barely got the tent up in time. It continued to rain, and even to hail, for most of the evening and night, apart from a small let-up during which we managed to get a meal cooked on the stove. Kat conspired to cut her finger on her camping knife whilst chopping an onion. It sounds like a bit of a disaster, but in addition to discovering that the knife was indeed very sharp, and the tent definitely waterproof, we did have good time. And got a surprising amount of sleep, in spite of the rain pelting down until the early hours. One further lesson was well learned - never have a pint of beer just before turning in, especially when you are not near domestic facilities and it is far too cold to get up anyway...

Cancer Research UK kindly produced a Press Release for us which can be read here. Some of the local media have covered our trip in the last week or so. We had a piece on Meridian News which we were very pleased with. Hopefully they will also be doing a piece on our departure, with additional updates (thanks to a camcorder) as we travel. We also had an article in last week's Reading Post, a short spot on BBC Radio Berkshire and should be in next week's Reading Chronicle. Those of you who saw the Meridian programme will be aware of just how much the auction of the signed Reading football shirt raised - a staggering £1,000!! Far, far more than we thought it would.

More good news followed in the form of P&O giving us free crossing to France on the ferry. They've booked our sailing for the 8th June, which gives us a more or less definite leaving date (from home) of the 5th. That was the date we had in mind anyway, to ensure that Kat gets to see the Derby before we leave, but having it confirmed like this somehow makes it all the more exciting. We plan on arranging some sort of official send off in Reading, and will post more here so that those who want to can come along and see us off. You will probably also be able to watch me fall off my bike as I leave, if the past 28 years of inelegant ham-fistedness are anything to go by.

Finally, thank you to all those who have already generously sponsored us. We won't let you down!

27 March 2006
The auction for our signed Reading FC shirt is now on eBay. Our thanks go out to Graham Loader from the Reading Fanzine site, Hob Nob Anyone? for placing an article for us.

Filming with Meridian TV was scheduled for today but another incident meant our film crew were diverted elsewhere.  However, we've rescheduled for the 03 April.

13 March 2006
It is now March, and there has been one significant event relating to the trip - our bikes have been delivered! Two beautiful Thorn eXp's arrived on Friday, and very nice they are too. We've taken them for a couple of rides this weekend, and they feel great, so much better than our old bikes. The panniers also arrived, and we are starting to get a bit worried about all our stuff fitting into them. Click here for pictures of our new steeds, with and without panniers.

The vast majority of the other equipment has also arrived, with the tent, sleeping bags and stove causing particular excitement. Both of us have spent a good deal of time in our sleeping bags watching tv, admiring how warm and cosy they are. Hopefully they will remain so across the Ukraine in November! Richard will not let me try out the stove indoors, and nothing I could say has made him change his mind. I did attempt to put the tent up indoors though, which caused both an argument and the realisation that neither of us are capable of following simple instructions.

We have now organised a schedule of all of our vaccinations with a travel clinic (yes, there are that many), so that's something to look forward to. Thankfully they will all be in the arm...

20 December 2005
The fact that we have actually bought the bikes is still sinking in - I (Kat) have been saving for nearly two years for just that event, and now the trip itself is finally just over the horizon. Although we know nothing whatsoever about bikes (worryingly), I think we managed not to make total prats of ourselves when trying to convey what it was that we wanted. The things looked great anyway, which of course is the main thing.

We've been a bit pants with the cycling recently - it's either been too cold or Kat has been too hungover to do much at the weekends. The current bikes are coming with us to spend Christmas with Kat's Dad in Northamptonshire, so we will be in for some painfully hilly jaunts.

Richard is getting more despondent by the week as it's looking increasingly likely that he will miss Reading's first ever season in the Premiership. Kat finds that mildly amusing.

08 December 2005
We've finally ordered the bikes, and as expected they are two Thorn eXp bikes from St John Street Cycles. With a bit of luck they will be with us before the end of February 2006 which should give us about 4 months training on them.

We've started sourcing some of our equipment, and have managed to get a signed Reading FC shirt which will be auctioned nearer the trip with all proceeds going to our charity. Signatures include manager Steve Coppell, captain Graeme Murty, Dave Kitson, Kevin Doyle, James Harper, Steve Sidwell, Marcus Hahnemann, Glen Little and many more!  Click here to see the shirt.

04 October 2005
Over the last few months we've formally registered our event with Cancer Research UK, and we've gradually been adding to the website which has included details of our route and equipment. We've also slowly been increasing the number of miles we train each week, and we are also now starting to plan some of the finer details of our trip.

05 June 2005
We set up this website, and were fortunate enough to get free hosting from a partnership operated between IK Software and BT.

24 May 2005
A trip to Bridgwater, Somerset saw us visit St John Street Cycles to look at possible bikes for the trip.  A top of the range touring bike can cost as much as £2k, including all the options and extras. The front runner is the Thorn EXP with a build/delivery period of up to 12 weeks.  The bikes are custom made and come with a full range of accessories and a choice of paint finishes. Ideally we need to get the bikes in late 2005 to ensure we have sufficient time to train on them.  At this point we would ditch our current intermediate bikes we are training on.

16 April 2005
After falling off his bike in March and breaking his collarbone, Richard was in need of a new bike (the collarbone wasn't the only thing that got broken.) He also needed cheering up. The new bike will serve as a good intermediate one until the touring bikes are bought. Riddled with jealousy, Kat also decided she wanted a new bike too and purchased one a week later - but had to get a better one.