My Staten Island…

By Mike Tomlinson

On 31st August 2006 Jane stood on Staten Island looking across at Manhattan knowing the next day she would cycle through Brooklyn over Brooklyn Bridge and complete her ride across America.

We looked at each other and knew her athletic exploits were over and she would head home knowing her days were limited. On the ride she gave everything despite aggressive liver cancer and extensive issues with bone disease. She felt a huge relief her cycling journey was complete but an overwhelming sadness that her life was drawing to a close.

To my fellow cyclists thank you for sharing the journey and to the support crew you have all been awesome.

Today I look out across the sea to Rio hoping that tomorrow i get to the top of Christ the Redeemer. I know at each pedal stroke tomorrow i will think of Jane and the mighty achievement she made happen 10 years ago. Apart from a very select few no one realises how hard you dug in.

This is my Staten Island moment, my last day of 15 years of challenges.
Thank you to everyone .

North, South divide

By Mike Tomlinson

I was asked a question in an interview today of why I had chosen to ride to Rio,
“because I have always wanted to go to Christ the Redeemer and I didn’t want to pay the airfare”

I got a telling off and it was asked to be cut from the interview. The reason why is that it made it look like the charity was paying when in reality I am paying my own way.

To be truthful there are times when I have felt it may have been best to have just donated the money to the appeal. Jane and I felt like this as she road across America as it wasn’t until the last day that any significant sums were raised.

It also hard to be riding through a country like Brasil and to be raising money when there is so much need here. We can, rightly, bemoan the north/south divide at home but in Brasil it is extreme. Whist there are still areas if extreme poverty further south they are not as frequent and there is an affluence that could not be envisaged 1500 miles north.

Finally the Olympics start this week and I cannot see why a country with so many issues would want to pay the sums required to host the games, it us obscene. It is only now as we enter the state of Rio that there is any noticeable interest in the games. How there is any relevance to the kids of Bahia and above is beyond me.

Day 17 – It’s been emotional

By Darren Clark

We’ve arrived in Lisbon and for me the last day in the saddle is complete.
Since the 27th June we’ve covered 1,100+ miles across the UK, France, Spain and Portugal. There have been some ups and downs – emotionally, physically and most definitely in the road.

I’ve seen some outstanding views and some utterly dismal towns.

There are places I want to return to as a tourist to investigate more, there are others I want to forget completely.

Good luck for the rest of the challenge to my fellow European leg cyclists, those that join in Receife and the amazingly patient support team – remember the old management saying “team work, makes the dream work” or in this case makes the cycling much bloody easier…

Finally, special thanks to Vicky, Jenna and the rest of my family for their support and encouragement not only over the last 3 weeks but all the times I’ve woken up said “I’m off for a short ride” and returned 5 hours later over the last 6 months.

Until the next one … Au revoir, Adios, Adeus and si’thi

Day 15 & 16 – Location, Location, Location

By Darren Clark

The cycling has been pretty uneventful over the last two days, that is if you consider one puncture for Paul in the carpark before we managed to set off and a second 1.5 miles later the norm for day 15, over 4000 ft climbed on roller coaster type single track roads the norm for day 16 (when promised ‘it’s all down hill, from here’ by Mike the day before) and oh yeah the truly awful cobbled Portuguese town main streets – after the last one I felt like claiming for vibration white finger disease…

So I thought I’d share some thoughts on 3 distinctly different hotels we’ve stayed in / staying in since we crossed into Portugal…

Hotel 1 –  Alfraites.
Just over the border from Spain, a very quite family run hotel. I can’t really figure out who would normally stay here, maybe it’s used by drugs mules or arms dealers given its proximity to the border.

On Sunday night we had the entire restaurant to ourselves and our host and his wife kindly laid on a homemade four course banquet for us (they don’t normally do Sunday’s) and to make the night complete they moved the tables to allow us to watch the euro2016 final. Needless to say our host was suitably happy with the result.

Hotel 2 – Castello Branco
My 1st thoughts on cycling up, along with – who the hell picked a hotel at the top of a steep off route climb, was Bond villain hideout. The hotel was perfectly perched at the top of a hill with glorious views across the valley from 3 sides, and on entering my thoughts came to life as the reception resembles the room used in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service to brain wash a bunch of femme fatales.. The bedrooms were pleasent, although the the air con was only powerful enough to cool a space the size of a shoe box, so Mick and I resolved to open the balcony door. All went well until a bunch of what appeared to be school children upset the local dog community at about 11:30pm and all hell broke out for the remainder of the night with occasional stereo effect howling continuing on & off, normally with prefect timing to start just as you felt yourself drifting off…

Hotel 3 – Abrantes
Wow, what a place tonight’s accommodation is. It’s actually a retired show jumper / antiques dealers house and it is amazing. It’s as though the last 90 years have passed this place by, ornate bedrooms/bathrooms, stunning views and some truly remarkable antiques on display.

The standard is set high for my last night on the ride tomorrow….

All’s well that ends well

By Charlie Webster

I had a pretty rough night last night, I felt so sick and then was sick. I ended up sat on the floor in my hotel room balling my eyes out to my mum and my friend. ‘I just feel so sick’ …

My mum and friend were fantastic! I got off the phone, sniffled a bit, drank some water and fell asleep. 
 
I woke up this morning still feeling like I’d been dug up! I’m normally the most smiley, positive person but this morning I struggled to even speak. I managed to force some muesli down me, have a little whimper to Shiv our Ride to Rio team manager and get myself on the bike. I started to peddle and we started downhill which helped as we’d climbed the mountain the night before doing an extra 5 miles to get ahead. I was pretty grateful for that. I decided to do my best to convince myself I was ok and really take care of my hydration and food – and gulped a few paracetamol’s down! 
 
All I kept thinking was control the controllable’s which is what I always say to myself in difficult situations whether in my daily life or on these crazy challenges I put myself through. I also kept thinking what an incredible woman Jane Tomlinson was to have pushed herself for others whilst having aggressive – and do something as hard as cycle day after day! It’s bloody hard!
 
Once I got going I felt a little better and had a good few chats with myself. It seemed everybody was feeling it this morning so I put my smile back on. We covered quite a bit of ground in the morning as we had to do a bit of lorry dodging along a motorway which went through the mountains, we all raced through a tunnel with our fingers crossed, my at the front with a light on and Daz at the back with a bright orange thing on! We made it to the most stunning scenery and the Spanish region of Rioja. A large glass of Rioja  then occupied by mind until our food stop. We passed vineyard after vineyard and then stopped in a stunning medieval town called Santo Domingo and had food by a large cathedral. It’s so hard to intake enough calories as we are burning so much and always trying to manage our nutrition so not to have a blood sugar dip – bonk – in cycling terms. 
 
The final part of the day was just so hot, 37 degrees of cycling on a long road with the heat just radiating off the concrete. About 8 miles of that was loose gravel chipping’s and every time a lorry came past it was like being paint balled up close with concrete. The van was up ahead and so was my lunch. I quickly pulled over by the van, threw my bike at Stephen, Mike’s son and support crew member and then threw up. 
 
I got myself straight back on the bike, I didn’t want my head to drop or to have a moment to think ‘I don’t feel well.’ 
 
Literally 5 minutes later I found myself climbing a mountain of 1150m. I had to laugh! I made it and actually at a decent pace. The sun beating down unforgiving of what we were and are trying to achieve.
 
The sign for our final location of today and 80 miles later was a big relief. I’ve almost got myself into a bit of a routine of looking at the map at all the names of the villages we go through and setting them as small goals to get me to the end of the day. At this point I’m always desperate to get off the saddle and take my shoes off. I’m not kidding taking my bike shoes off at the end of the day has become my favourite thing. We are now in a beautiful place called Burgos and tomorrow we cycle 85 miles to Valladolid and that will be day 11. It’s hard to believe that we’ve spent all this time on a bike and we’ve made it to Spain! The hardest bit by far is waking up in the morning knackered and getting myself back on my saddle, again and again and again.