Bike for Brains

So Tim Wild’s copywriting made my attempt at the first company-wide email sound a lot more professional, if flexing the truth a touch for effect. Normally, we do not get a response until the third email that goes out in April, but this has already raised over £200 in a day!

Here it is.

Hello folks,

Important feel-good charity news: 

Think Big

We believe that everyone should have access to education.

Start Small

Girls have as much right to an education as boys. Ten years ago, I started working to provide access to a secondary education for girls that are denied that opportunity. We began with a small group of seven girls from the Berber communities of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, and the project has grown and grown.

Fail/Scale Fast

Since then, the first seven are currently studying at university and we have scaled up to providing education to over 200 girls at secondary school, as well as help with electricity, refuge collection, recycling, the provision of ambulances and a hearse for the communities of the Three Valleys.

BT

Bike Transformation. (I’m here all week. Try the veal.)

For the fifth year in a row, we are holding the Marrakech – Atlas Etape at the end of April.  It’s a 140km bike ride up a 10,000ft mountain and back again. In one day.

What’s it got to do with me?

Tim Wild and I are representing R/GA – but we’re looking for (idiots) spirited adventurers to join us. 

Or, take the easier route and just sponsor us – via this convenient digital platform here: www.justgiving.com/Tuffcall2017   (This is the least irritating request we’ll make, by the way. Pay up now, the emails stop. Avoid us and there’ll be videos, pictures, emotional blackmail, actual blackmail etc. 

Here’s why:

‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ (Mandela)

 

Advertisements

Hello 2017

Now we are four…

The fifth Marrakech Atlas Étape supports Education for All which is 10 this year! With the first students now coming through University, the charity now provides access to secondary education for nearly 200 girls who would otherwise not have had the opportunity. The current campaign raising money to support a sixth boarding house.

And for the 2017 Étape Tuffcall return as a team of four – Chris and myself for the fifth time, Henry, last year’s stoker on the tandem is back for a second time and Tim is the new member for this year. There is also a chance that we will swell in numbers to six if Paul and his sister do more than threaten to sign up – potentially giving the tandem an airing.

Our foursomes’ current collective age is over 200 with the usual collection of beer bellies and random gear. Tim, by far the fittest of the group, has a proper mountain bike; Chris will have whichever bodged together stead that is most ‘road worthy’ at the time; I am not sure if Henry has upgraded from his boneshaker yet and I am planning, having ridden the small wheel tandem with Henry last year and the Pacific folder the year before, to revert back to the trusted Brompton. If nothing else, an eclectic mix to bring up the rear of the field.

Training to date has been a stop start affair with a lot of time dedicated to the former. Staying in the Cevennes in the summer saw Mike, one of the founders of the EFA, and I taking on some serious climbs at altitude before breakfast. A healthy life stretched before me – as far as the return to London and the reality check it transpired.

There followed a long hiatus. The agency world workload got heavier and Chris and I hardly speak to each other, let alone go for a ride. Work dominates most waking moments without any concept of balance – more going for the burn-out rather than the burn.

A confidence shaking crash and a ski holiday cancelling fracture in my foot add to the delays.

Off the crutches for Christmas and walking for new year. It is February and all prevarication has to stop.

So, I purchased some weighing scales.

Little steps.

Actually, more like one almighty jolt. I am back up to 16 stone. Something has to happen. I must act.

A blog post will help, surely…?

Epic

Well, a week to go and between needing to update the ‘hall of fame’ and thank everyone for the support to date, from Linda to Imogen, Heather to Jai and all between, we have been making the effort all the more ‘epic’ by not training. Chris has been busy burying people while I have moved from pitch-frenzy to being ill and on antibiotics that keep making me throw up.

While this is far from ideal preparation, Henry and I have had our photo taken with the Circe Helios Duo from an ‘epic’ low angle.

HenryTuffs2016.jpeg

Quote of the day

Having punctured in the torrential rain that accompanied my attempt to ride home yesterday, I jumped in a cab. Sodden, late and 20 pounds lighter (if only I could loose pounds as fast as my wallet), I dump my folding bike on the deck and go below to present my partner with damp birthday presents from me and the children.

Not being inclined to change a tube on a beautifully clear morning of fresh Spring sunshine, I mounted the tandem and headed to work.

The small wheeled, two seated Helios Duo often draws comments from scaffold mounted builders to ‘Mamils’ at the lights – the former being louder, to the point and funnier as a rule.

You often hear exclamations of, ‘a tandem!’ (yes) and from the more observant, ‘A Brompton tandem!’ (no, but it does have small wheels and a Brompton bag mount, which puts the commenter in the unusual position of stating the obvious and being wrong).

Today, however, the early morning heckle to a man on a bicycle made for two was in a league of its own.

‘Oi, you’re pedalling your broken marriage through the streets of London…’

I cycled on, at a loss for a smart answer and wondering if I should contemplate marriage in order to facilitate a poetical moment further down the line?

An uphill battle

Going home sick on a Thursday and still ill on Monday was all part of Henry’s warm up to last Wednesday’s ride. Chris, meanwhile, being in Ireland as it is the school holidays.

Having spent the night on the boat and indulged in a far more gentle warm up than before the previous ride, Henry was still hawking like a Dickensian child of the Jago – not the poncey hipster shop on Great Eastern St, but the slum that was there before it and that you can still get the meanest whiff of in the ‘rag trade’ street market behind this, on the corner of Bethnal Green Road and Shoreditch High Street.

Regardless of health, he was up for the ride and, leaving the East End behind we scaled Fitzroy Farm to the dizzy heights of Highgate.

Explosions of prolapsing lungs spat over my neck, but down we went and back up Swains. Feeling Henry spinning out, but just clinging on, we swung round the back of Kenwood and up to Whitestone’s Pond, London’s highest point.

Recovered somewhat and egged on by the prospect of lunch, every pedal punctuated by gut heaving coughs and showers of phlegm from the stoker, we dropped to Golders Green – and back up. Down to the Finchley Road – and back up. Up Mount Vernon. Down to Chalk Farm and up to Pond Street, down and up again to Whitestone’s – a killer. A sweep back around Kenwood and a climb to a welcome rest in the Flask.

24 miles of steep climbing while sick deserves being rewarded with one of London’s best kept pints of Pride. The second, equally acceptable.

The three course meal and two bottles of red to follow may have been a little excessive, but nicely set us up for the ride back to Limehouse and the boat!

Ride and Glide!

The tandem riding had an air of order after our first training run. We had call signs that, we belatedly realised, when combined, sounded like a type of lubricant rather than a coordinated sporting unit. That aside, however, we were quietly confident.

Ride two was designed to get some miles in the legs – somewhere over the 100 mark to prove that we could manage the distance.

Knowing Chris was out with clients meant that Henry and I, always believers that an odd drink never hurt, liberally carb-loaded on the night before the ride. It only seemed fair, so as not to have an advantage over Chris.

At some point during this preparation our judgement erred and the hour of our departure rapidly began to merge with bedtime.

As a result of this experiment I can categorically say that drinking all night is not ideal preparation for a 100 mile bike ride.

Regardless, Chris arrived looking like he had already done the distance and the three of us set off. It was cold and it hurt. A lot of endurance riding is mental and a no-sleep hangover is not the best mental state to achieve the required miles.

We flogged on, up the Lea valley, through Epping, Chipping Ongar and some of Essex’s finest. We mixed a puncture in for variety and eventually stopped for lunch at a pub where they assumed we were part of the over 60’s cycling club they had booked in – that’s how good we looked.

Lunch it transpires is the great healer. Food and beer revitalised us enough for the return journey and we made the distance, but did it hurt.

Hall of fame

‘Welcome to the hall of fame, now you’ve coughed up cash, welcome to the hall of…’ he sings while mangling the lyrics of Madness.

In short, these are the posts where we thank you for your support of Education for All – as evidenced by the final line…

So, Elliot, a former O2 client, and good friend who we are now working with elsewhere, set the funding ball rolling in what has been a slow start this year.

Freddie, kindly chipped in behind him and we are 4% of the way to our target.

You both rock! Many thanks for the support!

Thanks to Jim McW, impressed by your Arabic, blessings on your house.

Steve and Iris, you’re both stars!