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.


A numbers game…

  • 200 riders
  • 34 degrees heat
  • 1 very large climb – 140k / 2624m
  • 3 ‘fat dads’ who cycled down from England (!) – Of whom, Douglas jnr was the winner on the day
  • 1 Brompton
  • 6.8 miles – Strava underestimating  the distance I covered hmmm
  • 12,932 Nike Fuel Points of cycling

So the new blood this year were mainly younger and whippet thin. Particularly from a distance – which was the main view I had of them as they disappeared over the horizon.

Of the rest, shall we say determined amateurs, we struggled up via litres of water, liberal application of sun cream and ever increasing amount of cramp. The heat turned it in to a massive feat of endurance, broken briefly by the break-neck descent and then the 30k run in to Marrakech on melting tarmac into a hot, dry headwind.

Very, very hard – harder than in the cold, but all worthwhile once an ice-cold beer at the finish started to numb the pain.

Extremely well organised in the charming, understated way that made in so enjoyable last year and bought Chris and I back for more.

Great to meet Linda of Riad Linda, our host during our brief stay and the one reader of this blog! – a pleasure to share a drink at the finish.

Respect to Mike, Chris, Gareth and all the rest of the Education for All team for making it all happen.

Thanks to Argan Xtreme Sports for the Pepsi and Marlboro red in my hour of need!

And, finally, a massive thank you for all the support – we have raised enough money to support three girls for a year at the EFA houses.

Right, I need some sleep


Chris smiling:


The time is now!


Just sent the last begging mail out:

The final comedown [mail 3 of 3]

Sorry, ‘countdown’…

Yep, this Sunday is the big day!

Cue, ‘Velvet Underground’

Sunday morning,

Brings the dawning,

Of one blooming monstrous mountain climb on my Brompton… [It may not scan, but I am fairly sure I will]

Feel all the wasted years

Catch one up from behind…

For those of you who want to bypass my woffle and cut to the chase:

For everybody else, read on…

Firstly, a massive thanks for all the support so far – we are about 70+% on our way to our target!

When I started training for this caper a couple of months back, my stated aims – outside of emptying your bank account – covered three things

  1. no beer
  2. no fags
  3. no junk food.

Well, I certainly went on to prove that prohibition, as history demonstrates, doesn’t work. I can almost sense the resounding shock that, true to form, so long as you strike the ‘no’, I succeeded in these aims!

Rather than failure, I am looking at it as follows –

  • The beer is ‘carb loading’
  • The occasional cigarettes and reduced lung capacity is good training for the high altitude.

Admittedly, I have failed to justify the junk food to myself, but think the climb will be a suitable guilt-ridding punishment.

Despite my human weaknesses, however, I have cycled up Swains Lane in Highgate a lot of times (43 thousand feet worth of times, in fact) by way of some urban training.

Between the wrenching gasps, sweat stinging eyes and sinew twanging thighs, I have been amused passing the famous cemetery with Marx, unusually, on my right and, on my left, the crowds of disappointed tourists who failed to book the tour around the older West side – although not as disappointed, I imagine, as Dickens and co were when they arrived to take up more permanent residence!

Anyhow, it’s almost time to fold the bike and head to the Atlas mountains, so we may as well end with a tune…

Cue the Wonderstuff

It’s not your heart, it’s your bank I want to break!

It’s your money I am after baby…!


Look on the bright side, it could have been ‘the only way is up’ by Yazz.

See you all next Tuesday, so to speak,

Tuffs xxx

Eight weeks out

Okay – that’s it, I have sent the company-wide sponsorship mail – let the world know I am doing this and commited to getting healthy – that was the easy bit!

All R/GA:

For those who missed my inaugural Toastmasters talk yesterday, between all the ‘effing and blinding’ and giving HR enough material to extradite me from the building, I touched on uppers and downers!

The big high in this case being the Oukaimeden in the High Atlas – a casual 10,000’ of climbing on my little Brompton! The downer being the return journey which is terrifying – last year the clown bike topped 50mph!

Starting in Marrakech, you climb through the High Atlas Mountains to the ski resort of Oukaïmeden (Ouka) at 2624m, an altitude gain of some 2129m in aid of Education for All. To give you an idea The Ouka Monster is bigger in altitude gain than any of the classic climbs in the Tour de France:

Oukaïmeden 2129m
▲ Galibier 1924m
Mont Ventoux 1622m
▲ Tourmalet 1404m
▲ Alpe d’Huez 1071m

I am about to go through the pain of spending the next 8 weeks getting fit, not smoking, not drinking beer and not eating junk food to do this. In return I want to rob you all deaf, dumb and blind in the name of a fantastic cause (I cover all my expenses and all monies go to the charity)

Thanks in advance,

Tuffs x


A while back I sent out a rallying call to everyone I know to see if they wanted to join us – other than the odd person being recommended by others, so far, the response is ‘minimal’ but it is not too late to join! http://www.marrakech-atlas-etape.com/register/ – We are flying Saturday 26 April – riding Sunday 27 April – returning Monday 28 if you have the urge.

And for something completely different which may need the addition of an AK: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-26437881

BOOM! We’re back!

‘ Never again. Ever!

No, you will have to shoot me first.

Wild horses and etc….’

Time [being the great healer] passes (which may be a little too much information…)

And, yes, I am going to give it a second go and hope there is some visibility this time – if there is, I also hope it doesn’t make me cry again as people may see…!

Since April, this part of the team has moved onto a sailing barge and in drunken sailor fashion, has undone all the good work that took place in advance of the last ride.

So – with winter just around the corner, it is time to buy a pair of scales and spend many a cold hour dragging myself up hills by way of preparation…

… did I really just sign up for this?