Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Return of the magnificent seven

Cycling's a tough sport for tough dudes. But it's in the mountains when riders learn most about themselves. Do they have the character? Do they have the bottle? Last Sunday's training took the team up a notch. As befits a man known locally as 'King of the Alpen', Rich Snaith had again enjoyed a good hearty breakfast and was ready for the challenge. He knew he had the bottle. If only his team mates had kept up, he'd have been willing to share it with them.

Our intrepid band of heroes were once again the Magnificent Seven owing to the absence of Shelley. She'd arrived early in Rowen, rapidly becoming the team's spiritual home, and simply followed the crowd. She found herself in the third row of the Sunday Service and was too embarrassed to leave. It was only when the choirmaster asked her if she was part of a Supremes tribute act that she decided to leave, with her teammates long gone. Oh, how the people of Rowen long to see the day when the might of the Full Eight is unleashed on the local hills.

With the big day less than two weeks away, the route had been designed to stretch. And it did. On the uphill stretch towards Nebo Andrea's wheels were spinning but only just. As she reached deep into her dwindling reservoirs of energy to propel the bike onwards and upwards, Gethin, who had dismounted to walk uphill, comfortably kept pace alongside. Still, it's miles in the tank and that’s what counts. Those resources will be vital on the day, although it was several days before she could walk normally again.

This second training event saw the long awaited introduction of Phil the Farmacist, who made an impressive entrance by mounting a brand new bicycle. It so sparkled and gleamed in the Conwy Valley sunshine that mutterings were overheard that he might be better known as Phil 'The Power' Danson. That was until the hills. At one point he appeared to be cycling backwards as the whole team quietly passed him. In his defence, he hadn't been out on the bike since before Christmas. Which Christmas was the question on everyone's lips. He'll be better for the race practice and there'll be no rust next week.

It was important to ensure that there were no injuries on this run. So when Nathan started his jumping tricks Andrea was on it like a car bonnet. As for Andrea herself, apart from having to learn to walk again after the hill climb, she was merely left to rue the absence of sun tan cream. Indeed, on the run back to Rowen several vehicles pulled over when they saw her glowing face in the mirror, believing that it was the emergency services.

The dry, sunny conditions were a welcome change from the previous week's torrential downpour. Having layered up their clothing to contend with the colder temperatures at the top, they soon found that the effort required meant that those layers were peeled off at frequent intervals. The team are in good nick. Shelley actually cycled home from Plas Blodwel last Friday, all the way to Abergele, racking up a few more miles training. Gethin had been knee-capped playing hockey the day before but survived training to be confident of his form and fitness. Special mention must be made of Bill Greenwood, Clare's husband, who rode to support the team.

Cutting to the chase, they’re looking for your money. This is for Cycle4Nik and why would we not help? Colleagues from the housing sector, supported by Community Housing Cymru, are undertaking a cycling challenge from North to South Wales to raise funds for a former housing association member of staff who has two young children and a rare form of cancer. Nik needs financial support to receive specialist treatment and care. The cycling ride will take place from 28 February until 2 March. Our guys are riding the first leg, which takes place on 28 February, starting in Colwyn Bay and finishing in Dolgellau. To put in context the effort that people are putting in, one of the South Wales crew had an accident in training and broke his hip, requiring an urgent operation on Sunday night. We wish him well in his recovery. Clearly this is not an easy ride!

You can either collect all your donations or donate directly to the fundraising website: (http://www.gofundme.com/Hope4NikkiCycle).

You can follow the progress of the cycling team on the group’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cycle4nik

The Twitter hashtag for the cause is #cycle4nik.

Thanks for your support – they need the encouragement of seeing the donations rising!

FOOTNOTE: Phil ‘The Farmacist’ Danson wishes it to be made clear that his nickname reflects only his association with agricultural pursuits and does not in any way imply the use of illegal substances which may enhance performance (or in Phil’s case, for treating a cold). He did once read a book about Lance Armstrong though.

Paul Diggory
North Wales Housing

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