A Dream Ride
Doug (Where's the Jelly Beans) Howie
Mark (Spokesy) Stokes
Nigel (ABM - Assistant Bike Mechanic) Goddard
Matt (Peroni Boy) Balkwill
Lloyd (The Power) Dunkley
Claire (Where's the Coffee) Smith
Kirsty (20mph!!) Charrett
The intrepid "team of 7" met at Billingshurst shortly after 8am on Thursday morning. Whilst we had a warm welcome from Dan Harris and Kevin Comper, thanks guys, the weather wasn't so kind... Heavy rain was falling, roads were soaked, and there wasn't too many smiley faces! Anyway, not to be put off we all kitted up and the rain soon stopped. Toilets were visited for the last few nervous wee's and by departure at 8.45 it was dry, albeit wet roads.
They were off... The start of the journey
Billingshurst to Horsham
Straight away up a hill!! This was to become a feature, hill after hill. Anyway, a relatively short 7.4 mile stint without incident saw everyone get their cycling legs in, and a warm welcome from Martin Comper at Horsham followed. Drinks and chocolate, this was also to become a bit of a feature.
Horsham to Roffey
A 1.6 mile stint, fairly straight forward and incident free... We were up here before opening so a quick photo stop and off to our next destination
Roffey to Cranleigh
Set off on a slightly longer stint. This helped to get us all in the groove. 12.4 miles and some hills to contend with. After a short stint on the busy A24 we started to hit some nice back roads. The first sight off the hills saw Claire and Lloyd start to compete!! The rest of us watched from behind!! Mattgot a puncture so stopped for a couple of "inflations", until we rolled in to Cranleigh. Thanks to Sue Wakeley who came running out to greet us and a warm welcome. Chocolate was on offer so Matt "inflated" himself again, whilst standing at the side watching admirably as Nigel changed his inner tube quicker than a Ferrari pit crew - He now got his job title - ABM (Assistant Bike Mechanic)..
Cranleigh to Godalming
Rolling out of Cranleigh to Godalming, was only 9 miles so we were confident of this one!! That was until the hills started! OK, so this might not be that straight forward... Winding through the lanes was lovely, if only it was down not up. Eventually we peaked after 6 miles and then had a great 3 mile roll down hill into Godalming. Nice to be greeted there by the waiting Ambulance?? Luckily not for us, we were all fit and well. Matty had got his family out for this one, so the Balkwill family were like the Paparazzi here!! Great team spirit in Godalming with Judith and all the team all outside to cheer us along the High Street, thank you. Tea's and Coffee on offer here much to Claire's delight!!
Godalming to East Horsley
A longer stint now... 16 miles in the saddle, and a few of the "bottoms" were starting to feel it. Relatively flat here, and the only incident was a lorry who couldn't turn!! Anyway a lovely roll down to East Horsley which was great until we realised we had to go back up it on the way out! We were met by James and the team, and had, guess what.... More Chocolate!! Took a nice lunch break, bit of banter, and then set off to Merrow.
East Horsley to Merrow
Only 6 miles, but a tough start up a hill out of East Horsley. As it happens, all the cyclists made it no problem, it was only tough for the support vehicle from Dreams Come True which had a problem.... Sadly it broke down so we stocked up on Jelly Beans and carried on relentlessly. We arrived at Merrow and were greeted by Jack and the team, yeah, chocolate!!! However it was at this stage Marc realised he had left his ciggies in the van!! Now a choice? Back to the van, or keep going.... Keep going it was.
Merrow to Guildford
Easy this one, 3 miles, we all enjoyed this, and mainly down hill. A great Banking Hall, and welcome from Rhona, Fran and the team. A full on Sandwich platter, fruit, cakes, biscuits, drinks, and energy gels on tap here, although where from we were never really sure!! News from the support vehicle, a broken gearbox, he would meet us later, and Marc was panicking, no ciggies!!
Guildford to Farnham
Next stint was the last long stage of the day, 15 miles to Farnham. A few legs were feeling it, so Miss Motivator kicked in and Claire was egging us on... Some pleasantries from a nice you man coming out of Guildford who obviously didn't have a great deal of charitable spirit, and an incident between Marc and a scaffolding van added to the excitement. As we approached Farnham though grey clouds descended and the rain started. It threatened to get messy, but after 10mins blew over and we rolled in to Farnham. This is clearly the energy branch, Gels, Bars, Sweets all of the highly sugared and energetic variety. Probably Claire's influence rubbing off. Alex and the team made us very welcome and fed us. Marc was now shaking, not through tiredness, just panic about ciggies!!
Farnham to Aldershot
A short 4 miler.. A climb up Eggars Hill, and Kirsty led us to her home branch. Guy welcomed us here and Nicola and the team had gone to a great effort telling there new BM Kirsty to get "On Your Bike" which she took literally!! Stocked up on more food and drink but a quick stop as time was pressing on. Still no sight of the support vehicle!!
Aldershot to North Camp
A nice 2 miles this... A straight road and you can almost see branch to branch... Lloyd was excited here, he saw some tanks!! Janet and Stuart made us feel very welcome and more snacks to keep us going... Support vehicle was being replaced, AA couldnt fix it, so it would meet us at the finish!!
North Camp to Queensmead
Only 1.7 miles and down hill... Down hill all the way past the airport and rolled into Queensmead. Great stop here, loads of snacks, drinks, and our very own Granny Smith was met by her Grand-daughter... Andrew and the team laid on a nice spread but sadly not a huge amount of time to enjoy. More branches to get to!!
Queensmead to Frimley
Only 2.6 miles and again down hill... Hitting rush hour traffic, so exciting times on a couple of roundabouts but safely arrived in Frimley where Steve and Nikki had waited for us. A great Banking Hall, and loads of money raised, well done. Only really time for a quick photo and then it was the last leg of Day 1...
Frimley to Camberley
2.3 miles, ducking and diving in the rush hour traffic into Camberley... All plain sailing until we arrived at The Mall where Security got a bit excited with 7 cyclists coming through the shopping centre doors!! Anyway, appeased them quickly and then enjoyed the moment. A finishing ribbon had been prepared and we rode through. More snacks drinks, hugs and high 5's... Aaron and the Camberley team had given us a warm welcome to finish the day.
Day 1 done 5.30pm, 6 hours in the saddle ... 77 miles, West Sussex and Surrey covered, and remarkably all feeling not too bad, or so we thought!
We checked in to our hotel, and our support vehicle decided to arrive.... 1st thing off? Doug got Jelly Beans, Matt a lucozade sport and Marc??? You guessed it.. His cigarettes!!!
We all freshened up and went to Zizzi's. Bit of banter about the days efforts, Matt kept on ordering us all Peroni's and then in to Creme's for dessert... More sugar!!! Back to the hotel for a beer and then bed at 10.30... Bit of a waste of time that! Think we all had too much sugar in our bodies, and hyper, so not a lot of sleep was had. Breakfast at 7.15, check out, meet at 8.15 and ready to roll for Day 2 at 8.30
Camberley to Blackwater
A nice roll of 2 miles to start. Too early for the branch to be open so no photo and on to Yateley....
Blackwater to Yateley
2.6miles here... A flat roll, just what we need to stretch the legs first thing. Arrived by 9am and great to see Tom and all the team there. Maria presented "Dreams Come True" with a cheque for over £1k from Yateley's fundraising efforts, what a team. More chocolate here to start the day. Starting to get the feeling we are putting on weight rather than losing it!!
Yateley to Hartley Wintney
9 miler to stretch the muscles! Up a hill... Joy!!! This is going to be a "hilly" day. Anyway, we did it, and hit a lovely down hill stretch to Hartley. We arrived just as the first customers of the day were being greeted by Caroline and the team. Photo, drink and snack and off we go...
Hartley to Fleet
7 miles, flat, and all smiles, plenty of chat, sun is shining, and we are all loving it... Matt and the team in Fleet gave us a huge round of applause as we arrived in branch. It makes a difference and all the greetings were warmly appreciated. Time to stock up with more cake, chocolate and lucozade!! This is good.... And then off we go, determined to finish on time today
Fleet to Odiham
7 miles here and Nigel's home territory. He led us down some lovely winding lanes which was to be a feature of Day 2. Only time he wasnt at the front was when the camera came out and our vey own Marc "Spokesy" Stokes wanted to show off and lead the peloton! Wayne and the team were ready to meet and greet at Odiham... Snacks again here!! Lloyd politely pushed out the way by an elderly lady was also slightly amusing to the rest of us...
Odiham To Tadley
Oh Oh... Big stretch, 18 miles up to the furthest point. We decided to go back roads, and what an inspired decision. We found some fantastic country lanes and beautiful scenery, not to mention plenty of hills!! We had a quick stop en route for Bananas (Dougs doing mainly as he had skipped breakfast), and made it up to Tadley. This is where to come for cakes, lovely!! Thank you to Lee and the team for making us feel so welcome.
Tadley to Basingstoke (Festival Place)
A 10 mile stretch back to Basingstoke and homeword bound. Claire, Lloyd and Nigel "went for it", and Doug was struggling a bit here. a rollercoaster of a road, and busy!! Still Mark and Matt kept Doug going, and we all met up by the Basingstoke Hospital. An inspired stopping point in case it was needed! However, we kept on going, and rolled into Festival Place. We learnt from the day before and got permission to push the bikes through the shopping centre. Chris and the team were ready for us, as well as lots of customers! Lunch time is busy in Basingstoke!
Festival Place to Winchester Street
Tough this one... A 400 yard walk!! Entertainment outside the branch and Diane and Anthony to greet us as we arrived. Plenty of chocolate and fruit here which we needed! Time for a lunch stop, so sandwiches, snacks, and cigarettes for Marc! Mental mind games going on now... This was the last big stage, a 20 miler cross country on tough roads to Bordon
Basingstoke to Bordon
A real tough 5 miles out of Basingstoke, plenty of hills here to test us. This become the power stint! See you later Lloyd, Claire and Nigel, the rest of us waved as their bottoms disappeared in the distance. Once through the hills a lovely 6 mile stretch round Lasham airfield on flat roads which we rolled along at well over 20mph. We were all flying and enjoying this. A right turn up to Alton saw our only serious incident. A van hit Marc Stokes and knocked him off, thankfully he was mainly unhurt, however slightly dazed. Brave boy, nothing a cigarette didnt sort! A stop for First Aid (cigarette) and we were way again. A ride round Alton and then a great spot, the Wanborough hill... Over 40 mph downhill and we had to slow because cars were in the way!! Warm welcome from Michelle. We arrived at closing time and had cakes. An emotional stop here for Doug, he had a text here with some great news about a family member. He was now motivated to power on to the finish! We were all proud, we thought we had cracked it!!
Bordon to Grayshott
6 miles... No problem.. Lets go... However, the map didnt say 6 miles UPHILL!! Every turn, every corner was another uphill. We felt we were in the clouds and in rarefied air by the time we met David and the team at Grayshott. A warm welcome on the main road, and 2 more support riders to see us to the finish. Welcome to the team Sarah Turk and David Palmer. They fed us, and promised us downhills in to Haslemere...
Grayshott to Haslemere
We went uphill! What happened to that promise. Anyway after a mile we hit Hindhead and then a great 3 miles all downhill in to Haslemere. Yeeeehaaaaa... This was good, and we earnt it.. Kirsty smashed her fastest speed down here, leading the way and flying. We arrived at Haslemere, mum Dawn and the team were out on the street for Lloyd, party poppers in hand. The joy was showing now... Only 1 more branch to go. A stop for drink and snack and then we were off
Haslemere to Liphook
5 miles and the promise of one last difficult hill. We psyched ourselves up and all sailed over the summit. Here it was, a downhill drag to thie finish, and the end of our challenge. We finished in a line, and arrived in Lihook at 4.45. We did it!! Coral was here for us with the Liphook team. Dreams Come True and the Local Newspaper were ready for us. The champagne flowed, the camera shutters clicked! Hugs all round, and a huge sense of achievement and pride. We had completed Day 2, and the challenge. Today was 84 miles, and 5 hours 45 in the saddle... Plenty of sore bottoms.
A small celebration followed, medals and certificates, and then all wound there way home by car!! The challenge was done..
I would like to finish in also saying a huge thank you to every branch. The riders could not have achieved what they did without your support, passion, enthusiasm, and not to mention drinks, chocolate and cakes. You did us as proud as we did you... All for a great cause it will make a huge difference to children who are not as fortunate as yours or mine...
Signed Off - THE DREAM RIDERS
Author: Hannah Attenburrow
Source: Dreams Come True
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