A Journey of a 1000 miles starts with a single step

Gentle South Downs Giant Journey

After getting back to full time work in 2008, (five years after a severe head injury with multiple fractures sustained in a climbing accident) I was asked by Tim Corso, a work colleague, if I would join him in the GSD Giant cycling event in September..

The event was to raise funds for AGSD (Association of Glycogen Storage Disease), a condition that Andy, a work colleague, suffers from. Andy has been unable to come into work for the last 2 years because of GSD

Having previously raised funds for Headway, the brain injury association, I decided that for each donation made on the Virgin Money Giving website for AGSD, I would make a donation to Headway Swindon.

At 5:30am on the 2nd September I met Tim at his house near Devizes and we travelled down to the event with Di, his partner. The morning was a bit grey but not windy and looked promising for the ride.

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1 Colin with Tim and his bike preparing to start

Two hours later we arrived at the Goodwood race course and the event parking. A few others had also arrived, presumably also keen for an early start.

Tim and I positioned ourselves in the first group of riders to leave, noting the food van for a potential visit on our return.

In the first few miles riders who had started in later groups passed us in flurries.

Tim was using an app on his phone to broadcast our progress and we were delighted to see that Mark Trundell had used this to get in position for some action photography.

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2 Tim leading before the rain starts

Towards the top of one of the smaller, early hills (we had not yet reached any of the longer hills), Tim suddenly stopped. The ‘Oh no!’ exclamation was not very informative and he had to point out that part of his front tyre beading had popped off the rim. Tim deflated the tyre and then pumped it back up, checking that the beading was seated properly and we were soon back on the road again.

It was drizzling fairly constantly but fortunately not cold and there was no wind.

After sweeping down a main road we were taken by surprise by a left turn requiring a much lower gear. My chain jumped off the chain ring and somehow got twisted between the rings. A couple more cyclists, who were also taken by surprise by the change of gradient at the junction, stopped to help. It took a bit of fiddling but it was eventually freed and back on.

As we approached the longest hill of the ride at South Harting , Alan Muir the AGDS organiser, slowed for a brief chat and went on ahead.

Tim announced that the knee injury sustained while training was starting to be a problem and that I should ride on ahead as he was going to take it steady on the hills. The rain was more constant now as I pushed on up the hill passing a couple of cyclists on the way. At the top I took my glasses off as I waited for Tim, as it meant I could take a break from constantly wiping off the rain.

We had a fast descent from the top of the hill. Tim was a lot faster than me on the downhill sections and I had to work hard to catch up with him on the flat.

The ride continued in much the same way with me following on the hills and then Tim speeding down them like a demon.

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3 Tim and Colin on one of the rises (photo purchased from SportivePhoto)

I had an intermittent problem with my mudguards rubbing on the wheels which required regular adjustments. Eventually I just left them even though the rubbing/squeaking noises were a constant irritation to Tim.

The feed stations were all well provisioned although the last one was not where our information said it would be. There was a disconsolate few miles until we came upon it.

As we approached a junction a couple of miles from the finish, we saw the catering van with our anticipated paella disappear in the opposite direction.

We arrived back at Goodwood to be greeted by an event organiser and only a handful of cars. The UK Cycling Events organiser also told us the timing people had gone home. It didn’t matter, we had got to the end with no disasters and had not been tempted to ‘escape’ onto one of the shorter routes because of the rain unlike many others.

Our time might not have been great but we had done it! Furthermore we had the added satisfaction that between the two of us we raised over £1700 for a really worthy cause and we’d like to say a huge thank you to all our sponsors.