The Euro According to Blackadder

Baldrick: "What I want to know Sir is, before there was a Euro there were lots of different types of money that different people used. And now there’s only one type of money that the foreign people use. And what I want to know is, how did we get from one state of affairs to the other state of affairs"

Blackadder:

"Baldrick. Do you mean, how did the Euro start?"

Baldrick:

"Yes Sir"

Blackadder:

"Well, you see Baldrick, back in the 1980s there were many different countries all running their own finances and using different types of money. On one side you had the major economies of France, Belgium,Holland and Germany, and on the other, the weaker nations of Spain, Greece, Ireland, Italy and Portugal. They got together and decided that it would be much easier for everyone if they could all use the same money, have one Central Bank, and belong to one large club where everyone would be happy. This meant that there could never be a situation whereby financial meltdown would lead to social unrest, wars and crises".

Baldric

k: "But this is sort of a crisis, isn’t it Sir?".

Blackadder:

"That’s right Baldrick. You see, there was only one slight flaw with the plan".

Baldrick:

"What was that then, Sir?"


Blackadder
: "It was bollocks".

The Olympics Are Coming–so is Travel Chaos

Its now nine weeks until the 2012 London Olympics start. For most of London (and indeed the UK as a whole) there is little chance of watching any Olympic Event live. However, for many who work or live in London, the Olympics are going to be a major feature of this summer. [For Olympics, also read Paralympics].

The Government have been bombarding businesses in London with information about the likely effects of the Olympics on the ability of businesses to operate.

For example at http://www.getaheadofthegames.com/travel-advice-for-business/support-advice-and-tools.html the following advice is provided.

Helping your business and staff

Your business will face new challenges during the Games. This may affect staff travel to and from work, as well as business travel. Make sure staff are aware of the transport challenges they face and communicate advice and any changes you are making to your operations. There are some simple steps you and your staff can take to prepare:

Reduce
Reduce non essential trips and minimise disruption to your staff, visitors and suppliers:
  • Encourage staff to work from home or an alternative location
  • Allow staff to work compressed weeks, for example, work five ‘normal’ days compressed into four longer days
  • If possible, encourage staff to take annual leave
  • Reduce the number of journeys made during the working day
  • Where possible, use alternative methods for meetings, like conference calls, video conferencing and web conferencing
Retime
Retime essential journeys to avoid busy periods:
  • Change working hours so staff avoid the busiest times on transport networks
  • If possible, change core hours of operation
  • Stagger staff start and finish times to provide flexibility
  • Schedule appointments for less busy times of the day
  • Shift meetings to less busy days
Reroute
Reroute essential journeys to avoid busy areas:
  • Avoid busy stations and roads during the Games
  • Finding alternative meeting points that are less affected by the Games will make things easier for you

 

The emphasis on the above is mine.

The problems will be caused by huge extra numbers of passengers on the already over crowded public transport in London. Already at rush hour, stations have to be closed in Central London to reduce congestion and ensure public safety. This is a regular issue at Holborn Tube Station which is the one nearest our offices. On the roads, lots of roads will have one out of two lanes closed for so called “VIP” use. This will, in East London reduce the capacity of the main arteries by 50%. The roads are already congested at rush hour, so its going to be much worse when the capacity is reduced by 50%. This is going to make it far more dangerous to cycle to work.

The situation near our work offices is worse, because there are a number of hotels nearby that will be housing the Olympic bigwigs, so roads will be closed and or turns banned. Just getting to work will be difficult.

Now, given that I work for a governmental body, you would think that they may have made some plans wouldn’t you? Well, Treasury Solicitors with who we share a building ran an exercise in February to test out alternative ways of working or getting to work. This included working from different venues, working at home, encouraging people to try alternative forms of travel to work.

My employers seemingly buried their heads in the sand at that time. No planning exercises have been carried out.

As we are involved in Inspecting the CPS, this often entails up being on site at CPS offices. It would perhaps have been sensible to arrange inspections out of London so as to reduce the burden of travel on Inspectors would it not? Seemingly this idea has been ruled out, with all London based inspectors being required to be in our London offices file reading during the Olympic period. This therefore means we will need to travel into Central London each day during the Olympics.

Repeated requests have been made to the management team as to what the plans are for the organisation during the Olympics and for staff to get too or from the office. The following email was sent this week to all staff on behalf of the management:

All

Further to asking all staff to share their view of the impact of the Olympics on travel arrangements please find below a link which will hopefully take you to the TSol website which gives various updates on the outcomes of their Trial Week

http://www.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Generally it is still too soon to gauge how HMCPSI staff will be affected, however we are confident that we will be able to deliver a satisfactory service to our stakeholders.

This is to include external organisations as well as internal teams (e.g. CSG who deliver services to colleagues).

So, it appears that this government department is burying its head in the sand an is still avoiding making any provisions for the Olympic period. No mention of working from home, no mention of alternative working hours or practices, no mention of anything. So much for Government advice. This government body seems to ignore the same.

The link to the Tsol website is of little use as it talks about working from home etc. – none of which we are able to do.

The line “Generally it is still too soon to gauge how HMCPSI staff will be affected” is incredible. It is nine weeks until the games start. At what point do the ostriches think it won’t be too soon to gauge or plan for the effect of the Olympics on HMCPSI staff?

It is nice to know that HMCPSI staff are only interested in the service they will provide, not how the Olympics will affect staff.

Government advice on planning for the Olympics is clearly not meant to be acted upon by government bodies! Or is it just that somebodies have ostriches for their management team?

http://www.getaheadofthegames.com/travelinaffectedareas/city/london-road-predicted-impacts.html

We’ve been Invaded: London May 23rd 2012

Today, I make the shocking discovery that London had been invaded. The number of invading forces far exceeded my imagination. More about that later though.

Following my trip to the USA and subsequent illness, I’m back to full fighting fitness now and have cycled to work each day this week. That’s a total of 75 miles done so far. Today I did over 26 miles. My longest commute this week. Now, I know its not much compared to the distances I was cycling before going to the USA, but its a positive that I am cycling each day! I am hoping to do at least 100 miles each week as a minimum. Obviously on an average week, this should not be a problem. When I am out of the office, it will be more difficult or I will have to do some long commutes to make up the average.

Well, sadly I am back into the swing of things at work. We are out on site at present on an Inspection. Fortunately this is only 15 minutes walk from our office, so it is not too disruptive. For reasons of confidentiality, I am not able to say who or what we are inspecting at present other than to say its a  Nightmare on Elm Street. Readers of Private Eye will understand exactly the Serious Farce Our confidentiality imposes on us.

The last 3 days have brought some very pleasant weather, indeed today was the first day this year I have commuted in short sleeved shirt and shorts. It was a great day weather wise, hitting the low 80s in London this afternoon. Sadly its due to get colder over the next few days, but it will remain in the high 60s in London for the next few days.

It has been a shock to have traffic passing me as I cycle. It makes me realise how good the motorcycle outriders did in our Police Unity Tour ride in closing all the roads and keeping us safe. Thanks guys!

Talking of the USA, I thought I must share this picture I took of the door in a Target Store during the Police Unity Tour

IMG-20120510-00097

I’m still trying to work out how to use that door! Any clues?

I got a text today from My son to say he had finished his final exam of his first year at University. He has done very well in his exams and is reaping the reward for his hard work. Well done Tom, we’re all proud of you. The only issue I have is that I still struggle to believe that I have a son of 19 years of age! I’m not old enough surely am I? Still at least Michelle has promised me that the only patter of tiny feet that will be heard in her house is from Charlie and Ruby, the Jack Russell dogs she has!

Right, lets talk about the invasion. Its an invasion of cyclists. Tioday, as I walked to the offices in Elm Street I was proceeding down Clerkenwell Road. There were packs of cyclists at every junction. In the space of walking 100 yards, I say in excess of 100 cyclists, all of whom were cycling to workach day.

I have never seen so many cyclists on the oad together. A very wide cross section of the public are all cycling to work each day. Some for health reasons. some for leisure and some to save money on the commute.

It was a good sight to see. Lets hope it continues throughout the summer.

Ground hopping: Wembley 19th May 2012 Football League Championship Playoffs–Blackpool v West Ham United

For the 2nd time in 2 years, I had the chance to go to the game that is called the richest game in football. The playoff final for the last promotion place to the Premiership is said to be worth somewhere between £85 and £100 million to the winners. Quite some prize isn’t it?

The game was between West Ham and Blackpool, neither of which teams I support. Wet Sham, sorry West Ham are the nearest team to where I live, but I’m no fan of theirs. The reason I went was my cousin Chris was coming over from Ireland to go to the game. Chris has lived in Ireland for the last 30 years, so things like electricity and trains are new to him- only joking Chris.

As well as Chris coming over, Michelle was coming down for the weekend, so she was dragged kicking and screaming to the game. We had arranged to meet Chris at Wembley as he was determined to soak up the atmosphere. Michelle and I had better ways to pass the time on a Saturday morning.

By the time Michelle and I arrived at Liverpool Street station, it was packed with West Ham fans going to the game. Many had been drinking heavily and the station was littered with discarded empty beer cans. There were so many going to Wembley that the Underground station had to be closed intermittently to ease the over crowding. There was a strange atmosphere at the station, it was a mixture of anticipation, excitement and an air of danger and menace. It was a strange atmosphere.

We got a tube to Baker Street and changed there for a tube to Wembley. To say it was rather full was an understatement- typical on a Wembley match day. The carriage we were in was full of West Ham fans in good humour singing the only song West Ham fans know – “I’m forever blowing bubbles”. For a club with 40,000 fans at Wembley and a long history, you’d have thought they might have more than one song.

Coming out of Wembley Park Tube station is the best sight in football. The sight of Wembley Way thronged with football fans.

DSCF0461

 

 

Reaching the top of Wembley Way, we made our way to the Bobby Moore Statute outside the ground where we met my cousin. Bobby Moore, obviously being West Ham’s most famous son as well as the only Englishman to lift the football World Cup. The sigh of father’s and son’s there of both teams, taking pictures in front of the statute was a change from the ominous air of tension and threat emanating from a small contingent of the West Ham fans. Blackpool fans on the other hand were there as family days out, with lots of multi generational groups from parents, children, grand parents and even great grandparents.

DSCF0467

Getting into the ground and the first shock of the day, the stewards were actually friendly and helpful. They will no doubt be sacked for this! I had walked into the ground with a bottle of water in my hand. instead of confiscating the bottle, the stewards handed me a plastic pint glass to pour the water into! I’ve never encountered this helpfulness before.

Up to level five and our seats. Looking round the ground, it appeared that Blackpool had not sold out their allocation. There were several thousand seats empty in the Blackpool end. West Ham, not surprisingly had sold all their 40,000 tickets.

The game itself started off slowly, with early on Blackpool having a couple of chances before West Ham gradually took control and it came as no surprise that after 35 minutes West Ham took the lead. This provoked sporadic violence throughout the Blackpool end as West Ham fans in their celebrated the goal.

I can understand why West Ham fans would buy the tickets in the Blackpool end if they could not get them in their own end, but given the 10,000 or so empty seats, one can only wonder why the West Ham fans did not choose to sit away from the Blackpool fans and again, the over the top celebrations by West Ham fans in the Blackpool end could only be designed to provoke reaction. It made for an uncomfortable atmosphere for the rest of the half as fights broke out all across the end. I understand the West ham fans continued to cause trouble under the stand on the concourse. There are a number of clips of trouble on You tube already of this.

Half time entertainment for me was provided by the drunk Blackpool fan stood/ slumped/ falling in front of us. He probably won’t remember much about his day at Wembley apart from his fall down the steps when he hit his head on the concrete. Too be honest, he probably should have been removed from the ground for his own safety, but the stewards were seemingly incapable of doing anything, even after he fell down the steps and was lying dazed on the ground. It begs the question as to what the stewards were employed to do? They failed to deal with the violence, they failed to deal with  the drunk or get him medical help, they did not even know where the seats on our tickets were.

DSCF0493

DSCF0494

The 2nd half produced some better football from Blackpool, starting with a goal 1 minute into the 2nd half by Tom Ince, the son of former West Ham  player Paul Ince. For 30+ minutes, Blackpool were on top and its only as a result of poor finishing and bad luck that they did not score again. The inevitable happened, West Ham took the game to Blackpool in the last few minutes and Richard Vaz Te scored 2 minutes from time to win the game for West Ham.

The only surprise at the end of the game was that Carlton Cole did not get man of the match, he was outstanding for West Ham.

Time to leave Wembley and head off for a swift beer before heading home. The walk from the stadium to the tbe stadium was spoilt by West Ham fans deliberately goading and provoking a response from Blackpool fans. Quite why these neanderthals were not in the ground celebrating their team’s win and watching them lift the trophy is probably a good answer to the sort of “fan” they really are.

We decided the thing to do to get a beer would be head back to Hamilton Hall at Liverpool Street for a pint, but owing to the behaviour of the West Ham fans before the game, the bar was closed on police advice until around 8pm. So we headed back to Ilford and found a little Irish Bar – Jonjos where we had a quick pint or 4 whilst the Lenister v Ulster Heineken Cup final was on the TV. We then went to the Great Spoon of Ilford for a last beer or was that another 4 whilst watching Chelsea win the European Champions Cup. We finally made it home around 00:30 – not bad considering we left Wembley at 16:50 and were only having one beer on the way home. At least tea was waiting when we got home- a pre prepared chilli to heat up and eat.

Waking up on Sunday morning, I learned that trains out of Liverpool St on the Saturday night had been disrupted owing to disorder at Chadwell Heath. could this have been from West Ham fans? I’ll leave you to decide on that.

Wembley Stadium is somewhere I have now been to at least 6 times since it was rebuilt. The stadium itself seems to get better and better. Sadly the transport situation does not match the quality of the stadium itself.

PUT 2012: The ride is Over–The Pain is forever

Well, I am back home from the USA. Its time to reflect on the event.

Firstly, let me recap on events since my last post. We arrived in DC on Saturday 12th May. The last day of the ride was the shortest of the 4 days at around 35 miles, but it was also the hilliest. We had a stop after 20 miles at a Target Store. Then we headed for the short trip to the RFK Stadium in DC.

With about 8 miles of the PUT left (270 done), we passed a female pedestrian who asked:

“Where are you all riding to?”

“We’re going to DC”

“You’re crazy riding all the way to DC”

Que the laughter from all those on the ride at her thinking 8 miles is a long way to ride.

When we arrived at the RFK Stadium we waited for the other rides to arrive. This was time for us to have a drink and something to nibble on.

I’m not saying it was hot, but I drank between 3 and 4 litres of Gatorade during that stop. It tells me that I did not drink enough during the ride. Cycling can be dangerous in the heat as it is a sport where you are kept feeling cool and dry by the feeling of the breeze, so that you do not realise how much you are dehydrating. Thus it is easy to get too dehydrated. Not usually a problem in English weather!

Washington-20120512-00104

The Brits Have Arrived: Myself & Paul at RFK Stadium (and no, we are not smuggling anything under the shirts!)

We left RFK . rode into Washington DC. some 1500+ cyclists riding 2 by 2 and  into a crowd of thousands at and around the National Law Enforcement Memorial (NLEOM). The welcoming ceremony informed us that we had raised $1.65million so far this year. A fantastic achievement which was up $0.15 million on last year despite the recession.

We also got our medals for completing the ride.

Washington-20120512-00106

Washington-20120512-00107

As I said in my last post we went for a meal on Saturday night at Pentagon City Mall, near our hotel.  This was a chance to reflect on another rider done. For Mike, it was number 9, my 3rd, Lisa’s and Jeremy’s 2nd ride and Paul and Maggie losing their PUT virginity this year. After the meal, Jeremy, Paul and I had a few beers back in our hotel and continued to reflect on the ride, life itself and generally speaking rubbish- at which I have to profess to be an expert (well that’s what Michelle tells me).

Sunday 13th May was the day of the Candlelight Vigil and a day free to sight see. Paul, Jeremy and I went to the NLEOM in the morning to reflect on the messages left in memory of the deceased officers. The messages are so poignant and put into place any feelings of pain us riders felt after the ride.

167

The West Wall – one of 2 walls with 20,000 names thereon

168

The Loss suffered by a family is painful to view.

 

 

171

Inscription on the Memorial

174

 

177

 

After visiting the memorial, we went to the “Tent city to have some lunch, view the stalls and have a quick beer before returning to Central Washington to go to the Chop House which is a restaurant and brewery that is famous for its special beer, “Copper Ale” which it brews once a year in Police Week and the special glass that comes with it.

185

With Paul and Jeremy in Chop House – a well earned beer

187

188

After thisw Paul and Jeremy had to leave to go back to the hotel to put their uniforms on as they were taking part in the Honour Guard at the Memorial. I went back to the NLEOM and met Mike. We viewed more of the tributes at the wall.

206

215

 

216

Heart-breaking

219

 

Mike and I then went for a meal at The Green Turtle restaurant with Lisa and her Canadian colleagues who had come down for the Vigil. We were honoured to be joined by the daughter and widow of a police officer killed in the line of duty and in whose memory we had ridden. We were also joined by a journalist from Cleveland Ohio who was writing a piece about the ride.

245

The Green Turtle Restaurant Meal

We then went to the NLEOM for the Vigil. Despite knowing Paul for a couple of years this was the first time I have seen him in a uniform.

254

He scrubs up well!

The Vigil was attended by the great and good in the US legal system, including the Attorney General. One noticeable absentee AGAIN was the President. He has not attended once since taking office and this is a black mark against him.

300

The Thin Blue Line During the Candlelight Vigil

304

 

After the vigil we went to a bar for a debrief, before heading back to our hotel for further debriefing. Before you start, we had no more than 3 or 4 beers all night. It was more about reflection than drinking. We also exchanged photps we had all taken over the week.

Monday morning, we all said our good byes. Paul and I had a few hours to kill, so we went on a whistle stop sightseeing tour of DC. We managed to see The White House, The Lincoln Memorial, The Korean War Memorial. The Vietnam Wat Memorial. The Reflecting Pond, The “nd world War Memorial, The Washington Monument, The Capitol Building and part of the Smithsonian Museum. Not bad for a couple of hours. Thereafter it was time to get to the airport for our flight home.

At the White House, there was a protest outside by some Ethiopians. They were being monitored by the US Secret Services. See pic below

DSCF0374

How did I know it was the secret service monitoring the protest? Well, the badge on their car was a clue.

DSCF0373

So what is secret about a uniformed secret service who advertise this on their motor vehicles?

 

DSCF0382

The White House

DSCF0385

The Second World War Memorial

DSCF0406

The Korean War Memorial

DSCF0418

 

DSCF0419

Outside & Inside the Lincoln Memorial

DSCF0430

The Washington Monument

DSCF0442

Looking to The Capitol Building from The Washington Monument

DSCF0446

Looking to The Lincoln Memorial from The Washington Monument

Sadly, the Reflecting Pool was empty as it is being refurbished and the Washington Monument was closed, but I’m not sure why.

 

Since arriving home, I have been ill. I appear to have picked up some sort of infection. I slept solid for 15 hours on Tuesday night – given I usually manage only 5-6 hours a night, this is exceptional. Combined with a throat infection, upset tummy etc, I am feeling a little bit sorry for myself. Now, I know that some people will think I am skiving work or suffering jet lag, but if I tell you that I have not eaten anything since I left the USA on Monday and its now Thursday, I am sure you will realise I MUST be ill. I have plenty of food in the house, but cannot face eating it Surprised smile. I still have not unpacked my travel bags. In fact I have slept most of the last 48 hours.

****************************************************************************************************************************

On reflection, I have to say that I have had a fantastic time in the USA. Thank you so much to everyone who sponsored me. Your generosity astounds me. Thanks must go to the support team on the PUT who put so much hard work in to make the ride such a pleasure. You guys are the star of the PUT. We cyclists just do what we enjoy for 4 days- riding our bikes.

The ride is a challenge, but the riders aqnd support team make it a pleasure. It was good to see friends again. Everyone on the ride makes me feel so welcome and it is a pleasure and an honour to be allowed to ride in this event.

 

At this point, you probably are left wondering what I mean by “the pain is forever” in the title of this post. This relates to the pain of the survivors who have to live everyday with the loss of their loved ones. You have seen in this blog some of the messages left at the wall. To see the faces of survivors as they arrived for the vigil, it was painful to see the pain they were in. I took a few pictures initially as the survivors arrived, but stopped and deleted these as it was not appropriate  to intrude in their personal grief.

Day 4 PUT 2012–Its All Over

The day’s statistics are:

TO FOLLOW

The real story however is that the ride is over for another year. 270 miles of no blood, lots of sweat and only tears of emotion. The ride  was short at 35 or so miles into DC, but it was the hardest ride in terms of the terrain. There were lots of short steep-ish hills and  rolling countryside, but the biggest issue was the state of the roads. The roads in New Jersey are bad, but DC is even worse. Instead of calling out holes and rough road, it was almost easier to call out when there was a smooth surface.

I nearly didn’t make it to DC as on the last stretch into DC, some 3 –4 miles from the RFK Stadium, the girl immediately in front of me in a tight bunch hit the wheel of the bike in front of her and came down, nearly bringing down several riders. I’m still not sure how I managed to avoid her at such close distance.

The parade from the RFK stadium to the Memorial was extra special this year as somehow we managed to be at the front of the parade and so were able to ride in and through the Memorial taking the applause of the thousands of people there. It was a very moving experience, to reach the end of the journey and see all those relatives of deceased officers cheering you in. Words cannot describe the feeling of arriving at the memorial. It is very humbling to have people who have lost loved ones cheering you into DC. We had just done what we love and ridden our bikes for four days. Their loved ones are the heroes – they gave their lives.

At the memorial, there was a welcoming ceremony when we learned that this year the ride had so far raised $1.65 million- last year it was $1.5million and in the first year 15 years ago was $15,000! The riders have done their fellow officers proud.

I have to say that I felt better today than I did last year. This is surprising to me as I am another year older and did not do any long distance rides this year.

A couple of beers and a free meal in a restaurant last night made for a good celebration. I managed to get my meal free because they screwed up my order, forgetting my starter, then delivering it at the same time as the main course.

Today it is the candlelight vigil and a day of leisure in DC – a chance to meet survivors, mingle with the crowds and chill out

Lack of internet access means this is kept short

Buzzing

Its the final morning of riding & the hardest by far. We have to climb nearly as much today in 30miles as we did yesterday in 94!

The bodies are tired, the mind is tired BUT the adrenalin rush & excitement will carry everyone on towards DC

The group I’m with Mike, Jeremy, Paul, Lisa & the inspirational Maggie make for great friends & I can’t wait to be with them all @ the memorial today in DC. Its always a moving time to arrive there with thousands of people cheering you in.

Next blog from DC

PS Good luck to West Auckland & Dunston @ Wembley today in the all Northern League FA Vase Final.

Day 3 PUT 2012

The statistics are:

Distance:
93.82 mi

Time:
7:26:23

Avg Pace:
4:45 min/mi

Avg Speed:
12.6 mph

Elevation Gain:
2,021 ft

Calories:
3,224 C

Avg Temperature:
72.4 °F

Well, we are now in Annapolis in Maryland having ridden over 230 miles in 3 days through, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. Tomorrow its the short haul into Washington Dc and our goal at the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial. The atmosphere tonight was very different from previous nights. Mor about that later.

The day started with our being up before 0500 to have our luggage outside the hotel by 0530 and then breakfast in the hotel. Thereafter, it was time to prepare body  mind and bike for another 90+ mile ride. This was to be a long haul with a first stage of 28 miles and an after dinner stage of 33 miles.

We rolled off shortly after 0700 and made our way south towards a centre that cares for the handicapped. This centre welcomes us every year, allowing us to use their facilities, making us banners and posters. In return, the PUT makes a donation to the centre’s costs. today as well as the centre receiving a donation, it was announced to everyone present that one of the rider’s, my Manx companion Maggie was celebrating her 70th birthday. An impromptu chorous of happy birthday followed. Maggie at 70 was doing the PUT for the first time. That is an incredible achievement. Its even better that she is from the Isle of Man and another Brit. Those who know me will know my mother is from the Isle of Man and I have lived there as well. Maggie is a truly inspirational lady and should be proud of herself doing the PUT; let alone doing it at 70 years of age. This first stage was a 28 mile ride. We arrived there before 0930 and the temperature was already scorching at 78F.

From the Centre, we had a very short stage to the Fire Station in Galena for Lunch. Albeit a short stage , it was rather lumpy, with several short sharp hills. Still, I’m pleased to report that on arrival at Galena, I was once again well placed in the Portaloo Sprint (the race to get to the portaloos before the others get there. This has started to be a recurring feature f the ride since I mentioned to one of the US riders that I was an admirer of Mark Cavendish for his sprinting. It is becoming a talking point that at the end of each stage I find myself nicely placed for the sprint. With a better lead out time, I could be devastating. i wonder if Cav and the other professional riders are competing for the Portaloo sprint at the end of each stage.

After lunch we set off for the longest stage of the PUT, a 33 mile ride. This is traditionally the fastest  stage. Indeed for the first 290 miles we were riding at between 15 and 20 mph before the lead car was ordered to slow down to a crawl as the field was once again spread over several miles. This was frustrating as I was going well, even up the hills and was at the front of the field again. Me competitive? I don’t know what you mean, but I’m not letting anyone pass me.  Arriving at our final stop of the day, I was again one of the winners on the portaloo sprint. In fact I had been to the loos , left, had food and drink before others had finished. The temperature during this stage reached 87.8F and as I melted and caught skin cancer, the Californians and Texans were complaining it was cols and wearing jackets and tights. Honestly, its true!!! I have to say that I have some interesting tan lines and some very visible ones as well!

 

The last stage was 17 miles down to a park in Chesapeake  Bay where we had to load bikes onto lorries and get a bus across the bridge into Annapolis.

Knowing there was only a morning of riding left, we were much more relaxed tonight and after a shower, we went into the beautiful town of Annapolis for tea- a pizza and a chat with an Ohio journalist writing a story about the event and one of the deceased officers. Annapolis was jumping tonight being a Friday night. It is a busy town on a weekend and is home  to the US Naval Academy. It was nice that Maggie’s son Rob was able to join us tonight as it was her birthday. He had driven 7 hours from Charlotte in South Carolina to be with his mother this weekend.

Sadly, Mike managed to have money stolen from his wallet, but we were not going to let that spoil the night, so Paul, Jeremy and I had a couple of beers in the bar and talked crap before turning in for the night.

DSCF0181

Lisa with just a few of the bikes in one of the store rooms in one hotel in Annapolis

DSCF0183

The view to the Harbour in Annapolis Main Street

DSCF0185

With Paul in Annapolis

DSCF0187

Annapolis Harbour at Night

DSCF0191

Team HRH (with guests from Ohio) Myself, Jeremy (Ohio), Maggie (IOM & Ohio) Paul (Essex), Lisa (Canada) and Mike (Ohio)

DSCF0192

Team IoM (subset of Team HRH) – with birthday girl Maggie. She can’t be 70 looking that good.

PUT Day 2 2012

The basic statistics of today are:

Distance:
88.10 mi

Time:
7:03:39

Avg Pace:
4:49 min/mi

Avg Speed:
12.5 mph

Elevation Gain:
2,415 ft

Calories:
3,403 C

Avg Temperature:
66.5 °F

 

The story of the day starts at 05:00 when we had to be out of our hotel rooms and load our luggage onto the vans for transportation onwards to the next hotel. At this time it was raining very heavily, but the weather forecast was for it to have cleared up  by 0700.

After breakfast, we prepared our bikes for the ride ahead. By the start of the ride at 0700, the rain had indeed stopped and we were off on day 2 of our ride. For those who have not ridden a bike in a large group, it is not only the distance that is the problem, but the behaviour, deliberate or otherwise. of your fellow riders that is the problem. Today, within 1 mile there had been several visits from the p*nct*re fairy, causing some chaos. Other people dropped their water bottles, didn’t they Jeremy. Now, this may be unfortunate you say, but someone also lost 2 bottles on last years ride. Careless? well I’m more worried that he is clumsy especially as later in the year he will be a daddy to twins. I hope he handles them better than his water bottles!

The first 24 miles of today’s ride passed without incident and we were at our first stop before 09:15. We stopped at a Target Store somewhere – I’m not sure of the location. Food and lots of fluids were taken on board. We then headed further south, still in New Jersey to our lunch stop at Willingboro in NJ where we were able to use the parking lot of a church  designed to hold a congregation of 1100 people!  Yes, a big church!

After lunch, we had a 29.2 mile stretch to the foot of the Commodore Barry Bridge to face. Sadly, after about 1 mile I got a flat and had to stop. I went from being one of the first on the road, to being out of the back waiting for the breakdown truck. The mechanics in the mobile truck were amazing and had the flat fixed in less than a mile. The mechanics included 2 of the founder members of the PUT – yes, they get their hands dirty.

I was thrown out of the truck some 500 yards or so behind the back of the 650 riders. I had to put my foot down to catch the back of the bunch and then work my way up through the field. About 3/4 of the way to the front, I met up with Jeremy and he kept me company until the tea interval, some 80 miles into the day’s ride. I am pleased to say that by the tea stop I had worked my way back to the front of the field. Sheer brute power and bloody mindedness works sometimes.

After tea, it was time to climb the Commodore Barry Bridge which is 2 miles from base to top and a climb of over 250feet. This was surprisingly easy to do – I managed it with gears to spare and not out of breath. Thereafter it was only 5-6 miles to our destination for the night, Wilmington. Dinner and a couple of beers then bed

Tonight, a sunburned, tired but happy cyclist goes to bed – not alone but ( & I’m sure Mike won’t be surprised to learn) not with the person I want to share a room with. Its hard not being able to chat to Michelle other than by bbm- and the 5 hour time difference is a problem

PUT Day 1 2012

Well, an interesting an uplifting day’s cycling is over.

The statistics are as follows:

Distance:
52.08 mi

Time:
4:33:04

Avg Pace:
5:15 min/mi

Avg Speed:
11.4 mph

Elevation Gain:
1,729 ft

Calories:
2,157 C

Avg Temperature:
66.2 °F

Min Temperature:
57.2 °F

Max Temperature:
80.6 °F

We were up and out of our rooms this morning by 06:00. Last night I was rooming with Paul, my colleague from Essex Police. That’s Essex England, not Essex NJ! Breakfast was a chance to speak to the rest of the so called Team Ohio, although this year, the sub set know as Team HRH is as big as Team Ohio. There is myself, Paul, Lisa from Canada and Maggie, a 70 year old lady originally from the Isle of Man who now lives in Ohio. Maggie it turns out knows my mother’s cousin on the Isle of Man. Maggie and Paul were PUT virgins and its probably fair to say were apprehensive. This wasn’t helped by people telling them about the steep hills they would encounter and the saddle sores they’d suffer. I’m unable to comment as to who was responsible for this owing to the rights given to me under the 5th Amendment to the Constitution of the USA. (look it up!).

I think at this point it needs putting on record, that despite Paul claiming I snore, the only person I heard snoring last night was Paul. Yes Paul, that was you snoring, it wasn’t me as I was awake and listening to you. I’m sure Daphne –his partner- could confirm he snores.

The weather was miserable and wet whilst we waited to set off. Not the conditions we had hoped for. Now, the Americans are always so incredibly hospitable to me on these Tours, BUT I think they have taken it too far this year by importing British weather as well!

However it was not cold. As you can see from the stats, the temperature never went below 57F. We started the day wearing waterproof jackets etc., but of course it stopped raining and I was left sweating in my jacket till the first stop. The jacket is not colloquially known as a boil in the bag for nothing.

The ride today was a completely new route and avoided us going into Newark. We rode through lots of lovely townships and made a first stop @ the headquarters of the Verizon phone company. This was after only 16 very slow miles.

The 2nd spell of riding was in near perfect conditions, warm but not hot, dry and no wind. We did 20 more miles and had a lengthy lunch stop, a ceremony and various speeches including from the CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, Craig Floyd. Then it was time to ride the last 16 or so miles to our hotels in Edison. By now it was very humid and not as pleasant to ride in, but it was dry.

After showering and changing, it was time to hit the bar for a medicinal beer and then it was food time, lots of pasta and chicken – good for carb loading for the day ahead. Then a beer to wash the food down!

Tonight, I am rooming with the snoring machine known as Michael T Rae. He was the man who introduced me to the PUT and was my room mate last year. He is a well connected guy and is a pleasure to be around. It was a no brainer when he asked me to share a room with him again this year.

motor bikes

just some of the Police Motorcycle Escort bikes

Start of day 1

Paul, Jeremy, Maggie, Lisa, Mike and Me – read to set off

 

 

School Band

school

Children of just 2 of many schools that came out to cheer us on.

 

 

 

Tomorrow is a much longer day and breakfast is at 0500! Yes, a 5 am start!

 

 

Finally a personal message to Michelle, you know why the PUT is such a special memory to me. Perhaps one day you can accompany me to Washington DC