To Hull & Back

Lets start with an apology to Only Fools & Horses for stealing their title for this thread

So when I last blogged we were in Barnsley soaking wet and having got hopelessly lost in the woods on the way to Barnsley….sounds like a fairy story doesn’t it.

Well, Sunday morning we said goodbye to my parents and we continued on our merry way, heading towards Humberside. A lot of the morning on Sunday we were riding alongside the river Don, then met an ex police officer on an electric bike who knew the area well. He road with us on some back roads that were very poorly signposted. Thankfully he did join us as he kept us on the correct path.

After our guide left us, we rode for a number of miles along a canal causing annoyance to anglers who seemed to think the tow path was theirs for stowing the voluminous fishing gear and seemed rather unhappy that people were so audacious as to want to pass along the towpath!

So far, so flat. The ride was largely very flat up to this point. The surface varied from river paths, to tarmacadamed roads. nothing very challenging though.

Following a difficulty caused by a lack of signposting,in the Sykehouse Area, we ended up riding on the road and found a significant shortcut. After riding on flat open roads into a headwind, we joined the A614 towards Goole. By the time we arrived in Goole, we had ridden 35 miles that morning and hadn’t found a single place to stop for a coffee or tea. So as we entered Goole we stopped at a McDonalds for lunch. Not ideal, but its open, serves food and drink and is a place to recharge our phones etc.

Whilst in McDonalds, we went online and booked a room & breakfast at the Premier Inn at Hull West for that evening. We got a confirmation of the booking from Premier Inn confirming we had booked bed & breakfast.

We then carried on our ride towards Hull, Largely flat roads and to be honest it was a bit boring riding quiet flat roads with no traffic.We were getting to the stage of craving some rough trails or even hills.

The highlight of the ride was when we saw the Humber Bridge for the first time. Its a spectacular structure and even 30+ years old it is an engineering wonder. Whilst viewing the bridge from afar, we met a couple of lads doing the ride the opposite way, so shared stories and tips with them for a bit before we both made our ways to our respective hotels.

Eventually, as it was getting dark, we arrived out our hotel  near the Humber Bridge. You will remember this was the pre booked bed and breakfast at the Premier Inn at Hull West. As we checked in we were told we could not have breakfast the following morning because they had allowed all the tables in the restaurant to be booked by non residents taking advantage of the last day of the “Eat Out”scheme to get food half price! A clear breach of contract since they had 5 hours earlier confirmed a contract between us for them to provided bed & breakfast accommodation.. Oh and we had already paid for the bed and breakfast at full price. No Eat Out discount offered to us.

The receptionist at the hotel said it was our fault for not ringing up and booking a time slot for a table for breakfast. Now this is a case of victim blaming as there is no warning of the need to book breakfast timed slots, there is no way to do so when booking on the Premier Inn app and there is no way to contact the hotel as Premier Inn do not give out anything other than a national phone number for the chain’s call centre.

So either the hotel had already no tables left when we booked or they booked the tables after we had a contract with them for breakfast.

Not a problem, Premier Inn offer a 100% satisfaction policy which guarantees your money back if not satisfied. So we asked the hotel for a refund so we could go to a hotel where we could get bed and breakfast. The Premier Inn guarantee says to contact the hotel reception at the time of unhappiness to invoke the refund. However when we did this, the hotel called the police to claim we were threatening them. Yes, threatening them by following their own “refund” policy and asking for the refund. The police were duly embarrassed to be called out and accepted there was no crime being committed.

This is one for their lawyers. At the time of typing this, A formal letter before action has been served upon Whitbread, the owners of Premier Inn.

So Monday morning and we set off hungry for our 40 miles ride into Hull and then onto Hornsea and back to Hull. A little bit of trepidation as online and from people we spoke to en route, the route from Hull to Hornsea was said to be badly signed. Given how poor the signage had been on the rest of the route, this did not bode well at all. The reality proved to be the opposite ( apart from one blip). We road nearly all the way from Hull to Hornsea on the old railway line . The old stations still had a lot of the platforms left. The route being an old railway line was pancake flat.

Now about that blip…as we approached Hornsea, we came to a roundabout with 5 exits. We were coming on one. On two of the other exits were blue TPT signs pointing down different roads. There was also a road sign to the seafront pointing a different way. So that’s 3 different roads signposted. We chose one of them and road down to the seafront and found the Obelisk marking the finish of the route. we had photos taken there, then turned round to head off home and came upon the old Hornsea Railway Station and things to do with the railway line. We set off riding down the old railway line, despite it not being signposted for the TPT. This brought us out at that confusing roundabout on the road that was not signposted as part of the TPT!.

So we have 3 roads signposts and none of them were the correct route!

20200831_115351  20200831_115531                  

The End of The Trail         

20200831_115841

The Many Tentacles of the TPT

    

20200831_121231

20200831_121235

20200831_121244

20200831_121250

Various Views of Hornsea Station

20200831_134113

The Kind Folk of Humberside Erected A Sign for Me

The ride back to Hull followed the same route at the ride out to Hornsea and was only notable for me picking up the first p*nct*re of the ride. Not a problem whip out the punctured tube, get the thorn out of the tyre and put a brand new inner tube in. All sorted? No, turns out the brand new inner tube is defective, so time for another tube and on our way.

Back in Hull we had a ride around the docks and town centre, then tried to find somewhere to eat. This had to be somewhere we could watch our bikes. This is not an easy task on a bank holiday Monday that is also the last day of the Eat Out scheme. Eventually we hit upon Furley’s in Princes Quay where we had a great meal, sat out on the Quayside in the sunshine. The food and the service were excellent. Even better it was also half price under the Eat Out scheme. I can thoroughly recommend this bar and would definitely visit it again.

20200831_170823

Then it was time to head to the train station, and back to London. The adventure over. We even arrived into Kings Cross early and headed our separate ways home.

The Stats

Sunday's Ride

Sunday’s Rid‘

Monday's Ride

Monday’s Ride

Monday's Stats

Monday’s Stats

So the 4 days of the ride started in Southport, went via Liverpool, Manchester, Stockport, Hyde, Glossop, Woodhead Pass Penistone, Sheffield ( by mistake), Barnsley, Doncaster, Goole and Hull and took in over 220 miles. Many of these were off road. Some hilly, some very flat, but all in all a good bit of fun.

TPT Stats

This was my first ever off road tour. It was great fun and I am surprised how easy the ride up to and over Woodhead Pass was. I learned I enjoyed the trails through Grenoside Woods, even if we shouldn’t have been near them.

Sadly, its back to reality today. My bike has been cleaned and lubed and  repairs made. Time to start planning my next trip…or it would be if Covid would disappear.

Thanks must  go to my long suffering ride companion Drew Jones for his help, encouragement and support not to mention his patience waiting for me on the more technical bits that I struggle to deal with.

The only downside is that 5 days away has seen me put on 5lbs in weight, despite all the riding!

Oh I do Like to be Beside the Seaside

So, the adventure begins in the pouring rain. Today we travelled up to Liverpool and onto Southport where tomorrow we start the Trans Pennine Trail.

As ever, packing was a last minute affair. One pannier bag only & a rack top bag was all I needed to take for 5 days away. Travel light!

The problem was the 2 bags do not sit comfortably together on the bike. Damn, I should have checked that first.

Its a bit late 2 minutes before I set off. Still I will learn for next time or maybe not.

We headed on Merseyside train to Southport from Liverpool Central where we had a lovely chat with a passenger who had seen the Police Unity Tour kit. It is always good to speak the word about the UK Police Unity Tour ( see the page on my blog).

My parents have joined us in Southport and are going to drive support for the first two days. Its good to get to spend sometime with them after not seeing them for neatly seven months this year owing to the Covid-19 lockdown.

In keeping with the British summer tradition, its cold wet and miserable in Southport, but fortunately we are only here for the night, and the meal in the Dukes Folly Hotel was excellent & service again was excellent. A place I would eat at again. A nice hotel. Its a shame its only my parents staying there. We went up market instead & stayed at the Travelodge nearby for a wallet busting £30 for bed and breakfast for two. Yes, a total of £15 each for bed & breakfast and the bikes get to stay in our room for free.

Tomorrow the adventure begins. We set off from Southport towards Hornsea.

There will be a livetrack link (hopefully!) Posted on the Spennymoor Town London Branch twitter account each day which is @ spennymoortownl (remove the space). Following this and refreshing will show where we are upto with our ride.

Panorama of Room
My Nemesis

Why Does It Always Rain On Me

So this coming weekend I am supposed to be cycling the Trans Pennine Trail. I have hopefully sorted out my Mountain Bike, fitting a rear pannier rack to carry my luggage and even fitting new slicker tyres. So you may think all is set for the off.

Sadly, since I sorted out my bike, it has either been very windy or very wet and I have not been out on my bike to check all the modifications are ok. Its the middle of August, and football matches are being postponed because of wind and rain….yep welcome to the British summer.

I suppose its all my fault. we have had fantastic weather since lockdown started in March and it only breaks when I am planning a cycling holiday! I know the solution to the rain is to put on my cycling rain jacket. Every time I put that on when out riding, the rain stops and I am left wet from the boil in the bag effect of the jacket.

I am due to travel up to Southport on Thursday afternoon courtesy of Avanti West Coast, and Mersey Rail preceded by a bike ride to Euston Station. Then a night in hotel in Southport before an early start on Friday and riding circa 75-80 miles off road that day. Its a long distance to ride on a mountain bike in a day, especially off road. Still they say no pain no gain. However, I am not sure what the gain will be, but I do know what the pain will be!

PACKING

Travel Documents

The biggest task at the moment is trying to remember where I put all the train tickets and bike reservations for the journeys up and back. It seemed a good idea to book the tickets in advance and I know I put them somewhere safe, but where was it?

Then there is the hotel reservation for the first night. Its the only accommodation booked so far. Hopefully we won’t have problems finding accommodation for the other 3 nights! If no room at the inn, we will have to keep on cycling until we find somewhere to stay. I am relying on www.booking.com to save me

Power Leads

The Next task is to remember to take all the plugs / charging leads I will need. That includes the following leads:

  1. one for the GPS device on my bike
  2. one for my watch
  3. one for my bike front light
  4. one for my bike rear light ( will be riding home from Euston in dark on Monday night
  5. one for my bike camera
  6. one for my mobile phone

It is quite scary how many different leads I need to take, and that is with me travelling light, or attempting to. How dependant I am on powered devices these days is scary.

Medication & Toiletries

Need to remember these, which also includes glasses, contact lenses as well as 5 days medication. I am relying on the hotels/ bed & breakfasts  we stay at to have shower gel and towels, so won’t be taking these, but will need deodorant, toothpaste & toothbrush. At least I don’t need shampoo or a hairbrush – and haven’t for well over 25 years.

Clothing

This is where I can try to be clever. My cycling shoes have recessed cleats and are easy to walk in , so I am not going to take another pair of shoes, but will take flip flops.

Similarly, I will have a long sleeved cycling top that i can wear on an evening if it gets chilly when in pub or restaurant.

I have a couple of pairs of baggy cycling shorts which have a padded removable liner so i will remove that and wear the shorts on an evening with underwear and a lightweight t shirt. We will be cycling to / from Euston station to/ from our homes at either end of the trip, so will travel on the train in cycling clothes.

This then just leaves the cycling kit to sort out and that will include waterproof shoe covering, spare socks and probably a couple of cycling tops. Then of course, gloves, helmet, cap under helmet, glasses etc.

The most important items of course are the water bottles and the snack bars. anyone into cycling knows its all about the cake!

Annotation 2020-08-25 215534


I hope the wind eases off overnight so I can take the bike for a test ride in the morning. I have a café stop arranged for 0800 in the morning with my ride companion. So hopefully I can get some miles in before that meeting.

Sunday Bloody Sunday

With apologies to U2

I can’t believe the news today
Oh, I can’t close my eyes
And make it go away
How long?
How long must we sing this song?
How long, how long?
‘Cause tonight, we can be as one
Tonight

Broken bottles under children’s feet
Bodies strewn across the dead end street
But I won’t heed the battle call
It puts my back up
Puts my back up against the wall

Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunday, Bloody Sunday, Sunday, Bloody Sunday (alright)


For broken bottles, read broken motor vehicle parts

For children’s feet read bike wheels


Now, you start to get an idea of my Sunday morning bike ride. Just out for a short 25 mile ride, when after 15 miles, on a roundabout, I hit a piece of metal in the road. With the benefit of later examination, it looks like the track rod from a motor vehicle.

Somehow that metal rod caught up in the rear mechanisam of my bike, destroying that and then wrapped itself round the back of the rear cassette on the bike, damaging the cassette.

Then to rub salt into the wound,  my rear bike light fell off and was smashed by a vehicle following me.

I was left with a 4 mile walk home, in road bike shoes which have protruding cleats on them and are difficult to walk in. As a result, I need new cleats on those shoes as well.
A Sundat ride that is likely to end up costing me in the region of £300 if not more to replace all the damage.


20200823_11085420200823_11090220200823_11090620200823_11091220200823_12095620200823_12100220200823_12102020200823_12102220200823_121030

Trying to source the relevant rear derailleur is proving more difficult than it looks.

The good news is I got back home in time for the Sunday dinner and bottles of wine my neighbour had cooked for me. A most pleasant afternoon to make up for a miserable morning.

I suppose I should be grateful I was uninjured  even if the bike wasn’t so lucky.

Over the Hills and Far Away

Time for a cycling related blog post I think.

The title of the blog does not despite what many people might think, a comment on my mental state, but more a reference to where I hope to be this time next Saturday. Covid-19 restrictions permitting, next weekend sees me attempting to ride the Trans Pennine Trail. This is an approximately 200 to 220 mile bike ride from Southport to Hornsea and have 4 days to complete the ride.

That probably doesn’t sound that far for somebody who is a road cyclist. However what I have not mentioned is that this is an off road bike ride. The ride is mainly along disused railway tracks. It means that I will be riding a mountain bike. This is not something I do very often. I certainly have never written As far as 200 miles in four days on a mountain bike.

So, if I am not a mountain biker why am I doing this ride? Hmm, good question and if I find a sensible answer I will let you know. The only real answer I have got so far is because it’s there and I haven’t done it before. It’s a challenge and I like a challenge.

I am riding with a friend who is a keen off road cyclist. Two years ago we rode the Coast to Coast bike ride from Workington to Tynemouth. That was an on road ride and involved a lot of climbing. It was a challenge, especially as we did all the climbing in one day. Guess what? Yes, we will be doing all the climbing over the Pennines on the Saturday next week. Friday, Sunday and Monday are all going to be relatively flat. The graphic shows the route and also the topography. Hopefully we will do 75 miles on Day 1, mostly flat. Day 2 should be circa 50 miles, taking us to the 125 mile marker. Day 3 is likely to be another 50-75 miles and day 4 the remainder of the mileage to Hornsea, then riding back to Hull for our train home.

TPT Route/ Elevation Profile

We had decided that once lockdown had eased we would do a ride somewhere, I was thinking perhaps Devon/ Cornwall when I came across the Trans Pennine Trail. As its on a Mountain bike and  until the end of last year, I did not even own a mountain bike, it seemed to be a challenge and would push me out of my comfort zone ( literally).

Detailed planning has gone into this ride…by that I mean we have booked a train to Liverpool and one back from Hull and booked a hotel in Southport the night before we set off. No other accommodation is booked, no planning done regarding luggage etc. 2 bikes, puncture repair kits/ spare inner tubes and multi tools are the important things (and a face mask for the train).

I have got plenty of miles in my legs this year, over 6000 so far, but all have been ridden on the road and all but about 150 on road bikes, so let’s see how it goes. Anyone interested in the progress I’m making can follow me on twitter @spennymoortownl where there will be a daily link to the live track progress guidance showing where I am at anytime.

2020 Mileage Chart

One of the ways i have managed to increase my mileage this year is by incorporating cycling into my other activities. today, I was due to meet a friend at lunchtime to plan an event, so i cycled to the cafe for the meeting. I then cycled from there to watch my first football match of the 2020/2021 season. I watched Frenford FC v Coggleshall Town in what marked the return home of Frenford FC to their newly improved and refurbished ground in Ilford. I simply took the bike into the ground and ensured it socially distanced from others whilst I watched the game. This allowed me to get 35 miles ridden today, meet my friend and watch a football match. It also meant I didn’t need to either drive or use public transport.

The above mileage chart showing since 2011 I have ridden over 42,000 miles was put into context the other day by a friend who said it was equivalent to cycling 1.75 times round the earth!

Changing Things

I posted a blog post on one of my other blogs recently This was the first blog I have written in a long time. Quite why I got out of the habit of blogging, I am not sure. Some might say that I have mellowed and therefore did not have much to rant about. That may well be true. It could also be that I just got lazy and laid on the sofa instead of sitting at my keyboard and writing. it probably was a reflection on a period of my life when I have drifted rather than taken control of things.

I have this year taken steps to take more control of my life by getting myself on a more healthy lifestyle. Whilst others have drunk too much and eaten too much whilst on lockdown, I have massively reduced my drinking and lost weight.

I have never been one to drink alone at home. I am a social drinker, even if some would say I am anti social after drinking. With no pubs to go to and no visitors allowed, I have drunk very little. I have throughout the covid-19 lockdown had a regular socially distanced drink/ chat with my neighbour each Saturday. We are both of a similar age, both live alone and are both solicitors, so have things in common. Throughout the lockdown, we have on a Saturday removed a panel in our garden fence and sat in our respective gardens having a drink and sharing our experiences. This has for me proved to be a very positive experience and is something I look forward to. I would hope we can keep this up after lockdown ends, albeit not on a Saturday afternoon as I will be at football.

So, now you know why my drinking has reduced, what about my weight. Well as at Christmas time I weighed about the same as an overweight elephant, it was time to lose some weight. I tried to cut down on what I was eating and by the time lockdown started, I had lost 2 stones ( 28 lbs or 12.7kg). I made a conscious decision to try to continue to lose weight during the lockdown. I have worked at home since 16th March, so I have had some structure to my day, unlike those who have been making Tik Tok videos. This structure has made it easier for me to keep a control on my food intake. I have now lost a total of over 5 1/2 stones ( 77 lbs or 37.9kg) since the start of the year.

There are those who say I have reduced my drinking and lost weight just to be contrary and different to most people. I couldn’t possibly comment

During the lockdown period I have significantly reduced time I have spent on various forms of social media, in particular Facebook and Message Boards, but have spent more time communicating with friends via WhatsApp groups. This in itself has been a positive change that looking back has helped improved my contentment and means I have not got into pointless arguments with people I don’t know about things that don’t matter – for example people are still arguing about whether Britain should leave the EU…the vote was over 4 years ago. So whats the point in arguing whether we should leave. I do recommend people take more time away from Facebook/ message board arguing.

I was sent a photograph by a friend recently. It was taken in August 1988. I was shocked to realise that I am thinner today than I was a 22 years of age.

Friend’s Birthday August 1989

2020 Weight Loss in Pictures

 

The question of what the new normal for me will look like remains to be answered. I am still working at home. I started lockdown not wanting to work at home, but I am now a fan of it and would happily work from home most days with only occasional visits to the office.

I find myself living a lifestyle at present that seems so much more relaxed and have reconnected with nature and my local community.

If I have to go back to working in the office I am going to have to buy a whole new wardrobe of clothes as my previous suits and shirts make me look like a young child wearing his father’s clothes.

Not the Best 36 Hours

So, Thursday, I was due to drive to Newcastle and back to London to attend a funeral of a close friend’s mother. a 600+ mile round trip in a single day.

I went to bed around midnight on Wednesday night and was woken up at 0100 by water dripping onto the bed. There was a storm outside and it seems somehow water was getting down the side of the chimney stack. Not much water and nothing I could do, so I slept on other side of bed.

0500, alarm goes, I get up, get showered, sort out my suit etc and at just before 0600, I leave the front door of my house to set off to drive to Newcastle, only to be confronted by this sight

photo_2016-04-14_14-36-45

The car was backed up against the front window of my house. Gutted, it looked as though car had been broken into. Further investigation revealed that none of the neighbours cars had been damaged and nothing had been taken from my car. In fact, nothing had been disturbed in the car.

Clearly, the car couldn’t be driven in that state to Newcastle. I was unable to hire a car at that time in the morning and flights or trains would not get me to the funeral in time. I could not therefore attend the funeral.

Later that day, when Autoglass attended to secure the car, discussion with the technician led me to believe the cause of the damage was probably a piece of metal either falling from the roof or blown up by the storm the previous night.

So that was 2 things gone wrong in first 6 hours of the day.

Wednesday night, I put my tea in the oven, turned the oven on and left it to cook for an hour. Going back, the food had not cooked. Why not? Well the oven was definitely on, the gas flame clearly burning and the oven hot. That was the bottom oven, and like a mug I had put my tea in the top oven.

One of the things I had intended to cook was a jacket potato for my lunch at work the next day. So just before I went to bed, I put the potato in the main oven, set the temperature and put the timer on to turn the oven off after the potato had cooked. Now the timer only works on the bottom oven and the food was definitely in the bottom oven.  Waking up the next morning, the timer had worked. The jacket potato was still raw though. So what  had gone wrong? Well this time I had turned the top oven on, so it had been burning gas for 6 or 7 hours but not cooking anything.

Oh well, I set off to cycle to work intending to buy my lunch at the local supermarket. Not any great hardship really. When I got to work, I realised I had not taken my wallet, so now I had no food and no money to buy any lunch.

Then when I went to go home, I realised I had also forgotten to take my bike pump with me to work. Fortunately the bike tyres were not flat yet, but if you are a cyclist you will realise you only get punctures at inconvenient times. I was surely going to get a puncture on the way home, especially as I had no money to take bike on train home in the event of a puncture.

No, I never got a puncture, but it did rain heavily all the way home, so by the time I got home, some 15 miles later, I could wring out all my clothing. Indeed my shoes, despite having overshoes on, are still wet some 48 hours later.

As the song goes, Things Can Only Get Better – I hope

We Remembered The Fallen

It’s Tuesday morning here in DC and its time to pack my bags and flee this beautiful city. I get nervous when the police are around and there are several thousand here at present! Seriously, I’m meeting my mother, sister and brother this morning and we are heading off to Philadelphia for a couple of days. It will be good to spend some time with them as the last 2 days have been manic and I’ve not seen them very much.

I see on my last post, I promised to write more about arriving in Dc etc.

Well when we arrive in DC, the survivors (relatives of deceased officers) are sent to the front of the ride and they lead us into the memorial. I was lucky and was in the line not far behind them. I had meticulously planned with my family where to stand and rode on the left side of the ride so as to ride past them. My sister texted me to tell me exactly where they were stood, which was where I had told them. Then the ride came down the street from the opposite direction! – damn American’s – first they drive on the wrong side of the street, now they have us cycling the wrong way. Anyway, I did manage to see my mother and vice versa. It  was a special moment riding into the memorial as ever, but even more so as a result of some of my family being there. If only Michelle had been able to make it out, then it would have been perfect.

Once we had ridden through the memorial, it was time to find friends, family and those in whose memory we had ridden. This year was a little chaotic as I had not made plans. I met my family, then I met the family of Preston Parnell, the US Postal Service Inspector I had ridden in memory of and handed over my bracelet to them. Then I met Barb’s mother who had surprised her by meeting her at the memorial. Finally, I got to say more than a few words to my family and introduced them to my Police Unity Tour family.

There is always a welcoming ceremony at the memorial. As it was about to start, I saw 2 Metropolitan Police officers in full uniform. I approached them and said words to the effect of “you should be riding with us next year not in uniform”. Immediately one officer said to me,”You’re Peter Bennett, we’ve been looking for you all week!” Sudden panic sets in and I am wondering if you can be extradicted for not paying a library book fine dating back 30 years?… It turned out they wanted to let me know about the ride being planned for the UK in July. Relief!

At the ceremony, Craig Floyd the CEO of the Memorial made a specific mention of me and a conversation we had. I was also mentioned by the President of Chapter 1 of the Police Unity Tour in his speech. It is nice to get recognition although I ride for those who died and for my pleasure, not recognition.

Sunday night was a few beers and a meal with our Ohio group and some of Lisa’s team from Ontario. Jeremy and I left after the meal to go to another restaurant – no, not for more food, but to get one of the Copper Ale Commemorative glasses from the Chop House. It is a tradition that the Chop House brews a special beer and provides glasses to mark Police Week. Whilst at the bar having a few beers, I was stood next to someone who was clearly unhappy or uncomfortable at being surrounded by police officers. He could have done better than coming out in the centre of DC on a night when there are in excess of 20,000 police officers in town and the Chop House is one of the most famous venues for police parties.

The one downside about Sunday was that I never got to speak to Michelle. We never managed to co-ordinate our schedules. It seemed like I was missing an important aspect of my day.

Monday 13th May is the date of the candlelight vigil. I spent part of the morning at the memorial. Foolishly, I looked at some of the tributes left to the fallen.

DSCF0252

Do you need to ask why I ride after reading that tribute. Even now some 24 hours on it is heartbreaking to read.

After leaving the memorial, Jeremy and I went to the Fraternal Order of Police’s “Tent City” which is a bar/ market. We then came back to the hotel as Jeremy was taking part in the vigil. He was escorting survivors from the coaches to their seats, so he had to be in full dress uniform. I used the time to chat to Michelle and then after that to sort out a little gift for Mike to thank him for all he has done for us all over the last 4 years. I managed 2 skype calls to Michelle today. Sadly neither were as long as I would have liked, but I have Friday to look forward to as Michelle is coming down to be with me. It seems so much harder when the distance is thousands of miles.

I had dinner with part of my group and a journalist from Cleveland, Ohio and then we all attended a ceremony at the US Postal Service Museum to honour their fallen officer, Preston Parnell one of 2 officer’s in whose memory I rode. The ceremony was a very nice ceremony and was hosted in a wonderful building. The US Postal Museum is worth visiting in DC. It is next to the Equally wonderful Union Station. It is a little bit more impressive than say London Euston!

The candlelight vigil provided me with the chance to meet Jeffrey Davies’ father and family and hand over my bracelet to them. It was a very difficult time for them, and seeing their hurt made me realise just how important the Police Unity Tour is and how it helps heal the grief. It is the coming together of the Law Enforcement family to support its own.

The Vigil is sad in so many ways, not least because it entails saying goodbye to so many friends.

Today is a new day, and its off to Philadelphia as I said before, before heading home on Thursday

Police Unity Tour 2013: Day 4 –

The final day of the 2013 tour is over. It was a day that has touched me more than I imagined possible. Where Do I start? Probably at the beginning is a good place.

Well, after yesterday’s abortive ride, the weather to day was much better. The sun was out, but there was a relatively strong headwind. however, this would merely sort out the men from the boys.

The ride as usual set out relatively slowly and along the way we picked up 2 other groups of riders. The first and only stop of the day was at a Target store after 19 miles. This was a relatively hilly 19 miles, but I am pleased to say that no one rode stronger than me as far as I am aware. I rode up the front and never had to get out of my saddle on the hills. I had my GPS programmed with last year’s ride, so I knew where all the hills were coming and how steep they were. This was a huge advantage. In 2010, I struggled up the first main hill of the day. This year, I rode past other riders up the hill (but still stayed behind the lead car). I put this down to losing weight. It is a good reason to lose more weight. I enjoyed the hills and actually wished there was more of them. This was no doubt helped by how slow we went up the hill

We made it to the RFK Stadium with no major mishaps and no problems, although we were the last ride to arrive. After a short break and a chat with a couple of English Police officers [ more to follow tomorrow on this], we were on our way to the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial.

We arrived at the memorial from the opposite direction to previous years, but this did not stop me from seeing my mother, sister and brother as we rode in. I was so proud they could see this event and share the emotion with me. The fact it was mother’s day in the USA made it more special

I  have to make a special mention for two people. Barb whom I have mentioned before completed the ride without being in the sag wagon at any time. This time last year, I and others rode in the memory of her father and step father who were both police officers who died in the course of their duty. Barb expressed the wish to complete the ride. I can say now that I never thought this was anything more than the fantasy wishes of someone carried away in the emotion of the day.

Well, Barb proved me wrong. She trained for the event and was a joy to have as part of our team. She rode all of the 3 days we rode and she should be as proud of herself as I am of her. She was not a cyclist before this event, but she most certainly is now. Barb, I hope you enjoyed riding with us as much as we enjoyed being with you. I would love it if you joined us again next year. Team Ohio International needs people like you.

The next person who I would like to mention is Jeremy Benedict, an officer from Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. He rode this year in memory of his good friend who died in a car accident caused by a drunken driver whilst responding to a 911 call. The hardest part for Jeremy is that his friend died 98 days after his twins were born – talk about mixed emotions.

I have already mentioned the fact my mother and brother and sister were able to be at the memorial today. I hope they experienced even a fraction of the emotion I feel in seeing the crowds welcoming us to the memorial. We do not deserve that adulation as all we are doing it riding our bikes.

Tonight I have been out for dinner with a group of brothers and comrades from across the USA and Canada. A very special occasion. I will write more tomorrow, but will end by saying:

1. This was a great event again

2. I’ll be back

3. There is to be a UK ride this summer