It has been a long time
The last few weeks have been a real mixed bag of events, so good some not so good and some ho hum.
I had to check my last posting I made as I could not remember what had been said. Well the bike was rebuilt with all the new bits added and I managed a short ride the following day. The following weekend was a stunning weekend, but first the story. I am a moderator on a Mountain Bike forum and back towards the end of last year we found out that one of the forum members (lets call him Tazz) was facing his 4th battle with Mr C (cancer). Not content with battling MR C again he was also going to be a guinea pig for a new cancer treatment. To help keep Tazz focussed on recovery it was suggested that when he was recovered we would join him for a ride. No exact date was set but April 2013 was the chosen month. What happened over the next 8 months was stunning. I produced a banner for those forum members who wanted to, could put it in their signature to show their support for our fellow forum member. Within days the forum was awash with posts showing the small blue banner showing our support for Tazz.
When Tazz was under going treatment his wife would come on to the forum and post updates of Tazz’s progress for all of us and with each update there would come a wave of support from the forum members, not only for Tazz but for his wife and family as well. So great was our support that Tazz’s wife would print off all the forum messages and then read them back to her husband at his bed side in hospital. The messages that Tazz’s wife past on to us varied from the heart wrenching “he is seriously ill and were not sure if he will make it” through to Tazz being banned from running a card school with the other patients and has been stopped from jousting with wheel chairs and crutches!!
Tazz made it home just before xmas (or as Tazz said, they were glad to get rid of him) but the stories still continued as did two return trips to hospital. As the new year started a date was confirmed for the recovery ride which suddenly became a weekend event, a party, a meal and a celebration.
So that was why I picked the wife up straight from work at 5pm on the April 19th and headed for Cleeve Hill in Gloucestershire. I personally had not met Tazz, we had exchanged a few texts messages and I spoke to him for the first time on that Friday morning. Many of those that were attending the recovery ride over the weekend had never met Tazz or any of the other forum members that were coming to the recovery ride event. This was simply a group of people who’s only connection is that they had a love of mountain bike riding and they were all member on the same mountain bike forum.
I am not sure of the exact number of people that attended over the weekend because some rode with Tazz on the Friday only, some rode on Saturday only and other stayed for the entire weekend but I believe the number was in the 30’s, all coming together to congratulate a guy for recovering from cancer.
While all this goodwill was going on, some low life scum bag tried to ruin it for us by stealing one guys bike that was left locked up on the cars bike rack in the car park. While it did dampen all our spirits we were determine not to let it ruin our weekend.
Saturday morning dawned brightly and I don’t mean the weather, as a surprise to Tazz we had all got bright pink (throbbing pink as Tazz called it) cycle t-shirts for the ride so there we were about 20 of us sat in the breakfast room of the hotel glowing in pink when Tazz walks in for breakfast and in totally gob smacked. Many of the other hotel guests asked us or the hotel staff what the pink t shirts were for as they came down to breakfast.
With breakfast over it was off to the car park to unload our bikes and prepare for the ride. With a car park full of pink t-shirts people passing stopped and asked us what was going on, a quick photo call in the hotels beer garden overlooking the Malvern hills and then we were off. For me one of the best moments came as we left the car park and set off up the road, being at the back I was able to get the view of a long pink snake making its way up the road. What the other road users thought was going on I am not sure but it looked impressive if nothing else. As we rode across Cleeve Hill, walkers would stop and watch as the long pink snake made its way past them.
Where we went on Cleeve Hill was an old disused quarry, Tazz had found a small plateau half way up a valley. The sun was shining to the extent that I got burnt, the weather that weekend was stunning we could not have asked for better. Remember the guy who had his bike stolen, he was not left out once up at the plateau not all of us were riding at the same time so he had the choice of well over 25 bikes to choose from to go for a ride, that may not sound anything special but bear in mind that some of these bikes were worth over £2500.
After a day in the sun we headed back to the hotel where we stunned the beer garden into total silence. Having started the ride from the beer garden it seemed a good idea to end the ride in the beer garden, the only problem with that was the beer garden was now full of members of the public enjoying an afternoon drink in the sun when suddenly 20+ mountain bikers wearing pink t-shirts descent on the bear garden, you could of cut the silence with a knife!! We decided to beat a retreat to our rooms and return to the beer garden for drinks more normally dressed.
Having had the problem the previous night with the stolen bike the police had recommended not leaving the bikes in the cars that night just encase the thiefing little scroat came back prepared to nick some more bikes so the hotel allowed us to put our bikes in the rooms, that was an interesting sight with all the bikes being wheeled through the hotel, good job they were not muddy!!
An afternoon trip into Cheltenham (to a bike shop where else) preceded the evening entertainment. First we had a speech from the editor of Mountain Bike Rider magazine who had arrived for the day with a photographer all the way from Croydon. A meal followed, then, messages of support were read out from those who, for one reason or another were unable to make the weekend. We also raised money for Tazz’s charity of choice The Shakespeare Hospice , not sure how much we have raised in the end but even guest at the hotel were donating money.
It is difficult to capture the past 8 months in a 1200 words (or more), but it will certainly be one of the more memorable moments in my life.