Saturday 27th February. At home: Wimbledon. Rest Day Done: 1901 km. To go: 987 km.
A time to reflect, with a rest day for England v Ireland. A medical bias today.
A lot of words are misused and overused. Ordinary deeds are described as heroic, everyday problems become tragedies. And I have been equally guilty by describing us 'suffering' on some days. Well we're not, this video from the charity DEBRA shows suffering
It is also easy to think that our ride is the challenge, when the true challenge is for the people fighting the medical fights, whether patients, carers or scientists - and we can make a difference. We are all familar with the challenge of cancer, and how the odds have changed so radically in a generation, and the high profile work of Help for Heroes. But you've almost certainly never heard of Debra, or Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) which it fights. They say you can only be as happy as your unhappiest child. You are born with EB, and it effectively sentences you to a short and painful life. The skin AND internal body linings blister at the slightest knock or rub, causing painful, open wounds. EB is likely to affect 1 in 17,000 live births and it is estimated that there are currently 5,000 people with the condition in the UK. Whilst considerable progress has been made in recent years in understanding EB and identifying the genes that cause the condition, there is as yet no effective treatment or a cure. One of our core riders, Greg Sim, is working hard to help this fight both here and abroad - that's why we go on, and why we appreciate your massive support to date.
However, we have had some casualties. A lot of crashes on Stage 2 across France up to Paris. A hard group, with a high proportion of former rugby players determined to take a wheel and get on the pace, with the inevitable occasional consequence.
We very sadly lost Jonny Nye last week, one of our core riders. He'd started with a bad knee, having had growth hormone jabs from the Barcelona club doctor, but had a heavy fall in France, so in addition to the left knee-tendon tear he now also has a right knee meniscus cartilage rupture, and two neck vertebra locked and concussion. Such a shame, he was going like a train, and a real heartbeat of the group.
My problems seem manageable. But my thumb is worse than originally diagnosed, with a piece of bone separated from the thumb, but still unfortunately attached to a tendon, so needs to be extended and in a splint for at least four weeks. Dr Simon Kemp, the RFU doctor (who rode Stage 2) kindly arranged an x-ray last night, and then met me at the Parkside hospital this morning to set it and take more pictures. Need to keep it dry so thinking marigolds or condoms at the moment. Welcome to the glamorous world of cycling. I promised a list of what you can't do without a right thumb - well forget that, it's everything, BUT you can brake and change gear
Great video item on the BBC today, and Lawrence did some extra kms round the Twickenham pitch pre-match. I hope the text promotion on the big screen helped (text 'SLAM' to 70005 - all £5 goes to the charity). Skipped the rugby to watch son Ted play hockey (won 6-1) and watched the game on SKY +. Family dinner.
14 days on the road so far at an average of 135 km, and 12 to go at just 82 km. Put like that it doesn't sound too bad, but up to now it's been all about the weather - and with this big storm heading our way, and prevailing westerly winds, the run to Fishguard might be harder than it looks....
Click here to find out more about DebRA and Epidermolysis Bullosa
Andrew Croker is part of the core team accompanying former England rugby union captain Lawrence Dallaglio on every leg of his epic 2,770 kilometre Cycle Slam which started on February the 12 in Rome. Joined by celebrities including former Arsenal defender and Match of the Day pundit Lee Dixon, one time Spurs and Newcastle striker Les Ferdinand and newsreader Dermot Murnaghan plus members of the public they're riding between Nice, Paris, Twickenham, Fishguard on to Rosslare and finally Edinburgh. Money raised will be shared between Sport Relief and the The Dallaglio Foundation and you can support the Cycle Slam at www.dallagliocycleslam.com