Sunday 7th March Dublin - Dundalk 86km Done: 2527 km. To go: 361 km Weather: Factor 15
THE BOWLEGLIO CYCLE SLAM
Bob Johnson rode Stage 2, was hooked and volunteered to ride Stage 3, and take a group - having raised sponsorship to cover two stages - and just emailed me. "The Slam has hit a purple patch and that's the problem. Your blog is making it sound too good. I can't tell you how many emails are flying around opening 'I miss it' 'I'm on a downer'. It's addictive. Bet slogging across the Somme with rain like stair rods seems a long time ago." You are not kidding. I dreamt last night that we left Rome in a blizzard. How daft is that?.
Paul Kimmage wrote a lovely piece today for the Sunday Times. He describes a selfish act as 'doing a Kimmage'. Pure Systeme Jacques if ever I heard it. Sadly only on line. His 19 year old daughter Evelyn showed her first interest in cycling and rode the first 50km feistily and gutsily (no surprise) with dad and Joanna.
We lost Mel today who went home for her friend Katie Pratt's (nee Nicholls) memorial service. "She was 37 years old. We grew up in the same village and went through school together. On July 2008 she was diagnosed with Mestatic Malignant Melanoma. She was treated and in remission. In December 2009 the cancer returned and she died in a hospice surrounded by her family on 22nd February (the day we rode in to Paris). She has 3 beautiful children, Sophie, Sam and Evie and a doting husband Giles. She was stunning, funny, kind and her fight has inspired all of her friends and family".
In Old Sodbury Josh Lewsey made a delightful speech (fined immediately by Lawrence for brown-nosing) but posed a fascinating question that has stuck in my mind - "are you all turning into Lawrence yet? Becoming belligerent and uncompromising?". Well, in a word, yes.
While this may be getting easier for the core group in terms of miles, it is a war of attrition. In the last 24 nights we have slept in 22 beds. This might remind you of your hedonistic student days but it is wearing, trust me. Groundhog Days. Alarm (remember the song?). Berocca. Fish oil. Kit. Breakfast. Dress. Lavatory. Bottles. Pack. Bags to lobby. Garmin. Ride. Pint of milk. Food. Shower. Vitamin C. Unpack. Laundry. Speedos. Massage. Compression tights. Elevation. Charge everything. Bed. Emails. Calls. Blog. Sleep. Drink. Dinner. Sleep. We are still a week away from sleeping in our own bed.
For the riders it's still hard for many. Where we have been very successful is in getting the right people on the right stages. All that matters is the fund raising - the way it works is that you had to guarantee to raise £3,000 per stage - so with 250 riders that's £750k right there - and for many 50 odd miles is hard, and the long one tomorrow with a decent climb will be tough. Advertised at 88km we've just seen it's 133km. Oops. The forecast is ludicrous - the iPhones are covered in suns.
Chris Wright has joined us and is writing a very irreverent blog on the Slam site. Read it. Chris could fit in Lawrence's pocket, was his best man, and was fined on day one for being so poorly equipped the list is too long to include here. He refers to his man as Lorenzo Bowleglio, and this is too good not to steal. Sorry.
Last night got very lively at the Wolf Blass party at Doheny and Nesbitt, singing with live band, then Propoganda and god knows where else with Campo bringing in the peloton at 6am. 'Stew' didn't do it for me so jacked, to Roly's in Ballsbridge. Great great food. Needed it.
Pretty uneventful on the road. Riders in shorts, and a stunning rolling 86km up past Drogheda - site of the Battle of the Boyne - along the coast road. Support team star Nicola rode today - very fetching in Rabobank - did very well but sadly got 25km down the road with Range Rover keys.
The song on Phil's alarm was 'I've got you babe'. The official song of Systeme Jacques is of course 'My Way'. By the way have now converted many to the world's best recovery drink. What price seeing Dickie Relton at the bar saying 'five pints of milk please' ? True.
Andrew Croker is part of the core team accompanying former England rugby union captain Lawrence Dallaglio on every leg of his epic 2,770km Cycle Slam which started on 12 February in Rome. They're riding between Nice, Paris, Twickenham, Fishguard on to Rosslare and finally Edinburgh. The aim to is to raise £1M to be shared between Sport Relief and the The Dallaglio Foundation. You can support the Cycle Slam at www.dallagliocycleslam.com.