Day 5 – Sunday 29th July

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Up and out early from the student halls in Oxford. Dave had a very wet and windy 25 miler and uphill trip to Brackley to meet up with Carole in the Waitrose carpark. This included a lot of miles alongside a motorway on a very overgrown cyclepath. Meanwhile, after the satnav sent Carole around in a circle, she was thankful that it was early Sunday morning and there was very little traffic with which to contend!

The second leg, Brackley to Crick, began with Carole humming a wee ditty to herself to keep herself amused. “I’m cycling to Crick, I’m not cycling very quick, I’m cycling to Crick, I’m going quite quick”. As you can imagine, that got old very quickly!

Carole had a problem or two in Daventry. Firstly getting into it, and lastly, trying to get back out of it! Eventually a hidden cyclepath sign was spotted, the cyclepath going under an underpass and became a bit wiggly for a minute or two, but eventually straightened out and off to Crick she went. On arriving at the Royal Oak at Crick, she found a slightly out of it Dave. He’d had an hour’s nap whilst waiting for her, dreamed he needed to go to the loo, and had had a small incident! Good job he still had the padded cycling shorts on – a good replacement for Tena!

Off went Dave on the third leg of the day whilst Carole braved the drive to Leicester. Whenever we’ve been to the February comedy festival, Dave always drives and, like most city centre hotels, finding the entrance isn’t immediately obvious. Eventually Carole made it into the carpark (got the last parking space), got checked in, loaded all the travelling gear up to the room on the fourth floor and proceeded to get showered whilst waiting for Dave to arrive.

About five o’clock we both left for dinner at Zizzi, picking up our banner, buckets etc from the car. Both bikes were locked onto the bike rack with a thick combination lock. After a lovely dinner, we went straight over to The Cookie for the first of two double Edinburgh preview nights of Lloyd Langford and Rhod Gilbert. This show had sold out right away and so we were lucky to be comped in.

Both shows were just as good as expected, we had a chat to both comics and Rhod very kindly offered us the takings of his show for the following night. We left The Cookie around 11pm, decided to walk back to our hotel via The Criterion, just in case it was open and there was anyone we knew there. It was closed though, so we headed back to our hotel, talking about our day and still on a high from the gigs.

This was where things were to take a quite shocking and unbelievable turn. We came down the steps of the hotel, heading for the car to drop off the banner. The car was there, under the hotel car park canopy, but the restraining webbing for the bikes was hanging forlornly, the lock was nowhere to be seen, and our bikes were gone! The immediate shock was huge, the incredulity at what had happened. Dave had left his fundraising logo flag on his bike, but the thief had snapped it off at the halfway point and thrown it on the ground. The cut off webbing was on the ground, plus some bits of Velcro that Carole had used to keep her flag at the correct angle.

We went straight to reception to ask that the police were called. The night porter said he’d call. We went up to our room, trying to take in what had happened. What were we going to do? How could we carry on with no bikes? Could we afford to go out and get new ones? The answer to that, was no, not really. Also there was a time factor, bikes take time to order, to put together, to be fitted. Plus, the fittings for our handlebar bags for our phones and our light fittings were also gone so we’d have to source new equipment as well.

The night porter came back to say that the police were requesting that we make the phone call to them for ourselves. Dave took on that job, spending a long time on the phone to a very sympathetic person on the end of the 101 number.

Carole did what she’d done in the past when faced with an emergency situation. She turned to social media and put out an SOS plea on Facebook, explaining the situation, and asking for help.

There followed a very long night, neither of us getting much in the way of sleep, both of us trying to figure out how to get ourselves out of this mess, carry on with the cycling challenge as planned, keep up the fundraising as planned. How to do it.

The total distance covered for the day was 77.3miles in 6hrs 1m, running total 304.73m in 24h 12m – but that was the last thing on our mind.

PREVIEW OF DAY

Another very long day in the saddle of over 76 miles. Again three sections. Oxford – Brackley – Crick – Leicester.

We were very keen to visit Leicester on the way as it is the home of the UK’s biggest comedy only festival. We love our trips their in February with a mix of old shows and bones at the embryonic stage.

The gig will be at The Cookie. And will be a Rhod Gilbert work in progress, which is very exciting. We are on the Cookie’s mailing list and got the email about this 12 minutes after it went on sale by which stage it was already sold out. Fortunately we contacted the Cookie and they are fitting us in and have been lovely about what we are doing. Very grateful indeed. Also very grateful to Geoff Rowe the head of the Leicester comedy festival for his encouragement and help in trying to find a venue for this day. And the guys at our other favourite venue in Leicester, The Criterion.

No ticket link – as already sold out. But please visit The Cookie, it is a great supporter of live comedy.

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