Wednesday 30th May
I woke up at 4am and couldn’t get back to sleep so I thought I would use my time productively. Up until this point there has been a link on my website to my Just Giving page but I haven’t asked for any sponsorship. I am raising money for EDS-UK the charity that supports others with my conditions, I volunteer for this charity as an area coordinator and have done for a number of years, I feel very passionate about equipping others with knowledge and support to help manage what can be complex conditions. Sometimes just having a good chat about anything to someone who truly understands how hard everyday life can be is very powerful. So I wrote a post on social media asking for sponsorship hoping that my last 95 days on the road and the few more that I’ve got to go are deserving of it.
I also spent a while trying to repair the slash in my tyre that cuts all the way through, glue wasn’t holding it together so I have patched the inside of it in the hope that nothing sharp managed to fill the gap and pierce the inner tube – new tyres will arrive on Thursday if I need them! I laughed at my dedication, at 6am I was sitting on the hotel bed pumping up a tyre.
I got on the road to retrace some of my last few miles the night before to get back to the coastal roads, it was spitting but today I could appreciate the Oast houses and the vineyard I cycled past. Yesterday’s flooding seemed to have subsided significantly. I felt under a lot of pressure as my short mileage day yesterday (although harder work than a long day on the road) has left me with two 80 mile days to get to Brighton and the miles just have to be done.
Once I reached the coast there was pretty much a cycle path all along the front, I passed Whitstable and Herne Bay before I headed out into country lanes before rejoining it again at Reculver. The path was mainly concrete slabs so there was a bump at every join, this made it a little slow going but the beauty of the sea and the marsh land made up for it. I think this is the longest stretch of bike path along a sea wall I have done and I enjoyed every moment. The collective mix of beach huts above the beaches was provided interesting viewing, although it appears that some have been damaged in our recent storms.
I had planned to meet Christina and Ellen (who has EDS) at a cafe in Birchington. We enjoyed breakfast and chatted for quite a while, Ellen has found ways to adapt and do things, she is on her university swim team! Inspirational! Ellen had a go on my trike and loved it. I hope we meet again as we really aren’t too far away! Thank you for coming to meet me and for breakfast!
Back on the road I had to get these miles done, the Sponsorship money was coming in quicker than I could have hoped for and was making me a little emotional, it was making everything I have done seem real. I continued pedalling around all the seaside towns, there are some beautiful stretches of coastline here, lined with a mix of wooden houses, modern architecture and grand hotels amidst castles and ruins.
I knew than once I reached Deal my reasonably flat ride would turn reasonably hilly for 15 miles with the steep climbs either side of Dover. I stopped to view the cliffs at the top but everything was shrouded in sea mist and the photo isn’t even worth sharing. There have been pockets of thick sea mist all morning, however I wasn’t complaining as when the sun had broken though it was very hot, so more comfortable to cycle in the mist. I cycled up the hill out of Dover, it was arduous and never ending, however when I reached the top to descend a 14% gradient I saw a group of cyclists working very hard to get up the other side. I grinned knowing I’d completed the hard sections of my day!
I stopped quickly in Folkestone, the cycle route took me over the cobbles in the old part of the harbour. I had wanted to cycle up Remembrance Hill (the soldiers were marched down here to the boats waiting to take them to war). There was a flat route through a park and my heavy legs didn’t fancy another hill, I feel slightly guilty that I couldn’t make the effort up to see the remembrance memorial but I saw the arch standing at the top of the cliff above me!
I had a flat easy run now it was along a road in the mist so not very scenic, I just churned out the last few miles and reached my hotel.
Tomorrow there are thunderstorms forecast in the middle of the day so I’ll try and get off early so I can take a break!
TO BRIGHTON I GO! I just hope I don’t get there looking like a drowned rat, I’m not sure that would be a good look in the newspapers!
A sincere thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way and who has sponsored me today. You have all been a massive part of my journey and I will cherish memories of meeting you even if that was only virtually. Your messages of support and help have gotten me through. I will be reaching Brighton tomorrow for all of us and will imagine you all behind pushing me along that last little stretch as you did up every single steep hill I have conquered!