ORIGINAL CONTENT FROM PHILL – REPOSTED BY JAMIE
I have abandoned my cycling challenge attempt.
I am sat in a room in Strasbourg trying to write something to explain why. I do not want there to be
excuses. I am grateful and happy I made the attempt and have gone the distance I have. There will
be more writing to put down my experience for others. This may take more time than is available
The following is for those who have donated, or may still yet donate, to HG1000.
I hope you will allow your donations to go to HG1000 even though little of the original cycling
objective I undertook was achieved. Why do I hope for this when you could easily say no?
I suggest because I stood up to be counted for those who have little. During the time away I have
written something about having emotional and material points of reference taken away so you can
have a vastly different new experience of life. Part of that experience was not having piped water
‘on tap’. It was to be under physical effort on a lonely road with no visible habitation or reference
and getting low on water. This fact starts to niggle in the mind and the appreciation of what you
have within your home becomes starkly apparent! So, allow my actual experience to be felt in
you. The next time you go to the tap in the kitchen for a drink, possibly when you are hot and
thirsty after some physical effort pause….and imagine only a trickle of dirty water coming
out….and you can’t phone the water company, can’t go next door, can’t go to a standpipe, can’t go
to a shop and buy a bottle. Consider!
Even though I didn’t achieve a cycling challenge I want to believe I prompted others to help others
and for those who have donated, or will donate (please do), to say ‘yes, there is a family whose life
I have improved and who can now experience clean water from a tap as I can’.
Is the challenge of cycling to those 18 historic Tour de France stage finishes chosen possible? Yes.
Is it possible to cycle them at one attempt, by that I mean at one visit, not coming back next month
or year? Yes. Is it possible to do this solo? Yes. Is it possible to do this solo and without any on the
ground support? Yes.
What would the conditions be for all those ‘Yes’ answers? In my opinion, the following:
Have unlimited time. Have plenty of funds that are totally focused on the task and you are not
having to draw on meagre personal savings. Doing so starts to sap mental resources.
Be able to speak French with some fluency. I couldn’t. I took 20 weeks of beginners/intermediate
French. Probably fine if you are in a car, or a tour bus with time to relax and grow the little
language you know already. This is not enough when you are tired and do not have the mental
capacity to bring to mind the words to get the speedy resolution to what you are needing.
Be mentally prepared for loneliness and isolation and have experienced these under difficult
Be physically fitter than I was. Not necessarily able to ride longer distances or consecutive days
distances. Fitter in arms, and hands for example. The ability to undertake with reserve strength
unexpected repairs. I do not class myself as unfit. Nor was I at the start. The distances planned
were not stupid. The vast majority around 50 miles per day which for myself was ridable.
However, after a number of days of rough road surface including Belgian Páve my wrists were
giving way. I am right handed and my wrist, fingers and ‘hand’ there had lost most feeling. I could
not, cannot at this time of writing, squeeze thumb and forefinger together. The body of the hand is
numb as well. This means it is nigh impossible to use a spanner, tyre leaver, hold items necessary
for tent erection. Some basic toilet and hygiene action are slow and painful.
So ensure all parts of your body are well prepared because if something weakens it will affect your
Be better prepared with the route. I know I was as far as it went and for someone with all the
preceding points in order it would have been fine. Where weakness creeps in is when the
unexpected happens and you do not have flexibility built in or the language and physical strength
to deal with it.
Know the ground well before you go. Understand well what you will meet.
Be comfortable in the surroundings you may find yourself in. For example a bus station, a rail
station. Not being so saps your mental resource by having to solve issues of what to do and where
to go. It becomes hard work. So have experience of it.
Remember, the ‘familiar’ takes little or no effort. The ‘unfamiliar’ takes effort sometimes only
mentally, sometimes only physically and sometimes both!
The above are my opinions of what would enable ‘yes’ answers. What could have been added to
my journey to make it a success which isn’t above
In my opinion a support car. Someone following or going ahead. Having all the above vested in
someone else except the pedalling. Over a year ago I had hope that kind of support may come from
parties I approached. There would have been enough interest in an event that covered major
historic cycling issues coupled with the Tour De France in the UK along with charitable work and
attempted by a 63 year old ‘character’. It was not to be the case. Possibly then my belligerence
kicked in. Well, I’ll show ’em, I’ll do it anyway. This, along with the want to do something for
others – isn’t that what life is about – helping those less fortunate, maybe blinded me to the
elements above I was missing.
What have I learned? More about myself. More about where I do not have faith, or my faith is
weak. For example, at certain stretches of road. One, after Libin. Another before Strasbourg the
canal side was cold, dank and lonely. Dark valley bottoms. There I struggled mentally. However,
He was there. It was my failure to see Him. Pain is the difference between what is and what I
would like it to be. I could not see that on many an occasion. The elimination of ‘I’ would like it to
be should have happened but sadly it didn’t so we had pain.
This is all I can express at the moment and anyway this wifi place is kicking me out. It was
difficult to organise and I will not abuse it as I need it tomorrow.
Love to All