Monthly Archives: July 2014

Julia’s House – The Reason Why I’m Taking on the Challenge

Most of my blogs have focussed on my training as completing the challenge, however the underlying reason for taking on the challenge is to raise as much money as possible  for Julia’s House. I took the decision at the outset of this project that I wanted to support Julia’s HousJuliasHouseGirle and in doing so that I would also self fund the entire venture (circa £4,500) to maximise the donations received – it didn’t seem right that others should be paying for the challenge, I’d much rather any money raised went directly to the charity and the people who really matter.

As the challenge draws nearer and my training moves from building to sustaining my fitness level, it will be great just to spend some quality time with the family throughout August – something I simply take for granted. For many families, time spent together is so precious, Julia’s House is the only charity in Dorset that helps these families. Can you imagine what it would feel like if your child was born with a very serious illness for which there was no cure. On top of that devastating news, no-one can tell you how long your child will live, only that they will need constant care, day and night. Under this strain, many families fall apart.


Julia’s House – Rear Garden

Sadly, having a seriously ill child is something that can happen to anyone – and Julia’s House – The Dorset Children’s Hospice (Registered Charity Number 1067125) is the only charity in Dorset that helps these families.

Julia’s House nurses and carers provide life-changing support for parents and their children both in the hospice and in their own homes. They’re there year-round and in a crisis, offering emergency respite and overnight care. We are also there when the worst happens, offering emotional and practical support at the end of a child’s life..

I urge to you watch the linked YouTube video which explains a little more about the amazing service provided by this wonderful charity – Julia’s House YouTube Video.

It did shock me when I saw how much it costs to run Julia’s House each year and particularly when I found out that government funding accounts for just 7.5 per cent of the £3.9m Julia’s House needs to raise in 2014 to run this vital free service. The rest of the income is raised through the generosity of the Dorset community, corporate partners and charitable foundations.  While my challenge maybe tough, it’s not as tough as the challenges facing Julia’s House families every day – what greater motivator do I need to climb a tough mountain!

Finally please make a difference and make a donation – you can do so via my JustGiving Page.






Fundraising – Cake Sales, King of the Mountains and the Free JuJam Band Festival

Over the next couple of blogs I’m going to veer away from cycling and focus on the other major objective of the Tour Challenge project and that is to raise as much money as possible for Julia’s House – The Dorset Children’s Hospice.

I made the conscious decision at the outset of the project to self fund the entire venture. Taking into account vehicle hire, fuel, accommodation, food, insurances etc. it’s going to cost me in the region of £4,500 and that doesn’t cover any the costs of bikes, spares etc. – so I’ve been saving for a couple of years. I always said I wanted to raise as much money for the charity as possible and it didn’t seem right that others should be paying for the challenge, I’d much rather any money raised went directly to the charity and the people who really matter.

I’ve been very fortunate to work with some generous souls, who’ve spent their own time and money to help me fundraise. Only last Friday (11 July 2014), at my place of work, a cake sale and Tour de France themed dress down day was held. I have to say that Tina Sams, who works with me, did a fantastic job in baking and organising her team of bakers to put on a fantastic spread – ranging from victoria sponges, coffee and walnut cake to the legendary cheese and bacon savouries – we are a bunch of gannets and all cakes were sold!

Justin and Steve

Myself and Steve Mills

During the lunch break I arranged a King (and Queen) of the Mountains competition involving entrants riding 1km on one of my road bikes, fixed to the turbo trainer, with increased resistance over the km. Steve Mills from Julia’s House also came down to help out and we had a great time as the participants got stuck in and really did get a sweat on in the 25 degree heat.

Tony riding

Tony Beazer on the Turbo

Alan Drinking

Dorset’s Answer to a Recovery Drink

The next big event is JuJam, a free live bands day at the Royal Standard Pub, Upwey, on Saturday 26 July from 2pm. I’m really grateful to Brian Hole for organising all the bands and raffle and for Phil Anderson to let us use the venue free of charge. It must also be said that the line-up is top notch and that all the bands are also playing for free. Please checkout the JuJam Facebook page and let friends and colleagues know – it should be great day of live music, beer and merriment!

Thanks for reading, in my next blog I will be providing you with some information about Julia’s House and the great role they play in supporting families with a seriously ill child.






Wary of the Findus Lasagne Treatment

Well it’s been a pleasant couple of weeks in Cyprus and I’ve had a wonderful time with my wife’s family celebrating the wedding of Dan and Candace. Despite being over 2000 miles from my bike, I have been able to keep the legs spinning at the local gym; luckily I stumbled across the excellent Tower Fitness Center ( in Pegeia which for 40 euros gave me unlimited access to the gym for my fortnights stay. So most mornings, I spent the best part of 2 hours getting a sweat on and having a good chat about all things sport (and restaurants) with gym members Matt and Barry – top blokes!

Throughout July is when the training (and fundraising) really ramps up and as soon as my flight lands I’ll be getting ready to hit the roads and hills of Dorset. It’s also that time of year when no-one can get onto a tennis court and every other 40 something in the land says I’ll go to Glastonbury next year (but don’t get around to it) so I suspect that now the Tour de France is on, the roads will be packed with cyclists, but at least  there’s plenty of room for us all!

It’s also just about a year to the day since I came off my bike, I don’t tend to fall off often (touch wood) but when I do it’s  normally a good (bad) one…

So picture the scene, it’s a pleasant Saturday morning, I’ve just ridden through the village of Milton Abbas as they prepare for the bi-annual street fair (if you’re ever in the area check out this place it’s stunning) and head off to Okeford Hill which to be honest is an easy climb from the south but a bugger of a decent as it get’s up to 20% and is completely exposed to cross winds.

milton abbas

Milton Abbas (courtesy of Malcolm Balmer)

I’d navigated the hard part and slowed down but got my line wrong into a sweeping right hand bend. This ordinarily wouldn’t be an issue for a pro, as they could take the racing line, but with on coming traffic  you need to take the long way around. Unfortunately, in this instance, I hit some loose gravel and couldn’t correct so it was time for a quick decision bale out right into the road (and get cut to shreds) or left into the nice comfy grass verge…

Well I quickly unclipped and chose the left route and as my bike hit the verge I did a superman dive and landed relatively softly, it’s then I realised something wasn’t right as my left shoulder was a bit sore, I checked for a collarbone break and then checked my shoulder and realised I’d dislocated it and that I needed to call home for a lift. Time for a lesson learned… always check your phone battery!

Fortunately I was able to flag down an elderly couple (sadly I never caught their names) who let me borrow their phone, no answer from the wife, so I left an answer phone message – ‘I’m ok but have come off the bike and will need a lift etc’. I reckon I had a 45 minute wait so I took the wheels off the bike and finished off my sandwiches.  The time passed so I flagged down another car and asked if I could borrow their phone, unfortunately my wife had got lost in the Dorset lanes.

Very kindly the driver who stopped, Ursula, who was with her mum and child,  offered to drive me and the bike to an easy to find location – so we agreed to meet my wife at Blandford Tesco’s. I’m extremely grateful to Ursula as she went out of her way to help, so a big plug to her business

Well my wife, daughter and I drove home, I got changed and inspected the injury – apart from the dislocation I didn’t have once scratch on me – I guess it was just an unlucky and having cycled the route subsequently I think my shoulder took the impact as the verge gradient rises.

So in hospital, after the x-rays, it’s determined that I had a posterior dislocation which is quite rare (normally associated with electric shocks or fits), I’m then informed that I’m going to be knocked out when they pop the shoulder back in and the drug of choice will be ketamine (horse tranquiliser), given at that point the state of supermarket products I did have some fears that I would disappear, only later for traces of me to be found in a Findus Lasagne.


Daddy Recovering and Jessica Sleeping

Well, my drug of choice is alcohol, so this was certainly going to be a new experience… next thing I woke up to what I can only describe as a kaleidoscope of colours in a late nineties trance club with music pumping out left right and centre – god knows what I looked like to those in tune with reality but apparently I was enjoying the tunes!

Having finally returned to normality I did what many teenagers have done after pushing it too far and ended up with a whitey into a lovely cardboard bed pan. So I guess after all that, this day was my lowest point of the Challenge to date but also, depending on your take on life, also the high point!