WE DID IT!
Shops visited today = 2 + 1 research centre (102 CRUK sites in total – we sneaked an extra research centre in when we visited Birmingham), 100% total miles cycled (plus the extra ones where Gerry and the navigator were not on top form)
Day 13.5 had finally arrived. We ate our 12th Premier Inn breakfast (standard order – 2 English and 1 continental) and estimated the time we’d arrive in Oxford. Patrick was feeling particularly anxious about our arrival in Oxford. As we’d asked other cyclists to join us from the last CRUK shop in Headington to the research centre, he didn’t want to be late for them. In addition we had some friends and other supporters who we knew would be at the research centre at 1pm.
We’d looked at the route and the associated elevation profile.This was ideal – undulations initially, one hill and after 10 miles it was then all downhill.
The navigation looked straightforward as there were only 2 roads – the A4260 and the A40 (plus a bit of a ride through Old Headington). We were confident that even we couldn’t get lost. Having taken everything into account we planned to arrive in Headington at 11.15. This would give us sufficient buffer time if we experienced multiple punctures or any other issues along the way.
As we pedalled off from the Premier Inn in Banbury, Patrick was still feeling irrationally anxious about arriving on time. Our usual first challenge of the day – getting out of the car park and selecting the correct road, was soon overcome when we realised we needed to go down the road protected by multiple bollards. Escaping from Banbury was straightforward and we were soon on the A4260 heading south. We tried to make the most of the downhill stretches, pedalling furiously in top gear, to give us sufficient momentum to get well up the hill on the other side. As we reached the 10.5 miles we felt relieved that there would be some relief for our quads that had taken a hammering over the last 13 days.
We were delighted when we saw this sign…
In previous days’ blogs I’ve banged on about the poor state of many roads and cycleways on our 850 mile journey. The cycle path alongside the A40 was good quality. However, at one point, it crossed over the dual carriageway via a bridge and it was difficult to find the entrance to the route on the other side of the road. Here it is – through a small gap in the hedge.Come on Oxford, you can do better. A clear sign post would be helpful!
Our journey had gone well. We’d been texting Jo (Support Manager Week 2), to advise her of our progress. She’d let us know that she was sitting in a coffee shop in Headington, with another couple of friends, waiting for us. When we arrived at 11.25am, Patrick’s anxiety left, but emotion took over and we couldn’t face being with other people.We felt guilty telling our friends we wanted some time to ourselves as they’d made an effort to be here for us, but we abandoned them and went into Jacobs and Field, the deli/coffee shop a couple of doors down the road. Having ordered our standard flat white and decaf flat white, we sat down at a table, looked at each other and tears flowed. We were feeling proud that we’d completed the journey for Philip and Pam(well 1 more mile to cycle) and humbled by the level of support we’d received over the last couple of weeks.
After 30 mins by ourselves, we were ready to face other people, had a quick chat with our friends and set off for shop #97 114 London Rd. It may have been easier to walk our bikes across the road, but we decided it was more appropriate to cycle and so once again mounted Rubes and Roberto to take the right turn at Headington lights onto London Rd – a journey of less than 100 metres.
Jerry (manager) with Dylan and Lisa. Volunteer Stephanie kindly took the photo. We were also joined by Philippa (area Manager) and Nikki (LeadCRUK research nurse in Oxford). When asked to describe the shop in 3 words Jerry said #HappyHecticHeadington
Key Fact – Oxford has more published writers per square mile the anywhere else in the world
Final shop #98 was further down London Rd at number 79c. As we approached there were a couple of cyclists outside. We’d asked other cyclists to join us for the 0.8 mile journey from the final shop to the research centre to create some publicity.
Yvonne (manager) Sally and Jo described the shop as #FunFriendlySupportive
Key Fact – The Ashmolean museum is the oldest museum in the world, opened in 1863
Having chatted with Yvonne and the team we emerged from the shop and were surprised that more than 20 cyclists had gathered, including our friends, Janet and Simon. We were joyfully surprised and touched by the support of many people who didn’t even know us.
At 12.45pm cycling side by side, leading the ‘pedal off’ to the research centre, as we looked behind we felt proud. At each turn we stopped to make sure everyone was together.
When we made our final turn into the research centre we were absolutely stunned at our welcome reception, made up of family, friends, researchers and medics.
Tears flowed once again
A big thanks to everyone who joined us at the research centre to make the ending of our journey so memorable.
Above – Dr Andy Protheroe (Philip’s oncologist and co-clinical director of S Midlands and Thames Valley Research Network)
Below – Jo Wilson and Sandie Wellman (Philip’s research nurses)
I can’t praise these 3 people enough for their efforts to maintain Philip’s Quality of Life.
Below – Dr Mark Middleton (Head of Dept Oncology), Dr Ester Hammond (Head of tumour hypoxia group), Sandie, Nikki and Sophie. Thank you for making time from your busy schedules
Tanisha – thank you for your support over the last couple of years, for whatever crazy ideas we come up with
Grandpa with Romy (note CRUK brand colour of the trike!)
Mum, Anna, with Romy. Thanks for travelling from Somerset to join us
Linda, Jock, Ange, Caroline, Gill, Clem – your support is appreciated and your friendship valued.
A special thanks to Support Managers, Jackie and Jo, who both took a week out of their lives to support us on our 101 CRUK Shop Cycle. We recognise at times we were feeling stressed and the behaviours we demonstrated were not ideal. You are both superstars. THANK YOU!
And finally, a mention of Pam and Philip, who inspired us to do the volunteering we do for CRUK.
On our 13.5 day journey we’ve met so many people who have been supportive and so many people who, like us, are determined to Beat Cancer Sooner. We are proud to be part of the Cancer Research UK Team.
Not everyone can cycle 850 miles, but everyone can recycle. Please consider having a clear out of clothes and bric a brac and taking them to your local CRUK shop.