Thursday, 29 March 2012

Lily and I...

DSC_8345.jpg Photo courtesy of

This is Lily and me....Lily not too impressed with being photographed as you can tell from her grumpy expression! But I've put this on the blog simply to say thank you to Adrian Sherratt for sending me some of the pics from the photo-shoot for the Mail on Sunday You magazine article. See his site. Good photographer! He actually managed to make me look normal ;)

Apart from running around like a chicken with it's head chopped off trying to grow my freelance graphic design business, I am mainly trying to do as much for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month as possible, plus start training for The Nightrider and start the fund raising for the Cuba Cycle 2013. At the moment, that amounts to selling some Havaianas! Best get cracking...

Two weeks ago, on a whim,  we did the 'Home to Budleigh and Back' route with Rick and Julie [they ride a tandem], which is about 37 miles. This was the first cycle I have done since the Kenya Cycle in October 2011!
I was fine...until the next day when I felt like I'd been hit by a Mack truck!

So this week we started a training 'plan' - 11 miles a day [weather permitting] Alphington to the Turf Locks. That's the Plan for this week, then add two hills to that next week to make it harder [and further]. Then we'll do the 'Home to Budleigh and Back' round trip at weekends. Plus I need to get back to spinning once a week! Groan...thank God for the FH or I'd never achieve anything!

Cycles I am doing this year so far:
The Nightrider [100 km] - 9 /10 June 2012
The Force Century Challenge [100km] - 24 June 2012
The Great Shakespeare Ride [100km] - 12 August 2012
A cycle in Manchester in October - no idea what or when!

This is to try to keep up a modicum of fitness so that training for Cuba next year isn't a total nightmare!

Feeling very nervous about appearing on 'Lorraine' next week Tuesday, but hey ho - if it helps raise awareness of this stupid disease, bring it on! I had a horrible experience this morning. Someone told me that  a friend of theirs had been DX with OC, then died within a week. That completely spazzed me out for the rest of the day. But, he also said his Mum had been OC FREE for for 8 years...yay! A little less stressful.

Oh, and I really need to do my garden!!

If you would like to help me raise money for research into Ovarian, Cervical and Breast cancers, please donate here? Thank you :)

Monday, 26 March 2012

Ovarian cancer awareness month? how silly!

And by that I mean how silly that it's only ONE month - we need to be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer ALL YEAR. All the time.

I have been pretty busy - did the first training ride for the Nightrider a few weeks back - 36 miles. Nearly had a heart attack! Started serious training today with an 11 mile round trip to the Turf Locks. Much more sensible! So, we've started, now we'll get out as much as possible and build up to the 100km in June. Boom boom!

It's been an excellent month for us as far as 'Getting the Word About' goes. I was on Sky News, looking rather demented I might add, but it seems I got the message across ok. Live TV? Shriek! It's quite scary and I so admire all those women who manage to look so fab and so calm! I am NOT posting the footage! I spent the whole interview squinting!

Julie was in our local paper, the Express & Echo, at the launch of a £10m collaboration between Cancer Research UK and Tesco.

juOvarian Cancer Action were chosen as the 'Vitality' shows 2012 beneficiary charity at Earl's Court. The Vitality Show is the UK's largest health, beauty, fitness and wellbeing event for women. Featuring VIP makeovers, hair and massage experiences, free cooking demos, health advice, free fitness classes and seminars, etc.etc. A big event - let's hope it raised lots of money for research.

Ovacome teamed up with OPI to launch Teal Tips: an initiative to encourage women to wear teal coloured nail polish and prompt awareness of the fourth most common cancer affecting women in the UK. Teal is the recognised colour for ovarian cancer.
OPI and Ovacome hope that by wearing the polish, women will get their friends and colleagues talking about the disease and its symptoms.
OPI’s UK distributor, Lena White, is donating £1 to Ovacome for each bottle of its Ski Teal We Drop shade. It sells during March in upmarket outlets such as Harrods, Selfridges and John Lewis as well as salons and spas throughout the country. RESULT!

This weekend the article came out in the You magazine in the Mail on Sunday, featuring Yours Truly and two other women who have had ovarian cancer - quite a few of the facts were muddled - the 400km cycle became a 240km cycle [all the cycle girls would have loved that!] and I am now 48, which is excellent! Two extra years, gratis!

Friends have remarked that this article has been commented on by women they know, so another good result. The more women who KNOW the symptoms of ovarian cancer, the better. For those we've lost and those still to be diagnosed, this is so important.

And, imagine this! This morning I had a call from Ovarian Cancer Action about appearing on 'Lorraine' next week Tuesday, followed by another call from a lovely woman who works with the program, to try and arrange things.
This is a terrestrial TV program on ITV! Massive audience of mainly WOMEN for this program - yippee! It's not 100% definite, as TV people change things last minute, but so far, so good. I am nervous of course, but what a fabulous opportunity to get info out there - well impressed :) The FH will be coming with me to London, and it should be an interesting day all round. So fingers crossed it comes off.

One last thing - see the BEAT tracker. Just for info. And, if any of you would like to help me raise money for research into Ovarian, Cervical and Breast cancers, please donate here?
Thank you very much. The smallest amount makes all the difference to women diagnosed in the future, and women who have recurrence...we desperately need more funding for research.
It has been estimated that the lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer [in 2008] is 1 in 54 for women in the UK.

Please help if you can?

Friday, 16 March 2012

the Map of the Cuba cycle route

Here is a map of the route we will be cycling. I haven't done the route with elevations yet as it'll probably make me too worried! I'll worry about the fund raising first and the hills later.

If you'd like to help me raise the minimum of £3000.00, please donate here? Thanks!

View Larger Map

Cuba 400km cycle itinerary 3-11th Oct 2013

Oops! So, after cycling 400km across Kenya, I have now been press ganged into cycling 400km across Cuba!
This is going to be a harder challenge for me, as I can't really raise funds in the same way as last year. I really don't want to lose all my friends ;) And I have to raise a minimum of £3000.00 to qualify to do the cycle.

So! I am looking for venues, and people to help me. Message me here or in Facebook if you can help? Thanks!

Or, if you prefer, please donate here - the smallest amount really does help. Thank you.

Cuba itinerary – 3rd to 11th October, 2013

See here for a map of the Cuba cycle.

Flight : London to Havana
[Jose Marti International Airport]
9 hours and 30 minutes – see customs regs here
Met by a local guide, transferred to a hotel in the Miramar District.
Event briefing and buffet dinner.

Warm Up Ride
[approximately 30km]
Early start – 6.00 [not too bad!], bike fitting after brekkie [taking my trusty saddle!], then a tour of Havana on our bikes! 1st Avenue to La Puntilla where we will stop to regroup, then continue toward Bosque Metropolitano which follows the banks of the Almendares River. Then a sharp uphill to Nuevo Vidado, to Revolution Square with the iconic images of Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos and José Martí. I can't wait to see those! here we cycle down Pseo toward the sea, then cut back up into Central Havana, then directly to the Capitolio building and Parque Central. 399px-Salón_de_Pasos_Perdidos,_El_Capitolio,_Havana

Salón de Pasos Perdidos, El Capitolio, Havana

Then we take the long route round past the main railway station to the Harbour, to have lunch at the waterfront El Patio restaurant. Looks great but we will probably be half dead by then!


Transfer to Varadero for dinner and overnight. [lots of snoring on the bus]

Varadero to
Baños de Elguea (approximately 94km)
An early start [ugh] setting off for Baños de Elguea  - cycling through the resort and then passing through Cardenas and then heading East. Through farming communities providing us with an insight into how the Cuban rural heartland works. A relatively flat and well paved route, but plenty of kilometres to pedal! Stop for a quick lunch along the way, and check into the Spa Hotel at Baños de Elguea. Basic but clean accommodation, built around thermal springs – yay! We can chill there and recover from the days ride.

Dinner at the hotel. [plus speeches and random encouraging stuff]

Baños de Elguea to Santa Clara (109km)
Santa Clara
This is the longest days ride, setting off early in the morning to hopefully achieve a ride of 109km [whaaa! – although that is only 67 miles…]. Continuing along the Curcuito Norte road, we head for Sierra Morena where we take a lesser road due South and cut across country toward Santa Clara, famed for being the location of the most decisive battle between Batista and the Revolutionary Forces when Che Guevara and his men ambushed a train full of soldiers loyal to Batista. Che's successful ambush effectively defeated Batista's forces and resulted in the dictator fleeing Cuba the following day. A spectacular mausoleum commemorates Che's outstanding contribution to Cuba's revolution.

Santa Clara to Sancti Spíritus (86km)

After visiting the Che Guevara Memorial, we will set off East along the Carretera Central which was once the main road connecting Cuba's capital city to Santiago. The road is now a secondary route and although busy by Cuban standards, it remains remarkably free of fast moving traffic. [Oh good – so we won't be hit by speeding juggernauts at any rate…]

The undulating road takes us through farming communities and we share the road with horse drawn carts, vintage American cars and farm vehicles.

It's a relatively easy cycle today and we should reach Sancti Spíritus in time to enjoy the pool before dinner at our hotel .

Sancti Spíritus to Trinidad (about 70km)
Today is sugar cane country. We cycle toward Trinidad [woohoo – tobacco country!], one of Cuba's most charming Colonial cities. The road undulates past fields of cane, once Cuba's most important crop. Trinidad and the surrounding area was extremely wealthy in the 18th and 19th centuries, thanks to sugar production. However, once slavery was abolished, sugar production dropped and Trinidad's importance declined. It is now a sleepy provincial town full of live music and beautiful Colonial architecture.

We stop for lunch at Manacas Iznaga [one of the sugar plantation hamlets in the valley above Trinidad de Cuba]  and arrive in Trinidad mid afternoon. In time to celebrate our achievements with a Mojito [or two!] before dinner. And we have a chance to investigate the nightlife too!


Return to Havana
This morning we have time for a bit of sightseeing in Trinidad before we depart for Havana at about 11.00 – we stop for lunch in Cienfuegos, then we continue on to Havana – arriving late afternoon. This evening we celebrate in style with a dinner in the centre of Havana's Old Town.

Return to London.

This morning is 'free' [lots of packing and running about!] then we check out of the hotel at around midday before leaving for the airport and flying home to the UK.

From experience in Kenya, this will also be a very emotional day – many friendships are created on the cycle and it seems awful to part – but we don't really! We keep in touch – and these friendships are the kind to last a lifetime.

  1. Artemisa
  2. Havana
  3. Mayabeque
  4. Matanzas
  5. Cienfuegos
  6. Villa Clara
  7. Sancti Spíritus
  8. Ciego de Ávila
  9. Camagüey
  10. Las Tunas
  11. Granma
  12. Holguín
  13. Santiago de Cuba
  14. Guantánamo
  15. Isla de la JuventudCubaSubdivisions.png