18 months ago neither of us owned a bike. Since then, we have racked up over 5000 miles between us – 4000 this year alone. Abbie has completed two 100 mile rides in the space of a week, and over 10,000 feet of climbing. Sal has averaged 100 miles and more than 7 hours a week on her bike since January. One of us has been knocked off by a car and the other has managed to come off 5 times completely unassisted. There’s been torrential rain, snow, ice and hail. There have been heatwaves and melting tarmac. The potholes of Surrey. The croissants of Calais. New Forest ponies galore and laps of Richmond Park into triple figures. Cycling before weddings; cycling to weddings. Blood, tears, bruises and really, really, really sore bums. And now – with less than a fortnight to go – we can’t wait to get started.
In the last couple of weeks, we have undertaken rides which would test far superior cyclists. On Sunday 29th July Abbie completed Ride London in torrential rain. Whilst pleased to discover this wasn’t as traumatic as the wet weather cycling we attempted when it was sub 5 degrees earlier this year, it hardly made for a fun day on the bike. Nevertheless she made it round in good time and was ready to go again this weekend for another hilly 100 in the Surrey Gran Fondo – this time with the opposite problem. With mechanicals and the oppressive 32 degree heat challenging us from the sun above and reflected off the road, we knew that after the ride we’d be ready for almost anything LEJOG can throw at us. (Provided we have enough Percy Pigs to hand.)
Once again, it’s worth reminding everyone of why we’re embarking on this challenge. It’s been more than three months since we lost our friend Fi to cancer and it’s still sinking in. We miss her every day and are committed to celebrating her life with equivalent energy as the pain we feel not to be sharing life with her anymore. It is with this in mind that Fi’s family have set up the Fiona Strong Memorial Fund, so that we can continue to do slightly bonkers and sometimes enjoyable fundraising activities in Fi’s memory for many years to come. Fi’s life wasn’t defined by cancer, and the Fund enables us to raise money which can then be applied to a range of charities in Surrey, where Fi grew up and we met at secondary school all those years ago. This means that the funds raised can benefit cancer charities and patients, whilst also going to other community-based causes such as helping homelessness and a charity Fi was particularly fond of and supported herself – Riding for the Disabled in Leatherhead.Fi liked horses almost as much as she liked gins in tins
We know that a number of you have already made hugely generous donations to Fi and LEJOG, but have updated the link to the Fiona Strong Memorial Fund on our ‘About’ page and include it here too in case any of you would like to sponsor us further for some very worthy causes: Fiona Strong Memorial Fund
All that’s left now for us is a few short spins, a decent amount of rest and tackling packing-light like we have never packed-light before. A week on Sunday (Sunday 19th August) we will be at Lands’ End raring to go. More info next week on our route and how you can follow us along the way.
Huge shouts-outs this week to James who did his first ever sportive on Saturday and got through the 57 mile course like an absolute pro – and of course our friends (Ness, Jonny, Vicki, Sandy, Pip, Laura, Toby, Claire, Pavla and Neil) who battled their way up the Three Peaks on Saturday in memory of Fi and raising money for the excellent Chris Lucas Trust, which focuses on research into the specific (and very rare) type of cancer Fi suffered from. You’re all a huge inspiration and will help keep us going each day.
Lots of love, Abs and Sal xxx