October 2, 2011


Filed under: Uncategorized — by carolspage @ 15:40
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I finished – last over the line, but I finished!

More later…


October 1, 2011

“I want to ride my bicycle…I want to ride my bike…”

Filed under: Cycletta — by carolspage @ 21:53
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I left the gym on Friday, after my last session with my trainer before Cycletta tomorrow. I got into the van, turned it on and radio came on – and I heard Freddy Mercury’s voice singing the words “I want to ride my bicycle…I want to ride my bike…” I can’t lose!

I’m really looking forward to tomorrow – it is going to be GREAT!!

I’ve got my fluids in, I’ve loaded carbs. I’ve got everything set for tomorrow morning and I am READY!

See you all later tomorrow –

September 7, 2011

Why I’m doing this

Filed under: Cycletta — by carolspage @ 05:28
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Some of you may have noticed the Justgiving button on my blog. That is because I am using my participation in Cycletta to raise money for the charity I work for – St Luke’s (Cheshire) Hospice. When I first came to work at St Luke’s, it was quite a shock. I’m from the US originally and where I’m from if you’re taken into A & E conscious and not in imminent danger of bleeding to death the first question asked is not “What’s your name?” or “What happened?” but “Do you have medical insurance?” Yet here was an organisation that cared for people at the most stressful times of their lives and their only question seemed to be “How can we help?”

Many people think of a hospice only as someplace to spend their final days. St Luke’s does certainly provide that care, but it provides so much more!

I’d like to tell you about Debbie Estcourt, if I may.

Debbie was a remarkable woman. She grabbed life with both hands and shook it till every last bit of it was hers. Music was important to her and she was an accomplished pianist and cellist. She received a Masters Degree in Scenography (theatre production design), studying in Utrecht and Prague. This led to a job that took her all over Europe, installing and painting scenery in theme parks in Norway, Finland and Germany. She seems to have done everything from helping out at several of Elton John’s charity garden parties, to assisting with costume changes in the West End production of ‘The Snowman’, to helping a friend (who is a veterinary nurse) care for puppies featured in one of the ‘101 Dalmations’ films. She travelled through Thailand on her own, studying meditation and helping at an elephant sanctuary. She earned diving qualifications in Egypt and Thailand. Returning home to England a few days before the tsunami that devastated Thailand, it is no surprise that she immediately began helping with relief efforts here. Debbie moved to Portsmouth and it was there that the bright pink mountain bike she’d purchased while living in London really came into its own as she rode it to work almost daily.

In January 2007 Debbie was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia. She left Portsmouth at that time and moved back to the family home in Cheshire, where she would have more support. But it was a lonely time. Though now living back where she grew up, many of her friends had moved away. Those still in the area had jobs to maintain and families to care for. Debbie began to attend the Complementary Therapy Clinic at St Luke’s. At St Luke’s she found a most welcome change of scene. There were people to talk to, tea to be shared (the volunteers always made sure that Debbie’s favourite tea was available for her) and the therapies to be enjoyed. Both of Debbie’s parents received support from St Luke’s – because St Luke’s understands that one person’s illness affects the families and carers as well.

Debbie made a good friend during her time at St Luke’s – someone she recognised as a fellow patient at the hospital in Manchester. Their families would joke about their friendship – for Debbie was a committed vegan and Mike was a butcher!

Debbie died in August of 2008. Recently her parents donated that pink mountain bike to a St Luke’s shop. Debbie’s mum says “Debbie was a great recycler and supported many and varied charity shops (often purchasing as well as donating). Therefore we feel we are continuing her ethos by offering her bike to St Luke’s and we are thrilled that in turn this may be part of a further fundraising event for the hospice.”

It is on Debbie’s pink bike that I began my Cycletta training.

It is the care and support that Debbie and her family received, and which all of the patients and families that come through the doors receive, that I want to keep going.

This is why there is a Justgiving button on the right sidebar of this blog.

This is why I am asking you to support my efforts with whatever you are able to donate.

I want St Luke’s to be here whenever we are needed.


August 4, 2011

So THAT’S how it’s done!

Filed under: Cycletta — by carolspage @ 19:43
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Thank you all for your fine weather wishes – the rain stopped long enough for me to get in some riding this evening.

We spent 45 minutes riding around a section of the 3 mile  cycle path. I’ve learned to start pedalling (without falling over), go around corners (without falling over) and stop (all together now….without falling over). I can’t tell you what it does for my confidence to not have to be picked up off the ground twice for each meter I pedal!

We even went down a hill….a BIG hill….and it was curvy….very curvy…..and I went really fast, so fast I nearly took off!

Well, that’s how fast it felt, anyway.  The reality is that in a race between me and a snail I’d probably have come a close second.

Then we had to go back UP the hill….the BIG hill.

I started, I pedalled…well, I tried to pedal. I stopped.

A word of advice to the beginners reading this – never stop on a hill!

Because that means you need to start on a hill.

And this is not good.

I tried many times to get going and failed.

It was at this point, while I was standing with my bike on the hill, trying to catch my breath that a young girl of about 4 years old came round the corner, along with mum and dad and Jack Russell terrier.

When the little girl saw me, she stopped dead and put both  hands over her mouth, as if she was trying not laugh.

She finally took her hands away from her mouth, looked at me with a big grin lighting up her face, and gave me her sagest piece of advice.

“You have to pedal!” she said.

Yes, I do, Petunia. Yes, I do.

July 31, 2011

I ride on my own!!

I received an email from Ged at Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative telling me that the bike was ready for collection – woohoo! We went on Friday to collect the bike and once again the staff were helpful and encouraging.

I took the bike out for a spin for the first time today and what a difference it makes, being able to keep my feet on the ground!  We went around the way to a cycle path and I was able to start riding, WITHOUT anyone holding on, right away. What fun!

My husband said he thought I’d found my inner 7 year old – that’s about how old I felt.

I could pedal on my own! Wheeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Just so you know – the ‘vroom-vroom’ sound you hear is a motorcycle travelling on the nearby road, it is not me breaking the sound barrier on my bike!)


And another bike appears…

Shortly after my first tentative foray into pedalling, our corporate fundraiser Pete came to tell me that he had received a positive response to one of his initial calls to area bicycle shops.

Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative had agreed to donate a bicycle for me to train on and use to take part in Cycletta in order to raise money for St Luke’s (Cheshire) Hospice! Pete took me to their store in Manchester and we met with Andy, who had been tasked with finding out what size bike I required.

Here is Andy introducing me to the Revolution Streetfinder Women’s bike, which is the model of bike being donated. As you can see – my feet touch the ground. [sigh of relief]

Andy determined which size frame I needed and he talked me through the gears and other features of the bike.  He will send this information off to Edinburgh and then they will make the bike I will be using. It should be ready for collection in about a week. I can’t wait!

By the time I left, I felt much more confident about my ability to complete the Cycletta course, thanks to the guidance and encouragement offered by the staff. They’re the best!

July 28, 2011

“…like riding a bike…”

Filed under: Cycletta — by carolspage @ 14:51
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There was one slight hitch to my plans to take part in Cycletta – I didn’t have a bike. This would make it difficult to do any kind of training.

So the fundraising team came up with a plan of action and Pete, our corporate fundraiser and a keen cyclist himself, started making phone calls.

In the meantime a bicycle had appeared in one of our hospice shops.  It had been owned by a woman who attended the Complementary Therapy Clinic at St Luke’s a few years ago. Her parents had decided to donate the bike to St Luke’s and it arrived in our Interiors shop the day after I registered for Cycletta.  It is a ladies mountain bike and it is pink!

I took it out for a spin a couple of days later.  I made sure that my husband had his camera ready so that I could post pictures to this blog (and maybe a little video) of my first foray on a bike in 40 years. After all, they say you never forget how to ride a bike…

You will notice that there are no such pictures, or any such video, in this blog entry.

That is because it is impossible to use a camera when both of your hands are occupied holding your wife up on a bike.

I was ready – I had my helmet on and I was straddling the bike, ready to push off.

And I couldn’t do it.

I could not sit on the bike and keep my feet on the ground. This meant that I had to stand on the pedals to get onto the seat. And when I stood on the pedals, the bike moved.

I was terrified. I just couldn’t do it.

I desperately wanted the ONE thing this lovely bike didn’t have – training wheels!

Eventually I managed to get on the bike with my husband holding it up for me, so I could be certain that I wouldn’t fall. (Yes, I am a scaredy cat.)

I spent the next 90 minutes pedalling very gingerly, with my husband running alongside holding me up. (Just picture someone teaching a young child how to ride….you’ll get the picture.)

By the end I actually managed to ride a bit without anyone holding on  – yea!

Of course, then there is the problem of getting off the bike.  Every time I put the brakes on I panicked thinking I was just going to fall over. My brain understood that all I had to was put a foot out and I wouldn’t fall, but my legs insisted on trying to get me completely off of the bike. Every single time one foot would get caught on the cross bar and then I really would fall.

My husband – lovely man that he is – caught me every single time.

I think this is going to take a little longer than expected…

Next….another bike appears…

July 26, 2011

I said I’d do WHAT?

Filed under: Cycletta — by carolspage @ 22:48
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Last week I found myself on a bicycle for the first time in 40 years…yes, that’s 40….4-0….forty years.

You see, I quite unexpectedly committed to taking part in a cycling event.  It’s called Cycletta and it’s new – its aim is to get more women in the UK into cycling and, for me at least, it’s worked.  I’m not entirely sure how….

I have vague memories of the fundraisers at St Luke’s (Cheshire) Hospice (where I work) saying it was too bad that they couldn’t do it as a relay team because it looked such a good event. I also remember hearing a voice pipe up and say “I’ll do it – the whole thing!”

I thought – wow! Now there’s someone with ambition!

And then I realised that the voice had actually been mine…

Why did I say it?

I don’t have a clue.  The last time I pedaled was when I was 7 and John Mason knocked me off my bike.  I decided at that moment that I was better off on two legs than two wheels. I’ve also been a committed couch potato for much of my life, so I’m overweight and out of shape. There is absolutely no reason on earth I should be doing this – but I am.

Not only am I doing this – but I am excited to be doing this!

I’ve been working with a trainer, Tom Kearney, for a few months now and apparently I have decided that it’s time to push myself to see what I can do.

Tom has worked out a training programme to get me ready to cycle for 40k – oh, didn’t I mention that?  Yes, the event is 40k…That’s one kilometer for every year I’ve NOT ridden a bike – that translates to 24+ miles.  But Tom says that this will be ‘the making of me’….hmmmm…now THAT sounds like it’s gonna hurt!

Next….the bike appears…

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