Friday, 16 July 2010

Rhubarb Bomb Podcast

Our first ever Podcast is now complete and available to download from iTunes for FREE.

As Rhubarb Bomb is only currently released quarterly, we wanted to fill those gaps with something else. And a Podcast seemed the ideal way to let you know about the exciting records we’d come across and events that were going on in the interim. We intend to continue this process, with the distinct possibility of special ‘one off’ editions too.

Episode One is 60 minutes long and sees myself joined by part time Rhubarb Bomb contributor and ‘renowned’ folk musician ‘The Passing Fancy’, as well as Mr Rob Dee, head of much respected Philophobia Music for a pleasant chat about allsorts. We’ve squeezed in 10 amazing tracks, including exclusive first plays of tracks from Runaround Kids, Buen Chico, Mi Mye and a track from the upcoming Philophobia Compilation, ‘Under the Bus Station Clock’. We’ve got the brand new Pains of Being Pure At Heart single ‘Say No to Love’ (interview with them in the next issue too) and we also announce and play tracks from the bands that will feature on the opening night of the first ever Leeds Fringe Festival, which we are curating, on August 19th.


Say No To Love - The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
Cost Of Living - Salvage My Dream
Falling into Better Hands - Runaround Kids
The Rash That Grows - By By
Sense Of The Shaking - Mi Mye
Happiness Is Important - Buen Chico
There's A War - Victoria & Jacob
Two White Ghosts - Zoey Van Goey
Philadelphia - Standard Fare
Its Lethal - This Many Boyfriends

Thursday, 15 July 2010


On July 28th we are hosting an exciting Music / Arts event at The Art House, Wakefield. For a while i have been trying to think up new venues to host gigs, interesting unique places that would feel more 'special' for the audience, as well as the bands involved. I came upon The Art House and devloped the idea for the evening we are now presenting.

We have teamed up 2 of our favourite 'bands', though in reality they are, in terms of recording at least, one man projects, with two artists. The artists have a space within The Art House studios to do with as they please. The musicians will then perform within the space. It's a pretty simple but effective way to bring together musicians and artists, and im sure will make for a interesting and engaging experiance. There's nothing wrong with gigs in pubs and bars - in some cases you cant beat it - but there is so much scope for different ways of doing these things, and hopefully this will be a positive example of that.

St Gregory Orange and Bruce Rimell will perform a number of sets throughout the evening. St Gregory Orange will take a more improvisational approach whilst Bruce will create and develop the space in reaction to the music, using the walls as a canvas.

Salvage My Dream and Carrie Scott-Huby will perform 10/15 minute sets on the hour, every hour incorporating live loops and instrumentation along with audience activated sensors.

The whole event co-insides with the Wakefield Art Walk which takes place on the last Wednesday of the month, every other month. That means The Art House opens its doors to the public who are free to wander round. The doors will be open from 17:00 til 21:00. No tickets are required, just come on down, follow the sounds and come and see whats happening. The Art House is in the centre of Wakefield, next door to Drury Lane Library.

(further details on times of performance will likely appear on the facebook event - ) - (st greg orange) - (salvage my dream) - Bruce Rimmel - Carrie Scott-Huby

Friday, 9 July 2010

Trans Pennine - Day Three

Pollington to Hornsea
Start time 08:00
End time 18:30

Another poor night’s sleep due to the heat and my really quite awful Hay fever left me feeling pretty low. Which was a shame because our room at Parkside Guest house was lovely and in the perfect location. We’d decided to get an earlier start today. Poor Dave had work the next day so wanted to get it over with ASAP. Also, though the trail ends at Hornsea, there isn’t actually a train station in Hornsea, which means 14 miles back the way you came to Hull. Dave decided to avoid this by altering his route to hit Hornsea first, then making it to Hull. It meant we wouldn’t see each other, unless I made it Hull Station in time to wave him off.

Once we were packed and outside, I felt excited for the first time, purely because by the end of today it would be over, one way or another. I had thought more tactically today – I would ride very slowly, but consistently. Get a very steady pace and just keep on it. I would also eat loads and loads of food – anything. On the last two days I’d worried too much about eating healthy stuff, or high energy stuff, often doing without when I couldn’t find it. Today I would eat and drink at every single opportunity. I thought of it as the ‘Fat Bastard’ method. That way I’d never be low on energy, and suffer like I did on the Pennines.

The heat had died down somewhat and I made good progress. I kind of fell in love with Humberside – mainly because it’s so flat! I passed through lots of tiny villages, almost chocolate box type affairs, with country churches and men riding bikes with their wives in the sidecar. Certainly not what I’d expected from the East Riding. I was growing thirsty and came across an old school with ‘TEA’ written on a blackboard outside. I parked up and wondered in. There was no one around – it was a help yourself affair. The old school hall was dark and eerie but the shade was lovely. There were tables with home made cards and games and shelves of books, all for 50p or so. And there were tea making facilities as promised, with a little honesty box beside. In fact, there was also a massive PA packed away in there with at least 4 speakers – doors wide open for anyone to thieve. It was a real welcome resting point and made me feel good about the world.

After passing through many similar villages I came too a river inlet and found myself next to the River Humber. In the far distance I could see the Humber Bridge – that’s where I was heading! It spurred me on and before long I was tracing the A63, straight for it. But I didn’t let the excitement get to me and stopped in a little pub for a glass of coke and ended up having a 30 minute snooze on a picnic table. Unlike the previous 2 days I wasn’t feeling the pressure of having to be somewhere at a certain time, and it made the whole thing a lot more manageable, mentally and physically.

But today there was one vital difference from the previous two. My arse was really starting to hurt. Many had warned me the old saddle sore would be the worst part of the whole experience. After two days, and almost certainly due to the ‘gel seat’ I had invested in, I had not experienced any real discomfort at all. But something had changed. Maybe I had worn away the precious gel, perished under the wanton pressure of having me grind away against it for two horrible days. It didn’t feel like it wasn’t there, it was just that my behind had become incredibly tender. Sitting down ranked as a 7/10 on the ‘pain in the arse’ meter, whilst standing up initially increased it to a 9/10, it would then subside to a 5. But the pain in my legs from increased standing up would start to rise, as if to compensate. The only option was to sit down, which bolted it back up to 9 again. It was a delicate balancing act that I was failing to master.

I spoke to Dave around this time. He was already in Hornsea and had just treated himself to a fish butty. What had taken him 4 hours would end up taking me 10. But I didn’t care. I was gonna get there and eat a fish butty if it killed me.

Around Elloughton, though I didn’t know it at the time, I had taken a wrong turn and now faced the largest single hill I’d come across. Granted it was fully in shade, but it was harsh. Inside I knew this was the last time I’d have to do this. After this it would literally ‘all be downhill from here’. I, ever so slowly, powered on and emerged triumphant at the top. It was starting to feel kind of good. The unending pains around my knees I had felt since 10:30 Sunday morning had vanished. I could only think that the pain receptors there had got bored and found something better to do. I didn’t feel tired. I didn’t feel energetic. They just moved when I wanted them to, and for once didn’t complain. I considered that maybe, for the first time in my life, I had broken through ‘the wall’. I wasn’t sure. If I had, it had kind of happened without me noticing it. Maybe what happens to Marathon runners at 18 or so mile had happened to me at 180? I didn’t know. What I did know was that I best make the most of this whilst it lasts. Before I knew it I was in Hessle, passing under the Humber Bridge.

The route took me into Hull city centre via some housing estates. It was weird. In one part, where you would expect there to be a small barely noticeable roundabout, signified by a tiny blob of white paint in the middle of the road, was in fact a full on renaissance style water fountain. ‘Am I in Hull or Florence?!’ I humorously thought to myself as I captioned the imaginary facebook photograph in my mind. But I didn’t stop and take the photo. I took one of some waste land instead as that’s what I expect from a photo of Hull. In truth, I’ll never likely again be so happy to see Hull. I made it to the centre and stopped for some food. I’d been too late to wave Dave off at the station, so I sat and prepared myself for the final stretch, for one last push.

I had some time to reflect, and before I wow you with the drama of my final 15 miles, I will perhaps share some of that with you now. My overwhelming feeling was of how ‘Great’ England was. How very English it still is. I’m a cynic by nature, and find most forms of patriotism ridiculous. But, by taking the B roads and the backroads, the canals and snickets and ginnels I’d managed to see the width of our country in a different light. There’s still an awful lot of greenery out there. And you really don’t have to go far to find it. Pretty much everyone I came across was warm and friendly. People in corner shops talking about the weather. Old Ladies sat on benches eating little sandwiches. Friendly passers by with directions. And the Quaint B&B’s. Country Pubs. Ducks sunbathing on the village green. Picture Postcard Post Offices. Tiny Parish Churches with decaying Graveyards. It seemed that due to being on a bike, people were nicer towards you, and interested in what you were up to. And there was an unspoken bond with other cyclists, a polite nod and smile as you passed one another. Perhaps it was slightly mischievous; I knew they had to tackle that hill I’d just come down, whilst they may be thinking the same. There was a silent camaraderie.

No great revelations – its stuff you know anyway. But working the daily grind in the towns and cities, you can forget. And driving around in the car (which I equally enjoy) continues that – you’re pretty much in a bubble in the car, avoiding contact with the outside world, just watching it drift past the window. I felt really engaged with it on this trip. And yes, as the cars sped by I felt quite ridiculous that what would take me a day would take them about an hour. But I saw the details, the things that would pass them by without a second thought, and that made it worth the trip.

I’d called Jayne and told her I’d be at Hornsea for 18:30, 2 hours from now. My parents were meeting me there too, so I had no choice; I had to get moving. Once out of town, the route took me onto the, by now, very familiar terrain of the former railway line. And I just kept on riding really. Onwards and onwards. It was past ‘hard’ at this point, I was kinda in a zone. I wanted to be at home on my comfy sofa. The iPod finally ran out of juice; it was just me and the singing birds now. Yellow fields flanked me and I just kept pedalling. Again, I was out of water, and I had to stop every 20 minutes or so; my bum really was sore. But I climbed back on and without even thinking about it, my legs started going again.

I had been mulling it over the last day or so, but I had come to the conclusion that physical exercise is not for me. Like most people I worry I'm getting a bit podgy and perhaps I should do a bit more of this, or a bit more of that. And it became clear to me over this journey – why? If it causes this much pain and discomfort, why bother? This massive physical excursion had convinced me that exercise, at least for the sake of it, is the devil. I pledged I would, from then on, spend the majority of my time exercising the only muscle I could rely on – my brain (of course, as I write this, its obvious that my brain isn’t strictly speaking a muscle, but under the strain I was enduring, the allusion seemed to make sense). I would read more. I would write more. I would test myself more – just not physically! I would rather be a fat, out of shape brainbox than a sleek, muscle bound example of human physical excellence. I suppose I always knew that, but it seemed a nice lesson to come out the other side with.

Back in the real world I had reached Hornsea. After 15 miles of repetitive, if striking landscape, I suddenly found myself on a suburban street. I dodged and weaved through the traffic and sped off across a roundabout. I was disappointed to find myself back amongst some trees on another path. How long can this go on for?! But suddenly I popped out from the second batch of woodland and saw before me, some 100 metres away, the North Sea. From nowhere I found a final ounce of strength and sprinted my cursed and decrepit old bike past an old ‘Funland’ arcade and to the finish line. I’d made it – Hooray!

Total Hours: 56.5
On the Road: 32.5 (including breaks etc)

*Thank you massively to everyone who sponsored me for this event, it truly made it all feel worthwhile x

Trans Pennine - Day Two

Cheadle to Pollington (South of Selby)
Start Time 10:00
End Time 20:30

After an uneasy rest, due to the unbearable night time heat and the unavoidable inability to breath due to my hay fever, I awoke feeling only slightly less tired than I had the previous day. We had stayed at the lovely Butterfly Guest House, and after a hearty full English, it was time to recommence our journey. Which was easy enough for Dave – he had two pedals on his bike. I, however, had to get a taxi up the road to Southport. Thankfully the chaps in the shop were able to fix it easily enough – it was just a case of wear and tear. It did mean that I was already behind before I started. And on our biggest day – 85 miles, over the Pennines – it was an interruption I didn’t need. By 10am I was on my way.

Both Dave and myself had been surprised to wake up that morning with very little ‘ache-age’. Our legs felt reassuringly fresh. This wasn’t to last. Due to my slight relocation in order to repair the bike I opted to take an alternate route to get me back on track, in terms or being in the right place and, hopefully, the right time. However this deviation from the official route was a mistake. As mentioned, the Trans Pennine Trail is designed as a flat and easy route to navigate. My alteration did not have such guidelines to follow, and seemed to thrive in this geographical freedom. In short, it was a right hilly bastard. Up and up I climbed, only to be confronted by more hills. In the distance the Pennines loomed, and by gosh, they looked high. It felt impossible that I was climbing such gradients and not encountering the opposite – every action has an equal and opposite reaction, right? So where are my downhills?!

Some were so steep, I found myself walking the bike up them – I simply couldn’t stay on the bike. That was bad news considering it wasn’t even dinnertime yet. I passed through Hyde and Hattersley, and was at least being treated to the beginnings of some wonderful scenery. I then passed through Broadbottom, which was probably my most favourite place on the entire trip. It wasn’t the scenery though, or the place itself, or even the mildly amusing name. It was the fact that it was built on the steepest and longest stretch of downhill I would encounter. I sped down its couple of miles in a matter of minutes, like a toboggan working my way through the winding tree lined route. I sped past the cautious cars and lorries – the fools! Cycling is the way to go, don’t you know! Only at the bottom did it hit me. The couple of hours hard work I’d put in reaching that altitude had been a waste. I now had to do it all again, and more so. Like a dieter, resisting fry-ups and take-aways for weeks only to blow it on a massive donner meat pizza at the end of the month, I felt like I was back to square one. Still, if I’d been doing this East to West instead I’d have had to climb that bloody thing. It’s all a matter of perspective I guess.

My next major stop was Hadfield, known as the fictional town ‘Royston Vasey’ in The League of Gentleman. It’s a nice place, though disappointingly normal. Only two shops on the main street had decided to cash in on the connection – a cafĂ© ‘for local people’ and the butchers, though I couldn’t see any special stuff in the window (under the counter, obviously). It was fun to look at the buildings and figure out whose houses they were though, and the angel statue that opens every episode was there. I called Dave. Unbelievably he was already in Penistone, that’s the other side of the Pennines and a solid 16 miles away. I best get moving.

The route crosses the Pennines via Woodhead Pass. Dave had taken the road, but I was to take the official route, a dusty path at the other side of the numerous reservoirs. It was approaching midday and the heat was increasingly dramatically. It was definitely warmer than the day before. And in my haste to get moving, I had taken the decision to not eat. “Eatin’s Cheatin”, as someone who’s not done the Trans Pennine Trail might say. Its something I’d come to regret.

I pressed on and was treated to some wonderful scenery. The scale of the place was hard to take in, huge roaming hills and steep crevices all rolling down towards the reservoir. The further I travelled along, the more shallow it became, until towards the end it had been reduced to what was essentially a tiny stream working its way though the disgustingly black silt and rock. It was movingly dramatic. I took plenty of pictures, but inside I knew this was mainly because it gave me an excuse to stop for 5 minutes. I was struggling.

After the familiar insult of being overtaken by what, in a more sensible world, would be my inferiors – this time two old men – I made it to Woodhead Tunnel. For a moment I thought the route would take me through it, which would have been the single greatest thing ever – I could feel the cold emanating from its beautiful beautiful shade. But it was not to be. It is derelict, though there were plenty of work men there. Instead I had to climb up onto the road, and then climb up further. And I mean climb. I had to check my map – this didn’t seem right. I was working my way up a very steep set of steps onto the very top of Pennines, far above the road. But the map confirmed that after my epic climb - that would have challenged a normal, fit man, without a bike and a bag full of stuff he’ll never need - I would come across a road. Well, I thought, it HAS to be downhill there, because there’s nowhere else to go.

Near the top I looked back to see where I had travelled. It was an impressive view. But I was exhausted. I’d run out of water and I was a good 8 miles from civilisation, either direction. There was no shade whatsoever up here. And the sun was hotter than ever, it was undeniably the worst time of day to be stood atop a massive hill. I could barely move. And this road I’d climbed for? It did not exist. It was a rocky, bumpy dirt track the farmer must have used to reach his sheep. I think even they were laughing at me. ‘You’re warm?’ they seemed to say ‘I’ve got this great big woolly jumper on!’ I didn’t give them the satisfaction of a reply. I just tried to avoid their stares of contempt. I checked my phone and saw there was no signal. I genuinely remember thinking ‘maybe this is where I’ll die…’

It would be nice to say the next hour or so flew by, that through pure heat exhaustion I just trundled on, in some kind of trance. But no, I remember ever single, horrible second. And for the second day I cursed my aerodynamic, clean shaven face. Having not experienced direct sunlight for some years it was reacting with massive heat rash, aggregated further by the strap from my helmet. And STILL no downhill.

Some miles further, having rejoined a proper tarmac road, I joyfully came across a brisk downhill stretch which brought me to a pub. I was overjoyed. Not only would I stop for a drink, I could perhaps get something to eat too. But in a scene that would repeat itself many times over the 3 days, the pub had closed down. Old vines snaked around its once imposing figure, the paint on the door pealed off. ‘Maybe that’s just the style of the place’, I tried to convince myself. But the door would not open. If I’d had the foresight I could have taken a picture of all the pubs I passed that were closed down. There were so many, especially in the villages. It was a sad sight, even more so as I was delirious with thirst.

Eventually the going got a little easier and I slowly made my way down into Penistone. I felt like I’d run a Marathon. I made it to the Spar in the town centre and bought a massive bottle of water, a Capri Sun and a Lucozade Sport. I guzzled them all and then went back for an ice cream (well, I may as well try convince myself this is some sort of holiday). After filling up with a sandwich it was time to get moving. Having spent some time in the shade, and with the opportunity to re-hydrate myself, I felt revitalised and ready to move on.

A gentle downward gradient carried me all the way to across the M1. It was an almost enjoyable run, purely for the fact I knew I was making good progress for the first time that day. Once again I had hit the old railway lines and quiet country lanes which meant I could get my head down. I wanted to get to Doncaster for teatime.

Somewhere around Mexborough I hit a nice downhill stretch, so switched it into a nice low gear (is it low or high – see I don’t even know that!) and built some speed. Then I heard this terribly crunch, a harsh snap, followed by my chain falling off. Oh no, what now? I pulled over to find the outer part of my gear ‘thing’ had snapped off, and my chain, which hadn’t quite fallen off, had just got stuck in the mechanism. I got it back on and carried on. But 10 minutes later, the same thing happened again. It was clear I’d lost the outer 6 gears on the bike, meaning downhill I no longer had an advantage. Combine this with the fact I didn’t have the inner 6 gears anyway (hadn’t since we started) meant I had to kind of hope that al the roads I came across from here on in were pretty steady, otherwise I’d struggle (even more)

Despite these problems, I made it to Doncaster. I didn’t stop – I’d spoken to Dave and he was already at the B&B, planning to go down the local pub for some tea. It was clear I wouldn’t make last food orders for 20:00 but I didn’t want to be out here ALL day. A quick break and hot sandwich in a bland out of town chain pub was enough to give me the energy to carry on. Thankfully the landscape had really settled down compared to the morning and the final section of the day was a fairly pleasant trip round some country lanes and along some canals. On a normal day it would be rather lovely – at the tail end of an 85 mile death march I couldn’t care less. I made it to Pollington for around half 8, half walking the last mile or so as the days activities finally caught up with me. I found Dave chilled out on his bed watching the football. He’d been there since half past four. Bastard.

Trans Pennine - Day One

An account of the three days it took me to cycle the Trans Pennine Trail in aid of Cancer Research UK

Southport to Cheadle
Start time 10:00
End time 21:30

My journey begins in the quaint seaside town of Southport. Whilst the uninspiring name may suggest otherwise, the area looked pleasant enough and may perhaps be worth a second visit one day. But, alas, there was no time to stop at the Lawnmower Museum – I had a country to cycle across!

The Trans Pennine Trail runs from Southport to Hornsea – not as the crow flies unfortunately, which meant I had approximately 215 miles to cover, including a section right over the Pennines. But I wasn’t going to worry about that just yet. A relatively short 65 miles run to Cheadle, South Manchester was my initial goal. Which, to be fair, would be the most I have ever physically exerted myself anyway… For, you see, I am not a particularly fit young man. I’m young, granted, which helps, as it means I’ve had less years of no exercise than a 40 year old man trying to do the same thing. But I’ve not really trained either, not as much as I could and indeed should have. It all seems quite worrying all of a sudden.

I bid farewell to Jayne, my much appreciated lift (and girlfriend!) at the monument on the seafront and began my cycle south along the coastal road. Almost immediately the road jilted upwards and continued to do so for a good few miles. Now, as we shall see, preparation was not my strong point on this trip, and one thing I neglected to comprehend was that I was starting on the coast, and thus, at sea level. Once this obvious and simple fact is digested it can only be a small leap of logic to realise its unlikely I will be heading downhill any time soon. And I bloody hate the hills (‘up’ anyway – their sibling ‘down’ are much more my cup of tea). So, within 30 minutes of setting off on my 3 day trek I’m already thinking - 1. ‘This was a bad idea’ 2. ‘Ow this isn’t much fun’ and 3. ‘Why is my pedal squeaking?’ Yes – less than an hour in and my pedal is making a very annoying squeak every time it goes round. Squeak Squeak Squeak. And on top of this I am acutely aware of the massive weight of my rucksack. Having never trained with a full bag and I am now shocked to find that I’m carrying what feels like an extra 2 stone. Any weight I lost in training was for nothing. Also, the benefits of the clean shave I had this morning, my first in over 18 months, were seemingly wiped out. The decreased weight and improved aerodynamics of a clean shaven face are sadly negligible when you’re packing such extra mass, and your bike is so rubbish it doesn’t even roll downhill properly. Aw man…

A few miles further and I’m finally ‘off-road’. A fair majority of the trail avoids main roads, and sometimes roads altogether, making use of the miles of former railway lines that dot the country and have been converted into pathways. The huge advantage being that they are flat and straight and as such makes journeys on them very efficient. For the time being I’m enjoying riding down a minute country lane. With the sun beaming down and the flats plains around me I feel like I could be in Southern France. It’s marvellous. It’s also the hottest day of the year so far, so I’m careful to get plenty of sun cream on and drink plenty of fluids. Hey, this is kinda fun!

A little further down said road I am feeling less optimistic. I’ve come to a T junction and I don’t recognise the names of the place to the left, or to the right. I consult my official Trans Pennine Map. The Maps are great, really detailed close-ups of the route you’ll be taking. If I had to criticise them at all, I would say that straying off the official route by anything over half a mile leaves you in a pretty sticky situation. A situation I was now in. Neither place name appeared on my map. Now, whilst I’d say I’ve got a very good sense of direction and am pretty decent at reading a map, it suddenly struck me that whilst driving a car, its pretty easy to take a punt and see where you end up. Get it wrong and at worst you’ve got a 5 or 10 minute drive to retrace your steps. On a bike, I suddenly realised, its very different. Get this wrong and, at best I’ll be 30 minutes behind schedule… Not to mention the energy I’ll waste. I look up to the sky and see where the sun is to try figure out which way I’m facing. I feel quite clever to have thought of this, but then I start to doubt myself – the sun rises in the West right? Or does it? And what use is that if I don’t know where I am?

Needless to say I got it wrong, and soon found myself on a main road with a sign post saying ‘Southport’. Oh God. I was well off track, but thankfully not quite back where I had started. At least I had a direction now, and promptly turned around and bombed down the A59 towards Liverpool, my idiotic squeaking pedal with me all the way.

Due to my foolish navigation skills, I got to Aintree for 12:00, a paltry 10 miles from where I started. My co-rider for the trip, Dave, had just arrived in Southport. In many ways the complete opposite to me – those ways being fitness (he runs marathons), motivation (he’s doing this for fun – for FUN?!), and the state of his bike (it’s a ‘proper’ road bike, with ‘proper’ things like good tyres, a light frame and pedals that are reassuringly silent). Id got there early to get a head start on him and I’d blown it.

I got my foot down (or feet down? It is a bike after all) and sped past the outskirts of Liverpool. An alternate route can take you into the city itself, and along Penny Lane, but I didn’t have time for sightseeing. I had to get to Fiddlers Ferry for 3 o’clock to see England take a thrashing from Germany (oh for hindsight, I could have taken it easy!) I made some strong progress but after a couple of hours had been pushing myself too hard. This was confirmed when an 8 year old child overtook me on his tiny 8 year old child’s bike. He looked around cheekily, as if he could sense what a pathetic specimen of the human race I was, and knew that I didn’t have the energy in me to catch him - a small 8 year old child on that tiny 8 year olds bike, without fancy gears or a bottle holder like mine. My bag probably weighed more than him. Though, to be fair, his bike did have some England flags on the back, which made it look pretty cool. Again, with hindsight, I should have forced the little brat off the road and stolen his motor – it would have caused me less problems than the catastrophe I was riding. Still, easy to say the beating of small child is the answer now, but at the time it wasn’t so obvious.

The mid afternoon sun was causing me big problems now – I was buying an energy drink and filling up my water every 30 minutes, again slowing me down. But I always got a little burst of speed after, and any excuse for a 2 minute rest was welcome. I’d spoken to Dave – looked like we were both just about on course to make it for the England game. I was pleased to hit the River Mersey, and the return to sea level flatness allowed me to power on. After briefly crossing the infamous Spike Island, I made it to Fiddlers Ferry just in time to miss the first Germany Goal.

After that thoroughly delightful rest, I felt suitably inspired by the German performance to march on to victory in Cheadle. With England’s spirit I’d be sulking off home already. Dave and I were taking different routes on our trip – as I mentioned before he had a ‘proper’ bike, whereas I had opted for ‘dad’s old mountain bike’, probably 5…10 years old? Who knows? As such I was taking the off road routes and Dave was following the roads. I waved him farewell and continued down the Mersey. Despite the miserable display I’d just witnessed I felt good and refreshed. Plus, the squeaking pedal had shut itself up! Good things were on the horizon…

The Mersey was an interesting mix of Nature reserves and old factories, remnants of its former dock life. I passed by some impressive industrial bridges, and sped along country walkways that weaved in and out of the warehouses and work yards. Something felt like it had clicked. At this rate I might even beat Dave to Cheadle. It’d be great to see his face if I did!

Then something happened. I wasn’t quite getting the purchase each time I pedalled. The left pedal… something wrong. I stopped for a closer look. Whilst it had indeed stopped making a noise, it had instead altered to actively trying to remove itself from the rest of the bike, as if in protest to the foolish endeavour it was undertaking. And, personally I found this a whole lot more infuriating than a little squeak. Luckily, I had come prepared with a ratchet spanner. Unfortunately I had only brought one size head, and it was the wrong one. What would I do? It was Sunday evening. No garages open at this time. The faster I pedalled, the faster it came loose. But the quicker I would reach my destination. Would I forge on? Or try taking it steady. After some pondering I decided I had to get this fixed.

The people in the first two houses didn’t answer the door. I imagine the majority of people were still down the pub. But a man at the third house did. He looked suspicious as I explained my story, as if my helmet, Cancer Research T Shirt and general sweaty appearance may be just a front to the violent mugging I was about to commit upon his person. But after seeing my bike, he swiftly produced a tool set, found the right size part and tightened up my pedals (the other one was loose too). What a Legend! I was so happy, that I had had the balls to go to a random person’s house and that it had actually worked! I sped off, still eager to beat Dave to the B&B.

Twenty minutes later I felt a familiar lack of purchase from my bike. It had started to come loose again. Oh God. Clearly there was a more fundamental problem than I had thought. By now I had little choice but to pedal on as far as I could. Knocking on more houses would only extend its life by a tiny amount. And by now, I just really wanted to get home. I hit an incredibly straight and long piece of old railway line and ploughed on. Then the inevitable happened. The bloody thing fell off.

By now, I was well out in the sticks. I had no choice but to walk. I called Dave and told him the news. He was nearly at the B&B. There was nothing he could do anyway. I called Jayne and she started looking for a bike repair shop, for the morning. And I trundled on. At first the change of pace was a happy break. I eventually had time to stop for something to eat at a little Coop. But as I entered my third hour of walking, I hit a low. This was Day One. And I was so tired, my legs ached, the hanging weight of my body resting on this utterly rubbish piece of biking equipment. Why had I chosen to ride 215 miles on this? I reasoned it was part of the inverted snobbery I have towards many things. I am constantly suspicious of people who spend anything over £500 on guitars, or people who buy really expensive football boots, or people who do massive bike rides on pimped up ‘proper’ bikes. An expensive guitar isn’t gonna make you a better musician. Expensive boots won’t make you a better player. An expensive bike won’t make you ride better. Which is all true – and if you’re just playing in a local band, or football with yr mates then that’s fine. If you’re touring the world, playing in the premiership or crossing the Pennines however, it probably pays to have the best gear. Otherwise things go wrong and you look like and idiot. What an idiot I felt now.

The agonisingly straight and endless path continued with no end in sight. As the sun slowly set behind me I marched on, barely thinking or feeling anything, except to be anywhere but here. But onwards I marched.