What I’ve been up to!

So having had a very busy last few weeks, I had a very relaxing week off work last week. I feel so much fresher for it!

I would probably write a 50,000 word essay if I went through everything that has happened in the last few weeks so instead I’m going to do a bit of a photo blog with a few comments instead, so enjoy!

shedweb

So this month saw another run out at Kingsholm and another battering! But it was a fun day and again loved every minute of having a run out at Kingsholm.

 

Tour fly halfThe season then ended with TOURQUAY 2013 and what a tour it was. No your eyes are not playing tricks on you that really is me at 10. The game was one of the most fun games i’ve been part of and it was a great way to close out the season with the lads.

cycling bike ride

 

So this week off i’ve finally got back out on the bike and clocked up some decent miles- 160 of them to be precise. Its been awesome to find time to get out on the bike and I’m looking forward to many more of them in the coming months. Starting from tomorrow, i’m aiming to commute to work at least 3-4 times a week, so it means an early start but hopefully a big kick up the arse for my fitness!

 

eagle bird of prey

 

I’ve also found some time to chill out with my lovely girlfriend Em, which has included an awesome day out at The Bird of Prey Centre in Newent!

So thats it in short form. I’ve got a lot coming up in the next few months; Em’s Birthday, Sevens, Dinner dance, Cycling and much much more. I’m feeling pretty good at the moment. Things seem tobe on track at the moment and hopefully that will continue.

Till next time, hope you are all well and catch you soon,

Cheers,

 

Russ

x

 

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Days 10 – 12

Day 10

South Laggan – Tain

78.32 Miles 7 hours 27 Minutes and 19 seconds

Today was a tough day. My legs were like jelly after the previous day and with a room of six of us it wasn’t a great nights sleep. It didn’t help that i dropped my pillow
on Petes had four times in the night.

I had a day of riding on my own, Gareth choosing to ride with Felix, Sinead, Pablo and Richard as he was struggling with his leg. (but it was great to see him still going he really toughed it out)

There was a massive head wind that day which made it tough going and it was a wet windy and cold day! Still riding around Loch Ness was pretty stunning, although I didn’t see Nessy! As we rode around the lake the going was made so much harder by the  tough tough wind, it was an effort to get any sort of speed. Still I made it to the water stop.


A quick adjustment of my cleats and i was off to tackle Heartbreak hill, the largest and longest of the trip and what a hill it was! It was steap and went on and on, i had to stop briefly but got up it, to the most appaling conditions, it was pissing down, freezing and raining. You had to peddle to even get downhill! I did not enjoy that bit at all! Finally after what seemed an eternity i made it to the Lunch stop. I was sore, with bad knee ache, so took an age at lunch chatting and struggling to get going. When I did get going again it was up a long tough hill and my energy went quickly. After an age i made it to water, topped up and pressed on.

I tried to ride with the aussies but could not keep up i was done in. The last part of the day seemed to go on for ever and I was pleading for the hotel to arrive. I finally made the hotel after an age, cold wet and fed up.

However the hotel was stunning and a nice hot bath cheered me up. After freshening up and feeling humour we went for a nice dinner, then sat infront of a gorgeous fire, with Tim, Rich, James, mike and Ali for a few beers before bed. Tomorrow would be another toughy…

day 11

89.13 Miles 8 hours 11 minutes and 57 seconds

Another truly amazing day that I won’t forget in a hurry.

Me and Gareth set out a bit late, no one was keen to get out. The wind was mental and it was pissing down.

The first 10 miles were so tough, the head wind was about 20 miles an hour and crossing the Bridge was so hard with a cross wind.

The views were stunning though and after this we warmed up and made good pace to the coast. After water the rain died down and we saw some stunning views of the coast.

From there we turned at Helmsdale up the A697 and were in the middle of no where. It was amazing and just like the Scotland you see in the adverts. We saw some deer which was amazing:

Some of the scenary was mindblowing and we chatted along, taking in the views. The going got insane after though, we had a hill to climb that wasn’t that tough but the wind and rain hammered down. It stung your face and you could not get any sort of speed. That was as low as i got on the ride cursing the world and feeling fed up. Finally we made it to lunch where it cleared and after 2 cups of tea, some soup and a chat with Paul, Peter, Diane, ISabel, Susie etc i felt human again. The sun reappeared and it did my spirits the world of good

After lunch it all changed. I found a fifth gear and was flying, the roads and views spectactular and nothing would slow me down. Its some of the best cycling i’ve ever done and i loved every minute of it. I won’t ever forget that spell. Then it got better.

As I rounded a corner i caught a herd of deer literally 15 feet from me and just stood and watched them for ages it was amazing and not like anything i’d seen. Then it poured down and they ran off. But what a sight

Not even the raid could dull my mood and i felt even better when some lads gave me some flap jack! I was still going strong and after an amazing descent hit water. That was some of my best cycling, i felt good and was tearing up the road, it was just amazing and the scenary was spectacular and i will never forget that day.

From here we turned and rode the coast and the head wind was back, i struggled the previous spell taking its toll, but then we descended to thurso and that was fun.

We arrived at an ok hotel but my mood was lifted by having my own room! I had a lush dinner with Diane, her husband and Tim and was now loving the trip, a few beers after then off to bed.

That was it the hard days over. Tomorrow we got to John O’Groats.

day 12

28.43 Miles 2 hours 7 minutes 43 seconds

That morning I felt rough, my body was broken and had had enough. It wasn’t just me you could see in on everyones face.

We rode off for a meagre 27 miles – i made the detour to Dunnet head, the most northernly point in the Uk which was amazing, a tough wet climb but worth it, inspite of the vile weather.

Then i was flying into John O’Groats. I had my music blarring thinking of dad. Giving it my all, it was to be the last cycling of the trip and i was going to enjoy every minute of it. I felt happy and chuffed that I had got to the end and that I kept going, I thought of dad and wondered what he would make of it all.

We regrouped at the sea view hotel for a tea, then rode into John O’Groats as a group. I felt good, a year of prep had paid off i made it and had hit my fundraising target!

After a few pics we borded a coach to Inverness. We had a great night and a lot of drink was drunk with great company! We laughed about what we’d achieve, took the mick, toasted each other, saw rich do a tequilia suicide. It was a great night of celebrating.

I am so proud to have finished but I don’t think what I have done has sunk in yet. I went to bed very drunk, but very content.

 

All my bags are packed….

But i’m not leaving on a jet plane. Now I’m  leaving by car.

Yes in the sitcom that is my life, things haven’t quite gone to plan. For you see apparently First Great Western have no reservable spaces on their trains for bikes, so I cannot run the risk of not getting the bike on the train. So now I am driving and Em is bringing the car back. Which will be an adventure for her as She has not driven in years!

But finally I am packed and ready to go. I’ve had to make some last minute kit purchases, to cater for the lovely wet weather (some drought!) and had to  fly to Gloucester to grab a bike rack (thanks Julie and Neil!) Tomorrow we leave about 11, with one nervous driver who will be anxious about the bike the whole way. When there we will meet with Em’s parents in Penzance, camp over for the night (going to be fun in this weather!) then I have to be at Land’s End for 9AM, with a 10AM set off.

I’m not going to lie my emotions are all over the place at the moment. One minute i’m excited, the next i’m nervous. I’ll suddenly worry if i’ve trained enough, if my ankle will be ok, if i’ve filled paper work out ok, if i will finish. Then I think about the support, why I’m doing it, my dad, Em, my family etc and i feel confident again. I think this will be the run of things till I start. Once i’m doing something i’m fine and the nerves go away and I focus on the task at hand. But up to that point I worry like an idiot!

I’ve decided that it can piss down all it likes, the wind can be against me the whole way, the trains can fuck me around, and all sorts of other stuff, thats fine. All it means is that when I hit John O’Groats, the feeling of accomplishment will be all the greater.

So now its time to kick back and relax! Hopefully i’ll get a good nights sleep and be ready for a long day of travelling tomorrow, but i’m already buzzing I just want to get going now.

So when I thought of doing this a year ago I never imagined how big it would all become and I have you all to thank for that. To everyone who has taken the time to read my blog, comment, send me messages of good luck, donate, be moved by my stories or shared it with others thank you. Its because of you I am where i am. To Em, Wills,Raines, mum, degs, stu, the shedweb lions, Dowty RFC, Caz, Tom, Will, Raines, Ash, Craig, Dizzy, Julie and Neil, Bob and Danny and all the others who’ve helped me train, given me lifts, texted me or kicked my arse thank you. None of this would happen without you all. And to anyone who has doubted me thank you, I thrive on proving people wrong, your lack of belief spurs me on all the more.

I will be recording the ride as I go but have no idea how often I can post, but i will update you all as much as I can.

Right i’ll see you all out there!

Love,

Russ

www.justgiving.com/russell-brookes

Update 09/04/12

So it’s been an eventful week or so. With the deadlines of everything fast approaching my free time is becoming less and less, its taken a bank holiday to find time to update the blog! So yes its all coming up scarily quick now and I’m working hard to make sure i’m in shape and ready and that everything is organised.

And wow did my blog yesterday touch a nerve! I asked some friends to share the blog and appealled for support and I certainly got it, in the last two days this blog has been viewed 329 times, which is staggering and I’ve had an amazing amount of money donated my way to the point that i’ve hit my initial fundraising target! This now puts added pressure on me to ensure that I put on some great events, and cycle my fat arse accross this great country. So with that in mind its time to get serious, get my head down and focus on training. But first lets get you all up to date:

The first thing i’ve done lately, is to ensure I maintain a serious and professional appearance at all times, so it was vital I got a new helmet, to go with that look:

I’m sure with this look everyone will take me very seriously….

Bike:

So not done a lot of fitness this week, as my bowels decided to put a stop to that. I had a real issue all week that finally went thursday but left me needing to rest up. Luckily I was able to do that and get out on the bike over the weekend. I rode to Glos on the sat and then back on the sunday. It was good to get out and do two days back to back and a much needed boost to the confidence as I felt good doing it. The late evening ride on the sunday, although windy was brilliant and a geat end to the weekend. I cannot stress how eager I am to get out on the bike now and earn all the support i’ve had.

Annoyingly I am working next saturday and out on the sunday so its getting hard to find time to get out on the bike before I go and I need to find time to get out on it. I’ve only got three weeks to go now and would feel better getting out as much as possible. Luckily with it being lighter in the evenings I can get out at night now so thats what i will have to do.

Rugby

So the Dowtys season has now come to an end, with a good win over Cheltenham Civil service. It has been a good season over all with a great ending and plans are afoot for the next one already, I can’t wait!

Two games left this year, luckily they are minor affairs…. one at Kingsholm the other 24 hours plus… so piece of piss really.

Two training sessions left now for the shedweb game, its flying up on us. I cannot wait for the game, and the lads are training hard so should be a belter.

Fundraising

Cycling:

http://www.justgiving.com/Russell-Brookes

current total: £3,610

100% reached.

Just wow, I cannot believe the support I have had, I am staggered. Yesterday I was a long way off the target, but thanks to a massive donation from someone I’ve hit the target. I’ve had some smaller, but by no means less significant donations that have helped rocket the total up. Every penny is a big help and I know the charity appreciate it so thank you to all who’ve given so far.

I have now set a larger target of £4,500 which would pretty much destroy me if we hit that, but now I’ve hit the initial target I need to push on all the more. I’d had a flat few days, with the bug, missing dad etc, but you lot really have lifted me.

Rugby:

http://www.justgiving.com/shedweb24hoursofrugby

Current total:

£940

31% of total reached

Again a great start and with more due to come in. We now have some sponsors who I will start to reveal as the money comes in.

We have now sorted the first aid, publicity will be starting soon and things are really taking shape.

The shirts are now finished:

We still have a few weeks to go and loads to do but its all getting there!

We have some sponsors taking shape as well now and i cannot believe how much we have accomplished.

So thats a snap shot of how things are shaping up.

Before I dash off, as I’ve so much to do, I just want to thank everyone for reading my blog, sharing links to it and for all the messages of support, i cannot explain how much it helps with the days of feeling a bit down or the tough days of climbing hills.

Big love,

Russ

What do you say dad…

Its all coming up so fast. I have less than three weeks till I cycle from Land’s End  to John O’Groats, 6 Weeks till I attempt to break a world record for rugby. I’ve so much to do in terms of the organisation as well as take part in the events myself. Not to mention that I am playing a rugby match at Kingsholm, against some of my heroes. Yes i am excited about all this, yes I am crapping my pants about all i’ve got to do for it, yes I’m worried about if we can do it all, yes i’m thinking i will give it my all and prove a lot of people wrong, and that i will show a lot of people they were right to put the support and belief they’ve placed in me. But most of all, today I am sad.

I am sad that I have to do all this in the first place, for, you see if my dad was still alive i would never have had to do any of it. The truth is, its hard to know how life would have been if he was here. I don’t think i’d have the same focus and chip on my shoulder that drives me on so much, but equally i’ d have my dad with me. If it wasn’t for my dad,  I’d not have a love, nor an obsession, with the sport of rugby or of the greatest team in the world; Gloucester. I loved going as a  kid. to start with I didn’t really understand the sport (i still don’t know all the laws!) but i didn’t care as I got to spend time with my dad. My brother didn’t always go, so it was time for me and my dad and i grew to love it, the atmosphere, the passion, the spectacle, the lot. I’ll never forget how much it meant to dad and its the same for me now. I can have a great weekend ruined by a Glos score, I know deep down its only a sport and it shouldn’t be like that, but I don’t care, i love it. I grew to love the players as a boy and to be playing them is going to be an honour.

But can I let you in on a secret, deep down I wish the game wasn’t going ahead. I wish I was in the stand watching my heroes, beer in hand, talking to my biggest hero, my dad watching someone else play them. It still makes me angry at times that he was taken from us so young, I never got to know him as a man, to share a beer, to argue, to get advice, to be driven mad by him. I had 11 years with him and i wish I’d treasured them more. I’d swap the bike ride, the game, all of it it for as many more as i can get.

But the reality is I cannot do that. The above is not to get sympathy, I am blessed really. I have an amazing family who support me and fight for me through everything. I have the best girlfriend anyone can ask for, who backs me 100% and puts up with my childish nature, nerdyness and sporting obsession. And I have the best group of friends, I could ask for, who have given up time and money to help me raise money. The fact that I get to play in the same side as them to raise money for the charity is an honour and a priviledge, i love them all for being prepared to destroy their bodies to achieve this.

What the above is, is a reminded of how lucky I am, that I had a charity like Winstons wish to support me, when I need help. At 11 how do you deal with the death of a parent, you can’t, not without help. I cannot imagine how it was for stu who was 9, or for people younger who have suffered.

So the reality is I have to do all of this, I will succeed, the Gremlins and self doubt can fuck right off, i’m bored of it now. But thats where all you lot come in. If all of this is to be a success it will be measured by what we do for Winstons Wish. That comes from raising awareness and as much money as possible.

So please if you are reading this, donate a quid, just a quid, hell more if you feel like it but whats a quid really? Then share the link. Please. The other week 49 people viewed this page, thats 49 quid and 49 shares of the page. It makes more of a difference than you imagine:

http://www.justgiving.com/Russell-Brookes

Trust me, its just as, if not more significant, that what i’m actually doing.

I’m no good with words, I’m no athlete, and I don’t have a lot of money to give. So I cannot help the charity in those ways. What I am, thanks to my mum and dad, is a stubborn, determined little shit, who doesn’t know when he’s beat. So I promise you i’ll cycle the length of the country and we will smash the world record for rugby. All I ask is you show your support so it means  something. I cannot thank you enough if you do.

So what do you say dad, shall we go out and do this? And i’ll look forward to coming out onto that pitch, knowing you’ll be somewhere with a beer waiting to take the piss when the pickers cut me in half. And you’ll toast me when i get to John O’Groats. And both times i’ll take time out to remember you, miss you and tell you I love you.

Action 100 Bath 01/04/12

This was the hardest bike ride and probably the hardest physical event I have ever done in my life. I wanted a tough test and I certainly got one. Sadly I wasn’t quite up to it and was swept up by the broom wagon after 70 miles but I am not too down beat about that, I’m pretty pleased with my efforts.

The ride itsself was not helped by some very dodgy guts. I am not sure what caused this I think probably an out of date energy drink I had but whatever the cause I spent the night before wide awake due to extreme gut ache and an inability to poo! (it would be wednesday before this finally went away!) I think I had a total of about 3 hours sleep; not ideal preparation for an endurance event!

But still I arose out of bed and set off to take part in the event and I had every intention of giving it my all. It was a bloody cold morning though and a tough start with the hill climb out of Bath being absolutely evil! I thought it was the hardest hill I’d ever done, i’d be re-evaluating this view a bit later!

So I was going noticably slower than usual, this being a combination of tiredness, pain from the guts, and the demands of the ride. It was frustrating as there was no question this was a tough ride, but I couldn’t help feel that if I was in better nick i would give it a better go. However the scenary was breath taking at times and it was a gorgeous day.

The climb out to Alfreds tower in particular was breath taking but I hated the hill, I was cursing out loud at times I must have looked like a right nutter, that is if anyone could have seen me! There wasn’t a soul in sight, I was well off the pace and felt so alone which didn’t help the mindset.

Alfreds tower

I had a strange expereince on this ride of feeling very emotional, I’ve no idea what brought it on, it could have been a combo of the tiredness etc but I thought of dad a lot on the ride and how much I wanted to do the challenges before me and how I worried if i had what it takes to do so… I may have shed a tear or two at certain times.

Then I go to the climb up to the top of the Westbury horse! Jesus christ that was the toughest experience on a bike I’ve ever endured, the hill went on and on and on. I gave it everything I had, but by the end I just had to admit defeat and had to walk the last bit of the hill. This made me angrier than anything else, its the first time in a long time something has beaten me. It will be only a temporary defeat though, i’ll be seeing that hill again.

It was worth it when I got to the top of the hill though the scenary was spectatular. However the hill took it out of me, I had no energy left and at lunch had no appetitite; i was unable to get any food on board and it was not long after that, when I needed to admit defeat and stop.

Stunning view from the top of Westbury Hill, the pic doesn't do it justice.

So I am not too downbeat, I believe that had I been 100% I would have given a much better account of myself and finished, however I didn’t. The hills were a good test and I came through it well.  Its comparable to the distance I will have to do on the tougher days of Lejog so I now have a reminder of just what I have to face. I reminded myself how important the nutrition is and how I need to get it right and was reminded of my limitations.

The night sucked, I was in bed by 6. I had heat stroke and no apetite. The ride really had broken me it would take the best part of the week to recover.

The picture at the top was taken just after I climbed Westbury hill you can see the spectatular views behind me. And yes I do feel as miserable as I look!

Just one example of the stunning roads I got to cycle along.

The next big test

So the kit is laid out, the bike is set out, energy gels ready, drinks in fridge. Its just dinner to cook, load up on the cards head down then time to do the next 100  mile bike ride, this time around Bath. It’s going to be a toughee mainly because I played rugby today and what a game it was!

A scratch Dowtys side travelled to Widden to play a very good Widden side and my god the boys put on a performance, of hard work and graft, and god we played some good rugby! We lost 38 – 54 but we have no shame in that defeat. I’m feeling good considering what a hard game it was, afew bruises etc but nothing major. Hopefully I will still feel good in the morning!

I felt like i needed to play today, as its an attempt to replicate the repititition of the LEJOG. I have to get on my bike 12 days straight, so feeling tender a day after playing rugby is good prep for that. It’ll take a lot of digging deep and mental strength to keep going when the legs are sore and i struggle to go on.

I’m not focusing on my time i just went to get round and feel good and enjoy it whilst doing so, its important with the LEJOG exactly a month away from tomorrow. It’ll take a lot of effort but i’m going to give it my all…