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

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Carnage IV: Shedweb v Cherrypickers, Its coming Holm

So I survived! And what a great day it was. I don’t think its really sunk in yet that I’ve played at kingsholm and it might be a while before it really does. But it certainly is a day I won’t forget anytime soon.

We lost the game not surprisingly 46  – 17 but everyone absolutely played their hearts out and ran themselves into the ground. I am so proud of the effort of all the lads and it really is a top, top team to be involved in.

The day started off with being treated to Gloucester v Sale, where sadly Gloucester lost, but it was fun to banter with the lads, who seemed relaxed before the game. Shortly before the end of the game we had to go and get ready. Soon it was time to wait and lead the team out. It was only then, that I got nervous. I don’t think I took in the run out, it was unreal to walk onto a pitch where so many of my heroes have played. It was just sheer noise, and I felt nervous as we warmed up before the game. Soon though it was time for the kick off.

The pace of the game was unreal and the intensity a step up from the last few years. The pitch was huge and we were being run ragged. But I thought we fronted up and held our own. It wasn’t long before the Pickers sneaked into the lead however the lads put their bodies on the line defensively and we held them and we had a great effort going forward. Eventually we broke and Andy Tee was able to cross the line and put us within 2 points.

Annoyingly in the build up to the try I presented the ball and my hand got stood on and soon ballooned in size, so I had to go off for a bit of treatment:

Luckily our top Phyiso Maria was able to strap it up and I got back on. During my time off the pickers cross again and we went into the second half losing but not by much. Half time we tried to focus and talk about how this was it and if we didn’t come off the pitch exhausted we didn’t deserve to be there. Everyone had been fronting up tackling giving it all they had and fully committed to the cause. It was hard to ask for much more.

The second half however the Cherrypickers went into another gear and were running some incredible lines, tackled like demons, and rucked us out the game. One maul they formed was unstoppable and they soon crossed. This was followed by some more quick fire scores. However we kept battling and Andy and our nine Danny Ryland were able to score and we kept battling, no one gave up and no one wanted to leave anything on the park.

Soon it was time for the last play, we went at it like mad desperate for one last score, but we just couldn’t get it. The Cherrypickers turned us over and broke, soon I was tracking across to try and tackle Martin Roberts, a centre v a prop it was a miss match and he turned me inside out, I tried everything to get near him but just couldn’t.

It will be my one regret of the day that I couldn’t stop him, Dale did brilliantly to track back and nearly stop him but it wasn’t enough, I had to keep going though just in case and busted my arse to get back but just couldn’t. The whistle went soon after and it was over.

It was a great great day and everyone went for it, no one could have put in anymore effort. A big thank you to Tony Robinson and Paul Routledge who stepped in at short notice to help with subs and played their arses off. No one had a bad game and everyone can hold their head high.

I’m so lucky to play with a great bunch of lads and feel blessed to call them all my mates.I felt I played ok I carried the ball a few times and ran as hard as I could, my tackling still needs work but carried into contact as well as I could. I still have a bit to learn as a captain but hopefully I will keep developing there.

For some reason Paul named me man of the match, I think this was because the other contenders weren’t there but I was honoured none the less, but it was definately undeserved. It did mean I had to wear a very stupid hat and as you can see Em was less than impressed.

It was a great night with a few too many beers, but it was nice to see so many friends and to cap off a day I will never forget. We have so far raised over a grand for the charity a great effort.

So today thankfully the swelling on my hand has gone down but it is still very sore and bruised.

Luckily it should clear up before next tuesday and the ride which is where my focus now turns. I’ve got a week to prepare and lots to do still. The nerves are now starting to kick in and I’m sure this will be a week of going through the emotions.

But thats for tomorrow, but for now and for a long time, I can reflect on an amazing achievement by me and a lot of top top guys who deserved the moment yesterday. I’m so proud of all of them and they are great great mates. I am so grateful to everyone who stayed and watched, and to Em who has put up with a lot over all of this who has cheered me on and been there the whole way with me.

So thank you shedweb lions, I love you all and phase one of my big month has been successfully completed thanks to you.




When Saturday comes

So this saturday i’m playing at Kingsholm… i’m not sure i’ve mentioned that!

It’s something i’ve dreamed off for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid (oh ok then even sometimes i still do!) i dreamed of being brought off the bench to score the match winning try at Kingsholm in the last minute to beat Bath. As I jog back to the halfway line I’d bask in the adulation of the crowd as a new local hero was born. Now I’m under no illusions this was never going to happen. I’m simply not a talented enough rugby play to ever have fulfilled this dream. But that never stops me wishing i was. Now I have a career and i’d like to think i’m pretty good at what I do. But I don’t love it, Rugby has always been my biggest passion. I’d love to have been able to have done it as a career.

So saturday is such a gift, to get to grace a pitch i’ve looked at with envy always hoping for the opportunity to run out onto it. To lead a side in a game against some of my heroes is the icing on the cake. It’s as close as I will ever get to wearing a Gloucester shirt and representing my home town. I’m still not sure I really appreciate that its going to happen and I am waiting for a spanner to be thrown into the works, stopping it from happening.

So as each day ticks by it becomes more real to me.

The best of it all, is that all money raised will go to Winstons Wish, which is a charity very dear to me, as you all know. So I am running out with some mates, against my heroes, at a place i’ve dreamed of playing at, raising money for charity. Sometimes life can be awesome.

 

 

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.

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…

Suit Up

So  I had a lovely weekend in Dorset with Em and her family, just relaxing and unwinding.But before I went it would have been rude not to have enjoyed a nice training ride at 7 in the morning! It was a good 30 mile spin and I am glad I got out and enjoyed the lovely weather rather than lazed in bed, it was a great kick start to the weekend. It was my last real chance for the Bath 100 next sunday. I even took a few pics:

Coming into the Shire

What a rubbish view...

Now whilst I enjoy the above views the one below is the one I generally see:

So that was may weekend. Now the best thing about today is its payday! After 5 months I finally have a wage cheque and its going to good use getting equipment for the bike ride. So today I’ve brought the following:

  • Some sunglasses with clipable lenses.
  • Some new cleats as the others are worn out!
  • A pac a mac
  • A camel bac backpack whichI got at a bargain price as it was last seasons colour!

And most importantly this epic cycling jersey as I need to look the part after all:

I think it suits me as i’m always struggling to keep up and struggle to take myself seriously.

So the ride next sunday looks like it will be a toughy, here is the info from the action site:

Slightly modified from the 2011 route to miss out the muddy ‘Roubaix’ section and the crossing of the busy A46. We also climb the White Horse at Westbury this year to make up for the removal of some climbing near the end of the route. Still a very tough ride, just a little cleaner and safer :o) Passing Prior Park, Orchardleigh, King Alfred’s Tower, Stourhead, Longleat, Shear Water, Westbury White Horse, Caen Hill Locks, Spye Park, Lacock Abbey, The Circus and the Royal Crescent. Refreshment stops @ 26, 62 and 90 miles.

Ride Stats…
Actual Distance: 100-miles
Metres Climbed: 1812m
Max Gradient: 14.69%
Average Gradient: 1.29%
Difficulty: 8/10

So i picked a nice easy one for first ride of the season! Still it will be a good tester for the Lejog.

In other news I have been busy sorting out volunteers etc for the 24 Hour match.

Oh I’m not allowed to say why as i’m sworn to secrecy but please all cross your fingers and send positive thoughts to the lovely Em tomorrow please. tah muchly.

Right thats it from me for now, so i’ll be back later in the meantime if you wish  to sponsor me or the rugby boys you can at the links below:

http://www.justgiving.com/shedweb24hoursofrugby

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

TTFN!

Russ