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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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.

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

Just why am I doing this again?

There are time now when the training has been kicking my arse  and i’m not going to lie i have wondered if it iss worth it and if I can keep going. Its tough sometimes to roll out of bed, have a quick brew, devour some breakfast then get out on the bike to prepare for it. I love getting out on my bike, but in the past you have a choice, if you don’t feel like it you can stay in bed,watch tv or play on the play station. I know deep down I have to carry on and that I will get through it, but that doesn’t make it suck any less at times.

So it was with some embrassment that I watched John Bishop’s Sport relief hell. Now I could take from it the fact that at times, the bloke was in bits, chucking his guts up and huilicinating, not knowing if he had the strength to carry on. Or I could admire the guts and determination he showed to get up everyday, when he didn’t want to and just to keep going, somehow finding the ability to laugh at times and to smile. What he did is far worse than I have to endure, I won’t be on my own like he was for large parts. Like me, he found the training tough, but he kept in mind why he was doing it and focused on that to ensure he got through it.

That what I need to remember, that i’m doing this for Winston’s wish, that I want kids to have the support I had when I lost dad. No one should have to endure losing a parent alone, and if I can raise a bit of cash to help that happen than i’ll be chuffed to bit. I can put up with having to get on my bike and train when I’m tired and don’t want to if it all helps in the long run.

So tomorrow i’ll be getting up at 6 and peddling around when I’d prefer a few hours more in bed, cause I need to train, I need to focus, I need to do this. Then after that I’ll be off to Dorset with my lovely girlfriend and can relax!

The next few months are going to be amazing and if the pay off is I have to tough it out to get to enjoy all of that then so be it. I just wish my dad was here to see it through with me.

Update 18/03/12

Phew finally found 5 minutes to blog! Its been a manic week but a good one! As the Lejog start date creeps up i’m finding less and less time to, I don’t know have any kind of life! With work being mental as well, 24 hour match organisation and actually getting on with getting fit, i’m afraid the blog has got a bit neglected.

So i’m sorry about that and will try to do more to keep people updated with whats going on. But on the whole everything is going well, the to do lists are getting smaller and things are starting to take shape. I’ve still got some major stuff to sort but I am doing my best to crack on and get everything in place. The clock is ticking and i’m working like mad to get it all done but things are shaping up well.

So with all that said lets get down to updating you all!

Bike:

This week:  30.28 Miles

Total for 2012: 221.77 Miles

So I finally got out on my bike Saturday morning and a fun ride it was too! I went out on a ride that took in a lot of hills and i’m definately feeling in good shape, i’m not as knackered doing the ride as i have been in the past. This therefore motivates me to put more effort in and I wish I could find more time to get out on the bike. But this just makes me all the more eager to go out and enjoy the Lejog when it comes up. Next weekend i’m off to Dorset but thats not before I get out on the bike to do the same route saturday morning. It’s my last chance for a training run before the Bath 100 the following sunday.

I also now, thanks to a new phone, have a map my ride app, which is good at tracking my distances accurately, as well as the calories burned, so hopefully this will help develop my cycling.

Rugby:

So our last game was against the league leaders Cheltenham Saracens. Now I went into the game thinking it would be a good chance to lay down a marker but i didn’t think we’d lay it down as well as we did! We ran out 41 – 0 on a gorgeous day, with some great rugby played and it was a great day to have run out.

This week we have  a game against Widden but I will be missing it, as I’m off to sunny Dorset with Em, to catch up with the not-quite-In-laws. This has been beneficial in letting my wrist heal up a bit and focus on getting some prep work in for the bike ride.  Wednesday I will be back at shedweb training though and hopefully stepping up the intensity of it. Last week we did not have a good turn out but hopefully this week we should have a good showing, and begin trying to look like a proper side. With only 5 Training sessions left before the game, time is against us but I am confident we will be able to put on a good showing.

Fitness:

So the main event of the last week has been getting back to the gym. And thus far i’m enjoying it. Except the bike riding, god its dull in the gym! I need to do it as in the evenings its the only way I can chalk up some bike miles whilst it gets dark early. It just takes all the magic out of it, as you  stare at a wall and peddle. I can’t wait until the evenings stay light for longer so I can get out on the bike more.

That said, I’ve been to the gym for a week now, focusing on exercise designed to develop my core strength and tone up for the bike ride, and think i’m going to see the benefit from it. It should improve my recovery times and allow me to go harder for longer (oh er!)It also allows me to practice my SPM and try and maintain a pace between 70 and 90.

The other aim of the gym, is to lose another stone before the bike ride and so far i’ve been 4 times and lot 3 pounds, so hopefully i’ll tone up and not just drop weight. All my efforts in the next few weeks is focused on getting in as good a shape as possible for the bike ride.

Fundraising:

Shedweb:

£935

31% of target.

http://www.justgiving.com/shedweb24hoursofrugby

Bike ride:

£2.031 .50 58% of target.

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

So the fundraising continues to go well, and the to do list is going down.

The main thing over the next few weeks is to get as many volunteers as possible in place and then really start publicising the event. Hopefully we’ll be in really good shape by the end of next week.

Other:

  • Now in other news, and disturbingly i’ve started growing ear hair. Its not pleasant. Its made me think all the fitness stuff is pointless and I should embrace the pipe and slippers. I’m 30 I can’t have ear hair yet.
  • I hope my mum had a nice mothers day. I sent her some flowers and card. I wouldn’t say my mum is the best, as all kids think that. However mum did a great job in difficult circumstance with me and stu. Fathers day however is a day that truly sucks for me.
  • In all of this, i’ve been very busy and neglecting poor Em, who has been great and just grin and bares it (i think she enjoys me not being around secretly!) It makes me appreciate the time we do have together more.
  • Congratulations to Wales on their six nations win. I had fun spending the day in the pub with some good mates, bantering and enjoying the rugby.
  • Started watching game of thrones. Its amazing.
  • I hope Muamba makes a full recover, really puts sport into perspective.
  • This morning it was a struggle to get out of bed. Then I reminded myself that a month ago I’d have killed to be going to work and getting up. It suddenly didn’t seem like a hardship.

Right thats it for now, i’ll be back soon with more inane ramblings! TTFN!

“A champion is someone who gets up, even when he can’t.”

“Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you ther