I’m responsible for the Hero JOGLE Relay route planning, so you know who to blame! Although I did nick it from someone else’s route from a few years ago 🙂
I come from a military family, but a spinal injury at school meant service would not be in my future. My Pa proudly served in the The Prince of Wales’ own West Yorkshire Regiment (joining from the Duke of York’s Royal Military School), was a veteran of the Malaya campaign, but was invalided out in 1956, the same year his brother (a Sapper) was killed on duty. In 2007 we went to the first H4H Twickenham game (the second some years later as well) and we both supported the charity but from a bit of a distance.
By 2011 I was looking for something different in life, and something that might challenge me and happened upon the Big Battlefield Bike Ride (BBBR) for May 2012. Having signed up I nearly packed in the idea, as I failed a lot of the medical questionnaire – but I was able to persuade the docs that I was serious about training and that I should be good to go. Although it was 30 years since I’d ridden a bike regularly (and then only 3 miles morning and night), I confess it wasn’t a given that this would go particularly well. However, I took the approach that there was a training plan for the cyclists that I’d been given; that I would follow it, and if it went wrong – it was their fault, not mine!!
I made it very clear to my many generous sponsors (many of whom shared my doubts about the likelihood of returning in one piece) that this was absolutely, no doubt about it, a one off, never to be repeated event; and they gleefully anticipated a fair dose of pain and suffering for me, maybe with a soupçon of humiliation to boot.
In the end the ride went well, I got to Dunkerque and after all my concerns about the cycling it felt a bit “was that it?”. We came home and I made it quite clear that it was it, no more, I was done. Then, a few months later came the invitation to BBBR13, and to my surprise I realised if I didn’t sign up then come the following June I’d be missing the unique camaraderie of the BBBR team on the continental roads. So, with some foreboding, I signed up and got the bike out again. And did again in 2014, and 2015… and all the way through to 2022. If you rode in 2013, you’ll know that foreboding was fully justified and I have one word for you – camels!
After so many years of it now, the loss of both 2020 and 2021’s rides has reinforced the value of the ride to me, and as I write this I am conscious we should have been on the roads in France (notice that the weather this week is superb for it!), I even miss the regular abuse from a short-arsed Marine (MBE)* from Kent!
But last year the bright idea of Hero JOGLE Relay appealed as a placeholder and a gap filler. Whilst I cannot ride the entire route, I hope to be cycling from Wisbech to London in the penultimate weekend. You may have some difficulty working out which one is me, as these are the only photos I am willing to have published next to my name!!
*this was a very late edit!