It’s still hard to believe that Restore is only two years old. We now have four houses and sixteen men will be housed this Christmas. Without us many of them would still be in hostels or sleeping rough.
The growth has tested and strained our resources. Challenging situations are often presented and the demand on time can be difficult – especially for our support worker, Ed, who now works full time for the charity.
We have been engaged in a series of strategy workshop this autumn to help us plan the next steps in our expansion. We are clear that the charity needs to expand so that the service is provided by professional staff supported by committed volunteers.
I am grateful for an effective board of directors who share the vision to help end homelessness in York. You can keep up to date with the work of Restore by watching the website restoreyork.co.uk, following us on Twitter @RestoreYork or liking our Facebook page.
It winds across 170 miles of some of Britain’s most spectacular countryside. The new Way of the Roses Cycle Route has just opened and I’m itching to get into the saddle to conquer it.
The route passes through places that are deeply embedded in my life – Ripon and York, places where I have lived and now live. The roads outlined in yellow on the map are both familiar and new. I have probably traversed the whole route at one time or another – but never strung together in one long trek from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. Altogether it looks to be better than the C2C which in my experience loses it’s charm as it crosses some of the more industrialised parts of county Durham and on to the sea. The Roses in contrast skirts the Yorkshire Wolds and heads towards Bridlington in its closing miles.
I have another reason to face the challenge of the ride. I am involved in setting up a new charity to provide homes for homeless people in York. It’s a daunting and challenging project in itself, but we need to some seed funding until it becomes self sustaining. At a meeting to form the charitable trust this week I raised the prospect of riding the Way of the Roses, and the challenge was immediately picked up by my relatively new friend Ed Hambleton. Ed and I separately had the vision to provide housing and support for homeless people and were brought together when, in the same week, we contacted Green Pastures Housing for some help and guidance. That was at the end of last year. Now we are working together with other Christians in York to breath life into the vision.
So expect another invitation to visit a giving website and donate to our cause.
One thing puzzles me about the Way of the Roses route. Next to the village of Clapham just off the A65 there’s a puzzling warning. “Steep hill, poor surface, pedestrians, children, dogs and dark tunnels” Just what awaits us there?
Amazing, fantastic, exhilarating, enjoyable, strenuous. Just some of the words I’ve used as people have asked me how the C2C ride went.
Many are surprised that I’m suffering no after effects from the ride, but to be honest it’s not really the marathon people think it is. I’ve talked to several people since Friday who have also completed the ride – just a few among the twenty thousand who complete it each year.
If you were one of the people who sponsored me I am really grateful for your support. You may like to consider giving regularly to either of the charities I was representing.
Riding Lights Theatre Company has a membership scheme for regular givers. It offers a number of benefits as well as the confidence that you are supporting a very special professional and Christian Theatre Company.
The Funzi and Bodo Trust is engaged in long term projects in those communities on the south eastern coast of Kenya. Regular support allows them to plan their educational and medical projects with confidence.
If you didn’t sponsor me it’s not too late. The Justgiving sites are still open for business. Click on the links and you can join in to help.
Where to next for me and my machine? I’d love to do John O’Groats to Lands End but that would carve a huge hole in my diary. Possibly Liverpool to Hull – I’d need to borrow a hybrid bike for that one because of the many off road sections. Be sure I’ll let you know when it’s being planned.
Thank you for following my adventure – I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. The memories will stay with me for a long time. One thing I discovered as I drove my bike upwards in the Pennines. Singing is a great way to control breathing on the inclines. So if you were somewhere near the summit of Hartside or Black Hill and thought the local chapel was having a choir practice it was possibly me belting out hymns and songs of praise in the strange rhythm my panting heart demanded. I can recommend it – not just on the hills. Singing is good for you – body, soul and spirit. Especially if you have someone to praise for your very existence.
In the guide I was using, today’s ride was “mainly downhill” and there is one of those gradient maps that seemed to confirm it. Choosing the road exit from Rookhope to Stanhope I turned left to face a gruelling climb. Crawleyside Bank. I confess I pushed the bike up the steepest section. Despite a 100% record of staying in the saddle up to this point my mind was not engaged for this challenge. The rest of the incline up to the start of what’s known as the Waskerey Way was fine as the views opened out onto the now familiar North Pennine Landscape.
The start of the Waskerley Way
It was a fascinating ride all the way to Consett and then it became a pursuit for the coast. The bits and pieces of off road cycle track created a rather unsatisfying ride for most of the way with just short glimpses of open country. The old tracks were often dusty and dirty with loose surfaces that made riding a chore. I longed for the open roads of the previous days.
As the Stadium of Light came into view I was aware of a soggy back tyre – a slow puncture. I inflated it determined to get to the finish before changing the tube. Just as the last of the air leaked out I dipped my front wheel in the North Sea near Roker Pier. I was home. The cycle computer read 143 miles.
Dipping in the North Sea
I still had to wind my way back to Chester-le Street for the train home. The computer read 158 miles as I sat on the platform there.
It had been a good ride, I felt sad that it was over and that the next few days would be saddle free. I enjoyed the freedom of the open road and the challenge of it all. Not once did I have to toil up hill in the pouring rain wondering why I was doing this, the weather was ideal.
So at the end I’m thankful to God for answering the prayer of the first day and to all my sponsors who grew in numbers as the ride went on.
If you want to donate or check on the latest totals here are the links
I was only miles from my destination and passing through Greystoke when I discovered that Tarzan has a strong contender for attention here. Cycling Cafe tempted me with a mug of coffee and a huge piece of chocolate brownie. Lunch had been good too. Another cyclists haven, The Lakeland Pedlar in Keswick. A wholefood, veggie cafe and cycle repair shop next to one the town’s huge car parks. Great food.
The descent from Whinlatter on the forest track was a bit of a boneshaker on my road bike. I’m not a fan of off road. Those tracks slow me down and pound my body needlessly as far as I’m concerned. So it was good to feel the Tarmac under my wheels at Thornthwaite. A little more off road on an old railway track out of Keswick and then the hard stuff all the way to Penrith.
One gripe. Why do landowners put this gates across narrow lanes just the steepest point? They break my stride either struggling to maintain momentum in bottom gear on the way up or aiming to eat up some easy miles on the way down. I know it’s to do with livestock and I’m only a visitor but perhaps ……
So today starts from Penrith heading over the toughest section of the ride. Hartside and Black Hill ahead before I come to rest inRookhope for the night.