LE TOURBO CHALLENGE


You can help beat blood cancer here


Why would anyone want to pedal hundreds of miles without travelling a single millimetre in distance? Raising money for a cause like Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research is the perfect reason. It's the motivation which spurred us on at any rate, when pedalling furiously on static bike trainers in Kingston's busy Bentall Centre. 


We are very grateful to have raised just under £250 from passing shoppers - many of whom had their own tales to tell of how blood cancer had touched their lives in some way. A Chinese lady stopped with her family to tell us that back in her home village she would have been told by the doctors merely to go home after being diagnosed with leukaemia. Instead, she lives in the UK and had received a bone marrow transplant which appears to have been successful.

Another group were keen to talk. Yaser explained how his daughter Margot had died at a very young age from blood cancer despite getting a bone marrow transplant. Yaser became so concerned at how hard it is for people like his daughter, who are of mixed ethnicity, to find suitable donors that he has set up a charity to raise awareness and campaign on that specific issue. Good luck to Team Margot.

We had a prime spot in the shopping centre's promotional area. It's the same space occupied every winter by the Bentall's mechanical teddies who sing a festive medley several times each day for the entertainment of crowds of wide-eyed toddlers. The two youngest Gurning Grimpeurs, Molly and Patrick, can even remember all the teddies' names. Eh, Amber, Daisy - and I personally, forget the rest.

We very nearly didn't make it at all. The management had very generously allocated us a parking space in one of their underground loading bays. Unfortunately, we couldn't get the service lift to work and ended up trekking through a labyrinth of non-descript concrete passageways in the bowels of the complex. Eventually a voice squawked at us from an intercom unit on the wall. We'd been spotted on CCTV lugging our unwieldy bags through the shopping centre's interminable corridors. Once the helpful voice had directed us to the nearest lifts we got ourselves onto the right floor - and after another Theseus-like foray into a maze of walkways, we emerged into the bright light of the shopping centre's public arena.



That's when the hard work started. I had done a solo turbo challenge in broiling heat outside Peleton & Co in Spitalfields Market two days previously. I'd clocked up 120 miles on the Garmin and worked up a thirst which was quenched with a bottle of cider from Peleton. 








Today all five Gurning Grimpeurs were on duty. Molly (aged 9) and Patrick (aged 7) made sure potential donors saw the collection bucket and were on hand to offer LLR stickers once people had dropped their loose change into it. Jacqueline and I did most of the pedalling, while Maureen performed a supervisory role (doing a bit of everything).

We set our target for the day at 200 miles - that was between two of us. It was hard work and at times surreal to be grinding the cranks relentlessly but moving, not an inch. 

The highlight of the day was stopping briefly for a Snog. Oh yes. I refer to the frozen yoghurt stall beside which we had set ourselves up. 

Possibly the strangest moment came when I managed, somehow, to sustain a puncture - on a turbo trainer! It's still unclear how that happened. The day before I'd broken a spoke after doing a Box Hill loop. I knew I was riding on the turbo with the snapped spoke, I'm still not clear whether or not that had anything to do with the rear flat tyre. We just pedalled on regardless. 

Could it really have been the case that my short fat hairy legs were spinning round at such a high cadence that they'd caused, what we'll call, for want of a better phrase, a 'friction flat'. Have I invented a new type of puncture?

100 miles times 2 riders = 200 miles
When the Garmin's mile counter got close to the 100 mile mark, we hoisted Molly and Patrick onto our over-large bikes so that they could take us over the 'finish line'. Having the distance target was completely arbitrary. However, my experience at Peleton & Co had made it clear that people liked to ask how far I intended to go etc... That's why I made up a random target. Many passers by would murmur encouragingly, "Keep going" or, "Nearly there" and, "Don't stop".

It also gave all of us something to focus on. I lost count of the amount of times a small voice would pipe up with, "How many miles now?"

As the shoppers started to thin out we had nearly reached our target. Molly and Patrick strained to reach the pedals. They had to stand on them as their legs were too short to allow them to sit on the bikes' saddles. Before you could say 'turbo challenge' the pair of them had nudged the Garmin one mile above 99. We'd done it.












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