Two Notts County fans took part in the London To Amsterdam Cycle Challenge for Prostate Cancer UK… Here is Keith Stewart’s diary…
Day One – Leyton Orient FC to Harwich
Keith’s journey begins in a hotel in Stratford, where he and Team NCFC captain stayed overnight ahead of the 150-mile adventure…
By 6.30am we had already woken up, had a wash, got ready, checked out from the hotel, taken our bags to the van and cycled a few km to Leyton Orient FC ready for the off. We officially registered for the event start and collected emergency numbers and numbered stickers for our bikes and helmets.
A short while later we all head off through the busy London roads towards our first snack and water stop near Brentwood Golf Cub. I arrived here at around 8.50am but I was in the faster group heading through London.
After five minutes or so at Brentford Golf Club I met up with Lee, a Norwich fan who was riding at a similar pace to myself and we decided to ride together through the next stage. It was very pleasant riding through Essex countryside with plenty of small to medium sized hills.
Myself and Lee decided to go all out and peg it through this stage (and the next, as we had another short water stop after an hour or so) and ended up at the lunch destination (The Bull & Willow, Great Totham) just after 11am with only 15 or so bikes in front of us (not bad!).
There was a very large tent set out in a field there with tables and chairs, and was told that lunch was not ready yet as we far exceeded the speed we were expected to go (oops). Eventually after a while sunbathing we had lunch - a jacket potato, lasagne, stew and salad. We laid on the grass chilling until we were allowed to leave again at 1pm – I don’t think they anticipated a group of us to be so quick.
At approximately 2.15pm we stopped at Colchester FC for a snack and water stop, and went pitchside for a view of the stadium. We soon set off again for the last leg towards Harwich, which was very hilly and very demanding - after already doing 70+ miles - and we hit the steepest and longest uphill roads our legs had almost ran out of juice and struggled a little to get to the top – although the scenery was beautiful which made it all worthwhile.
We got to the finish line of the first day (a pub a few hundred feet away from the main port – yet I forget the name) very early again and sat on the grass with a bottle of brown ale for a couple of hours before being allowed in to eat dinner. Dinner was a large buffet which was extremely nice and filled us full of the carbs we had lost whilst cycling.
Around 9.30pm (I think), we boarded the ferry, and we all parked our bikes together in the car/lorry bays and the staff tied them all together ready for sailing. We then climbed LOTS(!) of stairs to get to our cabins only to find they had put us in with a Nottingham Forest fan!!! I think someone didn’t do their homework before booking the cabins.
He was a nice bloke and we all settled in together quickly (more on this guy at the end of the diary later this week). After a quick shower and change we met downstairs for a couple of beers and a chat before heading off for a good night's sleep.
DAY TWO: Look out for Keith's diary from day two of the trip on Wednesday.
Notts fans can still show their support for the Team NCFC duo by visiting both riders’ Just Giving pages: IAN ORTON & KEITH STEWART.
With the help of Notts fans, Team NCFC have already raised nearly £4,000 for Prostate Cancer UK.