Monday, 3 February 2014

Caz's First Blog

1st Jan 2014

Well as you can see today is the first of Jan 2014.
2013 hasn't really ended the way I wanted it to, but hey that’s life.
This is just an update on where I am in my life that the mo.

In May 2013, Andy and I went back up to Scotland for a holiday. While we were there, we went up to John O'Groats to have a look around and to say that we have been there (incase you were wondering there’s not much up there ;-)). On the way Andy asked if I wanted another challenge like Ben Nevis. Of course I said no, I did that and loved doing it, but why would I like another one. Then he said you could always cycle from John O'Groats to Lands End. I asked him how many miles that is, which is when he said about 900 to 1000. Now when he said this to me I laughed, that is crazy why would anyone want to do that.
As the day went on I thought about it a lot (you can see where I'm going with this now). In the evening as a joke, just to see what my friends and family would say, I texted them all saying "I was just wondering, if I decided to cycle from John O'Groats to Lands End, would you come and support me? I'm not talking about the whole time, or cycling with me, maybe driving the support vehicle. Would you be interested?”
Now I sent this to Kevin (my brother), Lou (my sister in-law), Allison (my sister) Hell and Dani (my 2 best friends). I didn't send it to Mum or Dad because I didn't want them to worry, as this was really just a joke remember. Kevin was the first person to come back to me and his response was, "I don't mind following you with an ice cream van, if that helps." Hell then got back to me and said, "I would love to but I don't think I have the holiday this year," which made me laugh as it was still just a joke. Then I get a text back from Dani, who said, "I won't support you, but I will do it with you. I've always wanted to do it." When I got this I decided to phone her and tell her I was joking. So I was on the phone with her for half an hour, and by the end of it, this was no longer a joke we were doing it. I went back to Andy and said we have talked about it and we both really want to do it. Which is when Andy started laughing, thinking I was still joking. I really wasn't.

In the next couple of days Dani and I texted each other a lot with different things that we have thought about, and the more we text the more excited we got. I started feeling the same way I did when I decided to do Ben Nevis, which was when this whole thing became real for me. This was no longer a joke, this was going to be an experience of a lifetime and I couldn't wait to get back and tell Mum and Dad what we were doing.
So that is how is whole thing came about. At the end of this Dani and I can always blame Andy, he started me thinking about it, and we all know that is never a good thing.

Now as I said we decided to do this in May 2013, we talked about it a lot, and as it is such a big challenge we decided to do it for charity. As I did Ben Nevis and chose that charity myself, I said to Dani that this time she could chose the charity. We talked about lots of different ones but we really couldn't decide. Then one day Dani asked me what I thought about a Leukaemia charity, as she knew someone from school that had sadly passed away from it. I was really happy with this as my Nan sadly passed away from this as well.
So that was it, we had decided what we were doing and what kind of charity that we wanted to do it for, now all we needed to do was pick a charity. We both said we wanted to help a small local charity, so we could see where our money was going, and hopefully make a big difference. So I did the only think I could think of and got my computer out and put into Google, "leukaemia charity dorset". The first one that came up was LEAF which stands for Leukaemia Educating and Fundraising, which is in Wimborne. I checked out the website, liked the look of them and emailed it to Dani to see what she thought. We both said we were really happy with it and emailed them to let them know who we are and what we are doing.

Now it took us a bit of time sorting out what charity that we wanted to do the ride for and contacting them, so by the time we went to meet them it was the 11th of October 2013. We went to their little office in Wimborne, where there were two ladies awaiting our arrival. Straight away they were extremely happy and friendly towards us. Their names are Natasha and Sheila. We both didn't really know what to expect from going there, and both wanted to know a bit more about the charity; how it started, who started it and what they do. I know we could have got all that from the web site, but it's a lot nicer hearing it first hand than reading it on a web site. We also just wanted to let them know a bit about us, how we know each other, why we decided to do this and why we chose them.

Now as I said there was a big gap from deciding to do this (may) and meeting them (October), and I think we had both got a bit complacent about it all until we met Natasha and Sheila. They were so excited about meeting us and hearing all about what we were doing. They then said that if it was ok with us they would like to get the local newspapers and TV involved. At the time we said no worries, being as cool as anything. When we left we both looked at each other and laughed. We couldn't believe what they were saying. On the one hand it got us really excited about doing it again and, I'm not sure about Dani, it made me really motivated to get into more training and really helped me focus. But on the other hand it made us realise we are really doing this, we now have a lot of people counting on us, and again I'm not sure about Dani, but it made everything more real. We are no longer talking about it, we are doing this.

So that was it, we then realised we had a lot to think about and even more to do. I was already cycling to and from work which is 8 miles a day. But we both wanted to go cycling together before the weather got too bad. Which is what we were doing before my bike died on me. So then I had to save up and get myself a new one (I have to say, as I have one leg, I do cycle on an electric trike. I know some people think that is cheating, but I say the electric gives me the other leg.) As electric trikes are a little bit expensive, this took some time saving up for, but I got there in the end.

I didn't get my bike until the 31st of October. Now I have to say the new bike is a completely different type of trike than I have ridden before. I’ve previously had electric trikes with a throttle on the handlebars and a strap on the peddle. The new bike is pedal assisted, which means the electric can only be activated when I pedal. And I now have SPD pedals, which means my shoe clips onto the pedal so I am fully attached to it. I have really struggled getting used to the bike and it has made me start to worry about what I have let myself in for.

Now, anyone who knows me well will know no matter how worried I am about doing something, once I have put my mind to it I will do it. I have said I will do it and I know I will. This is going to be an experience of a lifetime, there is no better way to see our own country than to cycle through it. I know it's not going to be easy, but that’s why they call it a challenge.

On the 30th of December, Leaf invited Dani and me to their Christmas ball. Now we both already had plans on the night of the ball, but after a lot of thought (2 mins) we decided to go. It was the night before Dani's birthday, and in a very nice hotel. We both got new dresses, a room in the hotel and we were off, both very excited about it.
The hotel was lovely, we got all dressed up and set off. Everyone was very friendly and it was just a very nice atmosphere. I'm not sure about Dani, but I was a bit nervous, as I always am at things like that. For those of you who don't know me very well, I fall over a lot. Including on my wedding day in the middle of our first dance. So in a room with lots of people I don't know, in new shoes and a dress, I spend the whole time worrying about not falling over and not letting go of Dani. Just incase I do slip, 1: she might stop me, and 2: if I do go I might take her with me so then I'm not the only one on the floor with everyone looking, and probably laughing at me. Just so everyone knows this didn't happen, thank god!
There were a lots of raffles that we both entered, and as I said I was worried that if I won then I would have to go and get my prize in front of everyone. So, like the true friend she is, Dani said don’t worry if they call your name as no one knows who we are I will go up and get it. Then Natasha got up and did a little speech, and in that speech she talked about Dani and me and our plans for the charity. In her speech she talked about the fact that I have one leg and that I also have spina bifida. This is all fine for everyone to know, as I can’t really hide the fact that I am different. But this meant that if I did win anything, Dani couldn’t pass as me and go up for me (although we did laugh at the fact she could try, and how funny this would be). As the evening went on, we really enjoyed it. All the people were so nice and supportive about what we were doing. But the more people talked to us about the challenge saying things like, “that’s a long way,” or, “I'm not sure I could do that,” the more it made me realise this is a long way and it’s not going to be the easiest thing I have done. But also, more importantly, the more people talked the more it spurred me on. I don't know anyone who has done this, and I can't wait to be able to say to people I have cycled from John O'Groats to Lands end, the length of my own country. It also made me realise we have a lot of organising to do still, not just the training side of things.

So I'm not sure about Dani, but I went home focused to get as much cycling done as possible, and get really into my training. But then December hit me, and I was ill. I was in and out of hospital for the whole of December, including Christmas Day.
Things are now getting better, I'm still not 100 % but I'm getting there, and I'm ready to get back on my bike and get some training in.
So this is where we are now and how we got to be here. I hope you enjoyed reading it and want to support us in any way you can. I'm excited to see what the next stage of this challenge is going to be, and I hope you are to.

Here are some photos of Dani and Me at the Ball

 Us on our balcony, before we got ready.
 Us all dressed us and looking good. Even if I do say so myself.
 Natasha (Leaf's Charity Founder) and us still looking good. 

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