WIGAN ATHLETIC: WIGAN TO AMSTERDAM FOR PROSTATE CANCER
About 50 years ago I sat on a bike at the top of a hill and pushed off. Away I went, and I’ve enjoyed cycling ever since. Nothing too strenuous or too far. I was worried whether I’d make the course – Wigan to Amsterdam.
I’ve been a lifelong Wigan Athletic supporter for about the last 7 years, it was against Middlesborough, the sun was out and everything was ideal. Antoine Sibierski was playing. I’ve met some great ‘Saturday afternoon football friends’, and really, I hardly know any of them except at the game. BUT they are a bunch of fun people. When 1 of them suggested I cycled to Amsterdam, it seemed like a good idea. I’ve had some very happy times seeing Connor Salmon score his only goal, maybe ever!
I am an old man, and as most old men know the effects of an enlarged prostate includes reduced flow and a sense of urgency which is mighty frustrating when you just know Wigan are about to score. A rare phenomenon not to be missed.
All that made it feel as if supporting Wigan and cycling to Amsterdam in aid of Prostate Cancer UK would be a good thing to do. About 240 miles at a sedate pace, on a bike with fun people for a good cause, occasional goals and A CUP.
I hope that my bit of pedalling and everyone’s kind donations and hard work went a tiny way to help guys who aren’t as fortunate as me.
Training was as pleasurable as watching Wigan beat Bury 4 – 1, and just like Wigan I started the training at a pace which ensured I wouldn’t peak to soon. I noticed that pre-season Roberto used to take the team cycling, so I started with a 9.93km run. Owen Coyle said cross training is important, hence the table tennis. Then I moved onto my glutes & abs, in anticipation of who I may be apprehended by in Amsterdam, and as my shirt number was ‘20’ I had to make myself look as much like Gaetang Bong as possible.
The guys at Albany Cycles in Earlsdon did a great job making my bike work. The gears slipped and the tyres were likely to go flat they were so worn out. I was going nowhere fast, not even Amsterdam slowly. New jockey wheels, new front bracket, new tyres and all set up to go. With all that I didn’t expect to have to pedal. But I did – 30kms on Monday and 55 on Wednesday. Sometimes I think 1 or 2 of the first team may need some new jockey wheels.
As if last season didn’t portray the whole problem of prostate cancer. The whole team seemed to have a kind of urgency, but goals were certainly like the reduced flow us oldies are used to. You can stand and watch for ages, and nothing much happens. The you lose interest, until suddenly there is a goal and its elation, despite the long wait. I thought I had squished a bit of the possible enlargement out of my prostate by pedalling another 65 kms. The newly serviced bike was going like a sweet dream. But Will Grigg wasn’t on fire! The photo is a new training technique I am developing …. virtual cycling. note the socks.
I noticed that lots of people posted their training updates with a picture of their route, linked to ‘Strava.com’. I thought Strava.com was a novel training method, going to Italian restaurants, the chain. Then I realised it was a satellite attached stroker phone guizmo. My £4.99 Aldi ‘middle-aisle-jumble-sale’ guizmo, made to work with a dib of blutac tells me I came back from 81kms. The good thing about this riding lark is that it allows lots of yummy junk food which would otherwise be off limits. It sort of reminds me of one of the highlights of watching Wigan …… mushy peas, chips and beer.
Not ‘What a difference a day makes. What a difference a week makes. One week there was no oil seed rape in flower and not much other blossom. The next week the fields were yellow, a field purple with borage and hedges that looked as if it snowed last night. What a difference a day made 168 little hours Brought the sun and the flowers Where there used to be none. Thanks Dinah. Unusually I digress. One week we stand on the terraces and sing ‘it’s just like watching Brazil’ and we see Ronaldo-esque goals from new boy EVANS and the next week are calling for the managers head and wondering how the famous Marc Antoine Fortune ever got into the team, but I still feel sorry for him. Today 63.2 miles, 4hrs 28 pedalling. 5hrs 20 out. A gorgeous day with a bit of head wind on the home straight and 1.5 laps of the park to get 101.75 kms. Like MAF, I was as usual, alone. All alone. But trying hard. And scoring goals.
You are all so generous … fund raising went so much better than expected, and so did the home game against Manure, but then I underestimated your wonderful kindness and Maloney’s corner. The photo is of the mobile half time ‘cake stall in a bag’ at the Rotherham game. ES7 and thereabouts excelled themselves and so did Nick Powell in the 96th minute. Sun, goals, chocolate brownies, flapjack and a win. Wigan was heaven. Still training. Out 26 miles, and out again the following day. Thanks to everyone, and thanks to ES7 at the Rotherham game. Remember … it’s you lot who have done all the hard work earning the money, all I had to do was enjoy myself on a bike ride. Thanks.
There is the memory of doing the ‘bucket’ collection in a crowded North stand concourse FULL of Villa fans, most of whom were of course delightful. However, I read my cue right when I was called over by a guy taller and broader than me: “You do realise it is illegal to shake your bucket, don’t you”? “Err no”, “Well it is, so F*CK OFF”. There in lay a hint which I took. Ahh the memories!!
Sunday saw a 123.76 km ride and 5.5 hrs in the saddle. I rather like the new ‘helmet hair do’ I picked up on the way, trying to emulate Paul Scharner. It must have been the brinjal and okra curry that didit innit.
As you will see from the photos I arrived at w187 to find, secreted under my seat a little brown bag. I have no idea what was in it, but I ate it any way.
Still pedalling and pedalling for Wigan so I pedalled from Coventry to Reading to watch a loss and miss the only goal of the game, I arrived 6 minutes late. How many times have we seen an attack in the last minute sent back to the keeper to start again, with 2 minutes to go? Luckily it was their goal, when did Wigan score a goal in the first 5 minutes. With Wigan, it’s all in the build up! Then I pedalled to Wigan, fortunately this time to see the goal and us not lose against Leeds, that made it all worthwhile. 128 miles in 2 days – 75 + 53 problem free, only to be injured as I leapt up to celebrate an almost goal and caught my leg on the next seat. It was still worth it
Well, you folks are great. Thank you. All men are delighted with you, and most women are even more so as it will mean fewer disturbed nights. The girls will be as delighted as when Jordi scored a goal and Reece James was fit again. Anyway, for an update. My non-goal celebration deep vein haematoma is still there. Thank heavens we didn’t score – I’d have needed an amputation! I’ve not cycled for a while, but run. I’ve done 2 Park Runs or PRs as I prefer to call them as it seems more appropriate for prostate research!!!
After 2 PRs I’d had enough of them.
I’ve Just got in from 75.74 miles, ave:14.8mph: 2306 calories: 5hrs, 6 mins & 7 seconds pedalling, 6 hrs 8 mins out. What have I discovered from it? That perspective is an interesting phenomenon – when a tiny midge flies into your eye, as it gets blindingly close it looks like a crow and when it goes in it feels like vulture. I’m sure it’s not perspective from where I’m sitting it always looks as if the ball will go in and we are never fouled.
I needed to know if I could do this for 3 days on the trot – NO, not the trot, the bike. My resident trainer says I have legs that resemble a sparrow, and I wanted to be sure they’d keep going. The first cycling sparrow!! The good news is that a few minutes after I stop moving my new Cateye wireless speedo suddenly says ‘SLEEP’. I take the hint.
2 consecutive days, 2 x 53 milers. That’s it done, finished, no more!! Pleased and lucky not to have had any punctures, road rash, road rage, broken spokes or knackered gears in 783.41 miles. I gave up training whilst the going was good. What have I learnt? That a midge in the eye can feel like Halley’s comet, hills are always at the end of rides, if I cycle to a game there will always be an early goal and the irony that whenever I do a circular route there is always a head wind the whole way!
Hec! I’m lucky and stupid (self-confessed)!! I was off down to the allotment with something dangling off the handlebar. Luckily, at not too greater speed it got caught in the front wheel. Immediate stop, over the handlebars I went, buckled front wheel, grazed wrist and bruised chest. For a moment, I thought I’d bust a rib and wrist It was sore to sneeze, and impossible to laugh. Nah, I’ll be fine!! Lucky escape. Eeeeejut!! It wasn’t my ride bike …. but Ali’s, so on that count it’s ok 2 times!! By the end of this season we’ll have won it 2 times. Luckily no chance of any more goals to celebrate.
I won’t tell you that I had a nice sharp tree chopping bow saw dangling from the handle bars. Decapitation was possible, amputation likely and laceration a strong possibility. But I survived it all to tell the tale!! Phew!! Looks like it might be safer cycling over the Pennines to Barnsley on the A 628, than going to the allotment!
What a fantastic bike ride! A bit of drizzle on day 1, between Wigan and Barnsley. A record breaking speed descent to the trans Pennine cycle way, leaving Yanic in the blocks.
A nice sunny 72 miles from Barnsley to Hull, through villages and along country lanes. A stunning 75 miles from Rotterdam to Amsterdam after a calm night in a tiny cabin, in which even your pet labrador would struggle to wag his tail. Dutch cycling – well, the best. Perfect cycle lanes where cyclists have right of way, billiard table smooth surfaces and a helpful tail wind.
As opposed to cycle lanes in the UK where it looks like cycle ways are similar to Wigan’s channels to goal last season. Constantly blocked.
Smashing people to cycle with. The sun was out. 3 days of immaculate organisation. It went like one of Wigan’s better game plans. Was that on 11 May 2013, by any chance?
Anyone who wants to enjoy a bike ride of perfection … GO next year. Search Latics2Amsterdam on facebook. It was wonderful that there was a different and enjoyable football rivalry ……. we got on really well with those from Preston North end!!
You folks have given about £1122.08 to me, this contributed to about £50000 that the Wigan team raised and that went towards the £600000 donated by kind people to PCUK. Thank you!
So, what was great? Cycling alongside a Dutchman training for an Ironman competition, and I believe he couldn’t keep up with me, as he had to peel off after about 5 kms, thank fully. He said he was going to his car! Yeah Right. The cycling. The organisation. The fun. The camaraderie among some really great and fun people. The food. It’s Just Like watching Wigan!! And realising that I’m taller than Viv Anderson, sitting in the same chair as HUGO in the players lounge.
And the final touch by KLM on the return flight.
I am a vegetarian and so love cheese and Dutch cheese is really good. There we have it … cycling, Wigan, the FA Cup, friends, health care and cheese. It was a great few days! Added to all that I wanted to meet Mario MeLchiot, Yanic and Ronnie Stam, but didn’t.
And unlike Wigan 2016 – 2017 season in the Championship, it is something I’ll remember with happiness!
THANKS Folks, and thanks to all you who kindly donated, including WIGAN ATHLETIC FC who chose to make the cause a ‘selected charity’ for last season.
And I may have started my training already …… in my dreams!!
Thanks for reading ……….. give me a subject for the next one.
Rambling Richard (RR) – or ‘Rolls Royce’.