Don has provided us with a write up of his fundraising challenge, if you would like to show your support for Don’s ride, or would like to donate to the appeal, please click here.
0515hrs Good Friday Morning, an eerie mist accompanied daybreak over Trafalgar Wharf, Greenwhich, staring across the mighty Thames, the towers of Canary Wharf dissappeared into the misty sky, mist rising from the Thames waters added to the ghostly image, I was here. The great marathon was about to start. First the Cutty Sark, I have always wanted to see her, and here I was, today however, dissapointment, following severe damage, she was encased in scaffolding covered by sheets to protect her. Peering through slots accomodating padlocks to the compound gates, I caught a glimpse of her bare stern, stripped of planking for repair, still a beautiful sight.
Back to the SARA Lifeboat Land Rover and trailer which had brought me and my home made cycle here for my ambitious attempt to ride back to the SARA Sharpness Lifeboat Station, in an attempt to raise funds for the new Lifeboat to be stationed there. To my horror, my Scottish Flag had been lost on the journey up, looking further into the trailer, I saw a brake block which had fallen off, a’h dash, a special allen key, delving into my trusty tool bag, out came the key, the brake block soon back on and the other tightened I was ready.
The enormity of my task suddenly dawned upon me when Geoff who had driven up, said ‘Bye don, see you at Sharpness’ I jokingly replied ‘This is where we change places, you ride I drive’ only too see Geoff roaring off in the Land Rover with my words lost in the growl of the engine, perhaps my look was a little too serious!!.
On my cycle and off I went. Through London I encountered many ‘Boris’ bikers, what a good idea that is, seems to work really well. Even the car drivers were very considerate (Fiesta drivers included!). 0900 hrs spot a good looking cafe, breakfast of Tuna salad went down well. Weather now getting hot, so off with the trousers and top, tee shirt and shorts being the order of the day. Going well now, too good, entering Acton, surely my handlebars are lower! hullucinating King I tell myself, no the really are lower, hell!! then it happened, scraping along the ground the weld on the frame had broken and the frame had cracked in half, despair, what can I do? garage welder, lets go, three garages later and all I could hear was ‘Sorry Sir’ total despair!! With sinking heat and carrying a bike which was now in two pieces, I came upon a chap how offered to help carry to the next garage, and there elation, ‘Yes Sir, but it will cost’ So there I was, a couple of guys who spoke little english, arguing with a lady and her son about an un paid bill, but making a start on the welding, in between, selling a car and fixing another with wheel and brake problems. Eventually after losing around five hours, I was on my way again. Bound for Didcot, I arrived at 2000hrs and immediately found that I did not have my tent poles, a couple of bananas and wrapped up as best I could, I attempted to get some sleep. How I had forgotton just how hard good old mother earth is, aching hips, no energy, tired all my ‘Get up and go’ gone, the day seemed impossible. However 0900 hrs I was off again, a beautiful day, hurtling down hills at 36 mph, that weld!! hell brakes on, slow down, great progress to my second nights stop, a bed in Nailsworth.
0815hrs the next morning I set off from the Forest Green Rovers Football ground. I was shortly to be met by two Land Rovers from the SARA Sharpness Lifeboat Station manned with crew they were to escort me on the last leg of my journey, with one in front and one following, I felt good, so much so that I becam a little too comfortable hurtling down Uley Hill at 39.9 mph when realisation hit home, hell!! that weld is all that is between me and disaster, brake, brake, gently, gently, my speed dropped back to 25 mph, wow!!, hairy.
So on to Sharpness and the end of the journey, on arrival at Sharpness Lifeboat Station I was greeted by my wife Vanessa, and the crew at the station, amid the wailing of sirens and flashing blue lights on my escort vehicles, two crew members heralded the finishing line with orange flares.
A big hug from Vanessa, showered with champagne and cheers from all the crew, for a short while it drowned out the memories of pain, frustration, highes lows and all of the other sensations one has on such a journey.
My efforts were all centered around raising funds for the new Lifeboat planned for the SARA Sharpness Lifeboat Station.
The existing Lifeboat, the ‘Marian Shaw’ is due for replacement.
Due to the incoming ‘Rescue Boat Code of Practise’ the new Lifeboat will need to conform to very demanding criteria which all new Lifeboats will need to comply with. The requirements add dramatically to the build cost and the sum of £76000 will need to be raised to secure the Lifeboat.
My heartfelt thanks to all of my sponsors. Donations can be made at just giving: www.justgiving.com/Don-King
For any further information on the new Lifeboat, or how to assist, please contact: Geoff Dawe on 07919521281 (geoff.sharpness (at) sara-rescue.org.uk).
If you would like to show your support for Don’s ride, or would like to donate to the appeal, please click here.