Day 4

It’s been a funny old day. This morning the hills were alive with the sound of our screaming. This afternoon we were screaming at stupid drivers. The day started with the usual routine. Early breakfast, check the bikes over, confirm the route and set off after the initial rush of traffic. Less than 3 miles in and the hills started. Some were short but very steep. Some not so steep but very long. I measured one at over 2 miles long. Despite this the rest of the route was fairly flat and fast so we arrived at Newbury extra a few minutes early.

We were immediately greeted by Simon Andrews, store manager who escorted us into the store where we were greeted by a selection of his team cheering, clapping and pulling party poppers. A table had been laid out with loads of refreshments and sweets for us all. Photos were taken to mark the occasion and we were then offered anything we wanted for lunch. We spent some quality time with the staff who all seemed genuinely interested in what we are doing. Despite us arriving on a Friday afternoon we were not rushed and made to feel so welcome. Simon promised to collect on our behalf for the whole weekend. Fantastic.

We came away from Newbury extra feeling very happy with ourselves. On to Reading DC. The route from Newbury to Reading was much flatter so we put the hammer down. We stopped for our lunch at 1.45 9 miles from the DC. We phoned Robert Milne the DC General Manager to tell him where we were. It was a bit earlier than we told him we would be so we decided to call in at Maplins in Reading first to change our earpieces to our 2 way radios because they were playing up. That ’s when it all started to go wrong.

The traffic in Reading was absolutely horrendous. A very confusing one way system and roadworks everywhere caused a virtual gridlock. We got to Maplins just before 3 and sorted our radios. On to the DC. We battled through the town again and arrived at Reading Extra store. We had noted down the wrong post code. Surprise, surprise. The DC was the other side of town again. We told Robert to expect us around 3 but didn't arrive until after 4. Despite this we were not let down. There was still a big group of staff waiting for us outside cheering and clapping. Robert presented us both with bottles of champagne and values awards. A touching moment for me. My first values award after nearly 17 years service with Tesco. We went into the canteen where a big spread had been laid on for us. Robert gave us a wad of cash. Over £500 and promised more. We stayed for around an hour chatting to the managers and left feeling humble at the way we continue to be treated by people who have bothered to show an interest in what we are doing.

By now it was after 5 on Friday afternoon and the traffic was worse, if that was possible. We had to go back across town again on a road system that does not take cyclists safety seriously. The traffic was fairly free flowing and we tried to move at the same speed but there are always those drivers that cannot wait one second. I was riding in front of Karl and we had drivers cutting in between us and cutting across us. This is while we were riding at almost 30mph. I was starting to get frightened for my own safety now. The van following us could not offer us any protection. We were tired after a long day and the traffic was mad. I don ’t think i ’ve ever been so relieved to see a Premier Inn. Onwards and upwards. Welham Green tomorrow on some more busy roads.