The Reaction of Strangers

The really nice thing about doing something like the bike ride that we have just done is the support that you get from strangers and friends alike, both in good wishes and in financial terms and this has been highlighted this weekend by two simple acts of generosity which were prompted in each case by the logo on our t-shirts, the “Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice” logo.

The first one ended at the conclusion of our first day in the saddle, we’d just ridden from Dunbar to Berwick, a mere 35 miles on the map, a map that deceived us for it did not reveal the substantial nature of that 35 miles, most of which was spent climbing hills, beautiful scenic hills its true, hills with one of the most beautiful unadulterated (apart form the nuclear power station) coastlines as a backdrop, the cycle route dropped into bottomless valleys and into coves and bays where the afternoon sun sparkled on the low breaking surf and you just wanted to stop, sit outside a caravan on a decking, light up a barbecue, crack open some beers and wait until the sun set (at 11pm in those parts), but for every one of those drops into bottomless valleys there was a huge climb on the other side, climbs so steep that it felt like you were cycling up the gable end of a house, and after twenty miles when we arrived in Eyemouth we were all spent.

We pressed on though, we got lost in a steep sided valley by the River Tweed which appeared to us like a scene from “Deliverance”, heavily wooded, no paths to speak of and eyes peering from behind trees – we buggered off out of there pretty damn quick before the crossbows came out.

So when we finally arrived at the Kings Arms in Berwick we were well and truly shagged out, all of us, it was a tough opening day, some said tougher than the first day of the first Old Gits Bike Ride of 2009 and that is saying something as on that day we’d ridden over some REAL mountains.

The bar of course, there is one place to go when you are well and truly buggered, the bar – the bikes were thrown into a back room, bags were dumped in the hotel entrance and all eleven of us adjourned to the bar, “Lets have a couple before we unpack” we said “for medicinal purposes of course”

The Kings has a formal dining room where respectable local gentry gather for a nice meal of a Friday evening and waiting in the bar to be called to their table were two elderly couples, old people, I don’t know how old, the sort of old people that you’d look at and say “Look at those old people” and they were sat quietly at their table enjoying an aperitif when ten of us sweaty, shagged-out, middle aged and bald ruffians appeared not having even wiped the dirt and grime of 35 miles worth of hill climbing from our brows, we all collapsed into chairs and bar stools and ordered the first round.

And they got chatting to the nearest group of us and we explained what we were doing and why we were doing it, a pleasant conversation was had by all and when they were called for their table they wished us well for the morrow and gave one of our party £3 to put in the collection.

They didn’t have to do that, but they did, it wasn’t much but thats not the point, they felt the need to give us a small donation because we’d mentioned the words “Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice”.

And on Sunday we had an even bigger acknowledgment of the power of those words but unfortunately I can’t recount the full story or mention the circumstances because I promised the public transport operative who gave us back our £10 fare and told us to put it in the collection that I wouldn’t mention it to anyone or he’d be disciplined and if I gave you a clue of the circumstances then he could easily be identified, suffice to say that we were all actually very touched by that gesture and once again the t-shirts with “Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice” is what generated his gesture.

The word “Hospice” generates a very powerful emotion amongst most people, almost everyone knows what valuable work they do, many have had close experience via relatives receiving help from a local hospice and once you have witnessed what they actually do on a daily basis then you want to give something back, its a natural reaction, we’ve seen it happen spontaneously this weekend.

Our JustGiving page is doing quite well at the moment, we now have a couple of weeks of collecting the “manual” donations from workmate pledges and we’re hoping that the final total will be around a grand for Wheatfields, its not much, about three days care for one resident, but what the hell, we’ll keep doing it every year until we can’t push the pedals around any more, which might be next year actually, enjoy it while you can lads.

Old Gits Bike Ride 2011




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