GRB staff are able to spend time doing work for charities so I thought who better than IntoUniversity - a charity designed to help youngsters get a University education. I can remember friends from Pensby Secondary School who were very bright but the family did not have the financial means to afford Higher Education. Luckily I had a small grant (my Father was made redundant the year before), my halls of residence at Brighton Uni covered by my parents and some money saved from a Summer job. Being a first generation student felt exciting and something I wanted to make my parents proud of however leaving friends behind who were denied that opportunity has always stuck with me. University isn't the answer to everything but I think it should be open to all to enable everyone a chance to reach their potential - academically at least.
Once I had met with Laura Simpson at our local IntoUniversity office to express my interest I set up a sponsorship page on JustGiving to raise £1,000. I also recommended them to another colleague at GRB, Jasmine, who spent a day speaking to youngsters about her career in recruitment. I'd achieve my target by cycling a self-designated route from Oxford to Cambridge to keep the University theme. I have done many long distance group events, most recently the Coast to Coast from Seascale to Whitby covering 150 miles in a day, but never such a distance non-stop without regular food stations, easy-to-follow route markers, marshals, mechanics and the energy-saving benefits of group riding to shield you from the wind!
With my girlfriend and two sons in tow and my bike on the roof, we left Brighton on Thursday evening and drove to our hotel in Oxford arriving in the pouring rain. We all went straight to bed and woke at 6.30am heading off to enjoy a full english at the nearby Beefeater restaurant! We then drove the short distance to the IntoUniversity Oxford office, taking a snap and then waving goodbye to my familly who set off to Cambridge to stay with friends nearby. The time was 8.10am. I turned on my Garmin GPS device which had my route plotted on it and cycled out of Oxford bound for Cambridge. The weather was perfect and the route practically car free taking in some beautiful villages and towns. Despite a road being closed, a rear puncture 38 miles in, the Garmin battery having only 15% power for the last 30 miles and dodging two deer I eventually made it to King's College, Cambridge at 1pm.
Covering 90 miles took 6.000 calories out of me with an average speed of 19mph and a top speed of 37mph. I managed to keep my energy levels up with one banana, two bottles of water, one flapjack, a handful of jelly babies and one energy gel. I was glad of a breather, a decent coffee and a chance to rest my jelly legs before cycling a further 13 miles to meet my family at Linton. After a lovely lunch and some sofa time we drove back to Brighton in the pouring rain (again).
So far I have raised £855 from 19 very kind sponsors and hope to make the target of £1,000 now I've proved I've done it! If you would like to support my one man crusade please donate to IntoUniversity today - thank you.