Seven Port Challenge

To jump to reporting on the 7 port challenge day by day, click on the dates below, otherwise this article is the whole story…

Day 1 02/05/2019 Brighton to Ouistreham

Day 2 03/05/2019 Ouistreham to Fecamp

Day 3 04/05/2019 Fecamp to Dieppe

I think this is probably going to hurt (a lot), but nevertheless, in May I’ll be cycling 180 miles in four days! Why would I do this to myself, I hear you ask? Well, I’m representing Cityzen in a team taking on the ‘Seven Port Challenge’.

The Seven Port Challenge

It’s the latest format of an annual charity cycle ride, raising money for some truly worthwhile charities that Brighton & Hove’s Mayor has chosen to support during her mayoral year:

Starting in Brighton, we’ll pass through the following ports: Shoreham, Portsmouth, Caen (Ouistreham), Honfleur, Fecamp, Dieppe & Newhaven. Seven ports = Seven Port Challenge!

I’ll be honest. I’ve never cycled 66 miles in one day (Day 2 itinerary), let alone 180 miles in four days! But they tell me “you don’t need to be a fitness fanatic to do this challenge” so I’m taking them at their word (and doing some training).

How To Donate

Every £ raised really will make a big difference to these charities (cyclists pay for the travel and accommodation costs themselves). So I’m hoping I can count on your support.

Each cyclist has committed to raising a minimum of £750 to take part in the Seven Port Challenge, so that we reach our fundraising goal of £50,000.

Here’s the link to Seven Port Challenge’s Go Fund Me page where you can donate – simply click on the yellow ‘Donate’ or ’Donate Now’ button and it will take you to a donation page where my name is already pre-selected as the cyclist you wish to support.

A Bit About The Charities

If the thought of me pedalling my heart out for hours on end isn’t enough to persuade you, here’s some information about each of the charities your donation would help:

Martlets Hospice

Martlets provide practical care and emotional support to people with terminal illnesses and their family and friends. As well as the hospice itself, they have a mobile team to provide help at home. The Martlets Hospice opened in 1997 and has, since then, cared for and/or supported over 25,000 local people.


Rockinghorse is a Brighton-based charity that has been helping to improve the lives of sick children throughout Sussex for over 50 years. They raise money for life-saving and cutting-edge medical equipment, and work to ensure that sick children are treated in an environment better suited to their needs.

Off The Fence Off

Off The Fence gives practical assistance to those in our community who are marginalised and vulnerable. Their work includes life-saving help for the homeless and a project to ensure those sleeping rough have access to health and hygiene services, a women’s support centre, and support for schools in Brighton & Hove.

Grace Eyre Foundation

The Grace Eyre Foundation helps people with learning disabilities to become part of and contribute to their communities; supporting them to gain independence, obtain housing, find employment and join activities. They work in Brighton & Hove and across Sussex and the South East.

Update 25/03/19

So my new second-hand bike is not too bad, light and fast, So my first ride was just a mile and back tweaking the seat, brakes and handlebars to suit me roughly, setting up a road bike is an art, or so I have learnt, I’m used to mountain bikes and motorbikes which are just as fickle but very different. So after that first ride I bought the dreaded clip-in shoes and fiddled a bit more, ready for a proper ride, I thought I’d check the tyre pressure, pumped up the tyres and blew one up! Not a good start to a big ride, so a quick trip to Halfords.

After a new tube and a new tyre, I was off to see my family, a fairly flat route through Shoreham, Worthing out the other side to East Preston,  I stopped for a few mins in Shoreham to improve the seating (that seat is super uncomfortable and is going!) and to have a drink. Cycling has been in my blood since I was about 10,  cycling to school every day 5 miles each way, I still have a BMX (such a kid) and I have a mountain bike for around town and fun, but going more than 8 miles in one shot that’s new territory.

So I figured 14 miles a break and 14miles should be ok, To be honest, it was fine, pure road/race bikes are super fast and you can cover miles with very little effort, I’ve been going to the gym a lot recently, to rebuild/support my ageing and broken body and when I got home I could have quite happily kept going which is a good sign. No Tour de France speeds but a good indicator that I’ll make the trip! (now to do longer and on multiple days!)

Update 14/04/19

So I have got a few more short rides in since my last update and I’m now in the gym doing HITT classes 3 times a week and I have a personal trainer giving me hell twice a week which is all adding up to a fitter me which is a good by-product of wanting to raise money for some great local charities.

Saturday I set out to see how far I could go and following the route we are going to take to Portsmouth, via Shoreham, Worthing, Littlehampton, Bognor Regis, Chichester and I ended up at Havant! a total of 41.49 miles, which was at just over 12.5mph including a few short stops and taking a few wrong turns trying to follow National Cycle Route 2.

Still a few weeks to go before the even so more training to do but it’s now looking doable just not looking forward to back to back days in the saddle, even with the padded pants!

Update 12/04/19

After training last night no problem, I sat down to a gradual throbbing shoulder which turned into agony all night! Ice pack and pain killers, it feels like an impinged rotator cuff, just generally locked up and slightly dead, so I’ll be on the gym on a stationary bike this weekend!

Update 14/04/19

Spent Saturday morning on the spin bike at the Gym with Louis my trainer, doing interval training to kill my legs and some abs work, all to keep me working out whilst my shoulder sorts its self out!

Scary to think this time in 3 weeks I’ll have done 180miles and I’ll be drinking a cold something (and probably sitting on a cold something) We will cycle into New Road Brighton at approximately 17:00 if you fancy coming down to see how shattered I/we are!

Update 17/04/19 T-15 days

Last 2 days in the Gym again doing legs, and getting buns of steel! The shoulder is getting better, days of icing and Nurofen have done the world of good back on the weights again and bike properly tomorrow, in sponsorship news a big thanks to all people who have sponsored so far especially FocusSB who surpassed themselves and have helped me smash my basic target, nice people, nice products and just amazing big thanks their whole team (please check their products and buy everything they make!

Also a nice postal surprise from the main challenge sponsor today a care package for our ride! For all your building products……. Chandlers!

I’ll do another update tomorrow as I have a training ride of around 30miles with a couple of design professionals tomorrow along the downs!

Update 23/04/19 T-9 days

So back to work today, oh my god I ache, so Thursday I did a round trip out of Brighton across the downs and over to Lewes and back with my good friends from ZAL Engineers and Daintree Design,  a good 5 hours in the saddle, great coming over the downs in the dark on the way home and some good food in Lewes, only crashed once…..

Friday  moving everything out of the ground floor at home ready for a DIY weekend (it all counts!)

Saturday a day of drilling about 250 holes and laying UF heating boards, and a 10 Mile ride up to the Marina

Sunday, Easter Special at the Gym 70 people doing a massive double Hitt class, half killed me, then back to DIY

Monday Gym at 7am again with my trainer, then more DIY another 250 holes drilled into concrete

Today Gym again before work, when does the pain stop?

Update 24/04/19 T-8 days

The pain doesn’t stop, 5.55am in the gym, who does this? an hour of Boxing and abs work, day off tomorrow but it’s all the cyclists meeting up so should be fun.

Update 25/04/19

All the riders met at Woodhart Tonight to go over the route and meet up with the backup team looking after us during the ride and for me to get my cycling jersey, Navigation instructions and general information, I’m still aching from the gym yesterday, but will be there in the morning for the final time before the ride tomorrow, hopefully I’ve lost some weight and gained some muscle, wish me luck!

(lost 2kg in 4 weeks!)

Update 29/04/19

Only a few of days to go! to much DIY over the weekend but got a quick ride in this morning from Worthing after dropping my car off, and will have to cycle back later, Got to pack tonight ready for the Luggage drop off with the support vehicle tomorrow at the nice people at Lewis & Co Planning. Busy Busy Busy, (Lots of stuff to do by Wednesday!)

My sponsorship target is on it’s way to £1000! keep it going everyone and thanks so much!

Packed and ready I think….. Passport, food, helmet, spare tubes, bank card…..

Day 1 02/05/2019 Brighton to Ouistreham

Early start to get to the I360 for 6:30am, and I’m not a morning person!  (It shows in the photo below ?) Photos and start at 7am

10 mins into the journey I am the first breakdown!

Going past a pothole ping a spoke goes, and the bike goes oh, the brakes are on, serious buckle, some great work by the team to get the wheel straight(ish), the next 10 miles i’m playing catch up with a bike that feels wrong & my legs are burning, not a good start.

I had caught up by  Littlehampton but has to recheck the bike as it’s not right, rear axle was not seated straight, catch up again!

kept going to Chichester and past most people to keep going to a little bike shop I spotted on a training run.

Great service at Barreg cycles, wheel out, tyre off, new spokes in and trued, in 15mins, the pack past me whilst I was in there so playing catch up again ?

Caught up just outside Portsmouth, great last few miles then coming down a subway behind Issi to see her crash into a wall in front of me! ? man down!

Last mile made without problem, now on the ferry to France!

Day 2 03/05/2019 Ouistreham to Fecamp

Today’s adventure Ouisterum to Fecamp ended up at 70miles ?oh my god the pain! Has anyone got any spare knees? My historic busted up left side is not happy, kept my own pace today  not crazy,

My gears need adjusting, the chain came off 4 times today! In the morning session, my water bottle bracket decided it did not want to be part of the bike complete with water bottle. Which then got run over by a VW ?‍♂️

So that’s broken then…..

Lovely quick lunch in Honfleur (very pretty must visit for a couple of days), after lunch, was the long section.

Today’s hill challenge was just that, long and steep, everyone got to the top and no one died of a cardiac arrest, BUT my bike doesn’t have the gearing and I don’t have the legs!

After that it was ibuprofen and caffeine shots to keep me going, unfortunately, on route to the hill I did another spoke!

So buckled wheel time yet again…. still made it only 2 more days to go!

Day 3 04/05/2019 Fecamp to Dieppe

So another great day… the end! It’s not called a challenge for nothing I’ve found.

Fecamp to Dieppe 52.7 miles

5:30 am woken up by torrential rain and couldn’t get back to sleep, so well rested for the day ahead. 

Just as the night before (did I mention lack of hot water), last night the hotel had even more interesting facilities, pas d’eau.

Due to the weather forecast, high winds and hail, the team had put back the start until 11am.

So I had some time to fix that 2nd buckled wheel.  So after  I ‘fixed’ the bathroom tap and got some tepid water from the shower, breakfast time, packing, and then on the hunt for tools.

Luckily they came to me, (great support team)!

Wheel off, rear cassette removed, tyre off, spoke in, naturally it’s threaded and too long.

Spoke no.2 of the day all good, and in. Meanwhile the team are congregating for the start, tube back in tyre on.

………..Of course! Of course it’s punctured, still, I’ve got a few mins I might make it to start with everyone.

New tube in tyre on, hands are freezing now, did I mention the hail?

The wheel trues up nicely, I have not had to do that in a while in anger!

Cool, I can make the start with the team. Pack up the tools, sort myself out, pull away on bike…..

…….and I have a front puncture!!? 

Now I’m cold, wet, late and will have to play catch-up all day!

Thanks to the backup team for providing some shelter and moral support!

Thankfully the team had only made it a few miles out of Fecamp, did I mention the high wind?

I caught a few backmarkers, the route was mainly old rail track with smooth tarmac or little used farm road both great and neither an issue for my useless rear wheel. But it’s mostly uphill, and we had a killer headwind which would just gust across the fields and stop you dead.

Several punctures in the team today, people took the opportunity to get out of the wind when waiting for the cyclist to repair their tyre….lying on the ground being the only way to get out of the wind.

The indefatigable Woodhart brothers, nearly always out front (Matt’s bad fall yesterday with ripped clothing and knee was just brushed off), were heard threatening to throw bikes in hedges, and shaking heads saying ‘I’ve had enough’. It was that sort of wind.

My historically broken bits and general tiredness meant I just couldn’t stop, if I lay down I might not get up! It was a mind over matter day, in fact, the trip has been mind over matter;3 spokes, snapped, 2 wheels unbuckled, 2 punctures, chain off at least twice a ride….so it was headphones in and drum and bass all the way.

Despite my late start, the multiple repairs in the team along the route meant we all pretty much all managed to catch up and it was great to get to Dieppe in just about the peloton envisaged.

Another big day done.

I’m now exhausted, but miracle of miracles this hotel has a bath, that works, and the water is hot!

That evening I got the ‘Overcoming Adversity’ Award hilarious!

Only the final stretch to go tomorrow to get from Dieppe to Brighton! so only a 10-mile ride after a snooze on the ferry

We made it into New Road to meet the mayor and a healthy crowd of people and Photographers, then off for a well-earned rest!

We all made it bar one, made some great new friends and contacts and raised a great sum for charity, and that I can cycle huge distances which I didn’t think possible.

Thanks to everyone who has donated, I’ll do an update when the final numbers are in.

Big thanks.

Update 20/06/19

The latest news is that between us we raised over £30,000! Which will go directly to the four charities, there will be a few more rides to hand out the cheques and there will be a documentary film showing in late September and launch of next years event! so I’ll keep you posted, meanwhile, i’m trying to keep fit and keep cycling which is a bonus, (I even bought some new wheels!)

Don’t forget  to please donate and help me help some Charities make a positive impact.

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