Launch Day

I knew yesterday was going to be a long day. It was made quite stressful with having to deal with the media circus throughout the day having to wake up at 6:30Am for a brief interview with Radio York at 7AM. A fairly rest light night along with thos doesn’t do much wonders.

There was little time to ensure everything was finalised, and everything was quite last minute, with the camera crew arriving around 10:15 – earlier than expected. It’s great to get the coverage, but at the same time, it adds a lot of weight on your shoulders especially being thrown at you all at once especially as a first timer dealing with this.

It was a nice experience dealing with the crew who drew out the excitement and thrill of what was attempting to do. I’m too much of a modest person to go over the top.

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Shortly after putting everything in, I was soon on my way, filmed once again and it felt like artificial probably how it looked on television. It didn’t feel like I really was leaving. To be honest, I had an gut feeling that it wouldn’t be the last time I saw my home.

I went off to Howden, with their go-pro camera watching my every facial expression. It’s not as pleasant as it sounds, and when you just want that little bit of time to put the over whelming amount of emotions going through me.

Eventually I arrived at Howden School, a familiar sight. I met up with Mr Mason and Mr Caruthers. We took the rickshaw around the other side of the school and soon enough there was a large crowd forming. With so many staring eyes it was quite embarassing, but at the same time it was brilliant to see how inquisitive the students at Howden were. It was nice to hear some real enthusiasm and encouragement. Some of the students sat in the rickshaw and got a feel of being a passenger. It was also great to see some familiar faces from the past.

With the bell ringing, break time was over. With a large following of students behind, we returned back to the school to meet my family accompanied by the BBC Look North crew. I was starting to feel the chill and I soon noticed alot of people were trying to mask their shivering. From there, I knew the day would be cold and particularly uncomfortable. We all huddled together for a final photo.

With the final engagements in place, I was ready to set off with Andrew Mason as the first passenger on the rickshaw. I started pedalling, with a great crowd of students roared with a cheerfulness and optimism – there was even a few who attempted to run by side. I made a casual wave to everyone, my parents lost in the sea of many faces.

We reached the end of the Derwent Road – around 300m away. We exchanged farewells and Mr Mason wished me well and most importantly a safe journey. Along the street, the saddle was wobbling – I initially assumed that a bolt was lose. I went to tighten the bolt underneath the seat, and to my horror the bolt fell off and shortly after the saddle onto the floor. My heart sank to the floor. “Great start”, I thought to myself.

My parents met up and my Dad rushed back home to find a spare bolt. He came back around 25 minutes later. In the mean time, my mum, brother and myself were shivering as we concluded the start. The winds were howling and the clouds starting shedding its tears.

With the seat re-attached, I exchanged farewells to my family, in a much more intimate environment.

I left Howden around 2 O’clock. Originally I intended leaving mid-morning, but out of my control, I was very late. I felt under pressure to get to York and having to push through the headwinds and light but relentless rain.

After turning out of Howden, my seat suddenly collapsed. The seat bolt clamp was loose. I was in hysteria. If things going wrong, they usually all come together – the end of the clamp had snapped off. I did my best to re-tighten, but after an hour it slowly came loose again.

Later I met up with the crew from Look North, who did a final interview and a few drive-by shots through Hemingborough and did their best to shed their own optimism onto me.

I couldn’t get that positive feeling. I tried my best to shrug it off, but it reminded me of last year- alone in a bathub in June, the rains pouring down, a torrent of things going wrong. It was that same gut wrenching feeling that it didn’t feel right and I couldn’t bring myself to being positive. I made small goals to try and re-assure me but I wasn’t feeling it. It was a pleasant but damp ride along Selby to York, along the cycle path built on the old railway line.

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My state, and also how poor the conditions was meant I didn’t take any photographs along the way. Even the ‘queen bee’ mascot wasn’t helping cheer me up.

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I reached York quite tired, but relieved seeing some familiar sights. I found a lot people were ignorant – most likely commuters racing to get home. Very few showed some level of inquisition.

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I arrived late, I got into York around 6PM. Later than planned. York was a ghost town. A few places remained open. I sat in Saint Helens Square, doing my best to eat some food. I did a short tour around York, but with no passengers. By this time I was gasping for water, eventually I found a small Tesco express to buy some water and it was a great pleasure to talk to the security guard at the door.

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At 7:30, I set off to find a camping space towards Bootham, heading towards Clifton. This area I was told had nice green spaces. It took around an hour to find a place. Many areas had been fenced off. Some nice green spaces were inaccessible by rickshaw contrary to a bike – there was a narrow gap and steep embankment which was unsuccessful. I got lost several times as it got darker and I routed back to the river, in hope of finding a space in the very little light that remained.

I found a spot by the River Ouse with enough grass to set up my tent. With a head torch, this was difficult but not impossible and after twenty minutes everything was set up. I ate a few things and tried to stomach some Pea Protein Powder – this I regurgitated and had to force myself to swallow. I eventually headed to bed, frustrated and tired.

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Middle of the night, I suddenly awoke to a bright light on the tent and then a audible noise of a voice. I opened the door and was asked “are you’re alright”, I replied “yes, I’m sleeping here”, “are you from Yorkshire?”, “yes. I live near and this was the only place I could find”, I murmured. He was off. It woke me up and I had a restless night.

My parents said he could have been a thief seeing if it was an empty tent. Quite likely as I have never been disturbed once a sleep in my tent EVER!

I would wake later at 6:20Am for the Radio York Interview. I was knackered, more mentally than physically. A myriad of difficulties and problem had made it worse along with the less than warm welcome in York I was raising my hopes on finding.

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It was not a day I had anticpated apart from the farewell provided by the School. I felt cheated from a hearfelt farewell from my family.