Philadelphia is known as the ‘City of Brotherly Love’, I can completely see why. Its quiet pavements and big wide roads make it easy to travel around with little chance of bumping into each other. It’s laid back, so much so that the thought of running or cycling really didn’t appeal to me. At times, I just wanted to sit down and chat with the guys.
Any challenge I take on I try to make sure that I am the underdog, I kind of enjoy thinking that people might bet against me. One thing I have found very hard since completing the Epic Run round the UK was that people didn’t doubt, in fact quite the opposite, they expected me to succeed. With success comes expectation, expectation brings with it pressure. It seems stupid really, there was no pressure at all but my mind would not let me believe this. My mind created its own pressure, its own expectation.
I stared at the steps and the statue for a while. The greatest underdog story of all time? I had watched the most recent instalment of this story not long before I had left, the underdog once again creating history, inspiring people – pure hope. As a team we ran up the steps, the previous days beating had meant ascending the stairs was not the most pleasant of experiences but one I was determined to complete. When planning this adventure, the “Rocky Steps” were right at the top of the list of things I wanted to do. This is mainly apparent because Philadelphia was well out of our way, we could have just set off from New York and headed west towards Chicago and saved ourselves a lot of time and what was to become some serious pain on the bike but I needed my Rocky fix. From Rocky in 1979 to present day he has overcome pain and adversity – battling, dreaming and believing in himself. I feel that much like me, Rocky is often written off. He is labelled as the wrong shape, as too old or as having terrible technique. I smile to myself sometimes as people talk to me about how I run and how big I am “You’re too big to run distance,” they say. “You haven’t spent enough time on the bike to be able to do 150 miles a day!” Pain is pain; it’s there whether you are fat or thin, black or white, short or tall. How you deal with the pain and the hard work is what sets you apart.
Map of Philadelphia Photo Gallery
The people that say I am the wrong shape are right, but I can still move. The people that say my technique is poor are correct, but I can still get there. The people that say I don’t spend enough time
cycling to do 150 miles are right, but I still got it done. The difference?
Help for Heroes?
maybe all of these in some way but for me the answer is simple. The answer is Rocky.
Never ever give up. If you lose, you learn. If you win, remember how.
I was on the bike for the second time in quick succession, after finishing on the bike the previous day. The roads so far had actually been quite pleasant with only a few potholes and with long stretches where I could open my legs and power on. We left Philadelphia as quickly as we had arrived. The site seeing was over and we were back on the road. Until this point we had been using relatively quiet roads, leafy suburbs and long straight streets. As we powered towards Washington the maps said that the most direct route was down the interstate. We didn’t think anything of this and simply joined the traffic on the interstate. I was sat up front with the RV tucked in behind me to block the traffic. I sat at a steady 27mph and ploughed through the miles towards the capital. It was still early in the day; we had come through Philadelphia first thing, afer finishing the previous day right on the outskirts of the city. It was a decent press to get to the capital but we would camp just outside the city that evening.
Day 2 was another long day. Heading down a large descent with traffic building into three lanes my tyre blew out. My back end snaking all the way to the foot of the hill. Any blow out is scary; a blow out at 40mph on a push bike makes your bottom twitch for a few days after, I can tell you! It was late in the day when the tyre burst, I was tired and the team had been navigating me through the streets of Philadelphia (brilliant Bruce Springsteen song) all morning and then on busy roads in the afternoon. We were all working hard just to keep me moving and alive. With the tyre fixed and the evening drawing in, I needed one last push. The traffic moving towards Washington was thick and full of people who did not want a Lycra clad Englishman holding up their commute. I couldn’t relax at all, maintaining a constant pace was difficult. I had been on the bike all day afer leaving Philadelphia, and everyone around me had been at work. Everyone wanted to get settled down for the evening, me more so than anyone.
Our first brush with the law came on the second day. I had loved cycling down the interstates, the climbing was relatively easy, the roads were wide and everything seemed to be going well, then on the radio I was told to stop. As I turned back to check the RV and the rest of the team I noticed the Blue flashing light behind the RV “Crap,” I thought, “what have we done to deserve being pulled over?” I walked my bike back to the RV where the Policeman was debriefing the team on why we were not allowed to ride a push bike down the interstate. “You can’t ride down the interstate man, you’ll get yourself killed!” At first, I thought, well, I have been doing it for the last 6 hours and I am still here but then I realised exactly what we were doing. We were on the major commuter road, heading into the capital city of America at rush hour. For context in the UK, imagine the M25 at rush hour, and then imagine my pasty little body weaving along on a bike. The boys in Blue had a point and with that I jumped in the RV and headed for some quieter roads.
The evening was spent in one of the more amusing RV sites we would come across. We arrived into the site in complete darkness, large bugs splattered across our windscreen, we were tired and in need of a shower. We completed the 464,746 point turn to get the RV into the right bay and opened the door, huge mistake. As the door opened the light from the RV shone across the jungle we now realised we had parked in. The entire cast of ‘A Bug’s Life’ flew into the RV I think there may have been some animals that appeared in ‘Jurassic Park’ now flying round the RV as well. It was at this moment that I realised that none of us were Bear Grylls, in fact you would have thought none of us had ever been outside before. The screams echoed around the RV site like something out of a horror film, “Get it. .squish it. .kill it!” the screeches said. Bearing in mind that I had just completed 150 miles on a bike, I was not leaping about to kill the winged crocodile that was flying round the RV but luckily (unlucky for the insect) it did come near me. The bug was no more. The team appeared from under the bed covers and behind the curtains where they had been hiding. The noises of the animals continued long into the night, sleep was at a premium
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