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March 15, 2012 No comments

Lots Happening. World Cycle Race Update Number Four.

Events Sports Cycling Bicycles Travel & Adventure Cycling
By GARETH
Lots Happening. World Cycle Race Update Number Four.
  It pains us to report this morning that Stephen Phillips is out of the Race. It seems that circumstances have slowly conspired almost from Day One to finally leave him without the option of continuing. And on Sunday he announced via his Facebook page that his record attempt was over. Despite a couple of transit rests, the damage sustained early on to his ankles and Achilles Tendons had steadily worsened. And every turn of the cranks was exacerbating the damage. Try riding to the shops and back with just one dodgy ankle and then see how a century and a half grabs you. With your bike fully laden down. Up steep hills. In all sorts of weather. Stephen fought the good fight, and will be back in the saddle soon. If we add to this the logistical headaches of realigning a route schedule while on the move, without so much as an inkling as to the coming night's sleeping arrangements, we can perhaps get close to understanding why he has gotten out while still ahead, relatively speaking. His competitors know better than the rest of us what he has been through, as evidenced by their kind public messages of commiseration and support. We wish Stephen both a prompt and complete recovery, and congratulate him on his persistence and absolute savagery in putting down such heavy mileage on such battered limbs. He will be back. So will Stuart Lansdale, although he hasn't really gone anywhere. We reported last week on Stuart's Ukrainian trials. He was briefly back in London, doubtless to drink some hot chocolate made with milk instead of snow, getting his bike sorted, and today he continues to India, thus avoiding what were going to be inevitable visa complications in Kazakhstan. We've fired off a set of the new Brooks panniers to him. And while this was perhaps Kind, after the past week we no longer feel like Strangers. (cue violins) Also the birthplace of gravy laden, biscuitastic, deep fried concoctions of all sorts. One of Richard Dunnett's knees is acting up a bit, but it hasn't stopped him from manfully limping to the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffets he encounters on his travels. A full belly is a good start to a day on the Grand Tour, and the comment sections below his Facebook posts are likewise full of people throwing their doors open to him all over the North American continent. With his daily mileage more often than not cracking the 150 mile mark, who's to say he won't be able to avail of some, if not all, of the offers. Sean Conway's Facebook post comment sections, meanwhile, are full of phone numbers. Not quite. He was stuck in Ecuador this week and needful of a quick change of flight. None of the phone numbers he had on him were working, so Team Sean got stuck in and found him some that were, sparing Sean from what would otherwise have been a week stranded near the airport. Sean is not the first of our riders to board a plan looking and smelling just as he did when he dismounted from his bike. Martin Walker is still powering around the United States. He has only had two punctures since we last checked in. They say 23 is a mystical number, so maybe he won't get any more now. Having inadvertently settled down for the night on top of an ants' nest on Friday, he was in a position Saturday morning to advise anybody who cared to listen that one shouldn't sleep on an ants' nest. Come midnight that same day, and by his own admission already "not a happy bunny", he found himself remonstrating loudly with the staff of a well known fast food 'Drive-Thru'. They had refused him service at the hatch, seemingly because he was riding-, not driving-thru. At a petrol station further down the road, however, he got talking, and wound up getting fed and watered on the house! And was offered a shower and bed for the night! Talk about Kind! Since then, he has been woken up on a church's porch by a lady carrying a full English breakfast for him, with freshly squeezed orange juice. And a bike shop has replaced his rear wheel. For free! Talk about Strangers! Mike Hall is in India, a place notorious for its Kind Strangers. It's a fact that everybody wants to stop and chat there, which should be showing on Mike's KOS-ometer. But India is also notoriously populous, and with so many Strangers all trying to be Kind it seems Mike can barely clock up a yard without getting invited to dinner by the next Friend He Hasn't Met Yet. Could be an ideal few days for the rest of the boys to catch him! Mike's non-plan (he is reluctant to describe it as a plan) so far has been to see what he can do each day, within the confines of two fairly notional start and finish points. The non-plan has been going pretty much to plan, so much so that he has occasionally fallen into the trap of thinking of it as a plan. This of course means he is now beating himself up when a day doesn't go according to plan, which was what the non-plan was supposed to stop him from doing in the first place. He can take comfort from the leader board, though. He's up the top of it. Ireland's Simon Hutchinson has also reached India, and is currently acquainting himself with the questionable delights of the local hospital food. The Cavan man admitted himself shortly after mentioning by phone to his girlfriend that he was feeling a little rough last Monday, and was diagnosed as being severely dehydrated. He had a drip attached and is making the most of the opportunity to rest up. Simon says he's being extremely well looked after, which is of course good news. But we don't want him getting too comfortable. Paul Ashley-Unett wasn't one of the men at the start line in Greenwich last month, but is also underway with an attempt at Alan Bate's record. Say hi! He is slowly becoming acquainted with the importance of RICE. By which we mean not that he needs to be guzzling 12000 calories daily (though he does) but that when the joints are aching they need Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. He says he also has a bottle of "mixed tablets" in his bag...   Niel Coventry Brown also started last week from New Zealand. After doubtless quickly hitting one of his antipodal points, he hopped a plane for South America and has spent the past 10 days negotiating the Peruvian Andes. Niel's Mercian in the Andes. He has so far been spared the altitude sickness one normally associates with such an endeavour, but has learned that when Peruvian road workers offer you what you think might be hot ginger ale, you should mentally prepare yourself for a serious hangover. Talk about an appalling vista! He was getting sunburnt the day before.