So the first day came to an end. Our three days of cycling taking in 190 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing hills and steep inclines has commenced in earnest…and doesn’t my derriere know about it…
As we stopped to take in the views of Harlech and the mighty castle after departing from the very pretty Porthmadog, I was beginning to feel the wrath of every serious* cyclist – the saddle sore. Of course we are a team of seasoned professionals, and whilst some of the tips offered for treating it are quite frankly unprintable – the spirit of our community as the men (and women) of Harlech has started to take shape.
We arrived into Aberystwyth – home of our West Wales office around 5pm yesterday evening and what a view to greet us. The seafront was awash with the 2017 graduates and their families from the university. Yes, we had chosen graduation day in the town to bring our convoy to rest.
A couple of us took a stroll down on the beach – resisting chips, but giving in to ice cream. I was absolutely full of admiration for the students who had reached the end of their current academic journey. I thought of how lucky I had been to attend University and all of the experiences it had afforded me back in the day.
We started talking about the people we would be supporting by completing the Men of Harlech Challenge – NEETS. I’m well known for my ‘extensive’ vocabulary within New Directions, but NEETS – well, let me explain. This rather tidy little acronym (see what I did there) refers to the young people in our communities who are ‘Not in Employment, Education or Training’.
Cardiff has the largest proportion of NEETs of any local authority in Wales. These young people also live in the most deprived areas of the city. These are the people we cycle and get saddle sore for. We need to afford them all we can during this journey to give them a fighting chance in the future. In a 2017 that has seen a lot of sadness and social injustice so far to date, this is the least we can do.
So…as we asked last year – if you see us along the way on our journey, please give us a cheer, encourage us. We need your support. Oh and roll on our victory meal at fellow sponsors Canton’s Got Beef come Wednesday evening – we will need that even more.
*For serious read many Sunday bike rides in recent weeks with pub beer garden drop ins