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Cycling – What a pain in the bum!!

Day 28: 25th June 2015. Weight: 19st 5lb (+4lb). Weather: Overcast (again). Cuml. Distance Cycled: 16.5miles

To continue the story from where we left off, I was bikeless and about to start training for a 55 mile cycling challenge for Cumbria Community Foundation.  What was the first thing to do?  Of course, the sensible thing would be to get a bike – for me it was to go on a two-week all inclusive family holiday to Turkey!

The point of mentioning this isn’t to boast, but to point out that from starting as 19st 1lb of idiot, I went up to 19st 7lb of idiot thanks to a wonderful diet of sumptious food and free beer on tap.  My already challenging challenge just became a lot more challenging!

Disaster then struck on my return from holidays, my training compadre and dad Paul got some bad news from the doctors, he has to have an exploratory operation on his knee so is sadly not able to join me on my exploits in attempting to raise much needed funds for Cumbria Community Foundation.  6lbs heavier in weight didn’t come near to how heavier my heart felt that I wouldn’t be able to share this experience with my dad.  I felt quite scared!

But as the great Carlisle United have emblazoned on their crest, “Be Just and Fear Not”, as when you are down people around you will help!  I have been overwhelmed by the support shown by my family and friends in setting off on this challenge, in particularly by my friends in Maryport Round Table 292 who have offered much support – especially our youngest member Nick Hayton who has appointed himself as my very own Sir Dave Brailsford!

My dad has also lent me a bike!  So on the Monday following our holidays I went over to my mum and dad’s to collect said bike and ride it home.  Wearing a t-shirt, denim shorts and trainers as it was a blisteringly hot day, I decided to ride from my parents home in Brigham to Cockermouth and then back to where I live in Great Broughton to start my training.

Then I discovered something fundamental about cycling.  It is a pain in the bum.  Literally.  By the time I had cycled to Cockermouth I was almost in tears.  I thought to myself “What have I signed myself up for?! I’ve only done 2.5 miles and my bum is telling me that this saddle may as well be some sort of medieval torture device” at this point I had only one option, get myself to 4Play Cycles in Cockermouth and ask for help.

What riding a bike in denim shorts feels like
What riding a bike in denim shorts feels like

Once in the shop, I went up to the owner Adam and exclaimed “Give me something that will stop my bum hurting!”  In reflection, possibly not the best choice of words to say, loudly, in a busy bike shop.  I think a number of people may have made a few instantaneous judgements about my life choices at that point.

Adam instantly recognised the problem.  “You have been cycling with denim shorts on?  Are you actually insane?!”  To which I pleeded ignorance and followed up with the rather humble “Well it’s quite warm today……”

Adam gave me some great advice about how to prepare for the challenge ahead and the necessity of getting the right kit for the job.  He sold me a pair of cycling shorts with wonderful padding.  Once I got back on the bike it was akin to sitting on a feather pillow in comparison to the previous medieval torture device.  My ride home was comfortable and I completed my first 6.5 miles.

Since then I have been given a decent training route by Maryport Round Tabler Nick “Brailsford” Hayton and have got another 10 miles under my belt, including some long and short steep hills around Broughton Moor and Dearham.  I have also dropped some weight from my peak of 19st 7lb!

For all of this effort, I hope that the sponsor money, like my bike, will come rolling in.  IF you would like to sponsor me, please visit

Doctor’s Orders and Jedi Mind Tricks

I have been described as a veteran of the Rivers Ride. Mind you, despite being a spritely 45 I am constantly described as a veteran of everything. The paper round I had as a young man on the top of Shap means that I have the gnarled complexion of an octogenarian hill farmer. When you couple this with blood pressure I have a face so ruddy that if I stop to catch my breath cars will sometimes stop at dusk thinking my head has gone from amber to red.

I am always one of the first to sign up to this great day’s cycling for a good cause. However, even the finely tuned body of an athlete can sometimes go wrong. Despite the many hours spent in my electric recliner contemplating how much exercise I should do I managed to end up with sciatica and a nipped nerve in my neck. On doctor’s orders I had to pull out of the 2014 Rivers Ride. The cycling world gasped in horror as the man who had come last in all of the Rivers Ride to date finally admitted defeat. The (admittedly) niche cycling magazine for Plus Size men ‘Cycling Meekly’ did a feature on whether it was the end of my career and I fell into a meat and tatie pie-filled despair. My lycra sponsorship from Jacamo wasn’t renewed and a very lucrative deal as the face of (a sister website of was terminated.

However, like a phoenix from the ashes I rose majestically from my lethargy and after twenty sessions of physiotherapy and acupuncture I can now put my own socks on.

Gary McKeating 25.06.15Now fully unfit, I looked longingly at my bicycle hanging from the garage ceiling like a mechanical bat, waiting to unfurl its wheels and ride off into the sunset. Then I left it there for another year. Until the call. Andy Beeforth OBE was on the phone using his Jedi Mind Tricks on me once again. Previously this technique had seen me towing a beer barrel around Derwentwater, hiking up to Stickle Tarn to sleep under the stars in a carrier bag or floating on a four poster bed on Lake Windermere. This time it was to see what was quicker – pedal power or paddle power.  I would cycle from the shore of Derwentwater and Andy would paddle down the Derwent in a poor man’s version of a Top Gear Challenge .

Tune in next time to see if I made it – well I know you know I did because I’m writing this – but humour me – I’ve been on a creative writing course at the Carlisle Royal Academy of Prose (CRAP) and I’m leaving you with a cliffhanger

The NSG Psyclopaths – Rising to the Challenge

Welcome back my riding chums.

I can now sympathise with how a pin cushion feels following my further scan and biopsy on the 22nd – it was only nine times! We are now in the waiting phase and hopefully within the next two weeks I should know what drugs the NHS will be providing to boost my cycling performance. Will there be any random drugs testing in Fitz Park, I wonder?

I can report that momentum is growing within the Psyclopaths camp, we have a further 5 signed up under the team banner. Baby Psyclo Chris has returned and this time brought with him his lovely partner and my ex colleague Psyclo Lozza – she being the reason behind the World Prosecco shortage! They have already started training and Lozza has managed a hill – significant progress from last year moan fest around the Preston Guild Wheel and it will be interesting if she maintains the colour coordination of yellow jersey and yellow cycle!

It’s also a big welcome back to the Budding Musician Psyclo. Come on, you remember John Morris the NSG MD and “he who must be obeyed”. It’s almost like the Blues Brothers “we’re getting the team back together”!!

We also welcome newcomers, Psyclos Tony and Alistair (NSG Project Manager and Engineer) to the fold but both are undecided as to which bike to use (mountain or road) – answers on postcards please. One with two wheels preferably but I’m sure someone would rise to the challenge of a unicycle!

For those of my loyal chums who are inclined to do so, I have set up a Just Giving page at

My charity is the Derian House Children’s Hospice in Chorley, an extremely  worthy cause that both I, on a personal level, and NSG Environmental, have long supported. The kids there are in a far worse position than we are and as such deserve our full support.

Just before I sign off, I want to thank Andy Beeforth and his team at the foundation for their kind words of support and also send a quick note to our main sponsor, Jennings – I’ll bring my own pint pot!!

You know that wise man? he’s been at it again,

“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it!

For now…

The NSG Psyclopaths – A New Challenge

Hello again my loyal cycling friends.

Those of you who have been with me since the beginning will have hopefully come to appreciate the lighthearted, whimsical and sometimes sarcastic nature of my prose. So I thought for 2015 I would continue in the same vein, however sometimes events conspire against us. Since the publication of the first 2015 NSG Psyclopaths blog on 8th June, a fresh a new challenge has been presented to yours truly.

On 10th June 2015 I was diagnosed with Lymphoma!

So my faithful chums it’s time to get serious.

I decided that I wanted to share not only my preparations for the Rivers Ride but also the journey that I am about to embark upon in the form of whatever treatment our glorious NHS are going to throw my way. The Foundation kindly agreed to my request and so the challenging journey begins here.

When given the news it doesn’t sink in at first. It’s only when you begin to think about the effects on not just yourself but also your family, friends and colleagues, that reality starts to bite and the emotional roller-coaster picks up speed. To try to come to terms with the news I did what any self respecting Rivers Rider would do and that was to get on the bike and do a 42 mile round trip to Southport. In hindsight it wasn’t such a good idea as trying to see where you are going through the floods of tears proved tricky to say the least. Perhaps I’ll just stick to hill climbs in the coming weeks which will give me another reason to cry!

I’ll know more as to what treatment will be coming my way following another CT scan and biopsy on the 22nd June. In the meantime the cycling preparations will continue and despite whatever physical and mental condition I will be in, I am determined to be in Fitz Park on Sunday 27th September clad in lycra.

Last year I did the Community Circuit in just over three hours and I challenged myself then to break the three hour mark next time. However to get round at all this year could be an even greater challenge, so come and join me in having a go – it’ll be a blast, especially if our friends at Jennings bring those bigger glasses!!

Right, enough of the serious stuff! Having checked the entry list for the various rides there doesn’t appear to be much commitment from the original Psyclopaths or indeed the lesser know NSGeese, perhaps the memory of the lovely Whinlatter is just giving them pause for thought or in the case of Rust Bucket Rudd, the bike has seized up! But your excuses are falling on deaf ears my fellow Psyclos, come on, get signed up!

So until the next time I’ll leave you with the thoughts of that wise old man I know;

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at a time of challenge and controversy.”

Illigitimi Non Carborundum!

Collaboration not competition wins CCF prestigious prize

Cumbria Community Foundation has been awarded winner of the 2015 Grant making and funding category at the Charity Awards, held in London, Thursday 18 June, 2015.

Now in its 16th year, The Charity Awards is an annual programme that uses Civil
Society Media’s portfolio of magazines, reports, events and websites to celebrate and highlight best practice across the sector.

The Charity Awards is the world’s most prestigious excellence recognition programme and Cumbria Community Foundation’s Neighbourhood Care Independence Programme (NCIP) was recognised for its new approach to grant making and funding.

Cumbria Community Foundation winner 1
Financial Analyst Louise Cooper, CCF’s Cath Howard, John Ross, Charity Award sponsors Investec, CCF’s Ellen Clements and TV and Radio presenter Gaby Roslin

Television presenter and BBC London radio host, Gaby Roslin and Financial Analyst and commentator Louise Cooper, presented the winner’s trophy to Chief Operating Officer, Cath Howard and Senior Grants and Donor Services officer, Ellen Clements.

The charity beat other finalist to win the accolade by managing a programme that results in delivery partners collaborating with each other to make the most of the staff and volunteers working for each organisation.

Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive of Cumbria Community Foundation said: “This award is the culmination of more than three years hard work. We have one of the fastest growing populations of older people and NCIP is all about helping people stay safe, healthy and independent at home. This award is recognition for all of the charities and organisations funded through the programme and shows we can be the best in the country.”

Tania Mason, group editor at Civil Society Media which organises The Charity Awards said: “In this age of continuing pressure on public finances, the work of Britain’s charitable sector is more vital than ever. All the charities shortlisted at this year’s Charity Awards have demonstrated the highest standards of leadership and management, and so it follows that the work carried out by Cumbria Community Foundation, our granting and fundraising Winner, is really quite exceptional.

“The team at Cumbria Community Foundation should be very proud of themselves and we only hope that this accolade propels them on to even bigger and better things. Congratulations to everyone involved.”
The £860,000 per annum programme is delivered on behalf of Cumbria County Council to support Cumbria’s large and growing population of older people and vulnerable adults. Cumbria Community Foundation facilitated a partnership of 33 voluntary sector delivery organisations but offered a single access point to beneficiaries through lead partners Cumbria CVS and Age UK West Cumbria.

Mary Bradley, Age UK West Cumbria said: “The NCI programme has made a difference in west Cumbria, enabling a diverse range of third sector organisations to support the community with information, advice and activities which have contributed to improving people’s independence, health and wellbeing.

“It is therefore fitting that this innovative project should have picked up this award on behalf of everyone, including the many volunteers and community groups involved in making this a success”.

The NCIP has delivered £1m in public sector savings and helped over 37,000 vulnerable adults and older people in Cumbria to maintain their independence. By the end of the first year, one in eight of the county’s older residents had used NCIP services.

Ian Stewart Cabinet Member for Public Health and Community Services at Cumbria County Council said: “This is great recognition from the sector for very important work that has taken place here in Cumbria. I want to thank everyone involved, and I’m confident that the success in the Awards will be a springboard for further development.”

John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, comments: “I would like to offer my congratulations to the winning charities and all those highly commended in this year’s Charity Awards. Every one of the awards is richly deserved. The judges looked for charities which make a real difference for the people they serve and the winners are great examples of the rich benefits that charities bring to our country, and to people all over the world.”


The NSG Psyclopaths – The Sequel

Is it really a year, a whole 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, etc, etc….., since our last date, how you must have missed me!

So, my cycling chums, what have you all been up to since you gave your all to the cause last May? Have you been keeping the faith in the saddle or have you let slip last years convictions to keep at it? Did your New Years resolutions include getting the bike out from under all that accumulated rubbish in your garage?

Well my friends it’s that time again, to get the bike serviced (or in the case of Rust Bucket Rudd – get it shotblasted to remove the rust!), to dig out the lycra, to shave those legs (really??).

It’s Rivers Ride 2015!!

The good news is that the NSG Psyclos will be back! Hoorah I hear you cry, whether the team will contain the original magnificent athletes from 2014 remains to be seen. Sign up has been slow but now we are up and running (or cycling if you prefer) I am convinced that there will be a rush from the 2014 alumni.

The call to arms has been raised within the NSG camp, you may remember the other NSG team?  – those honking NSGeese, maybe not, but just like the Premier League and the Championship there may be some promotions and relegations within the teams. We’ll have to wait and see.

“What about your training” I hear you all yell, well as you’d expect my chums, I’ve not been idle when it comes to the Velo. The hills of Rivington, Belmont and Anglezarke have continued to provide the hill climbs whilst the roads to Blackpool and Southport provide the distance.

2014 Summer holidays provided a significant milestone, The Darling Wife actually cycled up a hill in Northern Brittany without stalling and falling off. I take the credit as it was my encouragement that provided her with the boost she needed, however the lack of communication throughout the remainder of the holiday was a tad unjust, I thought!!! Still, she’s now talking to me again, even if it is only in words of one syllable. She’ll come round I’m sure.

Anyway enough of this domestic waffle, back to the ride.

It’s great to see Jennings back as the main sponsor but please can they bring bigger glasses this year. It’s very hard to restore ones lost fluids with such small measures!!!

A “little” light refreshment

So let’s get up and at it, give those justgiving pages and sponsorship forms a dust off, oh, and do you remember that wise man I know?  He said recently “Instead of giving reasons why I can’t, I give myself reasons why I can”

Welcome back!!



NMP Community Fund celebrates five years of success and the coming year

Copeland Rugby League Development Foundation’s (CRLDF) Reading Project will continue to run in schools across the Copeland thanks to a grant of £25,000 from the NMP Community Fund.

The fund, administered by Cumbria Community Foundation grant aided the CRLDF £10,000 to run a pilot last year. Due to the success of this project, a further £25,000 has recently been awarded to continue the service for another year and ensure more school children benefit from the scheme.

The project provides reading support to school children who may have reading difficulties or be reluctant to learn. The children will work with trained rugby league players from Whitehaven RLFC to improve their reading.

The Chair of the Foundation, John Cox, said: “One of the very first organisations to sponsor the Foundation was NMP. They have financed numerous initiatives from transport costs to rugby festivals and we are delighted to be associated with NMP on this major expansion of the Schools Reading Project.

“As an ex-headteacher I know the importance schools place on reading skills and we have trained our deliverers to maximise the benefits to the children involved.

“Local, professional players are seen as role models by the children and the children want to please their heroes. The players thoroughly enjoy this new contact with schools and can see significant progress when they fill in the child’s report book. There is a real feeling of achievement on both sides.

I want to sincerely thank NMP for their long standing support for the Foundation and for the Copeland community in particular.”

The children will also have the opportunity to be involved in after school rugby coaching sessions. The children benefit from one to one support from community role models and the project has already seen improvements in basic reading and attitudes to learning.

Iain Irving, General Manager of NMP said: “NMP is delighted to support the Copeland School’s Reading Project and for Copeland Rugby League Development Foundation to continue its fantastic work in helping local children improve academically and have fun at the same time.

“We are proud to sponsor initiatives like this which operate in the heart of our communities, providing opportunities for the next generation living in West Cumbria.”

Willie Slavin, Chair of Cumbria Community Foundation’s West Cumbria Grants Panel said: “It’s brilliant to be working with Nuclear Management Partners to award funding to such a valuable project. We have seen the success of projects like these in Allerdale and the work Copeland Rugby League Development Foundation is doing with young people in their area will make a real impact on the young people personally and academically.”

The NMP Community Fund is now open for applications for 2015, to find out more about funding click here or call 01900 825760.