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Team Handelsbanken

After our successful Tour de France campaign we now turn our attention to the Jennings Rivers Ride…………….if only that were true!

We are a team of 10 Bankers primarily from the Handelsbanken Branches in Penrith and Kendal, but also with representation from our Branches in Lancaster and Preston.

From volunteering through to gentle persuasion and claims of LMF (lack of moral fibre) we have pulled together an elite band of cyclists with one aim………not to get off and walk up Honister! For some of us the training is a simple extension of an existing thirst for all things 2 wheeled…..for some an insatiable desire to create an existing thirst….and for others a need to prove an end to LMF.

The training is progressing well and amidst coast to coast rides, quick dashes up and down Shap after work, and gentle Saturday morning spins around the lanes of Cumbria, most of us are looking forward to supporting the excellent Cumbria Community Foundation on the 27th September.

The NSG Psyclopaths – The Big Journey Begins

Hello again my loyal and (fool) hardy chums.

What a difference a couple of weeks makes!

From the highs of a first training ride with my fellow Psyclos to the lows of increasing pain and tiredness through lack of sleep, it has been a rollercoaster these last two weeks.

Lets get the depressing stuff out the way. Following the last blog and the full diagnosis I have been waiting for a start date for the chemo. During that time the pain had increased to such an extent that sleep was impossible, being bent double, wiping away the tears wishing it would stop did little to help. A call to the Rosemere Centre for any advice on pain relief actually lead to a confirmation date of 23rd July for the first batch of Chemo. Result!!

The big day arrived and accompanied by The Darling Wife we settled in for what turned out to be six hours in the company of a team of wonderful specialist nurses who expertly plumbed me into the chemical plant and switched on the pump. Although it was a long and tiring day the relief to be actually getting some treatment was enormous. What made it even better was the pain went away! Thursday and Friday were the first full nights sleep I had had for over three weeks. Coupled with the steroids I began to feel like my old self, but better!!

Confession time. The three week chemo cycles mean that I should have another session the Thursday before the ride so I will be on steroids!! There goes all the good work that fellow Velominati, Chris Froome has been doing to make sure cycling is clean!!!

What of my fellow Psyclos I hear you cry. Well the team grows ever larger with the addition of an even younger Baby Psyclo, my fellow NSG colleague Joshua Rimmer, we’ve yet to be convinced of his prowess on the Velo but no doubt youth will get him through.

Reports are coming to yours truly about training rides from the Budding Musician (18 miles), Lozza and Baby Psyclos. Even newbie Alistair attempted the Iron Man hills of Anglezarke but failed at the base of hill one under a vociferous vocal tirade from his Darling Partner who took an instant dislike to the sheer face of tarmac that rose infront of her. Still, seven miles isn’t a bad start!!!!

The sponsorship is also progressing well, we are now at 86% of the new target. As Robbie and Kylie once said “Let’s keep doing it for the kids” –

Thanks also go to fellow blogger Ian Curwen for promoting my blog, no rivalry there just yet then!!!

Until next time, I’ll leave you with this thought, “The voice in your head that says you can’t do this is a liar”!!

Let’s do it my friends!!

Admittedly zero training hours is not great…

When I agreed to blog again, I thought about the topics I’d like to cover and how to make them interesting. One of the things I thought I’d do each week or so was update you on my cycling achievements since the last blog.

IMAG1795So this week, I have cycled a total of 0 miles. Zero. Maybe not the best idea I’ve ever had then!

If you speak to any cyclist and ask them how they prepare for a ride they will give you a number of different strategies – some, for example, like to do interval training, or focus on the hill climbs, or practice parts of the route they will be riding. But one thing they will all tell you is ‘you need the miles in your legs’.

Whilst that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to do a 75 mile ride every time you go out, it does mean that you should a) actually be going out and b) increase the miles you complete.

Not riding for a week, therefore, isn’t really recommended. But one of the advantages of blogging – publicly – is that I have now shamed myself into addressing this. After all, I can’t report having completed no miles again in my next blog. Not only would this be embarrassing, it’d be pretty boring for you guys too.

So I am going to commit, right here, to completing at least one ride of 40 miles plus, with the aim of riding at least double that, in total.  I might even try and throw in at least one of the three most testing climbs on the ride.

On my most recent cycle rides, I’ve tried some interval training – mixing speedy segments with some gentler paced recovery sections. This is partly to try and increase my fitness, and also to try and add variety to some of the shorter rides I do.

I’d love to tell you the technical and fitness reasons for why this is a good thing to do, but they’re largely beyond my comprehension. But what I do know is that varying your heart rate while exercising is a good thing to do, and I think you’ll even burn more calories. If you want to give it a go, I’d recommend one of the many fitness apps that exist, or have a look through some issues of Cycling Plus – every issue gives some useful hints and tips that will hopefully help you reach your goals.

I’ll let you know how I get on in my next blog.

And in the meantime, if you need more inspiration than I’m providing, why not take a look at my blogging colleague, Nigel Lowe’s posts. I’d like to commend him on his training and fundraising efforts, and wish him the very best of health too – he’s doing all that whilst battling Low Grade Lymphoma.

Foundation’s legacy trust awards first grant

Cumbria Community Foundation’s William Milburn Charitable Trust Fund has awarded its first grants to community projects in Walton and Low Row.

Walton Village Hall and Low Row Community Park were both awarded cash grants of £500 and £1,500 respectively at the Foundation’s most recent grants panel, from the newly managed William Milburn Charitable Trust Fund.

Walton Village Hall received funding to continue running ICT and internet skills classes. The money will pay for a tutor to come from Carlisle United’s Computer Suite to teach the class.

Emma Brocklebank, Committee member of Walton Village Hall, said: “Many of the older people within the Parish do not currently use computers or the internet, and would like to learn how to do so. We have previously delivered a basic course in using a laptop and accessing the internet, which was oversubscribed. This new funding will enable more local people to access the skills required to keep up in a digital age.”

Thanks to the funding, Low Row Community Park will have a sufficient contribution to the cost of providing a children’s play area in the village.

Jacqui Bell, Chairperson of Low Row Community Park said: “The children of Low Row attended a Parish Council meeting, to ask why we were the only village in the area which didn’t have anywhere for the children to play. This project is in response to a clear local need.”

The William Milburn Charitable Trust has been active for nearly ten years but was recently transferred to Cumbria Community Foundation. It benefited from the Community First endowment match scheme increasing the donation by 50%, and the Trust is now worth more than £250,000.

Ellen Clements, Senior Grants and Donor Services Officer at Cumbria Community Foundation said: “We’re very pleased to have taken over the management of the William Milburn Charitable Trust and to be able to support more community groups within Brampton and the surrounding areas. We continue to work with the current trustees of the Trust and our own grants panel members to ensure the needs of the communities are met.”

The William Milburn Charitable Trust aims to support groups and organisations within the parish of Brampton and surrounding areas. Examples are Castle Carrock, Hethersgill, Askerton, Lanercost, Scaleby, Upper Denton, Walton & Farlam. To find out more visit the fund page or contact Ellen by email or call 01900 825760.

The NSG Psyclopaths – Even Bigger Thanks!

What can I say, how can you be speechless in a blog – wordless??

My revised fundraising target of £1,000 was exceeded within a week of topping the original £500 target. Once again I have been truly humbled by your support and generosity for those kids less fortunate than we.

Well my chums, lets get the medical stuff out of the way first. After much pestering, we now know what we are up against, Low Grade Lymphoma! What does that mean I hear the disinterested cry? It means extraction of a bone marrow sample (14th July) followed by further consultations with the experts (15th July) followed by the commencement of the intake of toxic chemicals commonly known as chemotherapy. The treatment is likely to last about 4 – 5 months but I’ve already told the team at the Rosemere Centre at Preston Hospital that I have an important appointment in the 27th September that they have to work around!!

A valuable lesson learned is not to wait for information but to actively seek it out!

Now on to the cycling stuff. Membership of the elite NSG Psyclopaths is growing, bikes are being purchased and padded lycra is being recommended for the uninitiated! We now have a Doctor Psyclo, not one that would help me though. Dr. Dom Farrell from the NSG Consultancy group has joined us. Once he is ensconced in our new Cumbria office I’m sure he will be familiar sight around the highways and byways, getting in much needed training on proper hills, as his previous base in Berkshire only offered the odd speed bump to get over.

A training ride for yours truly, the Baby Psyclo, Psyclo Lozza and the Budding Musician Psyclo was completed this last sunday. Just a litttle 18 miler around the proposed Ironman route through Anglezarke, Rivington & Belmont. This was Psyclo Lozza’s introduction to proper hills, and being the trooper she is conquered them all. We just have to work on the speed!! It was a good job there were a couple of Prosecco stops along the way, notably the Black Dog at Belmont and apologies to our main sponsors at Jennings, but a pint of Jumping Joe’s best always goes down well after 8 miles of climbing!!

Psyclos Lozza, Baby, Yours truly & The Budding Musician at the summit.
Psyclos Lozza, Baby, Yours truly & The Budding Musician at the summit.

Note to the newbie Psyclos, as you gently grunt your way up Whinlatter just remember what a proper cyclist once said – “You’re alone on the road with your bike. There’s no slipstream, no tactics, it’s not about who has the smartest strategy. It’s just you, your bike and your head, fighting against the pain.” Of course you won’t be alone, we’ll all be there in pain with you!!

We need knitters!

To launch our 2015/16 Winter Warmth Appeal and annual Big Sleep fundraiser we’re looking for anyone who can lend their skills and make hats, scarves, blankets and other Winter Warmers.

Ellen Williamson 3
Winter Warmth grant recipient, Ellen, crochets blankets to keep herself and her friends warm in the winter

The idea of the Winter Warmers campaign is for the community to come together and knit for a reason. In a bad winter 300 older people can die in Cumbria because of the effects of the cold weather, the Winter Warmth Appeal raises money to help those in need – those who may have to choose between buying food and putting the heating on.

Each year, Cumbria Community Foundation hosts the Big Sleep an outdoor challenge where challenge you spend a night under the stars in the freezing cold to raise money for the appeal. Your hats, scarves and blankets will be distributed at the Big Sleep to help keep people that little bit warmer in return for a donation to the appeal – but who knows, before then, they could be used in something extra special across the county.

Any Winter Warmers left over after the event will be donated to Age UK’s across the county.

If you think you can help, please contact Annalee Holliday by email or call 01900 825760.

Please download and share our flyer.

Another year of pain to come


I don’t know exactly how it’s happened, but I appear to have agreed to do the Jennings Rivers Ride again in 2015. This is despite the fear, pain and moderate panic that crosses my mind whenever last year’s ride is mentioned!

Ok, so I might be exaggerating somewhat, but it is fair to say that I found the ride a challenge. Not only was it the longest ride I’ve ever completed, but it was also the most hilly and arduous.

To be honest, I was quite pleased to finish the ride, especially given the pain I felt shortly after reaching the summit of the first (and easiest) mountain pass –Whinlatter. At that point, and for most of the twenty miles that followed, I wasn’t sure that I would make it. But I did, and I think that the reason that I’ve agreed to do the ride again this year is because the sense of accomplishment I got when I reached the end was just unbelievable, and hard to even put in to words.

The other reason I am happy to do the ride again is because I know much good the Cumbria Community Foundation can do with the money it raises from the event. I know from my contact with the Foundation that they do amazing things for people and communities in the county, and in times of austerity and government funding cuts, this is even more important.

So I’d be really grateful for any donations anyone might be willing to give, to support this work. Last year I raised £900, and this year I’d love to get this up to a round £1000, but I’ll be pleased with whatever I get. You can donate at

I’ll try to update this blog every couple of weeks with updates on how my training is going. I’ve recently done a couple of longer rides, but these haven’t been too hilly – I’ll need to incorporate these soon, if I am to improve on, or even match, last year’s effort.

For anyone considering doing the ride – ignore everything I’ve just said. It really is great fun, and if you like cycling, you’ll no doubt find it a doddle!

The NSG Psyclopaths – Big Thanks

Well doesn’t time fly when you are waiting for results. As good as our glorious NHS is, it takes a lot of momentum to get something so big moving. Still there’s always things to be done.

Bike checked and serviced – done

Pester the Consultants secretary – done

Encourage more people to – 1. sign up for the Rivers Ride & 2. Get their sponsorship money out. Done on both counts and what a magnificent response.

Once I had told all my family and friends about my diagnosis I decided to go public and use the power of social media. Being of a certain age i.e. not a teenager, the benefits of the social media explosion are not always obvious but once the story hit Facebook it went “Spiral” and within a week my initial target of £500 was smashed and I had to raise the bar to £1000. Who knows, with your continued generosity I might have to raise it again.

I can’t thank you all enough for your outstanding generosity and messages of support. It truly is uplifting.

But what of the training I hear you all wail, well, with the great British summer finally making an appearance I recommenced the cycle commute to work with the addition of a few hills on the way home. It’s only about 12 miles but it keeps reminding the leg muscles of what is to come. Psyclo Lozza assures me she has a training plan in place to get in peak condition for the big day but methinks she is being held back by the Baby Psyclo especially when there is a hint of rain – Velominati Rule 5!!

Although there are many negatives with a lymphoma diagnosis there are also some positives. I appear to be losing weight, not through any of my own endeavours I hasten to add, so wind resistance has decreased and power to weight ratio has vastly improved. However the downside to the weight loss is that the lycra is getting a tad baggy and as you cycling fashionistas know, baggy lycra is never a good look! Just wait till the hair disappears, how fast will I be then!!!!

Hopefully next time I will have more news not only of the ongoing preparation of the Psyclopaths but also of the impending treatments, so until then my chums I will leave you with you with this from my wise mate,

When I hear someone sigh that life is hard, ask, ‘compared to what?'”

Up and at ’em

Note to fellow blogger Adrain – the saddle does get comfier!!