John Peet, former General Secretary of L'Arche UK, is hoping to raise £30,000 by cycling 1500 miles around the UK and visiting every L'Arche Community and Project on the way. The money will go to L'Arche in Zimbabwe, where funds are so desperately needed just to keep the Community going, and to the Projects in Glasgow and Manchester that, with your help, will soon become L'Arche Communities.

Thursday 26h June

Route: Manchester to Wem
Mileage: 63.26 miles; 1072 miles so far; 438 miles to go
Weather: Cloudy start, heavy rain all afternoon

The Coogan family was well into gear by the time I got up: Milly, 10, Maddy, 8, and Jamie, 5, preparing for school, Heather getting ready for a trip to Scotland in her new role as Regional Co-ordinator for L'Arche, and Kevin organising help that evening to cover his meeting in Preston. It was really good to have a chance to catch up - thanks for all your support and hospitality.

The road was quite straight forward, though you are right, Kevin, about the junction in Wythenshaw which I sailed past! After getting somewhat confused I realised I had to back track. Eventually I got onto the right road and headed down towards Holmes Chapel where I had arranged to meet an old friend, Rob Taylerson. I had been slightly ambitious about the timescale and didn't get to Rob until nearly 11.00, the head wind not helping.

It was great to meet up with Rob again as we had studied together in Rome some 20 years ago. Given the delay, we agreed to rendezvous at Middlewich, closer to my original route, which then continued to Nantwich. We ended up at Acton where we stopped for lunch at the Star pub. Having had an operation on one knee within the last couple of years, Rob decided wisely that it had done enough work for the day. A marathon cyclist in his younger days, he had done the 3,000 mile coast to coast in the States, and a number of other long distance routes. Many thanks for your company, Rob, and for your sponsorship.

The rain from this point seemed to get heavier as the afternoon progressed. Memories of the road from Oban, but this time no difficult uphill climbs, though the beauty of these parts was rather lost on me as I battled against a head wind in the driving rain. Wem couldn't come quickly enough and I programmed the SatNav. I had rung Bishop Brian Noble, whom I knew from Rome days, to see if he could help find me somewhere to stay in the area, and he had rung to say the Martin family in Burlton had kindly offered accommodation. I hadn't done my homework sufficiently, as Burlton is another 5 miles or so beyond Wem, and the SatNav took me on the minor roads which were by this time awash.

I rang my hosts and spoke to Phil who offered to come and collect me but I said the SatNav would get me there. Grit had got into the brakes, water had penetrated my shoes and then the SatNav battery packed up leaving me at an unmarked junction wondering which way to turn. As if by a miracle, Phil turned up in his car, and I realised I needed to graciously accept his offer to give me and the bike a lift.

Bill and Elsie Martin and their daughter, Kathy and husband Phil could not have been kinder. I was soon upstairs in their guest suite having a quick hot shower, as they had held dinner for my arrival. Kathy furnished me with a glass of red wine whilst she made the finishing touches to the meal, and I chatted with Elsie and Bill in their sitting room. Phil then appeared, himself a keen cyclist, having cleaned my brakes of the dirt and grit. We sat down in their farmhouse kitchen with Kathy's daughter, Georgina, and husband to be, Oliver, whose wedding was only 2 weeks away. Great food and stimulating conversation helped make the atrocious weather seem a just a bad dream.

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