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.

Tuesday 1st July

Route: Tewkesbury to Shrivenham
Distance: 55.89; 1303 miles so far
Weather: Hot sun, little cloud, then gathering storm clouds in afternoon



Staying with Marion and Tim Hollis hsa been particularly important in my journey, as I succeeded both on their retirement as Company Secretary and General Secretary respectively. Our friendship goes back to those early days at London Road in Beccles in 1989 where they introduced me to L'Arche. Thanks for everything- the welcoming reception, the great stay and for collecting the many contributions from fellow parishioners - much appreciated. Thanks too to Arthur for delivering with amazing speed prints of the photos at Twyning Church.

I left rather later than planned, due to posting yesterday's blog, and called at Bikes and Bits in Tewskbury for some air for the tyres. Then out of town towards the Cotswolds - a lovely run in hot sun. This could be a scorcher of a day with streaks of high cloud casting curious patterns in the sky.

A steady but manageable climb up to Ford where I spotted an opportunity for collecting sponsorship and refuelling. A crowd of people arrived whilst I was there, perhaps attracted by the tempting advert outside "freshly cooked asparagus". It was worth the stop.


I then headed what I thought was southwards, but I had missed a crucial turning at Ford (no, I had had a pint of iced water not beer) and was oblivious to my error as I headed south east towards Stow in the Wold. Then I thought I'd picked up some twig on the back wheel which seemed to be rubbing against the tyre, but on closer examination I realised I had broken another spoke. It didn't help having no mobile reception, but a hundred yards along the road a sign told me I was only one mile from Stow. So I nursed the bike along the remaining stretch, and came across the police station as I entered the village.

Dave and Alison, the duty Officers, couldn't have been more helpful. Dave checked if the 55 bus to Cirencester would take a bike in an emergency - they could but one had left 5 mins ago and the next one would not come for an hour or so. Meantime, it was a case of finding a bike shop in the area. I realised from ringing round that I should carry some spare spokes, as not every cycle shop, as I found out, carries those for touring bikes. The bike shop in Bourton on the Water seemed to have closed with a number unobtainable tone.

Eventully I got through to Roylan Cycles, Cheltenham, who confirmed they had spokes and would be prepared to do what they could to help this afternoon.

Then it was a question of finding transport to Cheltenham. Enter Keith of K-Cars, Bourton on the Water. A call by Alison found that he was available and could do the trip for £35, so I asked him to come and pick me up asking if we could discuss the fare, explaining I was doing a charity sponsored ride.

Waiting for him in the square, I came across more potential sponsors on their way to tea at one of the quaint village tea shops splilling out onto the pavements to take advantage of the wonderful weather.

Keith duly arrived and generously agreed to take me to Cheltenham for £10, the cost of his diesel. Thanks a million, Keith. So at around 3.35 I was pushing the potato crisp shaped back wheel along Suffolk Parade, to Roylans Cycles.

Here Bob sprung into action, and with amazing speed had the spoke replaced and the wheel trued within 15 minutes, recommending I took some spare spokes with me. I'm deeply grateful for the efficient and very modest cost of the repair, Bob. Thanks to you and Matthew - great service.

After reflecting on the time I had lost I decided to see if I could make up ground by getting the train somewhere, and discovered there was one to Kemble which would allow me to cover another 25 miles or so before I got to Shrivenham. I had earlier rung my host for the evening to say I would be arriving around 6.30. So I got the 4.31 train from Cheltenham Spa and was told to put the bike in the bike compartment at the front of the train, near the engine. Nice space with cycle racks for about 5 bikes.

Relieved to be on my way, I reflected on my good fortune in being able to recover from the potential disaster of not finding a place to repair the wheel. This is the time of year when cycle shop mechanics are up to their eyes with repairs.

There was then an announcement which I didn't realise the significance of until it was repeated. "Will passengers alighting at Kemble please proceed to the back few carriages, due to a short platform." (or words to that effect)."Anyone with a bicycle should report to the train manager at the back of the train." I should say at this point that in Gloucester, the train changes direction, so my bike and I were in a coach which would not be near the platform at Kemble. The train manager apologised and asked me to move the bike forward 3 coaches. He generously offered to carry the panniers, but the width of gangways in trains is not designed for a touring bike, as the arm rests need to be down for the handle bars to get through. Well, what a joke! With the help of other passengers pulling the arm rests down, I eventually got to the prescribed carriage, and left the train suggesting that a simple notice in the Guards van might solve the problem for future cyclists.

I now had to get myself to Shrivenham with limited maps, but saw a route through South Cerney Water Park where I used to sail in my 20s when living in Castle Combe. It's fairly flat around these parts, but I had to cross the busy dual carriageway from Cirencester to Swindon at one point and follow it to Cricklade where it seemed there was a pretty clear route north of Swindon to Shrivenham.

I decided that the SatNav would come into its own here and it seemed to be pointing me in the right direction until one point where it took me north rather than east. To cut a long story short, I was taken round the Swindon northern ring road and then along a country road which seemed to be far from the Oxford Road I was hoping to take.

At around 7.40 pm I was relieved to arrive at Graham and Stella Tidmarch's who gave me a warm welcome after a pretty eventful day. I was aware that they had planned a barbeque so after a quick shower joined them for a wonderful meal, Graham is a Methodist Minister with a part time chaplaincy at the nearby Military Academy, as well as other pastoral responsibilities locally. Both he and Stella are active in many projects including an educational one in Africa. It's a real priviledge to be welcomed as a stranger and made to feel so welcome. Many thanks Graham and Stella.

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