Team Apogee’s 2013 Charity Campaign is off to a great start

Apogee’s now notorious blog writer let’s us into the ups, downs and wiggles of the first of Apogee’s 5-part charity sporting challenge

Simply Red 

♬ “Speed Through Life in a Purple Haze – Live Life fast Like Kurt Cobain”

On the very day that one of my daughters(aka Amplify Dot) launched her first single ‘Kurt Cobain’, it was almost as though she wrote the song strap line for us – it really could not have been more apt.  Apogee knows only one way… to fearlessly go for it.

The bad weather severely hampered our early season training and to be honest we are in no fit state to take on either of the most difficult and most daunting cycle rides in the UK riding calendar, the Wiggles 75 miles Standard &100 miles Epic North and South Downs Sportive challenges.  But we are a resilient bunchhave been preparing for the Standard Challenge much to the chagrin of Campbell who,true to form, remains happily in ‘Campbo World’ oblivious to the universe that operates in parallel to his own.  He believes that we are up to the Epic Route.

Preparation was hardly been perfect and Mr. Dependable, Jason Collins was an eleventh hour withdrawal having  “fallen over” and cracked a few ribs ~ he seems more like a domestic violence candidate to me given the working hours he puts in.  Worst was to follow as team anchor, John Painter came out in sympathy – over doing the training and injuring his neck leaving just 4 of the Paris 6 ‘fit’ if not ready to ride.So much for the joy of six!

Now, while this does not sound like a crisis, one has to understand the aviary dynamics of the team to truly comprehend the enormity of the two withdrawals.  Under normal circumstances Team Apogee is a unique chemical balance of two driven, if reckless Hawks in Barry and Campbell; two controlled and considerate Doves in Jason and John, and two compliant Cockatoos with Femi and myself.  The loss of the Doves meant that all semblances of common sense and conscience went out the window as the ambition and bravado of the Hawks took full control.  To hell with the poor preparations – Nothing is impossible – We are off to do the 100-mile Epic challenge!!!!

The Cockatoos do what Cockatoos do and just join the flock with mild protest and trepidation.

It is said that birds of a feather flock together and true to form the Hawks replace our missing Doves with – you guessed it –more Hawks.Our problems are compounded, FFS…

♬ No Hurt, No Pain

Leave earth today,

Go out with a bang like Kurt Cobain.

So, after the proud, super prepared, uniformed Team Apogee that conquered the Thames and London to Paris in 2012 we are ‘reduced’ to a patchwork Rag Ass Rovers Hybrid shadow of ourselves for the start of 2013.  Now a group of 8, we set off at 8.15 with the Hawks confidently predicting that we will be back, washed and ready before Premier League Champions, Manchester United, start to dismantle Arsenal at 4pm.  There was something poignant about being waved on our way by one of the Doves who, in the true spirit of Team Apogee, came to see us off his warnings a few weeks back that “Wiggles going to get you” were starting to ring true; I am now in the lap of the Downs, the Gods – and the Hawks.

8 men went to mow…

The challenge that is the North and South Do

wns takes about as long to get to the nitti-gritty as Apocalypse Now.  Wham bam, thank you mam; questions about our will to continue past the first mile, let alone succeed, are immediately asked of us with the road ahead disappearing long and high into the morning mist.  Muscles and testosterone at the ready,the Hawks soar over the energy sapping hills like a “purple haze”imploring the Cockatoos to follow suit.  It is every bird for himself and after 10 miles the group is strewn across the Downs – feathers everywhere.

The sun burns through the mist, Black Hawk,the groups natural leader, tries to bring the flock back together but to no avail – It is carnage and almost 15 miles before White Hawk snaps out of his parallel universe and helps Black Hawk to reassemble the group back.

…Only it is not reassembled. “Slack Hawk down” one of the imported Hawks turns out to be a sparrow and did not make it through the initial test.  Older sibling David, displaying all the empathy and concern of Mortimer Duke when his brother Raldorph has a stock exchange heart attack in Eddie Murphy’s Trading Places, has no problem in leading the team off again.  Seems like there is no brotherly love among Hawks!

7 men went to mow…

In fairness to the Hawks, the terrain does not lend itself to team riding.  The course is what it says on the tin, “Ups and Downs” and we reach the Standard ~ Epic split after 40 miles with fatigue setting in.  The Hawks response to the ‘split’ sign is unequivocal – they turn right along the Epic trail and the Cockatoos follow.  It is the point of no return.  !00 Miles it is then…

Away from the Downs the climbing is re-catogorised as “just difficult”as opposed to very difficult, but is still akin to being repeatedly and simultaneously jabbed by Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko.  The pace has reduced drastically and after 50 miles we have already been in the saddle for over 4 hours. Pride rather than Testosterone now drives the Hawks on and it soon becomes apparent that the African Cockatoo is struggling.  Reluctantly, the Hawks show a semblance of mercy and try to nurse the Cockatoo along but as the miles and the time ticks on, like a Wildebeest mother with a lame calf on the Serengeti,prompted by the imported Hawks, we unceremoniously ride off and leave him to nature.

♬ Speed through life in a purple haze

live life, die fast like Kurt Cobain.  

6 men went to mow…

As the Cockaone, I observe the unfolding of the Team Apogee spirit.  Half of ‘The’ team is gone as we approach the last 20 miles of the course – the hardest part of the journey.  We grind towards the end, the 9 hours in the saddle and non-stop battering of the legs by the mountainous terrain takes its toll.  The soaring Hawks look like the march of the Penguins pushing their bikes home with me, the ailing Cockaone behind them squawking“I told you so.”

The group returned to the saddles to metaphorically crawl the last few miles home nine hours and 100 miles after starting out.  Take nothing away from the achievement (few attempt it and even fewer achieve it) but it lacks the glory of the Thames Great River race and London to Paris cycle ride.

Thankfully, the event organiser’s rescued the African Cockatoobefore the pride of lorry’s got him and the sparrow made it back too, be it via the 35 mile fun route.  From the confines of his world, White Hawk claims victory at achieving what this particular Cockatoo claimed was “impossible this early in the season”.  But for me success is hollow if it is not achieved by all of us and achieved with a flourish.

It was a day of achievement, endurance and a lesson learnt.

Like the parent company, Team Apogee success comes from the fact that the whole is greater than the sum of its respective parts. Get well soon Jason & John…

“What was the score at the Emirates?????”

Simply Red