Day 5: The Final Day
This is the final day of the Stage 1 of the Slam. I can’t believe I have survived this long, I must have burnt off thousands of calories and already achieved what I thought was going to be impossible. I am surrounded by incredible people; many have long since retired, made their fortunes, were a success in the business world, and left their halos behind. We were all in this together, we were friends and we had been through endless pain barriers together. RULE #20: There are only three remedies for pain. These are rest, alcohol and painkillers. Any combination of the three will do the job. I soon came to relate to Rule #20! Life is a series of rules. From the Ten Commandments to the Highway Code, we humans crave and need rules to avoid anarchy. Or maybe we simply want to avoid the embarrassment of breaking unspoken social guidelines. Thus it comes as no surprise that cycling too has its own unspoken, and in the case of Velominati, written rules. Velominati’s The Rules are to be admired for their verve, chuckled at for their humour, but never to be followed. A mixture of the serious, the chest beating, the polite and the traditional along with a healthy dose of tongue in cheek humour, The Rules make a good read and will lead all cyclists to shake and nod their head at the words before them. “The greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules but by people following the rules” Banksy. The Rules come in for much criticism, perhaps because the most (in)famous of which is Rule Number 5. Harden the F*** Up. Very macho. That said, the only criticism I have is not of The Rules themselves but anybody who takes them seriously!
Sort to Andorra: 69.8km / climbing 1689m Just when we all thought it was over, there was more climbing on the menu for today – we are climbing straight out of the blocks, this time for just under 20km. A well-deserved descent follows and then the slightly gentler climb up into the tax free greyness of Andorra which sees the end of stage 1. We all have to carry our passports for the border control, but we soon learn cyclists are the respected elite, and we are waved past. There is a competitive spirit settling in, and we finally get ourselves organised into what looks like a pro Peloton. We average speeds of 35-40km per hour on the flats, and take our turns on the front, shop keepers cheer us along and school children applaud us as if we are pop stars!
We finally arrive at our hotel – a rather smart hotel which is virtually empty. I cannot believe it is all over. We made it – group hugs all round and the Bollinger is opened to celebrate. Mr Ridgeley joins me for dinner, and the boys order some serious wines from the list (Sassicaia, Lynch Bages), Austin Healey gets his head shaved for the Dallaglio Foundation for £4K, Andrew Ridgeley speaks to George Michael and offers a signed T-shirt which is sold for £ 1k, Adrian Bridge offers a weekend with him in the Douro for 6 people and raises £15k; am I dreaming? No!
The Dallaglio Foundation is an incredible charity doing tremendous work to help youngsters who might have ended up in prison with no prospects, a chance for a brighter future. The people who participate are from all walks of life, all with an incredible story, all pulling together. This was an incredible journey I will never forget. Thank you Mentzendorff, thank you Lawrence.