TUF Cycle India
The Urology Foundation Cycle Challenge in Rajasthan
19 – 28 November 2015
In memory of Professor John Fitzpatrick
After the gruelling cycling challenges in Sicily, Malawi, Madagascar, Patagonia, and most recently South Africa, which together have raised many hundreds of thousands of pounds for The Urology Foundation (TUF), our next Challenge is a 500 Km ride through Rajasthan, India. We now have 50 intrepid cyclists signed up and ready to participate in this exciting, but very demanding, ride. Some grizzled veterans, such as Roger Plail and Andrew Etherington (80 years old next year!) will be joining us again. Peter Rimington, who led the South African challenge, will be there, but is replaced as “local knowledge team captain” by Abhay Rane, who has done a great job in recruiting and motivating participants this year. Our wonderful CEO Louise de Winter will be bravely accompanying us on the ride, as she did in Africa.
The ride commences in Bharatpur – the eastern gateway to Rajasthan. It is most famous for the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a world heritage site and one of the finest water-bird sanctuaries in the world. On the first morning we will have a chance to visit the specacular Taj Mahal in Agra, one of the true wonders of the world.
From there, we start our adventure by cycling through the National Park. Our first day’s cycling takes us to the Bhanwar Vilas Palace in Karauli. The following day we will ride to the famous Ranthambore National Park, which is famous for its tigers; the conservation project there is popular with wildlife buffs and professional photographers from right across the world. With luck we may encounter some of the animals to be found in the park including sambar, cheetah, wild boar, leopard, jackal and hyena. We will overnight at the famous “Tiger Den”.
From here on it is just toil, sweat and tears, together with the ever-present risk of “Delhi Belly”! We will no doubt, just as we did before before, rise to the challenge and press on relentlessly to our final destination, the famous “pink city” Jaipur. Here the “Amber Fort” and a well-earned celebration awaits us.
I am very much hoping that many of you will support our endeavours with a donation, and participants themselves will add their own comments, stories and photographs to this blog. TUF is such a worthy cause, and really does an amazing job in supporting and promoting urology, not only throughout the British Isles, but in Africa and beyond. Do watch (and especially contribute to) this space! We will be posting updates to let you know how we get on.
Click here to see a short video on the challenges the TUF cyclists faced https://trendsinmenshealth.com/video/tuf-cycle-india-2016/
Roger Kirby, The Prostate Centre, London
I am very proud as the organiser of the Tuf Cycle India Challenge, to yet again to be joining such an amazing group of people. Tuffers come in all shapes,sizes and ages! One thing in common is they are all passionate about the work of The Urology Foundation.
Not only have I organised each challenge, I have also cycled with the group as well – or tried to keep up with cycling! I also had the great honour and pleasure to cycle with Professor John Fitzpatrick – I think it is very fitting that this ride should be in his memory – I am sure a few glasses of his favourite tipple will be toasted to him throughout the week. We are making all the final preparations with our amazing team in India – this challenge is truly going to be the best! India is a wonderful country rich with colour and steeped with tradition. I know that we will be warmly welcomed as we cycle through villages and small towns. There will be lots of fun and friendship along the way – the TUF family is a great cycling group to be a part of. I look forward to sharing yet another adventure with both old and new Tuffers! Ann Frampton – Action for Charity/dream Challenges!
Fantastic challenge to be part of. TUF do an amazing job raising awareness and funds for urology. Good luck to all involved. Will be thinking about you.
It certainly doesn’t seem as though 9 years have passed, or rather flashed by, since our very first TUF cycling adventure in most beautiful Sicily. That was the very first time that we met our amazing tour guide Miriam who will be leading us again in Rajasthan. I have the fondest memories of that first trip, and I am so pleased that several of the participants, including Roger Plail, Krishna Patil, and Andrew Etherington, will be joining us to ride again. Sadly there will be no John Fitzpatrick this time, but he will be with us in spirit, and we will toast his memory as we complete the challenge.
I am posting some photographs of the Sicily ride to accompany this comment and will do likewise for our other TUF cycling challenges in Malawi, Madagascar, Patagonia and South Africa.
Our second TUF cycle challenge was in Malawi, Africa. We cycled 500 Km from Lilongwe, the capital, to the shoreline of Lake Malawi. We were accompanied by the Cooke brothers, my son Joe and his best friend Nichols. The usual suspects were also there, including John Fitzpatrick, Roger Plail, Andrew Etherington and Krishna Patil. Paul Miller’s lovely wife Laura took a spectacular tumble and is pictured here covered in dust, but bravely cycled on and completed the challenge. Miriam from Classic Tours led the trip again and kept us in good order as well as in cheery spirits.
This year it won’t quite be the same without John Fitzpatrick but the purpose to raise funds for TUF does not change and he will be content knowing we continue a cause he fervently believed in.
Each challenge has been a demanding physical effort and this year is sure to be the same but we are spurred on knowing how the research projects will benefit from our funds raised.
There are many demands for financial support but TUF is our favourite and we continue to spread the word.
So, only 8 weekends to go to catch up on our training rides! A little bit of a disaster since I’ve only really started getting on my bike in the last two owing to a number of other weekend work commitments which I shan’t bore you with! While the terrain in India is supposed to be less challenging, I have to say I am sceptical since our last tour leader in South Africa referred to what I thought were some pretty big hills as ‘undulations’! Moreover, the mileage per day on Cycle India is consistently tougher – a minimum of 100km or 67 miles per day. That’s the equivalent of cycling from London to Cambridge each day. But, that’s the whole point is that it is meant to be b****y hard work! The challenge is also about our personal commitment to the cause and I’m delighted that there are so many friends joining us again, as well as some new faces. The wonderful thing about these events is the camaraderie which just can’t be equalled. A great team of urologists, patients and supporters make this an experience that shouldn’t be missed. If you haven’t managed to join us this time, think about it for the future, we’d love to welcome you along!
Thanks for those positive comments Andrew. It’s great to hear that TUF is your favourite charity! Andrew “the Legend” Etherington has been our most dedicated supporter over the years, starting with three consecutive London Marathon’s in 2000, 2001 and 2002, and then climbing Kilimanjaro with us in 2003. He has done all five cycle challenges and is joining us again in Rajasthan in November for our sixth ride. Andrew, we salute you! I am posting a couple of photographs of our most consistent supporter on this blog. Andrew is due to celebrate his 80th birthday next Spring!
I am so looking forward to the forthcoming India cycle challenge.
I have been part of the last four and part of the fifth challenge. I am sure it won’t be the same with our friend Prof. John Fitzpatrick. He will be dearly missed by many of our participants.
I will be in the “Gurakha regiment”” to look after all our guests along side Prof. Rane.
I would like to assure that everybody will be looked after by the TUF FAMILY. I had the first hand experience last year when I had nasy fall in South Aftica. I was cared for by all the TUFers and given all the support I needed.
Hope all TUFers are training well to enjoy the India Challenge.
Absolutely fitting that this ride should honour the great John Fitzpatrick. I will never forget two lovely moments from the TUF cycle in Sicily. On the first day we cruised 10kms down to the sea, but after a stretch along the coast we had a long and steep climb during which we all had plenty of opportunity to get used to our numerous gears. At the top we stopped to catch our breath and as the gears and brakes were the opposite configuration to those in the UK I asked how he was finding the gears. Fitzy replied “Gears? No, I don’t think mine has any.”
On about the second day, we were briefed first thing by our leader on all the health and safety, etc things. At the end, she asked for any questions. After a pause, The good professor said “when are we stopping for coffee?”
John played the jester, but was a huge intellectual. He enlivened every room he entered and he is sorely missed. The ride in India will be wonderful and his humorous spirit will be there snapping at your heels! Go forth and enjoy something he would have loved.
I joined the Team in Sicily, plenty of hills to test the stamina.
What struck me was, that in the morning over breakfast we would agree no racing & once we set off John was at the forefront always egging on in a competitive way. Did we end up racing?? Yes of course we did & what fun it was!!!
I am a TUFer newbie. Filled with excitement and anxiety about forthcoming ride! Plenty of fun memories of John over the years at meetings.He certainly was a character never to be forgotten. Hope I keep up with everyone. Loved cycling around the Chiltern Hills today getting used to using gears and going up hills. Really looking forward to meeting everyone and experiencing the sights and sounds of India.
As mentioned before, Malawi was the destination for our second TUF Cycle Challenge. Cycling through one of Africa’s poorest but most beautiful countries was an amazing experience. Paul and Laura Miller came with us as we cycled from the capital city to the shores of Lake Malawi. Here despite dire warnings from myself, and John Fitzpatrick about the risks of Bilharzia, the “Young Guns” and Paul couldn’t resist plunging into the Lake as we completed our ride at a lakeside hotel. A memorable game of football against the local African kids ensued, before a celebratory dinner. No casualties on this trip, other than Ann’s iPhone, which took a brief and unscheduled dip in the lake, and promptly packed up!
Madagascar had been our intended destination for our second TUF Challenge, but civil unrest and an uprising against the government forced us to delay the visit. Back on the agenda for our third TUF Challenge we cycled through the country from the Capital down to the coast. As we travelled, we noticed that some of the bridges had been blown up and a curfew was in force in the evenings in some of the villages in which we stayed. What a fabulous island, with it’s unique flora and fauna, including lemurs, with their strange haunting calls from in the trees in the forest as we cycled by. Jay Smith, a robotic urological surgeon from Vanderbilt, and now Editor of the Journal of Urology, joined us, along with Georgina Stewart and Pam Watts and a fantastic team of other “Tuffers”.
Cycling across the Andes from Argentina to Chile sounded like a serious challenge, and that is exactly what it turned out to be! What a gorgeous country, with enormous lakes and spectacular snow-capped volcanoes. An evening swim in the glacially cold lakes after a hard days ride became part of our routine, followed by dinner, accompanied by not inconsiderable quantities of rather fine Argentinian wine! Olivia Defierlant and “L’Equipe Noir”, from Belgium, were stars of the show, along with Roland Morley, Richard Hindley and Neil Barber and a team of altogether 40 “Tuffers”, lead again by the redoubtable Miriam, and accompanied, as ever, by the amazing Ann Frampton (No mishaps with her iPhone on this occasion!).
Cycle South Africa
Egged on by the inimitable Peter Rimington, for our 5th TUF Cycle Challenge the “Tuffers” headed for Cape Town for a 500 Km ride finishing at Africa’s most Southerly point, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. We had been warned about the wind, but hadn’t expected it to be so strong that it became necessary to pedal to move forward downhill! Paul and Sarah-Gay Fletcher were with us, as well as ever-plucky Jo Cresswell. Kate Holmes, the “Pocket Rocket”, also came with us for the very first time.
Krishna Patil, who had been with us on all the previous TUF rides, unluckily hit a bump in the road and managed a double somersault over the handlebars on the very first day.
Nursing a fractured vertebra, sadly he had to abandon this ride; undaunted, however, he will be with us again in Rajasthan. Cycle South Africa raised over £200,000 for the TUF cause, a figure we would very much like to exceed for the TUF ride India in November this year.
So glad we are doing this TUF ride in memory of John but so sad he won’t be riding with us, which is how it should have been. John was one of a kind and I shall miss winding him up and having a laugh. Having done the Route des Grandes Alpes this summer I was hoping I would be fighting fit for the India ride but it took its toll on my lower back and I haven’t been able to get on a bike since. My osteopath is working hard to get me back to normal for India so fingers crossed! I have SO missed my TUF family and can’t wait for us to be reunited for our next adventure.
After South Africa I thought I would be hanging up my padded Lycra ,binning the helmet, throwing away my cycle gloves and enrolling in crochet classes, but it appears I’m back on the bike again! . Not only for the funds we raise towards The Urological Foundation and the work it does, but in memory for John and his huge contribution within the medical world, his larger than life personality, and all those interesting conversations shared riding on the most rugged of terrains in Madagascar and Malawi.
The injuries have come and gone, osteopaths, podiatrists , physiotherapists to name a few that I have kept in holidays over the last year.
The TUF family rides again, and undoubtedly we will raise a glass, or two in memory of John. Let’s try and stay on our bikes, avoid little stomach irritations, and complete our intended task. Look forward to meeting up again..
Is this the blog for the India ride? I hope so. Reading all the previous I thought it might be a proof reading of a book proving that TUFFERS don’t have Alzheimers and can remember past rides!
Right! So some of us have done the Morzine to Monton ride through the Alps and are feeling pretty chuffed with ourselves! But I got on a mountain bile this weekend and suddenly remembered that they are a different species. If you stop pedalling, they stop going forwards! What the Heck??! And dirt roads? The ones in South Africa made some anatomical bits look the ones on the colourful Gibbons of the Barbary coast!! So its not going to be easy!!
However, I am reassured that every hotel is called a Palace! But come to think of it, so was that one bathroom no toilet wonder that Professor Rane took me to in Aggra once before. Hmm, might be packing a toilet roll or two!
I am looking forward to watching the Newbies arrive at Heathrow and watch the rowdy TUFFERS family go into the usual frenzy of hugging an kissing and general boisterous welcome ritual before settling down to the serious business of who can drink most in the airport! Then the snoring competition on the flight and bleary eyes next morning which I know will soon be replaced with wide eyed wonder at the smells, shapes, colours of that amazing Continent called India which I love so very much!
And many of us will be shouting “Roger! Roger!!” just like Fitzy used to and that will start the memories flooding back so we can rejoice in his happy memories and share great stories of his helpfulness, generosity, idiosyncrasies and the fact that unlike so many today, John was a Marmite personality! Love him or hate him, but never ignored. He will be missed.
I am getting very excited about the trip. I am back on diet and aim to be back down to less than 85kgs for the ride. I reckon I will end at 95 again after all the beer and curry. Yeeha!! Lets go Tuffers!!
Roger reminds us that the first ride was in Sicily nine years ago. I don’t think it occurred to us, apart from Roger, that it would develop into a global event attracting at least 40 participants. The ride became a lifetime experience for all of us, with regular supplies of pictures from Roger to remind us. One lasting effect is I always look for Sicily when examining a wine list. I shall be thinking of the team in India and of course John Fitzpatrick who made such an impact on us all. Surprisingly for someone of his build he thrived on the long steady climb. Recall him when grinding along in a low gear with no end in sight.
the knowledge that pilkie has cycled from Morzine to Monton and will not stop reminding us has served its purpose….time to take this adventure seriously!! as i read the blog our (that is Sarah-Gay and myself!) two trips merely rank us part time supporters but suffice to say that we will be in India because those trips (Malawi and South Africa) have been life highlights! its just not about the cycling……friendships new and old are at the centre of what i have no doubt will be a truly memorable event. And as we remember John F I cannot get further than the memory of a man in search of a fine red in the middle of the Malawi bush!……
Its all in the script and piccies above, the trials, torments and triumphs of the TUF Cycle events. What fantastic fun we have had and it will be so sad not to have Fitzie with us! No doubt he would have encouraged us on to greater challenges and to celebrate in style so we will of course obey! It will be great spending time with the cycle gang — Paul and Sarah Gay, Kate, Ann, Miriam, Mary, Krishna, Abay, Pilkie, Olivia, Florence, Claire, Amazing Andrew, Dean, Georgie, Pam, Mark, George and others but Am really really looking forward to meeting many new riders when we can suffuse them with the TUF spirit!! I hear we have to dodge errant cars, tuk-tuks and cows and no doubt there will be tales of daring-do and near misses!! TUF goes from strength to strength under Louise De Winter and her enthusiastic young team and the funds we raise now support important three year research projects so TUF’s contribution to Urological Research is even more notable. Please encourage your sponsors to dig deep and support this amazing adventure.
I love the way that this blog is evolving, and we haven’t even started pedalling yet!
One month to go now before we set off on our 6th TUF cycling challenge. Watch this space to see how we get on. We will post the names of all the participants on this blog, and, if you feel like supporting any of them, or the TUF cause, please do make a donation, or go to the http://www.theurologyfoundation.org website and make a contribution there.
It’s such a privilege to be part of this group, and I really am looking forward to our ride together in India. I really enjoyed the company of my fellow TUFFERS in what was described to me by our respective guides as the ‘big hills’ of Patagonia and the ‘undulations’ in Peter Rimington’s beautiful home country. Which reminds me: if you have signed up to this ride, you have also signed up to Pete’s rules of flying, which I have been made to religiously adhere to in the 15 years that I have flown with Pete. I will leave him to explain his somewhat interesting rules to you when you meet him at Heathrow; good luck, all!
On to India. Some of us may yet have to experience namastes, tikas, bindis and aartis; the words sound funny, but they represent a small distillate of the four thousand year old welcoming culture of India. Others like Peter and Reinhard have already earned their honorary citizenship of that country, and know what I am talking about. I think I’ll leave it to Louise, our delightful CEO to explain all of these terms in the blog when we return, since all riders will probably get some or all of these during the course of our stay. Make sure you bring your still and videocams to capture these special moments.
The camaraderie that develops amongst the riders on these TUF rides is always special; the ‘weaker’ participants are always helped along by the more experienced members of the group (thank you, Mr and Mrs Fletcher). Personally, I think that these links are likely to be well forged by the time we get to Jaipur, since we will have a lot of ground to cover. Let’s not forget that this is not a junket: it’s a challenge to raise awareness for TUF, which really does a stellar job in supporting and promoting urology throughout the United Kingdom.
Welcome to all newbies, especially Steve, Terry, Charles, Douglas and Lorraine. It’s going to be great fun with a mixture of the ‘old’ and ‘new’ guard; welcome back, Mark, Ian and Hugh – we missed you in South Africa. Uncle Roger (Plail) will ably balance the refreshment books as efficiently as he has done in the past. And it will be great to catch up with Pam, Georgie, Kate, Ann, Louise, Mary, Claire,Tigger, Piglet, Miriam and all of the other ladies in our team again.
I regret never being able to get to know John well enough to consider him a friend: however, our interactions were always very cordial and interesting, and I am very happy to be part of this august group that have chosen to dedicate this ride in his memory.
Is the ride going to be tough? Yes. Am I worried about the 100 km per day? Yes.
Am I excited … yes, yes, yes!
Out with Ian this weekend on the dirt bikes into the forest and three nice falls! Fortunately just bruises no breaks. Have started up the diet and the training again so intend to be a strong contender at the back in support of Louise who I know has not been up Ditchling Beacon once since South Africa ! Shame! Really hope the dirt roads are nice and smooth Abhay. Could you arrange that for us please? The Rules at Heathrow are to never eat on the plane and to ensure you travel after a visit to the Caviar Bars for Champagne! Also I think we will have an entertainment evening on the last night again so get planning and there will be a reading form the Velominati Book of The Rules every night too! Don’t know what that is? You’ll find out!
Nice post Peter “Pilkie” Rimngton. The bad news is that the amazing Miriam, our fantastic tour guide in Sicily, Malawi, Madgascar and Patagonia has fallen off her bicycle in Cuba and won’t therefore be able to join us in India. A thousand curses! We will miss you Miriam. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery. You win first prize in our book for intrepid world cyclist. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery.
What sad news about Miriam, what a fantastic tour guide! We will miss her description of mountains as “undulations”! In my view she is only second in the legendary status to Andrew! Get well soon Miriam x. Can’t wait to see you all in a few weeks, I will do my best to restore the amazing disappearing Pilkie to his 95kg fighting weight before we start!!
Pilkie is our resident Voluminatus: a keeper of the cog ordained into the Sacred Order of the cycling disciple. Some of the rules of the Velominati are not particularly conducive to a healthy relationship with spouse and family e.g. Rule 11: ‘Family does not come first; the bike does’. I will leave him to explain Rule 12 about the correct number of bikes to own (n+1 or s-1).
So sorry to hear about Miriam, and hope she gets well soon. Let’s see who she is replaced with: big shoes to fill. We should have good cycling weather in November and its generally sunny: daytime temperatures can hit around 26C. Bring plenty of sunscreen, guys. A hat and GSOH helps as well.
Three weeks left now.
What fun these rides!
What a great family the TUF family!
I wish you all a great trip in India!
Patagonia and South Africa were amazing I m sure India will be too!
Aghhhhh I Will miss u all and will think of u out there in such a beautiful country!
I wish you all the best of times!
Sadly after a great fall off my road bike in July with over 30 fractures, lung puncture, head injury my hands are not yet up to a 500 km dirt bike ride!!!
I hoped they would but having just got back on a road bike 10 days ago on clean flat roads I’ve realised they d never hold those 500kms on dirt roads with a straight handle bar!
Have a great time! Wish u all the best! Peddle hard!
And tell all of us who can t make it all about it!!!
Dear Fellow TUFFers I am looking forward to meeting up with you again in a few weeks and enjoying the challenge ahead of us. I have been training but perhaps could do better although I was pleased to achieve 162 KM in two days cycling recently. I am hoping teh weather remains kind for the next three weeks to get a few more rides in
Following a radical prostatectomy in April I received a phone call from Professor Rane mid May to see how I was. How nice and thoughtful, I thought! Just as I was about to put the phone down I heard the words, “Steve, would you be interested in doing a charity bike ride”?
Instantly, all sorts of alarms went off in my head, I’m too old, haven’t ridden a bike in earnest for 40 years, I’m definitely to fat and unfit!!!
Professor “snake charmer” Rane was obviously not going to take no for an answer and must have sensed he had me on the hook, so after this furious debate in my head I said OK!!!!
The phone went down and I thought to myself did he tell when and where this would be, if he did I had clouded over. The next day the email arrived , 500km in India , WHAT!! OMG…
Once I had settled down (took a while) I thought, ok give it your best shot, at least you’ll raise some money to help this great organisation and people.
First bike ride took place on a borrowed bike on the 1st June and from memory I did about 8 miles with a couple of stops along the way. I have persevered since, and have thankfully improved, but still wonder how I’m going to get to 65 miles a day, but I’m going give it my best shot. So bring it on, let’s do it, from your newest recruit Steve “Papa Bear” Freeman.
Only 19 days to go before we set off to Rajasthan. Excitment is mounting, cycling muscles are being honed, padded lyrca shorts purchased and stocks of anti-diarrhoeal medications built up. Do watch (and comment on) this blog as we decribe the challenges and adventures the Tuffers encounter on their sixth epic ride.
So sorry to hear of both Olivia and Miriam’s injuries, and wish them a speedy recovery.
Miriam, what are we going to do without you? Took a couple of nasty falls this summer, broken toe etc., but hopefully going for the sympathy vote, as if!!!
Feel that now I have been able to get my visa for India the Challenge with be a doddle in comparison…
Really looking forward to meeting up, and keeping fit till then.
Best to all x M
Just 8 days to go before the Tuffers gather at Heathrow and set off to Rajasthan! I have just heard that we have already raised more than £200,000 for TUF to support education and research in Urology. Well done everyone. More donations are of course most welcome!
Great to follow the live progress of this, even before it has started. Good luck to everyone and well done raising that much money pre-event.
Less than a week to go now. It’s great to gather that the formidable Anna is going to be our guide when we brave some ‘undulations’ in Rajasthan; welcome, Anna. The good news is that it has started cooling down a bit, with top temparatures due to be around 26 degrees Celsius (they were 35C last week).
It is disappointing that we won’t have anybody representing L’Epique Noir this time around: we wish Tigger a speedy recovery.
It’s a great group, and we are going to have an amazing time.
Keep up the good work with the donations, folks: The Urology Foundation does such sterling work and it’s both a pleasure and a privilege to support it.
Now getting really excited to get going on the latest TUF cycle challenge!! I can almost smell the red dirt of Rajasthan.
One of the great aspects of these challenges is the camaraderie and team spirit. It is what is needed to keep going that final mile to the top of the hill for the freewheel down the other side. I am a rubbish cyclist but the great advantage is that it may be tough going up the hill but it is easy going down (unlike hiking or running)! The big reward is the evening banter over a beer and convivial “dinner parties” every night. That is where I will miss the great raconteur and friend, John Fitzpatrick ( he was always well ahead of me on the cycling, his competitive nature always pushed him to be with the young guns up front!). He did suffer in Malawi as the wine came out of a box and I will miss his take on Indian wine. But John was no snob, he embraced all cultures and was genuinely interested in the people around him. I remain hugely indebted for his advice during my research years and help with editing book chapters. However it was his stories of travelling and lecturing throughout the world that I loved and how so often people he met would claim that the were “partly Irish”. This always amused him but he was unfailingly polite and charming.
We will all miss him, but the show must go on just as he would have demanded. Cant wait to meet everybody at Heathrow fro the flight to Delhi. What fun!!
Nice comment, many thanks Paul! A couple of photos of other professorial Tuffers: Professor Prokar and Professor Killian. We will be adding other pictures as we toil our way across Rajasthan.
well team……. only 3 days to go!…… is everything packed? no……. have I got my imodium?…..no. Have I done enough training ?……no. Have I got plenty of sponsorship?……no but working on it!. Am I looking forward to helping all those damsels in distress?…… yes! Am I looking forward to it? yes…… miss you all and will be great to get back and meet comrades again….. Looking forward to easy rides in flat India, but with plenty of beer and great curries and no Delhi belly……. not sorted room mate yet Pilkie or have I been divorced? ‘ L’equipe Noir ‘ will be missed and Tiger we must see you next time! Miriam…. how did you manage to fall off your bike? we will really miss you Looking forward to the leg rub from Gerogie and riding behind Pam, Katie, Louise and all the girls.
Looking forward to all the banter in the evening and getting fit and Abbay let me know ASAP the palaces were are staying in!
On a more serious note John F will be sorely missed and the funds raise from this cycle will help research and projects that John was devoted too and pushed forward. Lets go for that final push to raise funds in the last few days before we go!
Sad that Miriam won’t be with us in India, but great news that off the bench comes our team leader “Obergruppenfuhrer” Ann, who did a brilliant job keeping us on the right track in South Africa during our last “Tuffer”s Challenge. Here is a rear view of Ann giving one of the team briefings that this year’s participants can expect as we wend our merry way from Agra to Jaipur.
Best of luck to all those flying the TUF flag in India – great commitment to a great cause!
I’ve taken to spinning classes this week in the vain hope that I might be able to shortcut the training which should have started months ago . Anyone remember the spinning class scene from Bridget Jones?. Yes, that’s been me, inlcuing the hairdo. Why,oh, why do I go into these things with so much gusto, then pile onto a flight with only the vaguest notion of my destination and totally unprepared. I have however been busy. Mainly mowing my way through a vineyard of Pinot and everything on the menu of several well know gatronomical establishments. So racing fit then!. Roger Phail will have to do his usual Mr Nice Guy thing and cadgel me along. As for Roly, just remember the tantrum when you promised the next hill was the last…… and it wasn’t. AND I’m leaving Patrick behind to celebrate his 60th the same day as I will be celebrating my —-th on some god forsaken dirt track in Rajastan. I’m doing this on the understanding that the past trips have been some of the most life inspiring moments of my life and India has been top of my bucket list. That and the fact that I will be back with my old family of Tuffers, who remain some of the most fabulous people in my life. Well, except George, my roomy who will boss me about from beginning to end. See you Thursday in lyrca. xxp
So that little poster in Roger’s office got me to sign up and buy my first bike since being a teenager. Today was the last Sunday ride done before the off. 107km blustery km, so I should be able to get through Day 1 OK 🙂 This is my first TUF event and I’m looking forward to meeting and spending time with you all. Until Thursday evening at Heathrow.
Two days left now. Panic time; get your last minute fillers, botox, Imodium, whatever. Then we hit the trails; it’s going to be the best TUF ride ever.
I’m going ahead to properly welcome you to amazing India … so I’ll see you at Delhi airport on Friday.
Ha Ha! We’ve been duped again! I was just looking up tourist info for India to ensure I had the right kind of plugs and came across some advice for cyclists!!
“Be conservative about the distance you expect to cover – an experienced cyclist can manage around 60km to 100km a day on the plains, 40km to 60km on all-weather mountain roads and 40km or less on dirt roads.
Read more: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/essential-information#ixzz3rsBtOxZH
I have not made it to 85kgs, nothing like in fact but I have maintained some kind of training and it was good enough to annoy Paul Fletcher at the London 100!! So this time I hope fitness will not be an issue but today’s forecast of weather in Agra was 30 degrees! Lovely!
And as usual I have no idea what to pack, how many pairs of undies or any at all!? What says Pilkies (albeit depleted) peleton?
See you at Heathrow in the champagne bar!!
Getting packed up right now and heading off to the airport soon to catch a 9.50 pm flight to Delhi. Strangely, I had a dream last night about John Fitzpatrick who was propping up a bar in heaven, drinking a toast to our endeavours in the company of two angels. By coincidence I found this picture of him being kissed good luck before heading off with us on one of our treks by two lovely ladies. I know if he were still with us he would be joining us (but flying first class!) in Agra.
Here we go. Rathastan to be conquered by this fantastic team. A great cause. Here we are in a final training session at the Oriel Bar T3. Thinking of John. Hope we make the gate. Wish us luck.
Day 2 of the TUF Cycle India Challenge. An eventful day, but not as eventful as yesterday when Georgina Stewart sustained an elbow injury following a “nudge” from Roly, and more spectacularly Anne, our tour leader, went over the handlebars and broke her thumb and badly bruised her face!
Much better luck today 101.5 Km cycled. Amazing experiences, stopping at village schools and making donations on behalf of TUF and skirting potholes, sacred cows and hazardous Indian traffic! On we go tomorrow, another 90 Km to negotiate!
Day 2. … No fallers and a fantastic long day in hot and dusty terrain. Wonderful villages with children that smile constantly. Long stretches in the searing heat and endless rural scenery. It was TUF. Tomorrow turn North towards Jaipur …
What a joy to ride with all those wonderful people.
Each day is a new experience, open hezrts, smiles, sweat, sand, mud, pot holes…. for a magnificient cause.. Namaste
Day 3 begins. Another beautiful morning. Morale good after our “initiation ceremony” for newbies last night! 15 new riders swore undying loyalty to TUF. We ride on!
Day 4 completed! No dramas today apart from me falling off and into a pool of buffalo urine. Many Tuffers complaining of saddle soreness but all determined to complete the challenge.
A truly magical experience that has provided me with new personal frontiers of achievement and ability along with a fabulous group of new friends
Jet lag gets me to be first blogging from home!
India was everything I expected! Hot, dusty, welcoming, beautiful, vibrant, exhilarating…. And the group of people was again the highlight. From friends of long standing like Andrew, Mark, Pam and many more to the great Newbies and FOKs who were as TUF as the oldies and pretty nifty on those bikes!
Highlights are so many! The Taj Mahal remains absolutely stunning, majestic, feminine, beautiful beyond any singing, the Amber fort, the Hotels and the efforts they make to welcome you from flower garlands to cool drinks to petals scattered as you enter! The shy smiling children on the roads who giggle and wave with delight as these aliens in weird clothes and riding glasses whizz by.
And as for the challenges? The distances were perfectly measured and just enough to mix high speed chases for the nutters and to tire legs new to cycling. But the bumps, potholes, puddles of unknown depth and content in the villages where you had to wave and shout “Namaste” or “Ramran” whilst watching for cows, buffalos and their detritus, litter, bricks, stones, thorn branches, puzzled adults, shop fronts, pigs, dogs, bicycles, cars, tractors, buses (Well done Andrew for some death defying games of “chicken” with them!!!) take in the Sari clad women, the sights of pani sellers and fruit stalls..it was a sensory overload and utterly fantastic. We have all learnt to cycle through sand, a feat which I thought impossible, that you can eat curry three times a day and still want more, that each day’s cycling cost 3500 calories, but that is only seven Kingfisher beers so there was a net gain in weight and that all in all these TUF rides are really challenging and that the challenge extends after the ride. People on this trip have made huge improvements in their riding skill and ability, good to mention George who did the whole thing with no electric support this time, Mary who went like a jet, Papa bear who had not cycled much before, Salia who had the dubious benefit of my cycling lessons, and Bradley who was coerced into the trip having never been on a bike since a teenager! So it seems that if you do one of these you carry home a desire to Tuffen up, lose weight, get fitter, look sexier and pay attention to your body! In general then you Obey Rule 5!!
Look forward to seeing you all at the reunion and to final tally of funds raised. Well done all of you!
Fantastic trip for TUF in amazing India. What a great adventure with so many lovely people.
Well, we did it! What am amazing ride! Rajasthan has never seen the like as the amazing peloton sped (poetic licence) through the arid desert scrubland, rural countryside and colourful villages. The fallers recovered, the Rule 5 evangelists powered ahead the ground team kept us constantly refuelled with Makani Dahl and Mungo beans – a potent mix. At the end of the challenging journey, the Amber Fort, the tour of the Maharajah’s hareem quarters and palace and hectic markets of the Pink City, Jaipur, provided a colourful and cultural respite. The girls shopped! The boys studied the Kingfisher culture and everybody united in celebration of a fantastic trip for the great cause of TUF. Keep pedalling. See you soon.
How come I cycled from 7.45am to dusk, through soft sand, potholed roads knee deep in the detritus of village life (yes I cycled through poo most days) but arrived home and not a pound lost?. Maybe something to do with the 3 curry’s a day and fantastic attentions of the ground crew who looked after us so well
India is indeed a sensory overload, and as I sit here back at my desk today, I feel as though my life has passed from psychedelic to monochrome. Hard to believe a lady of a certain age managed the challenge at all, but even harder to believe it is still possible to fall in love at any age. I fell in love with India (and a little bit with the Maharajah who entertained us so well!)
Yet again the Tuf challenge provided some of the best highlights in my life ….. so far
love you all and miss you
TERRIFIC trip in which the Annes supplied organisation, the Maha-Rogers – entertainment, Pilkie – iron discipline, Roly – high drama, Andrew – inspiration, Krishna – emotion ….. all of life was here. Oh, and we cycled a bit. Thanks to all the veterans for welcoming the newbies. The initiation ceremony was grotesque but at least in 2017 someone else will get to try goat testicles.
Ah yes! Home safe and sound, and all of us in one piece, albeit somewhat bruised. Cycling in Rajasthan is interesting, to say the least, and involves dodging, camels, elephants, cows, pigs, goats and dogs, plus plenty of vehicles! Andrew “the legend” Etherington’s game of chicken with oncoming buses on a single lane road was especially hair-raising! Cycling through a crowd of actively warring monkeys was another memorable occasion. Never a dull moment on a TUF Challenge! Who will join us on our next adventure?
The Taj Mahal, from Persian and Arabic, “crown of palaces” is a white marble mausoleum located on the southern bank of the Yamuna River in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (reigned 1628–1658) to house the tomb of his favourite wife of three, Mumtaz Mahal. Construction of the mausoleum was completed in 1643 but work continued on other phases of the project for an additional ten years. The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million Indian rupees, which in 2015 would be valued at around 52.8 billion Indian rupees. The real tombs lie in a chamber below the ones that are viewed by visitors and both are shown in the images attached.
Well, we did it. What an AMAZING trip. I can’t believe we were actually there living life to the full.
What a bombardment for the senses.
I know it sounds trite, but I really feel part of a family.
All the e mails since returning only reinforce that.
Everyone made us newbies so welcome right from Heathrow.
India was everything I expected and more.
We were so privileged to be so immersed in it (sometimes literally)
and then to stay in those splendid hotels and be fed and watered (or is that Kingfishered) so lavishly all day!
The cycling was tuf at times, but exactly the right level.
The support was amazing and the evenings great.
I can’t wait to do it again!
I’ll let you all know just how much Juliet hates the bedspreads I bought, when and if they arrive!
Chapeau to all
Simon and Juliet.
Apologies to experienced TUFfers, I have just discovered I’ve lost around 4 pounds since the 19th Nov, it must be down to a low consumption of Kingfisher. I intend to rectify this immediately and concentrate on this area of my training heavily over the next few weeks!
I’ve also just cycled around Portsmouth, I found there was no one to wave too, I was moaning about the cold and then I turned into the wind along the seafront which was hell, but then I heard the words …… RULE 5
Most of the time our imagination surpasses the reality. In case of Taj Mahal and the whole India trip the reality surpassed the imagination. What to say about our TUF family. I can simply confirm my Indian belief that we had some connection in our last life which continues in this life and will carry on to our next. It was tough ride , I can’t put my finger on what made it tough but every morning I was thinking of getting on the bus but with determination of Tiger I peddled and I enjoyed every second. Peddling through those villages, seeing those wonderful smiling faces of children and adults was pure joy. I loved those simple people clad in wonderful colours and seemed contended amongst the poverty.
Palaces were amazing. If ever I get a Time Machine I would go back to those wonderful magical times.
Everybody did brilliantly. TUF management team and local team were excellent.
By the way all at home and in my hospital were delighted to see me in one piece!
I would not have missed it for anything.
Love to all TUFFers
Great comment Simon. Here is a nice photo of you and Juliet looking so happy! Also one of Andrew and his latest admirer Salia!
Each TUF trip has provided us with indelible memories which make it difficult to rank one over the others. But this one to Rajasthan is fresh in our minds and covers the whole gamut of emotions. We will each have our favourites but my overwhelming sense is of a job well done – we set out to raise funds for TUF but it was the way this was achieved that makes it special. The organisation was close to faultless but it was the mutual flair and dedication of the team on bikes that drove the camaraderie that created a result greater than the sum of parts. Of course there was competition but this desire to do well was enhanced by the support and fellowship we shared both on and off the bikes.
A great team which was augmented by the newbies who doubled the numbers but multiplied the result many times.
Roll on the next TUF challenge!
Everyone has said so much already about the sights, sounds and smells that assaulted our senses every day. I shall miss the cheerful ‘Good mornings!’ from the children and the ‘Namestes’ from all the people waving us on at the roadside. As Dean Mason said: now I know what 1.2 billion people feels like, as everywhere we looked there was a person in the frame. The scenery was stunning and the colours so vivid, what a contrast with a dull and windy December day here! The TUF family really did come into its own; there wasn’t a single person on the trip who I wouldn’t want to spend more time with. From the ‘oldies’ who extended a warm welcome to our ‘newbies’, and to those newbies who are a fantastic addition to the TUFFERS. I also very much enjoyed sharing a room with newbie Lorraine Grover. Please all come again, you were simply great and we’d love to see you all again soon!
Don’t forget to post your pics and videos on Dropbox and to send Roger your recordings for the film!
Well the Pocket Rocket (PR) made it home in one piece!
An amazing trip to an incredible country, my 2nd cycle challenge and a very different experience than Cape Town 2 years ago…
A huge thank you & congratulations to the FOK’s who joined the TUF family in India & apologies for the ( rather brilliant ) initiation ceremony!!
Long live the TUFFERS bringing in the COFFERS once again, great effort by all.
As I was sitting on the flight home from Delhi on Monday I realised that it was the first time that I had stopped for long enough to think about our great adventure last week. I closed my eyes and could see the smiling faces and excitement of the children in the villages, the bemusement of the adults, the animals (camels!). Slushy mud in villages, hot dusty sandy tracks, pushing bikes through sand, smooth paved roads that would disappear without notice, cobbled sections that felt like test to destruction machines. The colours of the women’s clothes. Stalls full of fresh fruit and vegetables. Aching limbs and sore bits (wasn’t that Bernie Winters’ dog?) but always with a smile and wonder on my face.
An oasis among palm trees for lunch, 4 or 5 bananas a day (ha to the monkeys), palaces in the middle of nowhere, and of course all your faces.
I hope some of those children may remember what they saw, the crazy group of people in strange clothes on cycles and perhaps be inspired to do their own crazy thing and better their world, on their terms not ours.
As a newby knowing just one person when I arrived at Heathrow I didn’t know what to expect. But what a group to be part of. 38 people cycling and it would be my pleasure, honour and privilege to do it all over again with each and everyone of you. To chat with you while riding, to share the uphills and downhills, to say “look at that” and to share the laughter, it was one of life’s great experiences.
We did good for TUF.
And of course I only got through the challenge by having my alcohol intake closely controlled by some of the finest medical talent on the planet.
A toast to you all.
To the legends and to the falls
To camels with mohawks and polka dot goats
Black kites circling and toy kites dancing
Painted elephants and a tiger for two
Mongooses and a brown sand boa crossing the road
Shiva the destroyer and Krishna the philosopher
No long sleeps on tour
Bright Lycra so dull against local colour
People seemingly pleased to see me- What’s all that about?
A magical mystical tour
I think my loperamide was swapped for something more lysergic
A difficult trip to come down from!
Now where are those tyre levers? Big girl’s blouse!
A few more photographs from Rajasthan!
Love the lines above Ian, you old romantic!!
My riveting vasectomy operating session has run like a dream this morning aided by Indian spiritual music bought at the Palace in Jaipur, Wonderful recollections of elephants sidestepping and parking themselves against the wall for the precarious passengers to step gingerly to safety. The serene schoolgirl dancing so exquisitely for us in the middle of the day at the village school, The prankster schoolboys stretching sticks of sugar cane at wheel height across the road and their squeals of terror as we deliberately wobbled straight at them, The Blog says it all and more.
Newbies – you were epic, Oldies – as lovely as ever – thank you all for your support, humour and laughter
Ann and Anne and Sandra and Bichal and Kalypso— what a team! Thankyou all!!
Keep finding bills for millions of Kingfisher and Sula wine soaked rupees ! I trust i paid them all!?
There was a wrecked TukTuk in the street in Jaipur as we drove to the airport – a reminder that we lived on the edge for so much of the week – well done All — Yet another unbeatable trip for TUF
Bring on the next !!
There are also some fantastic pictures that Vishal took throughout the week on the Kalypso Adventures Facebook page – the link is below:
Reading about the trip to India by all of my TUF friends makes me regret even more that I could not be there with you. Thanksgiving in the US is a family event that one just can’t miss. You may be pleased to know that it is also one of our national holidays that does celebrate a victory over the Brits. I especially would have wanted to be there to recognize my friend and former TUF roommate John Fitzpatrick. I am sure that Kirby, Pilkington, and Plail kept things lively even without John and I was pleased to read about my many other friends who braved the three/day curry. Abhay and Krishna should have been able to handle that. Congratulations to all.
A huge thank you to all for making the trip such a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Great organisation and great company. The bumpy cycling terrain was evidently beyond my declining sense of balance: ribs are still sore following the crashes but on the mend. Anne is now cycling in all weathers at home, determined to keep her yellow jersey status in the household at least. We wait with interest to see whether any of the clothes we ordered in Jaipur arrive
Very pleased that it has gone well for TUF and looking forward to a reunion.
It is a week now since returning from this wonderful challenge and I still miss everyone and the assault on the senses that is India. Talking of challenges it is simply remarkable that so many people who face so many challenges in their everyday lives seem so happy and still have the time to smile and wish us “namaste” or “ram ran”. For me and I am sure for most of the oldies it was a true challenge and my body took a battering. My masseuse, Alessandro Rodriguez, says that it will take her at least another week to smooth out all the knots in the muscles in my legs, neck, shoulders etc. She says that I remind her of Gordon Ramsey, so I gave her some free cooking tips, “keep that massage oil warm and the meat will slowly tenderise!”. Cant wait for the reunion and the next challenge, wherever it may be. It doesn’t really matter as it is just a pleasure being with such a great group of people. However will do some first hand research on Costa Rica and Cuba in the new year and report back. Hope the new suit fits Simon and Juliet likes the bedspread! Happy Christmas and Healthy New Year to all. The Miller tells his Tale
This famous picture of Princess Diana in front of the Taj Mahal stimulated two of our lovely lady cyclists, Lorraine and Pam, to adopt similar poses in front of the monument. By coincidence, we finished our Rajasthan ride in the very Hunting Lodge in which Princess Diana had stayed during her trip to India.
Two more unsung heroes of the TUF India ride: George Paxton, who last year cycled on an electric bike, but this year toughed it out purely on pedal power. And Sam Smith who’s Father had planned to come but couldn’t make it for health reasons. Sam and George did themselves proud on this demanding challenge and were a genuine joy to cycle with.
The next job is to produce a film about the ride. The excellent Mike Ellard, who has created the last three films for us, will get to work in the New Year and we will post the movie on this blog in the Spring. Watch this space.
Congratulations TUFFERs on a fantastic cycle ride for a great cause!!
Dear All Newbies, Oldies and Middlies – Fantastic, well done everyone. The Trustees are proud of you and quite in awe of your stamina, determination and constitution. Not only have you raised a huge amount of money for a cause so dear to our hearts but you have so many stories to tell, friends to keep and experiences to treasure. It is these things that make TUF greater than the sum of its parts and help drive us all to really make the difference in tackling urological disease.
Thanks you so much. Best wishes for Christmas and a healthy and hearty 2016.
John Tiner – TUF Chairman
This bike ride was absolutely amazing. The challenge of trying to negotiate cows, goats, buffalos and various forms of non-human and human waste made the ride very interesting indeed. Most of us, except Roger, managed to stay on our bikes; his cycling top tells the tale. The sights were unforgettable and the interaction with all the locals was very touching: they made us feel very welcome. Shouts of ‘Good morning’ (even though it may have been evening) and ‘Namaste’ greeted us all along. All riders had several tikas, and there was even an aarti on one occasion, with garlands galore: we felt really special!
I came away with memories that will last a lifetime, and several new friends.
Well done, Indian TUFFERS; I look forward to seeing you again soon.
An accurate commentary on my tech skills is that I thought it was all rather quiet on the post trip chat front looking at my emails!…I’ve just stumbled into the promised land!
I can add little to all the messages posted above but to say a massive thankyou….thankyou to all our fellow travellers, all those who made it possible and a very special word of thanks to Roger K. Roger….you remain the heartbeat of these extraordinary journeys and the energy,enthusiasm and leadership you bring to the cause every day is truly inspiring.
To bring this all home I returned to find common interest with a friend you are operating on I early Jan……the TUF mission is super important and to be able to play a small part in raising funds ….and making friends at the same time is indeed a special experience. Looking forward to the next one…….
Back for two weeks now and memories of an amazing ride already fading! We are starting to consider options for the 7th TUF Cycling Challenge: Africa, China, Burma? So many exciting options! Keep an eye on this space and we will announce the destination early next year. Who is up for joining the Tuffers for their next adventure?
Living and breathing the wonder of beautiful, frenetic, spiritual India with such an inspiring and warm-hearted group is a time I will never forget. Thank you everyone, especially the organisers. A wonderful surprise around every corner and who could ever forget the unbeatable smiles of the children. It was an all-consuming and an exhilarating journey ….. everyone looking out and protecting each other….. manoeuvring through screeching monkeys and Kate shouting “watch out they don’t jump on you” was an unexpected final challenge!
Most important of all is that the funds I have raised may have bought a couple of bolts for a new robot which will change the lives of patients as it has done for for my daughter.
You may have read that Lord Lawson told the House of Lords this week that the emphasis put on cycling (Boris and his bikes/lanes!) was ageist and that for huge sections of the population of a certain age cycling is not a practical option. He should have added …. UNLESS YOU ARE A TUFFER!!
Great to have you with us as a “newbie” Melanie. Even if you did attempt to go to sleep in your suitcase after one of my extra strong sleeping tablets! We need you with us again on our next TUF adventure, which we are currently plotting!
Thanks Kate for letting that one out of the bag so to speak! I think I need to stick to your extra strong mints (if only they hadn’t been confiscated at the Taj Mahal!)…. rather than The Artful Roger’s knock out pills which we could have done with when the generator played up all night long ….. or else get a larger suitcase!
My trophy is now sitting happily on the mantelpiece and is firmly established as a new Christmas decoration and will always make me smile when I remember our wonderful time and how I nearly spent the night in my suitcase until I was rescued – after all I am a FOK!
Happy Christmas X’s to everyone and all the very best for 2016 and hope to see you in March.
Happy New Year one and all. Some additional photographs from Abhay to usher 2016 in! Where will the Tuffers be heading next?
We have just finalised the accounts for last year’s TUF Cycle India Challenge and we are proud to announce that we have raised just over £139,000 for the charity.We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our participants for their efforts and all our generous donors for their fantastically generous support. The money we raised we promise you will be well spent improving urological care through research, education and training.
Now is the time to sign up for our next exciting TUF cycling challenge to raise further funds : TUF Cycle Vietnam and Cambodia. For more details go to the Action for Charity website:
See you in Vietnam!