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14 Jul 2010

Same Same but Different

Post the fun and adventure that I experienced just last week on the BHF London to Paris off road bike ride [ED give it a rest, but well done and huge thanks to all of the wonderful people who helped raise over £1000 and counting] I've found myself feeling a little tired of the tread mill and in need of a new challenge. That or more likely that I'm well overdue a break and a good job that France is just around the corner!
What strikes me is that its time to change the record of same, same but different message that I see and experience in organisations that actually are SAME SAME and NOT DIFFERENT.

I'm looking for ideas and organisations that are looking at the world from a different perspective and that are treating customers, employees and wider stakeholders as important as shareholders.

I found this great blog entry from
Bill Taylor on Youngme Moon who has recently released her first book DIFFERENT, I've added it to my list of must purchase in the next few days. But what strikes me about Youngme Moon and NO it's not simply her vcool name (how unique is that), but more her candour about having to find her voice as an academic, to start to trust her intuition and to go with what it meant for her to be authentic......before this time she was part of the me too crowd of Harvard, too afraid to stand out and yet as she explains in her website as she started to speak her truth over time she was identified as someone who stood out SAME SAME but DIFFERENT........the challenge for individuals, organisations and communities is to find their voice, take their space and be courageous to stand out and speak their authentic truth.

What was it I was saying about feeling tired......suddenly I'm starting to feel refreshed and alive again.....good job that I am off to an entrepreneurs conference for 3 days to harness this new found energy.

Have fun!


7 Jul 2010

London to Paris July 3rd to 5th

Some time back in May I decided that I needed a new challenge, a quick search on Google and I was signed up for the first ever British Heart Foundation London to Paris Offroad adventure!

I couldn't persuade any pals to join me in this little adventure and so I turned it over to Diana in BHF and she soon connected me to Mark 'Comedy' Meredith and Volker 'Dodgy Knee' Konietzko.

[Ed - one very knackered Mr R at the Palace of Versailles!]
A week before we were due to head off on the trip we finally all managed to coordinate our busy diaries to meet in a pub in Greenwich. A couple of drinks later and all of the logisitics were sorted - well in truth Volker and I delegated, outsourced or generally ignored the need to organise ourselves and instead simply left it to Mr Organised Mark to sort out logisitics.

I recall being slightly worried at the first meeting as I heard how Volker often spends weekends cycling up the side of K2 on his bike and that Mark sleeps with his bike chained to the end of his I was having just purchased my first bike in 20 years, surrounded with members of the tour de France fan club! I had managed one very long and winding 35 Mile practice run with my little Sis a few weeks before - yikes!!!

Day 1 Hampton Court Palace

The 3 Muskateers as we had decided to call ourselves as a homage to the wonderful childrens TV programme the 3 muskahounds - now showing my age!
Needless to say Mark and I turned up late fully expecting the Big V to be waiting there in stereotypical German time keeping style.....needless to say 5 mins before the photo shoot Vulker finally turned up and his language was more East End than East German.....we were not amused with the directions!
So our motley crew who were un supported were finally all together and what a team! We were surrounded with Team GAJ whose collective 3 bikes costs more than mose people's mortgages, there they all were with their full kit and every type of support you could ever require, taking in the view I realised failry quickly that the 3 Muskateers could well be out of their depth with over 41 other cyclists all raring to go.
30 mins after the start we finally headed off down the river path and on our way past Guilford and heading to the shoreline of Brighton. It was fairly evident that the bumpy terrain was not what Vulker the mountain goat had expected and unfortunately the lack of suspension on his bike soon meant that he was struggling.
I couldn't help but point out that I was noticing that Vulker was not finding the terrain to his liking to which he offered the reposte 've vill see how you are doing on Day 2 and 3' - long story short Vulker never made it to the end of Day 1 unfortunately it turned out that the terrain had led to ligament damage to his right knee. To his personal credit he battled on for almost 60 miles before it became evident that he wouldn't be able to continue without damaging himself!

Day 1 was drawing to a close and as we came over the South Downs it became failry evident that we would soon need to take on the hills before Seaford - our final destination.....I was pretty exhausted and then finally we hit the hill and what a hill.....the photo below was taken after I arrived at the top! At the end of Day 1 we crashed down in sunny Eastbourne for the night ready for an early start and the feery to Dieppe!

Day 2 - New Haven, Dieppe and then somewhere in France!
The day started with a 6am start to ensure that we got to the ferry terminal in plenty of time. A snooze on the ferry was a welcome break prior to the briefing rather than the planned 40kms day we opted to add an additional 30kms on to the route that was to prove a smart move in the long run and and a pain in the backside - quite literally on this day.
The first 40kms was on paved cycling track and flew past in just over a couple of hours. I was feeling bouyed at the end of the first part of the journey and thought that the next 30kms would be as easy - oh dear! this is when the cycling route designer clearly demonstrated a sadistic streak as I got my first experience of really off roading in France.
We were tracking along pathways, river beds, farm land and hoping at all times that the locals hadn't decided to change the little BHF arrows that I would soon grow to love every time that I saw one!

Time was getting on by the time that we were arriving at our end destination. We finally arrived at just before 9pm, dehydrated and exhausted.

The colonel was there to meet us and ensure dinner was served and his troops were suitably stocked up ready for the next day. End of Day 2 and we finally got our heads down at 11.45.

Day 3 - Final Destination Palace of Versailles - 120KMS day

Up at 6am and not due to the alarm, an emergency call from Jane (one of the BHF support team) 'where are you guys the Colonel is losing it you should have been here 30mins
Needless to say we were up and out in 5mins dont want to cross the Colonel!

My legs were vheavy and I was thankful for the 45 min drive to get us to the kick-off. The first 40kms went by fairly well and that's about as good as it got.

This image is at the 40kms mark, i could have stopped at this point. Trust me the start from this point was a nightmare my legs were vheavy and the track went from relatively smooth riding to arable farm land and forest tracks.....needless to say by this time it felt like I was sitting on a hedghog.

Mark pictured here with my headed off, I was slowing him down too much. This left me to travel with the skid marks a team of 3 19 year old students who had only signed up to the course 1 week before - needless to say we were now the determined backmarkers.
At the 2nd and final stop we decided to stop for steak and chips, trust me the best ever and the seats had cushions a very welcome break from the bike seat. The final 40kms were simply a nightmare, every time that you thought that you had reached the most challenging peak another one came me France is not flat!!!!

Some 12hours after we headed off we finally arrived at the gates of the Palace of Versailles and I have to say it was a welcome sight!
One knackered muskateer and 3 very fresh faced skid marks.
Needless to say I was feeling lucky that my hotel d'Angleterre was only 200yrds from the Palace, quiet frankly I couldn't handle any further to walk.
Next Steps - A year on
Will you find me taking this challenge on again, absolutely! I can only improve on this performance and now have a bench mark for just how unfit I am.......250 kms feels like a fantastic achievement and its time to get back on the bike and get a few more KMS under my belt.
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