ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET…THE MYELOMA CHALLENGE

I’m 39 years old, no history of illness, Ironman finisher who has been diagnosed with myeloma. Did not see this coming. This blog summarises my journey from unexpected diagnosis through the treatment path. My aim is to use myeloma as a catalyst for living a better, more fulfilling life and documenting the changes I am making in all aspects of my family and work commitments.

10’000 Donors does the Crumball rally


8th September 2019

So a pattern has emerged these last 3 days where the most eventful part of the day is at the end…

Today was a last nod to the mountains as we left Italy and crossed the border back into France via the mountain pass.

It was a relatively speaking short hop of 170 miles and once again, we were treated to immaculate tarmac and views of the mountains as far as you could see.

The car drove impeccably, as she has the whole trip, so we were in no doubt that the finish line would be made.

Got the drone out again and the videos are class. I will get them circulated asap.

With the coast line in sight, sadly obscured somewhat by the first outbreak of rain we had experienced, we entered Monte Carlo and parked up next to some shabby Porsche and some toy boats.

I was so chuffed we’d made it, especially as our other car sadly didn’t make it beyond the M25. At least it was less hassle getting it towed home than it might have been at the top of the Great St Bernard pass!

I love this car by the way. I do not know what we will do with it if when it gets back to Blighty, but she’s not being scrapped.

So there you go. 4 countries. 3 days. 1110’ish miles and a car that just kept going. Just awesome!

But this was just half of the overall challenge with tomorrow being an epic all-in-one drive up through France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany!

So we headed to our hotel and checked in. The plan being to go out, meet up with the other Crumballers, get our medals and hit the sack reasonably early as it was my aim to get up at 0500 and nail some miles.

The lads got some shut eye and I went down stairs to play catch up on some emails.

They emerged an hour or so later so I went back to the room to drop off the computer and head out.

Only problem was that my key was not working on the room lock; so I went back downstairs and had the receptionist get me a replacement.

Back up again and this time, bingo. We’re in.

As I casually walked past the bathroom, I glanced in and my washbag wasn’t where I left it.

A split second later I round the corner to find a lady hiding beneath the duvet, as her partner; with a panicked look on his face as he struggles to get his pants on, shouts “WHAT THE FUCK! WHAT THE FUUUUCK!”

That’s why my washbag was not where I left it.

I looked at the pair of them and calmly said “This isn’t my room.”

Turned and walked out.

For some reason I had it in my head Rich and I were in room 212 but we were actually in 112.

Same floor position, same room layout. But where our room was a haven of celibacy, room 212 was a hotbed of carnal activity by all accounts.

“Sky rockets in the night…Afternoon delight!”

So I go downstairs to fill the chaps in on my amusing numerical oversight, when a call comes in from room 212 to reception which we can hear.

Receptionist – “Excuse me sir? A man walked into your room?”

Man – “YES! How has this happened..?!”

Cue childish giggling.

I then compose myself, get my key updated again and go back upstairs to drop my computer off in the correct room (112)

But to top it all off, check this out…

As I get into the lift to go downstairs again, guess who, now fully clothed, is the only other person in the lift standing in front of me?!

It took all my will power not to laugh my backside off.

He knew.

I knew.

We both said nothing.

So there you go, another end of day debacle.

Police. Karaoke. Sex!

Seriously, this trip could be made into a movie!

What a way to end an epic adventure. Seeing so many new places in a vehicle that by all accounts should not have performed so well was a proper treat.

It may not have all gone to plan but we have spread the word further as was our goal and hopefully helped DKMS to continue covering the cost of swabbing and registering.

Tomorrow, the DKMS badge returns to her homeland and I for one cannot wait to hit the road again!

7th September 2019

Today was what it was really all about. Hitting the mountains and taking in what Europe has to offer.

France, Switzerland, Italy. Not bad for 1 days driving.

And it did not disappoint.

We left Besancon and headed towards Lausanne. The scenery when we got to the lake was unreal. And it just got better as we chewed through the miles and hit the Alps.

I had wanted to see this region without snow for a very long time so for me this was going to be a bit special.

The Great St Bernard pass was a mixture of switchbacks and serious elevation with not an insignificant number of sheer drops thrown in for good measure. It amazes me that back home the roads can be so poor and full of potholes, yet you can drive up a mountain on tarmac as smooth and well maintained as a race track. And you get 4G!

I had a play with the drone when we got to the top and I’ll share that footage once I’ve had a chance to review it.

I could happily have spent more time up there but we had to get into Turin in decent time so we floored it. (within the speed limits of course)

And here the day takes a bit of a twist which actually topped off what had been the coming together of 5 months work.

While the lads had a breather at the hotel I ventured out into the city.

Seriously, what an awesome place.

The architecture, the people and the buzz that surrounds Torino is infectious.

I did what I usually do when in a new place and just wandered around, getting a bit lost and taking it all in.

I heard some really cool music; nothing more than a guitar and drums inside what looked like a derelict courtyard and I found these guys. (I have a film of them too which I’ll share asap)

After 15 minutes chilling with them, I carried on wandering and taking truck loads of pics…

to then find myself being invited to join a party in the park with a group of 30 or so Philippine locals singing karaoke!

These guys were celebrating a birthday and could not have been friendlier. Food, drink and singing all on offer. And they had these amazing cups which never emptied. No sooner did the last drop hit my lips, the cup miraculously topped up!

After half an hour of this I got word that the lads were out and about so went to meet up.

Dinner, drinks… then a few more drinks after we met a couple of Brits doing a crazy mountain bike ride from Turin to Nice.

The world seems to be full of people who like challenging themselves just because they can.

And as far as I am concerned, it is a better place for it!


6th September 2019

0815 – Race day!

We arrive at the supermarket car park and are greeted by a cavalcade of bangers, all dolled up and looking cool as hell. Everyone has got into the spirit and are in a great mood.

Today is about eating up a few miles, so not much in the way of challenge to report.

We take a short detour out of Reims to take a look at the old racing circuit which is now a public highway flanked by the old stands. Pretty cool.

We then crack on and take in the stunning Epernay (Champagne country) scenery; although the sat nav takes us to what must be the only concrete estate in the whole region, which we swiftly exit and get back to the rolling fields.

1145 – We arrive in Saint Dizier and stop for lunch. Then meet team Toon Army which is a highlight for me for obvious reasons!

Everywhere you go you meet a Geordie

The remainder of the day is a mixture of chat and tolerating passenger Aspinall’s non stop critique of driving style. Which in my response, I point out that I’m not the one to have blown up my car en route to the ferry…which only elicits further verbals.

Whether he gets a bus back to Calais or continues the onward journey to Turin is still open to consideration.

Yesterday, you may recall I joked about missing driver “James” wanting to avoid the wrath of the Gendarmes. Well, look who pulled us (me) over just as we were rounding the corner to the hotel…

…5 minutes prior this, I had pulled off the motorway to suggest that passenger Aspinall might like to walk the rest of the way as my patience with his incessant waffle ran dry. As I did so, we all spotted a police car cruise past. A bit further down the road, cue blue lights and we are waved off the road.

Thankfully, the Gendarmes were extremely nice and were simply pointing out that our Crumball rally sign that we had placed on the grill of the car was obscuring our number plate.

Panic over but lesson learnt.

Tomorrow we head over the mountains to Turin for what promises to be the highlight day of driving.

Whether 2 or 3 of us make it, well, let’s see.


5th September 2019

0740 – Sitting having breakfast having smashed the drive down from Cheshire yesterday and having enjoyed the superb hospitality of the crew at DKMS in Chiswick who gave us a right royal send off. The day has started in text book fashion. Only downer is the bacon at the hotel looks as edible as the brake disks on the Focus.

0744 – Phone rings…

0745 to 0746 – Receive the following images from our sister car…

Not making good noises…

and not anywhere near a ferry

The next 2 hours are a frenzy of phone calls, ferry changes, taxis and trains for Tris, who injures himself clambering up from the hard shoulder through a wooded area to get somewhere safe to catch said taxi.

Fighting for the cause. Although now is not the time to be donating stem cells Tris…

Anyhoo, we have a plan to get 3 of us to France.

Driver number 4 “Andy James” is still on the hunt for his passport and in Cheshire. I still have faith that it will turn up and we’ll meet him en route somewhere…

So; the Focus is so far, alive and kicking. The team at Wirral Small Cars and Mark at Beeston Brook garage have done the team proud. And thanks to all the sponsors for making it look bloody AWESOME!

This has been so longing the preparation I am buzzing that we are finally here.

And check this out for the power of the media. We get out of the car on the ferry and the car and Rich get recognised from the Granada TV article!! (Thanks Mel Barham and the team at ITV)

Winner!

We had 2 targets which were to hit 30’000 new registrants by the end of the race and £25’000.

We currently sit at 31’059 and about £24’000!

Between us do you think we can get to 35’000 and £30’000 by this time next week?

I’ll update this as the days progress so watch this space for updates (If you want to. Obviously resign it to the spam can if deemed appropriate!)


15:00 – Picked up Tris from Calais who despite superficial scarring from his tussle with the foliage of the M25, was in decent spirits, if not very tired after hitting the road at 0400.

Sadly it is confirmed that driver “James” is without required documentation and as such, to avoid incurring the displeasure of President Macrons border Gendarmes, has sadly had to stay in Blighty and man local operations on our behalf.

Genuinely gutted. There will be other plans next year!

Then a pretty uneventful 2 and a half hours to Reims.

19:45 – Checked in with the Crumball hierarchy so we are now officially race ready. Even if it’s only with 1 car! But on the plus side, we have Tris in the Focus to keep us energised and entertained with his wit and partisan opinion on all things Welsh and anti-England rugby.

22:25 – Bed… but get to see a great light show on the Cathedral which we have a view of from our balcony

523 miles…


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