We made it
Was up early, checking the weather, checking the bike over again and waiting for the rest of the team to turn up. Then at 8am we assemble for a quick brief and a photo shoot with Richard, who is the Chair of Dorchester and District Marie Curie Fundraising Group.
At 8:20am we started our 50-mile journey, the first 10-mile were quite comfortable, taken in the Dorset countryside. Then the first big hill, still reasonably fresh Pete and Andy cycled up quite quickly and waited at the top for Mike and me. I knew the hill was there as I had ridden up it on a couple of my training sessions, so had planned a stop at the top to regroup and meet up with some of the ground crew. After a quick pit stop behind a hedge, we were off again. This part of the ride was going to be quite easy as we were on top of the hill and it was relitivly flat until our next stop.
At the halfway point, we all stopped to replenish our water and have something to eat. We were joined by some more ground crew that couldn't make the start. With more photos and a quick chat about the second half, we all got back on our bikes and set off again. This half of the ride was going to get hilly as we were heading for Devon, but we made sure that we all stuck together and helping out when someone fell behind. About three-quarters of the way, my bike wasn't changing gear correctly, which made it very hard going up the hills. So we pull over into a layby and discover that somehow the gears had dog hair wrapped around them. After 20 minutes we were back on the road, but had fallen behind on our schedule so had to push harder to catch up. This is not something we wanted to do as we were all starting to get a bit tired, but we did.
At 2pm we arrived at SkyDive Buzz's airfield, now my nerves really started to kick in, there was no back out now. I signed in and was told that due to the weather there had been no jumping today. But there was a chance that there might be a gap in the weather later. This gave us time to reflect on what we had just achieved as none of us had ridden that far before. After sitting around for about an hour, we were called into a briefing as they decided that although it was still overcast, it would be safe to jump. The briefing was done and, I was fitted out in a fetching yellow jumpsuit and met my instructor.
I was led into the plane and strapped to my instructor. The last time I was on a plane it on its way to a hot country and had comfy seats. This time it was a wooden bench, and I was facing backwards. We climbed up through the clouds, and as we came out the top, I saw the most beautiful sight I had seen for a very long time. The sun was shining, and the clouds were so white. It didn't take very long to get to our jump height of 15000ft, and as we approached all, the instructors started going through all their checks. Then one of the weirdest experiences, they open the door, and the wind came rushing in, it was very cold, and the noise is unbelievable.
There were four people in front of me to jump. The first two went, and we started to move towards the door, the instructor gave me the thumbs up to check that I was ready, and we were knelt on the edge of the plane. We did our final checks and just as we were about to jump a red light came on, and the aircraft banked we had gone too far away from the airfield. My heart was pounding as I was looking out the door, then there was a tap on my shoulder, and then we were falling out of the plane.
I can't really explain the feeling I had, but I could see the aircraft getting further away, so I knew we were falling, but it didn't feel like it. The instructor then flipped us over, and we were facing the ground. Unfortunately, because of the cloud, I couldn't really appreciate the scenery. However, it was still an experience I would do again. As we reached the top of the cloud, the parachute was deployed. The wind rushing past our ear stopped, and we were able to talk to each other. It took about 3 minutes to get through the cloud. As we came out the bottom of the cloud, I could see the airfield and the instructor let me take control.
We did a couple of circles left and right then before I knew it the ground was getting close quite fast and it was time for the landing. Back on the ground, it was hard to believe that I had just jumped from 15000ft. During my landing, we landed a bit abruptly and, I hurt my knee and was unable to cycle back. But I promised that I would cycle 100-miles if we reached £2000 so after a lot of deep heat and some rest I went to the gym the next day and cycled another 50-miles.
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Follow me on my journey of life after the death of my wife and the training I am doing to raise money for Marie Curie. Please feel free to contact me if you have any suggestions for my next blog.