Tiptoe Through the Tulips

The Two Mikes have been on the road now for two nights – 105 miles to Harwich Ferry on Tuesday and 125 miles yesterday to Urbanusweg Venlo (Holland). bikes-in-tulip-field  The Internet waves have gone silent…. the LASR imagines them gambolling along sunlit canals past gently rotating windmills.  Breaks, of course, will be enjoyed in a sunny field of tulips, which [in the Editor’s mind] exist everywhere in Holland outside of Amsterdam.

The LASR looks forward to an update from the Mikes, who are riding 115 miles today towards Koblenz, Germany.  Given their blinding pace, we suspect their description of the past few days may not match the above!

The Tour is raising money for the London & Slough Run; you can make a donation at


Unsung Heroes

The LASR has many people who give selflessly to help the charity deliver food, comfort, advice and shelter throughout the year.  The Monday Volunteers pack for the ‘evening run’ week in and week out.  It is a pleasure to share a photo of them in action – with some additional assistance from local Waitrose manager Ian and Sandra.unsung heroes.JPG


The Four Mikes on Bikes 2019 Tour has officially started, with Mike Carney and Mick Claridge leaving Gerrards Cross this morning, on the way to Harwich Ferry (105 miles).  The team were all smiles this morning as they got ready for departure.33,35,104,128.335388

After ensuring that cleats were in position and helmets firmly fastened, the duo headed north (and east) towards the sea.  Observing the size of their backpacks, Denese is now laying on extra provisions of Nurofen and Deepheat.Send_off_zoomedHowever, given their recent training efforts, the LASR estimates the Mikes travel time will be similar to that of a Ford Escort in normal traffic conditions. This suggests they should arrive in Harwich in time for lunch (to be confirmed in tomorrow’s blog!)


The Tour is raising money for the London & Slough Run; you can make a donation at

The Sag Wagon

Discussions with the Four Mikes have reassured the Editor that everything is well in hand for the upcoming 1,446 mile fundraiser.  They have clearly been training hard, and have all the gubbins necessary for a long bike trip – satnav, repair kits, comfortable saddles and a good supply of Clif Bars.

And as the Four Mikes wend their way across Europe, they will be accompanied by Malcolm Johnstone and Denese Kennedy-Diggins in the plucky little [LASR] van (more sag wagonon her later).  Malcolm has been the driver on previous tours, and is an experienced hand at cliff edge manoevers and graceful three-point turns.  However, the rumours that he is a two-time Mille Miglia winner are completely unfounded.


The Editor asked Malcolm to share a few thoughts pre-departure:

“Well here we are again!  In 2017, we went to Rome via France, Switzerland and the West coast of Italy to Rome. This time we are going via France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and down the East coast of Italy down to Rome.

This year is even more challenging for the riders as far as mileage is concerned as they have a longer route but in the first year they went via a shorter route but across dirt tracks, road and paddy fields etc which was very demanding. This left us with some very dicey moments, on one occasion  we ran out of road just round the corner up one track which was different from the riders.  Denese just said ‘STOP we have no road on my side!!’

On another occasion,  we used the satnav to go to “Pisa”  (thinking it was City of Pisa) and found it took us up to Mount Pisa a one way track all the way — 28 miles and across a narrow timber rickety bridge with a low weight limit. Not fancying backing up the hill all the way back, we made a dash for it and left the bridge rocking and swaying! We then ran out of diesel….. but luckily we had a Gerry can but the camber of the van was the wrong way and had to improvise a funnel to get it into the tank.pisa joined

This year since the riders are only using the roads, so life will, we hope, be less challenging.

We have gathered most of the items we need, to carry with us and have learnt a lot from our past experience about what is needed vs what is surplus.

Denese has her fingers poised on the Satnav, looking out for any problems ahead and preparing the shopping list  of the riders needs. She will see if we need to change hotels etc en route. (We had  to change an  hotel on the last trip  because it was certainly not suitable — no details will be published here!)

We now await Tuesday morning when we see Mick & Mike leave and then look forward to next Saturday when we start another adventure.

The T shirts have not arrived yet but fingers crossed.  Watch this space.”

Blazing Saddles

Having last completed a bike tour in 1988 with a map tacked to a handlebar bag and bubble wrap on the seat, the Editor suspects bike tech & equipment might have moved on just a tad bit in the last 30 years.  What will the Four Mikes on Bikes use to ensure they get from A to B to C to Rome?   What will they sit on for 8 hours a day?

First off, the map is now on a small GPS (satnav) computer, waterproof and shockproof, which is strapped to the handlebar.  The Mikes draw maps on a PC, then transfer them to their GPS units.  As they ride, they see a guideline of the route they need to follow, plus the equivalent of a whole map atlas in case they need to work out a detour.  The GPS will show the climb profiles for each route and current altitude, temperature, time, speed and distance covered.  It will also tell the rider details like heart-rate and how many watts & calories they are using up.   gps-screen A couple of Mikes have models that will make phone calls over Wifi  – the Editor imagines this being put to good use for pizza delivery when the calorie count get too high.   Malcolm and Denese will have copies of the maps and each day’s route has mile numbers marked, so if anyone gets into trouble, the support van can find them. 


Turning from eye and brains to other parts of the rider’s anatomy, the saddle design is an important choice;  Mike Carney admitted it took him multiple seats before he found the best fit.  The Editor imagined a wide softly padded cushion would be comfy, but was put straight by Mike Burton.  “Saddles are deceptive – a wide padded one will rub, which is the last thing you want, “ he said.  “Hence we all have skinny saddles and use a chamois cream of some form.”  Chamois cream is an anti-bacterial viscous substance that helps eliminate friction between skin and clothing and therefore the chafing that can occur during a ride.   “For long daily rides it is a must – part of each morning’s ablutions, along with copious lathering of sunscreen!”

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The Four Mikes on Bikes 2019 Tour is raising money for the London & Slough Run;  you can make a donation at 

Introductions (Part II)

The other half of the Four Mikes Quartet is Mike Burton and Fr Michael Spain, who will join Mike Carney and Mick Claridge on Saturday 18 May in Rheinmunster, Germany. After yesterday’s account of disciplined drills and eerie apparitions, the Editor was hoping that a new batch of Mikes might report a more indolent (and less alarming) training regime. However, Mike Burton quickly dismissed any [Editorial] notions of slothful, easy riding: “Fr Michael and I have been doing two or more rides each week, often a 36-mile loop to Windsor and back after the Sunday 5.30 mass, plus whatever else we can fit in. This past week, I had a 15-mile, off-road night ride around Black Park, a 68-mile off-road ride from Hampton to Brighton, a 70-mile loop round the Chilterns, and we have one last group ride planned for Windsor tomorrow. In addition, Fr Michael has been on a supervised weight loss programme since February.”

[Note: Should LASR readers feel both exhausted and peckish after reading the above, don’t worry, it is perfectly normal.]

It is not just the riders who have to get fit for a tour – bikes get a work-out too. Mike Burton recently took his new gravel bike on a 36-mile ‘rough spin’ through woods to identify any loose parts and make sure the bike knows who’s the boss. As a result, Mike has upgraded to stronger tyres and bought new wheel & steering bearings. Plus the bike no longer baulks at tree roots.

Tomorrow’s blog will look at the kit required for a big tour – clothing, maps, technology, and the Three S’s (suncream, saddles, and Sudocrem). Stay tuned….

The Tour is raising money for the London & Slough Run; you can make a donation at 


Mike Carney and Mick Clardige will be starting the Four Mikes on Bikes 2019 Tour next Tuesday with a 100+mile ride to Harwich Ferry. With the combined wisdom of their years – the LASR editor knows this cumulative figure but has decided discretion is the better part of valour – the duo have been doing regular training rides (separately and together) in preparation for the trip. As Mike C said, “We will be doing long days in the saddle on the way to Rome. We will have to be self-sufficient and have had to figure out what, when and how many fuel stops we need. We have also learnt that a good recovery period is needed in order to be able to get on the bike the next day and do it all again!” In 2019 alone Mike has logged 2800 indoor cycling miles, 1500 road miles and 500,000 metres on a rowing machine. (Not surprisingly, he is also 28 pounds lighter!)

However, the Editor’s impression of a professional well-oiled training regime was somewhat dispelled by Mick, who quickly confessed to kamikaze hill climbs, high speed descents and the odd roadside nap. He also claimed – during a particularly arduous ascent – to have seen the Grim Reaper playing solitaire in a field. Who exactly the Reaper then pointed at remains a bone of contention. Notwithstanding this event, both men assured the LASR that all roads lead to Rome.

The Tour is raising money for the London & Slough Run; you can make a donation at 

The Countdown Begins

On 14 May, the Four Mikes on Bikes 2019 Fundraising Tour begins with Mike Carney and Mick Claridge departing Gerrards Cross and heading for the shores of Harwich, to be joined by Mike Burton and Father Michael Spain on Day 5. Before they all sally forth, the LASR has invited each Mike (along with support team Malcolm & Denese) to share their preparations – physical, mental and practical – for the 1,446 mile journey to Rome. Over the next few days we will discuss training (the good, the bad and the ugly), necessary gear (Did you think all you need is a bike? Oh no, gentle reader….), and the love of a good map. Stay tuned!

The Tour is raising money for the London & Slough Run; you can make a donation at