As the days go on, the Tour de Lee is beginning to resemble its more illustrious cousin in two interesting ways.
First, there is the pressure on time. Cycling journalists reporting on the Tour de France speak of the punishing schedule of getting around the stages and the gradual deterioration of the interior of their cars as the Tour goes on.
Most days Mike and I have arrived at our accommodation late in the afternoon and with unpacking, stowing the bikes, getting showered, and ensuring we have somewhere to eat time has been tight. Add to that working out the details of the next day's route (Mike's task), writing a TdL post (my task), washing dirty kit, maintaining the bike, downloading data from the day's ride, and preparing the next day's drink bottles, it feels like a lot to pack in. Perhaps that is why my car has become a travelling clothes line and is looking too much like the aforementioned journalists' wagons. Mike and I feel sure that our wives would raise their eyebrows and wonder how we cannot keep the car tidy!
The second is the need for various supporters. The professional riders have a team of dedicated people to look after their every need. Mike is covering most of these practical support roles, such as taking me through the route each day, planning food stops and ensuring I don't miss a turn (as nearly happened today - without Mike I would have sailed on to Dumphries instead of Carlisle!) However, there is one role which he cannot quite cover and that is providing the post-ride massage.
The team 'soigneur' (meaning 'carer') provides this and, as you might expect, Mike does not have this skill on his CV. When we arrived in Moffat I realised that I was in sore need of a massage to breathe life into some knotted and stiff leg muscles. Fortunately the Hotel pointed me in the right direction and I managed to book an appointment for the early evening. It was not technically a 'sports massage' but my 'soigneur' in the local heath and beauty salon did a great job. Although I was still feeling stiff this morning the massage had made a big difference and the benefit was obvious in my performance.
However, Team TdL is not just Mike and me. In the Diocesan Office Chris Dobson, Vanesther Rees and Sam Cavender are doing a great job on the communications front. The TdL is reaching places that I could never have managed without their expertise and that is having a knock on effect on our ability to meet the 10 000 target. At Mark House, Janice and Danielle have also been excellent in managing the office work and contacts while I am on the road.
All this goes to show the importance of team working and depending on the expertise and commitment of others to achieve something significant. My hope and prayer is that what we are doing together will make a lasting difference to the church leaders in Uganda and the communities they serve.