Friday, 19 April 2013

A Tale Of Two Cities

This week's blog comes from my colleague, and fellow Arc to Arch cyclist, Robin Watt. I hope you’ll tune into our blog updates throughout our preparation and the Arc to Arch event itself. You can support our endeavours, and these great charities, at or contact Hilary Garrett ( / 0161 603 5000) to hear more about our corporate sponsorship packages.

When I was first asked if I could participate in the "M&S Arc to Arch" I was absolutely delighted. As a new father, I was privately relishing the prospect of me and my bike and the open road. As a keen cyclist, what could be better? Cycling up the Champs-Elysees in a peleton with crowds roaring us on (maybe not the crowds bit) and all in the name of charity.

After the initial excitement of the invitation, I have to acknowledge that it has not been as easy as I had anticipated to get my training regime in gear. The first challenge has been to find my bike which went into retirement after my Lands End to John O' Groats cycle! The amalgamation of many sleepless nights, nappy changes, and a house move has meant that training has had to take a back seat.

I had been rooting around trying to find my ergo trainer when my wife casually dropped in that she had sold it on ebay 2 years ago so the majority of my training so far has taken place at the gym.

My training app tells me that there is now only 8 weeks until the big event and now that the nights are stretching I am looking forward to increasing the outdoor miles. The prospect of the cycle is daunting but I feel privileged to be taking part, am excited about the challenge and hope that you will support us and the great charities M&S are supporting......

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Arc to Arch

This new blog describes preparations for the Paris to London cycle that I'll be undertaking with four colleagues in early June. I hope you enjoy it!

Hello and welcome to the opening blog for DWF’s Arc to Arch fundraising page. On Friday 7 June, four solicitors from DWF’s Retail Sector Group will set off from Paris to cycle to London. Starting at Marks and Spencer’s flagship Arc de Triomphe store on Paris’ Champs-Elysees and finishing at Marks’ flagship London store at Marble Arch, Craig Chaplin, Steffan Groch, Robin Watt and I will cycle nearly 300 miles from “Arc to Arch”. In doing so, we’ll be raising over £20,000 for Marks and Spencer’s five charity partners: Breakthrough Breast Cancer (see, Action Cancer (see, Marie Keating Foundation (see, Action Medical Research for Children (see and Prostate Cancer UK (see

With Craig, Steffan and Robin, I’ll be in very good cycling and fundraising company:

Craig is no stranger to long distance cycling through the French countryside. In 2010, he took part in the Etape du Tour, following the route of the Tour de France from Pau to the Col du Tourmalet and raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support (see Hopefully the Arc to the Arch won’t have anything like the gruelling 4300 vertical meters of climbing that Craig put in during the Etape’s 109 mile stage.

Steffan surveys the enormity of the task: Paris, March 2013

Last summer, Steffan successfully completed the Alpe d’Huez Triathlon (see to raise money for The Christie ( This endurance event consists of a 1.5 mile swim in a glacial lake, a 90 kilometre bike ride which finishes with a climb up the famous Alpe D'Huez and then a half marathon at the top of the mountain at altitude.

Robin should also be particularly well prepared for the challenge. In May 2009, he cycled from Lands End to John O'Groats in just 10 days, raising over £5,300 in the process. After almost 1,000 miles, the 300 miles from Paris to London should be a breeze. Robin’s efforts were in support of the Edinburgh Headway Group (see, where he is a volunteer.

You can read more about Robin’s challenge at, which features this photo of Shap Fell, possibly the highest point on the route.

Robin must have cycled straight past my house, as I live in Shap. As a result, most of my own training rides have been through the mountains. A recent Sunday outing took me on a round-trip to Carlisle. On the outward journey, I was absolutely flying and appeared to rattle off the 30 miles in no time at all. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t owned a road bike before, as I convinced myself that I was obviously a natural. It was only on the return journey that I realised I’d been cycling mostly downhill and with a generous tailwind. That brought me back down to reality with a bump. Still, it wasn’t quite as surprising as last Sunday’s training ride from Liverpool to Southport via St Helens and back. At about mile 40 of my 65 mile journey, this happened:

See if you can spot the obvious error. You can imagine my happy demeanour as I unclipped my shoe from the pedal, in readiness for an approaching roundabout, and the entire crank arm fell off. Having a bike that falls apart like a circus clown’s is not top of my agenda in preparing for Paris.

Until now, my own charitable endeavours have revolved around long distance running, so getting to sit down as I exercise has been a welcome change. In 2009, I ran five international marathons (Barcelona, London, San Francisco, Berlin and New York) for Christies (see and Macmillan ( You can read more at  ( is as good a place to start as any).

I hope you’ll tune into our blog updates throughout our preparation and the Arc to Arch event itself. You can support our endeavours, and these great charities, at or contact Hilary Garrett ( / 0161 603 5000) to hear more about our corporate sponsorship packages.

NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004