York City fan Simon Hood is just a few weeks away from a cycling challenge that would put any round-the-world rider to shame – riding to every one of his team’s home and away games this coming season.
While others meander through stunning desert landscapes and soak up the atmosphere in exotic cities, Simon will be peddling his way to locations including Eastbourne, Kidderminster and Barrow-in-Furness in hottish pursuit of his beloved team.
He’s looking to raise as much money as possible for the Alzheimer’ Society – a disease which claimed both of his grandfathers – and is also planning to write a book about his experiences across 10,000 miles of unglamorous British roads over the wintry course of a single season in the Conference League.
Simon is giving up his job as a production co-ordinator for a company that builds film and TV sets and is to dedicate 10 months to the project.
“I haven’t trained much at all,” he admits. “I went to Brittany a couple of months ago with my girlfriend and I cycled there, but that’s been about it so for. But I have done the Land’s End to John O’Groats ride and I didn’t really train for that, either. I mean, I went up on to the Yorkshire Moors a couple of times but I just sort of knew that I could do it, and I did. So I know this will be hard, but I’m pretty sure I’ll get there. I will be walking in Corsica in the next two weeks – using all the muscles I won’t need on the bike!”
Currently living in London, Simon has the luxury of being able to use his dad’s flat in York when he comes up for home games, and he has friends dotted around the country who have offered him a sofa for the night.
“The adventure side of it – never being quite sure where you’ll end up and what will happen next – is all part of it. Connecting with people on the way is very important and it will be a strong element of the book, too.”
York City Council has offered Simon some sponsorship and he’s also had interest from various cycling-related companies, including Carradice and Michelin, who have offered him equipment.
The season’s fixture list has just been announced and Simon has been scanning it eagerly, working out how many days he’ll need between fixtures to get to matches – particularly when the team plays on a Saturday and then again midweek.
“Eastbourne looks like it’s the furthest to travel,” he said, “but I think I’ve worked out a way of getting there from York in time. Luton in September is going to be tricky because it’s my sister’s wedding at that time and I have to find somewhere to leave my bike in Luton overnight.”
There are also cup games to consider. “I’ll try to get to FA Cup games,” he said, “but, erm, I’m not sure how long we’ll last in that trophy so I’ll have to wait and see! I’m certainly committed to all the league games, so I’ll just see how the cup ties work out.”
Road.cc will be following Simon as he sets off on his journey, and if you want to follow him on Twitter, join his Facebook group or simply see what he’s all about, visit his website at www.bicyclekicks.co.uk