They say in football that it’s not what you do in August and September that counts, but what you do as the season picks up pace. For cycling football nut Simon Hood though, his toughest test is coming at the very start of the new campaign. That's not all
Simon is on a 10,000-mile mission to ride to every single York City match, home and away, this season in the Blue Square Premier League to raise as much money as possible for the Alzheimer’s Society, having lost both his grandparents to the disease.
But having studied the fixture list and planned his every trip to the very last detail the footballing authorities have already sold him a dummy. The away game against Gateshead on the August bank holiday weekend clashes with a British Athletics Grand Prix at Gateshead’s International Stadium, so the game has been moved forward to the Tuesday before.
Not a big deal if you’re travelling on a supporters coach, but for Simon it means a 300 mile trek from London from the away game against Hayes & Yeading just three days earlier on the Saturday. It doesn’t seem fair so soon after pre-season.
Simon said: “At least it’s in August so I can cycle into the evening and I have two home games in York afterwards to help me recuperate. I feel I can cope with everything after Gateshead."
For now Simon is on his way to York for the second game against Rushden & Diamonds tonight, after watching the first on Saturday at Oxford. And if the game is anything like the season’s opener Simon could be in for a tough post-match ride.
Leading one-nil after 88 minutes Oxford scored twice right at the end to send the Minstermen spinning to an opening day defeat and leave Simon as sick as a parrot.
Simon, speaking from Banbury, said: “I felt fantastic before the last couple of minutes. Let’s just say I wasn’t feeling particularly ecstatic at the end. To be honest you can’t get too down after a result if you’re a York City fan. But it’s fair to say that I’d have got on the bike in a much better mood if we’d have scored in the last minute to win instead.”
The emotion every football fan goes through has also given Simon another idea. “I’m going to calculate my average speed after a bad defeat or a great win to see if there’s more of a spring in my step depending on the result and my mood.”
Simon has also received some support from England footballing legend Sir Tom Finney. The former Preston North End winger, capped 76 times by England, has asked to meet up with him when he rides to Lancashire after next months match in Barrow. “Sir Tom’s late wife also fell victim to Alzheimer’s and he learned about what I am doing through the friend of a mutual friend.”
Simon, who is also planning to write a book about his experiences, gave up his job as a production co-ordinator for a company that buildsfilm and TV sets and is to dedicate 10 months to the project.
If you want to follow Simon on Twitter, join his Facebook group or simply see what he’s all about, visit his website at www.bicyclekicks.co.uk