Tour De Barchester - Live Blog

Tour De Barchester

Week 6 Update

How did we get here so quickly …… happy 4th of July, also known as ‘Independence Day’.

So today is day zero, the day we mobilise ourselves and our bikes to the starting location. To say I am anxious right now is an understatement!

I was asked at the weekend if ‘I was ready?’ Training wise, I think so I’ve put in quite a few hours on the bike now, so I know where my sore spots are going to be and I’ve been trying to mitigate against that, but it’s inevitable, right?  Oouch! What I’m not prepared for is four consecutive long days on the bike with other people ……. So I train solo, I like my own thoughts when I am out on the road with the odd expletive at the cars and their drivers as they come past too close to me, so to be riding not only with ‘people’ but three directors of the company ….. OMG!!

I would very much like to introduce you to two very special people, as without these two people who will also be on ‘tour’ with us, this wouldn’t be possible……. Lucy Green; Personal Assistant and Mitch Counsell; Project Manager who will be our support crew throughout the duration of the ‘tour’  with Mitch driving the mini-bus with all our spare gear, water and not to mention a large amount of high sugar content goodies which have been donated to us (thank you Stephen!)

Lucy GreenMitch Counsell




Also, here is Marilyn…… my bike, those who read my last post will know that I was shocked after all the hours and miles that I have and will be doing on my bike, I still didn’t have a name for her. So today, I am pleased to say she has been named Marilyn and to make sure she was photo ready she has had a little wash ‘behind the pedals’ (well ‘behind the ears’ wouldn’t have sounded right now would it!) ….. so here she is ‘my trusty stead’ - say hello Marilyn!






Day One of the ‘tour’, July 5th sees us stopping at our first service, Spen Court, in Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire before moving on to Forest Hill Care Home in Worksop; Nottinghamshire some 40 miles later and then finishing the day at Forest Independent Hospital in Mansfield; Nottinghamshire. Day One has us completing over 60 miles, over 3,000ft uphill and 2,825ft downhill, those that know me will realise by now that I always like to explore a little, some people say that ‘I get lost’ but all roads leads somewhere, so we could end up doing a few more miles than we need to …. he he he he (I hope the other cyclists aren’t reading this J )

Tomorrow also marks 74 years’ service of the NHS – so I would like to take this opportunity to say Happy Birthday!

There’s still time - please show your support by giving generously -

Week 5 Update

We are all very much nervous/excited about the tour, with only 1 week to go until we start to mobilise ourselves and travel to West Yorkshire where we begin. We have all completed our last ‘long’ rides before the tour with Genevieve training in Murcia, Spain, Simon training in the Lake District and Tony getting used to being out on the roads having only recently bought a road bike (having clocked up a lot of miles on an indoor stationary bike).

For my last ‘long’ cycle ride I took on what will be Day 3 of the ‘tour’ in reverse. So on Saturday, yes one of the days of the rail strikes, I decided to get a train to High Wycombe and cycle back to Banbury via the care homes which we will be visiting on the day and then from Banbury to home - a total of 62 miles (approx. 100k). I have to say the train journey was lovely, very quiet, I had a carriage to myself well, of course I had to share it with my trusty steed (my bicycle)!

Loved the ride home, being out in the fresh air, in the countryside, amongst nature, not knowing where I was, getting acquainted with the Komoot app (other apps are available) to guide me, and being invigorated by the few spots of rain - my happy place! 

I’ve just realised that in writing this, I haven’t named my bike (my trusty steed).  Whilst some of you may think that is a totally weird thing to say, the reality is when you christen important possessions in your life, it shows that you have built up a relationship and appreciation for that object and you will probably interact with them differently and let’s be honest just recently it seems that my bike and I have been ‘joined at the hip’, I’ve probably spent more time with ‘her’ than David (my husband) and I have heavily relied on ‘her’ as much as I have relied on my own body to cover the miles. So if anyone knows of any good bike names, please do let me know and I’ll introduce ‘her’ to you next time (just need to clean ‘her’ up a little first! J)       

Not wanting to keep you in suspense any longer, I would like this opportunity to proudly present to you our cycling jerseys!

Tour De Barchester Jerseys

All the cyclists have received them now, those not used to wearing Lycra are complaining that they are too tight, but it’s all to do with aerodynamics, you don’t want anything too baggy as it’ll act as a parachute when you’re going down the hills (did someone say hills, I thought it was a nice flat route …. LOL).

Thank you to our sponsors (in no particular order) Total Motion, Connell Consulting, Lawrence Baker, Harvest Healthcare, People Plus, Acute Training Solutions, Fluid Ideas, Care Choices, Mondial Lighting, WC Milk, fileVAULT Solutions Ltd, Trusted Care and Arca Blanca.

Please show your support by giving generously -

Week 4 Update

Excitement all around …… or is it realisation setting in with just 2 weeks to go!

Today, not only have our cycling jerseys arrived but also our official Tour de Barchester cotton t-shirts that are on sale for £15.00 with all proceeds going to Barchester’s Charitable Foundation.

I subscribe to a Business Management newsletter and recently received an email specifically about ‘topics to avoid discussing with co-workers’. The article listed 8 ‘toxic’ topics and the last one made me smile and want to apologise to all who have had to listen to Simon, Genevieve, Tony and myself talk about the Tour de Barchester, and specifically as mentioned in this article, talking about ‘spandex’. As cyclists, the subject is unavoidable and honestly if you listen to other cyclist talk, they will be talking about it too.

But for anyone who we have spoken too which made you conjure up images you would rather not see – we are deeply sorry, albeit there are no guarantees that there will not be any more spandex talk.   

Tony Woollett; Recruitment Director pictured here said: “The Tour de Barchester is a great way of celebrating our brilliant staff and the support they provide to our residents and patients 24/7, 365 days of the year whilst raising money for a great cause.  Our foundation helps older people and adults with disabilities to connect with their local community, awarding grants to individuals and groups to ensure maximum inclusion, enabling everyone to be involved

Every day and especially throughout the pandemic, our homes and hospitals strive to enhance the lives of the people they support and I’m looking forward to seeing some of them, showing them how much we care and appreciate everything they do.  It will also be nice to see some residents, hopefully brighten their day and if nothing else, give them a good laugh at me in lycra.

I’m hoping the weather stays fine although I have to admit to not looking forward to any hills, but I guess the extra effort pales into insignificance compared to the efforts our staff put in everyday”

Our big focus at the moment is on fundraising for Barchester’s Charitable Foundation. Please show your support by giving generously -

Week 3 Update

3 weeks to go ……. There’s no way to get out of this now, is there???

With 3 weeks to go, the route has been established, the Barchester services whichwe are visiting are primed & have been planning for our arrival / departure together with the divisional & regional support teams and the cyclists are making the most of this weather and getting some miles in their legs.

As part of our training for Tour de Barchester, Genevieve and I conquered RideLondon on Sunday 29th May, 100 miles around London and Essex, which was a thoroughly enjoyable day. Here we are together proudly showing off our medals (Genevieve is on my right in the red and white stripe top).

Last week was National Bike Week, I have to say I can’t stop talking about how empowering I find cycling. For me cycling keeps me active, keeps me fit, gets me out in the fresh air, connects me with people, builds friendships, takes me to new places and doesn’t cost the earth. Honestly, I feel like ‘Dora the Explorer’ having recently just moved, there is nothing better than being out on the bike and seeing where roads go, which is exactly what I did this morning!

Some weird and wonderful facts about cycling:

  • the first constructed bike was almost entirely made from wood, and several thousand were built and used.
  • the world’s longest bike was 135 feet and 10.7 inches long and was built by Santos and the University of South Australia in 2015. Guinness World records required the constructors to prove that the bike could travel a minimum of 100meters, without the riders touching the ground – which it could!
  • bikes don’t actually need riders, a bicycle can stay upright without a rider as long as it’s moving at 8mph or faster
  • a 2014 psychological study that cyclists tend to demonstrate a unique blend of intelligence, generosity and the ‘cool’ factor. Now, there’s a reason to get on your bike! 
  • the most expensive bike ever, Damien Hirst’s Trek Madone, or the Butterfly Bike, was auctioned for $500,000 at Sotherby’s
  •  the largest rideable bicycle has a wheel diameter of 3.3 m (10 ft 9.92 in) and was built by Didi Senft from Germany.
  • cycling is three times faster than walking, for the same amount of energy.    

Simon McCall, Barchester’s Commercial Director who came up with this terrible idea (sorry; I meant to say wonderful, joyous, delightful idea), pictured here after a long training run in Lanzarote, said:

“The Barchester Foundation does a fantastic job of providing support in the community, so I wanted to do something to increase the profile of the charity and raise as much money as possible to help older people and adults with a disability.

We discussed various cycling challenges and settled on the Tour de Barchester route for 2022.  We are visiting all of our regions – starting in West Yorkshire and finishing in central London - and it is great that we are able to visit 16 of our homes along the way, engaging with staff, residents and relatives as we do. 

The most touching thing is that one of our residents is looking to match the whole distance we are doing (all 211 miles) on a stationary bike.  If she can do it, we can!” 


Thank you to our sponsors (in no particular order) Total Motion, Connell Consulting, Lawrence Baker, Harvest Healthcare, People Plus, Acute Training Solutions, Fluid Ideas, Care Choices, Mondial Lighting, WC Milk, fileVAULT Solutions Ltd, Trusted Care and Arca Blanca, I hope to be able to showcase our Cycling Jerseys in my next blog post.

Please show your support by giving generously -

Week 2 Update

Once it was realised that this wasn’t a ‘’throw away comment’ and we had core riders, support team in place it was time to turn our attention to plan the route.

It was important to us that we included and incorporated stops at facilities within all four of Barchester’s Divisions; North, Central, South and Hospitals & Complex Care albeit the first suggestion was of course Lands’ End to John O’ Groats which even I’ll admit would have been a challenge on a completely different level. Whilst the route which was agreed is by no mean feat for our inaugural ‘Tour’, none of the core riders have every accomplished this distance in consecutive days of cycling, so it could get interesting.

I was asked earlier this week ‘so what do you plan to do on the evening after the first day of cycling’ which I thought was an interesting question to which I answered ‘go to our hotel, have a bath, maybe a glass of wine (sorry I meant water … J), reflect on the day, talk about our sore bottoms, talk tactics for the next day, refuel and hydrate’, I am not sure that’s the answer that they wanted or if they expected us to be going out ‘on the town’ but in reality whilst I am sure there will be a lot of giggles (especially seeing each other in lyrca for the first time) as well as a lot of moans and groans.

So, with the route planned (thanks to Komoot), managers notified that they had been selected to be part of our maiden route we turned our sights to fund raising for Barchester’s Charitable Foundation.

Thank you to all our very kind and generous sponsors (in no particular order) Total Motion, Connell Consulting, Lawrence Baker, Harvest Healthcare, People Plus, Acute Training Solutions, Fluid Ideas, Care Choices, Mondial Lighting, WC Milk, fileVAULT Solutions Ltd, Trusted Care and Arca Blanca.

Barchester’s Charitable Foundation was created by Barchester Healthcare in 2000 to help people in the communities where the Barchester care homes operate. It is a registered charity based in London and legally completely independent of Barchester Healthcare.
We give grants to help reduce isolation and loneliness, promote group activities and generally improve people’s mobility and quality of life. We aim to give grants that will help people lead more fulfilled lives and reach their full potential.
Our mission is to make a difference to the lives of older people and other adults with a physical or mental disability; supporting practical solutions that lead to increased personal independence, self-sufficiency and dignity.

It’s not too late to show your support for the riders and the Foundation by donating, big or small - – to quote Tesco’s (other grocery stores are available) ‘every little helps’.

Stay tuned in for more details of the route, facilities we are visiting, pictures and how you can get involved.

Week 1 Update

Background Information

So let me take you back to around November 2021 when there were a few mentions of ‘wouldn’t it be good if we organised a bike tour and visit some of our facilities’, and whilst there was much nodding and agreement nothing came of it.

Then …… fast forward to February 2022 when Simon McCall; Commercial Director, said wouldn’t it be great to start getting out and about visiting our car homes, of which we were all very much in agreement as spending nearly 2 years working from home albeit it in different rooms, there’s nothing that feels better than being in one of our facilities, meeting with staff, residents and families. Simon didn’t mean visiting by means of planes, trains and automobiles but on 2 wheels and a lot of pedal power.

So from that day forward a small team got together to organise the inaugural Tour de Barchester.

There will be a ‘core’ pack of riders consisting of Simon McCall, , Genevieve Glover, HR Director, Tony Woollett, Recruitment Director and myself, Shona Conway, Project Coordinator, who will take on the whole challenge. We will be supported by Lucy Green; Personal Assistant and Mitch Counsell; Project Manager who will be our trusted support crew and doing everything in-between not to mention or marshals, mini-bus drivers, moral support and first-responders (which I sincerely hope we don’t need!).

The Tour de Barchester will take place over four days, from July 5th- 8th, from Yorkshire to London, stopping at 15 care homes and 1 hospital across all four of Barchester’s divisions to meet well-wishers, have a well-earned break and refuel before continuing on their way, We will also be joined by staff members from different homes and divisions on the tour.

The gruelling 211 mile cycling challenge is not only to raise as much money as we can for Barchester’s Charitable Foundation which supports older people and other adults living with a disability or mental health problems by helping them to connect or re-connect with others in their local communities but is also to recognise all our amazing people at Barchester Healthcare who have worked tirelessly in keeping our residents, patients and each other staff throughout the ongoing pandemic. 

Photographed on a training session, Genevieve Glover, said: “I am participating in the inaugural Tour de Barchester as I would like to continue to put a spotlight on the amazing teams we have working at Barchester in our homes and hospitals. Having run the virtual London Marathon in October 2021, passing 3 of our Barchester homes (Wimbledon Beaumont, Queens Court and Lynde House), I’m looking forward to meeting and recognising more colleagues across all 5 Divisions!”

Thank you to all our very kind and generous sponsors (in no particular order) Total Motion, Connell Consulting, Lawrence Baker, Harvest Healthcare, People Plus, Acute Training Solutions, Fluid Ideas, Care Choices, Mondial Lighting, WC Milk, fileVAULT Solutions Ltd, Trusted Care and Arca Blanca.

Please show your support by giving generously -