A Season In The Saddle

“A man on a bike watching his football team”

If only it was as simple as that!

We’ve all taken on the occasional challenge to raise funds for charities close to our hearts or charities whose cause has sadly affected our lives in one way or another.

As the season draws to a close in the coming weeks, one man will be rewarding himself by putting his feet up and looking forward to the upcoming World Cup in South Africa.

Yet, before the season started not even he could have expected alongside his charity bicycle ride that his beloved York City’s season would culminate in an appearance in the Blue Square Premier play-off finals at Wembley.

I introduce to you, Simon Hodd, 33, self-unemployed (to fulfil this cause), he is the one man of his bike watching his beloved Minstermen, I just forgot to tell you he raised the superb amount of £5,000 in the process.

I recently met up with Simon and discussed all things from the delights of England, to walking part of the journey oh and his forgiving girlfriend.

One of the bigger climbs of the trip, Vale of Belvoir in the background

How did you initially come to the conclusion of this challenge?

I wish I could blame it on the booze but unfortunately it just sprang out of my own mind. I cycled from London to Crawley for the first match of last season and got it into my head that a whole season would be feasible. A couple of mates have joined me on recent legs due to drunken challenges though!
How do you feel York City will fair in the play-offs? (asked before the games took place) 

I think we’re up against it, but we would have been against Oxford as well, who were the other option going into the last day. We played well twice against Luton and had two close draws. I think it will be very tight.
Have the club helped along your challenge?

Yes, they helped me with a ticket for home matches, publicised my site on their official site and I’m doing a bucket collection at the home leg of the play offs for The Alzheimer’s Society.
How have away fans taken to you on your trips across the country?

Pretty well, many donations of cash to the charity and beer to my belly. They were especially friendly at Eastbourne. The away clubs have been pretty much universally helpful too. It’s been one of the best aspects of the whole trip.
Did you always feel you will hit the 5k?

Definitely. I think a lot of people will donate when I’ve completed the challenge, especially the ones who know me. Also, Ridgeback kindly donated a bike to me when my original one broke with the proviso that I sell it for my charity at the end of the trip.

How much have you collected in donations to date??

£5090 and rising.

Ghost Rider
What have been your high on this challenge and also what have been your lows?

Highs: meeting Sir Tom Finney, pedalling 130 miles in a day to get back just to York in time to grab a pint before kick off, Brodie scoring two goals in the last 4 minutes to knock Crewe out of the FA Cup, taking the lead at Stoke (for 30 seconds), making the play-offs – incredible considering we were nearly relegated last season.

Lows: 700 mile round trip to Eastbourne to see an insipid performance and a 3-1 defeat, my bike frame snapping in the first week, getting to 4 matches to find them called off at the last-minute.
Have you picked up any injuries through your cycling on this challenge?

Incredibly, no. A bit of bruising to body and ego when I fell off on ice and on the several occasions when I forgot my shoes were clipped into the pedals but nothing serious.
Nicest place visited?

Some beautiful little villages all over the country. I’ve been through the Yorkshire Dales, Peak District, Lake District, Lincolnshire Wolds, Cotswolds, Sussex Downs and many more  stunning corners of England. It’s been a great way to see the country.

As a destination for a match I think the nicest place that I’d not been to before was Salisbury, spent a great weekend wandering around the place. Just a shame the ground is miles out-of-town on an industrial estate and up a bloody great hill.
Funniest site you’ve seen whilst cycling on this challenge?

My mate Will going over the hoardings trying to get the ball back into play at Hayes & Yeading http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjsiLNopUdU

Did you expect to have honestly maintained the challenge?

I hoped I would when I set out to do it and thought I could, but I’ve had some close calls. I had to walk most of the last 12 miles to the Altrincham game when my bottom bracket gave up the ghost. I thought that I’d get scuppered by the weather at some point, which duly happened, so I had to get creative around one of the rearranged fixtures. 
Did you honestly expect to finish with a bike ride to Wembley for the play-off final?

That would be the Hollywood ending for sure. 
Do you have any plans to do a similar/different challenge next season?

I don’t think I could get away with another year off – I need to work and I think my girlfriend might put up some resistance to another quest. The next challenge is to write the book and get it published.

What did your final journey to London entail??

A simple 27 miles from Luton to Wembley. Although I had to get across London to St. Pancras first, then the train only went as far as St. Albans due to engineering works so I ended up doing 50 miles, culminating in a televised ‘look Mum, no hands’ finish on Wembley Way.

Any final comment about the season?

I’ll attempt to reintegrate into normal society. If anyone’s looking for a perpetually flighty workshy clown with concentration issues, please give me a shout.

I’m so disappointed York were unable to gain promotion to league to, mainly to end Simon’s chalenge in perfect fashion, but what a season he and his team have enjoyed!

York end

I need to inform you despite Simon’s obvious modesty, his trips to home games, did not simply involve a short hop to his local home ground, he had recently moved to Oxfordshire and had to cycle a round trip of approximately 375 miles on a match to match basis. Amazing!!

Good luck to Simon and I hope to see his book on the shelves in the very near future, it was a pleasure to meet him and to see someone complete such a noble and humble cause.

If you wish to read more from his extraordinary trip then head over to http://www.bicyclekicks.co.uk/ and read away, though you may also want to add to the donations for this great cause, if so then head over to http://www.justgiving.com/bicyclekicks and do the right thing.

Cheers for reading and thanks to Simon for allowing me to interview him.

Kind Regards.


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