Learning Disabilities Archives - Phil Cox

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  1. Re-Launch of Point North & Pedal – Get your FREE Kindle copy now!

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    Download FREE from 3/1/16 – 00:15

    I’ve learned a lot about self-publication since launching Point North & Pedal in 2013, a book about my experience of riding nearly 1,000 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Sales have been OK but I thought I would apply some of this new-found knowledge to re-launching the book. I’ve read a lot of blogs and listened to countless videos about the best way to promote a book, hopefully some of it has rubbed off!

    JOG Signpost

    So, what’s it all about and what’s the point?

    I rode the UK End to End in 12 days, a solo effort on a heavy mountain bike but it had a clear purpose, raise lots of money for the Cri Du Chat Syndrome Support Group. I was a fairly new to riding a bike at the time but made sure I practiced everything I would need to ride an average of 80 miles a day for nearly two weeks. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, I can’t recommend it enough.


    The book is an amusing look at the physical and mental side of taking on such a ride. It’s supposed to be funny but also inspirational, something I hope comes across to the reader. I have been honest about how I felt, especially regarding the severe homesickness, something I have never suffered from in the past. I have also resurrected the word ‘wassock’, a very satisfying term when applied to people who wind me up.

    I originally wrote up my notes purely as a personal project, as I got into the detail, it became steadily more fascinating. I had always planned to write something when I got back so I maintained a meticulous journal during the ride. It was a positive way to spend the evenings once all the ‘housekeeping’ had been sorted out. I had a lot of thinking time, usually in a freezing tent and isolated from the rest of my life.


    The book also developed into a ‘top tips’ guide for those looking to research the ride, I made plenty of mistakes so I hope prospective LEJOGers will find some useful information. Check out the About section of this web site for further tips and kit reviews etc.

    The end result should have something for everyone, it’s not just for cyclists or those interested in touring on a bike, it’s a story too.

    I have received some nice reviews on Amazon, I think this one sums them all up well:

    ‘A truly amazing book for cyclists and non-cyclist (like myself!) everywhere. This book tells the story of one man, one bike and a 1000 miles for charity. The planning, the physical and emotional endurance and pressure of cycling one end of the country to the other without a support vehicle all for the selfless goal of giving some financial support and help to this wonderful charity. The funny bits made me laugh out loud and the sad bits made me remember those that have gone before. A truly remarkable read written by a man and his family who are an inspiration to us all. Please, please buy this book you will not regret your purchase.’

    All the above sounds very self-indulgent but there was a point to the exercise, I sell the book to profit the Cri Du Chat Syndrome Support Group. They are a great (small) charity that supports families of those with CDC Syndrome, they also fund research into this rare chromosomal disorder. I have a personal connection with the charity so raising money for them seemed a natural thing to do. To date, the figure stands at over £7,600 but I can and must do better!

    So, moving into 2016, I am offering the book for FREE for a limited period of 5 days only! A little counter intuitive but I hope to improve future sales as a result; more people see what I have done and talk about it to their friends etc.

    Please help me to make this a success, there are several things you can do:


    • If you have a Kindle, please DOWNLOAD the book – after all, it’s FREE!


    • If you don’t have a Kindle, you can down load reading apps for most devices.


    • Share this post with your friends on Social Media


    • Like my Facebook Page (there is also a ‘Like’ button in this blog, under the Twitter feed on the right).


    • If you read/have read the book, write a review on Amazon, this really helps to drive sales.


    • If you don’t have a Kindle, buy a paperback copy (they make great presents too!).


    You may own a copy already, if that’s the case, thank you for helping to raise a little more cash for the charity. It all adds up and makes a difference. More information about the charity can be found here.

    Here’s to a great 2016, whatever you are doing.

  2. Ironman complete and fund raising going well!

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    It’s been nearly two weeks since the Ironman, I was under the false impression that things would calm down once it was out of the way but I couldn’t have been more wrong. There have been a number of administration tasks to sort out plus I started training again on the bank holiday Monday, there hasn’t been time to breath.

    The morning of 28th August started very early at 5am, I needed to eat and make sure that I was happy with my kit. We had spent most of the previous day delivering trestle tables and items of kit to the gym so there was little to do. My bike was already checked and loaded into the car, I just needed to run one last check before the swim started and we would be ready to go.

    Kevin William’s at Wantage Leisure Centre had kindly agreed that I could have a lane to myself for the swim, they couldn’t have been more accomodating as we set up. I spent five minutes warming up in the pool’s plant room, we had agreed to use this for the transition as it avoided going through the changing rooms and out the main door. I could get changed here and leave my bike safely, another worry avoided. I got into the pool at 6:55 and swam 100m very slowly just to get things moving.  Ben was counting off the lengths to make sure I completed the distance, he gave me the nod at 7am, I pushed off for the first length.

    We’d broken the swim down into 6 blocks of 26 lengths, a total of 156 lengths of the 25m pool. I took the first two blocks easily but went a little too hard on the third block. The tapering of the last week had left me full of beans; there was a temptation to really get the engine going as a result. The fourth block went back to a more measured pace, well within my threshold.  The last two blocks saw a gradual increase in pace, I finished feeling comfortable and knowing I could have gone harder for the swim, I wanted to be safe in the knowledge that I had left enough in the tank for the row. Total swim time was just under 1 hour and 13 minutes – no stops.

    A short video of the last length can be seen here.

    I carefully levered myself out of the pool to avoid any calf cramp, this had been dogging me in training but seemed to have cleared up over the last couple of weeks.  I mitigated the onset of cramp by eating bananas (increased potassium) and staying well hydrated, Adam Dobson of Revolution Sports Injuries had lent me his pair of calf sleeves which also seemed to help nicely. I left those on for the duration of the day. Sarah Penney had found her way into the plant room so I asked her to turn her back as I changed poor soul.

    I emerged into bright sunlight to be greeted by a number of riders ready to set off on the 112 mile bike leg. We had arranged a peloton beforehand, it seemed like a good way to get others involved and raise the profile of the event plus it was company for me. Steve Penney and I had spent a couple of hours putting out signage for the route two days prior to the event; we knew the loops backwards by the time we started to pedal! The wind was slightly higher than I would have liked but people made sure they took turns at the front, everyone was willing to do their slot and the ride passed quickly.

    The feed station at the gym was manned by my wife and kids, they made a load of flapjack (slightly over-catered I would say!) and we had had a generous donation of food from Alison Wright. Steve had provided a water bowser which contributed to a very professional looking set up. Our pace was quicker than I had panned at 16.5mph so we soaked up some of the saved time by chatting and eating a lot at the end of each loop; it was very sociable and simply good to be riding with friends and supporting a great cause. A big thank you to those that gave up their Friday to ride on the day:

    Malcolm Heavens, Steve Penny, Nobby, Andy Norman, Sean Liu, Richard Sheppard of Bikelux, Nigel Bedfords, Sarah Fogden, Nicola Bateman and Carl Salmon.

    Bikelux of Newbury was supporting the event by providing energy products for me and also their mobile mechanic for the day. The poor chap (also called Richard) was there all day without a single mechanical; I bet we would have had issues if he wasn’t around though. A huge thanks to Bikelux for wanting to be involved, check out their website or go and visit the shop www.bikelux.co.uk

    The final loop was half the distance of the main loop and finished quickly, some of The 14 Club volunteers turned up to welcome the riders back and be part of the photographs. Once we had eaten a little bit more food, it was into the gym to start the row.

    TFD Gym in Grove have been brilliant since we started to discuss the event back in January, they have been very relaxed about us bringing in our bits and pieces and also welcoming those who were prepared to do a bit of rowing in support. The idea was to entice people to sign up for a distance or an amount of time and make a small donation, these lucky folk were then entered into a draw for a Waitrose voucher and a bespoke printed sports bottle. The latter prize was kindly donated by Khush at www.kapz.co.uk, they have some really funky bike products, check them out because if you like bikes you’ll want to be aware of this site! I’m the proud owner of two unique headset caps each with a design of my own choosing, completely bespoke and beautifully machined. Might be in the market for some bar ends soon!

    photo 1

    Riders and crew!


    photo 1 (1)

    We grabbed Emily after her workout (sorry) – she designed the Team 14 Logo!

    The row went well and the stretch breaks every 5km had the desired effect. The total distance was 42,195m or 26.2 miles. There was no way that I could run a proper marathon with my dodgy knees, rowing seemed a challenging alternative. Things started to get a little sticky at the 10km to go mark, there was a bit of suffering up to 5km to go, a couple of gels and a load of pain killers seem to make the last 5km’s relatively bearable. The pace was sedate at 2:20/500m, hardly any lungs involved although the glute pain was significant. Stretching mitigated this to a point but the last 10km was difficult all the same. I finished the row in 3:40 (including the stretch breaks), the whole event had taken 13 hours and 20 minutes (again, this included all the breaks and stops at the bike tent).

    I though the end would be a little emotional but it didn’t turn out like that, once I had released the foot straps and carefully stood up, it felt like an anti-climax. Jason had provided motivation from the rower next to mine for the last 14km’s which helped enormously.  I think training on my own had sometimes been very boring  with the end never really in sight, with plenty of people around the distance seemed to slip by, before I knew it that was it, all done.

    I spent a bit of time on the roller but couldn’t really be bothered to stretch properly. The event was very low intensity, just long so I wasn’t too sore on the Saturday and Sunday. Sleep on the Friday night eluded me a bit, I guess I was still wired from the day, Saturday night’s rest was fantastic, out for the count!

    A massive thanks to all those who supported me as I rowed:

    Kate Sullivan, Grace, Jo O’Halloran, Sam Cox, Harriet Cox, Ben Cox, Liz Snook, Daphne, Jason Auchinvole, Carl Salmon.

    photo 3

    To date, we have raised over £2,600 and the total continues to rise. I couldn’t have done this without the help of many people, especially my family and Steve Penney. I’ve been selfish around training, regularly turning down rides with friends so I can stick to my program but they all understood. I guess I know a lot of good people.

    Now, I wonder what to do next…..



    It is still possible to sponsor me, please visit my donation page here. Your money will be used to help The 14 Club of Wantage continue to help people with learning disabilities, thank you.


    The Team 14 Ironman was supported by:

    Sponsors Logos for webpageBikelux

    Round Table


    Further reading…..

    If you liked this blog please take a moment to check out my book describing the solo Land’s End to John O’Groats ride in 2012, all profit from sales to www.criduchat.org.uk

    Please click the cover image for the Kindle version or click here to order a paperback copy. Thank you!





  3. Ironman organisation stepping up….

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    The 28th August is getting closer and there is still a large amount of things to sort out before the day, at least training has started to taper down which is freeing up more time to deal with things.

    I met with Richard (Bikelux) last week to go through the details regarding their mobile mechanic and the feeding station. Richard kindly supplied some gels to try, I bolted two down on a longish row recently, all seemed good and no dreaded stomach upset. He is doing his best to engage local media to cover the day, BBC South Today have shown a flicker of interest; it would be a real coup if we could get some TV coverage.

    For those riders who ordered a shirt, they have arrived and I have started to hand them out. They will make for a great picture on the day and it’s a nice way to acknowledge and thank the events sponsors. Thank you to all those riders who bought a shirt, we have raised a further £35 as a result, I will put this on the Make a Donation page when I get a moment.

    The bike route will be set up on Wednesday, 26th August; Steve Penney has kindly agreed to drive round the course so we can put the laminated signs up. The riders have all been sent an entry pack along with an emergency use paper map. Once the route is set I will be a lot happier and can relax a little.

    I’ve also met with Kevin from Wantage Sports Centre to finalise details for the swim. I will be allocated a roped off lane and will be able to exit the pool through the plant room, this is useful as I can change into my cycling gear. Having tested out the cheap tri-suit I own, I don’t think it wold last the distance and I have to protect my modesty of course.

    Ben and I will be doing a dry run of all of the tasks required for the day: transitions, clearing up gear and setting things up for the feed station and row. We want to make sure there are no surprises especially with regard to transitions and equipment/clothing.

    All I have to concentrate on now is raising the profile of the event, encouraging more donations and making sure the taper is effective. If you would like to sponsor me, please click here.

    Oh yes, I need to avoid getting ill too……roll on 28th!

    Further reading…..

    If you liked this blog please take a moment to check out my book describing the solo Land’s End to John O’Groats ride in 2012, all profit from sales to www.criduchat.org.uk

    Please click the cover image for the Kindle version or click here to order a paperback copy. Thank you!


  4. EKGraphics work with Team 14 to produce a wicked logo!

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    In order to raise the profile of Team 14’s Sponsored Ironman event on 28th August, I thought it would be a good idea to have a logo to bandy about. Knowing very little about graphic design I thought this was best left to the experts – so I asked Emily of E K Graphics to see what she could do.

    Emily’s business has been established since 2008 and predominantly produces high quality work for the music industry; amongst her portfolio are flyers for night club venues, DJ & club logos and album artwork. The image below was featured in issue 88 of Advanced Photoshop magazine (October 2011), a more technical description of how this image was created can be found on the EK Graphics website. I’m a bit of a sci-fi fan and the futuristic feel definitely caught my eye.


    Emily’s work is not just limited to the music business; she offers all the usual graphic design services around branding, advertising and office stationery. Having worked with her to produce the Team 14 logo, her customer service and understanding of what clients actually want is second to none. I received a large choice of logos and it was difficult to make a decision as I liked most of them!

    The Team 14 logo really captures the essence of the challenge (and I like the futuristic font!).

    New Sponsored Challenge for 2015!

    If you need a graphic design service, look no further than www.ekgraphics.co.uk, a professional and friendly approach is the order of the day! More examples of Emily’s work can be seen on her website.

    Thank you Emily for supporting this local charitable event, your help is much appreciated.

    Further reading…..

    If you liked this blog please take a moment to check out my book describing the solo Land’s End to John O’Groats ride in 2012, all profit from sales to www.criduchat.org.uk

    Please click the cover image for the Kindle version or click here to order a paperback copy. Thank you!