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Neil Driver’s 425 Mile fundraising cycle ride

October 6, 2015

On 9 October I leave on my latest challenge.  This time it is a 425 mile cycle ride from North to South Israel. This challenge will be for 8 days of cycling.

One of the reasons is to raise funds for Prostate Cancer UK.  Click here for Neil’s giving page.  All donations will be most appreciated.

I have been preparing for this for several months but am not sure how I will handle the heat !!!  We have never cycled through a desert before and I am thinking the last four days will be a micro-challenge in itself.

I hope to be able to keep you all posted with this blog but please bear with me if it is not updated each day.

Thanks for your support


Davis Grant Sponsors TechHub for Its 4th Birthday

July 8, 2014

Bethnal Green Road had an increased tech startup presence on Thursday 3 July as 300 entrepreneurs, founders and investors descended on RichMix to celebrate TechHub’s 4th birthday. Davis Grant, who provide the accounting clinic office hours at TechHub, were delighted to be one of sponsors of the event, together with Aviva and Dell. DG packed venueWith beers in hand, 6 of the Davis Grant team chatted with TechHub members, fielding varied questions from SEIS and other tax reliefs, to full financial outsourcing support.

At DG Stand - Adam

Adam and Steven with techhub members talking accounting or possibly just World Cup!

Of course being a Techhub party, entertainment included 4 player Mariokart on the N64, adult height Jenga, table tennis,  karaoke and the brain controlling game Mindflex! After Elizabeth Varley, co-founder of TechHub, thanked everyone for coming it was fantastic to hear her personally endorse Davis Grant, stating “we really recommend these guys, please go and speak with them. We only work with cool companies who understand your needs”.   Prospects at the DG stand Davis Grant tech team (from left to right): Jo Saward, Katie Rivers, Steven Sandford (speaking to two founders), Adam Freedman and Directors: Barry Chernoff and Jay Gandesha


Davis Grant was delighted to be a sponsor of the evening together with companies including Aviva and Dell

Day 4 – Arrived in Paris -Saturday 21 June 2014

June 22, 2014

We have arrived in Paris!!!

Amazingly the day passed without major incident, although it started in usual comical fashion with Stuart going the wrong way out of the hotel car park!

We cycled in glorious weather through lovely open countryside but the last 20 or so miles were through the suburbs and into Central Paris.

At one stage  during a particularly hilly part, we turned a corner and Richard said ‘it’s just like San Francisco again!’

All tour we have been speaking about meeting our wives under the Eiffel Tower to mark the  end of the ride.  So true to form Stuart managed to finish us at The Place de Chaillot near the Trocadero overlooking The Eiffel Tower!

We all looked at each other, shrugged and thought it was just typical.  When asked, Stuart said ‘he couldn’t re-programme the sat nav!!!!

Anyway, we spoke to the girls, who could see our orange shirts from The Eiffel Tower and we made our way down to meet them.  It was wonderful having them cheer us at the end of our ride.

Despite everything we had a brilliant time but won’t really miss getting on our bikes tomorrow, although we all agreed we could do the same again in the next four days if we had to.


The stats for the day are: left at 9.15, arrived Eiffel Tower at 3.30 and then on to the hotel at 5.15pm.

Total miles 56.33, 11 mph average.  5hrs 5 mins on the bike.

total mileage for the trip 314.9 miles.


I will post more details and photos when we get back to the Uk, so watch this space!



Day 4 – Paris here we come – last leg (or is that last legs!!!) Saturday 21 June 2014

June 21, 2014

Just a quick pic of us before we started our ride in the morning.

More later


Last leg - here we come Paris!

Last leg – here we come Paris!

Day 3 – More of the same Friday 20 June 2014

June 21, 2014

Dear blog fans.

We are now in Beauvais , about 55 miles from Paris.  It was another eventful day!

Despite all the mishaps, mainly due to going on the wrong route, we are having a laugh, being challenged and enjoying it. It’s a shame there is only 1 day left.

I suppose the highlight of the day was after 15 miles or so when we all seemed to get spilt up. I was with Richard and Stuart the guide (not Stephen as previously mentioned, I did say I was bad with names!). Stuart (well that’s the way the Garmin sat nav takes us) took us down what can only be called a farmers track. No tarmac, loose stones, grass in the middle, single track. You get the picture.

Day 3 - Lost again

Well that’s not really suited for road bikes. Thin high pressure tyres and stones don’t mix. I wouldn’t even walk my bike down that at home. Well the inevitable happened and Richard got a flat. Stuart went on to the end where we would meet and I got to changing it. I though Richard was an intelligent man, quick learner and all that but after all these years watching others fix his puncture – he still doesn’t get it!!

When starting the job I said would it just be typical that when I finish the support van turns up. It was tricky due to the puncture resistant tyres on the wheel (ironic, huh!) but I got the job done. As I put the wheel back on the bike, guess what….the van turned up. The timing was perfect, really funny. Anyway it meant I could clean the grease off my hands and the correct pressure put in with the larger pump he had.

We were still smiling and I said there would be a plus point to all this and that I would tell Richard at the end of the track. At the end we met Stuart, who has also had a flat- surprise surprise!   The plus was that it wasn’t uphill and I didn’t want to tempt fate by saying it earlier. Stuart in his wisdom, who has done this ride last year said, ‘I don’t know why we go down that track, last year it was a mud bath! It only cuts the corner of the road off and doesn’t save much distance.’  We let that one go…..!!!

By now the others were long gone. So we followed Stuart down a pleasant road through farmland, very small towns up some steep hills and onwards. At the next junction he checked his ‘Garmin sat nav’ and guess what, we were off route!  Looks were exchanged between Richard and me. Stuart then called Mark (in the van) for directions and after a few more words we turned round and went back down the road we just came down.  We were a bit annoyed it had happened again. Twenty minutes later Stuart calls Mark and asked where he is. More words exchanged and we had gone the wrong way at the last junction. We should have turned right, effectively doing 2 sides of a triangle  and not turned round.  More words and looks. We agreed to put our bikes in the van and join the route as long as we missed none of the route out. The bikes and Stuart went in the back, Richard and I in the front. 20 minutes by van later we were back on route. By now it was 1pm and we we were hungry. Thankfully the van was now stocked up with food other than bananas, and we had a picnic by the road just off a roundabout in town. Food helps but we were still astounded. The others were waiting for us 4o minutes away and were having lunch.

Richard's Picnic

Richard’s Picnic

We caught them up and found we had done an extra 9 miles.  There were other stories of going a bit off route, not knowing what was happening etc and we set off again at about 2.

It hertz - Indeed it does!

It hertz – Indeed it does!

The roads were rolling and there were some big hills.  The weather was hot and a bit cloudy. I was getting tired after not enough sleep ( Keith you are a great guy but I can’t sleep through your snoring. Tina, much respect!! So I am in my own room tonight as I need to sleep. It’s now 11.15pm  so there won’t be much more of this and it will probably be my last adventure blog effort. It’s great to look back on but really is a huge effort and gets in the way, mainly of sleeping and relaxing, which is vital, for me anyway on these mad physical adventures.

Well by mid afternoon, I was losing energy and getting tired. Stuart was just doing  his 15mph leading up front and the group was stretching out. The extra miles and messing up my food, (lunch was just a cheese and salad baguette, which was lovely but not enough) was not great for my cycling and energy levels. I was eating energy bars but  getting overloaded with them.  I needed to stop but couldn’t get to Stuart to tell him. Fortunately the van was nearby and passed  on the message. The group stopped and when I got there I didn’t even get of the bike but went to Stuart and told him what I thought! Not like me at all as I usually keep it in, but perhaps it all got to me. I said there was no effective sat nav, only 1 phone between them, he had no idea how the riders were feeling or riding and it was ridiculous. He took it coolly and said there should be 2 guides, one front and one back. I said I could do my job but didn’t know about him doing his, just saying I thought it needed sorting.

When he was supposed to be riding with Richard after taking us the wrong way he didn’t even stay with Richard, but just did his normal speed. So I hung back to be together and off he went, looking behind occasionally.

'Guided Tours' - what a joke!

‘Guided Tours’ – what a joke!

Well the penny dropped as he now lets us all pass him on the hills then catches up at the front. What a good idea that is, quite sensible, I’d say!

Anyway it’s 11.30 and I’m finishing now. France will be happy tomorrow as they just thrashed Switzerland in the World Cup.

The stats for today were leave at 9.15,  74 miles (keep up it was only scheduled for 65!), average 13.3mph, 5.35 hours on the bike, finished at 6.45. When we left this morning we all agreed 4.3o was reasonably achievable for a finish time. As you just read – you know what happened?!!!

Roll on Paris


Still smiling

Still smiling

Keith at Lunch!

Keith at Lunch!

Day 2 – A Good One Thursday 19 June 2014

June 20, 2014

image image1 image2 image3 image4 image5At the moment we are 1-0 down in the game against Uruguay. I’m losing interest in the game and so thought I would fill you in with today’s details.

Thankfully today was superb even though I only got about 5 hours sleep!

A nice breakfast and coffee was a good set up for the morning and the weather was great all day and it was a delight to cycle.

We were in countryside all day with pretty villages, canals and rivers, all very French. No surprise there!

Although we feel sorry our ex lady “R” who was forced to leave the tour yesterday it was absolutely the correct thing. There was no way she could have kept up on her bike and it was best for all.

The roads were very challenging at times with some long steep hills, but we were rewarded with lovely long flat sections and also rolling hills. The worst bit today was the road surface. Some parts of our journey were where the road top was coming off and the vibration that was sent through the bike  into our arms and legs was nasty. We also went on some newly “top dressed” parts of roads with loose gravel chippings flying around. Fortunately no punctures today, even with that.

Food stops were great too. Lovely little towns with nice cafe’s and roadside restaurants. The first stop was at a cafe with a cake shop next door. I just had to have a cake before the toasted cheese sandwich but also one after!     Burning 500 calories an hour I earned it!!  However, you will see by one of the photos that it wasn’t just me who liked cakes. But I must say the food didn’t sit too well with me when we started again and the sugar didn’t do me any favours. I won’t be doing that again this trip!  I am now also easing up on the energy gels and bars as we are planning on proper food stops after each third of the ride. We needed them yesterday as we didn’t have enough proper food but it did feel better today with less of them.  French coffee seems to be packed with enough caffeine anyway!

Oh dear, that Suarez did it again. All over!

All of us are holding up well with only the expected tiredness and leg ache.

Well folks, England just lost, I’ve hit the tiredness wall and that’s all for now. Sorry it’s not more detail but my eyes are closing.

More tomorrow.

Today’s stats:   77 miles, leaving Calais at 9.45am  arriving Abbeville at 6.30pm makes 5.75 hours cycling at an average of 13.4mph  We didn’t off route much, it’s hard not to on these roads with few signs and this was as we would have expected.

The Basil Fawlty of Cycle Tours!!! Wednesday 18 June 2014

June 19, 2014
Great Sign to see when on a Cycling Tour!

Great Sign to see when on a Cycling Tour!

Hi all,

This needs to be brief as it’s 2am in France on Thursday morning, (1 am at home) and we have just got to the hotel and showered etc!
You may get the gist from that sentence, that today didn’t quite go to plan.

Well, the expected 85 miles in say 6 or 7 hours turned into 100 miles in 13 hours (total).

Here are the highlights of Wednesday 18 June.

Wake up call at 5am after a poor nights sleep.
An average cold breakfast to be then told that we are not leaving until 7am when the other three arrive. Great!  We hung around for 3/4 hour – this could have been more sleep!

The others arrive at 7am.  Two of them have road bikes which clearly would be ok, but the lady, let’s call her R as I didn’t get her name in full (never was good with names!) turned up on an old hybrid bike that had seen much better days.

We started off in the gloom and drizzle of Blackheath which wasn’t too bad, and made our way through 10+ miles of London rush hour traffic.
It was immediately apparent that R would struggle and was left ebbing most of the time. So we stop to let her catch up and ride slower. Some of us rode at her very slowly 8mph rather than our normal 15 mph, as we felt a bit bad leaving her straggling on her own.
Soon we were very behind schedule and wondering what would transpire.
At least the rain improved a bit!

It was frustratingly slow as we were now in less busy roads and would normally get a good pace on.
We have two people from the tour company. One who drives the support van ( which had no provisions to start with, not even water!) and the guide rider, Stephen, who is in charge  – or meant to be . He didn’t take control at all and just lead the group and waited for R to catch up at intervals.

By 12 noon we had done 40 miles and really needed food.
Oh yes,  they got us lost (or off route as they like to say) a fair bit, just to add to the excitement!

Eventually we found a pub and stopped for re-fuelling.

Now, I take my energy levels very seriously and plan my energy bars, gels, drinks beforehand and all that sadly went out the window as we were riding in such a stop start, slow way. So all my careful planning went down the drain.
I am not sure if this is truly capturing the whole ridiculous experience as it is now 2.15am and I am in great need some sleep, but I hope you get the general idea

So here are some headlines.
We got more frustrated as the day went on and I called the travel company twice to tell them the group with R in would not be practical as we can’t ride like that.
R discovered she had gears and was shown how to use them!!! (yes, seriously) and she did speed up a bit.
By 5pm we had been going 10 hours, ridden 75miles and still had miles to go.
This would be oure longest day riding ever!
We didn’t have time to stop for more food as we were so behind. There are only so many energy bars and gels one can take! We were all flagging but carried on.
The scenery was very nice by the way and the roads not too hilly.
We kept getting lost having no idea where we were, eventually working out where to go.
Pathetic really. The guides sat nav was rubbish and there was no backup plan.
The guy in the van lost his mobile so there was no communication between him and Stephen the guide – what a joke!
R got the gist she was causing problems and was determined to stay for the challenge having taken time off work etc.
There were now some nasty hills!
We decided that if R stayed we would probably go on the route ourselves tomorrow and leave the guide with R at the back.
Cutting to the end as I really do need to sleep…..
We got to Dover at about 8pm (after starting our ride about 7am or near enough) with no food stops since midday.  I don’t do that when I’m not cycling all day!! We were all shattered but were so glad to see the port.
Oh yes, on the last leg to Dover, the guide took us to the A20, for us to be greeted with a no cycling sign!

There were 2 very nasty long climbs at about 80 miles.

R was sent home. She wasn’t best pleased, putting it mildly.

I’m sorry for her because she did really well cycling 85 miles( the original distance) before getting in the van – but also relieved.
Missed the 8.39pm ferry by a few mins.
They didn’t know where the hotel was in Calais. So at about 1am we are cycling round the town looking for the Ibis. I found it but our Ibis was miles away. Thankfully my phone sat nav found it and I guided us in.
We ate on the boat as everywhere would be shut in France by the time we arrived. Not great food but some refuelling.

More tomorrow, assuming I can walk!!!

Thanks Richard P for inspiration for the title on this post!

The best part of the day by far was finding out my Daughter Stephanie attained a First in her Law degree at Nottingham University.  Bursting with pride and admiration doesn’t even get close. For most of the afternoon I was shaking my head in disbelief.  It was wonderful and really spurred me on.

Speedo stats for the day.
108 miles    12.2mph average   8 hrs 50 mins cycling!

Outside Hotel in Blackheath at 7am Wed 18 June

Outside Hotel in Blackheath at 7am Wed 18 June




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