Sunday, 26 September 2021

Charity cyclists plan to ride length of country

A MAN from Crazies Hill who cycled more than 2,000km across the Alps for charity is

A WARGRAVE theatre group celebrated its 40th anniversary with a revue show in the village.

Wargrave Theatre Workshop staged four productions of

Fancy A Date?
at Woodclyffe Hall in High Street last week, watched by more than 300 people.

The show, which featured a selection of short monologues, songs and sketches, marked not only the group’s birthday but also other milestones from this year, such as the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and the 1,000th anniversary of the Viking invasion of Britain.

Musical director Rod Murray said: “It was an evening of entertainment. We had songs and poems but also bits of Shakespeare which were more serious. I’m slightly biased but people seemed to love it. There was lots of cheering and audience participation.”

The group has now begun rehearsals for its Christmas pantomime,

, which will be staged in January while the youth section will perform Roald Dahl’s

The Witches
on Saturday and Sunday, November 21 and 22.

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A MAN from Crazies Hill who cycled more than 2,000km across the Alps for charity is planning to take on a new challenge.

Alex Nicolai completed the ride with his childhood friend Aidan Boyd-Thorpe in the summer.

The pair have so far raised more than £2,000, double their original total, for the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed.

They chose the charity in memory of Mr Boyd-Thorpe’s aunt who was cared for at the hospice during her final years.

Now the two 23-year-olds are planning to ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Mr Nicolai said: “We’d like to thank those incredibly generous people who sponsored us and encourage those who haven’t yet to do so.

“There was so much support. Even people we didn’t know helped us blow away our original target.”

The duo took 22 days to complete their Alps challenge, which involved cycling from Austria to Henley via Germany, Belgium and France. They carried all the equipment they needed and camped out along the way.

They had just two rest days but Mr Nicolai said they didn’t find the ride too hard once they got into a routine.

He said: “Due to the repetitive nature of our expedition, once we found that rhythm it was quite simple to keep going. We were sensible and only pushed ourselves within our limits. The goal was to make it back in one piece after all, so we just took each day as it came and just got on with it.

“For the first two weeks, it rained every day, so making sure we always had some dry clothes to wear at the end of each day was quite difficult. However, we helped each other out and didn’t even get so much as a saddle sore, although we had 10 ticks between us.

“We made excellent progress through the Alps and actually took fewer rest days than we’d catered for, so we actually finished a day earlier than expected.”

Mr Nicolai said the trip provided many memorable moments, including a stop-off at a McDonald’s restaurant, where the pair used the wifi to find out their university degree results.

Mr Nicolai got a 2:1 in electrical and electronic engineering from Bristol University while Mr Boyd-Thorpe achieved a first in American history from Leicester.

Mr Nicolai said: “The other highlights included cooking on our little stove under our tiny tarpaulin shelter during a rainstorm, swimming and having a much-needed wash in the Mondsee alpine lake in Austria, camping in forests surrounded by hundreds of fireflies and a very comprehensive bar crawl around Bruges on a quest to find the best Belgian beer!”

But it wasn’t all plain sailing as the pair were frightened when spending one night camped in a “no trespassing” zone in Luxembourg.

Mr Nicolai recalled: “We had made our tarp shelter in a forested, very rural area and after a delicious meal had fallen into a deep sleep.

“It was around 2am when we were woken up by the headlights of a 4x4 truck blaring music at full volume as it parked up about 5m away. We were pretty well camouflaged so remained deathly still and silent as the engine was turned off and the music changed to a really eerie soundtrack.

“The driver went off in the end but for those few minutes we were trembling in our sleeping bags, afraid of being discovered and having to pacify an angry Luxembourger in our dodgy ‘Frenglish’!”

The pair have been friends since the age of five, when they were at Crazies Hill Primary School, and managed not to fall out with each other on their journey.

Mr Nicolai said: “There was nothing really to argue about as it was such a repetitive routine: wake up, pack up, cycle, make shelter, cook, eat, sleep — all things we had to do, so there were few decisions to actually find conflict over. We know each other very well anyway so teamwork came naturally.

“That being said, I was definitely the nagger, while Aidan was more easy going.”

Mr Nicolai, who lives in Hennerton with his mother Philippa and brother Roly, says he is hoping to get a pilot’s licence now he has finished university.

Mr Boyd-Thorpe, from Remenham, will be going to study for a masters’ degree in Vienna, where his girlfriend lives.

The pair are also looking at other cycling challenges. Mr Nicolai said: “We’d certainly like to do another one and we are considering the Cape Wrath Trail along the Highlands, so watch this space!”

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