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"Going the Extra Mile Bike Tour"

The Aim: 1000km (625 miles) in 31 days across the great state of Texas, what could go wrong?  Well potentially the heat, my lack of ability on a bike, maybe a rattlesnake or two, so why have I volunteered for this?

Well I'm taking part in this challenge to raise money and awareness for the thousands of incredible people who work in the hospitality community who have been affected by the Covid 19 pandemic.

I know there are a great number of people across a range of industries that should be recognised right now, I chose hospitality because I have worked shoulder to shoulder with these incredible folks for over 25 years and I just wanted to give something back to all the bartenders, baristas, servers, chefs and hoteliers out there.

My idea is to split any money raised between charities in the 3 main places I have spent my career, the UK, the US and India.  I have started 2 Just Giving pages for both the US Bartenders Guild and The Drinks Trust UK and I shall also be donating a percentage to the Taj Public Welfare Trust.

If you wish to donate to the US Bartenders Guild National Charity Foundation please click here:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/andrew-pearson48

Alternatively if you'd like to donate to The Drinks Trust UK please click here:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/andrew-pearson47 

or copy and paste your preferred link to your browser.

... and if you'd like to follow me on this adventure I'll be covering it each day on Instagram as andypearsondrinks.

Cheers ya'll.

Final Stage: "Thank You Everyone For The Support" - July 31st 2020 - 38.26 miles

(Total Tour Miles 751)

So having set off aiming to make a personal best 625 miles this month I ended up on 751.  The last 50 of which were a surprise even to me as I was winding down to cruise over the line, when 4 days before the finish I was offered an extra bonus donation if I made it to 750!  Well I couldn't turn that down could I, so stage 24's 50 miles pushed me into a whole new direction and made 750 a real possibility.

So in the end, thanks to all of you wonderful people who donated, we managed to raise $1115, well over the $ per kilometer we were hoping for.  I simply cannot thank everyone enough for all of the support we received during this challenge, including my wonderful family of course, who's main contribution was not telling me I was crazy and should not attempt this in the first place!  I also would never have been in a position to carry this out without my training partner and team mate Dale, who really did make this all possible.  I would also like to say a huge thank you to Sierra and the team at my Starbuck's (Davis Blvd & Precinct Line Road) who helped get the message out there, and of course gave us caffeine and good vibes all-round, cheers to you guys!

As for me I have fallen in love with bike riding, and whilst I will definitely not be doing 750 miles next month I think I might manage a regular 500 from now on, as I really am very fortunate to get the opportunity to go out and enjoy life on two wheels, and I recommend it to anyone out there who is looking for a way to get outdoors and do something healthy and really fun.

So thank you all once again, and I'll see you out on the trail!

Stage Twenty-Five: "Bikes & Bubbles" - 30th July 2020 - 25.33 miles

(Total Tour Miles 712.74)

As I'm sure you're all aware the final stage on the Tour de France each year is largely processional, it's an unwritten rule that nobody will challenge for the leaders yellow jersey.  Therefore another great tradition is to bust out the Champagne and sip a glass as you and 160-odd other riders hurtle through the French countryside.  Now today's stage was unremarkable enough, but I'm very glad of it for two reasons.  Firstly Dale & I have passed our personal targets for the month (625 for me / 1000 for Dale!!!) and so we could enjoy it with no pressure and even had time to chat along the way.  Secondly it means I have one more ride left this month before I take a well-earned rest (if I do say so myself) this weekend.  Join me tomorrow for the final stage, and hopefully some Champagne!!!

Stage Twenty-Four: "The Big 5-0" - 29th July 2020 - 50.67 miles

(Total Tour Miles 687.41)

So today I set a personal record, this is the first time I've rode over 50 miles, I'm not sure if I'm getting better at this or whether my legs have just gone numb and now I can't feel the pain anyway.

I big ride where I was dragged along by Dale & Mike and managed to finish the day breaking the 50 barrier.  But it just goes to show even the pros have problems with Dale blowing out his back tire, thankfully he had the good sense to do it outside a Starbucks, so at least I could grab the coffee while he fixed it!

Stage Twenty-Three: "The Finishing Line - Well Almost!" - 28th July 2020 - 36.19 miles

(Total Tour Miles 636.74)

So today we officially passed the target tour mileage of 625 miles (1000km), but given that people out there are having to dig deep these days I feel like I should too.  SO... I'm literally now going the extra miles and aiming for a new target of 700+ wish me luck!

 

Stage Twenty-Two: "Mellow Johnny's Fort Worth" - 27th July 2020 - 31.7 miles

(Total Tour Miles 600.55)

600 down, 25 to go!  Fingers crossed it looks like I'm going to make it to the finish line, 27 days ago I wasn't so sure.  But thanks to my team mate Dale, and the whole community of people who have been supporting me, it now looks like I'll reach my goal.

Today was a very special stage, taking place entirely around Fort Worth, or "Cow Town" as we call it around here, and it's a great town at that. The say it's where the west begins, and it certainly retains a lot of its original charm, while still being a thoroughly modern city.  The route today ran alongside the Trinity River and snaked around the edge of the city itself, finishing up at the iconic Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop down in Clearfork by the Press Cafe.

The last half mile was the most significant however, as it put me over the 600 mile for the month, so 25 left to go, so let's see what tomorrow brings.

Stage Twenty-One: "Home Town Trail" - 26th July 2020 - 25.45 miles

(Total Tour Miles 568.85)

I'm really very fortunate that I'm surrounded by so many options for cycling, and one of the best is in fact not far from my home, and it's called Home Town.  It's a beautiful community with trails, parks, lakes and gorgeous houses on quiet tree-lined streets, pretty much making it ideal for taking a turn on your bike.  So this morning Dale & I headed out and took a loop up and around Iron Horse and through Home Town before heading back across to Keller.  Another 25+ miles in the bag, 625 here we come!

Stage Twenty: "Lakeside Loop" - 25th July 2020 - 42.12 miles

(Total Tour Miles 543.4)

A big day, both in terms of mileage covered and in terms of mileage still to go.  With 80 miles still to go and 6 cycling days left in the month we're well positioned to complete the challenge.  Setting off at dawn, that was 06:38 in Texas this morning, and heading east towards Grapevine Lake.  Despite a bit of a cross-wind it was a clear run up to the lake and around the boat loop, but I still struggle with distances over 40 miles but it always helps when you have strong motivation, and of course hoping to raise funds and awareness for people affected by the covid 19 pandemic certainly covers that.  So on we go to tomorrow's exciting stage!

Stage Nineteen: "Tequila Day" - 24th July 2020 - 21.42 miles

(Total Tour Miles 501.28)

So there we are, over another barrier, and perhaps the most important psychologically as my previous best for a month was 500 miles, and now the target of 625 seems to be in sight with a week still to go.  Today is of course also Tequila Day, so why not check out my Margarita recipe I posted today on Instagram @andypearsondrinks or find me and the recipe on YouTube also as Andy Pearson Drinks.  Cheers!

Stage Eighteen: "Historic Grapevine" - July 22nd 2020 - 43 miles

(Total Tour Miles 479.86)

So today Dale and I were accompanied by Mike, another experienced rider and all-round nice guy.  So I not only had to contend with keeping up with Dale but also with being left trailing by Mike too!  Actually it was a lot of fun, and considering this is the longest ride I've ever completed that's saying something (beating my previous best of 42.5 miles set on Sunday).  But I find any ordeal can be overcome by selecting the right people to endure it with, so thanks fellas!  The route itself took us through North Richland Hills, flirting briefly with Hurst and Colleyville before hitting the historic town of Grapevine.  Situated by Grapevine Lake its a lovely little area, where they like to celebrate some of my favourite things like wine, Christmas and wine at Christmas.  What's not to like?  Anyway, we made it there and back, which is always a good sign, and now I think I'll make myself a Bicicletta Cocktail to celebrate, that's Campari, Italian Pinot Grigio and soda in case you were wondering? Cheers!  Next time out I'll be breaking the 500 miles barrier, and my own personal monthly record for miles... so stay tuned!

Stage Seventeen: "Cowboy Country" - July 21st 2020 - 21.63 miles

(Total Tour Miles 436.86)

This tour has given me the opportunity to ride down roads I probably wouldn't have found if left to my own devices, so getting to see the countryside around my little corner of Texas has been a big bonus.  As you know we've seen quite a lot of wildlife so far, deer, cows, snakes and even a llama, and today was no different.  This time out it was horses, no better animal to signify the cowboy country I find myself in actually.  Now I haven't ridden a horse since I was a kid, but given where I find myself these days I guess I'm going to have to change that sometime soon.  But for now my very own steel horse will have to do.

Stage Sixteen: "Mountains out of Molehills" - July 19th 2020 - 42.28 miles

(Elevation increase 2623ft) (Total Tour Miles 415.23)

This tour has been tough, but I know people are having a tough time al over right now, in fact that's the whole reason for doing this challenge in the first place, to raise money and awareness for people who are struggling right now.  So with that in mind I decided to make life a little harder today by recreating a mountain stage.  Now I don't get anything in this game for cycling upwards, only for cycling forwards, and the other challenge being that there are no mountains in my little corner of north Texas.  However, we have hills, and if you add up a lot of small hills they add up to one big elevation increase, and fortunately my Strava cycling app calculates that kind of thing very nicely!  So off I went circling my local area in search of hills, and I found quite a few in the end.  It was actually a lot of fun, primarily the downhill sections, but I certainly felt it in my legs by the end.  But I managed to rise 2623ft which is the equivalent of riding my bike up a small mountain in the Alps.

Stage Fifteen: "Tour de France?" - July 18th 2020 - 23.80 miles

(Total Tour Miles 372.95)

I'm very fortunate because I live in a beautiful part of Texas, lots of countryside, lots of trees, lots of animals, and some really beautiful buildings.  It seems to be popular to copy French and Italian architecture in a number of the homes, such as the one pictured here, which almost made this tour a touch more European today.  Anyway, the tree-lined streets were very welcome as they provided some shade on this 23.8 mile stage.

Stage Fourteen: "Base Camp" - July 16th 2020 - 27 miles

(Total Tour Miles 349.15)

Today was a fantastic day, as my touring mate Dale and I set off from the coffee shop where we met and discovered our mutual love of cycling.  The team at Starbucks (Davis & Precinct Line Road to be exact) are absolutely fantastic and it made today extra special to don our Starbucks jerseys and set off on stage fourteen (after having a coffee obviously!).  The route today was great, moving from North Richland Hills across Keller and into Southlake, before swinging back again into NRH.  27 miles of sun, fun and great chat, I did however manage to leave myself stranded just short of the 350 mile marker, however tomorrow I get to do it all again on one of the most feared stages on any tour... the individual time trial!

Stage Twelve + One: "The Halfway Stage" - July 15th 2020 - 23.89 miles

(Total Tour Miles 322.15)

Halfway through the month and over halfway through the distance, so far, so good!  I got up even earlier than usual today to get ahead of the heat but the sun didn't oblige meaning it was still dark at 6am so I had to wait for the start.  But once underway it was another terrific day out there and I felt really fortunate to have the opportunity to do this challenge.  I've been approaching it in much the same way as I would a shift at work, get up, get the uniform on, go out and perform and it's been a fantastic experience so far.  Plus now I know that the number of miles still to cover is going down each day as we've passed the halfway marker of 312.5 miles, so onwards and downwards as my old ski instructor used to say!

Stage Twelve "Hell of the West" - July 14th 2020 - 23.76 miles

(Total Tour Miles 298.26)

Today we payed homage to the immortal Kevin Costner Classic "American Flyers" from 1985.  As impressive as the films cycling scenes are the show is stolen by Costner's mighty moustache, and out of sheer respect I obviously had to apply a fake tash and ride around town wearing my "Hell of the West" authentic cycling jersey, raising a few eyebrows at Starbucks along the way!  Anyway, besides all of the dramatics the other main element from today was the searing heat, meaning I had to head out at 6am to avoid being fried as the temperatures hit 100 degrees early on.  The bike actually was a 'flyer' today as I'd had it tuned up at Cadence Cyclery of Keller yesterday, as I'd knocked my gears out of line when I crashed last week, oops!  But 23.76 miles ticked off and tomorrow marks the halfway point of the journey and I'm knocking on the door of 300 miles already, so see you tomorrow for that one!

Stage Eleven: "Sam Adams Spectacular" - July 13th 2020 - 29 miles

(Total Tour Miles 274.5)

Starting the stage today I was 3.5 miles behind schedule, however I fixed that problem today, albeit accidentally!  I was scouting a potential route for a King of the Mountains stage (more on that to come!) and forgot to count the 5 miles I'd covered checking that out, fortunately my bike computer logged it for me.  Today was also a day for celebrating those who have done a lot to help the hospitality industry during the corona virus pandemic, and for that I chose the good folks at Sam Adams Brewery.  They have donated over $2m to the Restaurant Strong Fund here in the US, we salute you, oh and your beer is damn fine too!

Stage Ten:  "Classic Colleyville " - July 12th 2020 - 23.48 miles 

(Total Tour Miles 245.5)

There really are some beautiful places in Texas, both in terms of natural beauty and in terms of architecture.  Colleyville is a lovely little area with some absolutely gorgeous homes, as you can see from the picture.  Today's route followed the railway lines much of the way from Keller to Colleyville and back again, and its a great place to go walking, biking and dog walking, as proven by the number of people out and about today.  But since it was a glorious Sunday to be out who can blame them?  Anyway, I certainly enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Stage Nine:  "Time to Make Tracks" - July 11th 2020 - 24.06 miles

(Total Tour Miles 222.02)

The trails of north Texas criss-cross all across the land, intersecting roads, walking paths, lakes, rivers and railway lines.  There are some amazing bridges too, in this picture you can see a local rail bridge built out of wood.  Now these trains are huge, I have a video of a freight train passing by that lasts over 6 minutes, now that's a long train!  What didn't seem to last long this morning however was this stage, it flew by in fact, and I managed to time it just about right as the temperature soared above 100 degrees fahrenheit (38c) towards the end.

Stage Eight: "Snakes on a Trail" - July 10th 2020 - 23.57 miles

(Total Tour Miles 197.42)

So it's always nice touring around the Texas countryside, there's always some interesting wildlife around, squirrels, deer, cranes, longhorn cattle, horses, oh and of course snakes!  Personally snakes are my least favourite of the bunch but occasionally you turn a corner and hey presto there's one sharing the trail with you.  Anyway, if anything my average speed increased for about the next mile so at least they're good for motivation!  Well on top of that fast mile I also added 22 and a half other slower miles to edge ever closer to the 200 mile mark, or roughly 1/3 of the total distance I'm aiming for this month.

Stage Seven: "Main Street to McCain" - July 8th 2020 - 25.66 miles 

(Total Tour Miles 173.85)

So as you can see from the picture, along with my wonderful 'bikers tan', the damage from yesterday's crash was minimal so I was back on the bike this morning at 07:00.  It was a great day to be on a bike, even the temperature was in my favour (75f/24c), the humidity was low and there were few cars on the road, pretty much ideal.  The trail up to McCain is a really good one because it has a lot of twists and turns, bridges and things to see so it keeps you entertained; also it seems to have an even number of ups and downs and its pretty sheltered from the wind.  Today's aim was 23.5 miles but it was such a lovely morning I over-shot by over 2 miles, happy days!

Stage Six: "Vaquero Club Classic" - July 7th 2020 - 20.23 miles

(Total Tour Miles 148.19)

Well like I said today was supposed to be a case of 'rain stopped play' or more accurately 'lightening stopped play', but the thunder storm never really materialised so today's ride went ahead having only really been delayed by a couple of hours.  It was definitely cooler this morning too which is a welcome relief, especially after the humidity yesterday.  The stage today was mainly around the town of West Lake, passing the Vaquero Club enroute, not somewhere I have a membership for of course, but rather somewhere I might have worked at some point, which ties in rather nicely with why I'm taking on this challenge to begin with.  The only spicy part today was when I turned a corner 2 streets from the finish and hit a section of mud washed into the road by sprinklers, causing me to fall to the ground in a less than graceful manner and take a few layers of skin off my side.  Something of a badge of honour for proper cyclists apparently so I'll wear my "road rash" with pride!

Stage Five: "Cross Timber Trail" - July 6th 2020 - 23.36 miles

(Total Tour Miles 127.96)

After a huge thunder storm that lasted through the night this stage was doubtful to say the least, however with a nifty 3 hour window appearing in the weather I was able to get on the road and cover the allotted distance.  Once the sun made an appearance however the humidity level went through the roof and made it a bit of a struggle.  Still the trail taking in Cross Timbers Park was delightful nonetheless, and I even had the chance to stop and take a selfie with some of the locals! The weather outlook for tomorrow however doesn't look favourable so an enforced rest day might appear on the calendar... to be continued.

Stage Four: "Iron Horse" - July 5th 2020 - 27.08 miles

(Total Tour Miles 104.60)

Riding with my buddy Dale again today, makes the miles fly by when you're working as a team, oh and the entertaining chat helps too!  This leg was out following the John Barfield trail and onto the Cotton Belt before looping around Iron Horse (North Richland Hills, Texas) and retracing our steps for a total of 27 miles.

Stage Three: "The Cotton Belt Trail" - July 4th 2020 - 25.97 miles

(Total Tour Miles 77.52)

First stage in Texas today and the first stage with my training partner Dale.  Texas offers a completely different challenge to Florida, there are a few more rolling hills, definitely more cattle, but less alligators and thankfully lower humidity.  The heat in Texas is real that's for sure, but without the humidity I find it a whole lot easier to handle.  The Cotton Belt Trail follows the former St. Louis Southwestern Railway, nicknamed the Cotton Belt line, which began running in the late 1800s and was discontinued in the 1970s. Today, it is part of the planned network of Dallas-Fort Worth trails called the Veloweb and is a great way of getting around without worrying about being hit my a bus!  It's a bit of a favourite with Dale and I and served as a great base for today's stage.  Now that being said I only got 5 hours sleep after arriving back from Florida at midnight last night, so time for a nap!

July 3rd 2020 - Rest Day 

Well not that much rest to be honest as it did feature a 20 hour drive from Florida to Texas, but hey I didn't have to do it on a bike so that's something I suppose!  Right I'm off to bed to sneak in 5 hours before my ride in the morning, cheery-bye!  (Please note that's not my actual team bus, but it is cool!)

Stage Two: "Vanderbilt Beach Loop" - July 2nd 2020 - 26.23 miles

(Total Tour Miles 51.55)

Continuing on in Naples Florida for Stage Two today.  All the way down from the Ritz Carlton Resort to Vanderbilt Beach, along passed the beautiful beach front properties and out to Bonita Springs, loop around and do it all in reverse.  A lovely ride on a glorious Florida day, but the humidity gets me every time, but tomorrow is a travel day so no pedalling required.  Which means its time to pack up the team van and return my beautiful Bianchi bicycle I have been using down here in Florida, perhaps if I save my pennies I'll be able to buy one someday.

Stage One: "Le Grande Departe" - July 1st 2020 - 25.32 miles

(Total Tour Miles 25.32)

Well in the grand tradition of the Tour de France this first stage isn't where you'd expect.  So whilst 95% of this challenge will take place in Texas, the first two stages are taking place in Naples, Florida.  I've been training down here for a week or so getting used to the conditions and I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be for this one.  I have 1000km (625 miles) to cover in 30 days, so I'm looking forward to seeing that number start to go down... starting from today!

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