The Breasticle Run
1000 mile charity ride
It all started in late February 2014 when we got asked to come up with a girl’s version of the Testicle Run, which had just been completed. Just a few months later the ‘Breasticle Run 2016’ was born….
The Breasticle Run’s aim was to raise money for cancer charities by riding 1000 miles, over three days on traditional scooters in winter around the southern coast of England. “Why the name?” I hear you say: well these are female charity riders of course.
The riders consisted of:
- Alison Bowen: Vespa T5 classic
- Jane-Marie Purdy: Vespa 150 Super with a twist
- Mags Pain: Vespa PX200
- Cindy Nietz: Lambretta GP TS1 225
Once we had decided on a name and a rough idea of what the Breasticle Run would look like, we were determined to get as many people as possible to join us, so when we planned our route, we made sure that any ‘relay rider’ wouldn’t be riding more than a 100 miles return journey between stops. This also meant planning the ‘riding’ stints of each team member became easier. After 18 months of planning, route planning, updating, riding the route in places, updating the route, updating the route again, we finally launched and made the route with petrol stops on each of the three riding days available. All we needed now was for the big day to arrive and it arrived quicker than we thought!
357 miles from Rainham Mark in Kent to Exeter in Devon
We met up with a group of hardy people at just shy of 6am on Wednesday 17th February at the Rainham Mark Social Club where it was not only pitch black and slightly damp, but also freezing! So, without stopping for too long, we said our goodbyes, beeped the horns and set off in a orderly manner with Jane-Marie at the helm, me bringing up the rear of the riders and both vans following us. We made good time and I appreciated for the first time my investment in heated gloves as the temperature was just lingering above freezing.
“The longest day”
Our first planned stop was at Sandwich (no jokes about ladies not being able to pass a sandwich please). Here we also met our first relay rider, Bex, who joined us on her Rally for the next 55 miles to Rye where it was time to swap riders and Alison joined me for the next 100 mile stint. In case you are wondering why there was a ‘swap’, we planned that two ladies will be riding 100 miles, then swap and do a 100 miles in the van and so on. Well, the sensible ladies did exactly that. However I was dangled a carrot of an extra donation if I would ride the whole 1000 miles – and how can one say no? I certainly regretted that on day three of the journey, but more of that later…
Alison and I set off and although it was still cold, the sun was coming out and we were making good time when out of nowhere a Lambretta stood waiting for us and then began to follow. It only took seconds to realise it was none other than our friend Henry from the Vulcan SC. Then suddenly a second Lambretta shot past us in the opposite direction, turned around and also began to follow us. I was a little perplexed as to how these two knew where we were at that exact point. The mystery revealed itself at Peacehaven, our next fuel stop, where I found out rider number two was Dicky Dee and that we had a tracker following our every move. Our journey was being documented by the infamous ‘Blue Dot’ which to my surprise around 1230 people followed over the following three days…
“The longest day”
Henry and Dicky Dee said their goodbyes and Alison and I continued on our journey with the next stop being Emsworth, which would have been a straight run if we wouldn’t have had a ‘Road Closed’ appearing out of nowhere. After a quick look on the map we took an alternative route and arrived later than expected at the next stop, something that became something of a theme over the next days…
At Emsworth, Jane-Marie and Mags joined me once more and we were led by Paula Parker and her partner on their Vespa during rush hour, through Havant and beyond, to our next stop at Christchurch. It wouldn’t have been too bad if the heavens hadn’t opened and driving conditions became more and more hazardous. We made it – even if over an hour late – and were met by Sharon Lewis who was our next escort. Christchurch was also the first time I admitted that my mind is willing but my body far too arthritic to continue without a break in the van and with heavy heart I joined Alison and Bob in the van. I was hoping to warm up but it seems Bob’s van decided ‘warm’ isn’t an acceptable setting for the heater!
By now it was rush hour and the scooters, lead by Sharon, made their way through traffic were crawling along with everyone else. Only minutes after leaving, the already bad weather turned even worse and fog, pitch black roads, torrential rain and standing water made the roads more than treacherous and all three of us in the van had only one thought; “Ladies stay safe.”
We arrived at our final fuel stop some 37 miles outside Exeter and van two with Nick and Stephen had arrived, but the ladies weren’t to be seen. We kept busy by unloading Alison’s and my steeds and waiting patiently for their arrival. Moments later they arrived and a decision was made for Alison and I to go ahead; we would all meet at Exeter services for the night’s stop over. What could possibly go wrong at this stage? Well only a blown headlight on the Lammy in the dark, so Alison was riding off, sat behind me, to share her headlight and just one and a half hours later than expected we finally arrived. We were met by Julian Young from the Confederates SC who kindly bought Alison and I a drink whilst we waited for the rest of the team that arrived minutes later.
326 miles to Lands End, then into Wales
Thursday morning and 6am came far too quickly. After what seemed a deep but short sleep, Alison on her trusted T5 and I were off to do the first leg of Day 2 from Exeter to Launceston services. It was very cold, damp and I still didn’t have a front light so we had one of the vans leading the convoy.
As we were plodding along through the dark, I heard a loud beeping and someone hanging out of a van window waving frantically. Yep, you guessed it, The Testicle Run Team Vespa Van just overtook us!
As we came closer to the Cornish border and the sun started to make an appearance, I was once more in awe of the beauty of the Bodmin Moors, even at sub-zero temperatures. Although I might have got carried away in my quest to take a run at those impressive hills and promptly lost my co-rider. Sorry Alison!
However just miles off Launceston services, I was met once more by scooters waiting ready to join us. This time it was Graeme Lake from Cornish Scooter Parts and Julien Munch. We continued on and pulled into the agreed fuel stop where I waited in the slip road to make sure the rest of the team would see me. Once we all were re-united, four people said within seconds, “Cindy, you might want to check your exhaust, it’s bouncing all over the place!” Oops.
We did and it turns out I had snapped my exhaust bracket which was only visible when actually shaking the exhaust via the end can. A quick call to Ralph Remnant and Paul Baker from SRP Racetech who were meeting us later in the day and a loan bracket was organised. Meanwhile the boys did a brilliant job of bodging the old one. Whilst all this was going on, van number two and Vespa rider Martin McGowan shot past us waving and beeping their horns. If we wanted to have a group picture with them, we would need to get a move on!
Bracket bodged, scoots and riders swapped, we were once more on our jolly way and once more late! However, thanks to the power of the ‘blue dot’ people were well aware of our current position and once more we were intercepted and followed by scooters waiting on the side of the road for us, the last being Buster Lee from the Reservoir Gods SC and Alex Anderson from Troglodytes SC. With our merry band of scoots together and after Jane-Marie’s sister-in-law delivering us some lovely hot soup at the last fuel stop before Lands End, our spirits were high and it was still a sunny day.
At this stage the Lambretta deciding that the spark plug cap was not good enough and it died on me at the most inappropriate place, up a hill on a narrow country lane. Once more the fifth emergency service was at hand and after a quick change, in which time we also fitted a new headlight bulb, we were back on the road and full steam ahead to Lands End. We were still one and a half hours late when we finally arrived, but I personally forgot being tired and aching and was instead in awe of the breath-taking views down there. We made it! However no sooner did we line up for the picture, than the weather changed and we were hailed upon!
We made a hasty retreat and were once more en-route to our next stop, Hayle where to our surprise, we were met by a number of scooters and some local online news that promptly interviewed Mags and Alison. After a quick review of where we were time wise against the route, a decision was made to bypass the next stop in order to regain some of the lost time, so off we went with our jolly band of supporters. I would like to mention one of them here as he was kind enough to lend us the van that took Alison and I to Kent for the start on the Tuesday evening – thanks Martin Bate from Ready Steady Mod!
Once more we were off on a quest to gain some of the lost time, so we decided after some discussion to head straight up the A30 and via the M5 to Tiverton. By now, we were running some three and half hours behind schedule and were conscious of the fact that people were waiting for us and there was still that issue with the bodged exhaust bracket. So whilst the ladies did the swap over of scoots and riders, we decided I should shoot ahead to fix the bodge and so I did. When I arrived at Tiverton I didn’t think anyone would still be waiting so I felt quite emotional to see some 10 scoots parked up, ready to escort us to Weston-Super-Mare.
Ralph and Paul lost no time and like the pros that they are, swapped the snapped bracket for a replacement one in no time. The rest of the team arrived shortly after and with this, the now rather large group consisting of Weston Scooter Club, Scootermaniacs SC, Vespa Club Cog’s and solo riders – as well as us ladies – were on our way.
We made some good progress and I personally had a huge boost having so many joining us on a by now dark, damp and late evening and after a short 45-minute ride we arrived at our final stop of the night. And who would have thought that another 10 scoots would be waiting there for us? From Stuart Lanning of SWSC to Robins’ Scooter Club from Bristol, Bristol Lambretta Club and various solo riders as well as people who came to give us some moral support: I know I wasn’t the only one who had a little bit of a lump in their throat!
We swapped riders once more and left for the last stretch from Weston-Super-Mare, via Bristol and the M48 Severn Bridge into Wales for a well earned rest, food and a night in my own bed. However as with the previous nights, it was a sweet but short break and before we knew it, Friday morning had arrived. However with it’s arrival we knew the last day was here!
264 miles to the finishing line
As with the previous mornings, we set off bright and early at 6am. Alison and I had a quick fuel stop at Aust services and we were off on a nice little ride via Bristol on to Calne in Wiltshire, our first stop of the day. Although it was the nicest morning weather wise so far, the temperature had dropped quite a bit and both Alison and I were glad to have heated gloves. We made good time and arrived only 15 minutes later than planned, we arrived in Calne, ready to do another swap and be joined by three more riders. It was also here where the Lambretta had one more little issue for me, the cowling had rattled loose on one side and the thread was gone so for the next one and a half days, a constant rattling became part of my ride, nice!
With the riders swapped we were off once more; joined by Neil from the Reading Rabble SC and Claire and Darren from the Trogs SC, all waved off after some words of encouragements by Les and Julie Gibbs from Swindon Incrowd. No sooner had we set off when Mags’ PX200 decided that she didn’t need gears and that third gear should be suitable for anything, so after a short discussion, Mags and her scoot were loaded up and we set off again. Claire and Darren followed us for some miles before heading off to work and so Jane-Marie, Neil and I made good speed. For the first time since setting off in Kent, we actually arrived three minutes early at our stop in Basingstoke, where we were promptly met by Theresa Fry who supplied us with coffee, tea and home made chocolate brownies – just what the doctor ordered!
“The end is in sight”
After some fiddling with Mags’ gears, she re-joined Jane-Marie and I for the leg to Copthorne near Crawley, which would be the last scheduled stop before getting back to Kent. At this stage, I was in agony and can’t thank Neil from the Reading Rabble SC enough for the loan of his Air Hawk seat. We were making good time and after being scared by Big Si from the Hardley Rideables SC in his dressing gown standing at the side of the road, we made a quick scheduled stop to meet Sandra Smith from the A5 SC who is currently battling this vile disease. I’m not sure how the others felt, I personally had a bit of a lump in my throat and my own aches and pains fell by the wayside.
After some hugs and waves, we were back on the road and without any further issues well, apart from stopping at the wrong services – Mags, Jane-Marie and I arrived more or less on time at Copthorne where Alan Skynner was waiting for us with his trusted SX, ready to escort us for the last 50 or so miles. The end was certainly in sight and after unloading Alison’s T5 and all fuelling up we were off once more.
As we were riding towards Rainham Mark in Kent, little did we know that the ‘blue dot’ was once more keeping people informed and amused, so by the time we reached Blue Bell Hill outside the Medway Towns, we had gained an escort of some 10 scoots and had numerous people standing on the side of the road, waving or beeping their car horns.
We made sure that we had the vans with us when we rode the last bit of the journey as we left as a team and wanted to make sure we would arrive as a team. I certainly was a little emotional when we finally arrived and were greeted by many of our supporters. We parked up and Nigel Harris and Jan Knight, the organisers of C**C 2016 presented us all with a trophy engraved with ‘The Breasticle Run 2016’.
Surprisingly, after days of always running late, we arrived with only 15 minutes delay but this meant we all could have that well deserved pint, which I am sure we all could taste already on those last miles!
There are far too many people we would like to thank: the sponsors, the unsung heroes, the back up drivers who made us laugh and lend us so many words of encouragement and all those 1230 stalkers who followed the blue dot! Most of all, a thank you to all those who donated, we raised a staggering £7,565.34, something we couldn’t have done without all of you – thank you!
And the fearless men who embarked on this trip with four head-strong woman as the van back up team were:
- Stephen Holmes
- Nick O’Hara
- Bob Downs