Day 8 – Barnsley-Huddersfield-Bradford-Leeds
What a trip this was. Right off the highs of yesterday came this trip back through Yorkshire. If you’ve been following me so far, you might have read day 3. Yorkshire is an experience cycling through. Heres a true fact for you at home, for every one mile you cycle uphill, it equates to having cycled 300 miles on the flat!
I passed a sign leaving Bradford that said ‘say no to the expansion of Leeds-Bradford airport’. At first it would be plausible to assume that some Karen has put that sign up as a way to vent about anything after not being able to bother shop staff during covid, however upon closer inspection of Yorkshire A) There’s no room to build any expansions anywhere because there’s too many hills in the way and B) I’m genuinely surprised that even planes can get over these bloody hills in the first place.
Barnsley to Huddersfield was pure hell. On earth. Let’s just leave that to your imagination. If you saw your worst enemy forced to do it, you’d laugh and get the popcorn in.
Mind you, these inclines are tough but what a reward at the end. Huddersfield Stadium, also known as the John Smiths stadium is stunning. I thought it was a new build considering how futuristic it looks and how well it’s been kept. But no. Home to both Huddersfield FC and rugby league side Huddersfield Giants, I was well surprised to find out it was built in 1994. One of my favourite stadiums I’ve visited so far and its housed in a complex that includes a cinema, bar and training centre. Trust me, its like the ex you still fancy, it’s just got that something about it.
Then I made my way to Bradford. This ride was one of the hardest I’ve ever done. I struggled in parts. There is nothing redeeming about the terrain on this cycle. I’ll keep this short. If you wanted to ride from Huddersfield to Bradford I’ve got 2 tips for you:
1. Take a helicopter
Bradford Stadium is again steeped in poignant history. After having to rebuild after a devastating fire in 1985, of which they have a wonderful memorial, it sits surrounding an estate and various shops and businesses. It’s a real homely area for a club to be in, tucked away along hidden streets but what a magnificent job they’ve done. It’s quite glorious in stature for a club in league 2. It’s quite amazing, if Huddersfield got relegated last season they would have been in league 1. To have these stadiums in the bottom 2 divisions of the EFL top 4 would be unthinkable.
Theres a hill that leaves Bradford on the way to Leeds that you have to cycle up. I’ve heard it’s twinned with Australia as seeing the world is round, it’s only centimeters from Melbourne at the summit. The positive thing is that when you do scale it, you’ll be able to do it quicker than all the other Yorkshire hills as you’ll be chased by the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse at the time. After that hill though…WOW. you’re like a kid at Christmas who has had nan knitted jumpers and lynx Africa sets for all his life and then unwraps a PlayStation. It is downhill all the way. Good luck to the brave soldiers who have to bugger off in the other direction.
Swiftly it took me onto Elland Road. It’s a magnificent stadium. Built in 1897 it has been kept up to date brilliantly. Why rebuild and relocate when you can upgrade what you have. It’s a great mantra and one I wish more clubs did in place of chasing the merry dollar. The local spray paint artist has obviously been off work during covid as there’s a lot of his artwork everywhere.
Theres a reason ending todays journey in Leeds was more than fitting today.
Today, 8th September would have been ex Leeds player Gary Speeds birthday.
I was chatting to a good friend of mine on Sunday and she asked me what the worse part about the trip was so far. I relayed a story about the other night where it got dark, I’d broken my bike light in a mini crash as a result, I was 8 miles away from my hotel in a place I’d never been to, the battery pack to charge my phone had blown and I had 4% battery left. I was stuck. I said I didn’t know for the first time what to do. Literally my mind was lost. I was bereft of ideas how to make the situation better.
She said, Laz, thats what it’s like for people with manic depression every day. This is why they feel they have no way out.
We need to think about that. Gary Speed seemingly had everything. The country revered him, lauded him, loved him. He had everything many of us could only dream of. A wonderful domestic and international career, now he was manager of the Wales football team. The country was on a high from the brand of football we were seeing. He was our hero.
The afternoon of 27th November 2011 he was a guest on popular football programme ‘Football Focus’. He was erudite, charming and seemingly, his old self.
By the end of the night, he had taken his own life.
It’s not just what is on the surface when it comes to mental health. It doesn’t matter what you have, it’s never enough to placate those problems, so people put on a facade. And many times that is exactly the problem. How many people put up that facade in front of others, before retiring to drown in their own thoughts? Some people hide their problems because they don’t want to be labelled as problematic.
And thats because, sadly, there is still a stigma attached to mental illness.
If there’s one thing we need to do is pull together to erase this stigma. Because it is an illness. An illness however, not so straight forward when it comes to its healing.
That is the importance of what we are trying to do.
Our website has all you’ll need in terms of facets of help, whoever you are or whoever you know may need it. Mental health does not discriminate, to any demographic.
If you or someone you know could benefit from it, please, go here and click the ‘im not OK’ button. It’s simple and a great step towards seeking help, with phone numbers, ways to get help by text, web chats, which ever medium you prefer. You can even do it anonymously if you like, no pressure whatsoever 👇
Peace and love for tonight.
Together, we can make a hell of a bloody difference.
Its OK not to be OK
For Speedo ❤