Oh, well…

I would have felt a bit of a cheat not doing the European games, anyway.

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And so the training begins…

… or not.

Yesterday was my last day at work.  I’m very excited about what the next year has in store, and was definitely ready for a change.  Nonetheless, after 25 years in the Civil Service, my last day in the office was bound to be weird and emotional.  I spent the best part of the day saying goodbye to friends and colleagues, including a number whom I have known for over half of my life.  It feels very strange knowing I will not be working with them any more.

Today, therefore, was the start of my pre-season training.  Except it wasn’t.  Instead, I had a lovely day with three year old Gilbert.  One of the challenges of the next three months will be finding enough opportunities to get out on the bike – without the ‘automatic’ 120 miles a week delivered by my daily commute and with the temptation just to spend time with the family.  Tomorrow we’re off camping in Kent for a night; and then Saturday is the FA Cup final – so training won’t be starting until Monday.  Unless I can claim Gilbert’s Puddle Ducks swimming lesson as ‘cross-training’…

Cycling isn’t the only way to get to matches

If cycling isn’t your thing, then there are other ways to get to Palace matches.  For the last game of the season at Southampton, the club organised a charter steam train to take fans to the match.  Here’s a picture of the train passing through Cheam station.

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The engine was Lord Dowding, a member of the Battle of Britain Class and named after Air Chief Marshall Dowding who is credited with having played a crucial role in Britain’s aerial defence early in WWII.  It was the locomotive’s first public run after a 1½ year long overhaul and your first chance to see the engine on the main line, taking part in a unique and exciting event.

According to Icons of Steam this was the first steam hauled football excursion train in 49 years. The last took place on 26th December 1967 when a special ran from Carlisle to Blackpool!  Thanks to some more amazing research from Icons of Steam, apparently the last time Pakace organised a special excursion from London to Southampton was November 7th 1964. This was for a league division two match that CPFC won 1 – 0 – rather better than the 4-1 defeat yesterday.

Cycling the season

What is it?

Cycling the Season is my attempt to combine my two hobbies by cycling to (as near as possible) every Crystal Palace match during the 2016-17 Premier League season.

In doing so, I will be raising money for Contact a Family – a wonderful national charity that provides support and advice to families with disabled children.

A very rough calculation – over a couple of beers in the excellent Little Bar in Tooting – came up with a total distance of over 5,000 miles for the 38 league games (based on the 2015-16 Premier League teams).  But given that was based on distances by car – and also doesn’t allow for me inevitably getting lost – I fear it will prove a significant under-estimate.

Who am I?

My name is Stephen Kingdom.  I’m 46 years old, married to Janet, with two children – Hannah (aged 5) and Gilbert (3) and two cats (Molly and Aki).  Janet and I are both Crystal Palace fans (that was how we met) but the cycling thing is just me.  I recently took a voluntary severance package from my job and decided to have a year’s ‘sabbatical’ before returning to the world of work.  And this is how I’m planning on spending it.

We live in Cheam – which is about 7.5 miles from Selhurst Park by bike.  According to google maps, it’s 331 miles to the Stadium of Light.  Ho hum…

Some ground rules

When I was discussing the plan with my Janet, she said I wasn’t to be anal or pedantic about it (sometimes I wonder if she knows me at all…)  She wisely cautioned that it might not prove possible to do every game there and back – the fixture list may just make it impossible; extreme weather could have an impact and I don’t want to miss my children’s birthdays or Christmas.  But those caveats not withstanding, my aim is to get on my bike to every Palace Premier League, League Cup and FA Cup game and – if we qualify – all home Europa Cup games (away European games would be a step too far).

How to donate

If you’d like to sponsor my challenge, I have the obligatory just giving page.

What next

I shall blog occasionally over the next couple of months on preparations and other things; and then will more frequently when the new season – and the cycling – starts.