Cycling Away – Martin Hibbert Q&A
For those of us looking forward to the summer break after a long and often arduous season supporting Forest, spare a thought for Martin Hibbert. Way back on 12th August, with the season just days old, Martin began a quest to cycle to every Forest away league game for charity. He has amassed hundreds and hundreds of miles in all weathers but now the finishing post is in sight. His adventure will end in Bolton this weekend after ten months of voyaging up and down the country following the Reds.
We asked Martin a few questions ahead of his final journey…
1. Your challenge reaches its climax this Sunday at Bolton. How does it feel to be so close to the end after such a long-term physical effort?
I’m quite nervous really. If anything goes wrong now it’s all been in vain.
I’ll miss it too, as it’s taken over my life to an extent.
2. Explain for us how you came to take on such a demanding challenge?
I’ve been doing long rides for many years. I was looking for a challenge and mentioned the ‘every game’ thing to Richard Waring, a matchday sponsor & mate, in my local pub. He said do it and I’ll sponsor you.
He met me in the Scruffy Dog about a week later and asked me what I’d done about it. The loud mouth soup I’d had had kicked in by that time and I said ‘f**k it, I’m going to do it!’.
3. What charities are benefitting from your fundraising?
Maggie’s & MacMillan Cancer Support. My Mum was having chemotherapy last summer. We visited Maggie’s, the cancer care & support centre at the City Hospital, for her first session. I spoke to the staff and that’s when I decided.
4. Attending every away game in a season is a decent achievement in itself but to cycle to each one is a remarkable feat. Have there been times when you’ve wondered what on earth you are doing?!
Yeah, half time at Sunderland away on the Tuesday night. But never when I’ve been on my bike.
5. Presumably you must have received a lot of support to make it this far?
Anna Scothern and Ian Butler, both season ticket holders, have been brilliant. As have my friends & family.
Anna & Ian have done all the promotion stuff: social media, posters, promo’s etc. In my head, I’ve done the easy bit.
6. What’s been your favourite trip this season?
Hard to say. Brentford for the first game was great. I’d broken my ribs twice in the 6 months before, so didn’t know if I could do it. I did 115 miles down to Leighton Buzzard on the day before the game. It took me 13 hours, but everything held up.
The ride through the Chilterns at 5:30 the next morning was special. I’d never cycled through London either, but when I got on to the Grand Union canal route into the centre of town all my worries subsided.
7. Any other particularly memorable moments?
So many. On the way to Sunderland, I stopped in Yarm and met a Boro fan who owned a café. He gave me my breakfast and donated £20. I had my picture took with his daughter and her mate behind the counter. That started the tongue in cheek tradition of having a photo with the café girls on every trip.
8. And there must surely have been a few lows along the way too?
Yes… The weather has been atrocious at times. On the way to Bristol there was ice & snow all over but the south was particularly bad. I had to use main roads, and landed up in Halesowen, after a puncture and a chain snap, which I had to repair at the side of the road.
The next day, I biked to Bromsgrove, starting at 5am, to miss the traffic on the dual carriageway. From there, I went to Droitwich and came off twice, breaking my glasses, and acquiring a few bumps & grazes.
I sat in a café in despair; I thought that was it. Before I packed in, I thought I’d try the A38 down to Worcester. It wasn’t bad, and I managed to make the outskirts of Bristol.
My photo on the statue of John Atyeo outside Ashton Gate is my favourite ground pic.
9. Your challenge may have been a little easier if we’d enjoyed a few more wins on the road. How do think Forest have fared this season?
They should have won more. A bit more luck and someone who can consistently hit the net would help. The defence is not balanced and hasn’t been for a while, so we’ve let in goals against the run of play.
10. What do the next few days have in store? When do you arrive in Bolton and will you being doing anything to mark the end of your adventure?
I’m cycling to Bolton on Saturday and stopping overnight. I’ll bike up to the ground for photo, then back on Sunday morning. Both Forest and Bolton have been in touch, so something else may be on the cards.
We are having a fundraising party at the Scruffy Dog pub, in Sutton in Ashfield, on the 19th of this month. The breweries have donated beer, and the customers have bought a hog to roast.
11. Will your trips to away games next season be rather more, erm… traditional? Does the cycle get a bit of a rest after Sunday?
I may do the 6 new teams for fun next season, and no, it doesn’t get a rest… Well, maybe a couple of weeks.
I’m biking to Berwick with a couple of mates at the end of May, then biking to Amsterdam in June for a Stag do.
12. Finally – how can Forest fans support your cause?
They’ve been great so far.
Find me at NFFCFan on Facebook or follow @NFFCFancycles on Twitter. To donate use either VirginMoneyGiving – Martin Hibbert or text donations to 70070, Texting NFFC65 and the amount.
Thanks to Martin for taking the time to answer our questions and please, if you can, help him out with a donation. This is an extraordinary effort on his part and hopefully he can make it to Bolton safely and receive a good reception from the Forest support.