Bicycle touring is a special way to travel. To move from one place to another under your own steam is a distinctive feeling and during this past week we were able to experience this once more. Edinburgh to London is not the longest ride you can do in this country, granted, but it is still a very long way and should certainly not be taken lightly whether a seasoned cyclist or charity rider.
The Lammermuir Hills, just to the south of Edinburgh. Remote and challenging.
These sorts of trips have the ability to cleanse the soul and to put life into perspective. Through the rain, the hills, more hills and the wind some clarity can be found. Towns that were only connected in the mind's eye by busy concrete corridors are now navigated in a different way, through lesser known arteries, hamlets and villages. Slicing through the day's cross section you see life unfold in front of your eyes, from the morning dog walkers to school kicking out time. The journey provides the entertainment (as well as the company) but in many ways the journey is the company.
The South Downs... No, wait...
Edinburgh to London can be tackled in many ways, one supposes, but the route we took was thus: Edinburgh-Newcastle-York-Nottingham-Letchworth-London. It took in the stunning and equally challenging Lammermuir Hills and the North Yorkshire moors down through the flat midlands and over the network of canals that once formed the lifeblood of the industrial revolution. This year's tour was a lot wetter than last year and this went to galvanise a genuine determination among our number. Train lines became tricky and cattle grids lethal. The feeling of being dry began to become a distant memory as the rain's relentless waves battered down on us.
Our route, in several pieces over 5 days. GPX files available on request.
Like a million pin pricks the smaller battles were one by one overcome and the finish line crept closer into view, clothes dried, the sun peeked through and the terrain became more manageable. We had negotiated the more sparsely populated north of the country before finding ourselves getting sucked into the metropolis of London and almost before we knew it the city was at our feet.
Kings Norton, Leicestershire. Stunning. One of the many jewels of the countryside in the midlands.
Sometimes you have weeks that will stay in your mind forever. For us one of those weeks happened last week. We have ridden Edinburgh to London once before, a year ago, and it was a special week, a really special week. But this past week, a combination of the wet weather, physical and mental suffering endured by the competitors, personal battles won, genuine fears overcome, friendships formed and stories shared made this past week one that will live with everyone who took part.
If you have not toured before then give it a go, plan a point to point; the Grand Union canal, a tour of the continental battlefields maybe something closer to home or indeed more exotic. Racing and training are all well and good but isn't exploring and pushing your personal boundaries what life is all about? Our advice: do it while you can.
The grandest finishing posts in the business.
Billy The Gerbil & Dave The Sheep rode for Ride2Raise in support of Missing People UK. The only charity in the UK which specialises in, and is dedicated to, bringing missing children and adults back together with their families. This blog has been kept deliberately aloof, because listing towns and villages is boring, but if you are interested in the route details or need help or ideas planning a trip feel free to drop us a line. If not maybe you could donate to Missing People UK.
Last year over 200,000 missing people incidents were logged by the police in the UK, some high profile, some not, but all serious for the families involved. Missing People UK work tirelessly to bring together separated families and affect legislation relating to people who go missing.