From 10-18th September RBW's Beth took on the challenge of riding the length of Britain from it's most southerly point, Land's End to the most northerly, John O'Groats. Here she shares her Ride Across Britain story with you...
You can still donate on her Justgiving page, where she is raising money for British Heart Foundation and Stroke Association.
Some of you may have been following my progress training for the Deloitte Ride Across Britain, so I thought I'd let you know how I got on!
My cycling buddy Sacha and I arrived at a very blustery and rainy basecamp at Land's End on the Friday night, nervous and excited for the journey ahead.
As soon as we got there we could see this going to be a very well run event, with staff on hand to handle every query and an amazing spread of food laid on in the catering tent. After a sleepless first night listening to the wind buffeting the tent and Mr Snorer next door, I awoke to start the journey.
Sunrise at Basecamp
What a journey it was! Nothing can describe the feeling of freedom setting out on this epic journey on two wheels, there is no better way to see our country. We started off with plenty of steep climbs in Cornwall, moving on to the rolling hills of Devon and Somerset, reaching Bath with its beautiful traditional stone buildings.
We continued over the Severn Bridge and into lovely Wales along the picturesque Wye River. We passed through the hustle and bustle of Manchester and Preston and headed further and further north, reaching Scotland by Day 6, camping at the Foot of Ben Nevis, shrouded in mist.
Scotland at last!
Campsite at the foot of Ben Nevis...
Scotland brought with it some amazing scenery, from the spectacular mountains of the Glen Coe pass, to the Highland Lochs which shimmer like a mirror reflecting the sky. Each day we awoke at sunrise with nothing else to think about other than the road ahead of us pedalling to our next destinationtion. It was an enormous sense of freedom from daily life, even if some of the days in the saddle were very tough. In the evenings there was great sense of cameradieie with everyone eating and camping together.
Misty morning at Shin...
As well as the amazing scenery and physical and mental challenge I was also interested in the human aspect of this journey. I met some incredible people along the way, from all ages backgrounds, each with their own reason for taking on the ride. Here I share some of their stories...
Kajsa Tylen is a small lady standing at just 5 ft 2 (shorter than me!), but with a big story to tell. In January 2016 she began her Guinness world record attempt for the number of miles cycled in one year by a woman. The record is currently held by Billie Fleming who rode 29,603 miles in one year in 1938. She is pretty much cycling 100 miles everyday for her record attempt at a steady speed of 12mph. Instead of raising money for charity, Kajsa wants to use this incredible feat to inspire both men and women to become more healthy and active. Kajsa is asking, instead of a charity donation, for people to make 'Sweat Pledges', i.e. to pledge to complete some physical exercise- whether it's that 5k run you've been thinking about or joining a local walking club- anything out of your ordinary sedentary routine that will make you feel so much fitter and healthier. Do it today! For more information on Kajsa's record attempt and to make a sweat pledge see her website here.
Kajsa Tylen joins us for a day on her world record breaking attempt
Luigi Daccordi, a bike manufacturer from Italy was, at age 69, one of the two oldest participants on the event. He rode the distance on a bike he made himself. It was so inspiring to see participants aged 69-70 taking part in the ride, it just goes to show that there is no reason to make age a barrier to doing what you love. I know one of the other older gents made the decision to stop early on one of the days, as the weather was getting very hot and he could see that the physical exertion was getting too much for him. Comtinuing on could have spelled disaster. The next day, having made that strong, positive decision to rest- he was back on the bike and rode all the way to John O Groats. With the right mindset and a sensible attitude, so much can be achieved.
Luigi Daccordi, 69, on his handmade bike- one of the oldest participants on the ride.
Chistina Riley, an openly transgender woman took part in the ride with an initial sense of trepidation, concerned about whether on not she would feel accepted. She has gone through a sometimes difficult process in her quest for female identity but has come out the other side a stronger person. The Ride Across Britain family embraced her wholeheartedly, and Christina is a shining example to other LGBT people that you can go out there and achieve whatever you want! She raised over £2000 for good causes in the process too. Well done Christina!
Aarti Blakrishnan-Chandrashkar is an unassuming lady who has recently taken up cycling. She rode the distance on her 8 speed, rather heavy hybrid bike, which made it much more difficult for her than many other participants who had lightweight road bikes. She took the pace slow and steady and completed the whole distance of the ride, always beaming with a kind, encouaging smile to everyone who rode with her- an incredible achievement.
Aarti at the finish...
Last but by no means least, my riding partners Sacha and Vanessa and Chris our chaperone who kept me going throughout the ride. I know we each had our physical and mental challenges to deal with thoughout, but we kept going as a team on this unforgettable journey.
Thank you to all those people who have sponsored me for two great causes, British Heart Foundation and Stroke Association. You can still donate here.