969 miles by bike from Land’s End to John O’Groats
Photos by Threshold Sports
On 10th September this year more than 800 cyclists will set off on their very own special Tour of Britain: a nine day, 969-mile journey by bike from Land’s End to John O’Groats. A nervous Cycling World Editor will be among them.
Deloitte Ride Across Britain is the largest cycling event of its kind in the UK and last year 93% of all the riders rated it as one of the best experiences of their lives.
Cycling the length of the British Isles from one end to the other captures the imagination. It’s one of those challenges, cyclist or not, that appeals to our natural adventurous spirit.
It’s incredibly rewarding to see every inch of the British landscape under your own steam, but like everything worthwhile, it’s not easy and it requires grit and determination.
Deloitte Ride Across Britain route offers the best cycling in the UK. It takes in the most beautiful parts Britain from barren moorlands and majestic highlands to lush green valleys, winding back lanes and stunning coastal roads. Riders average 108 miles a day and climb around 15,000m over the nine days; the equivalent of 13 times up Alpe d’Huez or almost twice the height of Everest.
Route director, Andy Cook, says: “The three main criteria for the Deloitte Ride Across Britain are safety to all participants and other road users; ease of navigation; and ensuring it’s picturesque and scenic. We want the Ride to be challenging but at the same time achievable by as wide an audience as possible.”
The Ride is fully supported and there is a battalion of crew making sure riders are fed, watered, massaged, showered and looked after – especially on the bad days. Each night they come in to a fully serviced basecamp with tea and toast on the go, power showers ready to wash off the mud and sweat, teams of physios and doctors to repair and restore the body and five choices of main course in the catering hall to make sure everyone’s ready for the next day.
There are men and women of all ages from all walks of life with different levels of cycling experience, ability and fitness from the elite cyclists to complete beginners. Jim Davis, 70, and the Deloitte RAB’s oldest participant says, “The Ride exceeded all of my expectations – anxiety, trepidation, excitement, fear, exhilaration, organisation, food, accommodation, route directions, support, safety, satisfaction, achievement.”
Many are there to fundraise. The event has raised £3.5 million pounds for 75 charities over six years. It’s the best fund raising cycling event per capita in Britain. Deloitte’s official charity is Paralympics GB. The £1.6 million they have raised from the event has made a significant difference to how well prepared the team were for London and will be for the Rio Paralympics.
Challenges like this bring out the best in people. The stories behind the riders are moving; someone finding a degree of solace from the loss of a child or a parent, someone else recovering from cancer and others simply making the most of being completely healthy.
Totti Kay, 40, has lived with bowel cancer since she was 23 and has raised more than £108,000 for Cancer Research. She finished last year’s Ride on a tandem with her best friend Marion Templeman and says: “The Ride was incredibly tough – and it took me a month to recover, probably because my immune system is weaker than it should be – but we had so many great moments. We cried with laughter and we sobbed with pain. It was the best thing I have ever done and Marion and I now have an unbreakable bond.”
A few days into the journey a tremendous camaraderie is established, which is affectionately known as the Deloitte RAB bubble. Everyone has a bad day at some point but there are great acts of kindness between riders and quiet words of encouragement when people really need it. You have to be part of the bubble to really feel it.
With the right training and preparation, a healthy dose of respect for the challenge and a half decent bike, anyone can do the Ride and feel the explosion of self-esteem at the finish line.
Next year there will be more ways to take part in the Deloitte Ride Across Britain. As well as the original nine-day Classic package, there will be the Plus option, which covers the same nine-day route but riders stay in hotels rather than camp. In the new Ultra package, those looking for a tougher challenge will cover the route in just five days, staying in hotels.
England and Scotland only packages enable riders to complete individual sections of the route and even come back the following year to complete the other part of the Ride.
Florence Ware, who finished last year, says, “My advice to anyone contemplating the Deloitte Ride Across Britain? Just go for it! With a bit of training, almost anyone is capable of riding – and enjoying it. It’s an amazing opportunity to take yourself out of your comfort zone, get fit, see the country and meet some great people. “
To find out more about next year’s Deloitte Ride Across Britain, which takes place from 9th-17th September 2017, and more about the different packages available, please visit www.rideacrossbritain.com
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