Riding a bicycle from London to Edinburgh and back again, many people who I have spoken to about this ride have declared, I must be out of my mind! I only took up cycling just over a year ago, so this was probably a rather extreme ride to jump into, as my first organised cycling ride. Let me tell you all about it:

How it came about

I started cycling with a few colleagues and a charity ride organised by our client. I fell in love with cycling at that point and actually started to ride more than my colleagues, who first introduced it to me.  One of my colleagues, Gareth Ruck, saw a documentary during the pandemic about the #LEL (London-Edinburgh-London) and thought that it would be a great challenge to undertake. The two others decided fairly quickly they wouldn’t participate, I wasn’t sure but the challenge did attract me. Once we decided we would do it for a charity, I’ve decided to go for it! We weren’t sure at this point if we would get a place, as it is a well-known ride globally, with many riders from all over the world, so places go quickly. Thankfully (or at that point, worryingly) we did get the places and were able to participate.


So, training had to start and quickly, as training for endurance rides takes a long time. A lot of it was on my commute, 27km each way to work, and I feel this helped with a large chunk of my base fitness. Additionally I completed rides over the weekend, and closer to the start date of the event, I rode 2 overnight rides, of around 400km, to get used to bigger rides with a long time in the saddle and also to get use to riding through the night.

Off we go to Edinburgh 

The time went by very quickly and the start was there. My preparation, the week beforehand was not ideal, falling ill on the Wednesday (was it the nerves?) but back into work on Friday and getting myself as ready as possible for the start on Sunday. On the Saturday we had to register and pick up our rider numbers and brevet card (stamp card for each control), it was then when it really hit home just how big this event actually is. Everything was well organised, but it all felt a bit daunting.

I happen to live not far from the start point, which was very helpful, so we set off from my house to the start, probably slightly later than we would have liked. We arrived with about 9 minutes to spare before the start at 12:15. We set off with around 30 other riders, at the same time and we were off on the start of our journey to Edinburgh.

The journey

Along the way we would call into Control Points, there were 20 in total and they were between 50km and 120km apart from each other, here we would collect a stamp, have food (a lot of it) and the possibility to sleep and shower where needed. The amount of food intake on this whole ride is incredible, but you feel you really need it as well by the time you hit a control point. The first stint I rode 370km and went through the night as I felt awake and strong enough to keep going. I had a 20 minute power nap, around 2pm, in the afternoon the next day, with a 3 hour ‘proper’ sleep around 1am that night. At this point I had crossed half of the country already to Brampton and just had 2 sections with some heavy climbing, which was incredibly hard. The sleep really helped and this is where you realise how much your body can actually take, with minimal sleep, back on the bike and feeling ready to go again! That day, I managed to ride up to Dunfermline (a control point just North of Edinburgh) where you pass the Forth Bridge which was a wonderful sight. Here I teamed up with two other riders, who were on a similar pace and strategy (for as far as I had one) as myself and we ended up riding the rest of the ride together. The talks and banter between us, an extra pair of brains to keep making decisions to stop or continue really helped to push through to the end. We experienced some real highs when making it back up those big climbs and successfully riding in an echelon (riding behind each other to shelter from the wind and take turns) but also many lows, where you are at the end of your energy and completely worn out and sleep deprived. A big turning point was when we reached the Humber Bridge near Hull, this meant most of the hard climbing was behind us and a lot more flat surfaces on the way back to Debden. Heat was kicking back in at this point, which didn’t make things easier, but we managed to pull through all the way to Debden and arrived 2 hours within the allocated time at 15:15! The feeling that gave me was incredible, my and their families were waiting for us, cheering for us that we actually made it all the way, 1540km, almost 15000m of climbing, 72 hours in the saddle, a body completely in pain and around 10 hours sleep over 5 days. What an experience!

All of those emotions I went through and the times which were hard, it made me go back to why I was doing this: raising money for Cancer Research UK. It really spurred me on and kept my mind to push my body further and to keep me going all the way. All the donations which came through were and are really appreciated, this way I know I have given it my all to raise as much money for this charity and all those people affected by cancer.

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