Lands End to Bignall End bike ride.
August 2018 - our biggest fund raising challenge so far.
29 Riders, 408 Miles, 5 days..........
AWAY WE GO
After 12 months of planning 29 cyclists and 4 support drivers left the small North Staffordshire village of Bignall End at 4:00am on the morning of Wednesday the 22nd August for the drive down to Lands’ End in Cornwall. Their goal was to cycle the 408 miles back to Bignall End to raise money for Dan's memorial fund. This was the biggest fund-raising event we had attempted; it was meant to be a real challenge and it attracted people we had never met before. Some of them were very keen cyclists, 2 of them had previously cycled from John O Groats to Lands’ End and we were so fortunate to have them on board; their knowledge and experience was invaluable in the preparation for the ride and on the ride itself.
DAY 1 - LANDS END to NEWQUAY – 43 MILES
We eventually arrived at Lands’ End around lunch time and by the time the bikes had been unloaded, everyone had changed into their sponsored shirts and the obligatory photograph at the Lands’ End sign post had been taken it was 2 o’clock before the riders set off on the first leg to Newquay. 2 punctures before they’d even left the car park didn’t bode well for the journey ahead but off they went. The first food stop was at the Tesco superstore in Redruth where the duty manager kindly supplied us with Sandwiches and refreshments before we set off for Newquay. A fall, 2 broken bikes and a few more punctures meant that the arrival into Newquay was a bit staggered but everyone made it safely to the overnight stay at St. Christopher’s Hostel in the center of town. One or two cycling issues were ironed out over an evening meal and everyone went to bed to prepare for the longest day of the ride,
DAY 2 - NEWQUAY to EXETER - 104 MILES
The riders split into 3 groups with staggered start times and had left Newquay by 7:00 am. After a short mid-morning food stop at the Highwayman pub carpark in Dobwalls it was on to lunch at the Tesco superstore in Tavistock where we were met by Laura Seeley. The team at the store had prepared sandwiches etc. and allowed us to use the staff canteen which was really appreciated by everyone. There was a little concern as one of the riders took a wrong turn on the way into the town and was lost for around 20 minutes but eventually made it for a belated lunch. The 3rd leg of the day took the riders over Dartmoor before the last food stop of the day at the Salmon Leap Cafe just outside Buckfastleigh. The last leg of the day was to prove to be toughest as there was a steep climb on the route, by the time the riders reached it they had done around 90 miles and had been cycling for between 9 and 10 hours but they all made it safely into Exeter for the overnight stay at the Holiday Inn.
Left - Sue with our Main sponsor Adrian Lench of A. Lench Building contractors
Right - the team at Lands End before they set off.
A few photographs from Day 1
A few photographs from Day 2
DAY 3 - EXETER to BATH - 98 MILES
Friday saw the riders embark on a 98 mile stretch between Exeter and Bath; Tesco again provided us with food and refreshments along the way at their stores in Axminster, Yeovil and Frome. All was going well apart from a few minor bike problems until mid-afternoon when the rain set in with group 3 still a few hours away from the overnight stop in Bath. The roads quickly became treacherous due to the amount of surface water and this coupled with the spray from vehicles meant the going was slow for the 11 riders still out on the road. Eventually, 12 hours after they had left Exeter, the last of the riders made into Bath, very wet – very cold and very tired but they made it. The overnight stay was at another St. Christopher’s Hostel in the middle of town. After drying off and getting into some warm clothing we all gathered at a local restaurant for a meal and to recap on the day’s events.
A few photographs from Day 3
DAY 4 - BATH to DROITWICH 96 MILES
Saturday was to be another long day, 96 miles from Bath to our final overnight stay at the Holiday Inn, Droitwich via Aust, Ross on Wye and Ledbury. This was the day that caught a couple of the riders out who hadn’t put in the same level of training as the others, having now done around 300 miles they were beginning to suffer. One of the support vehicles arrived at the stop in Ross on Wye with one of the riders in the van, he had gone as far as he could – probably too far – and he simply couldn’t go any further and was forced to finish the day in the van. Others had to stop to take extra breaks which meant the last group were again out longer than the first 2 groups. The rain came again late in the day catching the last 2 groups out on the road and giving group 3 their second consecutive soaking. I was cycling with group 3 for the second half of the day, The sun was shining as we left the Tesco store in Ledbury but within half an hour we were putting on waterproofs as a thunderstorm and heavy rain caught up with us. It carried on for the next hour as we climbed through the Malvern Hills until eventually stopping as we approached Worcester. It was around 6:30 when we eventually made it to Droitwich to a very warm welcome from the other riders. Spirits were high as we ate the evening meal as we knew that tomorrow was the last day and we were only 70 miles from home. However, there was a sting in the tail……………
A few photographs from Day 4
DAY 5 - DROITWICH to BIGNALL END 67 MILES
The plan for the last day was for all 29 riders to meet in Alsagers Bank and to ride through the village, onto Halmerend, Miles Green, Audley and Bignall End before arriving at the Cricket Club to be welcomed home by family and friends, this would give people the chance to see us and would, we thought, be a fitting end to the ride…. But the weather had other ideas. The day was forecast to be wet and the weatherman got it spot on.
The first group left the hotel in the dry but within an hour the deluge had set in, by the time the last group left it was raining heavily. The leading group reached the first food stop outside Wolverhampton and were really struggling with the conditions; they were all cold and wet. They took on some food but one of them was suffering with leg cramps which forced him to sit out the next part of the ride in one of the support vans. The weather showed no signs of improving as they left for the next leg to Eccleshall in Staffordshire. Group 2 arrived and if anything a couple of them were in a worse state than the first group. They decided not to stop except to take on water; they pushed on hoping to find a café or somewhere to get a hot drink. Group 3 arrived not long after and also didn’t stop for too long, it was going to be a long uncomfortable ride to Eccleshall and then on to home.
Group 2 found a roadside Cafe on the route and when the owner found out what they were doing she made them a bowl of porridge and hot drinks which cheered them up and set them up for the remainder of the ride home. When we met up with the first group and one of the support vehicles in Eccleshall it became apparent that things weren’t going well, riders were huddled up in the back of the support vehicle unable to stop shaking due to the cold; messages were filtering through of near misses with other traffic due to the conditions which were showing no signs of improving. We were only 18 miles from home but it was here that the decision was taken to abandon the procession through the villages; the message was sent out for the riders to make their way to the cricket club as quickly and safely as they could. It wasn’t the ending we wanted but the most important thing was to get everyone home in one piece and it was the right decision based on the weather and the condition of some of the riders. There were still people out in Alsagers Bank and Audley to give our little group a cheer as we made our way home. We were amazed to see so many people waiting for us as we cycled up the last little bank towards the cricket club, the welcome was just brilliant given the conditions; People stood in the rain clapping and cheering as we arrived. Many of them had brought towels, blankets and coats for the riders. No one left until all the riders and support drivers were safely back home; Once people had chance to dry off , change and get warm there was buffet laid on for everyone to tuck into. The day finished with a few well-earned beers at the cricket club where all the riders and support drivers were presented with a medal to commemorate having taken part in the event.
A few photographs from Day 5
Whilst the bike ride was a huge success in raising money for Dan’s memorial fund (over £21,000) it was just as important to us that we used it to raise awareness of CRY. With the help of Katie Coombes from Trinity PR (CRY’s public relations company) we arranged several live radio interviews as we made our way up the country. From Lands’ End I spoke live to Louise Stones from BBC Radio Stoke and Robbie Benson from local Radio station Hitmix 107.5; we provided live updates every afternoon on The Hitmix and we would like to thank Robbie and the team for the time and support they gave us before and during the ride. Malcom Boyden from BBC Hereford and Worcester interviewed me on his Friday morning show and on Saturday I was live on Mollie Green’s show on BBC West Midlands, Coupled with the coverage in the North Staffordshire Evening Sentinel and the Sunday Mercury in Birmingham means we were able to get the message out to millions of people so although it limited my time on the bike it was important to maximise the opportunity to promote the work that CRY does..
Keeping the riders fed and watered throughout the ride was a major task and we are indebted to Rich Stevenson Evans from the Tesco store in Kidsgrove for his support and in arranging for us to collect supplies from various stores as we made our way up the country.
photographs from the Tesco stores that supported us.
The ride wouldn’t have been possible without the help and support of our sponsors and the committee who gave up their time to help set it up.
Main sponsor A. Lench building contractors.
A Lee heating services APM Construction
Banks Sheridan Benson Electrical
Craig Mason Construction CVM Consulting
Dave Duffey Gas Services D B Plumbing & Heating
J&D Royall & sons More than a face
R J Whalley Building services Rotary Club of Kidsgrove
Sir Thomas Boughey Academy Tesco
The Barber club Unite the Union
Chairman – Nathan Shaw; Accommodation – Dave Barlow; Transport – Mark Riley
The route – Nathan Ames; Sponsorship – Wayne Richings;
Nathan Ames; Dave Barlow; Adam Benson; Dave Cooper; Alex Cotton; Paul Crisford
Sarah-Marie Drake; Jimmy Duffey; Sandra Griffiths; Dave Hickson; Andy Harrison; Matt Holmes; Sam Holmes; Louise Kelly; Mark Langley; Peter Lewis; Andy Moss; Tom Moulder; Richard Oberland; Ryan Parsons; John Ranford; Wayne Richings; Mark Riley; Nath Shaw; Kayleigh Smith; Matt Stubbs; Nath Stubbs; Sarah Stubbs;
Alex “Chunky” Langdon