Phew! It's all over! 15 days of cycling from the top of Scotland to the bottom of Scotland are finally complete. I'll write something more substantial when I get some time. I've got lots of people to thank and lots of stories to tell. (There's also a short video coming!)
In the meantime, however, I thought I'd throw some stats your way, and link you to this collection of photos from our arrival at Land's End and then London.
Don't forget to keep donating, we've almost reached £3,000!
We cycled a total of 1487.17 km (924 miles).
33 miles have to be knocked off the record because King Arthur broke, and I had to transport him like this. That makes my record 891 miles.
Our average pace was 14.6 km/hr.
We climbed 15,370 metres vertically.
Here are the routes we took:
Day 1 – John O'Groats to Helmsdale – 84.61 km
Day 2 – Helmsdale to Inverness – 111.90 km
Day 3 – Inverness to Newtonmore – 78.80 km
Day 4 – Newtonmore to Bridge of Allan – 161.82 km
Day 5 – Bridge of Allan to Moffat – 129.89 km
Day 6 – Moffat to Carlisle – 66.70 km
Day 7 – Carlisle to Kendal – 73.36 km
Day 8 – Kendal to Salford – 119.93 km
Day 9 – Salford to Newport – 91.66 km
Day 10 – Newport to Bromyard – 94.18 km
Day 11 – Bromyard to Bristol – 116.34 km
Day 12 – Bristol to Bampton – 98.60 km
Day 13 – Bampton to Horrabridge – 91.40 km
Day 14 – Horrabridge to Falmouth – 109.99 km (of bloody non-stop hills…)
Day 15 – Falmouth to Land's End – 57.90 km
Sioni and I decided to look up how far we’ve covered, and turns out we broke the record earlier today. Sorry, Art! I’ve got it now!
I celebrated with a trusty 2 litre bottle of water…
Here’s the stats from the cycle so far:
The total distance we’ve travelled is 513 miles.
We’ve cycled 7108 metres vertically…
Don’t forget to donate, we’ve almost reached a quarter of our fundraising goal: JustGiving.Com/TheSkeletonFund
I've just been too tired at the end of the day to write a lot.
But, I have been tweeting loads, so head over there to keep up-to-date: @skeletonfund
Let me just say this quickly here though, all the tweets and messages of support have really kept my spirits up. Also, thanks to everyone who has donated – we've reached £2,000. Hopefully that figure will continue to rise, meaning more students will have access to funding.
Oh dear, what a day! Despite newspaper headlines proclaiming, with some joy it seems, that Scotland had been cut loose into the North Sea and that getting north of the border would be harder than cycling 1000 miles on a tandem with a skeleton (err…), we made it to Inverness!
Unfortunately I can't seem to send the photos from my phone at the moment. I'll update this as soon as possible, but in the meantime check out Josh Pappenheim's Storifys of the day:
Update – 2 July 22:51
Well, it took much longer than I thought it would to get back to the blog. I've been updating the Twitter furiously, but I've only just found time to sit down and blog a bit. I can't properly remember much of what happened on the first day (searing thigh pain since has wiped my memory). However, I do remember a few things:
1) Scotland is beautiful (with added Instagram nonsense, obviously).
2) Feeling like Man had defeated Nature when we somehow arrived in Inverness.
3) CouchSurfing working out absolutely fantastic. Here's Joel (right), our host, and his mate William from Nicaragua…
Please help us raise more money for this good cause by spreading the word. Use the buttons at the bottom of the page to share this article on Facebook and Twitter.
By the time you read this blogpost, I will have already set off on an arduous 900 mile journey down the length of the British Isles. I’ll be on an extremely heavy tandem bicycle, dragging behind me an extremely heavy artificial skeleton named King Arthur who’s in no danger of pulling his own weight.
There’s an obvious question here, of course: namely, why? Why am I putting myself – not to mention Arthur – through this ordeal and, more importantly, what am I doing it for?
I must confess that this is a personal matter for me. I am not doing this to raise awareness of a disease or to signal my recovery from an illness – I have been very lucky in that respect. But even so, this cause is deeply important to me.
I was lucky enough to not have to worry about funding myself through university; and I am eternally thankful to my parents for supporting me. But not everyone has this luxury. Not everyone has parents who can afford to help pay their bills and their rent. The sad truth is that attending Imperial is not just about getting the grades: you also have to be able to afford to live and study in London.
The depressing consequence is that there are intelligent, thoughtful and curious students who will be unable to study at Imperial. And this is a monumental shame. Despite its flaws, Imperial is an incredible place to study: you are taught by some of the foremost scientists of today, you rub shoulders with the foremost scientists of tomorrow, and you’re given the opportunity to pursue virtually any extracurricular interest you might have. (At last count, Imperial’s Union had over 300 clubs and societies).
The idea that an institution like this should only be accessible to those with deep pockets doesn’t sit well with me. Of course, we can have arguments about who should pay for these bursaries and about the impact of raising tuition fees to £9,000, but while we’re busy having these arguments there are young people making decisions about whether or not to attend university and which universities are worth applying to. For me, this cycle is about making a difference, even if it only convinces one more student that they can afford to study at Imperial.
Let me end on this point: many of my friends at Imperial are on bursaries and scholarships. They live on that money – they use it to pay their rent, their weekly shopping, and their transport (though I’d suggest they should all be cycling…) The money you donate gives people from disadvantaged backgrounds the confidence to say, “Hey, I can afford university. And even though it’s in London, I can afford to go study at one of the best universities in the world”.
This is about making sure that merit is the only thing that determines whether someone attends university or not. The guys and girls who benefit from your donations are going to go on to push the boundaries of human knowledge, to make discoveries that will one day change the world. That’s why Arthur and I are supporting them, I hope you will too.
There are only a few days left until Sioni, King Arthur, and I head off on our journey from the furthest reaches of Scotland to the furthest reaches of Cornwall. A near 1000 mile trip over 15 days that will probably result in our thighs going on strike and demanding better working conditions. We’ve made a few tweaks to the route so that we’re able to take advantage of the generous hospitality of friends, the families of our friends, and people we found on Couchsurfer but have yet to meet.
Our itinerary is now as follows (Google Map version, not exact):
30th June – John O’Groats to Helmsdale
1st July – Helmsdale to Inverness
2nd July – Inverness to Newtonmore
3rd July – Newtonmore to Stirling
4th July – Stirling to Moffat
5th July – Moffat to Carlisle
6th July – Carlisle to Kendal
7th July – Kendal to Salford
8th July – Salford to Shawbury
9th July – Shawbury to Bromyard
10th July – Bromyard to Bristol
11th July – Bristol to Tiverton
12th July – Tiverton to Bodmin
13th July – Bodmin to Falmouth
14th July – Falmouth to Land’s End
15th July – Land’s End to Penzance for train home
In other news, last Friday’s Cake Sale raised a stonking £340. The table was positively groaning under the weight off all the donated cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and flapjacks. That means we’ve so far raised £1280, finally busting through the £1,000 mark. Thanks to everyone who baked, bought, and donated – we’ve still got a lot to raise so please continue to spread the word via Facebook, Twitter, and, of course, in person. Tell your friends and families, in fact anyone who will listen, about the cycle and the Rector’s Scholarships and ask them to donate. The money we raise will help people of all backgrounds to study at Imperial, and that can only be a good thing.
Don’t take my word for it, take the word of someone who is currently on a bursary from Imperial
“Without these scholarships, accepting an offer from Imperial would have been unrealistic. I still work a part time job, but thanks to the scholarships I am able to dedicate most of the time to my studies, and hopefully because of this I won’t be in the horrible situation of missing out on a grade because I had to spend all of my time making money. Imperial has one of the highest intakes of privately-educated students in the country: in addition to helping with financing, the scholarships have also helped me to blend in socially.”
I’m feeling a bit more confident about the trip today. Yesterday, I cycled with the Imperial College Bike User Group down to Richmond Park and, to general shock and disbelief, I didn’t break into a million little pieces on the side of the road. I guess we did about 20 miles, just under a quarter of what I’m aiming to do on the actual trip, and today my body is feeling generally quite fine.
I did, however, discover a number of pressing matters that need to be sorted out:
1) I need to sort out the handlebars, my left elbow and left wrist are absolutely killing.
2) The bike itself needs a proper going over (ok, this isn’t actually news to anyone anywhere…) The gear changes were a bit dodgy (and delayed?) at times.
3) The wheels. Despite having brand new tyres and inner tubes, the wheels won’t stay fully inflated and hard. I am tres confused about this…
4) I can go really fast on this thing – ok, this doesn’t really need to be sorted out, I just wanted to boast about how I could keep up with the Richmond cycling pros… (For about 10 seconds at a time, granted.)
My knowledge of Scotland is fairly poor, but I’m quite sure that a night sleeping rough, even in July, isn’t going to end well for myself, King Arthur, or my shivering extremities. For this reason, I am launching an appeal to the good people of Scotland: Heed Willie’s words and allow myself and Sioni the pleasure of your company and your hospitality (I joke, a bit of dry flooring will do!) for an evening.
You can find our route here, but we’re looking for somewhere to stay either in, around, or near the following places:
Muir of Ord
Any help would be greatly greatly appreciated
With less than two weeks to go it’s quickly dawning on me that this is going to be a pretty difficult challenge to complete. I barely cycled across London today, probably two hours cycling in total, and my legs are feeling pretty tired.
But I’m not just sitting around, on Wednesday, the Imperial College Bicycle User Group is going on a trip to Richmond Park. Last time they left from the Faculty Building at 5:30pm, but I’ll update when I know for sure so that people can come along if they have time.
In the meantime, fill out the poll below and let me know how massively screwed I am…
It’s been some time since I’ve blogged here. A lot has happened in the intervening time, most notably I’ve finished university, but I’ve also booked my transport to John O’Groats (with the exception of one bus) and my train back from Land’s End (or Penzance to be more precise) on the 15th of July. I’m also in Imperial’s Reporter magazine!
Sadly I’ve been somewhat less active with the training, and I’m starting to come to terms with the possibility that this cycle is going to be like riding through hell on a tandem with a skeleton on the back… Errr. But enough about that (I’ll push through somehow), let’s move on to more cheery things.
I’m running a charity bake sale on Friday 22nd of June! I’ll be in the Sherfield foyer from 11am to 3pm hocking the tastiest sweets this side of the Queen’s Tower. Hopefully the money raised will send us flying past the £1,000 mark.
The Hummingbird Bakery will hopefully be donating some of their famous cupcakes for the sale. But you’ve got a role to play also. I’m asking you to dust off your oven mitts and baking trays, get elbow deep in delicious batter, and bake some cakes, cookies, and cupcakes for the sale. All the proceeds of your efforts will go to the Rector’s Scholarship Fund and into the hands of students who need financial help to attend university and further themselves.