Cycle for Uganda 2014 – The Report!

DSC_4183On Saturday 21st June 2014, at 8.15 am, 24 cyclists set off from Clevedon Christadelphian Hall under clear blue skies and glorious sunshine, threaded their way through Clevedon town centre to All Saints Lane to start their epic journey of the whole Avon Cycleway cycle route – all 85 miles – to raise funds for the Namisindwa Orphanage In Uganda.

We had riders of all ages, from the youngest aged 11 to those in their 60s, many of whom had never ridden this distance before. The route would take us through beautiful countryside with scenic views and several quaint villages, and in great excitement we set off at a steady pace down Route 410.

2014-06-21 09.22.06Our first challenge was to climb Brockley Combe, 2.5 miles long and 420ft of climbing up to Lulsgate Bottom. Many relished the challenge and attacked the hill, others were happy to simply make it to the top, but we all reconvened outside the Airport Tavern and took a few moments to catch our breath while watching the large, noisy passenger jets take to the skies.

Five miles later, just before 10 am, we made our first scheduled stop at the picturesque Chew Valley Lake where London Camera Exchange provided us with coffee, biscuits and a chance to refill our water bottles (unfortunately the café wasn’t due to open until 10.30 am!). It was still sunny, and the day was just starting to warm up. 15 down, 73 miles to go!

2014-06-21 13.54.21After a 30 minute stop we set off again and headed through Pensford and Compton Dando (a lovely, steep, but short hill awaited the other side). Unfortunately we made an unscheduled stop soon after when Mick had a tumble on a descent outside Saltford and cut open his knee and bruised his shoulder and hand. We managed to patch him up at the side of the road, fix his puncture, and he carried on cycling into Saltford where we bandaged him up more thoroughly outside the Bird in Hand pub, next to the Bristol to Bath Railway Path – our next section of the route.

This delayed us by about 30 mins and many made good use of the time to rest their aching bottoms and refuel and hydrate. We then continued up the superb cycle path to Emersons Green before rejoining the roads that took us through Coalpit Heath and Frampton Cotterell and the beautiful village of Iron Acton.

10409731_235488483327792_1619508383892562153_nJust before 2 pm we rolled into Yate and were enthusiastically welcomed by a large crowd at Yate Christadelphian Hall for our lunch stop where we just as enthusiastically tucked into pasta, bread and cakes to refuel our weary muscles. Mick had bravely managed another 15 miles after his fall, but found that his bruises were starting to swell up and was in some discomfort so sensibly decided to catch a lift back to Clevedon instead of continuing. Philip also decided to call it a day, not wanting to overdo it, so we lost a couple but picked up ten new riders who were going to join us for the last 47 miles.

At 2.45pm we set off again to re-join Route 410 where we had left it, now with 32 cyclists (although Bob also joined us for a few miles so we had 33 for a while). Soon we were back out in the countryside enjoying some lovely quiet roads and wide open space, particularly as we travelled through Inglestone Common. The worst of the hills were behind us, the sun was still shining strongly and a gentle northerly breeze was keeping the temperatures down to a still rather warm 26oC.

DSCF2012We made good progress during this section and other than a bit of a climb into Thornbury it was pretty easy going for all. Once in the historic market town of Thornbury we made another scheduled stop at Coffee #1 for 30 minutes for teas, coffees and ice creams. At this point we had covered 60 miles – only 28 miles to go… for some!

DSCF2028Setting off again, we picked up the Avon Cycleway where we had left it and headed down country lanes through Littleton-upon-Severn and into Olveston. Joe, who was with our rear-guard supervisor John, apparently decided to stop here to buy some local honey, but neglected to watch which way the rest of the group were going. Unable to read the cycle route signs between them and trusting to local knowledge instead they turned right and headed off towards Severn Beach. Dave, the ride co-ordinator soon realised that not all were present and with the help of the other Dave (another supervisor and strong cyclist), the main group continued and they went back in search of the missing pair. They were soon located with the help of mobile phones, only having gone a couple of miles off route. However, now with the main group at least 4 miles ahead they put the foot down and slowly caught up with them, regrouping just outside Lawrence Weston.

DSCF2025A number of riders were starting to struggle now after such a long day in the saddle and there were many weary legs, aching bottoms, shoulders and necks. However from here there were just thirteen miles to go! Only the long climb over the Avonmouth Bridge offered any real obstacle, but every small bump felt like a mountain to some of the riders, which is perfectly understandable after nearly 80 miles of cycling. We pushed on slowly, the pace not quite so fast now, counting down the last few miles.

Once we reached Clapton-in-Gordano it was pretty much a quiet, straight road all the way back to Clevedon. James was really struggling by now and his legs had all but stopped working, but he kept pushing all the way, with John and John giving him a helping push over the final few rises.

2014-06-21 20.44.21With the sun getting low in the sky (we hardly saw a cloud all day), we regrouped at the end of Norton Woods Lane in Clevedon, virtually at the end of our Avon Cycleway loop. With only 1.5 miles to go and a flat run in, we all cycled back through Clevedon town centre together and arrived back in one big group at 8.55pm to a fantastic reception from all who were waiting for our arrival.

We made it! 88 miles of cycling! Some thought they would never be able to do it, but they did! What a fantastic achievement. What a fantastic day!

More wonderful food – lasagne, rice, pasta, cheese, strawberries and ice cream – awaited us back at the hall in Clevedon to feed our hungry and weary bodies, including a beautiful cake decorated especially for our efforts.

DSC_4188It was a brilliant ride, it was glorious weather, it was a wonderful day of friendship and fellowship and as of 23rd June we have raised just over £3,000 (which increases to over £3,400 once gift aid is included). This has exceeded our £3,000 target and we expect it to still rise further! We are accepting donations until the end of July. The children of Namisindwa will be so happy and all the cyclists should feel so pleased with everything they have achieved both personally and for the children.

DSC_4195So much thanks is due to all the helpers who provided valuable support throughout the day including catering for our food needs and on the road backup and transport. Without their help it wouldn’t have been the superb day it was.

For some it really was the longest day of the year, in more ways than one! But hopefully also one of the most enjoyable and most memorable. Well done everyone!