Rachel Martin’s Ride Across Britain

 

Rachel regularly works 50 hour weeks as a Programme Director for Balfour Beatty WorkPlace in London, but still found 12-15 hours a week  to train leading up to the event.  And, as if the training and the Ride Across Britain itself were not enough - 960 miles in 11 days - Rachel has personally raised almost £1,000 and is part of a group that are working to donate £10,000 in total for 'Building Better Futures'. 

 

 

The 39 year old, who only took up cycling in 2007, decided to take on the challenge after a colleague suggested it to her a year beforehand.  “I thought it sounded like a great challenge” she told us, “and I like to have one big challenge per year.  A few of us from Balfour Beatty WorkPlace ended up doing it and raising money for the company charity.”

 

In terms of her previous cycling experience.  “Apart from recreational cycling as a child and in my twenties, I didn't do any significant cycling until 2007. My friend, Dawn, and I spent a year in Chamonix, having given up work, houses and boyfriends.  We initially went for the ski season, but ended up staying for the summer as well.  I spent the first part of the summer hiking, climbing and running, whilst Dawn trained for the Zurich Ironman.  After her race, Dawn took me on a 60k (hilly) bike ride - she was on a road bike, while I was on a mountain bike and I never forgave her for that!  She then lent me her old road bike and I started riding regularly around the area.  When I returned to the UK, I continued to cycle and started entering 100k sportives.  I met my boyfriend, John, in 2009, he is a keen cyclist and he persuaded me to start riding to work.  After I got my head round the clothes logistics and got used to the rather daunting London traffic, I began to enjoy it.  I now hate getting the tube as an alternative”.

 

Rachel completed the 960 mile cycle ride from John O'Groats to Land's End, finishing at 4.10pm on a wet and windy Sunday in Lands End, she told us “in my mind, the sun would be shining when I arrived and I would sit looking out at the sea, eating a well-earned ice cream! The reality was a quick cup of tea and a cornish pasty, followed by a shower and then the five hour drive home to London!”

 

Here is the ride in her words:

 

 

Day 1 - John O'Groats to Kyle of Sutherland (104 miles)

 

Beautiful  scenery, sun shining, I feel full of energy.  I set off early at 7am and rode first part of the day on my own. Later I met a girl from BP at the first food stop and rode with her for the rest of the day.  We arrived at camp at 2.30pm and I thought what a lovely week it was going to be, even if I was a bit tired as I had slept badly the night before due to excitement!

 

 

Day 2 - Kyle of Sutherland to Fort William (99 miles)

 

Another mostly sunny day, with lovely views but there was a bit more traffic around.  It was slightly hillier today and it rained a bit, but nonetheless it was a wonderful experience and was I still feeling good.

 

 

Day 3 - Fort William to Glasgow (121 miles)

 

Day 3 was very wet, windy and cold!  It poured down for 50 miles and so I arrived at the first food stop very cold and wet - good job they sold tea in the cafe next door!  I'm sure there were lovely views over Glencoe, but unfortunately we couldn't see them.  The sun did come out in the afternoon to dry us off which was good, but sadly some people came to grief in the bad weather, with three ending up in hospital.   In truth, 121 miles was slightly too much and I was ready for my massage at the end of the day - a free 15 min massage on alternate days was one of the perks!

 

 

 

Day 4 - Glasgow to Lake District (103 miles)

 

This was the only day the sun shone non-stop for us.  Pity the views weren't great, as we rode next to the motorway most of the day!  I rode the first part of the day on my own, then met a couple of guys who were riding at my pace and I stayed with them for two more days.  Camp tonight was Carlisle racecourse.

 

 

Day 5 - Lake District to Manchester (114 miles)

 

It was a great start to the day, with stunning views of the Lakes.  The big climb over Shap was a serious challenge after which the day deteriorated a bit as rain started and we had negotiated rush hour traffic in Preston!  Andrew (my brother) came to visit in the evening, which was a welcome break from the (by now) camp routine!  I should say that food on the camps was good though and there was plenty of it to ensure we were fuelled up for the next day.

 

 

Day 6 - Manchester to Shropshire (106 miles)

 

A nice flat day, with more stunning scenery, as we progressed through the Cheshire lanes.  I rode this day and day 7 with another group of guys who were a really good laugh.  Strangely, I felt full of energy, despite starting to get a sore back and my knees starting to complain too.

 

 

Day 7 - Shropshire to Bath (91 miles)

 

I had no energy all day on Day 7.  It was 'only' 91 miles, but it was hilly and my body was saying quite clearly that it wanted a rest!  The highlight of the day was crossing the Bristol channel over the suspension bridge.  The low point was climbing the very long hill up to Bath racecourse at the end of the day.  It ended on a high though, I got a real boost when my boyfriend, John, joined me at the camp, ready to ride the last two days with me.

 

 

 

Day 8 - Bath to North Devon (112 miles)

 

So I felt like I was back up to normal energy levels and I really enjoyed the morning - especially hurtling downhill through Cheddar Gorge.  However, the afternoon was the worst part of the whole ride – we were battling headwinds of up to 30mph and having to actually pedal downhill to get anywhere!  The tents nearly took off that night due to the wind...

 

 

Day 9 - North Devon to Land's End (111 miles)

 

After the efforts of day 8, the final day was a bit of a struggle - especially as it was the hilliest of the lot.  The main thing that kept me going was knowing that every mile was closer to the finish! By now I was getting fed up with the food stops – there really is only so many jelly babies, fudge fingers and blue powerade you can take - so we stopped at a little Cornwall tearoom to drink tea out of china cups.  The sunshine that was promised never materialised, so we arrived at 4pm in a drizzly, bleak Land's End.  It was a great sense of achievement though.

 

 

And afterwards… well it took me nearly a week to recover, but I was back on the bike and riding to work after a few days rest.

 

Thanks to everyone that sponsored me.

Rachel

 

 

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