On Sunday 13th September, a small team set out bright and early to pedal the 70 mile distance from London to Cambridge. Why? To raise money for our first ever international workshop of course! Our Online Communications Officer, Sorsha, was one of the team, and tells us how the day went.
We all gathered at 9am outside the Royal College of Physicians, opposite Regents Park. The reason we chose this starting location is because it is where Sir Archibald Garrod first presented his discovery of AKU.
The forecast for the day predicted rain in the afternoon, so we soon set off on our journey, keen to beat the weather! Things were going well as we pedaled through the calm Sunday morning residential streets. However, before long we got lost for the first time, going too far round Regents Park, and almost ending up back where we started!
After consulting Google maps, and settling the confusion, we corrected our route, and headed back in to the bustle of the London traffic. We spent a long time cycling up a very busy London road, with three lanes of traffic, and countless sets of traffic lights, which always seemed to turn red just as we reached them. We were relieved when eventually we made our way through Barnet, and out the other side towards Potters Bar.
Here we had our first break, which was much needed after the busy London roads. We stopped in a pleasant park to meet Ian, who was kindly driving the support car for the day, carrying our snacks, heavy bike locks, and some repair equipment. After a quick banana, and some water, we headed off, this time through peaceful countryside villages. It was a beautiful day, and we were happy with the change of scenery as we passed fields, woodland, thatched cottages, and grand old houses.
We soon encountered some huge hills as we approached Newgate Street Village. The first was a wonderful downhill stretch on which we reached around 35 mph! However, it was soon followed by a long and steep uphill stretch. Our pace uphill was somewhat slower, and I even had to stop for a breather halfway up in order to make it to the top. It wasn’t the last hill either– we struggled up several more exhausting ascents before our lunch stop.
By lunch the sun was shining beautifully. We sat on a village green, eating the feast Lesley had prepared for us and stashed in the support car. Once we were done we slightly regretted how much we had eaten, but we were certainly reenergized for the second half of our cycle.
Apart from the uphill struggles, our journey was going incredibly well, and the weather was being kind; until we got lost once more! Between the village of Nasty and Westmill we took a wrong turning, and did a big loop. We cycled quite a way before realising ‘we’ve been here before!’
After correcting ourselves, we had another well deserved pit stop. It was here we noticed the clouds coming in, so we hopped back on our bikes with renewed energy, ready to race the rain.
We were relieved to eventually hit the flat landscape of Cambridgeshire, and pleasantly surprised the sun was still shining down on us. It wasn’t long before we were cycling towards King’s Parade, welcomed by a congratulations banner outside the Eagle Pub, where Watson and Crick first celebrated their discovery of the structure of DNA.
We cycled 73 miles at a fairly steady pace of 12mph, conquering hills along the way. And all of us made the distance. By 5.30pm we too were in the pub, aching and tired, but proudly celebrating our own achievement.
Thank you to all who took part or donated– so far we have raised over £2000, and we are still counting! All money raised will go towards supporting patients to attend our first ever international patient workshop.