Sum up your memories about the trip.

The trip I rode in 2017 was the most mentally and physically challenging experience of my life so far; It enriched my knowledge surrounding MS, opening my eyes to everyday struggles and treatment options that many people face. It also allowed me to do something completely outside my comfort zone and along the way I met other like minded people who had a common goal. The route leaders on my trip were brilliant and absolutely reflected the all welcoming ethos of BTUKFMS; the team camaraderie through the good times and the bad will see you make friendships for life and you will find yourself inspired to come back year after year!

What’s your favourite memory from your trip?

Nothing can beat that moment of crossing the line at Land’s End!

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What is your age?

22

What made you want to ride your bike across the country?  

I had only recently found out about my mum’s condition and although she thankfully pretty stable at the moment, I wanted to raise money and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis in an epic way. I also wanted to help my mum come to terms with her MS as even after all these years she finds acceptance of the disease the hardest aspect. In my family’s experience of MS, the mental implications of MS are nearly as detrimental as the physical deteriorations; denial of illness and refusal of treatment means you can watch a loved one self destruct. By riding JoGLE I hoped to show my mum that there were many avenues of support and that having MS is by no means a stigma. 

On a selfish level, I rode JoGLE as I needed a physical challenge to push myself. I had led a life at university which was very much within my comfort zone, and therefore what better way to push myself than cycle from the top of the country to the bottom?!

Where do you live?

Hampshire, UK

What is your profession?

Postgraduate seeking employment!

What routes/years did you ride with Bike the UK for MS?  

2017 – JOGLE

2018 – LEJOG Route Leader

Do you have a connection to Multiple Sclerosis?

My mother has had MS for 17 years.

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Pre-trip

How much training did you do for your trip?

Not enough! But even for experienced cyclists it is no easy feat!

What was your cycling experience before signing up?

I could ride a bike! In terms of experience that was it! I mainly rode for commuting or pleasure purposes, I had never considered I’d ever undertake big cycle!

Where did you find the most success fundraising?

Spreading the word on social media! Keep sharing! You will be surprised how many people you hardly know are touched by your challenge and will donate!

Embarking on any big trip can be intimidating. What was your biggest pre-trip worry?

Meeting the fellow cyclists! Oh how I had nothing to worry about! Once you meet everyone you realise that there are people of all ages and backgrounds, riding for different reasons and who have different cycling abilities; That is the beauty of BTUKFMS. 

Also of course, as a beginner to long tours, I was definitely nervous about the distance! However, having good base fitness, an awesome support team and a lot of of self discipline and determination, you will be astounded what you can achieve.

How did you travel to and from the trip?

To JoG: Sent my bike to Seaview Hotel by courier a few days prior. Flew from London to Inverness. Bus from Inverness to John O’Groats. From LE: Drove home

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Gear

Did you buy a bike for the trip, or was it a bike you already had?

Everything was brand new for the trip!

What is something you wish you had brought which you didn’t?

Swimming gear.

What’s one thing you brought that you couldn’t have lived without?

Eyemask/Earplugs and a decent power bank and flip flops! 

What’s one thing you brought that you wish you hadn’t?

A leaky tent!

Is there anything you spent a bit more money on that you were glad you did?

A nice warm sleeping bag! Especially in Scotland!

Likewise, is there something you wish you’d spent more money on?

Sleeping mat! Mine punctured in the first week!

How much casual clothes (t-shirts, shorts, etc) did you bring?

Comfy clothes! Running leggings, big t-shirts, hoodies. Probably 3-4 outfits. One nice outfit for the celebration dinner!

How many pairs of cycling shorts/bibs did you bring?

3 x shorts. 4 x tops

What type of camping gear did you bring? 

Tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bag

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Food

What was your favourite van snack?

Bananas.

How often would you go out to eat?

Most nights. I was usually one of the later arrivals to camp so that last thing I wanted to do was cook!

Would you cook at camp often? If so, what was your favourite recipe?

Pasta always! #carbloading

What did you put in your day cubby (in the rest stop van)?

Spare bibs/shorts, raincoat, spare socks, soft shell, chamois cream, sun cream, pack of tissues, lip balm, earphones, paracetamol, bananas, mars bars, dried apricots (and for the ladies… sanitary products just incase).

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On-the-bike

Did you prefer to ride alone or in a group?

I preferred to ride as part of a group most of the time. However sometimes it was nice to ride alone and get some headspace away from the group. It is an intense journey and there is no shame in enjoying the ride solo for a bit!

What would you keep in your bike jersey pockets?

A map, a mars bar, my phone (maybe a rain jacket). 

Did you use a rack/saddle bag/handlebar bag?

No

What type of tyres did you ride?

Specialized Espoirs  (not one puncture) 😉

Did you use a bike computer? What was your normal pace?

No. Lol slow! But I took in all the sights!

How long did it take to learn to read the maps?

No time at all, they were very clear and concise.

Riding on a flat terrain with a headwind, or climbing a mountain pass for miles. Which do you prefer?

Climbing a mountain pass for sure!

Would you rather be riding through cold rain or extreme heat?

Extreme heat!

What was the most physically challenging segment for you?

Day 1 about 15 miles from camp! Horrendous headwind, slanting rain and a horrible climb! Wondering what on earth I had let myself in for!

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Routine

Were you an early riser, or rolling out of camp late?

Rolling out early.

When you got to camp, the first thing you did was….

Pitch the tent so I could crash and locate the showers!

How often would you do laundry?

As I ran out of things! So probably every 3 days.

It’s the evening and you’re out of your bike clothes, fed, and your tent is pitched. What are you doing to pass the time until you fell asleep?

Speak to and update family and friends, listen to music, sort my clothes and kit for the next day.

On the rest day, did you prefer to go out and see what the town has to offer, or did you hang out, rest up, and relax?

A little bit of both! I was lucky enough to see my family on my rest day so we went out for a nice lunch in Bath and then I had the rest of the day to chill and catch up on sleep!

Did you keep a journal or blog during the trip?

Not a written one! But I have pictures documenting the whole trip!

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Reflecting

Do you keep in touch with many of your teammates?

Yes of course! I was that fond of them I returned this year to route lead!

What was your favourite MS group meet up?

The rest day at Odd Down circuit was a highlight. Seeing the difference adapted bikes make to the confidence and independence of MS suffers was inspiring. Being able cycle from the top to the bottom of the country is something we take for granted in comparison, so therefore it highlighted the need to ride for those who no longer able to ride themselves. 

Do you feel like you are more aware of the impact that MS has on the lives of those affected by it?

100% – I met people at all stages of disease, from all different backgrounds. MS doesn’t discriminate in who it targets but the fantastic work of the local MS Society groups and family members help to mitigate the effects of the disease.

What was your biggest takeaway from the trip?

It’s a cheesy one but you can do anything if you set your mind to it. And to help those in need along the way is an honour.