Sum up your memories about the trip.

I’m not sure that I can think of a way I would have rather see the country, in the course of two weeks I probably saw more varied places than I had before and on more than one occasion all 4 seasons in one day. As with anything there were a few bad moments when we found ourselves caught out by terrible weather and hard riding but riding in a group made it so much easier to deal with and meeting people who we were helping and hearing their stories and how grateful they were made even the unpleasant moments good on reflection. 

What’s your favourite memory from your trip?

Meeting the MS group in Bath!

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What is your age?

23

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

I wanted a challenge and had never done anything like it before so riding the across the country for the charity was an appealing way to both complete a personal challenge and help a good cause.

Where do you live?

Cambridge

What is your profession?

PhD Student

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

JOGLE 2015 & 2017

Sea to Sea 2018

Do you have a connection to Multiple Sclerosis?

No

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Pre-trip

How much training did you do for your trip?

I rode 2 or 3 times a week and increased the distances of weekend riding.

What was your cycling experience before signing up?

I had been an amateur triathlete for three years but hadn’t really ridden more than 80 miles at once.

Where did you find the most success fundraising?

Mostly just though a mass email to family and friends.

What was your biggest challenge while fundraising, or something that didn’t work as well as you thought it might?

I tried organising small events but given my studies at the time it was difficult to plan around them.

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

Having a serious mechanical issue which would require a shop to fix.

How did you travel to and from the trip?

Sleeper train to Inverness then John O’Groats Bike Transport. The second time I took another train from Inverness to Thurso and then a local bus to John O’Groats. Would recommend the bike transport method where possible.

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Gear

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

I had already had the bike for a while but I gave it a service and replaced old parts.

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

I really could have done with mudguards and waterproof gloves.

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

A portable power pack, was very useful on days when there weren’t any chargers around.

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

The main one would be my sunglasses but only because I lost them somewhere in Scotland.

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

My sleeping bag.

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

I shouldn’t have bought a cheap waterproof, it ended up being next to useless.

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

Three changes of clothes (only one pair of trousers and a tracksuit).

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

2 pairs.

What type of camping gear did you bring? 

A tent, mattress and sleeping bag + some basic cooking stuff (stove, mess tins).

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Food

What was your favourite van snack?

Soreen, clif bars or fruit.

How often would you go out to eat?

Three or four times.

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

I cooked pretty often, mostly it involved a lot of pasta with sauce from a pot and some kind of green vegetable thrown in.

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

Food (Soreen, clif bars and fruit), rehydration tablets (nuun), occasionally some energy drink powder, sun cream and extra inner tubes if I used the spare I was carrying.

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On-the-bike

Did you prefer to ride alone or in a group?

Preferred to ride in a group.

What would you keep in your bike jersey pockets?

Puncture repair stuff, multitool and small food (energy gels or clif bar).

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

I used a top tube bag to keep my money, phone and a second tube.

What type of tyres did you ride?

Continental GP4 seasons.

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

I used a Garmin watch but with no route mapping. Around 12-15 mph when the winds were ok.

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

Not too long, pretty much in the first day.

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

Climbing the pass, I find flat riding in the wind demoralisingly slow.

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

Extreme heat at least then its not easy to fall off.

What was the most physically challenging segment for you?

For me it was day 4, I hadn’t quite adjusted and the climb at the end combined with not eating enough made the last hour very unpleasant.

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Routine

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

Generally left just before the van but left early on long days.

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

Put my tent up and ate something.

How often would you do laundry?

Every couple of days (ended up showering in my cycling kit a few times).

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?

Reading a book or sitting in the pub if there was one near the camp, occasionally visiting a nearby town if there was one.

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?

I preferred to relax during the day and go out with the group in the evening.

Did you keep a journal or blog during the trip?

No

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Reflecting

Do you keep in touch with many of your teammates?

Not as much as I would have liked to.

What was your favourite MS group meet up?

My favourite was the meeting in Glasgow (Dumbarton group).

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

Definitely, meeting the different groups and hearing about peoples personal stories made me much more aware of it and also the funding issues some of them are contending with that the rides help towards.

What was your biggest takeaway from the trip?

My biggest takeaway was the general impression I got from talking with people with MS across the different local branches and how it affects their lives in so many different ways as before participating in the ride I knew next to nothing about it as I had no personal connection to MS.