A group of up to 10 adventurous cyclists took on the 250 mile challenge from Battersea in London to Widecombe on the Moor (Dartmoor) between 25-29 August 2019. The aim was to raise £20,000 for two related charities: East Shallowford Farm is a working Dartmoor hill farm near Widecombe in the Moor with charitable status. Groups of children from another charity ‘Providence House’ in Battersea London, have been visiting the farm on a regular basis since the 1970’s. The money raised will fund 100 children to visit and stay at the farm.
The benefits of these visits to their health and well-being are tangible as they feed the pigs, herd the ducks, collect the eggs, and enjoy the wide open spaces of Dartmoor. Their aim is to allow more children to enjoy this benefits by raising money for these 2 related charities.
Along the route, they stayed at: Odiham (near Basingstoke), Salisbury, Kingsbury Episcopi (Somerset), and Bovey Tracey.
Here is a summary of each day during our City to Farm sponsored cycle ride as written by Johnny Walker.
Day 1 – Saturday 24 August
First stage complete. Made it to London. Quite a challenge getting bikes on a train when bike spaces filled with pushchairs and oversized suitcases, and people queueing for toilet, and others waiting to get off!! Not at all stressful!!!
Great reception at Providence House. Thanks Hadas Hagos for feeding us. Delicious and plentiful!! Thanks Robert and Sue for giving us a bed. Last comfortable night til Thursday!! Great laughter amongst the team who all met together for first time!
A very pleasant reporter from Riverside Radio joined us for most of evening and interviewed riders and support team. They will air a report on Weds.
Bikes are ready. Van is ready. We are ready. Let’s get pedalling….
Day 2 – Sunday 25 August
First day in the saddle took us nearly 50 miles from Battersea to Odiham via Richmond Park, Teddington Lock, Farnborough, and Deepcut Barracks. A learning curve for all of us as we negotiated London traffic, and gained awareness of riding as a group and staying together as a group!
The day started with an interview with BBC Radio Devon! That went well!
We started enthusiastically; some legs felt pain at lunchtime. It’s amazing how soothing a jam sandwich can be.
Thanks to Robert who guided us in the van most of the way.
It’s funny also how some younger eyes define a ‘hill.’
“That’s not a hill, it’s a ramp!! Wait till Weds and Thursday and we’ll see proper hills!!” LOL.
We have stayed at All Saints Church in Odiham. Beautifully modernised. Warm welcome. And they fed and watered us more than sufficiently!! But the resident mouse has caused a bit of a fuss!! Sadly it was camera shy….Lol!
Oh and…the pub next door (literally) is ironically called the Bell….well it would have been rude not to pop in and explain why we were dressed in yellow!!!
Day 2 took us 60 miles from Odiham to Salisbury. A beautiful ride, mostly flat, through picturesque thatched villages and following river valleys.
We are staying at St Pauls church, and have benefited again from great hospitality and good food. We did not sleep well last night on account of church bells ringing on the hour and every quarter hour! Lol! It didn’t spoil today!
We had our first significant incident today. A car rushed into a space on roadside as Gavin rode passed. Sent him flying. No damage apart from dent in Mercedes!! A hasty ride to Halfords 20 miles away ensured buckled wheel fixed properly!
2 days in, and camaraderie amongst 11 people who were strangers 48 hours ago building!
Day 3 – Monday 26 August
So proud of these guys. Another 60 miles today. That’s 170 miles in 3 days! They are on fire! Average speed each day is increasing. We ride as a group, and together through busy streets. We wait at top of a climb, and help those needing a boost. The best sight is looking back and seeing a perfect line of 7 other yellow top cyclists, riding at an even tempo, head down, eating up another mile!
Salisbury to Somerset. Such a good day. A bit of rain did not dampen spirits. A combination of good roads, kind terrain, cyclists banter, great scenery and picturesque villages easily won the day.
Lunch was unique meeting of 8 cyclists +1van , a group from Providence on way to Shallowford to meet end of ride, and 2 friends of the charities travelled from Dorset and Devon!! Thanks Debbie and Anita for the sausage casserole !!👍
A snapped gear cable in last 200m of the ride was fixed within the hour thanks to late opening Halfords in Yeovil! All good!!😲
More amazing hospitality experienced from folk of St. Martins at Kingsbury Episcopi, who could not have done more to assist and feed us courtesy of their retired chef to the Admiralty!!!
Great day! Bring on breakfast and then the hills tomorrow!
Day 4 – Tuesday 27 August
Somerset to Bovey.
Haldon Hill to finish the day!
All riders made it. Huge effort.
Sports massage at end.
Good food to recover
Too tired for the pub!
Pancakes due for breakfast!
Not thinking about Haytor climb tomorrow !
Day 5 – Ending on a high
Intentionally a short day from Bovey to Haytor to Widecombe. But we still had our fill of pancakes for breakfast!!
The day started with another radio interview with United Christian Broadcasters: https://soundcloud.com/ucbmedia/start-the-day-providence-house-cycle-challenge
First surprise was for us to borrow a bike for chair of trustees to cycle the final stage. Good man he made it!
Second surprise was for a 12 year old lad to also join us!
Third surprise was a group of cattle startled on side of road on Widecombe descent. Hard break to avoid collision!!
Fourth surprise was 11 riders keeping together in perfect formation today! What a team!
Fifth surprise was welcoming group of 40 people on Widecombe Green. We rang our bike bells as they cheered us in at exactly 11am (as planned!!)
Sixth surprise was impromptu prize giving (medals) and speeches!
Seventh surprise was these London boys confessing they really did not do a lot of training! And yet they got round and have not complained once of being too stiff, too tired or too sore (backsides!!)
And the final surprise…they all want to do it again next year, or something equally challenging! Come join us!!??!
Such a great 5 days. These guys have gone beyond themselves to ride 250 miles in 4 and a bit days to help raise money for 100 youngsters to enjoy the wide open spaces of Dartmoor and the unique experience of hands on farming life in a unique setting!!
Thank you for your support….
We reached our target and have so far beat it! Follow the link below if you would like to donate or see the total raised!