End of Feb Update

Good Morning,

Thanks again to all who have registered for Ride the North 2021 – especially since Christmas, from when the uncertainty has only increased.

I said I would update my thoughts on Ride the North by end of February …so here we are! I’m not at all sure whether the prospects have changed significantly either way since my email six weeks ago. It’s just unknown!  Nevertheless, there are updates that I am keen to communicate:

  • DATE: My best guess is that 24 July is likely to be too soon for restrictions on events to be lifted BUT as I already mentioned, I simply don’t know and my best guess is no better than anyone else’s.  My feeling is that for the moment, Ride the North will remain Sat 24 July.  I am going to need to see something positive by the start of April to know whether to push ahead, so I suggest that until the end of March (at least) the date remains 24 July.  If guidance at that time does not give a clearer steer about dates for events, the RtN date will them move to Saturday 28 August (pencil it in). There would be scope for one more nudge back to September.
  • EVENT FORMAT: In a scenario where we can go ahead with an event BUT with social distancing measures still in place, I expect to rethink the engagement with local communities which has become the heart of RtN. It will not be viable to have crowds gather and so I am giving early notice that (possibly/probably?) the event has to make some changes away from what would have been the plan. This topic will be revisited if/when it becomes a more pressing issue!
  • ANNOUNCING A NEW (ADDITIONAL) PLAN: I said in the last email, that I would be committed to some form of RtN in 2021.  As it happens, I think I am going forward with two forms of RtN in 2021.  There will be a ONE DAY event as planned if restrictions allow.  However, I am also setting out a plan for RtN 2021 as a FIVE MONTH event that will run from 1 May to 30 Sept.  When restrictions are eased, I plan to publish around 120 recommended cycle routes around the North East …utilising what knowledge I have on the topic, my past research, my archive of images and the fact that I have a website that allows me to publish cycling routes. I will endeavor to publish routes that link up in a pretty sizeable (and really fantastic!) network …Banchory will link to Alford, which will link to Insch, which will link to Rhynie, which will link to Huntly, which will link to Foggie, which will link to Turriff …and so forth! If we are facing a summer of travel restrictions, there will be a bigger interest in cycling than ever before and I will use RtN to try to engage people to go out cycling in the local area and to encourage those from other parts of Scotland to visit the North East (with their bike)!  The alternative RtN becomes an invite/challenge to tick off routes/towns/villages over a North East summer of cycling that should culminate with the Tour of Britain in September.  Just like the one-day RtN event, there will be 3 levels of challenge (eg. ride 100%, 50% or 25% of the network for Gold, Silver, Bronze level Kudos)!  This is guaranteed to uphold a RtN tradition of taking you places you have never been (and it’s your best chance of that in the summer ahead)!  I will reiterate that this will not be instead of a single day RtN it will, I hope, be additional to it. I am in dialogue with public agencies with a view to working collaboratively on this plan as a way to encourage support of the area’s tourism and hospitality industry through such difficult times and to get more people active outdoors for health and wellbeing benefits.  All of this is still under development, but I hope to have it ready in the next 4 weeks.  I truly hope I can package all this to get people engaged. I hope it can be additional to the main event AND I hope it might be something that will work for our charity partners who have missed so many events and lost a lot of income to support their work.