“Having stumbled across television footage of Mark Beaumont cycling around the world, it occurred to me that it doesn’t look a bad life. You get up in the morning, have some breakfast, get on the bike for a few hours, grab a meal or two during the day, and turn in for the night. The reality however is that a lot of preparation took place prior to Mark setting off, as I found out after reading his book.
The preparation element of this adventure still didn’t put me off thinking “I could do that”. Up to this point I was a 14 mile a day cyclist, commuting back and forth to work. So off I set, planning a 50th birthday treat to myself, intending to catch a train to the West Coast, and cycle back. After several months of looking at various routes, and the occasional 25 mile round trip from Dyce to Inverurie, I had nothing firm planned. My wife then came across an advert in the local paper looking for participants to take on the Ride the North challenge. Hallelujah I thought, no planning required, all arrangements are made for you, along with back-up support. The only thing I had to do was ensure I was fit enough to complete the 220 miles over 3 days.
I gradually increased the length of my weekend excursions from 25 up to 40 miles, culminating in taking a train to Keith early one Saturday morning and cycling the 50 miles back before lunchtime. After that there was no stopping me and train trips to Laurencekirk and Huntly, returning via Donside followed. I discovered roads I never knew existed and was able to take in the sights at a pace which allowed me to appreciate everything around me.
The 3 days of Ride the North were amongst the most enjoyable of my life. The weather (warm and sunny) was a real bonus, but my overriding memories were of the friendships, camaraderie and excellent organisation.
Before taking on this challenge I was looking forward to the finish line and the satisfaction of having completed the 3 days. When we arrived in Stonehaven I was genuinely disappointed that it was over and looking forward to next years event.
If I were to offer any advice to novice cyclists like myself it would be to climb as many hills as possible during training, ensure you are never hungry when out on the bike and enjoy exploring areas you would otherwise bypass in the car”.