Route 72 for EdUKaid February 19 2015


Introducing Troy Van’de I'lsle who is taking on a huge challenge to fundraise for EdUKaid.

Along with his brother Errol, Troy is planning on an epic cycle route along Hadrian’s Wall, to raise funds and promote our projects in Mtwara. You can support them by going on their just giving page.

Troy and Errol are planning on making a few stops along the way. Check out their chosen route...

19 June - Ravenglass -> Allonby 42 miles staying at The Ship Inn

20 June - Allonby -> Wetheral, 53 miles staying at The Crown Hotel

21 June - Wetheral -> Hexham, 43 miles staying at Anick Grange Farm

22 June -Hexham -> South Shields, 35 miles. Then a train back to Edinburgh


You Never Forget How to Ride a Bike

They say you never forget how to ride a bike; that's lucky because I can't remember learning to ride one. I'm currently trying to teach my daughter with limited success. The main result is that I end up with a sore back as I try to keep her balanced by running, crouching and holding on to the back of her bike to stop her from toppling over.

The first two wheels I remember having was a Raleigh Chopper from the 1970s!

This was it, I had made it into the world. A Raleigh Chopper, what more could an 8 year old boy want as he cruised around the army estate in Bushey. And cruise I did, practicing wheelies and other tricks, I must have looked cool (or rather thought I did). The last thing I remember doing on that bike was attempting to go down some stone steps on the estate, falling off and cracking my head. The bike was fine, my head was sore, I never told my mum what I attempted to do.

That was the last of riding a bike for a number of years until I ended up as a volunteer on the island of Pemba. I was given a mountain bike used it for my shopping trips from where I worked, Vitongoji, to the nearest town, Chake Chake. Google maps says it's about 7.5 km and I did that journey twice a day along dirt tracks in 30 degree glorious sunshine for three months while suffering some from various tummy bugs.

I loved it, you can't beat cycling in sunshine followed by some ice cold fizzy pop. A move to Bububu on the Zanzibar main island followed and a similar length journey to Stonetown of 8.5 km each way. By that time I had been well and truly bitten by the cycling bug and weekends of 50 to 60 km journeys with other VSOs or Peace Corps to the beach were not uncommon

Next instalments

Getting Fit, Bring your own mechanic, Cycling in the wind, Newcastle to Edinburgh

Cycling in the Wind

The one thing you can be sure of is that there will be weather. In a car you can "escape" the weather by closing the windows, putting on the air con or turning on the windscreen wipers. It's not so easy on a bike; if it rains you get wet, if it's cold you layer up - you're exposed to the elements more so than any other form of transport.

Cycling into a headwind or battling against fierce cross winds is challenging unless you have one of these.

I'd love a shot on one of those but there is only room for one bike in my house and it is one of these.

Add some saddle bags onto the back and you become an instant target for a windy day. If you ride a bike reasonably frequently then it becomes a matter of when not if you get attacked by windy weather especially if, as I do, you live in a place such as Edinburgh where the wind can be fierce and icy as it blows in from the North Sea. There's no denying, it's tough work, it can sometimes feel like you're cycling with the brakes on!

In my view, the best ways to get through it are:

  • cycle in groups so that someone is acting as a wind break but don't forget to swap places otherwise you lose a friend!
  • don't worry about your speed and drop down some gears, think of it as going uphill
  • crouch and offer as little air resistance as you can
  • reward yourself afterwards - beer, chocolate, champagne whatever takes your fancy. I particularly like this one!
  • if it all gets too much, stop, take a rest, regroup

We will be exposed to cross winds as we make our way up the Cumbrian coast and, as much as we hope for prevailing winds, we are prepared to meet headwinds and put some of the points into action and rewarding myself with some beer!

Cycling is fun, weather is a part of it.


Reflections on the first day - Just us and the sheep.

We started our journey this morning after breakfast and for the first few miles from Ravenglass there was just us and a few hundred sheep.

We went past the old steam railway and generally found the route well sign posted until that is we got to Sellafield where they were doing some work on some pipes so there was a diversion! We did go a little bit off track, realised our mistake and started walking back along the grass verge - the police stopped us, pointed us in the right direction and gave a donation!

Big thanks to Cumbria Police.

There was a fair in Whitehaven, where I picked up a small gift for my daughter, saw a Delorean mocked up as a time machine and dipped my back wheel in the Irish Sea. It was at this point that things nearly went badly wrong - the jetty was covered in algae and I nearly ended up in the Sea with my bike luckily I didn't but it was a close run thing. I did give the volunteers at the RAF stall some entertainment. We made good time on the rest of the journey and are ready to rest ready for tomorrow.

 Some things you would not expect to see on a bike journey - a jellyfish on a bike path, a hay bale teddy bear and a time machine. We saw all three.

We also saw this memorial which made me sit up and think that this event happened over 500 years ago.


Day 2 and 3 - Dodging the rain

Day 2 was all about avoiding the rain. The forecast was variable so we set off from Allonby a little after 9 after the rain had stopped. We arrived at Burgh by Sands for lunch at a tea shop. Burgh by Sands is home to a Roman fort and is a possible site for the semi-mythical Avalon where King Arthur died and Excalibur was forged. We sat outside for lunch but then it started raining, at first innocuous drizzle and gradually got worse, we huddled up in the shelter with a couple who had just started walk along the Roman wall and swapped stories until the rain stopped and then made our way past Carlisle and on to the village of Werheral where we stayed for our second night. We had avoided the rain :)

On day 3 we got soaked! We got to Lanercost and took a couple of pictures the Abbey, you can see Errol on the right and the dark clouds above. Those dark clouds opened up as I took this shot and we were cycling in the rain for some distance.

Futher along, we saw some parts of the wall. 

And then stopped for lunch at Bardon Mill before the tough climbs, there were a couple of very tough climbs were I wished I had some lower gears than my lowest. My thighs were burning after finishing those. The reward came after we got to Vindolanda when we had some superb downhills all the way into Hexham where we stayed the night at a farm. The last day looks like another journey through the rain... 

Day 4 - More Rain Dodging and Reflections on the Journey

The last day of our journey was another story of rain dodging. The forecast at breakfast was for rain all day from Hexham all the way to the Coast, so much for picking a June weekend! It stopped raining a little after breakfast and we decided to set out.

The plan for this day was for it to be a wind down day. The route was fairly flat with mostly wide cycle paths into Newcastle. Along the way we crossed the Tyne a few times, this was one of the bridges - the Hagg Bank bridge which used to be a railway bridge for carrying coal around the country and is thought to be a model for grander bridges that followed - teh Tyne Bridge and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.   

 A bit further on we passed by a cottage where George Stephenson was born with an appropriate plaque on the wall.

And then came across someone who was cycling a Fat Bike. My brother being a bike mechanic was overjoyed at seeing one of these on the path and chatted to him about his own Fat Bike, tyre dimensions and where they had ridden them. For the uninitiated (me!) these bikes are what they say on the tin and have very, very big tyres and are suited for sand, snow etc. Errol also got complemented on the bike seat by an old gent; Errol has a Brookes Saddle ( leather seat as did he and another chat ensued about how he had had his seat for over 50 years and still going strong!

We arrived on the outskirts of Newcastle without too much rain and thought we had got lucky until the heavens opened and we got completely drenched! Ah well, next time we do a road trip we may try sunnier climes.

On reflection, we could have done this in a day less as we were kicking about in Newcastle train station for a few hours waiting for a train to Edinburgh. We could have done another 10 - 15 miles on the first day, another 5 - 10 on the second day and then set ourselves up for a good ride to the North East Coast. We had a lot of fun and had a good catch up and importantly have raised money for an excellent cause. I will look forward to visiting Tanzania again at some point in the near future and wish all at EdUKaid the very best in all their work.

Troy has now finished his challenge and raised an incrediable £920! His target was originally £500. Thank you to Troy and Errol! 

Do you want to take on a huge challenge for us? Get some ideas from our events and sponsorship page or get in touch! Email


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