Two Hundred and Eighty One Mile Charity Bike Ride
Two amateur pilots, father and daughter Robert and Amy Brown set out on a 281 mile charity bike ride to raise funds in memory of the Red Arrows’ Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging, who lost his life last summer.
They set off on the six-day ride from Manston Airport to RAF Scampton, home of the Red Arrows.
“we virtually lived in our Rohan cycling jackets”
Each day was a mixture of misery and elation but I’m pleased to say that we managed to get into a routine of starting with the misery and finishing the day with elation.
First day (Sunday) we had lovely sunny weather and a great ride along the North Kent Coast passed Reculver and Herne Bay but it was the longest day at 57 miles to Rochester.
Monday, we made our way to the Thames path and went past London’s rubbish dumps and sewage works (whew!) on our way to Woolwich for the ferry. Once on the north bank of the Thames we survived the traffic on our way to Epping and I got the hang of the map reading. Our legs were bearing up well but my saddle was losing it’s novelty.
From Epping to Cambridge, on Tuesday, our route went through some lovely villages via airfields (North Weald, Stansted, Duxford – where there was a Hawker Hurricane flying around, and Cambridge). We successfully dodged the showers, too.
Wednesday was a wake up call with rain, wind and cold and we had to keep moving to keep warm but we made it to Peterborough and were well looked after by friends.
Thursday had the hardest start with a cold wind howling against us across the Fens and nowhere to hide or shelter from it and 48 miles to do to Woodhall Spa. It was the closest we came to stopping…partly because of the wind. Amy had just about run out of gears and it took about an hour to do the first 5 miles. However, she (we) hung in there and as the route turned more North the wind came more from the side. We made it into Woodhall Spa via the path alongside the river and enjoyed seeing another Hurricane and two Typhoons flying around RAF Coningsby.
The staff at the Petwood Hall Hotel (where the Dambuster squadron were based during World War 2) gave us a warm welcome and we treated ourselves to a cream tea. Friday was the shortest leg at about 30 miles to Scampton. Another windy day (and, surprise, the wind was against us) where the staff on duty welcomed us with a cup of tea and took us to the Hawk that is a memorial to Jon Egging and Sean Cunningham and carries their names on either side of the cockpit. We were also shown around one of the Hawks in the hanger and were able to take time viewing pictures of the display teams and locations over the years. Amy was presented with a signed limited edition print of the aircraft and display team. It was downhill into Lincoln where we celebrated with an ice cream sundae.
We saw all sorts of birds and wildlife on our trip including deer and owls. We had no punctures or mechanical problems and no crashes. It is looking like £2000 could be possible but we also know the sacrifice of a week in the saddle and the sentiment of what we did was welcomed by both the Red Arrows and Jon Egging Trust. I think what kept us going when it was really tough was knowing the sacrifice that Jon Egging had made and that Amy was doing something well outside of her comfort zone to help other youngsters. It was hard work but it was also enjoyable and we enjoyed each others company. I’d do it again but at a warmer time of year!
The weather was such that we virtually lived in our Rohan cycling jackets the whole time as we needed protecting from wind and rain. They performed as hoped and expected and I can recommend them. Only worry is the zips seemed a little stiff but I guess they’ll ‘wear in’.