The Big Cycling Adventure

AvantecareBridge Haven care home, Care & Support, Fundraising


The Big Cycling Adventure

Bill Richardson, Maintenance Technician at Bridge Haven Care Home.

“About a year ago I started to read about long distance cycling and really fancied doing this for myself…. So…I started to plan and from the very beginning I was always going to do it as a charity ride and that was always going to be for the Alzheimer’s Society. So I began a long planning process that resulted in me, my daughter and her partner,  riding our bikes all the way from the top of Spain to the bottom!…..”

“On the 16th September we arrived by ferry in Santander after what can only be described as the worst crossing since records began. A bit of number crunching, a 24 hour crossing that took over 30 hours with me being sick in my cabin for 29 hours!! When I rode off the ferry at 11:30 pm feeling ill I thought this can’t get worse, but then it started to rain hard, I don’t remember booking into the hotel that night, but waking the next morning to see all my kit at the foot of the bed confirmed I had not been having a nightmare, it was real! And hey why was the room gently swaying? This sensation stayed with me for nearly 3 days…”

“On the 17th September we started riding South and up and up and yes you guessed it…up! The country side was green and lush, more akin to the Lake District and it rained like the Lake District too. It was during these first few days in the mountains I discovered a new type of road, ‘THE UP HILL FLAT’.

All my senses told me I was riding on the flat, but my legs told me different, it was a strange phenomenon that occurred several times on the trip, I could only put it down to the vast wide open spaces.”

“Wild camping meant we had to start looking for a suitable place to camp at about 7pm, by eight it was getting dark and by eight thirty pitch black. It was very cold at night in the north and on one particular night I put on everything I had during the night. Who ever said it was quiet in the countryside too? All night you could hear howls and grunts and animal calls, we found out these were deer and wild boars. When we stopped in small towns in cafes the walls all had photos of game hunting! Someone had also told me that the bulls they use for fighting roam free too, I tried to put that to the back of my mind if I am honest! As we travelled south it was getting to hot to ride all day, which in turn meant an early start at dawn to get some miles in, riding off just as it was getting light.”

“One small town we rode into at lunchtime had a square with a trough to wash clothes in. we started doing some of our bits and the local people insisted we use their washing lines and even brought us pegs to use. My Spanish is not that good and in the rural parts they spoke no English at all yet we were able to communicate and they would shake their heads and hands when we told them our destination in Spain. We found this kindness and support all across Spain and believe me some of those places looked hard to live and work in.”

“We saw some stunning scenery, and wildlife. Riding through a gorge I stopped to look at what I thought was a goat standing high up on the cliff edge, but realised it was an eagle, I could then see about 5-6 altogether underneath and as if on cue two swoopped off and came over us, it was the most amazing thing to see such beautiful creatures in their natural surroundings. All day we saw them soaring high in the thermal up drafts, sometimes as many as 15 going round effortlessly.

On the 25th September, my birthday we stopped in Belmonte and a hotel for the night. This was Don Quixote country with its round whitewashed windmills standing across the plains. It was in this region that we did a short spell on a motorway! My map had it down as an A road, but it just changed into motorway leaving us no option but to push on, no one beeped us or seemed to care we were there, but then again the road was not busy like our motorways. We made it safely to the next exit!”

“It took us 13 days to reach our destination, covering 690 miles. The shortest distance in one day was 34 miles up in the mountains and the furthest was 84 miles on the last day, with the thought of finishing!”

From all of us at Avante we would like to say a big well done to Bill for completing the 690 mile round trip and raising over £1000 for the Alzheimer’s Society.

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