Posted by: Bruce Duncan | June 24, 2010

Deloitte Ride Across Britain

I have just returned from a monster journey from John O’Groats to Lands End.  Shared with about 600 cyclists and a whole host of crew working on the Deloitte Ride Across Britain.

It was a logistical trip of epic proportions, 10 base camps (of which I worked at 5), 1000 miles ridden, countless vehicles, illness, little sleep, more tents that you can imagine.

Being part of the event was brilliant, I was a bit gutted to not be cycling.  However I plan to ride LEJOG next year, so it was interesting to see the state of the riders at the end of each day.

The event started in awful weather in John O’Groats (JOG), horizontal rain and howling winds battered both people and the tents, with riders arriving from the calm south trying to set up their bikes many of them were really questioning what they had signed up for, and us on the organising side were worried about how many tents would be left at the end of the night!

First riders setting off on the Deloitte RAB

First riders setting off on the Deloitte RAB

The morning was a lot calmer, but still pretty driech, and the riders set off into a beastly head wind for the first 30 or so miles, again riders wondering if it would be this hard all the way to Lands End.  Typically, an hour after the last rider left the camp the sun came out and we de-rigged the camp under blue skies!

Sunshine after the riders had left!

Sunshine after the riders had left!

Our job now was to leapfrog down the country setting up every other base camp, ensuring it ran smoothly and all the riders needs were catered for.  This involved loading and unloading a huge articulated lorry trailer morning and afternoon, we calculated this at about 80 tonnes of baggage shifted by each team over the 9 days.  Setting up the iconic tent, unloading a wee lorry full of heavy furniture, then packing it all away 12 hours later for it to move to the next live camp.  The camps ran more and more smoothly as we moved down the country, it was as much a learning curve for us as it was for many of the cyclists taking part.

On arrival at the Fort William camp the weather was dry, but cloudy and very midgy, not fun.  By the time the riders arrived the next day, the weather was awful, torrential rain and loads of midges, not fun at all, and made everything very difficult for everyone.

Baggage off load in the wet and midge infested camp

Baggage off load in the wet and midge infested camp

Waking up the next morning we were all amazed at the overnight transformation, I have never seen Ben Nevis looking so amazing.  I don’t think many of the riders realised how lucky they were, it took me 25 years to even see the top of the mountain!

Euan ready for day 3, Glorious conditions in front of Ben Nevis

We had a stunning drive down to Brotherswater, crusing through Glen Coe and down Loch Lomond, cheering on the cyclists as we went and stopping at some pit stops to give more encouragement and to have a wee rest ourselves.

Arriving in Patterdale and driving round the corner to Brotheswater and Sykeside campsite, we were all met by a stunning vista.  The light was so good, making the mountains look amazing.  Being almost home was great, so nice to be in the Lakes, and to see it in such good conditions was brilliant, the team all loved it, and I felt pretty smug that I was able to say that I live there.

On the darkside, as we called it when we didn’t have a live site, was lovely, nice and relaxed, getting some good sleep in, and getting set up for when it got hectic the next day.  Sadly there was never enough time to get out for a run or walk, but I did get plenty of exercise running around the camp most of the day.

We were so lucky with the weather, after the first few days from JOG to Fort William, we were blessed with wall to wall sunshine, well our team were, the others had some rain at Cheddar Gorge!

Ludlow Racecourse Camp

The camp near Launceston was to be our last, and our team were working so well together that we had everything set up in record time, and managed to even sit down for a cup of tea together, something we hadn’t managed to do anywhere else.  We were all worried that we had forgotten something huge and there would be a massive panic to rectify the issue.

Luckily we had a very chilled out day, working calmly in the sunshine and helping all the riders, many looking very tired by now, but starting to smile more as the end was so nearly in sight.  With the informal awards that evening in the Iconic tent, it was a great round up to our fantastic trip down the country.

Panoramic of the Launceston Camp

Packing up the camp the next morning was very satisfying, knowing we were pretty much done.  We savoured the drive to Lands End and had a team ice cream under the sign.  We had made it, maybe not cycling, but I think it would have been easier at times if we had!

Our team at Lands End

The final night at the Lands End camp was brilliant, many very happy but super tired cyclists, and similar crew members enjoyed some great cider and beer and local food until the wee small hours.

Sunset at Lands End Camp

Enjoying post event refreshments

Monday morning rolled round way too soon, but we got the camp stripped down pretty quickly before we all set off to Sennen Cove for a swim in the sea and a final team lunch, before the long drive home.

Sennen Cove

It was an amazing week, such a brilliant group of people working very long hours in awkward situations, managing to pull off a huge logistical expedition.  I was very proud to be part of it, and the many thanks we got from the cyclists made it all worthwhile.

Bigger and better next year….?? Who knows..

But rest awaits first.

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Responses

  1. Great report Bruce! You guys all worked so hard, I felt guilty at times “only” having to pedal each day! The camps were top class (well, every other one at least!!) – personal baggage service was much appreciated! Just wish I’d been able to enjoy the final night more than laying face down in the recovery position!!

    • no worries, it was a pleasure, hmm was it, of course it was. Great to see so many people get to the end and hear all the different stories.
      Well done, and hopefully we can get out for a road ride at somepoint soon, or a proper man ride on a mountain bike!!


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