Vans piled high with bags, suits, pears, apricots, cashews, cake and spare inner tubes, one month ago we road to COP26, from London. All 175 of us.
Well, actually, whilst some of us rode the whole trip, some of us did a day or two, and others, still, drove.
But we got there.
As the dust settles, and the dried grit hardens on our Ride the Change caps, we asked riders to reflect on, look back and digest what happened in that week at the end of October, when a load of us took to our bikes, loaded vans with snacks and packs and cycled to Glasgow to mark the significance of the international 26th Conference of Parties. To say the simple, impactful message of ‘this is important, we care’.
For those that care about cycling stats, facts and figures; our route tells a West Side Story; from Vauxhall’s Tea House Theatre we got to Oxford then Coventry, Stoke, Preston, Penrith, Dumfries, East Kilbride and finally Glasgow, 7 days later…
We cycled 504 miles, spent 7.5 days on the road, climbed 7,277m of hills, averaged 72miles a day (which hides the Day-5-90-mile-Beast), survived an amber weather warning, cabbaged in front of a film festival, ate 400 juicy pears (collectively), scoffed 140 pouches of super soft apricots (mainly by crew) and fixed 89.5 punctures (more on that below).
More importantly, so far, Ride the Change has saved 5,517 chickens worth of meat, 18 x 25m swimming pools worth of water, 2809 flights from Glasgow to Amsterdam, 7356 wheelie bins full of waste and much (thanks to Joe's endless pear juices, pear jams, pear tarts and pear purees throughout November), by riders raising pledging through Do Nation’s platform.
That is impact.
To mark this collective journey, and to share our collective memories, we’ve pulled together a special Adventure Uncovered Edition dedicated to Ride the Change, featuring stories from the road, the riders and those we met along the way: The Road to COP26.
Claudia Ruane shares a run down of the ride, the project’s origins and the all important pledge update.
It was the community of people that made this ride special. No doubt about it. So we spotlight some of the riders and share their reasons for signing up. Filmmaker Ellie Mackay collected messages from riders to take to COP26 to accompany these.
Anna Lawson and Ben Smith from Arup share insights from the organising group, and the road itself, as does Grace ter Haar, Matt T and Ajai Ahluwalia. Harriet Talbot shares her reflections through a beautiful poem.
We also invited reflections from those we met along the way, Preston Councillor Carol Henshaw and Climate Action Preston’s Cycling Co-ordinator Julie Ridley share thoughts on cycling, sustainability and climate action in their city. Anna Hughes, crew mechanic and Director of Flight Free UK shares a hopeful message of bicycles as a force for social good as does Norman Armstrong from Free Wheel North in Glasgow.
Writer Julian Sayarer naturally managed to put pen to paper twice over, once taking shelter inside a 'dry' pub (isn't that an oxymoron?) in Cumbria, an idyllic place to reflect towards the end of the ride. This followed his meandering cycling backstory on how he actually ended up on such a ride.
Veteran COP cyclist James Levelle writes about how he made the most of his incredible 9,000-mile emission-free mission to the UN Climate Conference in Chile, which, after social unrest in Santiago, never happened and moved to Madrid. And last but not least Hermione Taylor, the chief instigator behind the ride, reflects on how the ride actually came about and where it was born 10-years ago in a beautiful personal account.
So there we have it.
A project, that took two years in the making, with jack-knife twists and hairpin turns (not least the major interruption of COVID-19), is now complete.
Except, in reality, this is only the beginning.
With murmurs of another ride next year (who’s down for the London - Egypt triathlon #TriTheChange ? - branded swim cap anyone?) it’s now down to us, the 175 riders, to grow this vibrant and hopeful community and to keep this common dream alive.
See you on The Road*
The Team @ Adventure Uncovered.
*ideally a flat, quiet and smooth one.
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As the dust settles, and the dried grit hardens on our Ride the Change caps, we asked riders to reflect on, look back and digest what happened in that week at the end of October, when a load of us took to our bikes, loaded vans with snacks and packs and cycled to Glasgow to mark the significance of the international 26th Conference of Parties. Here's what they all had to say...
Read all of our Special Ride the Change Edition below...
Growing up on a farm, Hermione has always had an interest in nature, but it was while studying Evolutionary Biology at Edinburgh University that she began to understand how vulnerable nature is to the impacts of humankind, and how critical it is for our survival. She now lives in Chamonix Mont Blanc, France, enjoying trails and alpine climbs between running Do Nation. Through Do Nation, she’s helped employees across companies ranging from innocent drinks to PwC to understand and act on climate change, and is a founding partner of Count Us In. Hermione is also a B Corp Ambassador.
Julian is a former world-record holder for the world's fastest bicycle circumnavigation. He has won the Stanford Dolman Award for 'Interstate' an account of a hitchhiked journey from New York to San Francisco, and his latest book, 'Fifty Miles Wide', records a thousand mile journey cycling through Palestine & Israel.
Ellie is a research scientist turned professional Science Communicator with experience in a variety of multimedia, from film and documentary production, podcast and audio editing, to writing and public speaking. As the Founder of technology startup Ellipsis Earth she also oversees international scientific research projects and their communication, alongside delivering global education programmes and consulting for maximising public engagement. Ellie is a specialist Extreme Environment Drone Pilot, expedition leader and real-world data advocate, and Women in STEM ambassador. Ellie holds Master's Degrees in Science Media Production from Imperial College London and Natural Sciences from Cambridge University.
James is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and adventurer. For over a decade he has shot, directed, and presented films for National Geographic, Discovery Channel and the BBC in the wildest and most biodiverse places on the planet, telling stories that revel in Nature, amplify local voices and champion humanity’s wild side.
Claudia is a grassroots climate activist, low-carbon food experimenter and advocate, and word explorer. As a founding member of Transition Town Tooting, she started the hyper-local annual Foodival in 2008, which is still going strong. She caught the cycling bug several years ago after cycling to a friend’s wedding (and back) in Denmark. She now rides everywhere by cargo bike, with her two kids on board.
Ben Smith is a Director for Climate Change with Arup, where he leads a lot of their strategy work with global cities, through networks such as C40 Cities. For COP26 (Green Zone) he led the development of a Global Cities Climate Action Exhibition. He was a global judge for the 2019 Climathon, and for WWF’s One Planet Cities Challenge, he sits on the UKRI Climate Resilience Steering Group and is a Commissioner for WEF’s Biodivercities 2030 initiative. Ben is also a Raleigh International Alumni, a Climate Reality Leader, a volunteer Founding Trustee of the National Park City Foundation and a #GetOutside Champion for Ordnance Survey. Through Arup, Ben was able to secure seed funding in support of the #Ridethechange event organisation, he also has strong links to two of the other sponsor organisations. https://linktr.ee/Ben_Smith
Harriet is a cyclist, sustainable business advocate and always on the lookout to meet new people. She currently works in the sustainability team of a global business and as a cycling instructor in London. In March 2022 she will set off from Scotland to New Zealand by bicycle. Follow her journey on her Instagram.
Chris has had an interest in sustainability and climate change since graduating in Geography from the University of Durham in 1988. He got more actively involved in climate action when 10:10 (now Possible – www.wearepossible.org) launched at the end of 2009 and he also cycled to COP 15 in Copenhagen the same year. Chris later became a trustee of the charity. In his working life, Chris is an owner of a specialist legal recruitment business, Cayley Coughtrie – www.cayleycoughtrie.com - and has been working in recruitment for more than 25 years. Before that he qualified as a lawyer with a leading City law firm. Chris is married to Fiona and they have three children. In his spare time, Chris enjoys cycling and drumming.
Co-Founder of Adventure Uncovered, James is an ex-Marketing Director, part-time photographer, volunteer, and writer, spending as much time as possible in the ocean or on mountains. He's obsessed with cabins, sustainability, and enjoys the intersectionality between human and environmental stories and challenging the status quo.