Friday, 29 July 2016

Return Celebration

The final part of the ride took us over Putney bridge and along the edge of the Thames, past the boat houses:

As we rode into Putney on Sunday we were greeted by family, friends and the Chiswick Lifeboat on the river, outside Thames Rowing Club. An amazing gathering which we were both very touched by.

This marked the end of our seven year expedition to cycle around all the lifeboat stations in Britain, and it’s fair to say that it was a moment of mixed emotions for us both- relief that we had returned in one piece without major incident, sadness that our trip had come to an end, and elation to be greeted by nearest and dearest including our respective wives and children. Quite a moment…


Inside the club house, our celebrations continued – a great opportunity to catch up with so many friends, family and RNLI crew.



Particular thanks to:


·        Our two main sponsors- Knight Frank and Rackspace Cloud Hosting

·        All those who have donated so generously to us over the years

·        Flickie P-B- Our chief fundraiser!

·        Tony Vlasto- Chairman of the City of London RNLI- a phenomenal support

·        Will Holland,  the Peloton and support team

·        Thames Rowing Club for the use of their fantastic club house

·        Chiswick RNLI

LEG 7 - DAY 7: Southend - London... the last day!

The final day of our RNLI tour of Britain.

Despite the fact that we were not due to set off from Southend until 9am, we woke early in the RNLI station. One thing RNLI station crew rooms are not designed for is a good night’s sleep- hard floors, limited window blinds and numerous radio devices and alarms which typically go off periodically through the night!  After so many nights on the floor of lifeboat stations over the past 6 years, with our roll mats, sleeping bags and eye masks (good look!) it was very weird to think that we were ever going to sleep in a lifeboat station again.
The Peloton met at the station at 9am along with a number of crew, and a friend of Rad’s - Simon Holland Brown who had kindly come to join us for the last day’s ride into London.
Following a brief demonstration of the Southend RNLI Hovercraft, we got underway along the Essex coast.

The route out of Southend took us on a rough cycling track across rather beautiful marshland to the west of Southend. Progress was fairly slow as the peloton trundled along the track but the weather was fantastic and it was a very pleasant start to the day.


Throughout the morning the roads became increasingly busy and the countryside became more sparse, as fields quickly gave way to urban sprawl as we pedalled our way through Grays, Rainham, Dagenham and Barking. With the roads becoming increasingly busy, we split into two pelotons to avoid the group getting split up further at junctions and make the ride safer.


With a  few wrong turns and running a little behind schedule anyway, we got our heads down and motored our way through east London. It was not a pleasant ride at all, and we are both hugely grateful to the Peloton for joining us for this part of the tour.

Eventually, seeing the towers of Canary Wharf looming in the distance we ploughed on.

Once past Canary Wharf, the next landmark was the City of London skyscrapers, amongst which the traffic reduced considerably. A couple of local entertainments lifted spirits...




 From here we were able to get onto the Embankment Cycle Highway and churn our way down to the official end of our tour- The Tower Lifeboat Station.

Craig and Archie had kindly bought a picnic lunch for us all which we had outside the station,  and following a few photos we got back on the Embankment to head down to Putney for the return drinks.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

LEG 7 - DAY 6: Harwich - Southend

After a somewhat broken night's sleep in the amazing Harwich RNLI station, (with various garbled messages coming over the radio periodically), we set off at a leisurely 7.30am. 

En-route to the Harwich Premier Inn (luxury!) where the Peloton were staying, we dropped in to Morrisons for a quick round of 'supermarket sweep', to grab some breakfast. 

After a little faffing by the group we got underway, heading south through Essex countryside.... Today was to be a day of skirting around the Essex estuaries, and taking in the glorious countryside, beautiful villages and a lot of white Range Rovers.... 

The peloton cycled as one, as we churned through the first 20km of the day, and it wasn't long before we pulled in to Walton and Frinton RNLI. The station itself was positioned in an elevated position, just back from the waterfront, while the boat was moored at the far end of Walton Pier. A quick photo, and a top up of water, and we got underway again heading south along the waterfront. 

It is fair to say, that Walton have fully embraced beach huts. Not one of the Peloton of 9 had ever seen so many in one place- it was quite a spectacle!

About 10km along the waterfront we arrived Clapton-on Sea, where they were holding a vintage car gathering at the Pier. It felt like little had changed there in the past 60 years... 

A little further along the coast we arrived at the Clapton RNLI station, for a quick photo, and water fill, and on we all went, now splitting into two Pelotons, to enable a few riders to push on...

A bit of a logistical glitch meant that our ferry across the river Colne wasn't in-fact running until the afternoon. The downside was that this would involve a 10km detour into Colchester to cross the river. The positive side however was that we got to cycle along the beautiful Colne estuary, and take in a quick lime soda to re-hydrate. 

By 1pm we were feeling rather peckish and a little low on fuel, so a stop in at a pub on the way, with a good garden out the back, got us refueled and up and running again. 

The penultimate Lifeboat station of the day was Burnham on Crouch- a great station overlooking a large harbor, with a very welcoming crew. We were given soft drinks and able to grab a quick update on the final competitive stage of the Tour De France (go Frome!) before getting back on the road to make our final ferry crossing of the trip.

While waiting for the ferry boat to arrive, Rad decided to go for a quick dip in the River Crouch, and spurred on by the group, upped his game in an attempt to do a forward flip.... This ended in disaster as the metal edging to the decked pontoon had come loose, and resulted in his feed getting stuck and cut/bruised as he ultimately did a enormous belly flop! Thankfully, the injuries were minor and were were able to plough on. 

Once off the ferry we had a short (c 10km) ride into the 'bright lights' of Southend's waterfront amusement parks, in the middle of which is the Southend RNLI station- our accommodation for the night. The crew were very welcoming, and told us a bit about the station (one of the busiest in the country) which houses one of the RNLI's four hover craft, two D class lifeboats, and an Atlantic Class off-shore Rib. 

Given the proximity of the Station to Southend's 'Adventure Island Amusement Park' (immediately next door- c 5 yards away) with the associated lout music and screems from the roller coasters, we suspect it is going to be a long night...!