Ricky and I recently cycled the whole length of Great Britain, starting in Cornwall at the southernmost tip of Land’s End and finishing at the very top of Scotland in John O Groats. We completed the ride in 11 days covering nearly 1000 miles (1,600km). It was an unforgettable experience which, at times, pushed us to both to our physical and mental limits, however, the sense of personal achievement combined with raising over £2,200 for the Architects Benevolent Society (ABS) certainly made it worth every pedal stroke.
Throughout 2019, ABS have been championing the mental wellbeing of architectural students and professionals through their #AnxietyArch campaign. The campaign highlights the transformative effect that maintaining our mental wellbeing can have on our productivity, positivity and physical health, all of which should not be understated and this adventure gave me time to reflect on how important exercise has become to my own personal outlook and frame of mind. For me, good wholesome food and some type of physical activity; whether that be cycling, going to the gym, walking or going for a dip in the sea, has an immeasurably positive effect on my mental wellbeing.
The ride was a wonderful way to experience the changing landscape, culture and built environment of Great Britain. We rode through endless countryside, over mountains, along wild coastlines, through settlements of virtually every size and character, met people from all walks of life and experienced subtle changes in culture, architecture and tradition along the journey. Surprisingly, my personal highlight wasn’t whilst cycling; the day after completing the challenge I took myself for a swim in the crystal-clear north sea waters of one of Scotland’s many isolated and stunningly beautiful beaches. The cold water did wonders for some very achy muscles.
Our original plan was to write a blog post every evening after the day’s ride, however we quickly realised that it was going to be too challenging. The post ride routine of washing cycling kit, cleaning/servicing the bike, stretching, eating and resting was both time consuming and exhausting. I hadn’t quite anticipated how much mental focus riding for 6-8 hours each day would require and come most evenings we were struggling to string a sentence together, let alone able to write a legible and interesting blog. But, as they say, a picture tells a thousand words so enjoy the collection of some we took along the way.