Day 9: Back to the Countryside: Hard Hills in Hay-On-Wye
Getting up felt a lot easier today with the lovely breakfast offered by Rebecca and Maddie at the Durham Heifer Cafe. Cycling takes up a lot of energy and breakfast is super important to set off the journey right. Once topped up with yummy breakfast sandwiches it was time to set off towards Hay-On-Wye, renowned for its book festival and shops. Today we also crossed over into Wales for the first time as our route hugged the border along the river Wye.
With the forecast promising sunshine, Sal was able to get back on the bike. The fantastic five were finally back together and the few days off hopefully means that Sal’s foot will pedal her all the way to the Isles of Scilly! Sal picked a tough day of hills to jump back on the bike, but she wouldn’t let that minor detail stop her. After a few days of urban cycling, the route finally took our cyclists back into the countryside, experiencing some more of the beautiful environments the UK has to offer. We were all excited to touch down in Wales, taking our country counter up to three! However, our route down the west of the UK saw us cross the Welsh-English border so much that we weren’t even sure what country we were in at some points! Nevertheless, the winding roads and extensive woodland made for an enjoyable ride, even if we were a bit lost.
Once on the road we met up with Mike Axon, Director at Vectos. Vectos is one of our gold sponsors and is a transport planning, design and flood risk consultancy company. They bring positive and sustainable developments into the industry, working to promote a sustainable future. Mike spoke to the team about his work in “New Town” planning and creating the structures for sustainable communities. These kinds of innovations aim to uncover the preventative measures we can put in place to limit our consumption and impact, lessening the stress on our environment altogether. One extra interesting aspect of this interview was the velomobile that Mike was driving! A velomobile is like a bicycle-car and Mike certainly stood out as he sped through the countryside with our cyclists!
Later on in the day we met with Hayley from Sustrans. Sustrans work to make Britains bike-ways safe, usable and accessible and have a mission to make cycling more inclusive. They are custodians of the National Cycle Network, so the majority of our route has been on cycle-ways made by Sustrans. They are an incredibly important company for cyclist safety in both urban and rural landscapes and they are now starting to focus more on diversity on the road. Hayley was particularly passionate about the need to improve the lighting on many of the paths, encouraging more women to feel safe when cycling. The importance of inclusivity also extends into the outreach programs that Sustrans have set up to encourage kids to get into cycling at an earlier age, promoting confidence and appreciation for the sport.
Tonight we pitched up camp at the Borders Hideaway Holiday Home Park and were blessed by more beautiful views over the hills. Unluckily, this meant our cyclists had a big climb to reach the campsite, but it was well worth the extra challenge. With many of us living in and around Hereford and Wales, lots of our cyclists and support crew were able to meet up with their families to celebrate the expedition and give a boost for the final few days. Those of us who weren’t out with family didn’t miss out as we tucked into a delicious Mexican feast cooked up by the support crew!
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