Reflections: Cycling, Challenge and Community

As I write this I am winging my way back on home on a train from Inverness.

I expected to be in more pain than I am and less overwhelmed than I have been by the act of cycling through some of the UK’s most remote and spectacular countryside. The memories will linger.

I suspect the physical challenge affected all of the 24 of us on the tour in different ways. I used every hill and every viewpoint to think and mull over things whilst many spoke of ‘blanking things out’ to focus on the task in hand. Many of you may have been pleased to learn that doing that number of miles over 14 days left me feeling a little too tired to email most evenings and as I was often the last one to arrive (until I sped up on week 2). I barely had time to shower and eat before preparing for the next day’s schedule.

Arriving at John O’Groats was very emotional as well as exhilarating. There were tears and hugs and glasses of bubbly flowed from plastic glasses that had been transported from Cornwall in anticipation of us all reaching the endpoint.

Also, as we were a larger than average group, which included one of our party dressed as a Chicken for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and some of us in fancy dress (I had managed to pick up a pink cowboy hat and suede waistcoat do the last 7 miles in), quite a crowd gathered to take photos and share in our achievement. It did feel like we had done something distinctly British, made all the more special for the first half being peppered by a chance to tap into Olympic coverage.

The final couple of days spent nearing the most northerly of the British Coastline was by far the most humbling. Communities bound together by the need to connect to flourish and generously sharing the places they chose to inhabit with the visitors keen to sample this unique lifestyle really touched me. Communities are made through the contributions of those they comprise and as a fellow shareholder of a community interest company feel I have returned with a greater understanding of the term ‘community’.

Such was the make-up of the group that we spent much of the last day talking of future challenges for us as individuals ahead.

I do have a couple of contenders for next year’s challenge – keeping them to myself for now – but in the meantime I want to thank everyone who showed an interest in this journey of mine. Some of the well wishes were received at the start of steep climbs or after a painful long day in the saddle so were important motivators for me.

…Oh and there was the added bonus of learning to tweet.

Am looking forward to getting stuck into future challenges with all at Spectrum with a fresh and renewed perspective.


Dr. Linda Harris

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