North West Essex

Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

Cycle Ride to the Great British Beer Festival 2014

Two CAMRA members (from Sunderland & South Tyneside branch, and Tyneside & Northumberland branch) are both keen cyclists, and have thought of the idea to cycle from Newcastle/Sunderland to CAMRA's Great British Beer Festival at Olympia in London this year (12th - 16th August 2014). A small number of others are interested in the venture.

As the route will pass through our branch area, they would like to invite anybody who would be interested to join them at the appropriate point along the route - even people who only cycle on a casual basis can take part, as there's plenty of time to start training, as the days aren't too hard.

Their plan so far is ...

In terms of dates/route, it'll probably look something like this: - Wednesday 6th August 2014 - Cycle from Newcastle to Thirsk - Thursday 7th August 2014 - Cycle from Thirsk to Market Weighton - Friday 8th August 2014 - Cycle from Market Weighton to Market Rasen - Saturday 9th August 2014 - Cycle from Market Rasen to Fleet Hargate / Holbeach - Sunday 10th August 2014 - Cycle from Fleet Hargate / Holbeach to Cambridge - Monday 11th August 2014 - Cycle from Cambridge to London - Tuesday 12th August 2014 - Arrive at GBBF

This followed by people staying at GBBF either to volunteer (if you're a CAMRA member)(and thus get free accommodation - if this is something a few people are interested in, we'd liaise with the staffing team re storage for bikes) or to drink. Certainly we'd be taking the Tuesday afternoon session off to "refresh" after a long ride, unless, of course, anybody had strong views on jumping straight behind the bar!

The daily average is 68 miles, giving an average speed of 8.5mph, which isn't too bad (8 hours of cycling, 2 hours of rest each day 8am-6pm). The organisers having done it before, notwithstanding the minor variations in accommodation location, the route is planned for the days with more climbs to have significantly reduced mileage, and the flatter days to be correspondingly more.

Both the organisers have a lot of maps from when they did this in '09, so can confidently predict where we should be for breakfast (10am-ish), lunch (3pm-ish) and dinner (8pm-ish) each day. For those taking part, food would likely be a mix of pub food (evenings - recommendations from each local Branch), takeaways (evenings), cafés (daytimes - urban/rural areas), fast food (daytimes/evenings - urban areas) and ready-to-go / mix-with-boiling-water snacks from support vehicles (daytimes - remote/rural areas).

Depending on how many people want to take part, accommodation could either be camping or in B&Bs / hotels (which we would look to book in advance, as a group). If people didn't want to volunteer at GBBF, but wanted to stay overnight, the organisers know some excellent campsites & hostels that are cycle-friendly inside the M25. We're also vaguely familiar with Transport for London, so know ways around with a bike that don't always involve riding it.

We're also looking for people who could help us by taking part as a support crew. We're not too sure how this might work yet - we're open to any suggestions! Some of the thoughts we've had involve asking various local breweries who may be delivering roughly along the same route we're cycling to collect our stuff and drop it off for us, along with perhaps a volunteer who would like to come along but not cycle; we've also wondered if people want to take a steady drive to GBBF with us, meeting us every so often; and various other thoughts, but it depends on who joins in and what people think!

For the return, we're not cycling! It's usually possible to get at least 3 bikes on a train leaving London Kings Cross (East Cost, Hull Trains & First Capital Connect). Grand Central can take 6, by arrangement (they'll say which trains will be the bigger ones). For those aiming for Cambridge / Essex / Hertfordshire we think it's easier from Liverpool Street, where trains can take 3-6 bikes also. If people are returning en masse, it would be cheaper to do it as a group; if not, it's easier for people to make their own arrangements.

Finally, if possible, we think that it would be good to raise money for whatever GBBF's chosen charity is this year. Alternatively, people may wish to raise money for a charity of their choice, or just do it for the ale & camaraderie - we're fine with anything!

If you have any questions about this, please feel free to email the organiser, Matt Dinnery ku.oc.yvvebynnac@yrennid.ttam().