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10, has been a long, drawn out surprise. Or, rather, a series of ongoing surprises.

It all started a little shy of four years ago. Inspired by Rapha’s now illustrious Festive 500 and how many kilometres I was able to cover in such a short space of time, I picked the entirely arbitrary, if not ambitious, target of 10,000km and decided to chip away at it over the course of the following year. 

I recorded my rides and experiences first via a blog and then via Instagram. Surprisingly, people were interested. 

More surprisingly, people wanted to get involved. 

And so I set-up 10, – a disparate collective of cyclists some of whom knew one another, but many, many more of whom had never met. In most cases, this is still true, but what connects us is a like-minded approach to spending time in the saddle.

Those of us that could cross paths did and, happily, we, have made fast friends. 

It’s difficult not to. 

Perhaps it’s the hours spent on quiet roads and away from the familiarity of the everyday. It creates the space we need to let not just new experiences, but new people in. 

Or maybe it’s the physical action of turning the pedals Our minds elsewhere, it allows small, penetrable cracks to appear in the walls of various heights and thicknesses that we build around ourselves and we let our guard down, if only for a while. 

It might just be that finding yourself amongst a new group of people provides the chance to start ever so slightly anew and be unencumbered by lives lived out of the saddle and away from the roads. 

Whatever it is, when we ride together it continually brings forth funny, interesting, thought-provoking conversations that are often candid and come from a place of openness.

It’s that openness that’s shone a light on the greatest unexpected by-product of The Collective: how many of us, at one moment in time or another, suffer at the hands of mental health issues. The stories, like the effects, are varied, but what’s become clear is that it’s not uncommon and the impact crosses social spheres, occupations, geographical borders and age groups. 

And, whilst attitudes continue to change for the better, it’s still stigmatised. 

That in turn means those that suffer do so silently and those that care are all too often naïve of what their friends or loved ones are going through. 

In the hope of helping to raise awareness of, and change attitudes towards, mental health issues, 10, will now be donating all of its profits from product sales (i.e. any money taken beyond the cost of producing the product) to mental health charity, Rethink. 

We’re not a support group. 

I – and we – certainly aren’t professionals and won’t be trying to act as such. We’ll be continuing to focus on going far, not going fast; riding our bikes for the joy of the journey and the people it introduces; providing a space and a community where people feel comfortable and can enjoy themselves.

And I hope that does some good. 

— Richard

You can read more about Rethink and their work here. You can also support them by purchasing a pair of The Collective socks here.




We’ve done it before, so we did it again.

As we prepared for the clocks to go back and the official start of short days and dark nights, we brought The Collective together to celebrate the last of the light.

The ride was, first and foremost, social.

We started late, we focused as much on the rest stops as we did on the route and we took our time. Here’s an insight into what we did, who we welcomed and the rich tapestry of colours we witnessed over eighty-odd kilometres.





Four riders. Three days. Months to catch-up on. Fewer kilometres in their legs than they’d have liked.

An insight into three days of riding in and around The Pyrenees.

Ten’s of thousands of kilometres have rolled beneath my wheels and almost all of them have been inside the UK. Admittedly there was the brief daliance with riding on the continent, but that didn’t exactly go as planned.

It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision; more a consequence of focus elswhere.

There’s something enriching about discovering what exists in your own backyard and understanding how far you can take yourself on your own steam. Why board a plane or get behind the wheel of a car when you can break new ground with nothing more than two wheels and a saddlebag?

A recent trip to the small village of Gaudiès, nestled into the base of The Pyrenees, provided a multitude of answers to that question: the weather; the roads; the excitement of the new; the pastries; the ability to continually pedal up and up and up for close to two hours; the novelty of tree-lined descents that snake their way around, through and down mountainsides, taking you with them at 60kph.

We weren’t out to Col bag. We hadn’t come armed with a list of iconic climbs we needed to tick off and had to visit. Instead, we put ourselves in the warm, hospitable hands of Mike and Joss at Zero Neuf Cycling and they introduced us to their roads.

Riding abroad isn’t better than riding at home. It’s just different.

Everything is fresh and, in turn, exciting. To place yourself somewhere new is to provide a reminder of how little you’ve seen and how much you love seeing it from the saddle.

If a change is as good as a holiday, the two combined can be even better.

Especially when your host knows where the brewery is and the sun’s almost always out.

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In June, seventeen Collective Members from around the UK congregated in a large, surprisingly cold cottage for a weekend of riding in The Lake District and Yorkshire Dales. With help from The Cold Dark North, we enjoyed three incredible days of riding on some of the best roads in not just the UK, but Europe. 

Some of us knew each other, whilst others had never met -- what drew us together was a love of riding, discovering the new in good company and introducing the familiar to the uninitiated. 

At some points we rode fast, at others we rode far, but most importantly we rode together. 

Cars and bags unpacked, bikes built and the group beginning to come together, we set out on a late afternoon leg loosener. Just shy of 50km, we skirted the edges of the Yorkshire Dales, picked up a few more members of the weekend group and finished as any Friday in The North should: with a chippy tea. 

View the route. 


It's summer, so we can be forgiven for believing that The Cold Dark North might be neither cold nor dark during our fleeting visit -- especially having been lulled into a false sense of security during our bright and balmy evening ride the previous day.  

But as lunchtime rolled around and the weather continued to turn the precipitation dial closer and closer to eleven,  we were all soaked to the bone and beginning to shiver. An extended break from the saddle and extra round of coffees did nothing to reignite the spark we needed to get back onto the road. Resigning ourselves to an afternoon of more of the same, we took some solace in the fact we found ourselves tackling the steep and narrow beginning of The Struggle. Forcing each of us out of the saddle, we grabbed out the zips of our waterproofs and let them fly open as patches of blue began to appear through the clouds.

Cresting the top of the climb, we were greeted at the prospect of an afternoon drenched in sunshine and descended enthusiastically towards it, doing our best to take in the views that spanned for miles and miles ahead of us and that, just a few hours early, would've been entirely shrouded. 

The Lakes. They're unpredictable, but, if you're patient, they can be incredibly kind. 

View the route.


The final ride of the weekend took us along The Coal Road, a stretch that connects the now abandoned mines between Garsdale Head and Dentdale in the Yorkshire Dales. Amongst the many rising and falling roads we rode, sat within the Sunday mist, was the biggest climb of the day: Garsdale Head. This once gnarly stretch of tarmac has recently been resurfaced, which made for a beautiful ascent into the clouds. It's more forgiving incline and shorter distance was also infinitely less punishing than The Struggle the previous day. 

View the route.





Sometimes giving up is the hardest, but best, thing to do. At the beginning of May, an attempt at riding back from Amsterdam to London over two and a half days started badly and got progressively worse. Here's what happened. 

The signs were there if I was willing to look for them.

Arriving into Amsterdam having had my bike loaded onto the train, but being unable to locate it before the train started wheeling its way back towards Rotterdam. 

Stomping cleat first into a freshly deposited parcel from a passing pooch (have you ever tried cleaning dog shit off a nook-and-cranny-covered cleat?).

In hindsight, this was never going to be a regular ride. 

Although, a little bit of foresight might’ve presented that rather obvious fact too. I’d rolled into the city for a four-day Stag Do – the sort you imagine would take place in Amsterdam and doesn’t include a visit to the Van Gogh Museum. It was only after a long-weekend of drinking that I’d be beginning my return leg, propelling my heavy head (and even heavier saddle, frame and handlebar bags) back through Holland, Belgium, France and, eventually, England as I made the 500km journey back along the coast from Amsterdam to London.

I’ll spare you the details of the events that fell between my arrival and departure, and instead cut straight to the first 30km of the ride. They should’ve taken me out of Amsterdam and onto the famous segregated cyclepaths of The Netherlands.

Should have, but didnt. 


On loading up any given route on a Garmin cycle computer, you’re offered the option to ‘route to the beginning’ – an opportunity for you to accept or decline a quick calculation that’ll guide you seemlessly to the exact point you chose to begin from. As I sipped the last of the cappuccino at the delightful cafe I’d sought out (Scandinavian Embassy, if you’re asking), I idoly passed my finger over the tick icon and pressed it.

In a city you’ve not had a chance to familiarise yourself with, it’s only when you wheel up the road you’ve spent the last four days on that you recognise where you are and it was then that I realised I’d spent the last hour taking myself back to the accommodation I’d checked out from that morning. 

Right on cue, it started to rain and, thoroughly warmed up, I started the ride proper.


But this post isn’t really about the ride. As solitary as the cycle paths were and as breathtaking as it was to round a bend to be met with fields of bright, uniformed rows of tulips, it’s not the scenery, or even the weather (although I’ll touch on this), that made the ride memorable.

It was having to make peace with the decision to abort it. 

I pulled into my accommodation for the night having ridden into increasingly heavy wind and rain for the final 50km. Allegedly the rooms were located on a beach mere metres from my front door, but I couldn’t see  it – the mist and thickening wall of precipitation obscured any views I might’ve otherwise been able to enjoy. Listening to the raindrops fall like pebbles against the roof as I ate my dinner, I checked the weather for the 240km ride that would take me back to Dover the following day. 

It didn’t look good.

Back in my room, I considered my options – ride, don’t ride, ride a bit; give it a go, make a decision, was it worth it? I consulted friends at home* that were more familiar with the roads I’d be navigating. Together we hatched various plans and constructed backup (and backup-backup) routes, whilst sizing up the forecast.

To the sound the wind beating against the side of my bedroom, roaring at the windows and whistling its way through their cracks, I eventually drifted off to sleep at around 3 a.m.

Three hours later and things had somehow managed to get worse. The moment I stepped out of the door and began riding in the direction I needed to go, I’d be negotiating 40mph crosswinds that wouldn’t stop until I did 240km later. 

Riding alone and with the prospect of having to share unknown French and Belgian roads with cars and lorries whilst the weather did its best to blow me into them, I decided it simply wasn’t worth it.

All things considered, it sounds like an easy decision, but it wasn’t. I had a plan, a goal and a deadline that I’d been aiming towards for weeks and I had to throw it all to the wind (I know). There were intangible and very, very tangible sunk costs associated with the trip: the time spent pouring over routes; the people I’d told of my plans; the use of a finite number of holiday days; the pre-booked accommodation. And that’s not to mention the additional costs giving up would bring with it (I totted them all up when I arrived home and it didn’t make for particularly pleasant reading).

But what would’ve been the point?

I don’t ride to suffer, I ride for the love of being outside on my bike.

I get little joy from burying myself – from taking on the elements and coming out the other side; I want the end of my ride to be a byproduct of the journey enjoyed rather than the end in and of itself.

So I gave up. I got myself back to Rotterdam, caught a train to Brussels, bought a Eurostar ticket for a train back to London, missed said train as I allowed myself a terrible coffee and consolatory croissant, caught the next train and was reunited with my bike in Kings Cross St. Pancras Station.

Nothing went to plan, but the routes and the roads remain there to be ridden.

And I'm still ready and willing to ride them. 

*A huge thanks to Howard for his help and guidance. From app recommendations to routes, his experience as the have-bike-will-travel-and-ride-ridiculous-distances kind of rider, he was an enormous help in helping me make the right decision and get myself home safely. 

See the part of the ride that did go somewhat to plan here. 


RELATIVITY: Damian de Lancy Green



Achieving your Milestone is, by definition, a long, drawn-out process.  It takes places over a number of weeks and months and is subsequently more a collection of challenges within a challenge; a series of rides that add up over 52 weeks to culminate in something that is greater than the sum of its parts. 

The latest contribution to our RELATIVITY series celebrates that fact. Three times a year, teacher Damian de Lancy Green uses half term -- a week-long school holiday that UK schools partake in -- to cover 500km on the incredible roads he has access to in the New Forest. 

Here, he recounts his experiences on his numerous 'Half Term Half Kilo's'.

Rewind to February 2015. My Rapha Festive 500 roundel pops through the letterbox on the eve of the February half-term and prompts me to reflect on how much I enjoyed systematically churning out 60 odd kilometres a day during Christmas 2014.

Why not replicate that over the half-term -- 9 days to ride 500km? 

Every February, May and October half term since I have added 500km to my yearly total: usually getting up and out early to minimise any impact on family or work commitments; usually riding in the face of rubbish weather (with the exception of the May half term, every ride is almost guaranteed to be in adverse weather conditions, My bike never thanks me for that); usually riding whilst simultaneously yearning for a lie-in and some rest after a tough term of teaching and the daily cycle commute.

500km over a long week isn’t an exceptional distance. Especially when it's compared with rides from Lands End to John O'Groats or audaxes that take riders from London to Edinburgh and back to London in five days or less. Each individual ride isn’t particularly long (averaging around 60km), but it still feels like a significant challenge. That's especially true when my entirely arbitrary (but enormously important) 12,000km Milestone is taken into account. My year allows me very few rest days and little margin for error and I commute, heavily laden, five days a week as well as fitting in two longer rides each weekend.

All of that said, I find myself looking forward to each Half Term Half Kilo as they approach and often find myself, as Sean Kelly would say. "making the calculation" from early summer onwards as to what my weekly distance target needs to be, allowing for the October Half Term and Festive 500 as, collectively, these challenges account for an invaluable 2,000km of my Milestone alone.

Having just finished my tenth HTHK, it's become an automatic and non-negotiable institution and I couldn't imagine my riding year without it. 




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This series was always meant to be a two-parter. Three days, two posts and as many photos as possible to give a vague hint of just how beautifully and brilliantly brutal, how stunningly, sublimely savage The Highlands are to ride through.

But writing about our brief encounter with The Highlands has been almost as difficult as riding it. 

Having gone from four to three riders at the beginning of day two, we awoke to discover that day three would see that trend continue. Gorrod had been suffering with knee issues that had been getting progressively worse throughout the trip. Today was the day it could take no more. 

Saddle bag packed and kit dry, the remaining two -- Hendo and I -- set out onto the final leg of our ride, which would take us back to Inverness. 

It took 15 minutes for us to become reacquainted with the familiar feeling of water against our face from the air, the road and the occasional passing vehicle.

With just two of us left, we had nowhere to hide from the headwinds and weather, which worked relentlessly against us. We laughed. We groaned. We shook our heads. And then we laughed some more. What else could we do but continue pedalling and enjoy the process?

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80km into constant rain and we'd not seen anything that looked like it might serve a hot drink and something -- anything -- to eat. Our hopes were raised by an 'open' sign for a nearby hotel. To the sound of our wheels crunching over the gravel of its car park, our hearts and stomachs sank as we arrived to an unlit building and a locked door. 

We pedalled on, fingers tightly crossed. In the small village of Ardgay, we finally found what we'd been looking for. 

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Resting our bikes against a fence outside, we headed inside as quickly as we could. Our rain jackets came off. So did our caps, our arm warmers, our gloves and our jerseys. Every item of clothing dripped, dripped, dripped onto the floor as the lady behind the counter put the kettle on and got to work on our toasties. We were shivering, staring at our knees or into the middle distance as our teeth chattered and the pain in our fingers became more excruciating as our hands warmed up.

The pain subsided after the first cafetière and we began to survey our surroundings. Shelves lined with biscuits and chocolate were sandwiched between rows and columns of hard spirits, complemented by hardware essentials like Gorilla Tape and screwdriver sets. Pressing down on the plunger of our second coffee, we listened as the lady behind the counter showcased her newly arrived Christmas bauble sets to a regular. 

Once again, we weren't sure what this place was, but we were enormously grateful for its existence. 


With a little under 50km between us and Inverness, we took to the road for the final time. To celebrate the final leg, Scotland put on a show. The overture began as we ascended Struy Hill, the final major climb of the day, and the rain turned to hail.

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At the top of the climb, the atmosphere continued to build with the introduction of a low, thick fog. Reaching for the buttons of our front and back lights, we continued towards what would be a biblical crescendo.

It was around two o'clock in the afternoon and we were just over an hour from a cold beer and a warm dinner. In what felt like an instant, the sky transformed from a nondescript grey to an ominous pink-orange glow and the light drained from the day. It was mid-afternoon, but it felt as though we were on the wrong side of dusk. It was only later that we found out that this wasn't the beginning of the end of the world, but the result of Tropical Storm Ophelia picking up sand from the Sahara and combining with debris from forest fires in Portugal and Spain. 

Apocolypse or not, we hunkered down for the final push. Tracing the bank of the Beauly Firth, we were brought to the impressive Kessock Bridge. This was the final challenge of our trip. Only 1km of pedalling from one side to the other, we were forced as low as we could possibly get ourselves over the handlebars. This reduced the chance of the crosswind hurling itself down the River Beauly and into our right-hand sides from leaving us on the tarmac.

Upright and unscathed, we rolled into Inverness to find Saul and Gorrod waiting for us. Whilst Gorrod's knee remained a little broken, Saul had managed to convert his bike to a single speed to get him to the station and, eventually, to the office when we'd made it back to London. 

Boarding the sleeper train back to the capital, we settled down for what was intended to be a good night's sleep (after all, we were all due into the office first thing the following morning).

Woken up by the train guard at two o'clock in the morning having not made it past Edinburgh Waverly, we found ourselves shuffling across the station with our saddle bags in-hand.

But that's a story for another time.

View the route.

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There was no overnight miracle. 

Dragging ourselves out of our beds, down the stairs and into the hallway, Saul’s bike still rested forlornly against the wall, its front tyre flat and his chain wrapped precariously round parts of his frame.

We discussed plans over breakfast, but they were loose and un-robust. 

Should we botch a fix together to get him to the train station? Was there a bike shop nearby? Should he get the train to Ullapool, tonight’s stopover, in the hope of finding one there? 

No phone reception or WiFi meant the only thing that held the answers to any of these questions was a copy of the Yellow Pages sat next to the B&B’s landline. 

After half a morning of calls it transpired that there was nowhere we could rely on in Ullapool. The closest train station was 16 miles away. And the only train was at 16:30 that afternoon. 

The only reliable plan we were able to hit on at 09:30 on a Sunday was for Saul to walk him and his bike back to where we’d had dinner the night before and hitch a ride to the station. We’d see him in Inverness.

And so, reluctantly, four became three. 

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Back on the roads and into the mist and/or drizzle (mizzle), The Highlands reasserted their power over us almost immediately. An enormous gust of wind blew from one side of the valley and to the other and took us with it. Forced from one side of the road to the other, the blast did an about turn and came back the other way, carrying us back to where we started.

These roads did not belong to us and they’d do whatever they wanted whilst we were on them.

We were just glad not to be riding deep sections.

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The weather slowly started to improve as we made our way into the first half of the second day, which would be taking us to Ullapool. The sun started to break through the clouds and as we swung eastwards we were fortunate enough to grab a tailwind that helped the first 50km evaporate beneath our wheels.

The fantastic conditions and stark contrast of the terrain to the previous day were cause for a celebratory Irn Bru at our first and only stop of the day. 

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Placing our bikes against a bench, we pushed through the heavy, arched, church-like door and followed the signs in the hallway that invited ys further inside. Standing in an empty room, we looked on at the empty bar.

The lights were on and the shelves and fridges were stocked, but we weren’t sure if anyone was home. Then we read the A4 printout:

“Please ring the bell. FIRMLY. 

We will be with you shortly.

Thank you.”

We did as we were told.

We rang the bell.


Two or three minutes later, a chap with a broad Essex accent wandered into the room.

“‘Ello, gents. What can I getchoo?”

Placing an Irn Bru and a glass on the bar, he glided out of the room for another few minutes before returning with the second two-thirds of our order, a couple of black coffees. 

“We’ve got the fire on in the lounge if you wanna head through there”, he said, gesturing towards a conservatory containing a couple of thick-cushioned couches gathered round a coffee table.

We did as we were told. We drank our drinks in front of the fire. We broke out some ride snacks as we revelled in what had been a relatively easy start to the day. And then we got up, put our empty cups and glass on the bar and we left.

We didn’t see our host again after he’s ushered us into his lounge.

“What was that place?” One of us shouted over our shoulder to the others as we began peddling up a growing incline into what was becoming a prevailing headwind. 

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Neither let up for the next two hours and it’s relentless was slowly eroding Gorrod’s pain threshold. His knee had started to niggle the day before, with Bealach na Bà having worked its way in and not left since. Deja vu took hold as Hendo and I found ourselves sandwiching another rider between our front and back wheels in a bid to make their lives ever so slightly easier.

The elements did their best to give almost as much as they took, a rainbow over a reservoir providing what might have been a perfect metaphor for or circumstances had we had a better opportunity to analyse it. 

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But as we were spat out onto the final descent into Ullapool, we were soaked through and shivering. Having rolled through another beautifully bleak expanse of moorland, nothing brings warmth to the heart of an otherwise cold-limbed, red-faced cyclist than the sight of a fish and chip shop and the words “deep”, “fried” and “haggis”.

Thawing from the inside out, we made full use of a room in our hostel for the evening that we’d never encountered before: the drying room.

There are few other parts of the world that require such an amenity, we guessed, as we put down plates that had been holding pizza, and picked up our pints of ice cream.  

View the route.




"I'll be honest with you. The Full English is good, but it's not £9.00 good. Now the smoked salmon and scrambled egg is better value at £8.00 – it's quite substantial, you get a bit more for your money".

It was half past eight on a Friday night in Euston station and, as we stood outside our cabin and room for the night, our train guard, Robert, gave us a thorough rundown of our breakfast options for the following morning. 

"And then you've got porridge with honey, granola with yoghurt. Four porridge and four coffees? No problem at all. 

And what time would you like to to come and wake you up? We're due in at 8:38am, so a knock and breakfast at 07:30? Perfect".

Single file, heads bowed and torsos angled slightly off centre, we walked down the narrow corridor of the Caledonian Sleeper Train, squeezed into our four bunk room and climbed into our beds. 

We were heading for The Scottish Highlands and, by the time the sun was up and Robert was bringing us our breakfast, we'd be there. 


It wasn't all that long ago that this trip was just a proposition; a precarious pipe dream that was always intended but never quite executed. 

The four of us had been looking at taking on The North Coast 500 by bike for a few years, but it took the prospect of one of us leaving the UK to force us into action. And even then we were a little too late; available holiday was few and far between and we'd slipped into the portion of the year where the weather had become even more temperamental than usual and daylight had dwindled. 


So it was with smiles on our faces and a sense of relief that we rode out of Inverness, passing its expansive lochs under blue skies and a bright, low-lying sun.

A-roads and lanes are one and the same in these parts and it wasn't long before the slow trickle of traffic dried up. Any obvious signs of inhabitants became sparse – a farm house here and a seemingly unreachable cottage there were fleeting specks on otherwise rugged and weathered hillsides and moorlands. 


It was somewhere between 70 and 80km that we saw the first building that might serve food. We were keen to push on into what was our longest day of the three, but no one liked our odds on finding anywhere else in the next few hours and, more importantly, before the biggest and toughest leg of the day.

Wheeling up outside Ledgowan Lodge Hotel, we clopped and clattered under the watchful gaze of stuffed deer heads and what looked to be the hotels only two guests to their reception. Not looking at our watches, it's difficult to know how long we spent in the high-ceilinged, empty-except-for-us dining room, but if food and drink is an acceptable unit of time, it was a sandwich and two pots of coffees. Whatever the unit of measurement, it was long enough for the weather to swing from the bright and sunny to the wet and misty. 

To begin with, it wasn't raining – the air was just wet. The mist combined with forward momentum to slowly but surely make sure every accessible inch of us and our bikes became suitably saturated. As we pedalled on, the wet air became more assertive, transforming from droplets into globules that were unarguably heavy rain. 

A well-timed puncture made sure we were able to appreciate it in all its torrential glory.


"Whatever happens, we have to do the longest route option on day one. It's the only way we'll be able to do Bealach na Bà".

Fickle weather and limited light meant Hendo, our routemaster, had planned several routes for each of our three days in The Highlands. Knowing our options to get back to our starting point were limited beyond the bike, it gave us contingency plans should we need them. But there was one iconic climb we refused to side-step having come this far: Bealach na Bà.


Otherwise known as Applecross Pass, this almost-10km stretch of ascending, winding tarmac is widely billed as the toughest climb in Britain. With 120km in our legs and our ham and cheese sandwiches having just begun to settle, we reached its base.

The climb is a con man. And like any con man worth their salt, it introduces itself amicably, a gentle, steady climb taking you up and away from Loch Kishorn. You warm to it; almost start to enjoy it.  

But despite the friendly introduction, the early warning signs are there, forcing you to quieten the voice in your head that's telling you it might not be as bad as you thought. 

"Road normally impassable in wintry conditions" read a red, all-caps sign next to an open gate that felt as though it might be closed at any minute. 

It was just before the halfway point of the climb, where the road took a harsh right-hand hairpin, that the climb showed its true colours. 

The road banked. 

There was a headwind.

And, after 20 minutes of grinding and pedal dancing, you could see in no uncertain terms just how far away the top of the climb remained.

I let out a groan as the weight of my saddle bag and the harsh gradient of the climb forced my front tyre from the tarmac in a momentary wheelie. My knuckles whitened as I gripped my handlebars tightly to counteract the strong wind that was determined to turn said wheel to a 45 degree angle. 

I watched as cars carefully crawl pass me. I wondered how feasible holding onto the side of a vehicle and letting them drag me up was.

Approaching the final three hairpins of the climb, I looked back over my left shoulder at what we'd left behind. If the process of reaching the top of this climb hadn't devoid me of almost every molecule of oxygen floating through my body, what lay below might have taken my breath away. 

A harsh cliff face plummeted into a valley where a river ran like a loan vein back toward the loch we'd left behind and below in the distance. 


In another context it might've been beautiful.  In this one, it was drowned out by the sound of my heart beating in my ears, the ruthless wind whistling round them and obscured by the burning sensation in my eyes from the sweat as it relentlessly ran into them.

Despite beginning to imagine there wasn't one, we reached the top of the climb. Although after such an ordeal, it feels fairer to call it a summit. 

It was windy up there too. We were blown about as we admired the views into the valleys below and watched the clouds move quickly across the sky (which we weren't so much below as in). 


And so to the fruit of any labourious uphill labour: the descent. A smooth and narrow road traced the side of the mountain over 10km. It unfolded smoothly before us. There were no surprises. Every turn could be suitably anticipated; every straight prepared for. There were no cars obstructing the route to the bottom. Nothing slowing us down on the gleeful race to our second food stop.

Apart from a puncture 500m out. But not even that could ruin the journey back to the bottom.

The adrenaline rush of the descent, the caffeine kick from the round of cappuccinos and the sugar spike from a hefty wedge of cake at our second and final stop were all short lived and did little to bring us back to life. As we sat around the table and made sure our lights were ready for the inevitable ride into the dark, we sighed, we shook our heads, we raised our eyes to the ceiling and, every now and then, we looked at each other and laughed.


We were down, but not out.

But we were close.   

We worked our way along Scotland's undulating west coast. Snaking in and out from its shoreline, we did our best to avoid the increasing number of sheep sitting by the side of the road. They were coiled springs; nervous, on edge and ready to bolt across our path at any given moment. 

The large, dusky skies were a deep, dark purple-blue. They provided an epic and seemingly endless backdrop as we meandered through marshland and through and between streams, rivers and ponds. 


The major climbs of the day were done, but the hills hadn't finished. We rolled our way up and down the final 40km and, as darkness finally set in, so did the cramp. We only needed to look at an incline for our calves and hamstrings to begin tightening and if the last few kicks weren't the final nail in the coffin, they were almost definitely the penultimate one. 

It was heads-down hour. The roads were quiet and so were we. We'd all silently agreed that this final leg was to be tackled alone, at our own marching pace. We'd reconvene at the top of climbs and chip away at this, staring intently at the narrow strip of road illuminated by our lights as bats began their working day overhead, bit by bit until it was done.

At the top of the final climb, we were two of four. We stood, waited and listened. After a few minutes, we wondered whether cramp had finally got the better of Saul and Hendo and forced them off the bike. A few minutes more and we saw the flash of two lights and the silence was broken of what we thought was the sound of cleats scraping and scratching on tarmac.

As they neared, we realised it wasn't. It was the unfamiliar but unmistakable sound of a chain and derailleur dragging against the road. Somewhere in the final ascent, an inner-tube that Saul had tucked into the top of his saddle bag had worked its way loose and into his rear cassette. That had then ripped  his hanger clean off, leaving his derailleur and chain dragging limply and helplessly along the ground.

We looked at the issue and knew we could do nothing. We still had 5km to our finish point. As had been the case for much of the day, there was nothing and no one around.

Our only option was to get to our finish point by any means necessary. That meant freewheeling and scooting the remainder of the way. Thankfully, for the first time that day, the wind and the road were on our side. 

We sandwiched Saul between the three of us. One at the front, another at the back and the final to his right, we rode tentatively, squeezing the brakes as we were pushed by the wind downhill towards a hot meal.

Put in a quiet corner of a busy restaurant in Torridon (is this where half of The Highlands population had been all day?), we tried our best to formulate something that resembled a plan over haggis, pies, sticky toffee puddings and beers. 

We didn't get very far and much of what made its way out of our mouths as words made little sense and tailed off partway through.

This was a challenge for tomorrow.

Putting our wet kit into the airing cupboard and over every radiator available in our accommodation for the evening, we heard a loud pop and a slow, constant hiss from the hallway.

Saul's tyre had burst, signalling the official end of day one. 

View the route. 



We truly believe that distance is relative. 'Far' is dictated by a multitude of factors ranging from responsibilities and commitments to fitness and access.

RELATIVITY is a new series that tells the stories of our Collective Members and how they keep their pedals turning toward their annual Milestone. 

First up is Toby Cummins -- husband and father of three, he spends four days a week working in London and the remaining three at home near the Lake District, where he devotes an increasing amount of time to his not-so-much-a-side-project-anymore, Cold Dark North. 

Riding on a family holiday. One place where it's certainly not about how fast, and all about how far (and how often) you're able to ride. 

But first a little context.

I'm a married father of three small boys (nine, seven and 18 months), so my annual target of 5,000km is only possible because I have an incredibly tolerant (non-cyclist) wife and kids that can be persuaded to try anything once.

I'm the sort of rider that needs to be out every few days to maintain my mental and (at least ostensibly) my physical wellbeing. My wife knows this; I suspect it's a large part of her tolerance when we're at home. Family Holiday is her break too though, and that tolerance can be understandably stretched when we're all away together. 

Following a period out of work, I'm currently consulting and therefore both money and time are of a premium. So we decided on a week's holiday to the Scottish island of Mull in the glorious summer sunshine (every droplet of it). 

Driving from our home just south of the beautiful Lake District for the best part of 10 hours with various detours and ferries meant an initial challenge of how much stuff we could pack into and onto our SMax.

It inevitably led to an early conversation about bikes.

I wanted to bring everyones'... My cross bike, her hybrid (with baby seat), the older boys' mountain bikes, helmets, shoes, etc. It was possible but not popular. We settled, or rather it was settled, that I would bring both the eldest's and my road bikes. The middle one has just started riding his older brother's roadie so this gave three of us a sporting chance.

Well that's lovely then. We're on holiday, in a stunningly beautiful place with over 200km of single track tarmac roads on the island and virtually no traffic. There's our cottage at the top of a mile long twisty 20% switchback-fest and the weather forecast is actually pretty decent for at least half the week.

Nothing to do but continue pedalling toward that Milestone. 

With almost a decade of negotiating ride time on Family Holidays, I have some tips for anyone who finds themselves in a similar position:

[1] Preparing
I love to plan routes but pre-holiday it's especially important. You need to have 4-5 routes of a set distance (and more importantly, time) ready to go at a moment's notice. This is not the time or the place for dithering or getting lost. You're on a Goodfellas pasta-sauce stirring style timescale here. An hour to an hour and a half max, taking into account the terrain (and Mull is a 2%av gradient kind of spot), bringing you home in time to do breakfast, bathtime or bedtime as needed. Strava's route planner adjusts average time of routes to account for your usual speeds and the gradients of the route. Win. 

[2] Timing
Your ride should always get you where you need to be in plenty of time for whatever it is you need to do next. So book in well in advance. As I said, my wife is tolerant, but she's rightfully not a fan of the "oh look, it's sunny, I'm just off for an hour" just as the 3pm tantrums start to kick in. I try to get out early and be back just after/for breakfast or go out after the baby is asleep at 7.30/8pm. Thankfully it's light very late up in Mull. Also see 3.

[3] Multitasking
Even better than a loop home to find you shouldn't have gone out at all is the ride to (or often better from) the place you're going to anyway. Family off to the beach, ride there. Family going to the cafe, ride home from there. As long as it's not too far away, the journey time is dead time you could make use of without putting too many noses out of joint. Short, sharp rides often enough are better than trying to get a proper long ride in. Also see 4.

[4] Incorporating
My 9 year old is a decent road rider, he prefers his rugby, but he can tap away for 25-30km without too much complaint - snacks are the key, but that's a different blog altogether. So what better way to satisfy the need to cycle than to do it with him? He immediately wanted to try the climb up to the house (punchy!). He was happy to ride to the beach on Day 3 (10km over a proper mountain). He's even keen to ride back sometime. Perfect.

[5] Considering
As I may have mentioned before, my wife is tolerant of my cycling addiction. But there's a natural snapping point. Every day, too much. Long rides, too much. Middle of the day, too much. But more importantly, she needs time to do whatever it is non-cyclists do to unwind too. So, whilst it feels like it's a bit cold and programmatic, there is a certain amount of tit-for-tat in the Family Holiday. We all need to be better at considering our other half's priorities. Be caring and earn your time on a bike, even if you're religiously observing Tips 1-4.

All things considered, it is possible to ride on a Family Holiday, stay married and civil. Some might even say happier and healthier. I think I might have unlocked the next level the other day when I rode a pre-planned hour long loop pre-breakfast, served a fry-up for the family and then rode to the beach with my eldest for a day of fun in the freezing surf. But that's just from my perspective. 

Mull Holiday Stats:
Distance Ridden - 107km
Rides - 5
Longest Ride - 1hr 12 mins
Highland Cow Blockades - 1
Relatively Happy Families - 1

10,000 / 100 = 100km.


We've written about relativity and normalisation quite a lot in previous posts. 200km rides seem unachievable until they're not. Rolling out of the house at 06:00 seems outrageously early until it's the new normal.

A few of The Collective have started winding those early starts back, getting out onto the empty roads earlier and earlier, allowing those pre-work kilometres to creep higher and higher. 

And now it's become a thing: The Pre-Work 100 Club. We're not out to pummel PB's or snatch Strava segments. We're just doing it to find out if we can.

Collective Member Owen Blandy offers a touch more insight to the apparent idiocy. 

Milestones are significant in our lives. We inherently need benchmarks, yardsticks, goals, objectives and challenges to gauge our own abilities and measure ourselves against.

So, when I receive a message to the effect of “Fancy a pre-work 100k next Tuesday?”, the challenge has been set.

Most of the time we (certainly I) ride with no set distance or benchmark in mind, just a route we wish to follow or a time we need to be back for.

But every so often, we need to shake the tree -- to mess things up just to see what happens. 

And so it begins:

Wake up at 4am.
Don the cycling kit you carefully laid out the night before. 
Hit the streets.
Enjoy the rarity of empty roads through the heart of a furiously busy city.
See the lone blinking light in the distance and know it's your friends already lapping the park.
Join them.
Hide the clock, turn the pedals and watch the last of night turn to dawn turn to day.
Hit 100km.
Coffee (maybe two. And a pastry).
Quietly bask in post-ride euphoria, knowing you've bagged triple figures before others have even finished their Weetabix. 

Owen rides for East London Fixed and he doesn't just go far, he goes fast, representing them in a number of city-based crits and races throughout the year. We choose to join him in the saddle on his slower, longer-distance days and cheer him from the sidelines when he's racing. 




Wales is binary. 

I speak from a point of complete bias, basing that on nothing other than firsthand experience over a three-day period, but I can say with relative confidence that in the 72-hours I spent riding from its top to its bottom, I didn't see a flat piece of tarmac.

There was up. There was down. There was no in between. 

It was just after 7 a.m. on Saturday 29th April that six of us convened outside of a cafe in Chester's centre. We looked forlornly through its window as the barista made his preparations for a day of trading, knowing that it would be some 60km before we sat down to our own breakfast.

That didn't matter though.

We had routes on our ride computers, excitement in our eyes and hope in our hearts. We were ready to begin a long and ambitious weekend of riding that would see us covering the length of a country in search of new roads and experiences.

Distance: 176km | Elevation: 2,830m

The weekend's tone was very quickly set as we found ourselves ascending World's End, leaving the houses of the nearby villages behind. Following the Minera Road, we climbed steadily onwards, alternating between power stretches driven from the saddle and fleeting moments of energetic pedal dancing. Neither felt easier than the other, but they were different and that was enough. 

The formalities of the road officialdom fell away as we proceeded on towards the top. Markings became faded, sheep roamed as they wished and reliable tarmac became flecked with loose asphalt and gravel. Meanwhile, the surrounds went from metal barricades to stretches of moorland. 

Long, winding, gradual and picturesque, this was climbing at its best.

Having pored over each days' itinerary, we knew the routes. But knowing the route doesn't mean you know the route; it wasn't until we began a climb, tackled a descent or rounded a blind bend that we truly knew what it was the roads had in store for us. 

We rode hard on our brakes on the descents, and harder still at the sight of an overflowing stream that had made the road its home. On some of the steeper, less reliable stretches this was challenging for the able-bodied amongst us, but the fact Ele -- whose recently broken hand was still bandaged and in the process of healing -- continually found her way to the bottom of each climb is testament to her strength (or belligerence) 

Grinding through our pedals up a seriously steep, unfathomably long and entirely unexpected hill, we were able to muster half a breath to curse the road, write-off Wales and chastise our route master for not warning us of its presence (which only would have served to make the struggle worse). 

For those looking to be forewarned, the climb in question was Pen Ffridd.

But take my word for it, ignorance is bliss. 

Distance: 131km | Elevation: 2,700m

Every now and then a ride entirely recalibrates your view of cycling. Something happens that alters the way you see the thing you love and, for better or for worse, you look at riding your bike in an entirely different way. 

Day Two was one such day. 

The effects of Day One hadn't gone unnoticed by our bodies and neither had the lack of sleep. Regardless, the promise of ice cream by the seaside for breakfast was enough to buoy our energy levels and push us onwards through the rapeseed and green, green grass that Tom Jones immortalised in song during the first 50km.

We were four climbs into what was set to be a 3,700m day by the time we reached the coast. The fig rolls dished out by Gorrod at crucial moments and the endless stream of sweets supplied by Jess and Ele had no doubt helped to get us there. As we sat around a pastel pink table in a pastel pink room, we talked dismissively about the headwind. 

"It's not as bad as was forecast", we observed as we tucked into a breakfast roll and a slice of apple pie. 

"It's not all that noticeable, is it?", we concurred as we sank another Dr. Pepper with a cappuccino chaser. 

Looking down at our average speed at the top of our eleventh climb of the day, I took back everything I'd said and thought. With 110km logged, less than 20kph on the clock and the day slipping away with each pedal stroke, I was happy to be on the approach to our lunch stop where we'd have a chance to take stock, recoup and regroup. 

That's when a stranger uttered the five words that crushed me and the group:

"Sorry, we've stopped serving food".

It was Sunday. We were in rural Wales. The next town was off course and another 15km away (and on the other side of a hill). And it had just started to rain. 

We had no alternative.

Reluctantly remounting our bikes, we put our heads down and cycled onwards onto the incline and into the rain. 

A roast dinner didn't alter our circumstances. We were still 15km off course (with another 15km to go if we wanted to right ourselves).

It didn't reinvigorate us in the way we'd hoped, either. We might have been less ready to throttle no one in particular for little reason other than hanger, but we were all still paying the price for having ridden headlong into a deceptively strong headwind. 

But it did allow us a moment of clarity. The big climb of the day, Black Mountain, would still be there tomorrow. So too would the other roads we'd planned to ride. What was the use in killing ourselves just to ensure we covered the planned route? We still needed to get to Cardiff. What's more, we were here to enjoy ourselves and what Wales had to offer, not to suffer unnecessarily.

We made a decision and took a beeline straight for Llandailo, where we'd re-route, get an early night and hit the road recharged with enthusiasm. 

Distance: 154km | Elevation: 2,270m

The final day was going to be the best day.

We'd gone to bed on a whisky. We'd woken up to a packed lunch put together by the pub we'd stayed the night in. The drunk Welsh teenagers dancing and singing to the live entertainment of the night before hadn't kept us up.

All the signs were there.

Staring at the saddle of my bike, I revisited the previous days ride and wondered whether I was in fact the passionate cyclist I thought I was. Was riding far all it was cracked up to be? Was there equal merit to kicking back on the sofa with a packet of crisps, a couple of beers and a tub of ice cream without doing a weekend's worth of riding beforehand?


The mist eveloped us as we began the first of three Top 100 Climbs for the day and the light drizzle helped to mitigate our rising body temperatures as we ploughed on up the 5.5km ascent. I watched Simon, Ele, Gorrod, Chris and Jess get swallowed into the white haze as I settled into the rhythm of the slope.

These were fitting conditions for making our way up Black Mountain. 

Reconvening at the top, our hollers and laughs drowned out the sound of our cleats unclipping from our pedals. Our eyes darted from one another, to the road that had brought us there, to the valley (and seemingly infinite descent) that stretched out before us as we all let out a metaphorical (and in my case physcial) sigh of relief. 

This was better than crisps and ice cream on the sofa. 

Leaning through the corners of the descent, we flew ecastatically towards Rhigos and on to Bwylch. Our zipped down jackets flailed in the wind as the sun began to shine and our backsides left our saddles for another gradual, beautiful ascent that turned towns into model villages and struggles through headwinds into distant memories.


Our new found sense of confidence arguably tipped into arrogance as we began to close in on Cardiff. Sweeping round towards the coast, the roads become smaller and narrower as we sought to keep off the increasingly busy A roads. These lanes soon turned to mud and rock. We powered on through, waiting for the what would only have been the second puncture of the trip as we bunny-hopped large rocks and tried to stay upright on the sections of deeper mud. 

Eventually, we were forced to dismount when faced with what looked like a small, dried up waterfall. We'd all met our bike-handling match and, with our bikes over our shoulders, we marvelled at the fact our tyres had survived and prayed our cleats would do the same. 


Your best friends tend to be the people you know so much about that you hate them a little bit. You know their faults, what it is about them that's annoying, what grates, where their weaknesses lie. But that level of knowledge comes only from knowing a person in intimate detail; from having spent so much time with them you've not just seen how they operate, but looked intensely under the bonnet. You understand their mechanics and how those dirtier, messier parts of their personality contribute to the greater good of their whole. You don't necessarily love them in spite of their faults, but they do help make the things you love about them shine that bit brighter. 

So it is with anything you love. If everything is brilliant, easy, fun, then nothing is. What is passion without context -- highs, lows and in betweens? What is a phenomenal day on the bike without a confidence-knocking one to give it substance?

The good days will always outlive the bad and the happy memories quickly and readily replace the unhappier ones. 

Here's to the next one. 



A few of the collective are heading to the Cold Dark North on Sunday 26th February to take part in The Coal Road Challenge. 

The 105km reliability ride takes in the road connecting the abandoned mines between Garsdale Head and Dentdale and includes a little over 1,500m of climbing. At its steepest point, that includes a 20% incline. 

We're getting involved because it's neither a race nor a sportive. It's about finishing and enjoying a long-held tradition within the Lune Racing Cycling Club.

It's incredibly reasonably priced (just £5 to enter). 

And it's also going to allow us to ride roads like those pictured.

Fancy joiing us? Find out more here, watch the video from 2015s ride here and get in touch to ride with us. 



2016 marked the first year of 10, What was originally a personal challenge became a collective of riders with a shared passion and ethos towards riding their bike. 

We had hundreds of riders from around the world pledge their milestones, as each vowed to consistently chip away at a challenging distance.

In the process we organised a number of rides from our HQ in London. We made the most of an extra day. We warmed up for summer. We celebrated its departure. We rode to the sea. We rode through the darkness. We drank a lot of coffee. We ate a lot of cake (sometimes for breakfast). 

Collectively, we rode over 3.6 million kilometres in the 12 months of 2016. That's the equivalent of riding to the moon and back just shy of five times. 

Personally, I pledged to ride an extra 50% on last year, setting my sights on the 15,000km milestone. In the process, I learnt a number of things, some of which surprised me and all of which apply to each and every milestone, whether 1,000 or 20,000 kilometres. 

In no particular order, here they are. 

Be open.

10kkm is, at its core, a group of strangers.

Or at least that's what we were. 

Invitations to Yorkshire, riding with cyclists from Seoul, incredible coffee stop hospitality, last minute sportive entires, bikepacking across the country, pizzas on pavements, photo shoots, jaw-dropping vistas, local tour guides, mid-ride rest stops in riders kitchens: it's safe to say that interesting things happen when you do interesting things. 

By bringing together individuals through a shared passion, shared experiences and stories, for me the collective hasn't just been a platform for organising great rides, but for forging very sudden but very real friendships. 

Surround yourself with exceptional people. 

There's little better motivation than clinging onto the back wheel of people better than you. 

It normalises the ridiculous; makes the outrageous ordinary.

290km every week for fifty-two weeks seems silly in isolation. But contextualise it with those preparing to ride across a country or a continent; the riders I've met taking on some of the best amateur athletes in races across the world; the Iron(wo)men and endurance athletes; those representing their country in the saddle, in the water and/or on foot; those that have been forced to start again from scratch; the riders with families and commitments that still find the time to be out there with you.

Suddenly, 42km per day doesn't just feel reasonable – it becomes paltry.

What's more, behind those achievements and endeavours lie the people themselves: the true reason we continually set our morning alarm for 05:30.  

It's okay to try and fail.

15,000km was one of numerous challenges I aimed to compete this year.

I wanted to complete Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire, but thanks to some poor planning and a minor bike issue, my race was over a mere 5km into the bike leg.

I wanted to complete all 12 Strava Climbing Challenges throughout the year, but two of them alluded me. 

I wanted to finish the Festive 500 for the third year running, but only made it to 300km.  

It's fine. They'll all be there next year. 

In the meantime, I rode over 15,000km, ran a half marathon every month, completed a number of other triathlons and sportives, and experienced the proudest and momentous day of my life so far when I married my now wife on 30th December.

Challenges are not just there to be achieved. They're there to drive, to motivate and to provide focus. If you completed everything you set out to do in 2016, congratulations.

But maybe you should dare to dream a little bigger this year? 

Impose Balance.  

I get FOMO. 

I'm not great at accepting opportunity cost, the idea that in order to pursue one course of action, something else must give in its place.

At the beginning of the year, I wanted to keep riding far. 

I also wanted to start swimming. And run further. And keep up the gym. And organise a wedding. And have a social life. 

Needless to say, each and every one of these things was the victim of another throughout the year.

You can't do everything. 

Accept that and, where you can, embrace it. Forget riding for pizza (or coffee, or cake or anything else for that matter). Just gather up your friends, leave the bikes and the Lycra at home and just go and have the pizza.

It's in doing this that you create the time to reflect and appreciate what you've achieved. It's easy to forget, moving all too quickly on to the next challenge.

Don't ride your bike.

I managed to juggle a number of commitments for seven or eight months, but then I started to feel the consequences of burning the candle at both ends and straight up the middle. 

I didn't reach my limit, but I did discover a border that separates tiredness from burnout and, having toed that line, chose to take a few steps back (see lesson Number 4).

I've written previously that routine is your enabler. It removes the need to think and allows you to just do. But in dragging yourself out of bed on another early morning, mindlessly brushing off your bodies cries of "please, just one more hour!", there's also a need to remain self aware. 

I found myself in danger of getting on the bike not because I wanted to or even because I had to, but simply because it's what I'd done the day, week or month before.

And that's not why I ride. 

When you've kilometres to cover, rest seems counterintuitive. Sometimes it feels downright detrimental. But you're in this for the long haul, so give your body what it needs: some extra sleep, a lazy morning and a second cup of coffee or a late night and a few extra glasses of whisky.

You won't go as far tomorrow, but you'll be better placed to keep going the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that...

Besides, it won't be long before that little voice inside your head is willing you back onto the roads, hungry for more views, conversations and stories.  

I've spent the first ten days of 2017 doing just that and I'm ready for the year ahead.

More rides. More news. More early mornings. More new projects. And, most importantly, more wonderful people, both old and new.




There's no denying it. There comes a point in the year where riding becomes difficult. 

In much of the Northern Hemisphere, that time is around now.

Daylight dwindles. The number of hours spent in entire or partial darkness increases. The roads are strewn with all manner of debris that make for a slippery surface under-wheel or an increased likelihood of punctures (and in most cases both).

That's not to mention the increased chance of rain, the various treachery it brings with it and the falling temperatures. 

It's true that skin is waterproof.

The maxim that there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad kit also holds true. But when the high-pitched wail of your 05:45am alarm pierces through the monotonous sound of unrelenting rain bouncing off the tarmac outside of your bedroom window and you open your eyes to middle-of-the-night-style darkness, even the more hardened and sadistic of riders would be forgiven for thinking twice. 

It was this that inspired our latest collective ride. The day before the clocks went back (taking with them another hour of evening daylight), riders from across London met on London Bridge to ride once more on our #DarkSideRide

We didn't ride to go far (c. 100km all in) and we certainly didn't ride to go fast. We rode to remind ourselves of why it is we ride: not just for the roads, the sunrises or the stolen hours. Neither is it solely for the undiscovered corners, picture-perfect sunsets or even for the well-planned (and thoroughly researched) rest stops.

It's for the company and conversations from faces old and new. 

As we slide slowly into winter, it won't be the conditions calling us into the saddle and onto the road. 

It will be the people. 

Thanks to each and every one of the riders that joined us on Saturday's ride. It was a a pleasure to share the roads with you. 

Until next time. 



Our latest collective ride was not an easy one. Only 10km longer than our #BlueEggAudax, it included an extra 1,000m of elevation that included the somewhat fabled Ditching Beacon, a 1.5km climb a little over 10km outside of Brighton that averages out at 9% (and kicked tantalising close to our first rest stop of the day).

We had quiet lanes, descents through forests and beautiful eclectic array of riders. We had busy roads, wrong-turns, rain and spills. We even had some sun. 

Once again, the moments that made the journey were captured by the group throughout the day, but special thanks must go to Ele Suggett and Abi Williams for having an SLR slung over each of their shoulders for every single one of the 220kms we covered. 

Thanks too to Brighton's n+1 cafe for their hospitality. 

-- RF. 

Same time, same place. 

We convene on the south side of London Bridge just before 07.00. As the group for the day makes itself apparent, we make our introductions to new faces and welcome those we recognise. 


Brighton was waiting.

We rolled out. 

Up ahead in the distance. 

Our route takes us south, up and over Crystal Palace, offering the chance to see the roads and route that lie ahead. 

It's green. It's quiet. It's getting closer by the minute. 

On top. 

Nothing breaks up a group better than a long ascent. Ditchling Beacon might not be the steepest or the hardest climb out there, but 90km from our starting point and 10km for our first rest stop, it was enough to see conversation quiten and groups become individuals.

But it didn't matter. 

We reconvened at its crest, congratulating those riders that had summited before us and those that followed behind. 

We gasped in air.

We drank in views.

We waited for every last collective member to join us. 

A warm welcome. 

We rolled into Brighton hungry and ready to enjoy some time off the bike. Warmly welcomed by Dan at n+1 cafe, we chowed down on sandwiches, coffees and flapjacks. 

Some of us repeated that process more than once. 

Despite having only been on the road together for four hours we were clearly comfortable in one another's company, joshing one another across the table and over our flat whites.  

We laughed until it hurt.

We got back on our bikes.

We continued. 


The group is alive. 

Riding further and further from London, the 10kkm group continued to grow as riders joined us along the way. 

We reached our zenith as we pedalled along Brighton's seafront, with a second team of riders joining us at n+1 for much of our second leg to Royal Tunbridge Wells. 

Fresh legs, fresh faces and fresh conversation helped distract from one of the busiest parts of the route. 

It never rains, it pours. 

Both metaphorically and literally. 

Not far outside of Brighton, we found ourselves under a rain cloud. Despite our best efforts, it seemed to be charting the same route as us, mirroring our every turn.

As it got progressively harder, we sought respite under the canopy of a group of trees by the roadside. We found shelter, but it was fleeting, abruptly broken by a series of fast-moving cars creating head-height tsunamis of water that left us soaked and forced us to keep moving. 

As we navigated the increasingly wet roads, the group separated, with one half finding themselves lost. Navigating six lanes of motorway traffic, they rejoined the group as it gathered around a series of punctures. 

Three riders fell victim to the same 10m stretch of pathway. Advice was dolled out with reckless abandon. Tips were given, pumps offered, foreign and obscure objects pulled from jersey pocket in a bid to make things easier. 

Many hands didn't necessarily make for light work, but they got the job done. 

Peer pressure. 

It may have negative connotations, but sometimes you need the encouragement of the wider group to help you to keep going. 

As we sat around our table at our final stop of the day, The Velo House, the strain of the day had started to set in. Royal Tunbridge Wells station and its direct links back to London lay just metres away. It was a Siren to sore legs, luring us towards it with the sweet song of respite.

But as the final cleat of the group clicked into its pedal, we headed for London with the same number of riders that had stopped in RTW.


Something happens when you've been riding for a number of hours. 

Boundaries and barriers fall away and conversation becomes more fluid and open. Subjects quickly move on from the formal to the incredibly informal as the discussions move as quickly as the pedals beneath your feet. 

But there comes a point -- normally in the final 20% of a ride -- where a cocktail of giddy excitement, exhaustion and elation combine to create a wild, frenzied and altogether incoherent series of events.

None of us will likely remember what we spoke about, but we won't forget the way those final 60km felt. 




The days are as long as they're going to get and we want to make the most of that. 

Our latest event sees us heading to the seaside and back again, as we depart from London and make a b-line for Brighton before returning to London via Ashdown Forrest and Royal Tunbridge Wells. 

As the tail-backs and tower blocks of London fade away, they'll give way to wild flower-lined lanes, expaneses of green and -- weather permitting -- excellent views.

We want to have as many people involved as possible and so will have two groups of different paces heading off half an hour apart. The first, departing at 07.00, will average a pace of c. 21-22kph, whilst the second, departing at 07.30, will average 25-26kph. 

We'll reconvene over coffee at each rest stop. 

The planned route offers the opportunity to end the ride at three different distance points if you're not comfortable (or available) for the entire distance. Fast and frequent trains back to London will allow riders to call it a day at either of our two rest stops in Brighton (c. 105km) or Royal Tunbridge Wells (c. 160km) if they don't want to roll all the way back to London and complete the 220km loop.  

Our first stop will be at the expceptionally named cycle cafe n+1 Cafe, where 10kkm riders will be able to enjoy a well-deserved, sandwich, cake, energy bar and coffee for £6.50. Our second stop lies on the other side of Ashdown Forest at the ever-excellent The Velo House.

All abilities welcome.  


Roll out: 07.00 and 07.30

Meet & Finish: Evans Cycles, London Bridge South Side

Distance(s): c. 220km (with 105km and 160km options)

Speed(s): 07.00 Group: 21-22kph || 07.30 Group: 25-26kph

Elevation: 2,843m


- Bidons (filled with water or a liquid of your choosing)
- 2 x inner-tubes
- 1 x hand pump or similar
- Ride snacks (just in case)
- Credit/Debit Card & Cash
- Mobile phone (with Strava/Garmin route saved)

N.B. This ride will be unsupported and un-signposted. We will ride together and we will have fun, but ultimately you are responsible for yourself and your equipment. You'll be riding at your own risk. Ride safely, ride consideratlely and respect other road users and cyclists. 



The best journeys are often the ones you don't plan for.

Many months ago, Saul and I signed ourselves up to the London Revolution for the second year in a row. We'd taken part in 2015 and had enjoyed a fantastic weekend of roads, food and weather as we took on the two-day course that snakes around the perimeter of London. Entry paid and with months between us and the event itself, it was stored somewhere towards the back of our minds to creep closer. 

A day out from the event, things changed. With less than 24 hours to go until we were due to convene under an inflatable start line, our two-man group more than doubled. Three of the collective had found themselves at a loose end and were able to track down incredibly last minute entry, taking our weekend contingent to five.

Sleeping bags were sourced and last minute ride snacks were bought as one message frenetically clamoured over another, and another, with everyone trying to ensure they hadn't forgotten anything essential in their haste. 

A sweep past Dalston Junction station at 06.15 allowed five lone riders to become a group that would become inseparable until Sunday evening and, as quickly as the decision had been made to ride together, we were on the following the black-on-yellow route signs over Tower Bridge and out into Kent.

The route, atmosphere and event were undeniably fantastic. Its ethos rings all too true with our own: the 250km, two-day route is not a race, it's a ride. The emphasis is therefore not on completing the course as quickly as possible, but to allow a vast and eclectic mix of people the opportunity to ride far and to ride together.

The rest stops are created not as a smash and grab affair, but to encourage riders to stop, enjoy and indulge in the company, the journey and, of course, the plethora of snacks on offer.

The seamless organisation of every face of the weekend leaves you with nothing to do but to focus on pedalling through the well-planned lanes. 

All no doubt played their part in the revelry we enjoyed out on the sunlit roads and the lucid, heat- and fatigue-induced conversations that took place over beers under the fluorescent strip lighting of the Ascot Racecourse bar. 

But most of the enjoyment stemmed from the unplanned nature of everything we experienced.

We'd had no time to create and develop expectations. There had been little opportunity for conjecture. No moment to think. There was something wonderfully serendipitous about the entire weekend. Everything just seemed to align: we were all available, as were tickets; the sun was out; our bikes behaved from beginning to end. The minutes and hours simply happened, time unfurling before us like the Greater London roads we rolled across. 

Like I say, those are the best kind of rides.

-- RF. 



Since the beginning of the year, collective member Chris Hall has been putting in some serious distance with a serious purpose. 

Thus far, he's accumulated over 7,000km as he readies himself for a 24-hour ride around Richmond Park on 18th and 19th June, 2016. He and his team mate, a second Chris, will be the first to spend so long and cover so many kilometres in one of London's most iconic cycling spots.

We won't be able to join him for the entirety of the challenge due to regulations of the day, but we will be accompanying him for as much as possible to provide a change of scenery, conversation and some relatively fresh legs. We highly encourage you to do the same – be it for one lap or 15 – and ask that you RSVP here. 

Below, Chris to rationalise just why he's taking notes on this audacious and ambitious challenge.

-- RF. 

We all go out for our regular weekend rides. We have a leisurely coffee stop. We eat some cake. We pedal home. 

85km with brilliant company is a great ride and a full morning on the road. 160km spent exploring is one of the most perfect ways to make the most of every hour offered up by the long, bright, sunny days of summer.  

But what happens when you keep going? When you've seen the sun come up and watched it set again? When you've turn on your lights on and pedal into the darkening road ahead with no intention of going home? 

What happens when you spend 24 hours straight on the bike?

I've always been one for a spontaneous challenge. Each year these seem to become more and more unrealistic, as I set myself targets that are daunting, but just the right side of the achievable to remain tantalising doable (just). 

Most recently, I spent the last few days of summer 2015 cycling across Romania and climbing the legendary Transfăgărășan and Carpathian Mountain range. Covering 800km in 5 days, and taking in more than 13,200m of climbing, I rode with a team of riders across Romania. From Bacau, we headed over the Transfăgărășan (voted the most beautiful road in the world), across the Carpathian Mountains, into Transylvania and finished exhausted, sick from altitude and and sun stroke, but incredibly proud at Sinana.

With pain and suffering from the last challenge having faded, leaving behind just the enjoyable memories collected along the way, the question soon reared its head: what's next? 

In a bid to answer it, I thought about my strengths. I used to race track. I train for power. I can go flat out over short distances. 

And then I headed to the other end of the spectrum: endurance. Going far is something I know, but not well. I've never truly tested how far I can go (both literally and metaphorically speaking) and where my limits lie. In that unknown lies the excitement, the trepidation and the challenge.

That's why, on the 18th and ‪19th June 2016 – the weekend of the summer solstice – myself and Chris Pressdee will be cycling around Richmond Park for 24 Hours.

The ride is not just an opportunity to hammer myself into the ground. It has a greater purpose: to raise money for The PACE Centre, a charity my cycle team, Ripcor, has supported for 10 years. A family-centred charity, PACE provides an innovative education for life to children with sensory motor disorders. It's based on a belief in each child’s ability to learn and they tailor that service to their individual needs. The unrelenting, inspiring work of every member of staff transforms the lives of the children that they help. 

On the Richmond 24, the aim is to get as many other riders and clubs involved as possible. Minute men, pace setters, wind buffers, friendly faces, domestiques, fresh legs, a change in conversation – the involvement of everyone and anyone will be integral to getting us through the daylight element of the challenge. 

When night falls, it will just be Chris and I, grinding it out in the dark. Our only company will be each other and the deer that roam the park. 

Until then, the training continues. So far, it's been weeks of as big a distances as I can muster. Anything from 240-320km can climb to more than double that as I head out on long, weekend rides. With seven weeks to go, the mileage keeps increasing. I'm mixing early morning rides with cycles that begin in the middle of the night and high intensity turbo sessions as I try to acclimatise my (increasingly aching) body to functioning well on a bike at during its darkest hours. Advised to focus on my heart rate (and keeping it low), attacks off the front and chasing down those riders in the distance remains tempting, but is something I'm learning to do less of. 

I've no doubt that what lies ahead is going to be brutal. There are going to be times when I want to throw down my bike and admit defeat. Beyond the support of the day, I know what will get me through each of those 1,440 increasingly grueling minutes will be the effect the money raised as a result of the challenge will have on The PACE Centre and the lives it touches.

Distance and hours on the bike remain King. I don't know how many kilometres we'll have clocked up by the time we see our second dawn, but whatever it is, it'll be a first and a Richmond Park record. 

True to 10,'s credo, it's not going by to be about going fast. It's going to be about going far. 

Please feel free to join in during the day time or early hours of the morning for a few laps.



Saturday April 23rd was a day of firsts. It was our first big ride of the year. It was the first time many members of the 10, collective had met one another. For many, it was the first time this year they'd had the opportunity to ride without arm or leg warmers (at least briefly). 

In keeping with that theme, this is the first of a different kind of journal post. With so many phenomenal photos captured by riders, we wanted to share as many of those as possible. The below is as much a photo essay as it is an event report. 

Thanks to everyone for their contributions and in particular to Ele Suggett for carrying an SLR with her for more than 200km. 

See you at the next event. 

-- RF. 

07.00 | The Arrival.
30 riders congregate on the south side of London Bridge. The sun's out, there's a chill in the air that lingers alongside the excitement of the day ahead.  

07.05 | The Depart.
We roll out and North. Traffic remains light, but the roads are distinctly urban for the first 20km as we look to leave the city behind for the majority of the day. 

08.15 | A Welcome Relief. 
One left turn can make all the difference. Veering off the A104, we leave behind what will be one of the last of the busy roads we'll see for another 150km. The pace settles, the smiles form, the conversation flows more easily. 

We peddle on. 

09.30 | The Split. 
30 riders and the last of the winter's debris mean the odds were always stacked against us when it came to punctures and mechanicals. The first of the day offers a chance to stop and enjoy the surroundings and for the group to spread out a little. 

No (wo)man gets left behind. 

10.30 | The Rest Stop. 
The collective reconvenes over coffee and a warm breakfast (with a side of cake). Stories are swapped and more formal greetings given, as everyone waxes lyrical on the fortuitous weather and a chance to reintroduce the feeling to their fingers. 

11.30 | Onwards. 
Spirits lifted by sugar and caffeine, everyone's raring to hit the road. That enthusiasm is quickly directed towards the second puncture of the day. 29 people standing around proffering advice and tips on how best to change an inner-tube quickly and efficiently isn't particularly constructive, but it is hilarious. 

For some, the stop also acted as a photo opportunity. 

13.00 | Roads Less Travelled.
What's a ride without some challenging terrain? A few farmers roads presented themselves as we moved closer to the 200km mark and anyone hoping to have avoided changing a flat waved goodbye to the prospect. Alongside the fun of not-quite-tarmac beneath rubber sat a mass tube change.

At least five of the group huddled around their wheels (all of them the back -- it's never the front) and got to work. 

14.50 | A Chance Encounter. 
In the same way the best roads are the ones you didn't plan, the best rest stops are those you didn't intend to take. 

50km lie between us and our Central London finish point as we roll past what will likely be the last place where we can stop, savour the ride and compose ourselves. 

Who are we to argue with fate? 

15.15 | The Approach. 
"This is where people start to flag".

The words escaped from somewhere inside the group as heads begin to hang. Conversation continues in earnest, but the threads are starting to show as the strain sets in.

A strong, unrelenting and vocal desire for Haribo has its epicentre somewhere deep within the pack and ripples out through every rider. 

16.30 | The Final Leg. 
The traffic lights appear. The stop-start, stop-start begins again. We become increasingly enveloped by cars and lorries. 

The spell is broken. The lanes have been left behind. We are back in London. 

Tall glass buildings confirm the fact and The Shard stands proudly in the distance. It's our North Star, towering above its smaller counterparts and directing us towards our final destination. 

We finish. We congratulate one another. We thank each rider for the company and the support (in some cases mechanical, in others moral).

Inexplicably, we get back on our bikes and we cycle back to our respective homes. 


Distance: 213km | Elevation: 1,539km | See the route.