Elizabeth Stevens, 18, came up with the great idea of supporting our troops in Afghanistan by staging a bike ride through Wootton Bassett, the town where fallen servicemen and women are repatriated to RAF Lyneham.
Initially, a thousand riders were expected to register but as word quickly spread the organisers eventually had to stop registrations at nearly 10 500!
Jess and I were two of the lucky ones to register in time, so we stayed over in London on the Saturday evening and then we were up early on Sunday morning to make our way across to Wootton Bassett. We had registered for the early check-in time-slot of 8.00am – 9.00am, so we were up early and on our way by 6.30am.
When we arrived at RAF Hullavington airfield we were directed onto the runway where we were marshalled into long lines of bikes, parked end to end. Everyone was in high spirits and looking forward to the ride.
At 11.00am we were amongst the first group to leave the airfield and take the route into Wootton Bassett. Jess and I hadn’t expected such a warm welcome from the throngs of people that lined the streets waving and cheering. The emotion of the day brought lumps to our throats and we felt like royalty as rode through the town and we were so proud to be part of it.
After passing through Wootton Bassett we all dispersed and headed off on our separate ways. Jess and I had decided to make a day of it, so we headed north towards Northampton via Cirencester and Banbury. There are some lovely biking roads out that way and we hadn’t realised what nice counties Wiltshire and Gloucestershire are.
At Northampton we turned east towards Bedford and then south back onto the A1 towards home. Near Baldock we made our last stop for petrol and said our goodbyes as Jess was heading home to Norwich and I had to get back to London for another week of work. Bah!
I eventually arrived back at the house at 6.30pm, so we had been out for 12 hours and boy, was my bum feeling it! (Note to self: must invest in a gel saddle ASAP!) Jess keeps a detailed log for her bike and she reckons that she did about 550 miles for the round trip.
Never the less, it was a great day out and we’d jump at the chance to do it again next year if it’s on. It is estimated that 15 000 riders and pillions turned out, raising in the region of £100 000 in the process!