You will have probably seen our recent coverage of the two Derbyshire R.A.B.I Committee members who cycled over 270 miles around auction marts in the Midlands fundraising for the charity, as part of Great British Beef Week.
Angela Sargent, County NFU Chairman and farmer from South Derbyshire, and Alastair Sneddon, an Auctioneer at Bagshaws, set off from Bakewell Livestock Market and over three days called in at seven markets, before returning to Bakewell at on St George’s Day.
Here, Alastair gives his account of their journey which included lots of beans on toast, beautiful countryside and a secret weapon of homemade tiffin.
Day one : Bakewell – Derby – Melton Mowbray – Market Harborough
“It was a chilly start as we left Bakewell on Thursday morning on our charity bike ride, raising profile and hopefully funds for R.A.B.I. We were both somewhat trepidatious that the project conceived in the comfort of a local R.A.B.I Committee meeting might prove more daunting in reality.
“We began by cycling briskly down the A6 to Derby maintaining a modest pace as bike and riders settled into some kind of rhythm which would hopefully prove sustainable.
“The arrival in Derby provided a welcome break, giving an opportunity for the riders to be filled with beans on toast and the R.A.B.I buckets with donations from farmers and buyers around the rings.
“The next leg took in Swarkstone Bridge, Donnington Park and East Midlands Airport before proceeding onto the Melton Road over somewhat rolling terrain.
“The reception at Melton Mowbray Market was very welcoming with NFU and R.A.B.I reps providing pork pies, cakes and coffee before the last leg of the day to Market Harborough.
“Thankfully John Royle, Chief livestock advisor to the NFU, was on hand to provide native guidance and picked our way over hill and dale through very scenic countryside and on minor roads.
“Tea was taken at “Café Ventoux” at Tugby – an astonishingly posh and popular cycling café situated in the middle of nowhere. Eventually the miles ticked past and with 88 on the clock, the gates of Market Harborough Market marked the end of the day’s ride.
“We then headed off to our generously donated yurt and shepherd hut accommodation, courtesy of the Renner family at Scraptoft Hill Farm. After soaking our weary limbs in the alfresco hot tub, with its own woodburning water heater, we were kindly taken out to supper at a local pub where it was pie night, just the thing for refuelling cyclists. Sincere thanks to Rosie, Nelson and Will for their hospitality.”
Day two: Market Harborough – Thrapston – Spalding – Louth
“After breakfast we made steady progress, despite the nagging Easterly wind, to Thrapston where a right royal reception awaited the riders at Bletsoes offices and refreshments both solid and liquid were liberally taken.
“The next leg to Spalding was hard work, with rolling country and some nasty main roads to avoid, but eventually the flat lands of the fens came into view.
“After a very long, dead straight, totally flat road, Spalding eventually came into sight and we were met by Alison Pratt from the NFU at the premises of Spalding Auctions where the Manager Mike Knight had organised refreshments ahead of the last stage towards Louth.
“A strong north easterly wind made the going very tough and having lost time steadily throughout the day, a decision was made to carry on for as long as possible and then take to four wheels to avoid inconveniencing our landlady for the evening, Jayne Thornalley. So at 18:30 with only 70 miles on the clock and feeling rather despondent that the target had not been reached, a halt was called.
“Accommodation was at Brook Farmhouse in the spectacular village of Brinkhill, near Louth, with supper taken at the Massingberd Arms. It being Great British Beef Week steaks were the order of the day.”
Day three: Louth – Newark – Bakewell
“Sincere thanks go to Jayne, the NFU Secretary in Horncastle, who was kind enough to cook a full Lincolnshire breakfast prior to the off from Louth market.
“Saturday morning started with showers which quickly passed, but a cold wind which set the tone for the day. There was quite a gathering for photographs at Louth market with Dan Jobe and Wayne Mountain from Louth auctioneers Masons and Willsons respectively, together with cattle farmer Pete Odling.
“We were then joined by R.A.B.I representatives, Andy Guy, Chris and Alison Roberson and Robert Bower. Making up the party were Alastair’s brother James and friend John Rees who had driven overnight from Sussex, left their car at Newark and cycled to Louth before 08:00 in order to be at the start of the days ride.
“The makeshift Peleton then headed West, very much cross country with some long drags and speedy descents, with the locals leading the way.
“David Armstrong from Bardney, who had been prevented from going on the ride by potato planting duties, was on hand with his parents, most notably his mother, who had baked a tin of tiffin especially for the occasion. Whatever the secret recipe contained and whether it included any substances banned by the UCI was not known, but it certainly revived tired legs and spurred on the riders to Newark. The Louth contingent had, by this time, turned back, possibly because of a fear of crossing county boundaries but more probably because of a wedding to attend. Their support and company was much appreciated.
“Newark eventually appeared with a sheep market in full swing. Auctioneer James Sealey kindly said a few words of explanation and R.A.B.I representatives rattled their buckets. More beans on toast then the depleted group headed west for the final push.
“Our friends said goodbye along the way, leaving Angela and Alastair to plod over the undulations of Derbyshire and eventually the long drag from Chesterfield to Baslow. The reception committee had been assembled for some time when at 19:15 with precisely 100 miles on the clock the riders arrived in Bakewell, mission accomplished.
“As the person responsible for the daft idea in the first place, I would like to thank all those who provided accommodation, sustenance, guidance and support. A special mention to Mark Ramsden of Grafika who did a splendid job of the vehicle graphics and finally as one cyclist to another I would like to salute Angela for her grit, in the traditional cyclists parlance “Chapeau”*.
“I hope the event has raised the profile of R.A.B.I and put much needed funds in the kitty.”
* “Chapeau”, or “hats off”!