On Tuesday 11th September Brothers Nick & Andy set off on their very last journey of the cycling challenge. Having cycled to every Lodge in Suffolk there was just one more they wanted to visit on a bicycle before they finished. That destination – The United Grand Lodge of England in London!
Joining them on their last ride was WBro Stuart Mitchell, The WM of Lodge of Unity in Lowestoft. And supporting them all the Provincial Grand Master RWBro Ian Yeldham, also cycling! So at 9am five cyclists set off from PGM’s house as they were also joined by the PGM’s good lady Amanda, there to keep an eye on them all!
In support for this ride was WBro Paul Rackham, complete with his large support van capable of transporting the cyclists and all their bikes if required. Also Bro Stephen Martin Halls in his car taking the overnight bags and regalia etc. They were cycling down for the Quarterly Communications meeting the next day on the 12th but to save leaving in the dark at a very early hour the journey was being made the day previously.
The weather was thankfully dry and an ideal temperature, neither too warm nor too cold, just right for the journey ahead. The only factor against the cyclists was the reasonably strong headwind blowing against them from the Southwest. After less than a mile the route took the cyclists down a grassy byway, unsuitable for Bro Stuart’s road bike with its narrow tyres so he and Bro Andy added on a few miles on the road to avoid it.
The cyclists all made good time through the Essex countryside into the town of Dunmow, skirting around Bishops Stortford and through Harlow which has an excellent array of cycle paths to help keep them off the main roads. WBro Paul shadowed them all in the support van, stopping a couple of times to administer cold water and energy bars!
Some 6 miles further on from Harlow at Broxbourne the route turned directly south to follow the Lea Valley canal path virtually into London. The canal path made a very pleasant change to the roads that had become much busier with traffic. The path followed the Lea Valley Canal for 12 miles through pretty countryside, past many many canal boats and barges, so numerous in places it was almost like a small village. On one part of the narrow path Brother Stuart had a narrow escape, a cyclist coming the other way at speed and the bramble flanked path caused Brother Andy to brake sharply. His narrow tyres couldn’t grip the loose surface and Brother Stuart skilfully chose the grass verge to fall onto, avoiding the canal and brambles….
The strong head wind and rough gravel surface of the path took its toll and by the end of it they were all feeling somewhat tired.
The last 5 miles of the journey through London was a combination of dodging the buses in the cycle and bus lanes and the cars and motorbikes when the bus lane ended…
But after 63 miles all of the cyclists arrived safely at Great Queens Street to be greeted by the support van and Brothers Paul & Steve.
Bikes loaded up into the van they all walked the short distance to their Hotel to enjoy a well-earned beer, a quick shower and scrub up before heading out to enjoy an evening in the Capital.
The following morning the cyclists were again up early, the bikes were dug out of the van to meet up with fellow Brethren from Suffolk for a few photos. An excellent turnout from Suffolk meant that there were over 70 Brethren there to greet the Provincial Grand Master and the cyclists.
Following the Quarterly communications meeting over 60 of the Brethren then retired to the Punjab Indian restaurant for a meal. The meal was excellent and there was much good cheer. Brother Nick & Andy both stood to thank everyone there for their support throughout the quest.
An excellent end to what has certainly been a challenge but also an amazing experience visiting all of the Lodges in our wonderful Province of Suffolk!
Miles to date: 2260
Lodges visited: 71
Lodges to go: None!
The Total Money Raised from Lodge visits and personal donations is £21659! A very big Thank You to all the Lodges and Brethren who contributed and supported us.