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1000 Miles on a Rickshaw

Descent from Shap

In the Spring of 2010, I completed a 1000 mile journey across the UK by rickshaw, raising money for the Special Olympics Great Britain and setting a Guinness World Record in the process.

Synopsis

Starting from Aviemore in Scotland on Monday 26th April, I pedalled down the country, attracting a lot of attention on a bright yellow rickshaw to promote Special Olympics Great Britain on my way back to London. I did it for the following reasons:

  1. To raise money and awareness for Special Olympics Great Britain (Not sure who they are? Thought they were the same as the Paralympics? Read here for the answers)
  2. To celebrate the Olympic Games movement and London 2012
  3. To explore my own country and have a bit of an adventure
  4. To cycle 1000 miles and break a Guinness World Record

My method was thus:

  1. I had a bike kindly donated by Bug Bugs Rickshaws (and later, just as kindly fixed by The Bike Station in Edinburgh).
  2. I cycled through different towns, cities and villages in an effort to visit as many different Special Olympics regions as possible (there are 19 in total).
  3. I travelled on my own carrying a tent, stove and all the other supplies I needed.
  4. As well as online donations, the occasional member of the public would have a ride in exchange for a contribution.

The Journey

Before I set off, the readers of my website voted as to whether I should make an attempt on the world record. They said yes. I got a rickshaw from Bug Bugs, fixed it up, booked a truck to take the bike to Aviemore in Scotland and prepared to leave.

I had a nervous start with some technical issues (dodgy wheels and a lack of brakes) but made the first leg to Edinburgh in one piece where the Bike Station kindly sorted me out. I pressed on against low blood sugar and despite frequent heavy weather warnings, and even took a moment off to write a political piece.

On my second biggest day I waged war against the road and thrashed out 66 miles over Shap and on to Preston and finished the second leg in the Peak District. After being hosted by Cheshire Academy, I pressed on southwards, joined by my girlfriend Laura (now wife) for a couple of days who completed a double marathon, running next to me. I later chalked up my longest day on the road – 74 miles – before finally making it home.

I travelled a total of about 1,030 miles by the time I reached Tower Bridge then cycled home again. I sold the rickshaw on ebay and donated the profits to the Special Olympics Great Britain.

Stats and Figures

  • Average speed: 7.71 mph
  • Top speed: 28.8 mph (may have been faster but reading my odometer at such speeds was not ideal)
  • Number of times I started rolling backwards on a hill start: 1
  • Number of hills too steep to cycle: 0
  • Punctures: 5 (of which self-inflicted during repairs: 3)
  • Distance cycled without using front brakes: 138 miles (Aviemore to Edinburgh)
  • Number of angry car honks: 10
  • Number of supportive car honks: 77

You can see the rest of stats here and view a map of my route here.

Articles about Rickshaws

If you want to read a little more about long distance rickshaw riding or fancy having a go yourself (it would be pretty easy to set a new world record) then start with the following:

I also wrote these two more creative pieces whilst away cycling:

In 2009, Lianna Hulbert and Simon Etkind pedalled 955 miles together in a rickshaw.

Photos

Beating the previous distance
Rickshaw stuck in narrow gate
Celebrating with Bug Bugs rickshaw riders

See more photos on Flickr

Special Thanks

Bug Bugs Rickshaws – For donating the rickshaw, giving me a crash course and helping me fix it up.

The Bike Station – For saving my ailing pedicab after it limped into Edinburgh.

Aviemore Bikes – For fixing the brakes and helping get me started.

Cheshire Academy – For being wonderful hosts during my visit.

Special Olympics Great Britain – For supporting me throughout.

Emma Bishop – For giving up her time to help publicise the trip.

And all of the other people who let me camp on their land, made donations, cheered me as I past, and honked their horns and waved.