2017 Spring Housing Charity Challenge: Cycling to Amsterdam
What a great sense of achievement for all involved
Synium customer Spring Housing have completed their charity bike ride – from Dunkirk to Amsterdam… and what a huge success it has been. Synium’s director, Simon Tonks went along for the ride – here is his report.
About 6 months ago, I was asked to help Dominic Bradley of Spring Housing to help plan a charity bike ride. The plan was to cycle to Amsterdam – for no other reason than it is a cool place, and that it is quite a long way to cycle – and therefore a challenge.
Planning began – routes were mapped, hotels were booked, ferry crossings were sorted…. and the group of cyclists enlisted. 13 signed up – a mixture of Spring staff, some friends of Dominic, and others related to Spring. It was also a mixture of cycling abilities – from some very keen and regular cyclists through to some complete novices.
On Wednesday morning at 4am, we all set off for Dover (in a minibus) where we caught the ferry to Dunkirk. Here we climbed aboard our bikes for the first leg; 60 miles to the beautiful town of Bruges. After a long day we arrived in Bruges around 8pm. With a quick check in, shower, and change, we were all out for some well earned refreshments – and a lovely meal.
Day 2 saw a longer route of 64 miles – from Bruges to Antwerp. It started wet, with heavy rain for the first 10 miles, as we ventured into Holland for a few miles. Thankfully the rain didn’t last, and we were soon dried out under wonderful warm sunshine, as we cycled through some beautiful Dutch and Belgian countryside. The ride finished with a unusual ride through the tunnel under the river – quite an experience. It has to be said, the Belgians and the Dutch really know how to look after their cyclists – with amazing cycle paths and lanes – it really is a pleasure to cycle there.
Day 3 was another long day of riding – 65 miles. From Antwerp to Rotterdam. By this stage we had split into 2 groups, as there were some who preferred to go at a more sedate pace. So this slower group set off a bit earlier than us others. Unfortunately they set off in the wrong direction, only to realise they had gone several miles out of their way – thus making their day total closer to 80 miles. The arrival into Rotterdam was quite late – close to 9pm. It had been a long day on the bike for many… but spirits were still high. Everyone was working together, and encouraging their fellow cyclists, really inspirational.
Day 4 was the final push to Amsterdam. This one was a 55 mile route – again through some wonderful countryside, and mostly on great cycle paths, or alongside lovely canals. Despite the fabulous weather, great route, and lovely company – everyone was relieved to finally arrive into Amsterdam. It was a really rewarding achievement for all involved.
For me personally, the cycling was less of a challenge than it was for others… for those who had done none, or very little cycling before this, should be very proud of what they have achieved. It is no mean feat to cycle so far in just 3 and a half days. They showed such determination, such perseverance, and great teamwork.
It has reminded me that you don’t need to race everywhere, and occasionally it is good to slow down, enjoy the scenery, enjoy the moments. It has been a wonderful experience, of which I am very proud to have taken part in – and one which I will always remember (for so many great memories and funny moments).
Thank you Dom, thank you Spring Housing. I hope the money raised helps you guys continue the great work you do helping the homeless people of the Midlands.