To raise money for Help the Heroes and Donna Louise trust, Jason and Tom donned their lyrca for an adventure of a lifetime, cycling 1400 miles from Tean to Budapest in 23 days. Their blog followed the trip (www.staffs1400.blog.com).
How did you come up with the idea?
Where all great ideas start; in the pub! We were planning on visiting Budapest and Tom mentioned that we could cycle there. The next day I bought a bike and training began. We also decided to do it for charity as it was a great opportunity to raise money for two worthy causes.
How did the idea develop into reality?
Once my bike arrived and I had informed Tom we were doing it, he began planning the route and I began the admin and fundraising work.
In your own words, ‘People who travel are awesome. If you think going to Uni is a good idea because it’s an ‘experience’, save your money, go travelling.’ was listed in the things you’ve learnt. What else did you learn whilst travelling?
The biggest lesson was that if you commit yourself to doing something, you can do it, whatever it is. We cycled across Europe after only 5 weeks training. I have since signed up for Tough Mudder and The Tour of Britain Sportive which I am confident I can complete in good times, I am also looking at completing a half marathon next year. Basically, get out there and do things, life is too short to sit at home on facebook day after day.
What was the hardest part?
The Czech Republic was extremely difficult. It was mountainous throughout and there was very little respite during long days of climbing with quick descents that didn’t give much time to recover, the three days in Czech were definitely the hardest part.
What kept you going?
I seem to have developed a love for cycling and, even though there were very hard parts, I enjoyed every minute of it. I even cycled home from the airport on my return and have continued riding now I’m home. The tough climbs were made easier by the thought of the difference we were making for peoples’ lives by getting over the summit. That definitely helped.
What couldn’t you have lived without?
Campsite showers. Showers were heaven. We ranked the showers. Wackersdorf has the best showers. I had 3 showers in the 10 hours we were there. After spending 8 hours a day cycling, showers and lying down became treats, I will never again take my double bed for granted.
What advice would you give to other’s wanting to travel?
Do it! Do it now! You’ll meet amazing people, do things and see things you wouldn’t anywhere else, and gain a freedom that only comes through that experience. Don’t talk about doing it just do it!!
What was the best sight you saw?
There were several places that stand out in my memory for different reasons. The Budapest sign was a great thing to see after 23 days, but the valley around Krumau am Kamp in Austria was breathtaking, it was the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. Budweis and Budapest are fantastic places (especially if you’re quality architecture in abundance). The bridge at Remagen also had a huge impact on me due to the history of the place, it was very poignant.
What was the best place you travelled through and why?
Krumau am Kamp was definitely the nicest place and I would happily have stayed there for an extra few days, the people were really nice as well, but the best people we met along the way were in Dusseldorf, I have very fond memories of that place.
How much have you raised and how can people donate?
We’ve raised around £9000 so far which is a great amount, I was realistically hoping for somewhere between £4-5000 at the start so it’s great to have not only beaten it, but doubled it. People can still donate at www.virginmoneygiving.com/1400mileride, we’d love to try and get to £10,000.
Do you have anything similar planned for the future?
I’m riding in the 169km Sportive for the Stoke-on-Trent stage of the Tour of Britain and I am competing in the North West Tough Mudder in November, a 12 mile obstacle course that is going to be very testing but it’s a challenge I am looking forward to.
And finally, is it good to be home?
It’s great to be home and back to my own bed and to be able to ride my bike with no panniers. I am missing Budapest and the Budapest Party Hostels but I’m looking forward to my next two challenges and I am currently applying for RMA Sandhurst, a career and challenge that I am relishing.