It was touch and go whether I would make it to Gravesend yesterday to meet and lead back to Greenwich Chris and Liz Leakey, hardy cyclists completing an epic charity fundraising tour from New Zealand to England. In the end I did manage it, though, with an air temperature in Blackheath of -4C, it was pretty hard going.
After cycling at a relatively sedate pace along the Watling Street route to Dartford, and then down to Gravesend via Greenhithe, I made it to Baltic Wharf with plenty of time to spare. Two local cycling friends turned up next, followed in turn by Liz and Chris’ friends and family. With the arrival of the star couple, a posse of some fifteen cyclists then proceeded along National Cycle Route #1 to the first stop in Dartford. Ignoring the cold, it was a beautiful day for cycling, with bright sun and no wind to speak of. Spirits were high.
No-one was waiting for us in Dartford, so after a quick chomp we set off for Erith, where we were joined near the pier by a friend of Chris and Liz. Our intention then was to cycle along the Thames Path from Erith to Greenwich, but the relatively little used path west of Erith was covered in compacted snow and ice, and many of us were riding on skinny tyres. Following my advice, we instead took the road route to Woolwich, and this helped to make up time. The intention was to arrive in Greenwich by 13:00. Had we stuck to the original plan, it could have been 15:30, with the welcoming party left twiddling their thumbs in the pub.
From Pond Wharf in Woolwich it was a clear run along the Thames Path to Greenwich, with only a few short patches of snow and ice to negotiate. We finally arrived at the Gipsy Moth pub at around 14:30, with a noisy welcome from Chris and Liz’s friends, family and Bikeabout blog followers. Inside the pub, warmed and with circulation restored, stories were told, and a raffle and auction held to raise funds for the Liz and Chris’ chosen charity, Child’s Dream.
I had only limited opportunities to speak with Chris and Liz, but I was most impressed with them. They are educated young people in their early thirties, bristling with initiative and leadership qualities. Liz works for the BBC in the field of website design, and Chris has an interest in working with young people with behavioural issues. The couple live in Manchester.
Welcome home, Liz and Chris!