From COVID to Caledonia, how a bunch of West London locals went from static rides to epic rides, lockdown to lochs and 10 mile rides to a 1,000 mile ride; the iconic London-Edinburgh London

In March 2020, the early days of lockdown meant that cycling was effectively banned, so Ruislip’s Dave Morrison started running online rides and races for cyclists with, so called, smart trainers which can replicate the hills and other dynamics of real life cycling. Those short evening races are still running today and now attract global participation, short fast events so that riders could squeeze a race in during a Wednesday evening.

Dave had been ‘sold’ the idea of smart trainers by David Tobin from Croxley Gren and also amongst the early adopters of Dave’s races were Stu Thorn from Chalfont and Gautam Thakkar from Ickenham. A community was building and Dave suggested a 200km ride on August Bank Holiday Weekend 2021. Bryn Evans had recently moved to Stanmore and turned up that day, Liam Fitzpatrick suggested another 200km ride and something was was blossoming, Suddenly, guys who were popping out for a 10 mile spin in the garage or shed were doing 125 mile rides on the road. There has been a ride every Sunday since that first ride from the Polish War Memorial in Ruislip, but those are generally morning rides; interspersed were longer, and longer rides. Word spread, membership grew and several riders have reached the zenith of the 600km ride. The governing body of long distance cycling, Audax UK, heralded 5 West London Cyclists as their April 2022 Riders of the month. People who a year ago probably hadn’t ridden 100km. West London Cycling was now amongst the top 10 long distance cycling clubs in the UK and it wasn’t even a year old. As horizons widened,, there remained that lure of the legendary London-Edinburgh-London, 1,540km from London to Edinburgh and back with a maximum time allowed of 125 hours ….. the clock does not stop ticking overnight and riders must ride through if they are going to make the time cut. Iconic crossings of the Humber Bridge and Forth Bridge await, Gruelling climbs in the Scottish borders and fiendish winds attacking them in the Fens. This is not for the feint hearted.

Dave Morrison, David Tobin, Gautam Thakkar, Bryn Evans and Stu Thorn will be joined by Syed Shah, whilst Gurpreet Singh has had to drop out through injury. Their hands will take weeks to recover from the handlebar vibrations, sore legs and backsides are not the only areas of discomfort. Sleep will be minimal, mainly on mats in halls with hundreds of other riders grabbing a couple of hours when they can at the control points. It ain’t pretty, but it is epic.

Gautam Thakkar rode his first 200km ride less than a year ago, he’s now embarking upon a mission like no other he will have experienced. The transformation from a 10 mile rider to a 1,000 mile rider (including the ride to the start and back afterwards) just shows what a human can do, determination, ambition, resolve, dedication and training in the winter months …. characteristics of achievers !

Whilst Dr Who may pop into a telephone box (Tardis) and get transported across the universe, we still think that a trip to the garden shed transporting people to Edinburgh is still pretty impressive. Beaming up to Scotland over several days, as opposed to beam me up Scotty in seconds …. it isn’t Sci-Fi but they are aiming Sky-High. We wish them well