If you’re thinking of participating in the QECR, you won’t regret signing up – it’s a fun weekend and a great challenge….but don’t just take our word for it, hear what it’s like from a cyclist’s perspective in these useful FAQs:
When is it?
The event is held annually on the Friday to Monday of the August Bank Holiday.
Why should I join the ride?
You will be directly supporting the brilliant work the Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields does with homeless and vulnerable people in central London, through the sponsorship you raise. You will have a chance to ‘get away from it all’, with four days of cycling on a route full of interest, mainly on quiet roads, footpaths, towpaths and cycle ways, with lovely and varied scenery. You’ll learn something of another little chapter of English history, the funeral procession of Queen Eleanor, with (when possible) a talk in the evening from local experts. You’ll socialise with a great bunch, eat a great deal of home-made cake, and enjoy unexpected pleasures such as an organ recital, specially for us, in Woburn Abbey church. What more can you expect from a bank holiday weekend?!
Who will I be with?
Up to 30 people usually ride. They range from young to middle aged, but all share an interest in the cycling, the fund raising, the route, the history, and socialising in the evenings. There are a number of regulars who come every year, but always new people as well, and fresh faces are always welcome.
Do I need to be very fit and have an expensive bike?
No. Clearly if you are fit and have a half decent bike, the ride will be easier, but anyone who is a regular cyclist, and done some preparation will be fine. This year we are planning a couple of practice rides,
Will I keep up?
Almost certainly. We divide into groups according to the speed people prefer to go, and there is always an experienced back marker bringing up the rear, so no one gets lost. There are lots of scheduled stops for refreshment. There is only one significant hill on the route with the reward of a gold star on your completion certificate – if you get up it without walking. If necessary there are support vehicles to pick you up if you have a breakdown or injury.
We normally have a couple of practice rides earlier in the year, so riders can meet and get in some training.
Where do we eat and sleep?
Overnight accommodation is mostly in Church Halls, sleeping on a mat with a sleeping bag. There’s an optional bunk bed on the Saturday night, for a small extra charge. And you can book your own B&B if you want more comfort. A list is available if you would prefer that option. Breakfast is prepared by the support staff – who pride themselves on the quality of their porridge! Supper is cooked for us by local volunteers. Morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea stops are planned on the route every day, again in church and village halls, with an amazing supply of home baked cakes and scones.
How do we get to the start, what happens to baggage?
We assemble at Harby near Lincoln at midday on the Friday, many coming from London by train. Transport for the riders and bikes is arranged form Newark Northgate Station on Virgin Trains East Coast line. Baggage is carried on the van between overnight stops. You can put your bike and baggage on the van in central London before travelling to the start, or bring it with you on the train.
What if the weather is bad?
You get wet! However, if it’s really wet, a decision can be made to cancel a section, but we haven’t had to do that yet (though it was close last year, when it rained all day on the Monday!) Mostly we are lucky with sunshine, and the odd shower. But it is important to bring plenty of changes of clothes as it may not be possible to dry clothes overnight.
What happens if there is an accident?
The ride is covered by public liability insurance. However, this does not cover riders for personal injury, so you are strongly advised to ensure you have this cover.
And how does it all end?
Happily, on Monday. we cycle into Central London to Westminster Abbey where we are met and shown to Queen Eleanor’s tomb in the St Edward the Confessor’s Chapel to pay our respects. After a short service we return to The Connection near Trafalgar Square to be reunited with our luggage, have a shower, and enjoy a short après ride party before dispersing around 6 pm.