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The Great Rugby Cycle 2019 – John O’Groats to Land’s End (the long way!)

Nine cyclists arrived in John O’Groats on Sunday 3rd March ready to start the ride the following morning. The weather for that time of the year was on our side for the first two days, with some wind and rain but thankfully no snow.

The same could not be said for day three. We headed off from Aviemore in dry but windy conditions, being joined by Gordon & Alan Bulloch, but as we climbed to the highest point, The Pass of Drumochter, the snow and rain did not help morale, but we battled on for some warmth at The House of Bruar before staying over in Dunkeld.

Graeme Beveridge joined us in Dunkeld, as we continued onwards to Edinburgh via Dalmahoy Hotel & Country Club and BT Murrayfield Stadium, just in time to host a Gen!us beer live rugby quiz and a players Q&A at Stewarts Melville RFC. Scotland head coach, Gregor Townsend found time out of his busy schedule to sit alongside Bryan Redpath, Carl Hayman and Ollie Phillips to answers questions from Bruce Atchison.

The team were joined in Edinburgh by Jason Oakes and Graham Shiel with Rob Wainwright & Mark Beaumont also assisting us out of Edinburgh who were ‘training’ for their 500 mile challenge the following week. The peloton crossed the border into England later that afternoon before resting up in Berwick ready for the tough few days ahead.

Berwick into Newcastle with a side wind, enabled the team to get to Newcastle just in time to watch the Scotland v Wales match, and fuel up for the biggest challenge to date on the cycle. The Newcastle to Leeds section was always billed as the turning point of the cycle. Shaun Longstaff & Kiko Matthews joined the group for the 111 miles and 2500 metres of climbs, in rain, wind, snow & sleet. 10 hours in the saddle we finally arrived at Leeds Rugby long after dark. Thankfully the next days ride we only had the wind to battle against but still a tough ride into Nottingham where Gary Rees joined for the day. Storm Gareth met us in Nottingham! The start was delayed until 10.30am due to torrential rain, but after a brief discussion, we headed off making a plan of getting to Leicester then onto Northampton. Dean Ryan, Matthew Tait and Dom Barrell all joined here, and I am sure they regretted this decision when after 2 hours of cycling no-one could feel their hands or toes. Colin Deans waited patiently for the peloton at Northampton, where Bryan Redpath needed some physio attention on his knee and ankle, before getting us to our hotel to warm up.

Iwan Tukalo re-joined the group here for the final days of the cycle. As we headed out of Northampton, Dylan Hartley and some Northampton Saints players came to make sure we left the ground safely before cycling into Reading, where an essential laundry stop was the ‘entertainment’ of the day. We set off from Reading with Damian Cronin and Peter Winterbottom in toe as the bright but windy morning turned into rain for the final 20 miles into Richmond.

We held another Gen!us beer live rugby quiz, hosted by Ugo Monye and Scott Hastings at the Shack 68 in Twickenham on the Thursday night before hosting a golf event at Royal Mid-Surrey on the Friday morning. Martin Bayfield was the MC for the golf, and he was joined by Tim Visser, Matt Dawson, Thom & Max Evans, Craig Chalmers, Paul Doran-Jones, Tom May, Damian Cronin, Scott Hastings, Ollie Phillips & Peter Winterbottom.

Damian supported the peloton again on the Saturday morning and was a fantastic wind break for the long ride into Winchester arriving in time to watch Scotland & England play out a great game of rugby.

The last three days we were told would be long and ‘bumpy’ and boy were they not wrong. Phil De Glanville had the shortest leg ever when his gears failed and had to push his bike one mile back to the hotel! Some beautiful scenery, seriously long and hard climbs with wind, but no rain saw the peloton finally arrive at their end destination of Land’s End at 3.30pm on Tuesday 19th March.

Carl Hyman, Andrew Conway, Tiffany Brien, Bryan Redpath and Stuart Thom

The ‘Famous Five’ who completed the whole distance were:

• All Black legend with 45 New Zealand caps, Carl Hayman.
• Andrew Conway, the only real ‘cyclist’ in the group who had recently cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 4 days.
• Miss Northern Ireland 2012, Tiffany Brien.
• Ex-Scotland captain with 60 Scotland caps, Bryan Redpath.
• Stuart Thom, the organiser of the event.

The charity

My Name'5 Doddie Foundation logo

Doddie Weir, the former Scotland and British and Irish Lions rugby player, revealed he was suffering from Motor Neurone Disease. From the outset, Doddie has been driven to help fellow sufferers and seek ways to further research into this, as yet, incurable disease.

My Name’5 Doddie Foundation was launched in November 2017 and its aims are simple; to raise funds to aid research into the causes of MND and investigate potential cures and to support those affected by this devastating disease.

Find out more

Sponsors

The route

Monday 4th March 2019: John O’Groats to Royal Dornoch Golf Club (82 miles)
Tuesday 5th March 2019: Royal Dornoch Golf Club to Aviemore (72 miles)
Wednesday 6th March 2019: Aviemore to Dunkeld (78 miles)
Thursday 7th March 2019: Dunkeld to Edinburgh (84 miles)

Thursday 7th March 2019: Live Gen!us Rugby quiz and players Q&A night – Stewarts Melville RFC

Friday 8th March 2019: Edinburgh to Melrose RFC (40 miles), Melrose RFC to Berwick RFC (38 miles)
Saturday 9th March 2019: Berwick RFC to Newcastle Falcons RFC (81 miles)
Sunday 10th March 2019: Newcastle Falcons RFC to Leeds RFC (111 miles)
Monday 11th March 2019: Leeds RFC to Nottingham RFC (85 miles)
Tuesday 12th March 2019: Nottingham RFC to Northampton Saints RFC (90 miles)
Wednesday 13th March 2019: Northampton Saints RFC to Theale (80 miles)
Thursday 14th March 2019: Theale to Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club (53 miles)

Thursday 14th March 2019: Live Gen!us Rugby quiz and players Q&A night – The Shack 68, Twickenham

Friday 15th March 2019: Charity Golf Event – Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club, Richmond
Scottish & World rugby legends charity golf event
£900 per team of 3

Saturday 16th March 2019: Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club to Winchester (79 miles)
Sunday 17th March 2019: Winchester to Taunton (103 miles)
Monday 18th March 2019: Taunton to Camelford (88 miles)
Tuesday 19th March 2019: Camelford to Land’s End (74 miles)

Total miles: 1,238 (average 83 miles per day)

Players/stars supporting

Scott Hastings

Scott Hastings

Played centre for Scotland and the British and Irish Lions between 1986 and 1997.

64 Scotland Caps / 2 B&I Lions Caps

Thomas Evans

Thomas Evans

Played wing for Scotland between 2008 and 2010.

10 Scotland Caps

Graeme Beveridge

Graeme Beveridge

Played scrum half for Scotland between 2000 and 2009.

6 Scotland Caps

Craig Minto Chalmers

Craig Minto Chalmers

Played stand off for Scotland.

60 Scotland Caps / 1 B&I Lions Cap

Bryan ‘Basil’ Redpath

Bryan ‘Basil’ Redpath

Played scrum half for Scotland.

60 Scotland Caps

Jim Calder

Jim Calder

Played flanker for Scotland and the British and Irish Lions between 1981 and 1985.

27 Scotland Caps

Tim Visser

Tim Visser

Played wing for Scotland between 2012 and 2017.

33 Scotland Caps

Ollie Phillips

Ollie Phillips

Played for England 7’s.

Peter Winterbottom

Peter Winterbottom

Played flanker for England between 1982 and 1993.

58 England Caps

Gordon Bulloch

Gordon Bulloch

Played hooker for Scotland and the British and Irish Lions between 1997 and 2005.

75 Scotland Caps / 2 B&I Lions Caps

Stewart Campbell

Stewart Campbell

Played lock for Scotland between 1995 and 1998.

17 Scotland Caps

Graham Shiel

Graham Shiel

Played stand off and centre for Scotland between 1991 and 2000.

18 Scotland Caps

Fergus Wallace

Fergus Wallace

Played flanker for Glasgow Rugby.

Simon Danielli

Simon Danielli

Played on the wing for Scotland between 2003 and 2012.

32 Scotland Caps

Phil De Glanville

Phil De Glanville

Played centre for England between 1992 and 1999.

38 England caps

Shaun Longstaff

Shaun Longstaff

Played wing for Scotland between 1998 and 2000.

15 Scotland Caps

Carl Hayman

Carl Hayman

Played prop for New Zealand between 2001 and 2007.

45 New Zealand caps

Tom May

Tom May

Played full back for England in 2009.

2 England caps

Martin Bayfield

Martin Bayfield

Played second row for England between 1991 and 1996.

34 England caps / 3 B&I Lions caps

Paul Doran-Jones

Paul Doran-Jones

Played prop for England in 2009.

6 England caps

Dean Ryan

Dean Ryan

Played back row for England in 1990.

6 England caps

Damien Cronin

Damien Cronin

Played second row for Scotland between 1988 and 1998.

45 Scotland caps

Matt Dawson

Matt Dawson

Played scrum half for England between 1995 and 2006.

77 England caps / 7 B&I Lions caps

Jason Oakes

Jason Oakes

Played for Newcastle Falcons in the Guinness premiership between 2006 and 2007.

Daniel Scarbrough

Daniel Scarbrough

Played wing or full back for England between 2003 and 2007.

2 England caps

Daniel Walker

Daniel Walker

English journalist and TV presenter.

Iwan Tukalo

Iwan Tukalo

Played wing for Scotland between 1985 and 1992.

37 Scotland caps

Max Evans

Max Evans

Played centre or wing for Scotland between 2008 and 2014.

29 Scotland caps

Bruce Aitchison

Bruce Aitchison

Host for the Gen!us quiz night in Edinburgh.

Alan James Bulloch

Alan James Bulloch

Played centre for Scotland between 2000 and 2001.

5 Scotland Caps

Mathew James Murray Tait

Mathew James Murray Tait

Played centre for England between 2005 and 2010.

38 England Caps

Donald Barrell

Donald Barrell

Played back row for the Bedford Blues in the Aviva Championship. Formerly played for Saracens in the Aviva Premiership.

Gary William Rees

Gary William Rees

Played flanker for England between 1984 and 1991.

23 England Caps

Robert Iain Wainwright

Robert Iain Wainwright

Played back row for Scotland between 1992 and 1999.

37 Scotland Caps / 1 B&I Lions Cap

Mark Ian Macleod Beaumont

Mark Ian Macleod Beaumont

Mark is a record-breaking long-distance cyclist, adventurer, broadcaster, documentary maker and author.

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