Ride 4 Care - The story
In May 2011, whilst on a trip to Wales to collect dogs the seed of an idea began to grow in my mind. As a keen motorcyclist I’ve toured Europe and much of the UK but not the famous John O’Groat to Lands End trip. So why not combine that with a fundraising ride for Border Collie Trust? But it needed a unique twist and a name. By the end of the day I had the name Ride4Care (Care standing for Collies and Rescue Enrichment) with the intention to raise money specifically for further enrichment ideas at the centre.
The unique twist grew over the next few days as I considered taking a route that involved a visit to animal welfare organisations and members of the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes over two days. During the next 14 months the plans grew until suddenly it was time to set off for John O’Groats. Taking a couple of days to travel north I reached John O’Groats in the afternoon of Saturday. The poor summer weather was fortunately just about to change and take away the one worry I had of trying to keep to a tight schedule in poor weather – not ideal on a motorcycle. An early night was required as Day 1 was the real test in terms of mileage and the time I’d be riding and visiting, before I knew it the clock said 3am and it was finally here.......
Day 1 - The weather forecast in the north of Scotland for early Sunday was not good so I set off earlier than planned to give me more time, leaving the start point at 3.30am. Within 30 minutes I was in heavy rain and strong winds but luck was on my side and after about 20 minutes the rain stopped and that was the last rain I saw. Breakfast that day was a corned beef and pickle sandwich eaten at 5.30am on a 24 hour supermarket fuel station forecourt in strong wind, but with 300 miles to travel before my first visit it tasted wonderful. At just before 10am I arrived at my first visit – Cats Protection Glasgow. There was only time for a quick photo of the bike having allowed 15 minutes at each stop. From there further south to Dumfries and Galloway Canine Rescue where a welcome cup of coffee and chocolate muffin were consumed.
It was now time to leave Scotland and head eastwards across England to visit Newcastle Dog and Cat Shelter. Leaving there on the A19 I noticed signs for the Sunderland Air Show, followed shortly by my own display from the Red Arrows who kindly escorted me for a few minutes (well perhaps escorted is a bit strong but it was nice of them to say hello). The weather was now getting warmer as I arrived at Blue Cross, Thirsk still very much on time. The last visit for the day was Haworth Cat Rescue where a pleasant surprise was waiting as our Chairman, Ken Holden had made the trip from Lancashire to welcome me. He also took me back across a beautifully scenic route that I’d probably have missed. I finally arrived home at 7.50pm feeling remarkably bright and ready for Day 2.
Day 2 - Setting off at 6.15am towards the first visit at Leicester Animal Aid I was joined by good friend Dave, who was riding with me today all the way to Lands End. The traffic to Leicester was bad and my concerns about traffic problems defeating the challenge began to surface briefly in my mind. After a superb bacon buttie we headed south for Blue Cross Burford. As this part of the route was much more motorcycling friendly we made good progress (all at a legal speed I would make clear). After Blue Cross it was short trip into Cheltenham to visit Anilog, who provide software we use at the centre. Another photo shoot (and more coffee and cake) and then it was further south to Teckels and by now the temperature was certainly increasing. The M5 was now called for as we headed to Cats Protection Exeter, with a short trip afterwards to Animals in Distress. So there was just one last visit to make, NAWT Cornwall. The target visit time was between 5.30pm and 6pm but with traffic queues building I did wonder if we’d make it. The ability of motorcycles to filter safely helped again and we arrived at NAWT at 5.50pm to another warm welcome, pasty and cream tea.
All visits made, the pressure was off and a gentle ride saw the bike parked at Lands End at 6.50pm. The challenge was complete, I’d travelled 1210 miles in two days and spent 28 hours and 55 minutes riding and visiting. The hospitality at all the visits was superb and the interest from supporters who were able to follow me live from an online map system and Twitter made the event much more interactive.
To date over £4700 has been raised to help enrich the lives of collies during their stay with us and of course if anyone would still like to donate please visit www.justgiving.com/ride4care
Now then, where I can travel next.........