Eye to Eye Cycle Challenge
This exciting and demanding cycle challenge takes us from Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s eye clinic in Edgbaston, Birmingham. We finish in the heart of London, by the London Eye on the River Thames. En route we’ll take in miles of beautiful rural England, cycling via the rolling green hills and honey-coloured stone villages of the Cotswolds. We break our journey in Oxford and continue southeast through Berkshire into central London. This is a challenging ride, covering approx 140 miles in two days, but achievable for anyone prepared to train in advance.
Day 1: Birmingham – Oxford
Cycle approx. 75 miles
We meet early at Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s eye clinic, and after registration and a briefing we set off! Our route takes us south out of the city, heading towards Evesham, before we come to the Cotswolds. This section of our route features several climbs as we pass through this area of rolling hills and farmland. We ride through some of the lovely old towns and villages that make the Cotswolds such an attraction, with their distinctive honey-coloured stone buildings. As we ride out of the Cotswolds towards Witney our route flattens out, and it’s not long before we come to our accommodation on the outskirts of Oxford.
Day 2: Oxford – London
Cycle approx. 65 miles
A fairly flat start to the day today, as we avoid Oxford’s busy roads and ride southeast towards London. Our route takes us through rural Berkshire on small roads. There are a few climbs as we approach Marlow but then the terrain flattens out as we approach the big city. Our route brings us into central London, passing many landmarks as we ride towards Westminster and the River Thames. Here we are greeted by wonderful views of the London Eye, our destination. Crossing the river, it’s only a short pedal to our finish point where we celebrate our achievements and then head for home, feeling triumphant!
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The cost includes all accommodation, as well as all meals from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on day 2. It also includes full trip support of experienced Discover Adventure leaders, drivers and mechanics.
It does not include personal travel insurance, personal items and entry to any optional tourist sites you may wish to visit. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Accommodation is comfortable and well situated but not luxurious. Rooms are usually twin-share and have en-suite facilities. Our accommodation is generally in larger hotels, often slightly out of town while cycling to minimise unnecessary extra mileage in built-up areas.
All food is included during the cycle. Lunches are generous buffet-style with plenty of energy food to keep you going! Dinners are generally eaten in hotels.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply, or buy them as you go along. Please feel free to ask us for advice.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first-aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are.The number of crew and support vehicles looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but the team will be looking after every aspect of your trip whether that’s transporting your luggage, making your lunch or sorting out any mechanical problems. At Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: cyclist ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Support vehicles are with the group all of the time. All luggage and spares will be carried in them. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack or large bumbag to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening. If you prefer not to travel home from Edinburgh with your bike, we offer a bike courier service (at extra cost). Further details will be sent to you nearer the time.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency mobile phones, first-aid kits and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
The cycling is mainly undulating over rolling countryside, though there are some flatter stretches. Distances are fairly long, ranging from approx 75 to 65 miles per day. You will cycle approx 140 miles on this trip overall. Participants should make sure they are fit enough to manage these distances over consecutive days. This is not a ride to be attempted without training. Our route is carefully planned to use smaller roads with light traffic wherever possible, but sometimes this is unavoidable. When we pass through large towns we usually go through as a group.
We strongly recommend that you ride a road /racing bike (rather than a mountain bike) for this trip due to the long distances involved on well-surfaced roads. It’s really important that you ride the bike you have been training on so you are used to it. Although training in the gym is useful, there is no substitute for getting out into all weathers and really getting to know your bike – especially the range of your gears.
Our support vehicles will carry a range of spares along with a full tool kit. However it is impossible for us to carry spares for every eventuality so it is vital that you check your own bike is in good working order before departure. It is a condition of travel that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with the straps done up.
Clothing & Equipment
We are travelling through varied terrain and could be exposed to bad weather at any time. The information below gives you an idea of the climate, but be prepared for all weathers and temperatures. Weather conditions can change quickly in the UK, especially the hillier regions we pass through. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer.
The weather from May to September should be generally good, though it can be changeable. There is always a chance of rain and strong winds. The prevailing wind direction will have more of an impact on the cycling difficulty than rain, particularly on flat terrain.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
We insist that you have had a tetanus injection in the last 10 years.
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through. AITO, our Trade Association, has recognised the work we do in this area and has awarded us 4 stars as a Responsible Tour Operator.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with The Conversation Volunteers and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org.uk or call 01302 388883.