First, why am I cycling from Plymouth to Paris?
One answer is that I was at the SW Green Party General Meeting in Plymouth on 17 September, when Roger stood up and announced “Ricky, Ewan and I are pedalling to the Paris COP21 Climate Conference“. Oliver, my local Somerset colleague, and I looked at each other quizzically – had Roger just volunteered me for a cycle ride to Paris? In November?
Turns out there was a different Euan, who mis-spells his name with a “u”.
But, I like cycle touring, and secondly, doing whatever I can to help us take common responsibility for climate stewardship has been a personal passion since before my University days. The first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report was published in 1990, my first year of studying undergraduate physics. That same year Jeremy Leggett, former Big Oil geologist, authored Global Warming: The Greenpeace Report.
Paris is not that far away, and there are few hills along the way. This bike has travelled a fair few miles with me…
… Around the same time, I had a wonderful and beloved bike stolen from an underground bike locker. Raleigh Competition, beautiful black, with elaborate gold butting. My Uncle, who worked for Raleigh in Nottingham, had sourced it for me. From the parts bin, he built this new lightweight 531. He rode the London to Brighton with her, and I simply added some wider swept Italian handlebars.
We have travelled together to the Scottish Highlands three times, on the sleeper from Euston to Fort William. Over to the the Golden Road on Harris, and Calanais on Lewis once. Altnaharra (the coldest place in Britain) once. Assynt and Suilven twice.
In 2003, we climbed Bealach-na-Ba (admittedly only with a day pannier).
“This is it: the Holy Grail, the toughest and wildest climb in Britain. Anything you have read or been told about this amazing road is likely to be true. Believe the hype.”
We kept forward momentum all of the the way up the stream bed to the hairpin. The descent into Applecross was the best ride ever – well sighted single-track Scottish road, fuelled by uphill Scottish endorphins. They are natural, and they work!