Ops Wing Cycle: RAF Lossiemouth to RAF Marham
An eight man cycling team assembled from Ops, Eng, C4I, Ground Radio, Photo Section and Flight Safety, early in 2013 with the task: To cycle from RAF Lossiemouth to RAF Marham in September. Training had gone well for most of the party and following the arduous two day minibus jaunt via RAF Boulmer to our start location, we were ready to take on our challenge.
Our comprehensive planning and meetings had one big concern as we were route studying on our journey northwards and that was that the route and accommodation had been organised by members of the team who were not able to join us on the ride! Some rapid plans and flexible routing meant that we were still able to make the cheap/free accommodation every 100miles or so, but standard of beds gave us an extra level of discomfort following a day in the saddle!
Our departure from Lossiemouth was to glorious blue skies and the prospect of some challenging hills was delayed until we had finished laughing at FS Sparkes aka Sparky, who led the day with a zero mile an hour fall at the feet of the photographer before we even set off! A quick photo shoot and we were off. Some stunning views and amazing climbs kept our enthusiasm strong and a natural rhythm enveloped our group with stops every 30 miles or so and stops when the group needed reining in. We wanted to complete the challenge as a group and that meant keeping the speedy pace setting front pack, with the pelaton and Trev, on his tank of a bike, ensuring that there was no one left behind!
Over the period of the 6 days the group were faced with all types of weather; a number of mechanical issues (mainly Andy changing another tyre); some extremely challenging off road cycling (which is tricky to complete on road bikes); some magnificent help from the support drivers; many stops which weren’t meant to be stops (which turned into comfort breaks); some uncomfortable accommodation provided by messes across the UK (which was not funny at the time); a few falls (Gilly won the best and most aggressive dismounts that any of us had seen); a few faffs with our directions (GPS equipment often let us down when we needed it most); some spectacular bridges (which excited the geeks in the group); packets of painkillers consumed and handfuls of anti-chaffing crème slathered over parts of the body that don’t bear thinking about; and the guilt free consumption of thousands of calories to fuel us every day.
Overall the sense of achievement when we cycled through RAF Marham’s main gate bang on 1600, with the Stn Cdr and a number of friends and colleagues that had waited on a Friday afternoon for our return, balanced out our sore posteriors and aching limbs! We were also blessed with a Battle Of Britain flypast which was a delight after seeing minimal aerial activity over the previous six days (despite Gilly getting as much air as possible)! Our biggest tips would be to train as a group beforehand!
Day 1: RAF Lossiemouth to 45 Commando, Arbroath: 110 Miles; Climbed: 7,120 ft
Day 2: 45 Commando, Arbroath to Edinburgh: 84 miles; climbed: 3,570ft
Day 3: Edinburgh to RAF Boulmer: 108 miles; climbed: 4,050ft
Day 4: RAF Boulmer to RAF Leeming: 104 miles; climbed: 2,720ft
Day 5: RAF Leeming to Market Rasen:106 miles; climbed: 3,145ft
Day 6: Market Rasen to RAF Marham: 88 miles; climbed: 320ft