Eskdalemuir hosts welcome stop-off for cyclists

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Cyclists taking on one of Britain's greatest cycling challenges enjoyed a welcome break at the Eskdalemuir Hub on their five-day ride.

The 1,400 cyclists rode from London to Edinburgh and back riding through some of Britain's most beautiful scenery, including Eskdalemuir, Langholm and Gretna.

The event, which runs every four years, is organised through Audax UK. It is not a race but participants have just over 100 hours to get back to London, cycling day and night.

Volunteers did a brilliant job providing a 24/7 food and rest station at the Hub from Monday to Wednesday.

Sharon Tolson, Hub administrator, was one of four team leaders in charge of six to seven volunteers on a six-hour shift pattern.

Sharon said: "We have all really enjoyed it and with it being non-stop, the six-hour shifts flew by. The cyclists were very appreciative and quite a few of the non-English speaking cyclists were very animated in their appreciation."

Pablo Walsingham of Norfolk and Graham Dore of Bournemouth said when they reached the Hub, they had completed 802km of the 1,436km they needed to complete. They had met people from all around the world, including Japan, India, Thailand and Spain and thought the challenge was very well organised.

The volunteers on their shifts greeted exhausted and dazed-looking cyclists, some of whom just slept wherever they could.

Caroline Neall of Kent and Sarah Perkins of London said they were enjoying the challenge. Peter Fokkinga from the Netherlands said: "I am enjoying the cycling and the event is well organised."

Of the predicted 1,400 riders registered, 1,104 arrived at the Hub.

Sharon said: "We were told by the London Edinburgh London crew that many of them slept in Edinburgh and the foul weather from Edinburgh to Eskdalemuir slowed them down. A number of them pulled out on the Tuesday at Barnard Castle and Brampton, also because of the weather.

The cyclists, who started arriving at the Hub by Monday lunchtime, were given refreshments, showers and an area to sleep. Neil Goldsmith of the Peak District was on hand to do any essential repairs to the bikes.

Daniel Sikar of London said: "This is my third time of doing the challenge and I don't know why I keep doing it but here I am again."

Wull van Wyngaarden of London said: "I am finding it tough and wish I had done more training."

Espen Bratberg of Norway and his friends Bjorn Holo and Tor Støen Gudbrand said it was harder than they had expected with lots of hills. It was well organised at the Hub where they had been given good food and service and the volunteers were very helpful and friendly.

Sharon said: "We have had great feedback from the cyclists. They say we've had the best feeding station and a great community spirit. Many thanks to the amazing volunteers we had working around the clock. You're all amazing."

Thursday, August 10, 2017 at 4:39PM
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