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Wednesday 21 August 2013

Shelter "escort" ride: a successful day after a problematic start

Today, seven local cyclists rode to Prestonpans with Matt Fountain, as part of his ambitious 2,000-mile round-Britain cycle ride in aid of Shelter. Our aim was to provide company and moral support for Matt as he passed through Edinburgh on day 23 of his trip.

The day started badly. We had gathered in Castle Street for a photo-shoot. A photographer and TV news person turned up, to provide coverage for the local press and on STV's afternoon news programme. No problems up to then.

Unfortunately, Matt then discovered that his back wheel was badly buckled. That's a serious problem at the best of times, and a potential disaster if you're in the middle of a 36-day charity ride. There's no shortage of bike shops in Edinburgh, but finding one that could true a wheel - or provide a replacement - at a moment's notice proved difficult.

In the end, it was Grease Monkey that came to the rescue. After we explained the situation to them, they immediately despatched a mobile repair van to rendezvous with us in Castle Street. The van arrived in less time than it took us to drink a cup of coffee, and the two mechanics set to work fixing the wheel efficiently and without fuss. They made an excellent job of it, and to everyone's delight, we were able to get on our way by 11.45 - only 90 minutes behind our original schedule.

The rest of the day was relatively uneventful. We made good time to Musselburgh, where we stopped for a picnic lunch in the town centre. We then took the path behind the racecourse and along the coast to Prestonpans. Here we took our leave of Matt, who was confident that he would reach today's destination, Berwick-on-Tweed, by nightfall.

The rest of us took a leisurely route back to town. From Prestonpans, we climbed to the summit of Falside Hill (144 metres of ascent). It was a bright, clear day, and the views towards Edinburgh and over the Firth of Forth were exceptionally good. After a delightful freewheel off the hill, we took the path past the Pinkie battlefield to Inveresk, and so onto the River Esk path and NCN1 as far as Duddingston, where we went our separate ways.

Speaking personally, the day was noteworthy for two reasons. First, it was a pleasure to be able to give even a tiny bit of help to Matt Fountain for his admirable efforts on behalf of Shelter. This is especially true when you consider that his ride is almost completely unsupported; he is doing it on his own initiative, on a tiny budget, carrying all his luggage, and sleeping rough most nights.

Secondly, I am full of praise for Grease Monkey. Based on what I saw of them today, they are a highly professional, responsive and efficient company. Thanks entirely to them, Matt was able to continue his ride today with only a very minor delay.

More information:

The story behind Matt Fountain's bike ride: http://www.changehomelessness.org/

Details of Grease Monkey's bike maintenance service: http://greasemonkeycycles.com/

Report: Mike
Photo: Iain Robertson

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