Their story, in their words….
Friday August 10th 2018. On this day, the three of us set off in search of south downs via a bicycle. The journey was supposedly 3 hours and 45 minutes. We planned to camp in a campsite for 3 days and cycle back on the Monday. We were extremely excited because as a group, we had never embarked on such an experience, whereby everything planned was our own idea. Also, we had seen pictures of South Downs and it looked absolutely beautiful- completely contrasting our usual scenery in London. This made us determined to explore a completely new area of the UK that we may not have the experience to ever do again.
The day came, and we left at around 10am on the Friday. Apprehension filled us all, as this was a completely new experience. However, we were so determined to do something that would forever be a defining moment.
We collected our bikes and set off from East Croydon station. We used our maps as guidance but navigated with our phones also. Everything was perfectly fine and it became extremely enjoyable riding freely through the streets. We were all filled with energy and adrenaline and it was such an amazing experienced to have had. We were cycling through roads that we have never seen before and exploring a completely new scenery. All was well until it began to rain an hour into the journey! We remained determined, although it was raining ferociously. We encouraged each other to push on, although it began to get really hard. Cycling uphill was very strenuous on our muscles- although we did stretch thoroughly beforehand- and we started feeling fatigued and de-motivated. However, we brought each other up, besides the horrific weather and the fatigue we began to feel.
It took us near enough 8 hours. It was an extremely long journey because we were not experienced cyclists and this was the first time the three of us had embarked on such a journey. We arrived at the campsite when it was quite dark and there is no explanation for the feelings that we felt. It was honestly so honourable for the three of us, that we had completed such an adventure. We got to the campsite quite late and it had become dark. We had to set up our own tent- in the dark and none of us had ever set up a tent before! We made a fire and used torchlights to follow the instructions in order to set up the tent. After around an hour of scrambling in the cold night with basically no light, we set up the tent. Again, this feeling is extremely hard to put into words. We were so motivated to get the job done that we persevered although it was difficult- and honestly, we will forever remember and cherish this pivotal moment on our adventure.
The first night was freezing cold, and our muscles ached incredibly. There were several moments when we thought that we would be unable to continue as we were extremely tired, and almost gave up- I am so thankful that we didn’t.
Across the next two days, we cycled around south downs and visited a project occurring in the South Downs area, and it was so refreshing to get away and visit the contrasting area to London. This experience had its ups and downs, and we are so grateful to have experienced such an amazing opportunity because not only did it strengthen our friendship (through the motivation and encouragement that we gave when others were in need) but it also gave us life skills that we all know will be transferable forever… We cannot stress enough how much this journey has shaped us, we did things that we never thought we could and the most amazing part is that we had so much resilience that we never knew, and we learnt so much about ourselves.
So thank you.