A couple of weeks ago, when I was nearing the end of my ride, I did an Instagram Live interview with Inka and Jen from the Whisky Sisters Podcast....Enjoy.
Without the help of all my partners and sponsors, I would not be able to undertake this challenge. However, I would like to extend a huge thank you to Cycle Law Scotland (CLS) for coming on board as a key partner and sponsor of The Whisky Ventures Ride.
CLS is a specialist law firm based in the historic town of Peebles in the Scottish Borders but also has offices in Edinburgh and a presence in Aberdeen. The firm is operated by cyclists for cyclists. They can help give personal representation to cyclists in road traffic accident cases where specialist legal support is required. From leisure riding to commuting, and even competition, the CLS staff understand the needs of riders as they do it all themselves. Therefore, they understand the support you would need if you were involved in a road traffic incident; from the simple replacement of equipment (bike and kit), through to complicated rehabilitation and personal financial recovery.
You don't need to be involved in a road traffic incident though to use some of the CLS expertise. Their website (www.cyclelawscotland.co.uk) is full of information you can freely use, e.g.
- Legal information and explanations of the Highway Code
- Past presentations by CLS on various related topics openly available to rewatch.
- Educational videos.
- Links to related cycling communities, clubs, organisations and retailers.
If you're interested in cycle law, or have had a road traffic related incident on your bicycle and would like some free advice and support, just have a look at their website or give them a call. All the staff are friendly and happy to chat to you. I have been an advocate of CLS for several years (before The Whisky Ventures Ride ever existed) and regularly recommend them to my outdoor adventure clients.
Several of the CLS staff are also joining me for a day as part of The Whisky Ventures Ride. On Sunday 15th May a group of riders made up of CLS staff, friends and local club riders will meet at the Reivers Distillery in Tweedbank (just around the corner from Tweedbank Station) and join me as I ride up from the Borders in to the Lothians. We will cycle over to the village of Stow before heading East for Glenkinchie Distillery in East Lothian, and finally back to Midlothian where the days ride will end (near Newtongrange Station). If anyone else fancies joining us (the more the merrier), be at the Reivers Distillery 9.00 for 9.30am!
See you there.
I guess most charity events are quite personal things, with people doing something for a charity that has helped them, or a loved one. Maybe it's personal because the challenge itself is the thing they have always wanted to do, and so doing it for a charity gives them extra motivation to push through. Whatever the reasons, it's a personal choice to do that event....but there are rules!
If you want to run the London Marathon, you have to follow the set route. Maybe you're going to cycle from London to Paris...well, if you happen to omit going to London or Paris you might have a problem. These rules are quite obvious when you do a prescribed event, but when you are making up your own event, you have to make up your own rules. But when you go full DIY, these rules can evolve as the event or challenge evolves, and how do you self police ever changing rules(?).
I started my challenge as a bit of mental whim. I've always loved being outdoors, biking, hiking etc... But no matter how much I love being amongst the Munros, every few years get itchy feet for something a bit bigger. This just coincided with arrival of COVID and lockdowns, which like many people, meant I was confined at home getting more and more frustrated. So planning something big also kept my mind going.
I've said in a previous post that it started as a ride from the most southerly to northerly distillery. Then I added a few nearby distilleries, then a few more, and so on until I came to the conclusion I just had to cycle via every distillery in Scotland. But what does 'every distillery in Scotland' mean? Whisky, gin, rum, etc... All made in Scotland. So I had come come up with some rules, and the thought process went something like this:
- Ok, just whisky! If I did all the other distilleries I think it would take me 6 months, not 6 weeks, and would probably cost me appendages, not to mention my marriage!
- What type of whisky? So now I have to break this down. Just single malt distilleries. Let's be honest, they're much prettier than the industrial grain monsters!
- Cue googling 'List all Scottish distilleries'... Over 130... Oh boy, but I can do this.
- Link below read, 'New distilleries coming soon'.... Oh dear! Now here is a quandary; do I include distilleries under construction(?), and it appears distilleries are breeding like rabbits at the moment! What about distilleries just opened? They are operating but it will be years before they actually have a 'whisky'. So I had to have at least some rules.
So here are my rules:
• To cycle from the most southerly distillery in Scotland to the most northerly, via every single malt distillery that is operational, i.e. has spirit flowing.
And now I get to break my rules, and add a gin distillery. You see, the most northerly whisky distillery in Scotland is Highland Park on Orkney, and I'm fairly sure some of their marketing will vehemently tell that message to passing tourists. But they aren't the mostly northerly distillery in Scotland; that honour goes to the Saxa Vord distillery on the Ilse of Unst, Shetland. Perched only a mile or so from the last scrap of rocky headland at the very top of the British Isles, surrounded by water on three sides, it would be almost impossible to be any further north in Scotland. Also a reason a Space Port is being built nearby, incidentally.
Now if I was following my rule/s, the Saxa Vord should not feature in my plan as they only distill gin, but they do have plans to start distilling the amber nectar in the coming years. Therefore, I had an inkling I would always feel I'd cheated myself if I didn't go there and then they started production shortly after. And they do at least have a private bottling!
So there you have it, my base rules for the challenge, and a little cheat!
Since its launch in 2013, Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) has become an integral part of the emergency care services offered across Scotland. Unlike the standard emergency services however, which are funded through general taxation, SCAA is entirely funded by public donations and corporate charity partners, making public support crucial to the continuation of this incredible service.
The SCAA helicopters, one based in Perth, the other Aberdeen, can reach 90% of Scotland within half an hour. Given the remote nature of much of Scotland, this is an incredible statistic, and really makes the difference in emergency situations.
Working as an outdoor instructor and guide across Scotland, medical emergencies, although never wished for, do occasionally happen. Slips, trips, and falls are an inevitable risk of adventurous outdoor activities and the need for medical care does happen from time to time. Depending on the situation, an emergency medical helicopter such as those operated by SCAA are by far the fasted way to bring care to an injured person, possibly making the difference between a minor injury and a life changing one!
My hope is to never need their services but knowing people who have been rescued by air ambulance, I hope their service will always be available when it is most needed. To make that happen, I hope to do my part; raising awareness and funds in aid of SCAA. I hope you feel the same about their services and are willing to support my ride for the charity.
Working as an outdoor instructor, often with schools from across Edinburgh and the Lothians, but also further afield around the UK, I have worked with children and young people from all walks of life. We all aspire to a life for our children where they don't want for anything and don't need extra help & support; however, we are sadly not all that privileged. There are far too many children and young people who suffer through no fault of their own, be that from poverty, illness, or abuse by others.
Cash for Kids is a grant giving charity that supports hundreds of other charitable projects and organisations across the country to help improve the lives of children and young people. Through the grants given to these bodies, Cash for Kids helped support over half a million children through 2021. However, the numbers of children needing support is sadly only rising given the current social and political situation in the UK, and Cash for Kids will continue to raise funds to support as many as possible.
As The Whisky Ventures Ride will travel the length and breadth of Scotland, I aim to raise funds in aid of all the Scottish regions of Cash for Kids. Being based near Edinburgh, the Forth 1 Cash for Kids office, as the closest to myself, will help manage these donations and once the ride is complete will distribute any donations to all the Scottish Cash for Kids regions to help support local projects across the country.
I hope you share my support of Cash for Kids and are willing to donate to my goal. Maybe you will even be inspired to tag along for a day or two, or maybe enter one of the events Cash for Kids organises themselves, e.g. The Tour de Forth cycle ride. See you out there!
Things always start with a 'good idea'', often with a little too much drink or ambition...or both!
I have always loved to travel and explore, and every few years I get itchy feet for a big adventure, be that for charity, science, education, or just for the craic. And, like many people, I have had to quell that thirst for travel due to Covid restrictions and the arrival of a little bundle of nappies a couple of years ago.
The Whisky Ventures Ride evolved out of the desire to explore again, but also to stay fairly local...ish! Lots of people do challenges like the coast to coast, or John-O-Groats to Lands End, and chapeau to them; But I wanted to find something a little novel. So the idea for cycling from the most southerly distillery in Scotland to the most northerly sprung to mind. Then, after looking at the maps, I saw there were several distilleries en route. Then I saw a few distilleries near to the route. Then some within a few miles of the route.....I think you can see where this is going!
After adding quite a few distilleries to the route plan, it became obvious I was just going to have to travel via all of them. However, as the whisky industry is growing rapidly at the moment, every time I Googled "new whisky distiller", my route seemed to get longer. Eventually we end up here; with a website and social media platforms promoting a 2000 mile monster ride. But undertaking such a behemoth felt like it needed some purpose. Therefore, I chose two charities to support through this ride that I feel do fantastic work, yet are often taken for granted by the masses. These being Cash for Kids and Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance.
I hope people out there will support my ride, or maybe just take pity on me after the first 1000 miles, and dig deep to support the charities.....more info to follow.