Time to Cycle flyerEver since I got back from the SE Asia jaunt I have been itching to ride long-distance again. Sure, there’s been a couple of longer rides, in Iceland and also to Glastonbury and Cambridge, but nothing over several days. It’s been back to the daily grind with barely any respite.

I had a little bit of leave left that needed using up before the end of the year, and in my mind I’d been toying with the idea of a solo cycle over a few days somewhere in the UK, maybe a coast to coast ride up north. But then a link or an invite or something in my Facebook feed popped up… cycle to COP21 Climate Talks in Paris. In December.

I mulled it over for a couple of weeks and then, finally, decided to go for it!

I’ll be riding, over five days, from Brixton in South London to Paris, with a bunch of like-minded people who care about climate change and want to do something to express this, however futile it might seem in the grander scheme of things.

Why ‘climate justice’? To me, it is a justice issue in the sense that in the western world we’ve been over-consuming and using more than our fair share of the Earth’s resources for decades, centuries even, but as things stand, it’s the poorest who are going to be hit hardest – are already being hit hardest – by a more unpredictable, more dangerous climate. If you have money, you’ll be insulated (to use a bad pun) against the worst effects of climate change, for a while at least.

Why a ‘liveable planet’? This speaks for itself; at the rate we are going, with 50% species loss since the 1970s, rising temperatures, dwindling resources, food and water shortages for a population in excess of 10 billion, the Earth will become less and less habitable, and our legacy will be ecocide on an almost unimaginable scale – it already is, in fact, we just choose to ignore it. We can’t really go on like this and need to start living more meaningfully and within our means – as well as practising what we preach, even if we’re ahead of our political leaders on this one!

I like the group’s name, Time to Cycle, which talks to me about taking the slow road and not being obsessed with speed and burning fossil fuels to get where we need to go. And yes, I’m aware I’ve taken as many EasyJets as the next man… but not this time!

The description of the ride sounds great too; on 8 December we’ll be staying at an organic cider farm, the following night in a village hall in a village called Freneuse, close to the Seine in beautiful ‘Monet country’ – although I guess in December there will be fewer flowers to paint…

The route map

The route map

The daily distances aren’t too crazy either, with the longest day being the first 60 miles to get to Brighton. I’m looking forward to Brighton as lots of people have been in touch on the friendly Facebook group promising us a great reception.

From what I can gather, it’s going to be a really interesting mix of people on the ride, from all walks of life and all parts of the UK but with one thing in common: concern for the future of our planet, and the conviction that riding their bike to Paris is as good as any other way to express this concern. I’m looking forward to meeting them and becoming an activist for a week!

Once we’re in Paris I’m not entirely sure what the plan is. There’s definitely talk of a protest ride around Paris, and it’s likely we as a group (there’s over 100 confirmed riders) will link up with other groups – there’s power in numbers, right? Whatever, it’s going to be exciting and I hope our presence – alongside the thousands of other peaceful protestors who want climate justice and a liveable planet – will have some impact, however small.

For me, the greatest unknown is winter riding. At the moment it’s ridiculously mild (that’ll be the climate change, then) but will it still be like this in December? Any tips for riding long distances in cold weather appreciated. I have gloves and a nice pair of wool ear-warmers from Iceland, but what about feet?! Any tips appreciated.

Anyway, looking forward to it and updates to follow nearer the time… actually, it is quite soon innit?!

PS. At time of writing there are still 16 places left if you have a spare £250 and can get a week off work in early December.

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