The Sustainable Bike Ride
It seemed like a good idea when Mike Mellor, of Space Catering, suggested it. I was to join him and Andy Cook, of Ease, in a 200km bike ride cum food forage across Cornwall and Devon in aid of charity.
Three organisations involved in sustainability in the restaurant sector – Andy builds sustainable restaurants, Mike supplies them with energy efficient equipment and the SRA helps them to do the rest – raising money for Springboard and Action Against Hunger by getting people to sponsor us to collect some ingredients en route to a sustainable dinner at our Sustainable Restaurant of the Year 2012, ODE. What could possibly go wrong? Well – apart from Mike having a puncture before leaving the car park at our start point, Andy getting into problems with the zip on his ‘team jacket’ and my gears giving up half way through day one – very little indeed.
Our route apparently followed the contours of the gently rolling Cornish and Devon countryside, which effectively means we went up hill after hill, all so steep that there was no taking in the beautiful views. We set off from the stunning Scarlet Hotel in Mawgan Porth, winner of numerous awards and recent recipient of an SRA Three Star Sustainability Rating, after being lulled into a false sense of security by the sight of waves gently landing on the beach.
First stop was Watergate Bay, to collect Cornish Sea Salt, from where we headed off to the Eden Project to see what they had to offer. That turned out to be turmeric, ginger and herbs. Everything was looking good, but my legs were already starting to complain and we were only a few miles into our journey.
From the Eden Project we headed – via more hills, a ferry and the town of Looe – to Plymouth where, after a fruitless visit to the only bike shop open on Sunday in an attempt to fix a broken gear-shifter, we ended up at the wonderful Royal William Bakery for reviving tea and Eccles cakes. After picking up their donation of bread, we got back in the saddle and resumed our journey. From Plymouth it was up-hill all the way to SRA members the Victoria Inn in Salcombe, where we were spending the night. Never has a pint been more welcome than the one we were served on arrival, just as the rain began to fall and the sun vanished behind one of those ubiquitous hills.
The next morning, after grabbing a jar of the Victoria Inn’s home-made chutney, we headed out the door into rain, another ferry trip and more inevitable steep climbs to arrive at Gara Rock in time for breakfast. Apparently the views are wonderful, but all we could see was mist. We did, however, pick up a large marrow, to add to our growing number of ingredients for that night’s supper.
The rest of the morning passed in a blur of rain, wind, pain and hills as we made our way to Shaldon and our destination, café-ODE, where chef-patron Tim Bouget planned to turn our somewhat eclectic ingredients into a wonderful meal. Before we could do that, we had to jump onto a ferry one final time and collect a donation of mussels, just down the road from the café.
Because of double-booking myself, this was the night of the National Restaurant Awards, I couldn’t stay for Tim’s dinner, but I did manage to fit in some super-sustainable fish and chips before heading off for the train back to London. Tim had slipped a bottle of ODE ale into my bag, which helped enormously with my snooze for the next three hours.
After a few days back in the office, and finally being able to sit down again, I’ve had a chance to reflect on our journey. We certainly rode through some very beautiful countryside and received great support from our various hosts, suppliers and supporters. It’s fantastic to be able to combine work and pleasure in this way, reinforce a message about the importance of sustainability in our sector AND raise some money for truly deserving causes. So much so that we will probably do it all again next year…in the Fens, I think.
A big thank you to everyone who sponsored me. Between us Mike and I have raised more than £2,000 for Springboard, while Andy and the gala dinner at ODE brought in a similar amount for Action Against Hunger. If you would like to support Springboard, you still can by visiting my JustGiving page