The long commute

bike riding

Adam Mitchell, Marketing Manager for Lancaster University Management School, continues his series on attending the EFMD Marcom, External & Alumni Relations conference sustainably. Reprinted with his permission from The Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business and Lancaster University website

On Saturday 25 June, I’ll be cycling from Lancaster University Management School, travelling east across England to the coastal city of Hull. From there, I’ll be catching the overnight ferry to Rotterdam before riding to Breukelen, near Utrecht, to attend the EFMD external relations conference at Nyenrode Business Universiteit. All in the name of drawing attention to the carbon costs of business travel and the important work of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business.

When I signed up for this ‘grand adventure’ (okay, I suggested it and got the idea endorsed by my senior colleagues), the date in June was miles off. I’ve been relaxed about it since; “It’s only 220km to Hull” I’ve told my friends and colleagues casually, as though I do this every day. I don’t though and haven’t ridden with luggage since a touring ride to the Peak District with my dad when I was 12.

Whilst I do cycle regularly and consider myself ‘a cyclist’, the typical riding I do at this time of year includes one commute to and from work a week (65km total if riding directly), a closed-circuit race on a Wednesday night (40km), maybe a Saturday ride if I’m lucky (30km), and a ride on Sunday (80km). My entire week of riding typically totals less than the length of the single-day ride I have planned to Hull.

Clearly, it’s time to start taking things a bit more seriously. On Saturday I met up with a lifelong friend in Manchester for a handover of some specialist bike luggage that he’s kindly lending me for the ride. This encompasses a handlebar bag, a frame bag and a large saddlebag. Despite being at a work conference, I’ll be travelling as light as possible, squeezing in the minimum I’ll need for the four days away, utilising the hotel’s laundry facilities. Sorry fellow delegates, I might not be as smartly dressed as the rest of you!

Next on the list will be servicing the bike, attaching the luggage and seeing if it really is possible to fit everything in, or whether I need a pannier rack and bag too. I have no real idea of how much the luggage will slow me down but suspect the effect will be considerable, especially when it comes to going uphill (less of a concern once in the Netherlands, but certainly something to be worried about when crossing the Pennines). I may be walking at times but will need to keep a close eye on the time to get me to the port ahead of departure.

With fewer than 40 days to go, the key now will be staying fit and healthy, getting my bike in good working order and planning my route in detail. Whilst I’m unlikely to find time for a 220km ride between now ‘Le Grand Départ’, I need to up the mileage and start riding loaded with luggage. It may not be the sort of riding I’m used to, but then climate change will necessitate all of us adapting what we do, doing things we’re not used to, making decisions that are different today than yesterday.

This grand adventure is getting real.

See the first post about Adam’s adventure.