During the last week of August, Harper Adams Graduates Jack Denning-James and George Whittaker, Rural Surveyors with Symonds & Sampson completed an epic 207-mile, 3-day cycle ride visiting all 16 Symonds & Sampson offices across five counties raising funds for charities.
The duo, who met while studying at Harper Adams University, came up with the idea during lockdown as a way of celebrating ‘liberation’ whilst at the same time raising funds to support the tremendous work carried out by Mind and Movember. The duo also chose to support Prostate Cancer UK for the invaluable care they give to men across the country, a cause particularly close to the hearts of George and his family.
Incredibly with just the one puncture and one accidental off-road detour, Jack and George stayed on schedule, enjoying a warm welcome (and sustenance) from colleagues at each office. Their total trip took just over 16 hours, covering just over 207 miles and included 3800 metres of climbing!
Jack summarises the adventure below:
“Day 1 - 74 miles covered; 1700m climbed
A short sharp climb into the Blackdown Hills soon warmed us up after a chilly 7.30 start in Tiverton, en-route to Ilminster. Then to Axminster, and a sun-drenched trip through Beaminster, Bridport and towards Dorchester, 100km down and into hot, uncharted territory. A whistle stop tour of the Dorchester and Poundbury offices and we arrived at Burraton House on schedule if a little sunburnt at 3.50.
Day 2 - 61 miles covered; 1000m climbed
We left Dorchester at 8am sharp for the longest stage of the day – 25 miles including a 400m climb to Yeovil (we couldn’t resist a brief chuckle as we cycled past the Cerne Giant). After a quick coffee in Yeovil, we had an eventful ride to Sherborne (the less said about the off-road incident the better) and Sturminster Newton offices, before enjoying a sunny, relatively flat cycle through Blandford and onto our finishing point in Wimborne. We arrived at 3.30pm, after a record 10 hours 45 minutes in the saddle, and surprised by how easily we’d covered over 100 km today, although slightly concerned that it might catch up with us tomorrow.
Day 3 - 73 miles with 1100m climbed
Another chilly start in Wimborne, as we set out into strong headwind throughout the long run up to Salisbury, interrupted by our only puncture of the trip –swiftly repaired in a convenient gateway. From Salisbury, a long but enjoyable 28 mile ride through the pretty Wylye Valley to our penultimate stop at the Frome office, and on to our final destination at Devizes – relieved to step off the bikes for the final time as colleagues greeted us a very welcome cold beer!
Highs & Lows
We didn’t get Lost – Thanks to our bike computers we managed to stay on route all the way and between the two of us we knew roughly where each office was.
Highest temperature – In Bridport towards the end of Day 1 – about 26 degrees on the high street, Jack had the sun burn (and tan lines) to prove it.
Best reception at office – Bridport, Ilminster and Sturminster Newton a close tie for cake selection, but Bridport take the win as they brought a table complete with table cloth out in to the high street to serve us cake from!
The High - I think leaving Ilminster on Day 1 having enjoyed our first slice of cake came close to arriving at Devizes at the end of Day 3 knowing we didn’t have to cycle again anytime soon!
The Low - Leaving Wimborne at 7am, it was only 8 degrees, we were riding into a headwind, and got the only puncture of the whole trip. Coffee at Salisbury was very welcome!
Random Encounter - meeting an elderly gentleman in the middle of nowhere in Devon, carrying a bag of shopping and at least 2 miles from the nearest house or bus stop!
Jack & George’s fund-raising crept up as the miles clocked by, getting ever closer to their £5,000 target. Please do consider supporting them at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/tourdewessex to help ease their aching muscles, and support the valuable work carried out by their chosen charities.