Pedal power

Jessie Stevens contributed to Ethos 15, with her story about her 570-mile bike ride from her home in South Devon to Glasgow, for COP26. You can read it here…

Published:

29.10.2021

Writer:

Fiona Shaw

The journey’s set to take her 12 days, arriving in Glasgow on Sunday, as COP starts – the last leg taking in a group of fellow cyclists who’ll all arrive Glasgow together.

 

“I believe it is so important for people of all ages and backgrounds are represented at these talks,” she told us. “With this in mind, I began researching the best way I could travel to the summit from my home in Devon. This was the moment I got ‘stumped’. It became clear to me that we still live in a society where the most polluting modes of transport (aeroplanes, cars etc.) are the cheapest.” 

Jessie started off with a first leg that took her from Newton Abbot to Taunton, and Sunday’s final leg will see her complete the mileage from Hamilton to Glasgow. We caught up with her in Warrington on Tuesday, at the half-way point of her journey. “I’ve been meeting so many people and hearing so many good stories,” she said. “That feeling of collective action has just been immense. It’s going to get a bit harder, and we’ll get a bit more tired. But it’ll get more fun.”

 

She’s been sharing a blog that recaps each day of the journey, so we’ve picked out a few highlights.

Day 1: Newton Abbot to Taunton

The one where we set off…

Quote of the day: ‘If bikes were pills, we would all be taking them’ – Graham

High – Pushing off from home and knowing there was only one way forward… to Scotland.

Low – Going down a one way road, the wrong way (with a few unhappy drivers!).

 

“By Killerton (National Trust Property above Exeter) the sun was really starting to shine bringing a new found sense of positivity to the group. At this point we stopped for lunch and met our second cargo biker – Ben. Despite never having ridden one of these bikes before, after a few turns of the car park, he was a natural. As we rode together, Ben explained to me that his young daughter, Polly, really wanted to come and join the movement, however she was a bit too small to! Instead, she wrote a beautiful letter describing so articulately her thoughts and feelings about the climate crisis and her hopes for COP26. It was such a touching moment, and I promised to take Pollys voice to COP with me.”

Day 2 – Taunton to Portishead

Quote of the day: Just to do it!

High – Cruising along the Somerset Levels with crisp autumnal sunshine on my back.

Low – 4 punctures – making it a very long day.

“I am not afraid to say that we had a scenic wild wee stop in the shadow of Brent Knoll, which made the experience all the more memorable! Zooming down wide, open lanes, we moved across the pancake flat landscape with ease. This made for a relaxing afternoon of gentle pedaling and some deep conversations. Just as we passed Sedgemoor, we were brought to an abrupt stop to let a traffic jam of cows cross the road! It was a welcome break and a perfect opportunity to make some cow related jokes!”

Day 3 – Portishead to Tewkesbury

Quote of the day: ‘I stand by my decisions(in response to someone in the core team eating ice cream for breakfast…)

High: Last few miles into Tewkesbury – autumnal trees framed against a picturesque sunset.

Low: Short but heavy shower before Gloucester.

“We skirted around the heavy urban sprawl of the edge of Bristol and passed by huge HGV lorries. Many of us covered our mouths with masks or buffs due to the smelly fumes. It was also quite a test to pick our way around all the glass, plastic and metal debris that covered the roads… I had a  very interesting conversation with Vera about the need for more diversity in the cycling and climate movement which was very thought provoking. She also suggested a very ingenious idea to help combat angry drivers – making every person taking a driving test, cycle on busy roads!

 

“As we rode into the bustling streets of Tewkesbury, we heard loud shouting coming from our left. As quickly as can be done in the cargo bike procession, we all dismounted and went to investigate. It was only then when we saw Mel Nicholls, the Paralympian who had just finished her epic handcycle around Britain. She was celebrating the finish on the pavement with a glass of champagne after nearly 3 months on the road! After a long chat about many well wishes, we said farewell and headed off to our accommodation for the night. The whole team was so stoked to ride with her out of Tewkesbury after the rest day!”

Images by Catherine Dunn & Jack Reed

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Ethos is a magazine for and about people who embrace new and innovative ways of doing business. We cover stories about the most progressive business leaders, their teams, ethos and ideas to give you a unique insight into how they’re changing how business is done.

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