Derbyshire Life - - Peo­ple -

Us­ing a net­work of ed­u­ca­tors from the 15 Na­tional Parks, Lorna re­ceived feed­back on routes and en­quired what en­gage­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties with com­mu­ni­ties or park vis­i­tors would be af­forded. In ad­di­tion, the pub­lic, cy­cling groups, plus staff and vol­un­teers from the Na­tional Parks were in­vited to join Lorna on any stretch – with the caveat that they had to ride at her pace.

On her first day, start­ing from the Cairn­gorms Na­tional Park at 8am Lorna cy­cled 125 miles, ar­riv­ing at her des­ig­nated sleep­ing place, a bunkhouse, at 9.30pm. It had been a good day in that she had com­pany for the first 30 miles and had achieved well above what was to be her daily av­er­age dis­tance of 101 miles.

She said: ‘I was very ex­cited on day one. It was very windy but the scenery was beau­ti­ful. I was on a high and it was a re­lief to be on my bike at last be­cause the plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion had been stress­ful and dif­fi­cult to fit in with my full time job.’

But chal­lenge had al­ready kicked in. The tem­per­a­ture at Aviemore was -1°C. Lorna was cy­cling against head­winds with gusts of over 40 miles per hour and was blown off her bike on the Dro­mochter Pass, de­spite be­ing par­tially shel­tered by Cairn­gorm Na­tional Park ranger Al Smith who was cy­cling in front.

The hard­est chal­lenge of the fort­night came on day two, which in­volved cy­cling 149 miles from Loch Lomond Na­tional Park to Northum­ber­land Na­tional Park. Lorna had linked up with a friend from Glasgow, Ruth Hind, and the pair had set off to­gether for the hilly trip rid­ing di­rectly into South, South East­erly winds with 40 mph gusts. But progress was so dif­fi­cult the pair parted ways.

Lorna said: ‘It felt hor­ri­bly sad. It was a slog and the most men­tally chal­leng­ing day. I just knew I had to keep ped­alling but it took ev­ery ef­fort to turn the ped­als. And it wasn’t the pret­ti­est route. I was on an old road next to the mo­tor­way. It was ex­posed and dif­fi­cult and I had to men­tally get into the zone to keep go­ing. I just looked a me­tre ahead of my wheel and didn’t think of any­thing.

She failed to reach her planned des­ti­na­tion, which was The

Sill Youth Hos­tel and Na­tional Land­scape Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre in Northum­ber­land, be­fore it closed at 11pm and ended up stay­ing in Gretna Green. Lorna had fallen short by 25 miles on day two, which at her cy­cling speed of just 11 miles per hour due to bad weather con­di­tions, was a cy­cle ride of 2.5 hours.

She said: ‘It was hugely dis­ap­point­ing. My boyfriend and my mum wanted to talk to me and give me en­cour­age­ment but I didn’t want to talk to any­one. I just couldn’t let my guard down. I needed to be in fight mode and couldn’t al­low my­self to let my emo­tions get the bet­ter of me and be­come vul­ner­a­ble.’

Each day Lorna was drink­ing six to seven 750 ml bot­tles of wa­ter to keep hy­drated and eat­ing vast quan­ti­ties of calo­ries to pro­vide her with the en­ergy to keep go­ing. Her main­stay of ac­com­mo­da­tion was pro­vided by YHA Youth Hos­tel As­so­ci­a­tion and each morn­ing she would eat a full English break­fast, fol­lowed by sev­eral bowls of cereal, then fin­ished off with two rounds of toast and a crois­sant.

To keep up her mood as well as en­ergy lev­els Lorna ate on the go ev­ery hour of the jour­ney: a ba­nana, a Cliff bar, a crois­sant with ham, a hot cross bun, then an­other peanut-but­ter-filled Cliff bar be­fore stop­ping for lunch. Small and sat­is­fy­ing com­forts were dis­cov­ered through hard days and evenings of cy­cling.

‘I wanted to en­gage face to face, to com­mu­ni­cate and get a buzz from shar­ing my pas­sion and the ex­cite­ment I have for the nat­u­ral world and the ben­e­fits to

be had from be­ing out­doors’

ABOVE: Lorna Fisher puts in some last minute train­ing in the Peak District

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