BBC technologist completes 1200-mile ride

Rob and Angela on Scilly dock side in front of boat Angela started her epic ride in the Isles of Scilly three weeks ago

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After three weeks and more than a thousand miles, BBC technologist Angela Stevenson has completed a bike ride from the Isles of Scilly to Shetland for BBC Children in Need.

Along with husband Rob, she reached Unst - the northernmost inhabited place in the UK - on Friday in a trip that, at one point, involved riding in rain-soaked socks and sleeping in a "hobbit house". She told Ariel that her favourite moment was when BBC North colleagues accompanied her during the Lancashire leg of her journey.

So here are Angela's highlights and tips for fellow cycling enthusiasts, whether you're aiming for short or long rides.

Beauty spots

Rob and Angela whizzing past in Lake District Rob and Angela whizz through the Lake District

An experienced cyclist, Angela describes the Oban to Fort William route in the Scottish Highlands as one of her favourite rides. This despite the fact that clouds rolled in to obscure her view of the lochs and mountains. Heavy rain also meant puddles developed in her waterproof socks.

But if you're cycling in the Lake District, she recommends Thirlmere and its dam, adding that it's an easy ride for all abilities.

Be prepared

Pudsey on bike, on the ferry crossing the Clyde Pudsey crosses the River Clyde in western Scotland

If you're embarking on a long bike ride, she suggests heading northwards and easterly due to wind directions. "This is a biggy… we had very little wind on this trip. What we did have was definitely working in our favour."

Use a guidebook, a road atlas and check route mileage online. But don't rely on internet maps as signals can't be guaranteed.

A comfortable helmet, waterproofs, glasses and winter gloves are also essential, as are extra lights and batteries. "The best coats we found are walking Paclites. They fit easily over cycling jackets and have a hood that will go under your helmet so you can avoid cold water down your neck."

Wear high visibility gear and, if you're doing a charity ride, details of the challenge on signs or your clothing can make motorists more accommodating. "We got lots of toots and waves, and Pudsey made an impression sitting on the back of my bike.

"Stay out of vehicles' blind spots and pull in to let the traffic behind pass. This is very important for lorries who will struggle at low speeds if they can't overtake."

Recovery, recovery, recovery

Angela whizzing past Tintern Abbey Angela passes by Tintern Abbey in south-east Wales

Angela knew that recovery would be vital for limiting any tiredness and heard that chocolate milk was as good as expensive recovery powder. "We've had some [chocolate milk] most days and it appears to be correct," Angela reckons.

She also recommends muscle compression via clothing such as leggings and tight tops. "We've found that expensive doesn't mean best. The ones we got for this trip were as cheap as chips and very compress-y."

The couple were surprised they didn't find the ride get harder as time went by. "For the first week we could feel the mileage in our legs but by day seven, and for every morning afterwards, we didn't feel like we had cycled at all. It's amazing how quickly you become conditioned to it."

Living space

bikes outside a cabin with a round door No hobbits or Teletubbies were found here

Angela doesn't advise carrying camping gear. "The last thing you want to do, on top of cycling, is set up and take down a tent."

The couple treated themselves to some unique lodgings including a hobbit house. "It's something nice to look forward to at the end of the day, and a good sleep and steamy shower make you feel half-human again."

She suggests washing your clothes, and using solid shampoo and a bar of soap to keep kit light.

If the bike fits…

"You don't need an expensive bike but make sure it's properly set up - bike shops do fittings," explains Angela. She recommends getting mudguards and a pannier rack from the manufacturer that made the bike. "We keep all the waterproofs in a roll top bag on the rack so we don't have to open the panniers to suit up."

The milk bottle trick

She and Rob can confirm that carrying strips of plastic milk bottle is a "genius" idea for repairing ripped tyres. "My rear tyre wore down to nothing by the 900-mile mark and milk bottle patches inside helped it make another 60 miles to the next bike shop."

Rob and Angela on a beach with sea in the background Rob and Angela reached sunny Unst on Friday
  • You can read Angela's blog and donate here

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