When I first learned about Goodfest, set in the picturesque backdrop of Cornwall, I felt an undeniable pull to attend. Harrison Brands achieved its B Corp certification half a year ago, and for a creative agency like ours, Goodfest appeared to be an ideal gathering where kindred businesses could converge, exchanging ideas and nurturing innovative approaches to address the pressing climate crisis.
The event recently unfolded at the end of September, and as I secured my ticket, I gazed at its location on the map. It was nestled deep within Cornwall, surrounded by the renowned culinary haven of Padstow, curated by Rick Stein, and the coastal paradise adored by surf enthusiasts – Newquay.
In my commitment to keep my carbon footprint to a minimum and fuelled by an unquenchable thirst for adventure, I made the audacious decision to cycle from Exeter to the event’s venue, spanning a total of 140 kilometres.
So, early one Wednesday, I took to my bike and cycled to London Paddington station. With my backpack securely fastened, carrying all necessities for three nights, including my trusty laptop, I knew I wasn’t travelling light. The train was scheduled to depart at 9:27 am.
Having meticulously plotted my route, opting for the most popular roads on Strava and synchronising them with my Garmin device, I felt well-prepared when I arrived in Exeter three hours later. However, I was fully aware that this journey wouldn’t be a breeze. In addition to facing the rolling hills of Devon, which presented a scenic challenge, I encountered the unforgiving elements. Rain and wind became my steadfast companions.
As I ventured beyond Oakhampton, I discovered a delightful Sustrans track known as the Granite Way, meandering through the Devonshire countryside. It was on this path that I encountered a rather imposing viaduct, festooned with Samaritans signs, hinting at its unfortunate reputation. Although a protective metal fence adorned the bridge, the fierce wind and rain made me uneasy. My imagination conjured images of being swept away with my backpack and bike in a powerful gust, prompting me to dismount and walk.
My journey through the Granite Way failed to adhere to its name, as I soon found myself pedalling through a forest, with my road tires crunching on the forest floor. Eventually, I navigated my way out and continued toward the Cornish border. It was here that I met my friend Ben, a local cycling enthusiast. As supplies dwindled (my water bottle was more than half-empty, and I possessed only one energy gel), I shared my concern with Ben. He admitted that amenities were scarce in these parts, but he knew of a spa near his place where I might find sustenance. With visions of a serene oasis, I followed Ben’s lead, only to be greeted by the local Spar. My illusions were swiftly shattered. I settled for a Jamaican snack bar and a thirst quenching drink before parting ways with Ben to continue my journey. The map above shows me up to this point. Part 2 (not shown) followed on from here.
Estimating my remaining travel time hinged on my average cycling speed, typically around 25 kilometres per hour when cycling solo. However, considering my heavy backpack, an impending storm, and the daunting ascents ahead, this average speed was bound to plummet.
As I approached the final stretch, darkness descended, and I had already been in the saddle for a gruelling eight hours. A missed turn sent me careering down a hill toward Bodmin, with my Garmin device displaying the dreaded “Wrong Direction.” I must have peddled on for nearly a mile before realising my error, prompting a strenuous climb back up to my intended path.
Finally, after nine and a half hours since my departure from Exeter, I arrived at a charming Bed and Breakfast perched atop a hill. Cycling past Newquay airport, I knew I was nearing my destination, albeit at the peak of yet another hill. Exhausted and aching, I cruised up to the B&B. I was utterly spent, a broken man.
A sinful sugary drink, a generous chocolate bar, a banana, a satsuma, a revitalising shower, and a welcoming bed awaited me. I slumbered deeply, eager to commence Goodfest the following morning, knowing I had done my part for the planet. Despite the arduous experience on my bike, I cherished every moment of this adventure.