My friend Ollie and I set off to bike the 100 miles of the South Downs Way from Winchester to Eastbourne not knowing quite how tough it would be. 30 yrs ago I'd walked it with the kids; 20 yrs ago I'd run some of it; 10 yrs ago I'd even pulled a tyre along it; So surely it'd be a dawdle to do on a bike!
We loaded up our bikes with camping kit so we could stop anywhere at night. This weight meant that every steep hill was a real struggle to push the bikes up (though I'm eternally grateful to Ollie for get-the-granny-up-the-hill help!) And the Way is nearly all up or down - exhausting excruciating never-ending steep ups, and terrifying downs along deeply rutted trails littered with jutting roots and ragged stones or narrow paths strewn with nettles and brambles.
After about the sixth puncture, a broken rack and a slipped chain we gave up worrying about how slow we were (well, one of us was slow!) and we decided to make it over 4 days instead of the planned 3. Even so this meant around 9 hours of continuous riding on the trail each day.
But we were fueled by the intention of doing it to help Climate Change. The South Downs Way is the perfect expression of the beauty of our Earth. We were following eastwards this rolling ridge which runs across south-east England, to our right seeing far to the deep blue of the channel waters and to our left, the extensive plains of the Sussex Weald - only changing to come down to cross a river or a road before climbing steeply up the other side. Always there were stunning views and big sky. Always the chequered fields of our green and pleasant land, dotted with cool woodland. Always the accompaniment of vibrant life - bright wild flowers; red kite, buzzard and twittering skylark; butterfly and bumble bee; and snake, weasel and of course sheep, cow and horse.
And then suddenly we would hit wide open grassland and the bikes would glide and my spirit would soar... And I would understand what a privilege it was to be a tiny part of this vast beautiful Earth that is so stunningly lovely. Surely we must put in effort to keep it so?!?
This thought sustained me. We were carrying Climate Change Messages sent from hundreds of individuals, many from children, pledging to make a difference in their lives - sending positive thoughts for the peace of our Earth. At Harting Down we spoke out these Messages at sunset, joined by Candy, Julia, Maureen, Mo, Leone and Peace Ambassador Barney. We sent out a clarion call on the conch horn for us all to do everything we can to care for our Earth; We intoned the vibration of harmony on the Tibetan singing bowl: We lit the World Peace Flame and held our Earth in the Light - watched over by light beings that we were able to see in the photos as orbs.
The ceremony was the focus for Climate Change action. The bike ride represented the challenge for us all. The prize - the unending beauty of our Earth.
A Clarion Call for Action!