We were stuck in Istanbul. The Arab Spring had truly sprung, Syria was in turmoil and all ferries to Egypt were cancelled, barring our route south. That was the end of our Camden to Cape Town charity cycle adventure, it was time to wave goodbye to the dreams of hippos, lions and African savannas. But all was not lost. We’d organised a Lands End to John O’Groats cycle a few months before, mainly to check we actually liked cycling, and to invite a ton of our mates to join us and fundraise for our chosen charities. I’d recently done an Introduction to Permaculture course and was really interested in visiting and staying with as many projects and farms as possible. Whilst cycling to Cape Town didn’t quite come off to plan, the End to End was a truly brilliant experience and has proved to be a life changing event for me.
Fast forward 5 years and we’re still doing it. Brake the Cycle is evolving adventure in new ways of living. What started off as a failed charity challenge has grown completely organically into a community building vehicle, using cycling to inspire, educate and empower its participants to live in a more holistic, connected and authentic way. The adventures are an immersive experience that combine exercising, eating well, living in community and getting out in nature, with visiting exemplary permaculture projects, alternative communities, organic farms and co-housing projects.
But this definitely isn’t a package holiday. Whilst we curate the trip, sourcing all the food, booking accommodation, training the core crew, supplying the bespoke vehicle and carefully choosing the cycle route to find the right mixture of challenging and accessible, there is still plenty of room everyday for the spontaneous. It is after all an adventure!
Many people have ambitions to live in or learn from intentional communities, but find it difficult to make the jump alone. Brake the Cycle is an organic bridge between our modern lives and an experience of traveling in a supportive community whilst also visiting many inspiring projects. You’ll live together, eat together, cycle together, laugh together and maybe even cry together. Everyone is unique and different people find different experiences throughout the tour that challenge and expand their boundaries, both physically and mentally. You really can experience a whole plethora of emotions within an afternoon on a bicycle. The permaculture ethic ‘People Care’ is the cornerstone of our adventures; communication is key. We’ve designed a number of practices over the years including rotating cycle groups each day so everyone gets to ride together and having check-ins, to help ensure any unspoken needs are surfaced. Getting the vibe right is crucial to group cohesion and creating the comradery that only an adventure allows.
Here is Phil Moore - an avid cyclist and writer for Permaculture Magazine who came on the 2015 End to End with his experiences:
“Travelling by bike is a great way to see the lay of the land. Not just sights, but the smells, sounds and wind around your ears. The novelty of the Brake the Cycle Tour was that it proposed an alternative route, both in the literal and metaphorical sense. Visiting permaculture projects, organic farms and off-grid projects BTC gave participants a very real idea of how a different world is not only possible, but already exists. Arriving to these magical sites on two wheels heightened the sense of achievement as a cyclist and together as a group as we mucked in for evening meals and fireside storytelling and banter. As a tour leader I felt a great responsibility as participants came from all kinds of backgrounds and abilities so each day was very different. A common theme I observed was that many - including myself - were cycling for our sense of salvation and sanity, as well as an adventure of course! Eating those miles can be a great leveler for the ups and downs of life’s inner turmoils, the turning wheel smoothing out and realigning one’s perspective. Not to get too philosophical, but like any trip worth the experience, the journey is both within and out in the world.”
Following the success of our End to End Tours, we have decided to cycle further afield. From October, Brake the Cycle will be adventuring from the Basque region to Catalonia in northern Spain, to learn how our European brothers and sisters are exploring alternative living. Down the coast and through the Pyrenees, it also promises to be some of the most beautiful and scenic cycling Europe has to offer.
Our next cycle adventure is coast to coast from Bilbao to Barcelona from the 1st-14th Oct 2016. Places are now open, join the adventure and sign up now!
Brake the Cycle is a vibrant, fun, innovative, entrepreneurial, challenging, community-building social enterprise exploring new ways of living. In the near future, we will be branching out and running a wide array of events that tell new stories sharing the same ethos. We are eager to hear from people with the spark of a new story they feel needs to be explored. Get in touch with your project ideas and let’s get cracking on building a more beautiful world.