Archive for Essex to India Rajasthan Bike Ride with Denise Van Outen and Lydia Bright

Essex to India Rajasthan Bike Ride Part 3 – ‘Onwards to the Pink City’

This is the last entry from Trevor Gibbs “Essex2India” 3 blog series, and in this final blog he’s looking back on just what he, Denise Van Outen and Lydia Bright managed to achieve of those epic few days! All fabulous images courtesy of Gareth Gatrell (www.garethgatrell.com)

“Extending from ancient ruins of the Mughal Empire, to the golden sands of the Thar Desert, Rajasthan is not without reason known as the ‘Land of Kings’. For centuries the brown hills of the Aravalli ranges provided the backdrop for some of the most opulent excesses of the Rajput princes. This is a land of forts and palaces, shimmering saris and splendid moustaches. A land still steeped in the traditions of the past, and one that warrants more than just a passing glance. Cycling along the meandering back roads provides the perfect way to discover a little of the true spirit of this incredible region. The dusty roads take you through villages filled with excited children and bemused goats, past convoys of camel carts and tree-lined fields where Rajasthan’s rural traditions continue much as they have for generations.

Leaving behind the relative ‘sophistication’ of Agra, the journey took us through a chaotic maze of rickshaws, motorbikes and buses and out onto the highway that led west, towards the remarkable ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri and from there onto Bharatpur and the Keoladeo National Park. As the riding days became more challenging, so did the road surface, as tarmac gave way to potholes and potholes gave way to gravel. Herds of goats became a daily congestion problem and the deeper we headed into Rajasthan, the more our presence became an object of curiosity. Children were an ever-present distraction at drink stops and the incredulous looks that greeted us from beneath aged turbans testified to just how few tourists travel this route.

Muscles began to ache with more intensity as the kilometres fell away. Keoladeo gave way to Karauli, which in turn gave way to Ranthambore. We came across monkeys playing beside the road and enjoyed the hospitality of maharajahs and maharanis. We went in search of tigers and found a world far removed from our everyday lives. There was colour everywhere and, even through the dirt and the poverty, there were smiles in abundance. The end of the road came at a place called Ramgarh, just on the outskirts of Jaipur, where the palpable relief was made all the more welcome by the added attractions of a traditional Rajasthani band, a pantomime horse and a well deserved glass of champagne.

We had covered over 420 kilometres, travelling in temperatures of nearly 40 degrees centigrade. The roads had, in some places, tested bikes and butts to the limit, but the girls had made it and, as they watched their bikes being packed away for the last time, thoughts turned to the next challenge…”

To find out more about Trevor and his adventures, please visit his website at www.agamaconsultants.co.uk.

To learn more about our Rajasthan Tiger Challenge, and all the treks that we offer, please visit our website at www.charitychallenge.com . To keep up to date on all our challenge news, subscribe to this blog by clicking on the orange RSS button, you can also enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.

Essex to India Rajasthan Bike Ride Part 2 – ‘Don’t Worry…be Holi’

Welcome to the second Instalment of Trevor Gibbs’s diary of his time in Rajasthan with celebrated Essex girls Lydia Rose Bright and Denise Van Outen. This time he’s remicning about the team’s colourful experiences in the Holi Festival. All images courtesy of Gareth Gatrell, (www.garethgatrell.com)

“Even in a country renowned for its colourful exuberance, the festival of Holi takes some beating. A celebration to mark the beginning of spring and the triumph of good over evil, the annual Holi festivities explode across India in an all-encompassing cascade of water and colourful dyes. No one is spared, not even well dressed tourists…or celebrities.

As we made our way from Agra’s bustling train station, the early morning streets were alive with colour. Everywhere we looked people, dogs and cows were covered in brightly coloured paint and, given the events of the previous day amongst the meandering back streets of old Delhi, we were somewhat apprehensive as to what today might hold in store for us. We did manage to make it to the hotel unscathed, but this was to prove to be as far as we would get, before the inevitable mayhem overtook us. In the time it took to drop bags in rooms and change for our visit to the Taj Mahal, we had been joined by a travelling band of musicians and an enthusiastic collection of brightly coloured locals (including two dogs and a passing cow).

By the time we left for the site we were all covered from head to foot in fetching multicoloured ensembles. The only bits of white that still seemed to be showing through were everyone’s grins! All of which made our visit to the Taj Mahal a memorable encounter, and not just for us. We became a source of amusement to the locals, as every step we took enveloped us in clouds of coloured dye. The security on the gate were somewhat unsure how to deal with us. And, once inside the complex, we seemed to be vying with one of India’s most iconic monuments for celebrity rights, as locals and tourists alike snapped away at us with cameras and mobile phones.

As the afternoon wore on and the celebrations ran their course, life began to return to a semblance of normality in Agra and we began the serious preparations for the bike ride ahead. It is said that one of the ultimate joys of travel is to be able to experience a little something of the true essence of a country and, on a journey of incredible contrasts, this brief encounter with one of India’s most colourful celebrations was to have a long-lasting and uplifting affect on us all…”

To find out more about Trevor, and his various adventures, please visit his website at www.agamaconsultants.co.uk.

To learn more about our Rajasthan Tiger Challenge, and all the treks that we offer, please visit our website at www.charitychallenge.com . To keep up to date on all our challenge news, subscribe to this blog by clicking on the orange RSS button, you can also enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.

Essex to India Rajasthan Bike Ride Part 1 – In the City of Djinns

Throughout Denise Van Outen and Lydia Rose Bright’s epic cycle challenge across Rajasthan – “Essex2India” – arranged in conjunction with Hello Magazine and Charity Challenge, our veteran tour leader, Trevor Gibbs, was on hand to make sure that everything went off without a hitch. Below is the first instalment of his reminisces of the fascinating, and eventful, journey that they undertook…

“My name is Trevor and over the past few years I have had the privilege of working on a number of Charity Challenge trips throughout the world. My latest adventure saw me riding across Rajasthan with Denise van Outen and Lydia Bright, as they attempted to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. The following is a brief glimpse into the incredible journey that they undertook…

The adventure began amongst the chaos of Delhi and, in particular, its old Muslim quarter. Built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century, the labyrinthine streets of Old Delhi still exude a little of the magic and mystery of a city that is all but lost now amongst the bustling thoroughfares of India’s thriving capital. Once surrounded by high walls and dominated by the imposing majesty of the Red Fort, this is home to the magnificent Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque and a spectacular piece of Mughal design capable of holding some 25,000 worshippers. This was where our journey began in earnest, as we headed out to explore the rambling back streets by rickshaw.

The city was beginning to take on a party atmosphere, with tomorrow heralding the start of the Holi festivities and, as we negotiated our way through the meandering streets, making our way past ruminating cows, spice stalls and tea houses, we could sense that celebration and mischief were in the air. The first water bomb came out of nowhere and hit Lydia. The second covered Denise in purple dye. Then suddenly, from all around us, water and dye hit us from every side. Our gentle amble through the back streets had turned into an ambush!

Now rickshaws are not renowned for their speed, or their manoeuvrability. Neither do they offer particularly good protection against a concerted assault from water bombs and buckets. As water and paint rained down on us we made a frantic, but ultimately futile dash for safety. By the time we finally escaped the alleyways of Old Delhi we were a bedraggled and bemused mess, with Denise and Lydia bearing the brunt of the afternoon’s onslaught. Conversely (and bizarrely) our team photographer, Gareth, had managed to run the entire gauntlet unscathed. Whilst the rest of us looked as if we had just swum through blancmange, he still sported a pristine T-shirt and a sparkling camera. The Lord Vishnu obvious had his favourite!“

To find out more about Trevor, and read more blogs of his adventure, please visit his website at www.agamaconsultants.co.uk. Also, if you loved these vibrant pictures of the team exploring India, you can visit  (the before mentioned Lord Vishnu favoured photographer behind these great images) at www.garethgatrell.com.

To learn more about all our Rajasthan tiger Challenge challenge and many more, please visit our website at www.charitychallenge.com, and to keep up to date on all our challenge news, subscribe to this blog by clicking on the orange RSS button, you can also enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.

#ESSEX2INDIA – Essex girls Densie Van Outen and Lydia Bright to cycle across India

First the immense challenge of reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro, a 6 day trek to Machu Picchu in Peru and now a 485km cycle for charity across Rajasthan in India. Much loved TV presenter Denise Van Outen is unstoppable! This time she’s taking her friends Lydia Bright from The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE) and Kirsty Williams from The Insanity Group of Companies.

The girls have chosen to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital which desperately needs money to provide vital up-to-date equipment and fund research into better treatments for children.

The challenge is being organised by Charity Challenge, and Denise, Lydia and Kirsty started preparations in early January 2012 as they began their pre-event training.  They were each provided with a fantastic hybrid (road/mixed terrain) bike from Specialized and a top of the range indoor exercise bike from Hire Fitness; a nationwide company that hires gym quality fitness equipment to use at home.  The Hire Fitness bikes proved an essential part of their training as the snow fell outside and temperatures plummeted!

As they embarked on their strict fitness regime, they realised they were becoming hooked on cycling when they started turning down opportunities like VIP seats at premiership football matches in favour of checking out the best cycle routes!

“I’m turning into a biking geek” Says Kirsty, “cycling to and from work and at weekends and using my Hire Fitness bike at home”.  A quick 24 mile cycle is now nothing to them but it’s not been without challenges along the way! For one, It’s really NOT easy fitting 3 adult bicycles into the back of a car!! But the girls just about managed to squeeze them into Denise’s Volvo XC60.

So challenge #Essex2india is nearly here.  With just a few weeks left before the big event the girls are training hard, through everything the weather has to throw at them!

“Going cycling today to train for my Essex2India bike ride – I must be crazy it’s freezing out there!” tweets Denise.

They’ve prepared well but what they can’t prepare themselves for is the extreme heat that they will be enduring as they cycle across India.  And what will they do after all this with so much free time on their hands you may well ask?  Perhaps another Charity Challenge?

Click here to for learn more about our Rajasthan Tiger Challenge – the challege Denise and Lydia are so bravely taking on! To keep up to date on all our challenge news, and hear the latest updates about the Essex girl’s challenge, subscribe to this blog by clicking on the orange RSS button, you can also enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.