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Journey just beginning for Gav after his SVR departure

In August, we published a blog by one of our Edinburgh residents – Gav Corlos – revealing his plans to explore the globe on a gravel bike. The former Royal Engineer has now moved on from SVR with everyone’s best wishes, and he left in some style: with a bike ride from Holyrood to Buckingham Palace! Now, he will spend a few months in England before embarking on his adventure – an interactive ride, where YouTube subscribers will choose his international destinations. He’s kindly taken time out to send us his latest blog, with the ‘Grand Depart’ now just a few months away.

As I prepare for my international, interactive gravel bike ride later this year, I can see that my stay with Scottish Veterans Residences was the grounding I needed to propel me.

I arrived at SVR’s Whitefoord House in Edinburgh in January 2023 and settled in very quickly. Having travelled around for a number of years in a camper-van, I was used to moving about and living in environments like SVR where you are living in close proximity with people you do not know from Adam. I developed a fitness routine, got myself a job and started thinking how I could spend my time at SVR wisely, productively and comfortably. Fortunately for me I formulated a plan very early on: and that plan was to prepare for a bicycle adventure across the world. I spent most, if not all of my time and hard-earned money on this venture, right up to to the point I cycled off in to the distance only a few weeks ago on a ‘warm-up’ #Palace2Palace bike ride, from Holyrood Palace next to Whitefoord House, to the gates of Buckingham Palace in London.

I absolutely loved my time at SVR, being amongst the lads and ladettes there. There was  always something happening, which kept the banter flowing. I also got on well with staff, who I found polite, professional and friendly. I now have some solid friends from my time at SVR. I will miss them and the place.

This all gave me the grounding I needed to set myself up for the next adventure. It gave me shelter, food and also the support if I needed it. I found if you put the work in at SVR you get the results and the respect.

I got to work very quickly on my grand plan. SVR has been a great support in the venture I am now so close to embarking on. The cycling is not just about the travel, it’s about the charity, the inspiration, the life skills, the camera and vlogging skills, social media and online business skills, plus the satisfaction of a job well done at the end of every route. Every route may not end where you wanted it to, but it does end eventually.

Preparation for my departure was not an overnight bag-packing exercise. It has been eight  months of intense hyper focused research and planning, training and practice. My ride to London was only a step in the right direction towards the path I aim to follow. As they say though it is not the destination, but the journey we should be most focused on.

Gav met up with former Royal Marine Mark, who donated Velo-Tool levers for his bike

The #Palace2Palace ride was merely a training exercise to test my skills, sharpen my abilities, and teach me new techniques in riding, packing, unpacking and gear utility. Pictured above is me meeting up with fellow Veteran Mark Clark, a former Royal Marine, who is the founder of Velo-Tool, and along with his wife Michelle, kindly donated some tyre levers to me for my travels.

I rode from Edinburgh to Stow and slept with the sheep, Stow to Denholm and dried my gear off in an Inn. Then rode across to Hexham, then Stockton-on-Tees to stay with some good friends. Next up, I rode to Leeds to stay with a friend of a friend from SVR. Then I carried on to Howden, then Cleethorpes to stay with yet another very good friend Lee and his family. Next up was Lincoln where I ended my last mammoth bike ride back in 2018 (‘Around the Country in 80 Coffees’) when three of us set off to raise funds for a number of Veterans charities. Leaving Lincoln, I rode my longest route of the journey 144km and stopped at a pub in Sandy, Bedfordshire.

The next day was my final ride into London to meet a great guy and good friend of mine, Darren, at Buckingham Palace to end the route, but start my journey!