CYCLISTS taking on an 800-mile ride in memory of River Cottage chef Philippa Corbin are now well on their way to Italy.
A group of 28 riders set off from the River Cottage Canteen in Axminster on Saturday morning and headed for the slow food festival Salone del Gusto in Turin.
The Slow Ride to Turin is a tribute to Philippa, also known as Pip, who took her own life in January 2011, aged 27, while suffering from depression.
Philippa, who worked as a product developer and assistant manager for River Cottage, was a follower of slow food and would regularly go to the biennial festival in Italy.
The ride is also raising awareness of the illness and raising money for two related charities, The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust and The Human Givens foundation. On Friday night as the cyclists made their final preparations, they had already raised £29,250 and donations are still pouring in.
Philippa’s sister Maddy is cycling the 800 miles and her parents Pam and Hugh, from Rocombe near Uplyme, are part of the support team.
Also among the cyclists is River Cottage chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who went as far as Swanage, and Uplyme vicar the Rev Gavin Tyte, who is doing the whole ride. Before setting off from River Cottage Canteen on Saturday, Pam thanked all those taking part and Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall shared some words of encouragement with the rest of the team.
The 28 cyclists were also supported by a further 22 riders who accompanied them to Swanage, where they stayed overnight. On Sunday they rode from Swanage to Poole, where they caught the ferry to St Malo, and on Monday they made their way to Garron in north-western France.
The route has been planned by Maddy and her friend Nick Johnson, who she lives with in Edinburgh.
The group is keeping a blog on the website slowridetoturin.co.uk, which also features video diaries, pictures, maps, and general information about the challenge, riders, and charities. Writing on the blog, Rev Tyte said: “The Slow Ride to Turin is about raising awareness of depression and we are doing it.
“The money is pouring in for our two charities, people are talking about the illness, and friends and family of Pip are keeping her memory alive with stories and laughter.
“For riders like me, each day on the ground is about the team, the ride and the food. Cycling is at times leisurely and at times exhausting. It gives you the opportunity to chat with people.
“Despite the scrummy food the ride itself was no picnic. Yes, there were hills and some particularly short but steep ones at the end, however Nick and Maddy had planned the route to perfection.
“We flew through shimmering fields of corn and passed Hardy’s Monument and Corfe Castle.
“One could not help but be in awe of the breathtaking scenery and countryside.”
Visit the website at slowridetoturin.co.uk to sponsor them.