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Courier rides from Watford to Norwich in five and a half hours

Epic ride raises eyebrows in courier community

A film producer who had just six hours to get some vital funding documents from Watford in Hertfordshire to Norwich reinforced his green credentials by getting them couriered by bike, with the rider apparently covering the route, said to be 125 miles, with half an hour to spare.

The claim has been met with healthy scepticism on courier website Moving Target, with one user pointing out, “no courier worth their salt would rather ride than train it there,” and another stating simply: “Train + beers=WIN.”

Film production company Tinker Films, which intends shooting scenes from its horror movie Tarot on location in Norfolk’s Thetford Forest, was making an application for £250,000 from Screen East’s Low Carbon Fund, which promotes environmentally responsible film-making.

Co-producer Derek Harrington told Norwich newspaper The Advertiser : “The material had to be in hard copy, and we blew the post deadline because we were waiting for another document to attach. We thought 'what's the most low-carbon way to get it to Norwich in time?' and hit on the idea of using a cycle courier.”

Accordingly, the company engaged 25-year-old courier Simon Urie, who they were put in touch with by London company Go-Betweens, which bills itself as “London’s first carbon-neutral courier company.” The cyclist  picked up the submission at 10.55am and set off for Norwich on his single-speed bike, arriving there at around 4.30pm.

The courier told The Advertiser: “Most of the work I do is in and around London. It's pretty rare to be asked to do a job outside the city and this is one of the longest I've done.”

Mr Harrington described the courier’s efforts as “impressive,” adding: “I'm delighted Alex got our application there safely and in such a low-carbon way.”

The AA website gives the route, avoiding motorways, from Tinker Films’ offices at Leavesden Studios, Watford to Screen East’s offices in Norwich as 117.6 miles, or 189.3km, which would mean that the courier would have had to ride at an average speed, without stopping, of 33.9km/h.

As a comparison, Mark Cavendish’s victory in Stage 18 of last month’s Tour de France, which covered 198km into Bordeaux, was achieved at an average speed of 42.9km/h.

Of course, unlike the intrepid courier, the Manxman had the benefit of closed roads, a police escort, no need to worry about road traffic or stopping at red lights, and team mates to fetch him food and drink and slipstream behind all day until the sprint finish.

According to National Rail Enquiries, taking the 11.27 train from Watford Junction will get you to Norwich exactly three hours later, allowing for 45 minutes to travel between Euston and Liverpool Street stations in London. So if he had taken the train, that raises the question of why the package wasn’t delivered at around 2.30, with the cyclist taking the rest of the afternoon off.

Mike, office manager at Go-Betweens, told that Simon was on holiday this week and had undertaken the delivery as a private job between himself and Tinker Films. He did confirm, however, that Simon is a very strong and experienced rider and has undertaken long-distance rides in Europe, and he wouldn’t be at all surprised if he had indeed covered the distance in the time claimed.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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