Here are a few photo's that my Mom took at the finish and a couple that the Lands End photographer kindly took of us. When the official finish photo comes through, I will also post that.
Day 9 and the last day of the challenge.
It started as had the previous 7 days, with a huge breakfast. Cereals, fruit juice, coffee, toast and Full English. Bearing in mind I don't normally eat until about 10am I've done well with consuming the calories early morning!
I had heard mixed views on the ride in Cornwall, some say it is the toughest day and others say that Devon is the hardest day. I had planned it to be my shortest day (except for JOG to Wick), in case I was feeling rough by the end, so it was less than 90 miles to go. As it happened, I didn't find the hills anywhere near as tough as in Devon, they were more rolling than steep, so could be taken quite easily by just spinning up in a low to middle gear.
My day consisted of mainly A roads, but not the very busy and dangerous A30 and in general the surface conditions were good, so I could pedal along at a decent speed.
Knowing that my challenge was to be over that afternoon brought on mixed feelings. Although I was really looking forward to seeing everyone at Lands End, I have really enjoyed being on the bike for 9 days and meeting some lovely people.
I stopped for lunch today after about 40 miles or so at a pub not far from Newquay and had a Texan Barbecue Chicken Baguette, really nice, but chicken could have done with being cut up a little more...
After lunch, there was only one thing on my mind, getting to Lands End.
So with the legs seeming to work quite well today, I pedalled on for the remaining 45 or so miles in the Sun.
The road continued to roll on, with uphills taking 5 or 6 minutes, then the descents only a minute or so at 30mph+ without too much effort.
With just 9 miles to go, I arrived at Penzance and thought that I had better have a couple of chocolate bars to boost the energy before the big finish. So, I bought a Snickers bar and a Double Decker, washed down with a cherry Lucozade and off I went again.
There was just one more decent climb to do on the road to Lands End, followed by 2 fast miles to the finish.
And I was met with a welcome sight. Mom, Donna, Caleb, Tiarne, Elaine and Emily were all there to cheer me to the finish.
John O'Groats to Lands End - DONE!!!
I finished at 4.20 this afternoon, happy and proud to have raised so much money for Prostate Cancer and Macmillan's.
I will do a proper update either tonight or tomorrow.Thank you to all of you for all the kind words and support over the last 9 days, it has made this challenge so much easier. xxx
Today was hard.
Seeing everyone during the last 24 hours was a drain emotionally, knowing I still had 2 days to go over the hills of Devon and Cornwall.
I needed to replace my brake pads, so called in to a bike shop in Cheddar, had a chat, bought the pads and fitted them before setting off rather late at about 10am.
My knees hurt. My quads felt sore and worse of all, my right wrist was in pain due to the road vibration. I knew it was going to be a hard day with the hills and just could not get any motivation to turn the pedals. it seemed to take forever just to do 35 miles before lunch.
I stopped at a Cider farm for a panini, coffee and lemon drizzle cake before heading off towards Launceston.
After lunch, my legs seemed to be more willing, the ache in my wrist had gone and I was able to push on.
It was 15 minutes of uphill in "granny gear" followed by 1 minute of downhill at 40mph for the rest of the day.
Even the last few hundred meters into Launceston were up a steep hill :-S At least I was I'm Cornwall though!
At the hotel, my brother Chris was waiting for me. He had been down to play golf and is camping nearby. We had dinner and a few pints of cider, while putting the sporting world to rights. :-)
Tomorrow, breakfast is at 7.30, then it's full steam ahead for Lands End and the finish.
101 miles today.
An emotional day.
I said goodbye to my Mom and brother and went down to the cemetry to say hello to my Dad. My Dad is the whole reason I am doing this and to rest my bike against the bench and talk certainly brought a tear to the eyes. I've met many people along the way and they all say that we know someone affected by Prostrate cancer, it's true. Most of you know me or someone in my family, so you too are affected.Once I left the cemetry, I made my way down to Worcester garden centre, where Darryl was waiting for me. Darryl has been posting a song each day connected to my ride and as we have a fairly similar taste in music, it had been an inspiration each morning when checking my phone at breakfast.
After meeting Darryl, it was on to Cheddar. For the most part it was quite a nice days ride, but the last 20 miles were in torrential rain. I'd also ran out of energy as it started to get hilly. With a few miles to go, I had started to get tired and wasn't looking forward to climbing the Gorge. Luckily, despite what I had thought, I ended up going down the Gorge, not up. That should have been great and indeed was enjoyable, but would have been even better if I had brake pads left....
Down the gorge with no brakes takes concentration and I just about managed to muster enough to get down in relative safety, with what tiny bit of pads I had left slowing me gently.
Once I made it down and went through the village, Donna was there to meet me with a cheer. It was so nice to see Donna, the kids and Peter and Pauline, but I paid for it the following morning...103 miles done today.
If Wet Wet Wet did a song called Wet, then that would sum up Day 6.
Luckily it was not too windy, because it was torrential rain for the most part of the day. Really not too much to say...
I had a huge breakfast, which for someone that normally skips breakfast, I seem to be doing a good job of getting through huge brekfasts each morning!
That then sees me through until about 12:30/1pm, which is when I stop for lunch. Yesterday I stopped in Nantwich at McCormicks for a panini and cake. I received two donations to the cause while there, onefrom the owner and also one from another gent sat at the table next to me that had seen my Prostate Cancer cycling top and asked me about my challenge. Thank you guys.
I ended up on the A41 road towards Wolverhampton yesterday, which if I was in a car would have been fine, but on a bike it was really scary. I was relieved to find a side road and head off in the general direction of where I needed to go, before finding sign posts to Stourbridge and roads that I knew would be familiar.
Once I was in Stourbridge I saw a Wolves shirt! Always a good thing to see and put a smile on my face.
About 3 miles from my Moms house, something remarkable happened. The Sun came out! First time in two days. Although as I write this, it is drizzle again. As I was coming over the top of the hill I could see the welcoming party for me outside. Another huge smile came on my face as everyone cheered me to the driveway. I'm sure a few cars were wondering what was going on!
Down to Cheddar today, I get to see Donna and the kids. Also stopping for a few minutes in Worcester to see Darryl. 3 days to go, not long.
Yesterday ended up being the longest day and also the toughest. It's strange, because when you map out the routes you have an idea of what days will be hard and which will be relatively easy. However, the weather can completely change any preconceptions you have. With the southerly wind yesterday it was pure evil from the top of Shap down to Kendal. I had a hot chocolate, an Americano with plenty of sugar and a slice of cappuccino cake in Cafe Nero. I could quite happily just stayed there...
Once I managed to get back on the bike, it was a bit more enjoyable, but not much quicker. I eventually got into the hotel at about 9.30. Too late for food :-S
However, the receptionist was lovely and phoned up the local pizza place and ordered me a large Meat Feast and a bottle of full fat coke. We also had a chat about my challenge so far, which put me in a much better frame of mind than earlier in the day!
Day 6 sees me heading to Mom's house, where it sounds like a nice welcome gathering is to be expected. Onwards and downwards :-D
sat in Cafe Nero Kendal shivering. Coming down from Shap Fell is the worst experience I've had on a bike, so so cold. The wind and rain meant I couldn't/wouldn't want to get above 20 mph and the rain felt like razors.Still, by my reckoning I am just about over half way through the trip.
As the Rolling Stones said "GIMME SHELTER"
I meant to put about my aches and pains in the last blog. Well, my knees, legs, privates and left big toe were all hurting last night/this morning. Glad to report legs still working, not sure about the rest :$Whereas yesterday it was frustrating to only be averaging 10mph, today I have been happy to get up to that average! Legs have been feeling quite good so far, but with the wind, rain and hills it's been slow. Stopped for lunch at the Narrowbar cafe in Penrith. Watching all the silly people out in the rain. Oh yeah.....
Day 4 Glenfarg to Gretna.Aches and pains...If Saturday was like a stage in the Pyrenees, Day 4 was like Paris-Roubaix. The roads, while not having pot holes, resembled the cobbled roads of north France and Belgium. Obviously with the motorway just to my side all day, the roads that I was on have just been left for years without being resurfaced.
It took a long time to get the legs moving today, 40 miles in 4 hours is not good. A 5 mile detour due to roadworks, sending me back down the road I had come from, did little to lighten the mood. Going over the moors would be lovely in the car, but on the bike it was quite lonely and tiring into the wind. There were not even many cars to occasionally give me a draft.
Eventually I arrived at Abington and I stoped for essential fuel - Burgerking. it was here that I realised why I had been so slow for the first part of the day. Abington is pretty high up, so I had been climbing slowly for most of the previous 70 odd miles. At least that meant that the rest of the day was more comfortable and I picked quite a bit more speed.
Today looks like being the worst day weather wise so far with high winds and rain. time to get the rain jacket out.