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.
126 miles 9 hours of cycling, 11 hours on the road.High mountain passes - yep
Blazing sunshine - yep
Friendly people with funny accents - yep.
I'm obviously in the Pyrenees not Scotland.Today has been tough both emotionally and physically. I had a lovely breakfast cooked by Keith at Kinkell House, packed my bag, got my bike ready, then said goodbye to Keith and Clare, who were lovely hosts. I started off slowly, spinning rather than grinding the pedals as I knew I had a long way to go and a decent amount of climbing to do. From the moment I left Inverness till I arrived in Glenfarg I hardly saw a cloud in the sky. 4 times I applied factor 50 suncream, but still my face is burnt. Glad that I put my arm warmers on to save my arms getting burnt.
I was doing well, so at Cairn I stopped to take photos of the waterfall, then, not realising I was only 4 miles from my intended stop at Aviemore, I went across the road for a cup of coffee and banana cake. As I was finishing my coffee, a biker in black leather asked if he could sit at my table. For the next 20 minutes we chatted about my challenge, why I was doing it and we shared our stories about Prostate cancer. Suffice to say, Alan was a genuinely lovely guy and I had more than a tear in my eye chatting to him and for the next few miles. Cheers Alan, I hope you enjoy you time up in the north on your steel horse.
I had thought after about 50 miles that the climbing had been done for the day. How wrong was I... I had about another 20 miles of climbing or flat roads. When the downhill came, I suffered my first puncture of the trip. It was own fault, going down the rough cycle path as if I was on a mountain bike, should have been mote observant. Still it gave me a few minutes rest while I changed the tube and pumped it up.
Travelling down from Inverness I started going through so many towns that I remember from my childhood camping/caravaning in Scotland. Blair Atholl (photo to follow), Pitlochey, Killiecranky... again very emotional.
As I approached Perth, my Garmin had a "moment" and decided to send me down the A9 for about 4 miles, I thought London was bad, nowhere near as scary as the A9 on a Saturday evening in Perth. Glad that's out of the way.
This evening I am staying in the Glenfarg Hotel, also I had dinner here. rather late at 9.20. After that I went through to the public bar and had a pleasant chat to Wayne who is up here from Durham, as he is about to have a 4hour learn to fly experience. A few pints of Guineas later and it was tome to come up to bed.
Tomorrow I head down to the borders at Gretna. Not expecting too much, as I would imagine Gretna to be quite a dreary place. We will see. At least it is only 114 miles tomorrow, gives the legs a rest :-S 3 days and I shall be in the Midlands whoop whoop!
First of the big days today, 112.85 miles.
Unfortunately it doesn't appear that the photo uploaded is working for blogs, so I will have to add pictures in a few days when I have access to a pc.
Breakfast today was HUGE, so much that I couldn't finish. Cereals to begin, cooked to follow. Not the best, but it filled a hole.
I set off today with the weather changeable, so put my rain jacket on just in case and also to keep warm. However, after about 40 miles it was too hot, so I took it off and strapped it to my bag. From about 50 miles on, I hardly saw a cloud, it was beautiful. I've never done the north east of Scotland before, but cycling down the coast brought a few tears to my eyes with the sun out as Dad would have loved to have taken hundreds of photos on a day like today. Not quite as nice as the islands on the west coast, but a close second.
I cycled on the A99 followed by the A9, but as I was making good progress, I decided to cut inland and take the smaller c road over to Alness, through the forest. Sheltered from the wind, but with the sun beating down, being on my own for miles at a time with no traffic, its hard to beat being on the bike in Scotland.
Once I arrived in Alness, I asked a lady if there was a cafe or pub where I could sit outside. Her response was"this is the first sun we've had for 5 years..." I took that as a no, so bought a milkshake and mars bar and sat on a bench in the high street, watching the World go by.
Arriving at my b&b for the night, I was met by one of the owners, Claire, who asked me fill out the necessary form, before showing me up to my room. Once inside my room, she took great delight in showing me how she had decorated it especially for my birthday. The pictures will speak for themself when I upload later :-) I then went downstairs to sort out my bike and Keith, Claire's partner invited me for a glass of wine later in the evening, which of course I duly obliged. It was lovely talking to Keith and Claire, if you are ever in Inverness, check out the Kinkell House b&b, thoroughly recommended. on their recommendation, I had dining at Riva restaurant which over looks the castle, a very nice meal, more than my budget for the day, but it is my Birthday :-)Tomorrow is on to Glenfarg, my biggest day of the JOGLE, both in distance and also altitude climbed. Could be a late night. At least most of the climbing is done in the first 50 miles, before about 25 miles of downhill. If I have time, I may take in the Highland games in Blair Atholl.