Jul 17, 2011

The final push to the sum

I never know their names, But I smile just the same
New faces…Strange places, Most everything I see, Becomes a blur to me
And I’m wasted because, The fast pace is too much
Here at the final push to the sum
If my old life is done, Then, what have I become? What have I become?

Granddaddy – The Final Push to the Sum

The day got off to a slow one. We’d come so far and yet there was still, potentially, our second longest day in the saddle ahead of us. We’d also had a wee dram or two the night before. Yes, we were already celebrating before the line – always an ill advised move.

We headed towards Inverness knowing we were behind schedule and that all our stops today had to be fleeting ones.

Into the ‘Black Isle’ and we used a dedicated cycle path some of the way until it petered out and we were back on the notorious A82.

We kept passing signs to John O’Groats which counted down our mileage with frustratingly small increments. At lunch there was still 80 miles to go.

Another couple of hours in the saddle and another pit stop with ‘our man in the van’. The weather had closed in, creating a complete white out. With more traffic it would have been too dangerous to carry on.

At our last opportunity to take on food at around 7pm, we still had 35 miles to go and it was now raining hard. We wolfed down soup and rolls, donned an extra layer to fight off the cold and wet, re-mounted our steeds and put our heads down. This was going to be tough!

The 6 days of sweat which had built up in my helmet was now dissolving, and this salty solution was became a constant, infuriating stream running into my eyes.

At first I couldn’t understand why my eyes were suddenly stinging so much. I thought that it must have been the sun screen washing off. When I figured it out I ended up taking the helmet off, finding a deep puddle in Wick, and plunging it in, much to the amusement of a group standing outside the nearby pub.

It was truly awful weather, but we were going to finish that night, no matter what. I started singing random songs at the top of my voice to keep the cold, the stinging eyes and the fatigue at bay. None of it made any sense, just a way of zoning out. Martin was doing the same, I later found out.

Finally, at 10.15pm, we made it! Tony had caught up in the van having found us a B&B in Wick and was filming the grand finale. We congratulated each other down the final stretch of road, with hand shakes and back slaps, before pictures in front of the famous sign (which had been taken in because we were well after hours).

The days total was 137 miles, our second longest and definitely our hardest. A fitting way to end this adventure. Now shoot me if I ever get on a bike again…

  • Patrik

    Top work fellows! I’m still very envious despite the hardships you went through. The pain just makes finishing sweeter right. You guys fancy going for a ride this week, I was thinking Richmond park say 7am Wed… ;-)

  • http://djnorwood.com Daniel

    You must be jokin’! Give it a week though, and we’ll be right there.

Links and information

  • Just Giving charity page We have set up a page to raise money for The Alzheimer’s Society, please donate if you can
  • Map of our route We initially used Google maps to plan the route, here it is in it’s entirety.
  • Mule bars for energy These yummy natural bars will be keeping us going all the way up to John O’Groats
  • Strada Wheels These guys hand built a new set of hoops for Martin to ride for the trip

Our photos

One down...to goThe first puncture, CornwallRehydratingRiver WyeBristol docksCelebratory breakfastThe evening ritualAn ice bath substitute in Loch LomondCalories'In or oot'Tartan rug hiding stuff, on the drive homeCooling off in Loch LomondThe morning afterYachts off InvernessFeet up 2Feet upFlaked out in GloucestershirePuncture!Beer, protein shakes and Mule BarsSilhouette on the Erskine Bridge