Browsing articles in "The build up"
Jul 29, 2011

7 days, 7 interviews…

You may remember from my previous entry that I wanted to complete a short photo assignment on the trip.  This was mainly as a backlash against the feeling that we would be traveling so damn swiftly through two amazing countries, with little experience of the characters that give these trips colour and life.

Well, I managed it!  Despite the fact that it ate into valuable R&R time, I’m so glad I did.  I met some fantastic characters along the way and found out a little bit about their lives in various parts of the land.

I asked each person the same questions as a way of tying these encounters together.  I also tried to photograph them in a similar way for the same reason.

Thank you to all those who were kind enough to give me a little of your time.  You gave my trip soul.

The (not very original) questions were as follows:

  • What’s your most vivid/inspiring dream?
  • What’s your biggest fear?
  • What would you do if you won the lottery?
  • What’s in your pockets?

Here are the people I interviewed, in the order in which I encountered them on the journey…


Tony Lee (aka Martins’ dad, trusted and ever reliable supported driver)


Ever humourous Mr. Lee, giving it the wry smile.

  • Myself, my wife and my kids to continue to enjoy life throughout their fazes.
  • A traumatic event, like a Tsunami, having an impact on my family.
  • An Aston Martin for myself and a Mazerati for my wife… and helping the kids with houses of their own.
  • The VW camper van keys (leaving them in the van is another of my worst fears, because it auto locks); two wallets (normal/trip expenses); 33p, a comb and an umbrella sock.


Dorte Kopke

A traveller from Germany, she was heading south with husband and boards for some serious windsurfing.

  • To live a satisfied/ happy life (like I am now, everyday).
  • Being ill or unable to move.
  • I would travel round the world, see as many interesting places and meet as many interesting people as possible.
  • A handkerchief.


Cherry Mason

Photographed outside her Inn, 'The Red Lion', Norton, Gloucestershire.

  • To retire to somewhere like the ‘Red Lion’ (the pub she owns with her husband).
  • Water!  Drowning!! (the pub became semi submerged in floods recently).
  • I would make sure all my family were ‘ok’.
  • A brass hook.


Isabel Scott

Photographed at her camp site, Gretna Green.

  • My most inspiring dream would be to win the lottery!
  • Spiders!!
  • If I won the lottery, I’d go on holiday to think about it.  I wouldn’t want to rush into any decisions.
  • A handkerchief and a bunch of keys (for doors on the site).


Sandy Martin

Photographed at Luss camp site, on the banks of Loch Lomond

  • My most inspiring dream would be to win the lottery.
  • My biggest fear is drowning.
  • If I won the lottery, I’d buy a restaurant.
  • House keys and a bank card.


 Ffion Golding

Photographed at the Loch Ness YHA

  •  My most inspiring dream would be to not end up like my Gran! (ie. to not be materialistic).
  • Sick!  People being sick.
  • I’d set up a commune for the homeless and those with drug problems.  I’d build a farm and each person would be given an animal to care for.
  • My phone, a lighter, a bit of fluff and always, always a 5p piece.


John Carey

Photographed outside his B&B 'Careys', Wick.

  • My most inspiring dream would be to have my own business, like  have now!
  • I don’t have any fears.
  • I would but a hotel in the Highlands.
  • A phone and a handkerchief.



Jul 9, 2011

The night before


Right that’s it then, I’m here and all set for tomorrow’s early start. I’ve chucked on the new wheels, that look amazing. Had a final check of my bike and a quick sprint up the lane to check everything is running smoothly. All seems pretty good and from the short ride the new wheels roll amazingly well.

We’re just up the road from Land’s End in a campsite above Sennen Cove. Very nice site and an ideal spot to get a sleep in before starting From Land’s End which is a couple miles down the road. Still waiting for Dan who has apparently been mixing with Katie Price at the polo, can’t wait to hear more about that.

On the drive down, by chance, we travelled down the entirety of the first days route along the A30. To be honest I wish I hadn’t as it looks like the hilly nightmare that we have been expecting. I took some data via GPS and it’s going to be a total of 1600m of climbing over just over 100 miles. No small task then.

Found an ok pub down the road called The First and Last where I took in a suitably carb laden meal and a cheeky pint of Doom Bar. Should help me get a good nights sleep before starting in earnest tomorrow. No backing out now.

Jul 2, 2011

Photo project for the trip

I had an idea that it would be interesting to photograph a person a day during the trip, to make up a kind of facial diary of the areas we pass through.

I’m thinking that this would be a really good way of engaging with some of the people on the road. Otherwise, I get the feeling that we’ll arrive in John O’Groats with less of meaningful experience; the only physical contact being the two inches of rubber of our skinny tyres on tarmac.

Maybe I should ask these random people some questions…?
- Do you ride a bike? If not, how do you get around?
- What’s your biggest fear?
- What’s your biggest dream?
- What would you do with a million pounds?

I wonder how these questions will change as we wend our way north. Any more suggestions greatly appreciated…

Jun 28, 2011

30 degree London to Brighton

This time in a fortnight we’ll be on our third day of LEJOG and on our way to just north of Gloucester. For now though it’s about working out how much training to do in the last few days before we head of to Land’s End.

While Dan went large this weekend and took part in a full triathlon, I opted to stick to the bike. I have been using my ride home to squeeze in some useful hill climbs by taking a detour via Crystal Palace which has been working the old thighs pretty hard. This weekend I thought I would put this training to the test and follow last weeks BHF London to Brighton route sans a few hundred amateur cyclists. My plan was to ride there and back which would be a 110 mile round trip, which is almost as far as we will need to cover on average heading up to John O’Groats and I think this would have been doable had it not been for the conditions.

Continue reading »

Jun 26, 2011

Dartford Tri results

Stop press: Swim 00:25:47, T1 00:01:25, Cycle 01:14:44, T2 00:01:18, Run 00:46:18

In answer to the previous posts’ question, it’s damn risky relying on brain power alone to keep track of laps completed. I was enjoying the bike so much, I carried on for another half turn, so lost time on the field.

Continue reading »

Jun 21, 2011

19 Days to go…

The bulk of the training has been done, with countless laps of Richmond park and random jaunts into the countryside under our belt. This weekend I have the Dartford Bridge Triathlon, which I’m really looking forward to. Watched the race last year and was envious enough of the competitors to sign up this year. The bike course is a drag race up and down flat tarmac between two roundabouts, with a cheeky extra roundabout thrown in half way. The question is: can I keep count of the 7 laps…

Jun 5, 2011

Nearly the last Richmond training day

Myself and Dan Norwood are about 5 weeks away from setting out on our Land’s End to John O’Groats adventure. I’ve been squeezing in training wherever i can and if I’m not fit enough now I’ve left it too late. So we met up this morning to put in a few of laps of Richmond Park.

We haven’t had chance to ride together properly for a few weeks due to one thing and another. To be honest Norwood is a much better cyclist, due in no small part to more leverage in the leg region. So I was quite keen to see if any of my training had paid off and evened us up a little.

We started off fairly gingerly and built up the pace slowly. The nice thing with Richmond is that over a fairly short 7 mile circuit you cover a good variety of terrain. There are a couple of reasonable climbs where Dan always kicks my butt and good runs downhill where I can generally catch up.

The first lap went as normal with Dan having a much better run with me flagging behind. But as we clocked up the laps I got in my stride to the point that Dan tells me there was a section of the last lap where he couldn’t catch me and the normal hills didn’t slow me as much as normal.

Allin all a good day and a good sign for the real event.

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 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