Browsing articles tagged with " Land’s end to John o’groats"
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…

Jul 15, 2011

Into the heart of Scotland

I managed to get an interview with the Camp owner first thing, so I’m still, tenuously, on track with interviewing 7 people on the 7 days of our ride.

It was a beautiful morning. We’ve been unbelievably lucky with the weather so far. It looks like it could break tomorrow, but with only 2 days left we’re due a change of fortune.

Saddle sores are a, er, real pain in the backside. No matter what you think about. No matter how happy your happy place (for this is where one has to be on a trip like this), the pain clouds everything.

On the plus side, the landscape here is gorgeous. We were following a deep sided river for the whole morning, and kept catching glimpses of clear silvery water through the trees.

The quality of the roads veered from extremes of silky smoothness to cracked and lumpy, with not much variety in between. A bit like Tony’s porridge (ha ha, only joking!).

Tony did make the saltiest soup for lunch I have ever or am ever likely to taste. It was incredible! You could almost feel yourself shrivel up once it was inside. It did keep the cramp at bay though, which was the main thing.

Having crossed the Erskine Bridge and caught wonderful views over Glasgow, were now in the land of the midge on the banks of Loch Lomond.

Left knee was a little swollen last night, it won’t get worse today, or I’ll be watching from the van. Having come this far, this is the last thing I want to happen.

The first thing I did when we got to Luss on the banks of Loch Lomond was strip down to the essentials and sit in the water. Just me and nature after a great day on the road. I couldn’t have been happier.

Jul 13, 2011

127 to Gretna

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The fact that we had to return to the spot where we were picked up yesterday was probably why we weren’t particularly inspired to get back on the bikes early this morning.

It took us an age to get ready. But despite the dithering, it was a great morning to be out on the road, and we finally left St. Helen’s around 0930.

All was well once the legs were moving in their restricted rhythm. Martin came up with a great analogy the other day: ‘the body is like a Sat Nav- as long as one keeps persevering, ignoring the easiest route, it will find a way though.’ I thought that was brilliant.

We had a near miss where MIJ’s front wheel was almost taken out by the ‘classic’ car turning right across a line in traffic. We both also dropped our beloved shades at in-opportune moments, but kit and body are, thankfully, still intact.

Gorgeous scenery and relatively quiet roads up here. We saw a few pelotons on a mid week jaunt. We also passed a few ‘End to End-ers’, on slightly more sedate missions.

After the ubiquitous photo at the Gretna sign, we raced the last few hundred metres to the Camp site. A good sign for the next few days (despite needing ice on the knees).

Weather not looking so good for the Highlands. Best get out the tartan long johns…

Jul 12, 2011

147 to St. Helens

MIJ was in awesome form today, setting a quick pace along the flattest roads so far.

Now, having scoffed half a large pizza each and applied some hastily found ice from the Pizza Hut bar, were in the battle bus heading to the camp site.

Sorry to say we ran out of time today and didn’t make it the last 12 miles. At the pace we were going it would have taken another hour, and we need to keep in mind the bigger picture.

We’re going to be dropped off tomorrow where we were picked up today, so there’s no question we cycled the whole thing.

Looking forward to the Lakes and Gretna Green tomorrow.

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Jul 11, 2011

130 miles rollin’ through cheese country

We left late today, 0930 before we got breakfast in, maps in pockets and fuel for the day. I think we were quietly apprehensive about what was ahead.

This was the most the big ‘M’ and I had ridden in a day, and we wanted to know when the pain was going to start.

The first 30 miles where through car-less rolling Devon countryside. Dramatic views raced past our peripheral vision and tore our eyes away from the Tarmac.

Taunton was the first big conurbation today. We flaked out under the firs in the grounds of the Court Buildings.

There was a killer hill on the approach to Bristol Airport, but once crested, a 3 mile descent came as just reward.

Tony met us in a lay-by with hot soup around Bristol. By this stage we were half way, and hoping the next half would be flat.

Thankfully the run in to Gloucester was pretty horizontal. There was a dramatic event where a milk truck lost part of it’s tyre and wheel arch, leaving debris strewn across the carriageway. I jumped off and flagged down the fast approaching traffic while someone retrieved bits of truck from the outside lane.

Quirky encounter of the day: a man dragging a 12 foot cross southwards. We didn’t know where he was from or where he was going, but we wish him well. It looked just as tough as our escapade.

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Jul 10, 2011

The day of many climbs

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Going to keep this short as I am absolutely knackered and just want to sleep. But day 1 went pretty well with only a puncture after about 30 miles to spoil the day.

Safe to say it was myself and Dan’s hardest day for as long as I can remember. Even though it was short by mileage I expect it to be up there as the hardest days on this little adventure.

http://kineticurl.com/8q47-7

The A30 wasn’t as bad as we had imagined although the hard shoulder was not always a nice place to be. It got us to our end of day camp site with the minimum of fuss, if you ignore the relentless climbs on route of course.

Now to chill before getting some well earned rest.

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