For several days after crossing the finish line at Land’s End and despite a number of good sleeps I still felt tired and emotionally drained. Flat even. But why would I expect anything different. It was an emotional journey particularly for Bob, one that we have already described as a cathartic pilgrimage. So why would we feel any different.
Now, a week later (to the minute), the mind and body are already refreshed and we can begin to bask in the reflected glory of a job well done and a mission accomplished.
But even so the days are still something of a blur such that I have to read my own blog to remember precisely what we did each day. Surely in time the fog will completely clear and our achievement will stand out as stark as it should. In the meantime the stats tell it all;
Total Distance: 989.2 miles (we resisted the temptation to cycle 10.8 miles in a circle at L’sE)
Time Taken: 107 hours (including coffee and refuelling stops! – not just cycling time)
Calories used: 64,500 (boy that’s an entire chocolate factory, isn’t it?)
Most calories in a day: 7008 on Day 5 – (The Longest Day) Luss to Auldgirth 107 miles. The least consumed in a day was 3220 on day 3 – Drumnadochit to Fort William)
Max Speed: 38.05 (Bob crashed through the 40 mph barrier (several times) – in the wet – mad. Call me chicken, I don’t mind)
Total Ascent: 12,387m (40,640ft – Everest is 29,030!)
Lumpiest day: Day 11 – Bridgewater to Bude – 1534m (5,033 ft – higher than Ben Nevis), followed by days 12, 5 and 1! in that order. The flattest leg was day 2 Dornoch to Loch Ness 555m (1,821 ft).
Most mileage in a day: 107 miles on day 5 – 11th August – Luss to Auldgirth.
Longest time in the saddle: 12 hours plus (including stops) on day 10 – 16th August – 103 miles Abingdon to Bridgewater.
Miles driven by Trev: Over 2000.
Best coffee stop: Diggles in Lancaster. Good coffee, great breakfast baps and chatty locals! Loved the debate about who had the cleanest water – Garstang or Lancaster! Things folk talk about.
When it comes to highlights there are several things (apart from the obvious finish line at Land’s End) that stand out for me. Shap summit and the wonderful panoramic view that sang “Jerusalem” in the brilliant early evening sunshine on day 6. The wonderful support and messages we all kept receiving throughout whether on the blog, facebook or whatsapp! In fact at the time of writing we have had 5,000 hits on the Jogle blog and on Monday 17th received 924 visits alone when posting “The ups and Downs of Wiltshire and Somerset”. And thirdly day 9, a fantastic and emotional day when family and friends joined us for that leg in a wonderful and fitting celebration of the life of Dale. For Bob the moment we cycled onto the Fire Station forecourt at 5:00 that evening was a moment he will remember for ever.
Bob and I spent a lot of time planning day 9. We were desperately keen that it was a day to remember, enjoyed by all and a fitting tribute to Dale. I think we succeeded. The route, shirts/medals, feed stations, logistics, communication, evening bbq, and more, all so much to think about and all so much that could go wrong. Without the help of Julie and Rosie, Dave and Rob, Hannah, Janet and Paul, Carl, Andy, Kevin, Chris and Dean, and of course our main man Trev something would have gone wrong. But it didn’t. Thank you all for making the day possible, and a huge thank you to everyone that came out that evening in support.
That morning Bob and I had woken at 4.00 and neither of us could get back to sleep. Like two excited schoolboys on Christmas Eve. When everyone arrived and donned their forever 13 shirts it brought a lump to the throat. For so many friends and family to make such an effort to support and be with us was humbling, very humbling!
The cycling that day was neither testing, nor particularly interesting, save for the odd moment. Cycling past first Kenilworth Castle and then Warwick Castle was fun but only when you have cycled through some of the best terrain that this country has to offer do you realise how plain parts of Oxfordshire can be. But the real focus of the day was about caring and support, fun and achievement, friendship and love. On those fronts it was a resounding success.
Our first feed station was on the edge of Chesterton Wood, 32 miles in and our second at Deddington Fire Station, the 50 mile mark. From there, bar a couple of small lumps in the first few miles the route is surprising downhill, all the way to the Thames. Once through the bike unfriendly City of Oxford the job was as good as done and Bob and I and a few of our riders cycled from Tilsley Park with school children from Kingfisher and Rush Common Schools to Abingdon FS where the day finished with a wonderful bbq and hugs and kisses all round.
Our guest of honour for the day Jack (Bobs youngest) presented the medals.
So what were the worst moments. On the evening before we departed for John O’Groats Julie gave me some cards, with instructions to open them when the going got tough. I opened them the day after I got back! I won’t deny that it was tough, that would be crass, and besides if there wasn’t some element of difficulty anyone could do it. But never at any stage did I feel particularly low, and certainly never desperate. I felt weary on a number of occasions not least on the morning of the 10th day, but Owens cheery disposition, and his willingness to do the donkey work that day turned what could have been a long day into an enjoyable one. So thank you Owen.
Most useful item packed: (apart from the obvious bike) My hot/cold gel pack, portable power storage and Sudacreme. Bob also agreed that the portable power storage was high on the most useful items. It helped us keep in touch. For Trev he was unequivocal, his road map. Not sat nav but a physical tangible map, where you could look at and consider the options. Not just be told where to go.
Least useful: Still the swimming trunks for me. Really, whatever possessed me. Bob simply packed too many clothes, a common problem.
So, there we have it. A wonderful experience that will remain with us for a long time if not for ever. A fitting tribute to a young lad whose life was never able to fully blossom but whose light continues to shine and to the benefit of others.
Thank you for all the support and love and to everyone that has sponsored us, helped us, waved us on, and shared our ups and downs. It is not too late to sponsor us if you still wish.
And finally. That badass story (whatever badass means). Bob and I have a claim to fame (more infamy really) having both featured in the Guinness Book of Records ……….. for being sent off during a rugby match on the 26th December 1982! Nothing remarkable about that you say, save for the fact that 28 others were sent off with us at the same time.
You will have done the maths, and yep, both teams were dismissed in their entirety. A first at the time and without going into the detail it was all Bob’s fault! He started it!
He’s mellowed with age and turned out to be a cracking chap and a great cycling companion to boot. Dale would be very proud of his dad.