Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Day 12 - What have you done today?

What have you done today to make you feel proud?
It's never too late to try
What have you done today to make you feel proud?

You could be so many people
If you make that break for freedom
What have you done today to make you feel proud?
Heather Small

954 miles down / 0 to go
48,647 feet of climbs, equivalent to 167% of Mount Everest (at 29,096 feet)
78 hours, 9 minutes, 15 seconds

A strange feeling at the beginning of the day, I haven't got much of an appetite. A mix of apprehension and excitement turns my stomach as we load the bikes on to Brendon's car for the final time, somehow i feel sad we're doing everything for the last time, but every part of me cannot wait until this is over!

The 15 mile drive to Brora, where we finished last night, is a quiet one, silent contemplation of the day ahead, some mental preparation. Odd really as it will be our shortest ride by far, a breeze compared to everything else that has gone before.

There's a few people gathered to see us off, Mum, Chris and Rob gather round to take pictures and very soon, we're off!

I can't really remember the first 10 miles now, it was very 'up and down' I know that much, progress was painfully slow as I wished and willed the miles to count through more quickly on my Garmin.

I start thinking about the last stage of the Tour de France. The winner is effectively decided on the penultimate stage, the final stage is more a procession, am easy saunter up the Champs Élysées.

At about 12 miles Mum and Chris pass us just after a roundabout. We can see a huge climb stretch out ahead which then bears right and climbs still further. There's one thing I've learnt to accept over the last few days is LEJOG isn't going to roll over and have its tummy tickled, we're going to have to fight every step of the way. We climb nearly 800 feet into thick fog, it's hard going, it begins to rain.

The fog is a bit of a worry, visibility is severely reduced, the prospect of it all ending early due to a careless, hurried driver is all too real, and seeing how things went yesterday, it's all too realistic.  We carry along the top to the hill for sometime before a steep descent followed by another steep and winding climb.

The support crew catch up with us just after the summit and it's a good time to adjust our light and put on waterproofs, the rain has now picked up as has the cold wind. Lovely for August!  Brendon and I are quite relieved to had the team follow is for the next 5 miles through the fog!

The support crew push on and we then knuckle down over the next 7 miles to the final feed stop of LEJOG - beef and horseradish sandwiches await! 

With all the major hill climbs out of the way Brendin and I can really go for it on the final 32 miles and we average something like 18 mph.  I'd be lying if I didn't find the final push emotional, occasional waves hit me, Heather Small strikes up her lyrics every now and again, images of Lisa and my dad play through my mind as do images of the epic journey and the moments we've had.

All these thoughts seem to push me on, in fact, we go so fast we get to the finish line ahead of the support crew! Luckily everyone rallies around shortly after and we can take some pics.

So, this is nearly it for our little adventure, we've done the cycling, there's a long journey (in Herbie Swift) to return home and then things will start to get back to normal, I'll be able to sit comfortably on my bum, Carla will stop force feeding me porridge, Helen will stop getting our journal stamped at campsites and you and I will no longer share this dialogue.

I'll certainly miss sharing these thoughts with you, the highs and the lows. It's been fantastic having you along for the ride with me, it's felt to me as though you've been pushing me along when I've struggled, so a heartfelt thankyou from me for that. I've enjoyed having you as my riding buddy!

I hope I have inspired you in some way, and if I have, whatever challenge it is that you plan to face, let me know, I'd love to hear about it and cheer you on to your success. It may well be tough, but just think of me, an ordinary guy who picked up a bike and just went for it, I'm the living proof that you need that it is possible - so go for it, make yourself proud.

Happy cycling and all my love