Sunday, 10 August 2014

The Last Post


How are you?  All good I hope.

Well, it's finally here, my last ever LEJOG post, and it's been a journey, hasn't it.  I'm glad I had you along for the ride.  Firstly I should update you on the final day of the LEJOG adventure before I conclude on the journey as a whole.

The Final Day
It was great to wake up on the Thursday morning with nothing to do, the lingering threat of another lycra clad day had faded along with the fog and pouring rain the night before.  There was time for a leisurely breakfast (12 pieces for £6!) before we all said our goodbyes and made our way from John O'Groats to home - the SatNav read 750 miles to go!

Carla and Helen shared the driving as Rob and I provided entertainment from the back (after a quick post-breakfast snooze).  It was strange seeing all of the miles unravel so fast, day 10 then day 9 were quickly reversed as we stared out of the window at the fantastic Highlands countryside.  I guess at this point you might expect me to say that I felt sad it was all over or perhaps a feeling of anticlimax, but I didn't, it was just an overwhelming sense of relief, like a weight that had been sitting on me for the last 6 months had been removed.  The responsibility of the ride felt heavy and had weighed on me for some time, I was worried that my body would give up on me (particularly my knee or latterly, my achillies), so I was really pleased to have completed what I set out to do, for earning the generous support and sponsorship we had been given and for the first time in a long time, I felt I could properly relax.  Mission Completed!

I must pay tribute to Carla and Helen, not only were they fantastic during LEJOG, running around after us, making food, cleaning up, doing this, doing that, they barely got a minute to themselves and at the end of it all, they drove for 16 hours to get us back home in the early hours of Friday morning.  Quite simply amazing - this tune is for them!

So from the vantage point of John O'Groats, looking back over the last six months, what was running through my thoughts?  How do I sum up the ride of our lives?  Was it as we expected?

I can tell you, unequivocally, it was incredibly tough.  I put in so much training, many 100 mile cycle rides that went very well, but nothing prepared me for some of the physical torment I would suffer.  Having to stand and cycle for the first few miles of several legs because I was too tough and stiff to sit and pedal was incredible. I'd suffered cramps before in the past, but the amazing pains I would suffer in my quads that made it almost impossible to turn my legs over.  The soreness and stiffness in both of my achillies that meant I staggered and limped on the rest day in Inverary.  None of these pains and aches were as I anticipated, they were more severe and I was scared they may put a premature end to the adventure.

You could be forgiven for thinking that with two people smiling down on us the road would be a little easier, a little flatter, a little kinder, but it wasn't.  An accident on day one, huge hills in the early days, driving rain and wind in the latter stages and thick menacing fog on the last day, LEJOG didn't roll over for us, we had to earn it, every single mile, every single foot of climbing.  I'm glad we did, the pain and the hardship made it a worthwhile challenge, it was a genuine test, it was worthy.  I'm delighted and relieved we overcame it.

There are a few more strands to the story than that though.  One of the things the utterly blew me away was the amazing support we had.  I never thought cycling for several hours a day would generate much interest, but the amount of people who got behind us which helped us on our way was truly great, from messages and donations through to joining us for part of the ride or for a few days, it was incredible and it really gave us a great lift.  You'll probably not appreciate how much you helped us keep those pedals turning, it really did help.

The fog on the final day!

My first blog of the actual ride was titled 'Day 1 is for disasters and demoralising' or something along those lines.  It was a tough day, hot, hilly, long and of course we had an accident at the end and finished the day in the dark.  Brendon and I spent a fair bit of time feeling sorry for ourselves, we managed to pick ourselves up and keep going, but it we bemoaned our bad luck.  It wasn't until we reached Knutsford and had my bike checked over in the local bike shop that we were given a different perspective by the bike shop mechanic. He was amazed that we were not in hospital, the damage done to Brendon's bike was terrible, that sort of damage isn't done easily, it takes a very big impact.  We'd spent so much time feeling terrible about the accident, we just didn't appreciate the good fortune we had to both be physically OK and to have only damaged one of the bikes - we were lucky to be able to carry on, so perhaps two people were smiling down on us all along.....

Finally I would just like to thank some of our sponsors:

  • Marquis Motorhomes - we had an amazing time in Herbie Swift, a cracking campervan, plenty of power and a great base.  Waking over the shores of Loch Fyne was fantastic, a really memorable experience and we were sad to hand Herbie back.  No wonder Marquis are the biggest, they certainly were the best!
  • Decathalon Bolton - our printed cycle tops were quality, we really looked the part in them, brilliant.

Happy cycling