Now finally have some time to reflect on what I've achieved now for the third year running & had the same enjoyment I've had over previous years & must thank Carole for driving, Neal, Rae & Si for their riding company. We had at least one really good deep belly laugh everyday & will miss their company.
We were so lucky with the weather, it rained for 1 day between Gretna & Kilmarnock. This was the severe weather warning we rode through, with gail force winds & localised flooding. We were cycling up one particular hill & I was following Si, his bike was leant over to about 60 degrees just to prevent the wind from blowing him across the road. All I could hear was Rae giggling to himself behind me!!
Day 1 started well, we left Lands End in glorious weather, which did stay with us nearly all the way. There were no dramas to report on day 1 & how we all loved the climb to the hotel at St Austell. It's about a 3 mile climb & is so steep in places when you push down on the pedal the front wheel comes off the ground. My pulse reached 102% of my maximum
Day 2 is the hardest of all the days & includes the lengthy 17 mile climb onto Dartmoor. It's energy sapping, you get a build up of lactic acid in your legs & your thighs are on fire. It was this day that the Zen Art of Banzai started. Rules are simple, you creep up on another ride & go passed them at speed & scream Banzai in their ears. If they jump you win. Very childish, but keep the interest going & more importantly from a safety factor meant you were looking behind you more often to see who's creeping up on you. Didn't stop me being the victim of a 3 man drive by banzaing though!!. Just before the climb one of my spoke loosened it's self & Si managed to straighten the wheel a little to enable me to get over Dartmoor. The cry of 'Woodpecker' was heard as we passed over the cattle grids (Email me if you want to know why!). Finished in Exeter this day
Day 3 started with the rather flat boring days up the East side of England. There were a few hills, but nothing compared to the savage hills of Dartmoor. This is where I chased Neal down for about 3 miles to Banzai him, I was doing almost 30 mph when I caught him & managed to capture the moment on my headcam. This days has probably the worst climb of all, the step mile one to Bristol Airport. Killer!!
Day 4 was another flat day. We worked as a train, with one person on the front for a few miles & then they peel off to the rear & the number 2 takes over. We covered 40 miles in a little under 2 hours doing this & there wasn't much time for Banzaing!! Neal & Si did pass me & both squirted their waterbottles into my face. Neal didn't laugh so much when I emptied almost a whole bottle of drink into his right ear!! We finished at Worcester.
Day 5 was another flat & fast day, where nothing much happened, we stayed in Crewe
Day 6 we were joined by Si's Uncle Pete, who cycled in the last 35 miles with us to Lancaster, a real gentleman & nice bloke. Again another flat & fast day.
Day 7 was the day I threw my teddies out of the pram. I have the route programmed into my satnav so lead the way out of Lancaster & through the back roads until Kendal. The others followed me in a train for about 6 or 7 miles. We then reached the dual carriageway & I dropped to the back. My downfall was my pulse was at 95% as I did this & I needed time to recover. However when you get to the front your immediate reaction is to speed up, which Neal did (you do it unintentionally). I then spent about 2 miles trying to breach the 60 yard gap that the others had on me & couldn't. I was so pissed off by this that I then embarked on a 70 mile solo break for Gretna in Scotland. I powered my way up the legendary climb of Shap Pass & reached Gretna. I had passed Carole checking into the hotel as I had gone through Carlisle, so I knew or thought she would be there the meet me...... wrong!! Si had suffered a mechanical & she had gone back to him with the spare bike. Nice a 16 mile solo ride back to the hotel!!
Day 8 What a difference a day makes, we had fantastic weather all week & my good the BBC got it right with their sever weather warning for Scotland. We left Gretna in our train into a strong headwind, with torrential rain. Out came the sealskinz socks & waterproof overshoes!! The wind was by far the worst aspect. It's just energy sapping continually trying to fight with the bike as side winds are pounding you. As I mentioned earlier Si was leaning over to about 60 degrees just to be able to cycle forward!! We stopped in a one horse town for lunch & when we came out the sun had almost come out. This stopped about 2 miles down the road when the hail storm started & Neal & I sort sanctuary behind a road sign to get some cover. Had a great meal with Christine & Stu in Kilmarnock..... thanks guys!!
Day 9 We cycled through the country lanes to Glasgow, across the Erskine Bridge & onto the highlands of Scotland. My left knee was suffering & I told the others to go & I would make my own way, which I did getting to the end some 10 mins behind them.
Day 10 We went over the highlands of Scotland, still with a strong side wind. I had told them all about the fast 6 mile descent off Glen Coe & how much we were all looking forward to it. We breached the apex of the climb & about to start our descent & straight into a bloody headwind where we had to pedal to go downhill..... what's that all about???
Day 11 We left Fort Augustus & cycled about 4 miles along Loch Ness (no didn't see her!) & the road was shut. A lorry had overturned & caught fire shedding it's load all over the road. We managed to blag our way through the police cordon & were off!!! We decided to make as much progress as possible to be able to have a relatively short last day. We stopped at Golspie only leaving us 68 miles on the last day!!
Day 12 We were blessed with a tail wind & after we had climbed Helmsdale & Berriedale the rest was a breeze. We arrived at John O'Groats at about 4pm. Carole drenched us with champagne which wasn't the only alcohol we had that day!!
Great fun as always & to wind down I cycles 104 miles 2 days after we finished with my dear friend Nikki!!