August 22, 2007
I have with your help far exceeded my initial £1,000 target and in cold hard cash have raised a total of £2,842 which when gift aid is added will mean that in excess of £3,000 will have been raised for Guide dogs.
Many thanks once again
July 31, 2007
So to conclude this epic adventure and after a period of reflection, I have put together below my highlights from the Jogle and also a short bit about what worked and what didn't and in some cases what I would have done differently with hindsight.
Highlights (in no particular order as all the "good" TV shows seem to say):
1. The allround friendliness of all the people I met on the way, especially those owners of B&Bs who welcomed a weary traveller with such openness and genuine care, the guys I met in the various youth hostels, and in particular those who shared their meal with me at John O Groats when all I had was a meagre few bits of Pasta acquired from the Hostel because the local shop was shut. Special mention must go to Sheila at Bromyard and the guys at Higher Trezion in Camelford
2. The amazing feeling of seeing the sea again just shy of Camelford for the first time since I had left it behind in the far north of Scotland and realising I was close to fulfilling a long held ambition.
3. The Scenery:
From the Highlands of Scotland, Loch Ness and Loch Lomond, and the view looking back down Glencoe,
From the Lowlands, the tree tunnels in the rain above Dumfries and the beauty of the area around Stair,
From the North of England, Carlisle, the border sign just after Gretna, Ullswater, the view back down Kirkstone pass towards Patterdale and the view forward ,looking over Windermere, and in its own peculiar way the beauty of the Runcorn bridge.
From the middle of England, the towns of Shrewsbury, and Ledbury, the peculiar racecourse, golf course arrangement at Ludlow and the views of the Cotswolds.
From the South of England, Bath, the view after climbing for what seemed liked miles over Wells, Glastonbury and beyond, the beauty of the Sea around St Ives, and of course the sight of Land End.
4. The comic moments, such as the looks I got in Tescos at Wick as I strode in for breakfast avec plastic carrier bag overshoes, The fording of numerous streams in the same overshoes with feet in mid air, hoping I made it to the other side, my arrival in Bath to be greeted with 56 stairs to climb to my room, and my near death experience with a golf ball at Launceston or the time somewhere around Tiverton where I passed a sign saying 4 miles to go and then having crossed a bridge that was about 50ft across passing a sign proclaiming 1 1/2 miles to go.
5. All the wildlife I saw, from the numerous buzzards, hawks , herons, etc, to the rabbits, foxes, stoats and various other short legged animals which crossed my path, to the various assorted tourists of which I was one.
6. The feeling of achievement when I conquered Glencoe and in particular Kirkstone Pass.
7. watching the boats go through the lock at the Caledonian canal in Fort Augustus.
8. And inevitably being greeted by my family at Lands End
What worked from the planning:
1. The booking of the accommodation in advance helped enormously as it gave me the chance to have a definite goal each day and I didn't have to find accommodation at the end of each day. (It was still possible to be flexible - Glencoe being a great instance).
2. Booking the train tickets as early as possible (especially from Inverness to Thurso as there are only 2 bike spaces on each train).
3. The individual maps of each day culled from the largest road atlases I could find, on the whole worked well, though they did lack detail in the major town centres.
4. The amount of kit I took - basically two sets of clothes and a set for the evenings, also the one essential tool was the roll of gaffer tape.
5. Apart from two small problems with signal, using my phone as camera and blogging device worked fine (though you do need someone able to post it for you).
6. The trial days fully laden within training (especially the one were I spent all day in the rain climbing Holme moss and Snake pass) proved invaluable experience and motivational proof that I could cope.
1. Using large scale maps in town centres and in particular entering a town and stopping to sight see or eat as all sense of direction is easily lost.
2. The route using the Runcorn bridge, although practical and can be done, is not a pleasant experience and there is no hiding place from the traffic, nor did there appear to be an alternative route using quieter roads.
3. Pushing lunch further back in the day because you don't feel you are as far on as you should be! The day I pushed on to Stroud instead of lunching at a sensible time in Gloucester is a good example where my legs had had enough shortly afterwards just because I hadn't refueled appropriately.
4. On my daily maps etc I didn't note how far I expected the days ride to be, so in some instances particularly early on I had no idea whether I was near to the finish or not ( eventually I managed to be able to roughly stadge that my map pocket on my bar bag was about 10 miles across and work it out from there).
So what did I learn from this experience, when you think that I expected it to test me to the limit, give me time to think about the future, and prove to be a big adventure of the kind schoolkids everywhere dream about.
Well it did test me, physically cycling for 70 ish miles a day is not easy especially over hill and dale and at time and time my language as I "encouraged" myself to climb those big hills at the end of the day was somewhat colourful. The splitting of the ride into stages helped, though towards the end I was tiring and to some degree fed up with riding each day.
I have however proved that I am relatively fit as most days I covered the ride in a reasonable 8 hrs or less and was able to get up and do the same thing again the day after.
I've also proved that I can read a road map and successfully negotiate this country of ours safely.
I did find that it was a great adventure, and that the people I met along the way were genuinely interested in what I was doing despite in some circumstances having a very hard time of it themselves. I also noticed that in some senses you can if you wish travel the country almost unnoticed, and as such there is no wonder there are so many "missing" people in the country.
I would say that I didn't have time to ponder my future or anything else as at 70 miles a day you have time to ride , eat and at the end of the day, find something to eat and then sleep.
So if you want to do the ride and see a little more of the country and you are unsupported, take a little longer so your mileage per day is a little less.
One thing I learnt was that when you are travelling and you see a "big " hill in the distance don't worry too much as generally the gradient is far less than you think when you actually get there.
I also learnt that if you seem to be climbing for mile after mile, very soon the inevitable downhill will appear and then your legs will get chance to rest for a while.
I found I had a few basic golden rules which I generally stuck to and they stood me in good stead, firstly have a good breakfast, then stock up on snacks for the day at the nearest shop and for me I ensured I had a larger snack, flapjack or the like every hours riding and something smaller ( a biscuit or piece of fruit )every half hour along with a short stop for lunch, though getting started again after lunch was always a problem if I stopped for more than 30 mins. I then finished every day with a bottle of lucazade sport or the like.Also try and stop for lunch around your normal lunch hour which for me is between 1 and 2pm.
Some days inevitably you feel tired, and don't seem to be getting anywhere fast, just accept it and after a few hours you will come out of the other side, and remember if you have had a particularly bad day, because this is such a long ride, tomorrow inevitably will be totally different.
Remember the sun cream, you will have seen from my blog that even though most of the country has almost drowned under flood water I seemed to dodge the bulk of the rain and when you add the wind over Caithness you will almost inevitably get burnt (especially the tops of your ears) if not appropriately protected.
Would I do it again? you can never say never, but it may be a while,
Should you do it as a solo adventure? well as with everything if you can cope with your own company for a fortnight and have the support of everyone around you then it's fine and I found that side of things never bothered me. At times it would have been good to have someone to drag me over those hills or to the end of the day, but choose your partner(s) well and stick together to make life easier for all of you.
So that's just about all I have to say, other than if you are reading this and are thinking of doing the ride and want to ask me anything please do, and I'll try and respond fairly promptly
To finish I would like to thank very sincerely all those who have supported me in any way upon this great adventure, from those of you who have helped raise the sponsorship, to the people along the way and of course most of all to my top team and family who without their support and belief in me this whole thing would not have been possible.
I am deeply indebted to you all
July 23, 2007
Final stats 19.85 miles 2.17.20hrs 8.6mph 30.0mph total miles end to end 1009.7 total time 110:08:22 with no punctures.
...or so we hear!
Reports have been circulating of a man cycling into the sea at Lands End and disappearing into the distance. Rest assured that this was not 'the snake' and that he has successfully completed his mission.
As is always the case the final piece of the jigsaw has disappeared and in this case the blame rests squarely at the hands of the mobile phone operators who have yet had sufficient request for coverage in and around Lands End. Our request for the Racing Snake to 'get on his bike' were met with what could only be described as a 'tirade' and as such the saddle sore hombre will be posting his final part later today.