Sunday, 27 September 2015

Lejogle

And so the ride is done. I still woke up at about 7am yesterday but I didn’t have to get up, it was strange not going out on my bike but I had other things to do. I went to the Eden Project during the day and then in the evening went to a wedding do (sitting next to the buffet came in very useful as my body will take a while to try to adjust to not having to eat twice the normal amount of calories) of a friend of my girlfriend, strangely it was in St Buryan which is a couple of miles from Land’s End.

I’m writing this while on the train back to Southampton, I’ve got to be back at work in the morning. Taking three weeks off to ride means that I don’t have any leave left for an extra day or two off. The journey was going well but then we were delayed by the driver not being here to drive the train as they were on another late running train. Luckily one of my friends has agreed to meet me at the station so I don’t have to struggle back with three bags, two spare wheels and the bike.

Anyway, back to the ride. For the last three weeks I’ve resisted passing comment on the health of my bike or of me. One reason is that there hasn’t been a lot to say and the other reason was that I didn’t want to jinx it. I’ve had no punctures and the only mechanical problems are that my front derailleur has been slightly out of alignment for the last two weeks (I’m not very good at adjusting derailleurs, so I thought it best to leave it and not make it worse, I’ve just had to be careful as the chain got stuck every so often) and that one of the wheels needs some adjustments (but I had a spare, although that was with dad in Cornwall when I really wanted it). The bike certainly needs a service now though. I’m fine too, I’m slightly slower than I was when I started but I still have the strength in my legs to tackle any hill (I’m surprised that I managed the last big climb on Thursday but I did). I had a few twinges over the three weeks but that might just be that I thought that there should be some and they soon went away. The worst that I got was when driving back from Land’s End and I got a pain in my shin from holding my foot on the accelerator.

The lack of punctures is very good as I certainly rode over plenty of glass (I wasn’t trying to, it’s just not always easy to see until it’s too late). I had a few punctures last year and put a big hole in one tyre, so in January I bought some tyres which should be more puncture resistant. The front tyre is still the original one (it’s done over 8,000 miles now but still has enough rubber left, I checked it most days) and I had to change the rear one in August. I’ve only had one puncture this year and that wasn’t caused by anything come in through the tyre. They might be £60 a pair, but they’ve saved me so much in time and inner tubes.

I popped over to see my dad today and to take him a present, he’s looking refreshed. I had underestimated how tiring the trip would be for him. I think that it didn’t get off to the best start with the puncture that he got only 25 miles in and so by the time he got to Taunton he was exhausted. I was full of energy that day, I think the Swiss roll I ate after I arrived might have helped there, it was lucky that there was no ceiling to bounce off. By the end we both used to have a rest before putting up the tent and it took us longer and longer to get ready in the morning.

The weather was generally good. I’d been watching the long range forecasts in the weeks leading up to the ride and it had been looking like the first week would be OK, the second would be bad and then it would start to improve again. I think that the weather was reasonable, it could have been a lot worse (I think my dad might disagree with Mr there). I would have liked it to be dry every day and warmer but you can’t get everything. We did have some very wet days, the Saturday riding along the A9 to Alvie was the worst and there were a couple of wet days in the last week. Part of the problem was that, in order to keep costs down and because the motorbike couldn’t just be parked on the road or a car park, we camped every night. We therefore didn’t have a reliable way to dry our shoes and gloves. My mum was also a little shocked by the smell of my towel, I’m not sure it ever dried out completely while I was away.

When setting the route I used Google to check the distances between campsites and that there wasn’t too much climbing. Luckily Google seemed to overestimate the distance and so only two days made it over 100 miles. Unfortunately it underestimated the climbing (it’s probably that my more direct route took in more hills). I was expecting to do just under 60,000ft but on the end I did 84,079ft (that’s 15.92 miles!).

If you look at the photos from Land’s End and John O'Groats you will see that they both say that it’s 874 miles between the two (back in 2009, for some reason, they showed different distances), I didn’t manage to do a route to match them though. The distance up to John O'Groats was 889.4 miles and the distance back was 895.1 miles, a total distance of 1,784.5 miles.

Over the last couple of weeks the sponsorship has been slowly increasing and on Friday there was a sudden increase. I hadn’t set a target but wanted to raise more than I did when I went one way in 2009, that happened on Thursday and since then, and with me completing the ride, I the amount has increased significantly. Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me. I had been trying to thank everyone either in person are by email, but I lost track before I even set off. I will email everyone to say thank you very soon (please don’t feel offended if you don’t get a personal thank you). I know from meeting Donna at Age UK on Friday how grateful they are to receive the money.

Of course the biggest thank you is to my dad. Without him I wouldn’t have managed to do the ride. He went through so much in order that I could get to John O'Groats and back and didn’t give up even when the motorbike broke.
Dad was asked what he would do now that he’s back. As I thought it would be, the reply was that he’d be fixing the motorbike. He has a lot of work to be done.

Although he’s not to do with my charities, little Pudsey has been with me throughout the ride with all but one day in my pocket. I’ve got so used to him being there that I wondered what I’d done with him earlier and then realised that he’s still in my pocket. He was only lent to me but I’ve become too attached to him, thank you Karen for letting me keep him (and happy birthday), he’ll sit on my desk and remind me of these last three weeks.

I thought that I’d show a few of my favourite (or memorable, the broken down bike isn’t really a favourite memory) photos that I’ve posted in the three weeks and a couple which I haven’t posted before.

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