We've made it....
Updated: Jan 6
We cannot quite believe it.
Today's ride was the most challenging of any ride on the course to date. We had to tackle the Berriedale Braes. It was like going up a shorter Shap Fell four times over, one long, enormous, 13% gradient hill after another. The prayers you sent up to the Weather Gods worked however. Heavy rain was forecast from 9.00am but it did not materialise and we had 37 rain-free, beautiful miles with the wind behind us. We managed to get up all the Braes, and realised how much stronger we have become since we started. They would have defeated us earlier on in the trip. The rain did arrive for the last 16 or so miles but we were so hyped and excited about arriving that when it did we did not notice it. Our ride today was the fastest of all the course to date. Exhilarating.
So, we have cycled 991 miles, climbed 41,392ft of hills and seen the length of mainland Britain. We have passed through the most amazing and beautiful countryside that tourists never see. It has been the hardest and yet most fulfilling experience ever.
We have learned that we can cope with levels of adversity that would normally have cracked us, and that when you have no choice but to go forward that is what you do. We have grown closer together through sharing the many experiences we have encountered where one of us have had to support the other and many times have had cause to each feel proud of the other.
We have hopefully shown that us oldies have life in us yet!
Bob and I cycling into John'O Groats.....
You can hear the ferocity of the wind as you play the video!
Shirley and John were, of course, there to greet us, become the official photographers and to open a bottle of Kent sparkling wine (Chapel Down) to celebrate. It was an emotional and wonderful moment.
There have been so many highlights for us. Cycling the shoulder of Bodmin Moor; cycling through the wild, bleak and uncompromising landscape of the Grampians; the wonderful Scottish cycleways which allowed us to finally get up some speed; crossing the Firth of Forth bridge; the many people we have met on the way and the kindness of strangers the length of the country. Apart from the weather, cycling in Scotland has been a joy.
The low points were, without doubt, the terrible canal paths. We strongly believe that they should not form any part of a lejog route. They were undoubtedly beautiful in part, but were unrideable and dangerous to cycle. They were demoralising. The stop/start nature of the locks and bridges slowed us down immeasurably. Had we cycled on the roads all the way we would have reached John O Groats a week earlier. Similarly, many of the English cycle trails were again demoralising. The calming barriers every couple of miles were a nightmare to try and get our heavily packed bikes through and many of the surfaces were unfit for road bikes. Again, they slowed our progress badly. Whoever is responsible for the cycling trails in England needs to learn from Scotland. By contrast, the cycleways in Scotland were perfect. The barriers could be easily crossed and the surfaces superb.
Day’s Mileage: 52.33m Total mileage to date: 991.45m
Day’s climbing: 2,602ft Total climbing to date 41,392ft
So, at last, some thanks…
Firstly, thanks to our wonderful bikes which have taken everything this course has thrown at them. They have coped with 41,392ft of hill climbing over 991miles; taken on surfaces that would have challenged the most wide-tyred mountain bikes; coped with more weight than any bike should have to carry and they haven’t complained once. Everyone at Oxygen should feel justifiably proud of them. Thanks to all of you at Oxygen,— John and Valerie, Mark, Dale and Damien for all their help and encouragement throughout the planning stages and during the ride.
Thanks to to Shirley and John Madin. This Scottish leg has been the most demanding in terms of the weather and our overall levels of fatigue and I am not sure we would have coped without them. Just knowing they were there for us on the wild and remote hills and moors was so important. They have done everything possible to ease our journey and their friendship, help and support has meant the world to us and has enabled us to reach John O Groats.
Thanks too to all our friends who have sent messages of love and support throughout the trip and to every single person who has donated to the appeal, either with cash or books. Every message has given us a boost and has motivated us to continue. To Lisa Clifford and all the people from our dancing and zumba classes who have been keeping the Tesco bookshelves stocked in our absence and whose support from the word go has meant so much.
Thanks to Gary Moore at Wildside cycles for the terrific Retul. By adapting our bikes to fit our bodies perfectly we have had no aches or pains for the whole trip.
Thanks too to our families who have been there with us all the way. Matthew and Antoinette have been following us closely on ‘Find A Friend’ and been sending us lovely comments all the way, several times a day, that have given us such a boost. The one that made us laugh was when Matthew spotted us at a train station where we had stopped for coffee, and sent us a message asking if we were catching the train to Scotland. David and Diane who have been sending us pics of their holiday in the Baltic States of sun-filled landscapes, when we have been cold, wet and miserable. And Nick and Samantha who have been there from start to finish. Nick of course was the inspiration for this ride. He is still waiting for his transplant. We were also delighted to have caring phone calls from Tess and Michael which meant a lot, and of course from Joseph and Alana. Alana is 4yrs old and in one call she told me she had one main ambition… to go to the very, very, very top of Scotland!!
What have we most missed…
Our own beds
Zumba & Dancing
TV dramas (we have seen almost no TV at all during the trip... so tired each night we have tumbled into bed at 8.00-8.30pm each night.)
We have raised an amazing £4,318
Would we do it again?………Only on four wheels!
lots of love and our hearfelt thanks to you all.
Annette & Bob