Finished at last!

Finished at last!
The whole team plus Paul who had just walked it in 66 days!

White Horse Riders

White Horse Riders
John O'Groats here we come!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Homeward bound - Inverness to Southwater via Maplehurst!

It's now Tuesday and we are back home, safe and sound. Sunday evening was a great chance to get together over a delicious Indian meal in Inverness. We were all pretty tired for one reason or another. The cyclists had 857 reasons to be a bit tired. Our supporters had made a marathon effort to get up to the edge of nowhere (John O'Groats). None the less we enjoyed a companionable evening before heading back for a relatively early night. Except Beth, of course! She had to update her blog and seems to find late night the best time to do so.
Here's a snap of the crowd in the bar at our Inverness hotel. (Now I am home my pc seems to be allowing uploading of photos in text which it didn't whilst we were away).
We were up at our usual time for breakfast but not dolled up in lyra and leggings today! Beth, John and I were to travel home in the campervan with the bikes and luggage. Alex, David and Simon had a rainy morning in Inverness to endure before their flight home. Chris, Alex, Roxanne and Jo were heading off at 6.30am for the long drive south from their hostel round the corner from us. So we said goodbye to the guys, tucked ourselves up in our van and headed off for the 12hour trip. Beth and I enjoyed recognising various points from our previous couple of days cycling. Great to see it from the warmth and speed of the van. After we de-toured from our route John and I spotted various highlights from his trip last year! I am very pleased that John and I will both have an End-to-End certificate. Who'd have thought that I would accomplish a physical feat to match his? Ok, so he did it quicker but it still counts! His 'n' hers certs, how sweet!
Not much to say about the drive home. John did his usual 'in the zone' trick where he prefers to do all the driving himself. Beth and I dozed, read and generally chilled out for what turned out to be 11 hours. Soon we were rolling into Maplehurst and Beth and I wondered would the pub have put up a celebratory balloon for us? Shame on us for even doubting them! Anne had made a fabulous banner welcoming the whole team and the pub was decorated with 'Welcome Home' balloons.

Lots of regulars came along to say hello and welcome back. Alex brought over Finn to make a fuss of us before he went back to spend one last night at Yew Cottage.  Once I saw the massive map of the UK that they had on the wall with markers for each leg of our journey it kind of started to really hit home what we had achieved. And what incredible support we'd had along the way. Aw, thanks guys!
John gave Alex, Beth and David their belongings from the van and we had a couple of drinks before heading home in a taxi. We left the party to continue and hear that a great time was had by all.
Oh it was good to be back in my own bed, so good! And the bonus is that I don't seem to be too sore, achey or stiff....just a little tired but that is to be expected.
It has been one heck of an adventure from the first thought that I'd like to do it, right through the training and then the awesome ride itself. I will write a retrospective in a week or so once I have unpacked and had chance to settle in again.
I want to once again thank all of you who have read this blog, commented, sent lovely emails and texts and voicemails. Especial thanks to those who felt they wanted to donate to the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team over in Snowdonia. Whatever we might have achieved this past fortnight, these women and men really are unsung heroes. They work day and night to help people in difficulty on the mountain all without pay. If you haven't already, please donate whatever you can via the justgiving page ( or by calling me on 07917 861604.
Thanks again for popping by.......hugs to all x

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Day 16 Wick to John O'Groats 16 miles!!!!!

Last night we had a lovely meal in Mackays Hotel (like Agent Alex's surname!) which is on the shortest road in the world apparently. Ebenezer Street. We repaired to the bar for a modest couple of drams to set us up for the last push this morning. We were all eager to get going so we left early for the first time ever I believe. We had a lovely meandering ride up to JOG, waving and cheering all the hardy souls just setting out on their own journey to Lands End.  The scenery combined with the weather was just spectacular. Huge skies and desolate farmland. Amazing. Only Alex had a camera with him during this part of the trip so he had full responsibility for the capturing of the beauty. I think he did us proud. All of us but Beth were keeping an eye out for Simon going past in a hire car. She had no idea he was joining us. I saw him and when I mentioned to Trusty I had spotted him he said it couldn't be him because John had said 'they' were already at JOG. I was a bit nonplussed but assumed it wasn't Chris or Alex as they had phoned me last night from the Lintot pub in Southwater.
Anyway we had a couple of 'upflats' to negotiate and I can honestly say I think none of us really felt them! We arrived at the first sign of John O'Groats so quickly and stopped for a photo op. None of us seemed keen to hurtle into the finish straight, just ambling along enjoying the delicious feeling of finishing our epic trip. But we arrived soon enough to be met by John. No sooner had he taken our photos than I turned around to see Chris, Alex, Roxanne and Jo! They had driven up from home to meet us! Wow! What a fantastic surprise. And there was one for Beth too when she saw Simon coming across the carpark. So there was much celebrating, photographing and happiness abounding. John surprised us all with trophies for each of us!
I have never had a trophy before and am dead chuffed! Had a quick coffee and headie off as it was cold. Beth, David and Simon gave a lift to fellow LeJogger Paul who had walked the whole way! We got to Inverness in a couple of hours and here we are! Going out for dinner tonight. I will blog more in the next day or two when I get home. Thanks once again to all the good wishes. We are hoping to be in the White Horse tommoro evening if you are in the area!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Day 15 - Golspie to Wick 50miles

For anybody reading both Beth's and my blogs I would like to point out a) I wrote my blog yesterday afternoon before we hit the bar! And b) I went to bed way before everyone else after a moderate alcohol intake!!!! Seems I missed a good time tho. I am just not as able to cycle when 'fragile' as the rest of the team! It didn't stop everyone being up and at 'em early and Trusty discovered my tyre had a slow puncture. So himself and John wrangled with that for a while. John took off in the van determined to join us for the last leg of today's ride. We had some dastardly plans to take a different route from him so we wouldn't have to try and keep up with him on the last leg. But that wouldn't have been nice, would it? So we tootled off and did have a couple of lumps to climb. The first was a long long slow climb which took me about 20mins. I could have gone quicker but I wanted to do it and not be out of breath. Which I accomplished. This new saddle is working a treat. The Spiderflex was just not up to the job in hand and I should have just bitten the bullet and trained with the normal one. Hindsight is great isn't it? Maybe for our next ride? Trip across America has been mooted for anyone thinking of joining us! Oh and my new big ring is helping. (Thanks for your comment Col, Slack Alice is no more!).
So we then came across a real sharp climb (13%) leading to a long draggy up bit. But poley poley won the day and the views on the way up were worth it. We'd way over ridden our usual coffee break stop so we made a pit stop at a Spar shop for a snack though I couldn't eat. Which made the next few miles hard work for me. It is important to keep re-fuelling on trips like this and today I didn't and it showed! Luckily we hadn't far to go to catch up with John where he'd parked up at a hotel. We had a nice lunch and then took off with John in front, as is his way on these legs! Not surprisingly the last  15miles sped by! Before long we were freewheeling into Wick with only 18 miles left to cover tommoro. And, in theory, this should be  a breeze.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Day 14 Beauly to Golspie 49miles

It was fab to see James, Cathy, lovely smiley Kiera and visiting twitcher Gayle last night. And just as we were saying goodbye to them a bagpipe and drum band marched doon the road! It was like it was arranged just for the tourists! Fabulous.
We set off today at a fine pace, no great climbs to anticipate. Just the busy road and occasional head on winds to slow us down. But we cracked on and in no time at all (it seemed) made it to Tain, home of Glenmorangie Whiskey. We stopped in a lovely cafe for lunch and John hot-pedalled it from Golspie to meet us. Although we love to see him, it does strike a note of trepidation in some hearts as he has very fresh very capable leg muscles and pushes us on at a rate and a half! We are a much tighter bunch of cyclists after two weeks of riding together. Good road sense (most of the time!), drafting when the need arises. Anticipating when those amongst us need to pee/photograph/get off new saddle! After we left Tain we headed straight out into the head wind for a while. Phew, it is simply exhausting riding into a wind. I couldn't keep up with John to draft even at 8mph. Luckily we were soon over that bit and a lot of down hill followed. We made it here to the hotel by 2.30pm which sounds like we did nothing all day! But it is great to have a break. Penultimate day tommoro! Can't quite get my head around it!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Day 13 - Spean Bridge - Beauly 52miles

This morning we spent some time chatting to the local Highlanders (see photo). They appreciated our left over breakfast toast! So we set off after the photo call and I was in fine form! Brad has had a complete overhaul including getting rid of the 'miracle' saddle! I am now riding on the more normal version which takes some getting used to but didn't slow me down. Trusty had kindly 'degunked' all the bikes so we had no excuses. And we sped along, compared to alot of the other days. The weather held out, light showers, not too much wind, sunny spells. And that glorious scenery at every twist and turn in the road. Wow, Scotland knows how to do scenery! We stopped at the little town at the head of Loch Ness, whose name completely escapes me now (6hours later). We watched the boats negotiating the lock. Had a coffee and then set off at a pace again. We were heading for the biggest climb we have left which was Dromnadrochit. It was coloured purple on our map which is higher than any we have climbed so far. We took a short break at the bottom before girding our loins for the ascent. I girded as much as I could on the new saddle but it still wasn't enough to push me up the final 100yrds! Ran out of puff and had to push Brad the rest of the way. But hey ho! Can't be helped. Alex took a break half way and when he got back on his gears locked and he fell off! Trusty did his usual good egg routine of encouraging us all (he wasn't a Captain in the military for nothing you know!). Beth slogged it up with just a brief breather on the way. Finally we were all there and relieved that....that is it! The last big hill of our entire trip. Whoppppeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!. And it was all the way downhill after that. We virtually coasted all the way down into Beauly. Found Coach who had spent the day trying to reconcile his accounts. Yes, on top of everything else he keeps all the accounts and they have been causing him some concern over the past few days. So many kitties to keep track of! But all done now.  We are now all showered and relaxing in the hotel lounge waiting for James, Cathy and baby Keira to join us for the evening. A real sense of almost there now. And so many stories to tell that haven't made it to these pages. Lots of fun, the odd fractious moment but generally very good humoured.
So today we did 52 happy miles and made it to 11mph!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Day 12- Crianlarich - Spean Bridge 62 (very windy) miles

Oh my, I am sooooooo tired, just hope I can stay awake long enough to blog this.
Had a great nights sleep with the window open listening to the howling wind and horizontal rain on and off. Not comforted by the idea of having to cycle in it but comfortably tucked up. We got up and wrapped up like mummys for the days weather which forecast rain and high winds. Are we mad? Well, I think we all know the answer to that one already! After 3miles I had to stop and strip off a layer as I was overheating! We cycled along awhile before we came across some lovely scenery again and photo stops were aplenty. We were delighted when a mammoth stag hopped over a fence, skipped across the road, turned to stare at us before leaping over another fence and heading off. One time we didn't have cameras at the ready. Anyway we started to hit some wind at about 15m in and it really did blow. Wind has to be the most  debilitating condition to cycle in. You feel like you are getting nowhere fast and mostly are! We were kind of expecting a coffee break that didn't come. I was desperate for a loo break and so cycled ahead whilst the others stopped to marvel at another amazing view. I turned the corner and saw John in the van which was a very welcome sight. He pointed us to a hotel down the road a ways and we stopped for panini, coffee and much photographing of the cheeky tame deer in the grounds. Then off we went again into the driving wind. It was one time when I would happily have given in if I'd been allowed. Luckily my cycle mates are made of sterner stuff and Trusty did a sterling job keeping us all drafting behind him. Trying to get us up to about 8miles an hour if we could! We battled on until the road eased off and we had the most amazing downhill section out of Glencoe. Incredible majestic mountains all around. We were all pretty awestruck. Pretty soon we had the wind out of the way and made good time down to Fort William where John had arranged for Brad (my bike) to get a seeing to. The gearing was playing up. I had no big ring and the other gears were dodgy. We left it with the guy in the cycle shop whilst we repaired to McD's again. An hour later and we were tackling the final 12 m to Spean Bridge. We are in a b n b, have been down to the village for a meal and are tucked up in bed and its only 9pm. In fact I did take a nap in the pub and I expect the photographic evidence will be posted on Beths blog sometime tonight!
Our next 3 days mileages are around the 50m so a big reduction to the final push into J O'G on Sunday of 17m. Wow, I can't believe it's nearly all over! Meeting up with James, Cathy and baby Keira tommoro hopefully. It'll be lovely to see them, just hope I can keep awake!
Thanks for the comments from all. I really am too tired tonight to reply but they are muchly appreciated. Specially you Chris and thanks for the donation via justgiving. Love to all x

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Day 11 - Glasgow to Crianlarich 43miles

I am sitting in a warm, toasty lounge looking overlooking the Trossachs National Park after a remarkable cycle alongside Loch Lomond for 20+ miles. We set off from our hotel this morning by van as John was depositing us where he collected us yesterday evening. Weather forecast for more of the same. Luckily we had all managed to hang our wet gear over radiators and dry them off overnight. John then had the job of going back to the hotel, collecting all our bags (and Trusty alone has 6!), driving back 20 or so miles to where the tyre fixers were going to supply him with a new spare for the van. Meanwhile we headed off, wrapped up and wondering what today had in store. The terrain was flat as we cycled along the Loch for most of the day. Marvellous views, despite frequent showers. We stopped at a nice hotel for a sandwich and a cuppa then took off again. All afternoon we were chasing rainbows that were forming, fading, teasing us to stop, dig out our cameras from assorted plastic bags and try and capture their beauty! Uh oh! Alex did say the scenery makes you want to get lyrical and I think it's happened! I've gone all Rabbie Burns!!!! Anyway we soon came across John who had thoughtfully pulled into a lovely hotel in Crianlarich to lead us the mile to this lovely cosy comfy b n b. So we had coffee at the hotel then came here. We have had a relaxing hour or so catching up with every thing. And this place even has a drying room so all our sodden gear is upstairs cooking away. Amazing what small things give such joy on a trip like this.
We have someone from the local hotel coming to collect us soon so we can go and eat there. Such friendly locals!
John was given a donation yesterday to my charity from the man who was in the tyre repair centre! Just in case anybody reading this would like to donate a little do go to In the meantime thanks so much again for reading this and all the texts that are coming in daily. Well done Dave A on your Sportive. We will join you for one in the autumn maybe! Hi Sal, I know you are reading even if you don't comment. Love to all there.
Well, gotta go and get myself ready for going out. Take care x