Twenty-five years after running twenty-six miles, half of the original team are bravely cycling all or part of the 1,050 mile route in support of LandAid, Dementia UK & other nominated charities.
Old Coastguard Hotel , Mousehole (yippee it's over) - 51 Miles
After the deluge- calm. The view from my factory assembled Premier Inn room was of blue skies, a SSW wind and just a few clouds to remind us of yesterday ! The muted rumblings of my son Jack ,sharing our double bed , encouraged a swift exit from the bed and a hunt for dry clothes after yesterday. What a star receptionist, she had dried all our kit, room by room, and placed it outside our doors for another insomniacal start . The Chief (CJ ) had drawn up a starting order for the final day in hopes of getting his troops over the line by 4pm ( (what a hope if Robson (Robin B) led his troop )), so a staggered start at 7.30, 8.00 and 8.30 ( I bet the last team cheated with an earlier start- not known for hanging around and as they were awake at 5.30 ......)
Talking of not obeying orders, so often the case with a Jogle of leaders, we had collectively taken an executive decision to override the death wish of the Bike Adventure route planer and to John and Geoffs alarm we pulped the yellow paper ( the second day for Perce (Cripps)) and aimed for the nearest sensible road to avoid the tortuous hills of west Cornwall . 10 miles of German Tourist buses, heavy Lorries and the inevitable Shumacher holiday louts was enough for some and we took fright and headed for the safety of some B roads into Redruth, Camborne and Hayle. Others , clearly with their arses higher than their heads , took to the A30 and sped towards glory, probably hoping for 20 Virgins and a group discount at the next Premier Inn !
We were joined today by another young blood keen to share our moment of glory, Rory Hoddell from Switzerland, keen to show his Alpine form and razor sharp body. In contrast Peter Blacker returned to spend the last day with us- an example of sheer determination in his ski clothes and Onion Sellers bicycle !
Some stopped at Camborne railway station for drinks and cake served by a charming Turkish guy who , after 6 months here, still thought that he was in Turkey, though he had noticed a change in the weather! Blimey, what a funny lot as we head ever westwards. Meanwhile CJs team had hit Hayle and Susie managed to buy a giant pastie for Wall (Quarry ) who insisted on filling his water bottle with a bottle ( yes ) of red wine to aid his onwards digestion. Sadly the combined effect could be heard for some considerable distance and clearly unsettled RoDger who was seen pedalling at high speed towards Penzance.
After 18 days yet another ' First ' - after a long climb out of Hayle we eventually reached the aptly named Cripplesease from where we were at last able to see the Sea to both north and south. Rather like a sharpened pencil I felt that we were nearing the point , but the energy levels were dropping alarmingly and we still had 10 , or more , miles to go.
Each day the last few miles have been the hardest as ones mind thinks of beds, baths, food and drink and today was no exception as each hill led to a rapid descent and, you've guessed it, another blasted hill.The distant view of Sennen Church gave us hope, or was it a mirage ? The 'First and Last Inn' came into sight and a pile of bicycles announced that the handicapping had failed and others had beaten us to the rendezvous-vous, but who cares as it was virtually all over. The sight of the Lone Ranger ( Peter Taylor ) was a sobering moment as he had beaten us to the line with another 100 mile dash- man, superman , or another fruitcake ?
A great welcome from John and Geoff ( thank you guys for being so much a part of our trip and there to cajole us on ), wives, supporters, children (call them all Rory) and Bill and Jackie Ferguson, I found it all rather emotional after 18 days with a crazed team of Chiefs and mini chiefs, so thank you wives and supporters for being with us at the end of this ridiculous challenge.
Photos-masses , usually of Manny and Perce and then the sharp reality of the finish as suitcases were put into cars and the battle worn bikes were put into the vans for transit to London. Congratulations to everyone , 10 days, 18 days, 4,3,2 or 1 day, it was a team effort with a huge personal committment and training ,crowned by raising something in the order of £300,000 for charity.
In my case, NEVER to be repeated.
Susie and CJ This may be a bit squeamish for some, but you were brilliant and we would NEVER have done this without you and the hours spent emailing, phoning and chivvying us all. Andrew Derrick, and the wonderful Kerrie , were brought in to assist and gave it a truly professional overlay. CJ, alias the ' Chief ' you were our inspiration , and hero. By now you are probably retching, so I will leave it at that.
Party What fun we had, CJ stunned us all by treating us to the evening if we paid for the booze. Sea food platters followed by Lamb and Pud rounded off a great final evening in the Old Coastguard Hotel. Treacle Tart (Tuckey ) had arrived to notch up his 8th tart and join in the fun with his riding partners.His Lordhip (Aberdeen ) was walking the policies in China and sent his best wishes and was unable to be with us , Force Majeure (or is this RoDger ?)
Blog With no idea what this was I have to admit to enjoying the chance to ramble on, no one listens to me normally, so this has become a new experience for me. Thanks to Mary for bothering to read such tripe and you must be very proud of CJ and Susie.There was debate as to " who is Mary ", Some thought that I had acquired a new trainer, mistress or long lost relative, but Mary, we will keep our little secret a little longer !
That's it Folks !- until the next time ??
News just in........at 4.15pm this afternoon, the 10 Day Team crossed the line at Land's End to complete an epic adventure from John O'Groats to Land's End in 10 days. They were given a great reception by the 18 day and other riders and families who had arrived a few minutes earlier.
Full report to follow tomorrow to cover Days 9 and 10.
Off to the party!
The final day of our headlong pursuit of the eighteen dayers dawned fine with some cloud and sun after the storms of yesterday. All were clearly tired after the previous day of nigh on 120 miles.
The young guns determined to take the yellow page route whereas those past pensionable age decided to go directly to the target braving the long draggy hills and the traffic. The miles ticked slowly down and with ten miles to go the Goat caught an eighteen dayer coming up the hill out of Penzance - it was the Quarryman with wine in his water bottle! I arrived at the First and Last before my colleagues, with Andrew and Richard slogging along the North Coast and Ant savouring every last minute of his more direct ride! Riding as a train for only the third time we rolled over the line just after 4pm. I think there was some emotion but overriding all was a great sense of achievement and real relief that we had completed a difficult ride in quick time. Thanks to Phil Bristow for nannying us (Ha! Ha! Goat) and seeing us safely home.
The party at the Old Coastguard followed. It was good to see all those that we had been chasing down in such good spirits and the atmosphere was gently jubilant especially with the likely monies raised getting near to £300k.
Abiding memories - magnificent Scotland, spectacular weather in North Yorks and rather worse across Dartmoor, the rainbow framing the famous viaduct near Inglethorpe, dinner conversation, Andrew's prodigious climbing, Ant's perseverance and kindness in arranging wine and sandwiches in our rooms as we came in frozen and sodden off the Moor, Richard hunched over his machine driving on without hat and crashing just before the Severn Bridge, and the blooming yellow pages, a great Kaleidoscope of memories.
Thanks to all of my colleagues and especially to CJ for knocking us into shape, and without his vision none of this would have happened, nobody would have challenged themselves and the chosen charities would not have been helped.