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.
Lostwithiel to Land’s End 73 miles
Thank the Lord, a dry day! Goat and Ant opted for the main roads whilst H&U stupidly went for the official route. Richard had encouraged a start time to allow a safe margin to ensure that we came together with Team 18 Day at 3.45pm for the final mile to the finish. The 1 in 5 climb straight from the hotel was an ominous start, and it just seemed to get worse! We were zigzagging all over Cornwall, and after 3 hours were averaging 7mph. Thankfully the roads improved and after a reviving coffee and lemon drizzle cake at a surf shop in Perranporth, Phil the Van Man became our ‘pathfinder’ and we followed him to the rendezvous at The First and Last Inn just short of Land’s End at 3.47pm – not bad! All bar one of the riders were there, and it was a great reunion before the 18 Day brigade and other riders set off to lead over the line.
Ant pulled in just in time for the 10 Day crew to come together for the final ride in. A wonderful welcome from all the other riders and families awaited us, and we were all elated to bask in the happiness of that moment. Strangely it wasn’t the emotional roller coaster that I had anticipated, but rather a warm, glowing feeling and just super to be part of the bigger family of all the riders and supporters.
On to The Old Coastguard at Mousehole where CJ had laid on a splendid evening of fine wining and dining, humorous reflections and presentations. The party must have been 50 strong and we completely took over the hotel. Our chief, CJ was at the bar to the end and last to bed, as befits any great leader.
An extraordinary adventure. We have learned a bit more about ourselves as well as refreshing old and extending new friendships. Thanks to the backing of so many generous supporters, Propjog has raised a shed load of money for great causes.
Thank you and au revoir.
Bridgwater to Lostwithiel 115 miles
A day of two halves. Unbelievably we actually left The Old Vicarage as a team, and that lasted until the first hill, whereupon Goat led up and away, whilst H&U awaited Ant at the top. He arrived after 10 minutes, having had a change of kit, and insisted the two of us cracked on, so normal service was resumed.
H&U finally sighted Goat at a bridge where we greeted each other like lost friends and said how good it was to be reunited, whereupon Goat took off again. The 3 of us came together again near Chagford, and H&U had a bite with Mrs and Lucy H who had spent the previous night at a local hotel. The photo of Lucy with H&U, note ominously weary looking Richard, preceded what was to turn in to a hellish rest of the day...
As we left the hotel, the rain and wind came and hit us. In no time we were in full gear, battling in to a huge head wind, and climbing outrageous Dartmoor hills. It was all we could do to achieve 10mph on the flat and 15 mph downhill as it was so dangerous with occasional squalls of hail. An element of respite as we finally reached Tavistock and ‘protected’ lanes, but navigation was difficult and relentless ups and downs. Finally, Bodmin Moor which was just as steep and exposed. As dusk arrived, we reached an A road which we followed to Lostwithiel, reaching the hotel sometime after 8pm – absolutely spent. Unbelievably the Goat was already there, what a star, whilst Ant had arranged for wine and sandwiches to be in our rooms together with towel rails on full blast.
I had to thaw my fingers by running a hot tap before being able to grasp the zips of my clothing.
A brutal afternoon that took us right to the limit of our mental strength and endurance…and what was to be our slowest moving average speed of our trip, just 11.5 mph
A day which none of us will forget. The plan was to take the main road to Cullompton so we would get a "fast start" and shorten the day after yesterday's marathon. Plans immediately went wrong. Ant had presciently asked "how were we to find the A38?", a simple question but one which we could not answer resulting in a visit to yet another range of hills, this time the Quantocks and an extra few miles - this is akin from the away side choosing to play with the slope at Yeovil and scoring an opening goal in the first minute.
PT then lost the pack and the plot around Taunton adding further miles to his log. However the bucks caught him at Yeoward much to his surprise as he thought they were far ahead - he had not bargained for another of their pit-stops and a wait for Ant, who was struggling with a sore knee. No sooner had I greeted them like long lost colleagues when I shot off not realising they were to have yet another break. They tend to cycle hard and stop for longer whereas I just keep plodding on so often get in front of them.
As we all approached Dartmoor the weather turned nasty and we donned warmer gear. The next 50 or so miles were horrendous and it was a miracle nobody crashed with the downhill stretches a lottery on the slick wet roads and strong winds. Ant's knee gave up so he had a dry afternoon if one ignores the ever present glass of vino!
We all got home safe. Time in the saddle topped 10 hours for me and a bit less for the young guns, who managed a diversion in Moretonhampstead for a snack with Mrs. and Miss Hynard. The Hillman and Ricardo on the Stallion do push each other as they rolled in only half an hour later than me. It is a pity that Simon H was not with us to show them a thing or two!
We are near the goal now and hopefully we can all arrive safely at LE tomorrow around mid afternoon, but one heck of a day today.