What's it all about?
At the end of September 2012 I completed a cycle from Portsmouth 2 Penzance a total of 273 miles! raising money for Children In Need is the Plan. This was also be a personal challenge for me as I haven't been cycling in over 25 years and that was only for fun nothing serious. On top of that have a prolapsed disc, was 46 years old and at the start of 2012 a bit over weight, well lot over weight really, since then I've lost nearly 3 stone! So I opted to do the big one, John O'Groats 2 Lands End on May 6th 2013. The End 2 End or P2P (point to point, as it's sometimes called ) around 1000 miles! This time I had company, Colin, a friend from work, who has said he is as mad as I am and would like to come! This blog contains that story....This event is in memory of the sad passing of my mum on 17th of April this year having lost her fight with terminal Bowel Cancer.
I guess you'd call it the sequel, I have decided it would be just rude not to go back the other way!!! so May 2015, with a new friend, Pete and with Dave driving a support vehicle ( luxury) we plan the classic Lands End to John O'Groats, also known as LEJOG. Mad ? yes I think we must be.
Anyway The ride went wet.. I mean well.. No knee pain and did 32 miles with a few good hills. So fingers crossed no lasting damage . I looked at a cycling injuries book when I got back ( yes sadly I own one) and discovered what I think I had. The pain in the knee started as an ache as was specifically the inside edge of the kneecap , nowhere else and Plica Syndrome perfectly fits the bill, as is quite an unusual place to get pain. If you really want to know about it I have attached a scanned piece from the book.
Still plan to post a map of the whole route on the blog along with some more final thoughts, things I might do differently, reviews of items etc.
So what now? you might ask. Possibly doing a 101 mile Wiggle ride round the New Forest over to the IOW and back in a month. The plan for next year is currently a 3 day London Paris ride with Scott coming, as he's said he'd like to do something. Although Colin did say yesterday and I quote ........" We 'ort to do it the other way round, you know just to see what its like !"
Watch this space
At 09:30 we gathered back at Redruth to complete the final 30 ( I worked out the shortest route the night before) we stepped outside only for me to discover I had a flat rear tyre, serves me right I guess. We set off in glorious sunshine, the weather gods now clearly having given up trying to stop us. We chatted, laughed and cycled through hilly B roads towards Marazion, where we planned to do the last bit of the route on the A30. As we came over the last of the Hilly B raods, there we saw St Michael's mount, a truly spectacular sight in the sun. We had 12 miles to go and pulled in on the beach for a drink and pasty. We were also to call the families and friends to give them an ETA for Lands End arrival, none of which were answering their phones! Eventually we got hold of them and set off again. With 7 miles to go the emotion of it all was really getting to me and I kept crying, regularly wiping away the tears, thinking of mum and how proud I was for both of us. This wasn't helped with mine and Colin's families passing us in their cars waving, beeping and cheering. For the first time on the whole trip I dared to believe we were going to make it. As we approached the hill at the top of the final run in we stopped, to just take it all in for a few seconds. As we did the 4 Devon boys were just coming up the hill having finished, which great to see. Colin had been fantastic company and I couldn't have made it without him. Mutual thanks completed we coasted in to wonderful welcome from all the friends and family who had gathered to meet us. We had made it. 1015 miles in 12 days neither of us really able to comprehend what we had done. There was Champagne and a fab chocolate cake made by Sara our friend with a map of the route, brilliant. For me it was, I guess more of a pilgrimage. Has it changed me? I guess it will have but still processing it at the moment and of course I will share my thoughts with you at some future time. There will still be a few more blogs, I intended to do a full map of the route, I'm sure there are bits missed and we plan a list of favourite roads, days, B&B's etc. I guess I will also post a picture of the tattoo! A final thanks to you all for your messages and support, we loved reading them in the evenings and they were a great help. X
I look skyward and shout out loud "HELL YES".
Just 35 ish miles tomorrow. I think Colin said we've done 985 miles so far. Again we can't thank you all enough for your messages of support, it's meant so much to us . X
Ok sorry for the delay. This day didn't start well, we we're both really tired even on the Somerset levels, which is how all roads should be built by the way, flat! We did see a great windmill and it was sunny. We did meet, on and off, a group of 4 MAMIL'S on a quest from Bristol to Lands End over 4 days and were able to take mutual "welcome to Devon" photos. After that the problems started Colin's thigh was complaining, a lot! He was really struggling. Most days we have reached 30 miles to go and they have always been tough. Today the last 7 miles felt like 30. We came to a sign 15% downhill, use low gear, same going up the otherside. Tough. Shortly followed by the same again but 20%. Very Tough. Unbelievably less than a mile later 25%! First he downhill, which was terrifying! It was like the moment you go over the top on a rollercoaster, brakes on full hardly slowed you down, which we needed to do as the road was wet and in poor condition too dangerous to just free wheel. The uphill was a hill to far. We managed 3/4's but were beaten. We pushed the last 50ft or so, which was really hard and the only time we'd had to do this the whole trip, gutted. We arrived at Great Torrington totally dejected not sure if Colin could continue. It was a very somber evening.
Neither of us slept well and were slow to get off this morning. Colin's neck now giving him grief as well as his arse. We took a few shots of Tewkesbury before we left as it wasn't raining! Lots of time as we only have 75 miles today. Sods law plays it's hand, again! My knee takes a while to get going through shouts and curses, then Colin gets another puncture, not that far down the road, great! After close inspection we find a 1/2cm cut right through tyre. I patch it over with an inner tube patch to get us to Gloucester. We pass a bike shop, closed. So decide to start to look for Halfords for a new tyre. That took a while and probably an extra 5 miles. We replace the tyre, some more spare inner tubes and set off again. I'm sure Gloucester is a great place to visit and we passed the rugby ground but we needed to crack on in case of any more delays, which was a shame. The sun makes an appearance and Colin stops to take a picture of the blue sky, as he says he can't remember what it looked like. It was like we had cycled into an alternative universe, warm and sunny, mad! Then I saw a sign for a health farm that had us laughing again. Shortly after, another route inputting error had us going down a lane, well barely a lane, more off road, picture of Colin on it is attached. This ended up next to a field of sheep who all started with the baa's, Colin got a great video of them rushing over singing to us. There was a long gradual drag up to the top of Cheddar which was great apart from one point where it first said 'welcome to Somerset' next to a sign indicating 11% climb, the knee really not happy with those short sharp ones. Soon we were spoilt with a great decent into cheddar, great fun, Colin beaming at the bottom. I did clamp the camera to the handle bars and filmed it :)
I have to be realistic and having spoken to Colin, I'm not going to push my luck and do the bit down to the Lizard, which was included in our original plan, to take in the most Southern point of mainland UK . I think the plan is now to get to Lands End the easiest way. So we are looking at 79 miles to Great Torrington tomorrow. Then probably just to Redruth ( see if friends Tony and Lucy can store bikes over night) this will save about 25 more miles, rather than go all the way to Mawnan Smith and save some hills as well. Get picked up from and dropped back to Redruth for the Saturday's final ride to Land End.. Well that's what we think is our best chance. Enjoy pic's
Let me start by saying although I'm clearly suffering, I'm ok (well sort of) Those who are worried, please don't be alarmed, pain is just weakness leaving the body! I must be very weak as there appears to be a lot of it leaving! Joking aside what I try to write is a true account of what happens, physically and emotionally on my journey, as well as the sites. When we can see them! This is not sympathy or to worry anyone or for another reason, other than for you to know what happens and later for me to recall.
So I begin again with a big thanks to Ei and Ray for their generous and kind hospitality, setting us off with Staffordshire oat cakes, bacon and melted cheese (look them up) yummy.
Within 7 miles and about an hour of cycling, I'd given up and restarted about 7 times! The knee was incredibly painful and more one legged cycling, adjusting saddle etc. There have been tears on and off over the last few days but I really thought this was it and I wouldn't be able to continue. Colin was great, patient and we discussed the options. Resting a day, arrive on Sunday etc etc. I looked at the codeine tablets, 2 tablets 4 Times a day. Ok I'll try 4 tablets twice a day, with the Naproxen and paracetamol and see how far I can get. Also purchased deep heat, to see if it could help. Taking it mile by mile we made a bit of progress, although I was by now feeling a little light headed... not recommended. For the last few day I have only been able to use smallest chain ring on the front and half the rear gears, so progress was slow. After about 40 minutes I became very drowsy. We pulled in at a service stain to get a high caffeine drink. Luckily that worked and I perked up a bit. We were able to continue, with the knee slowly accepting the pain relief. Most of the 96 miles today were very wet, with torrents of water washing across the roads, again. The plotted routes have also been great picking out great, quite roads. However there was a bit of an issue today. Shortly after Albrighton we turned up a road that said, "private strictly no access", I shortly followed the reading of the sign with another "oh COCK", I really wasn't in the mood. So I said to Colin "lets just do it". As we got to the front steps of Patshull Hall with a games keeper looking at us oddly, we turned right off down the dirt track I was being directed down ( by the bike computer, another minor suspect road choice). Expecting to here shouts of "get off my land " at anytime. The track shortly brought us out alongside, what appeared to be the 12th fairway of an exclusive golf club! Here we received even more wide eyed stares from the members playing their round. Probably not happy with Colin's choice of shorts! They clearly weren't tailored! We kept our heads down and were shortly back on the public road, laughing like school kids. Other than becoming wetter than ever, not much else happened other than our first puncture with 20 miles to go, on the shopper. Not much fun repairing it in the rain at the side of a dual carriageway. Arriving today at 19:00. I said to Colin, if (and I'm still not sure I will) , I do get to the finish, I really think I want the "jogle4bc " and rainbow logo tattooed on my left knee! Colin laughed and added he'd have it on his arse! To Cheddar tomorrow.
Every foot felt like a mile, every minute an hour and every hill a mountain.
Ok, so you know a few miles in left knee too painful to continue, so one legged, literally unclipped left leg out of pedal and used just right leg for a while, we limped our way to Penrith Hospital. They were very helpful, the doctor said I really need an ultrasound to see what's going on but thinks I've either strained or torn some fibres in the ligament across the knee. They also confirmed the joint wasn't damaged, which I guessed was good news. I looked at the doctor, who looked back and said " there's no point in me telling you to stop and rest and ice it is there?" and promptly added the strongest painkillers I could have would be codeine and wrote out the script. Having collected that from a nearby Sainsburys and a knee support we plodded on. I think if I am able to complete the ride, this day will have been the hardest thing I will have ever done or likely to do. As we hit, what I think was Shap and the top of the lakes the weather was hideous. I'm sure the views were fab but 35mph head winds (again) the cloud and rain so low, you couldn't see more than a few hundred feet. The cycling across Shap were reading 4.5mph it took us an infinity to do just a mile! We stopped at Orton for hot drink and food. I was now in a very dark place, my own purgatory. We got to Settle, God knows how shear will power I think and Colin's mum came and collected our bags to help lighten the load, We eventually arrived at her house something past 22.00, truly exhausted over 14 hours after we started, having done 106 miles. Thanks to the support of friends and family we made it. My mum must have played a big part in that or I never would have made it. x . Only one photo :)
Very wet start leaving my sister's, with the grim prospect that it was set for the day. One of Colin's favourite sayings of the trip is "when I'm in charge of the weather, it will only rain between 3-5 in the morning!" We got about 200 yards down the main road when 2 lorries tsunami'd us............ I politely asked Colin if he could submit his application for the weather job verbally now please! About 9 miles into the ride we were already soaked and it felt like we'd been cycling 90 miles already. No pictures on route as we couldn't really see anything. The wind was biting and the rain lacerating our faces, which now felt heavily ex foliated. We ground out 36 miles and then just had to stop to warm up and my left knee now felt like it was being jabbed with a hot knife every pedal stroke! Out with the painkillers. I was.effectively now pedalling one legged not really being able to put any effort through the left knee at all.
After a few miles of restart, it would appear Colin's application had been accepted and we got some broken sunshine at last along with a slight change of direction in the wind, now being a bit more in our favour. The roads were quite B roads which was great but clearly B up here stands for broken as they were rough. Just when you thought things were going your way, a bend, a steep climb and before I knew what I was saying I shouted out loud "OH COCK" confirming I'm more James May than Richard Hammond. At the top I needed to stop. The knee was really quite a problem now. I had some duck tape with me taped around the saddle stem of the bike in case we needed it. I hadn't thought I'd have to be taping my knee up with it! Also adjusted saddle height and more painkillers. Then, 20 more painful miles later Gretna, shortly followed by the last house in Scotland and a sight for sore...knees.....Welcome to England. A few miles later of course more rain but by now we were only a mile from the Premier Inn, Carlisle. Tomorrow is another 100 miles, it was 102 today. Knee on ice, painkillers on board. Let's see how we go in the morning. Colin's mum kindly making enquiries at Blackburn hospital and think I may need to pop in when we arrive there late tomorrow. Fingers crossed I don't need to.