The realisation of what exactly I have achieved has only really started to set in during the last day or two. When we set off on this journey from John O Groats I was not entirely sure I would reach Lands End on two wheels. I was satisfied that I had done sufficient training and was therefore fit enough to turn the pedals that would lead to the completion of the necessary miles. What I did not know was the level of fatigue I would suffer and the powers of recovery my body would have given my MS.
Once we left our stop over at Ian’s abode I was sure I would reach the end. However, a couple of days later I spent one evening throwing up (alot) and losing whatever remained in my stomach through the other end (explosively runny). Whether this this was due to exhaustion or caused by something I either ate or drank I will probably never know. It did mean, however, that the next day I simply felt terrible and had no energy what-so-ever. Despite a lie-in and a late start I struggled to reach 6 mph on a relatively flat bit of track running alongside an abandoned railway line. The path soon turned into a mountain bikers dream but for us on thin racing tyres it became a goodly challenge just to remain upright and not fall off. How I managed to ride 35 miles that day I still find hard to believe. Vince and Ian were desparate for me to cycle another 10 or 15 miles but I simply did not have it in me and made my thoughts known. Therefore we stopped at Liskeard. The boys thought I could have managed the extra miles and would have done so if a dear ones life depended on it. The 35 miles we did complete that day was accomplished in over 6 hours – it does not take a genius to figure out that was an exceedingly low number of miles per hour. The boys may well have been fresh and eager to push on given only 75 miles remained until Lands End but although my mind was willing the body said an emphatic ‘NO’.
I will not recount the lovely meal we ate at a fantastic restaurant we found in Liskeard as I believe Ian intends to blog about it. Nor will I describe the numerous and at times emotionally charged conversations we had concerning my intention to take two days to complete the remaining 75 miles. 06:00 the following day found me out of bed and by 06:30 we all left the B&B on two wheels.
I do not recall much of the final days ride apart from the last 15 miles or so. Before I left the B&B that morning I had been to the toilet 3 times. Although I did not feel sick my stomach was bloated and suffering from cramps. Diahorrea was to be the order of the day. I could rate every rest stop between Liskeard and Lands End together with a small lay by where it became necessary to make an emergency squat. Marks out of 10 could be given for cleanliness, quality of toilet paper, hand washing facilities, etc, etc.
The only reason I made it to the end in one further day was because Ian agreed to change the route so that we used the dreaded A30. This is the major road used by all and sundry to cross Cornwall and Devon and the road we had so far avoided at all costs. Everyone uses it including heavy articulate trucks and what appeared to be the entire caravan population. Although the traffic was heavy and constant and passing you at 70 miles an hour the tarmac was a dream to cycle on. In addition the road either went between the hills or elongated their steepness making it much easier to ride up the hills we came across and then you benefitted from a much longer down the other side. Unless you actually cycle through Cornwall I do not think you can fully appreciate just how hilly the place is. One hill simply follows another. There does not appear to be any flat bits. You either go up or you go down. Ian would have preferred to use any road other than the A30 but this would have added extra miles and would have included even more hills and steeper hills to be navigated.
Given my stomach cramps and the number of times I had needed to stop to allow the constant diahorrea to escape my body the glimpse of our final destination as we crested the summit of the final hill was bliss. The sun was shinning and you could see the last 2 miles to the end was mainly down hill. Crossing the line marked on the path that signalled the end of our journey was a moment of utter unabashed joy. Quickly followed by a mad dash to the nearby toilet.
There subsequently followed the final ride down to the sign where everyone has their picture taken – some entronpeneaur having bought the land figuring correctly that he could merrily make his fortune from charging people to have their photograph taken. In addition we were welcomed by the cheers of congratulations from our respective wags and other kind hearted tourists (a couple of which actually made generous donations to our chosen charities). If only the girls could have remembered to remove the champagne bottles that had been cooling in the fridge back at the cottage we had rented for the week and bring them with them. Oh well !!