Paul Owen

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Fundraising for Army Benevolent Fund
raised of £1,000 target
by 51 supporters
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Participants: Paul Owen, 8 much fitter soldiers!
Army Benevolent Fund

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RCN 1146420 & SC039189
We provide a lifetime of support to the wider Army Family.


Day 1
20th Sept 2010 Lands End to Oakhampton training camp. Up at 05.45 to leave RNAS Culdrose, sun out 20c with 8 mile an hour tail wind. Covered 102 miles with average speed of 16.7 mph. Started ride 09.15 from Lands End and got to Oakhampton camp at 16.30hrs. Photos at Lands End hardly anyone there, felt great, gentle hills views much nicer than they are by car.
20 miles into A30 came to roadworks which said cyclists must find alternative route! Got lost and added 8 miles to the day.
Didnt get lunch until 65 miles in,(starting to get very painful at 55 miles)then got half hour at Bodmin shell station. Missed afternoon break and just hit it for last 40 miles on A30 to Oakhampton.
Started to really hurt wrists neck and arse, got blisters and couldnt feel toes! Big hill before oakhampton was really painful tough got into oakhampton shattered.
Tough day but fun!
Day 2
Oakhampton camp to Exeter(25 easy miles on A30). Rear puncture on A30 caused by road debris. A quick break at Sainsburys Exeter.
Got lost and ended up at Exeter airport. Then back on route, the first peaceful rides, since Lands End, lovely cycle through Cullumpton and beyond.
Through Taunton, with local guide so that we didnt get lost.
Then up to just short of Bristol, climbing through the Quantocks and Mendips, some tough climbing here. Stay as one group for the first time after Taunton. Two of group crashed, one rode into kerb and other rear ended another cyclist! One cyclist on spare bike now!(spent a lot of ride since Exeter on A38)
Due accomodation problems, had to drive 45 mins back the way we came, to get to the accommodation.
Todays mileage was 98 miles, at end of ride was cycling a 21 miles an hour average over 25 miles. Couldnt feel toes again, everything still hurts!
Day 3
Very tough day, 90 miles in total great fun going through Briston, passed SS Great Britain, and Clifton suspension bridge, took advice from local plod for navigation of flyovers. Went north out of bristol onto A38 all the way to Worcester, via Teweksbury getting very tired, had heavy spare front wheel on (due to 2 punctures day before) also had slow puncture today so running on soft tyre as cant get pressure on handpumps ,making ride tough,was suffering ! But perked up in afternoon from Worcester to A449 to final stop of the day in Kidderminster.
Day 4
up at usual time of 6am, have big breakfast, muesli, porridge and fry up! we stuff as much in as possible. On the road at about 8am, then 25 to 35 miles for very short break. Lunch is usually between 50 and 60 miles. Eating and drinking constantly on move, drink has Electrolyte powder in it. short break in afternoon then normally finish at about 5pm. Then we do bike maintenance and showers until about 6pm, brief with maps for next day and in bed by 9.30- 10pm.
Today set out in lovely sunshine and had sunbathing lunch and then got absolutely soaked in the afternoon! Also lost tail wind today, rain and head wind heading into Birkenhead. Finished at 90 miles feeling emotional! Shoes full of water, drenched and frozen. Accomodation is old and rubbish, showers barely working and baggage truck hadnt caught up so where stuck in wet kit for a while. Day 5
Day 5
Left Birkenhead 2 mile ride through derelict dock area to the Mersey ferry(photo opportunity). The first cold day with a serious head wind,all day. 70 miles across the Chesire and Lancashire plains, through Preston and Lancaster. Awful ride average speed brought right down, ave speed down to 10 miles an hour, had to rotate head person as so tough.(front person only doing 6 or 7mins a time). Serious climb through Lake district, throughtKendal and up to A6 towards Keswick. over Shap Pass, which damn near killed me, climbing speed down to 5 miles an hour.
It just went on and on and on but didnt stop even though I felt like stopping on every breath. Really Really exhausted, knees started to really hurt, felt shaky when got off bike. 111 miles today ending North of Keswick then mini bus to Carlislye Castle where we are staying, on arrival found we only had one working shower! 8 to a room! Today was sheer hell.
one rider dropped out this morning.
Day 6
Much easier cyling than day before, however right knee very inflammed. Minimal wind and the sun was shining, crossed into Scotland at Gretna Green(heard first Scottish accent!) and stopped for photograph in charity tee shirt.
A light mileage day, only 82 miles! Another painful day, still suffering badly with knee pain, and various other pains!
Finished at Sanquar, around 17.45hrs and a long drive back the way we had come for accommodation Dumfries TA centre,which was a converted manor house. Set up bed in recruiting office, barely paid any attention to map briefing and was asleep by 9pm.
Day 7
Best day by far, started at Sanquar, and did 31 miles before break. Bright blue sky, almost no wind, flatish road with hills either side, with Aberdeen Angus Cows!
Erskine Bridge after some very dangerous A roads, starting to feel like a tour of Britains most dangerous A roads! Then A82 which became very scenic at Loch Lomond, never got chance to use cycle path along main road as deemed to slow!
After two days of slow average speeds, we managed to pick up the pace, to an average of 16 miles an hour.
A bag of ice bought from Tescos used throughout the day on knee.
Stopped for pee in layby and saw people preparing drugs in Range Rover and called police.
Total of 85 miles ending at Tarbet, then hours drive back to Dumbarton for accommodation.
Day 8
After staying at Dumbarton, we resumed from Tarbet from Loch Lomond, straight forward Navigation, A82 all the way, climbing through Glen Co clouds covering top of mountains a tough 30 mile climb into the Cairngorms,tremendous scenery,exciting descent in excess of 30 miles an hour all the way down to Fort William at sea level. I shot some video whilst cycling one handed, which was scary! Barely paused at Fort William in fast 23 mile an hour pack along the seafront, led by army triathaletes. Then a climb to a remote army lodge at Spean Bridge.(77 miles, and several thousand feet of climbing!)
Day 9
Penultimate day
Started near Commando memorial at Spean Bridge, and had team photo.
28 mile til first break, over beautiful but hilly terrain, in a great deal of pain for some hours, despite the Nurofen.
knee improved after break and we took a short cut, to avoid the main A roads to Inverness, unfortunately this meant 3k of serious climbing up a 15% hill! which is almost impossible on a road bike. Exhausted and drenched in sweat but a long fast down hill reward towards Dingwall. At speeds up to 40 miles an hours.
A much faster coastal run past a number of oil rigs in the afternoon, holding 20 miles an hour for several miles.
Total of 90 miles, finishing at Tain, then a drive back to Dingwall cadet camp for overnight stay.


Day 10.

Weather turned really bad. Head winds of 30 mph somehow combined with fog and driving rain. Serious gradients along the coast road. Never even saw the sea. Very tough 100 mile day. Cold and soaked for 9 hours. Great feeling to arrive at John O'Groats though. Amazing to finish. Knee swollen up but I made it. Whiskey in the cafe and registered in the End-to-End book. Then 100 miles back to Dingwall by minibus, but dry!

Day 11.

Another 6 am start, but in my case, it was to Inverness Airport. £85 (Sleazy Jet) invested in NOT taking 14 hrs in a minibus back to Aldershot.  Well worth every penny!


Great to be home!



Anyone who knows about cycling will tell you that the near 1000 mile trip from Lands End to John O Groats is NOT to be taken lightly. It's ALL up-hill and takes months of training.


The 8 regular soldiers leaving in late September know this well.  They have fearsome backgrounds - triatheletes and 'ironmen' etc.The varied bunch of  soldiers - para & commando trained and scariest of all - a Sgt Major from the Physical Training Corps have been training hard since April.

Paul however knows none of this. He just cycles to work at the police station - a Middle-Aged-Man In-Lycra ( or MAMIL).

While the team have been doing gruelling  hill training of back to back 90 milers to simulate the tough conditions of 10 days cycling in the hills, Paul has drifted from home to work after 10 miles, sweating and complaining about being sore.

With barely 10 days to go, Paul signed up afresh & wheezed out 50 miles (about half a day's worth) before collapsing back on the drive, thinking he'd give 1000 miles a go.

Even the bike belongs to a pitying mate, as this cheapskate's ancient racer would have collapsed on the first hill almost as fast as the rider.


Please sponser this most ill-conceived attempt at 40 back-to-back marathons, if only for the amusement of the professionals in the team. Your money is well spent on a great cause, even if this lycra warrior and most part time soldier doesn't make it out of hilly Cornwall.



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Day 1
20th Sept 2010 Lands End to Oakhampton training camp. Up at 05.45 to leave RNAS Culdrose, sun out 20c with 8 mile an hour tail wind. Covered 102 miles  with average speed of 16.7 mph. Started ride 09.15 from Lands End  and got to Oakhampton camp at 16.30hrs. Photos at Lands End hardly anyone there, felt great, gentle hills views much nicer than they are by car.
20 miles into A30 came to roadworks which said cyclists must find alternative route! Got lost and added 8 miles to the day. 
Didnt get lunch until 65 miles in,(starting to get very painful at 55 miles)then got half hour at Bodmin shell station.  Missed afternoon break and just hit it for last 40 miles on A30 to Oakhampton.
Started to really hurt wrists neck and arse, got blisters and couldnt feel toes! Big hill before oakhampton was really painful  tough got into oakhampton shattered.
Tough day but fun! PO

About the charity

Army Benevolent Fund

Verified by JustGiving

RCN 1146420 & SC039189
We exist to give a lifetime of support to the wider Army family, regardless of where or when a soldier served. We act swiftly and efficiently in providing support in the form of grants to those who find themselves in real need. We also provide grants to charities who support the wider Army family.

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