Mike and John overtook us on the tandem and finished 2 days before us, having started 5 days later than us. Congratulations to them and us!
Wednesday Night Cycling Club 1,000 mile ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats
Day 21: It’s All Over! Lybster to John O’Groats, 31.3 miles (plus 2.5 miles to Duncansby). 1289 feet climbed Very nice ride along straight, quiet roads with the smell of clover, lots of sheep, one deer and a curlew. No accidents despite some nearby trains and tracks and Pete praying to the Railway God for the lights at the crossing to go red. Diana and Ray were waiting for us at John O’Groats with open shutters and arms. Much snapping, and then a short ride to Duncansby to get right to the edge of the North East, and see puffins and fulmars. Pete opted for a train journey back to Inverness so we dropped him at Wick station, happy at last. Mike and John are booked into the same hotel in Inverness, so hopefully we all get together tonight. (We did, meal in Waterbridge Hotel where waitress shocked at Mike ordering soup for his pudding) Thank you for all your messages of support and congratulations – we are lucky to know so many good people. Huge thank you from all of us riders to the support team: Diana and Ray, for organising all the accommodation (Diana) and for ferrying us when necessary and generally being on call. Thanks also to the extended support team which includes Maria and Paul in Mylor Bridge, Fred in West Hay, Sue in Clevedon, Sally in Shrewsbury, Mary and Jon in Nantwich, Yvonne in Liverpool, and Glenn, Roger and Janette in Wolverhampton (on house duty).
Day 20: 14th July, Dornoch to Lybster, 52 miles, 2913 feet climbed, seals, cormorants, kittiwakes
Diana did us proud last night – we were in 2 different b&bs, both with welcome decanters of malt whisky. Ours also had a jaccuzzi. Nearly all A9 today, although Brian and I had a nice few miles on minor roads to start with and at the side of Loch Fleet. Pete and Mark did A9 all the way despite Pete’s feelings about it, as evidenced by his A9 joke which arrived via text last night “A neuf est A neuf”. Well we thought it was funny. Coffee in Brora in the cafe cum framers cum florists. Lovely picnic lunch of sandwiches followed by fudge in Dunbeath Harbour. Mark and Pete whizzed by over the bridge and missed us. Arrived at Lysbter about 4.30pm to find Mark and Pete already dismantling Black Beauty I – some parts for keeping and some for recycling (ha). Ray seems to be in constant communication with Glenn - what are you up to? Have you got those squatters out yet? Meal in the Portland Hotel (apparently frequented by royalty). More malt whiskies in a perhaps premature celebration. As Brian said, we have an ‘end of term’ feeling with only 30 miles to go now. Mike and John got to John O'Groats about 5pm. Well done boys!
Day 19: 13th July, Inverness to Dornoch, 47 miles, 1234 feet climbed
Mark and Pete stuck to the main road again – the A9. Brian and I went the scenic route along the Black Isle, which included a ferry from Cromarty. Nice easy day. Lunch in Cromarty with a pint of real ale from the Black Isle Brewery called Yellowhammer. Very appropriate as this was the bird we heard the most today. Tried Cullen Skink, which was very nice (the first time anyway). The support team went dolphin watching, but were unlucky, though Brian spotted some through the binoculars from Cromarty. Mike and John were on Dornoch beach this afternoon they said. As they want to get to John O’Groats tomorrow I hope they are not still in Dornoch – I will find out shortly!
Day 18: 12th July, Spean Bridge to Inverness, 55 miles, ~2700 feet climbed, 1 puncture, 1 red squirrel
A pattern has formed – Mark and Pete cycle together and Brian and I cycle together, and we occasionally coincide. For M & P it is about arriving via the flattest route, and for me and Brian it is about the scenery on the way, regardless of hills. So we took the Caledonian Canal towpath to Fort Augustus rather than the road. In this case the boys were right – we could hardly look at the scenery as it was necessary to concentrate on where the potholes were. From Fort Augustus (where we all joined up briefly) Brian and I took the scenic route along the right of Loch Ness and the boys took the A82 up the left side. Our route involved a 5 mile climb up to 1277 feet. No problem. Well, not until after the tomato-ketchup flavoured crisps that I ate up there. Nice down-hills followed. Amazed to see Mike and John in Inverness – they got to Fort Augustus yesterday. Diana found the babe magnet asleep on a park bench with people trying to give him money again. However, their riding pattern is different to ours (and Mike’s sleep pattern definitely is!) and they intended to ride on further this evening. 920 miles down, only 122 to go!
Day 17: 11th July, Oban to Spean Bridge, 58 miles, 1890 feet climbed
Third day of cycling with tandemists John and Mike. Only a couple of hills. Welcome coffee and cake stop after a hill at cafe with view of Castle Stalker (used as Castle Aaaarrrggghhh! in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. Then to Fort William. A few miles of nice cycle route on the way, many bits still not finished. Pete zoomed past me and Brian because he was anxious not to be overtaken by the tandem, but he didn’t need to worry. We suspect some kind of betting had taken place. The A road was all right but we were all glad to rest and have lunch in a cafe in FW. Change of surface after FW – onto canal towpath. Very wide canal, with some large vessels on it. Very well looked after, beautiful views all the way. Mark caught Pete up and they arrived first in Spean Bridge. The rest of us stopped to look at the Commando Memorial on the way, and to take photos of Ben Nevis, still with snow and not in cloud. Said goodbye to Mike and John at the memorial – they were going on to Fort Augustus. Diana drove up to return their bags to them. Meal in the Old Station Restaurant – got Pete’s approval. Very good. I have now had haggis.
Day 16: 10th July, Tarbet to Oban, 51.5 miles, 2454 feet climbed
6 riders today, all going at various times and paces in a kind of relay – particularly Brian and I, and Mark and Pete. Lunch outside the Loch Melfort hotel overlooking the loch – very nice. John and Mike passed us while we were there and we met up for 5 minutes a few miles further on. All staying in Oban tonight at a wonderful old hotel that used to be hospital. Lots of stained glass windows, high ceilings, ornate plaster cornices, window seats and oak panelling.
Day 15: Stevenston to Tarbet via Isle of Arran, 38 miles, 2021 feet climbed, 2 ferries, 2 riders joined, 2 herons (didn’t join)
38 miles now seems practically a day off! The tandemists Mike and John joined us, catching the ferry to Arran by the skin of their teeth. Brian and I rode across the middle of the island (and up about 800 feet) to cycle up the west coast while Mark, Pete, Mike and John had an even more leisurely ride up the east coast. Fantastic scenery and wildlife, and lovely quiet roads. Lunch in cafe overlooking the sea (nicest beef and mustard sandwiches I’ve ever had). Saw gannets, oyster-catchers, a fulmar, herons and meadow pipits. No golden eagle sadly, or red squirrels. Ferry from Lochranza to Clanaoig, and an easy 12 miles to Tarbet, which (and sorry if I’m gushing now) is a really lovely harbour town. At night it was magical. Staying in 3 separate b&bs, but met up for drink after eating. Brian, Diana, Ray and I opted for a posh fish restaurant called Starfish, but they took one look at us and said no tables free, so we tried one called the Anchorage instead. In a fit of bravery I ordered sea food risotto, but shrank back in horror when it arrived (barely dead) with special implements provided to attack it. Luckily Brian is not averse to wrestling with his food before eating it and kindly swapped with me. Joined the boys in the busy local. After 700 odd miles in extremely close proximity tempers are bound to get a bit frayed, but amazingly they were still speaking. Got the gen from John to add a second page to this, as they have also been raising money for Cancer Research on the way. Mike was called a "babe magnet"!
Day 14: Sanquhar to Stevenston - 45 miles
Pete set off early to cycle to Sanquhar. Mark, Brian and Jane were driven there by the support team to continue where we left off yesterday. Easy day opted for after aches and pains following hammering along too much yesterday (for me and Brian anyway). A76 to Mauchline where we all stopped for coffee. Brian and Jane had an entertaining lunch in Kilmarnock at Riverbank where there was a street festival going on with dancers, musicians, a caricaturist, folks on stilts – very good for £4.95, and that included soup, a sandwich and a soft drink. Nice off-road cycle route from about Dreghorn (what a name) all the way to Stevenston where Diana had found us another really good B&B. Mike and John (tandemists) are in Ayr and may catch up/overtake us tomorrow. Meal in pub recommended by B&B owners was very cheap, filling and friendly – just what we needed, despite it being in a rather run-down area. Pete says the new bike is going well and it is nice to have a full range of working gears.
To Robert at Kirkcroft B&B in Gretna Green...I have tried to leave a comment on your blog but it won't have it - perhaps others have found the same problem.
Day 13: Gretna Green to Sanquhar, 60.5 miles, 1588 feet climbed, 1 exploded tyre, 1 new bike
Day considered too short as we had gone beyond Carlisle yesterday, so the plan was to ride beyond Thornhill (where we were booked in for B&B) to Sanquhar. Major mechanicals for Pete’s bike meant he and Mark didn’t set off until 11 (Jane and Brian got off at 9.30). The B&B owner Robert interviewed us for his blog (joglelejog.blogspot.com) and took photos. 2 miles in and Pete’s journey came to an abrupt end. Quote of the day – “My bike was going really well until the tyre exploded!”. Ray to the rescue. Mark continued alone. Brian and I met Diana for coffee at the Caerlaverock Wetlands Centre where Diana spent most of the day bird-watching, while Pete and Ray scoured Dumfries for bike shops. B & J found a real ale pub in Dumfries for lunch and managed to stick to 2 halves of Midsomer Madness. Pete bought a Genesis Aether, double chainset, black, aluminium with carbon forks. Ray took him back to near Gretna Green and he set off again at 17.10 and got to Thornhill in less than 3 hours. Mark had to wait 2 hours for a pick up at Sanquhar but was unphased and wrote loads of postcards. There is a place called Ae! Pete would like to say that Ray is a hero. Also that the girl mechanic in the Grace & Graham bike shop moved heaven and earth to try and fix the Dawes, stripping it down in micro-seconds, analysed the problem (basically that Pete’s bike is imperial) and later when no other shop could provide the required parts, expertly set up the new bike to suit Pete’s unique riding position.
Day 12: Windermere to Gretna Green - 59.5 miles, 2884 feet climbed
Reached Scotland - woohoo! Got soaked again. Rained until at least half 2 ish. Slow start as things had to be dried from the previous day's rain, and sandwiches had to be bought in Ambleside as we didn't expect to have much chance beyond that. We paused for shelter in the Horse & Farrier in Threlkeld (I spent most of time under the hand-drier in the ladies). From about 3 it was like a different day - sunshine after the rain. Had sandwiches al fresco. Then Pete had a puncture. Doh. Lovely Village shop and tearooms at Hesket Newmarket - all had tea and scones. Brian spotted 3 lots of nesting birds and their young (swifts, swallows and housemartins).Carlisle was a bit of a nightmare to cycle in at rush hour. Finally got to Gretna Green about 7.15 - all very tired. Ray and Diana got a ferry across Windermere and did a 4 mile walk. Heard from Mike and John (who set off on LEJOG on 29th june) - they have reached Windermere - so not far behind us now. Encountered flocks of sheep and herds of cows in the road today.
Day 11: Scorton to Windermere - 46 miles, 1 mechanical, one fall, no submissions. 1 splinter group, a swan with 7 cygnets, a lapwing (very proud that I spotted it without having it pointed out to me)
We are all getting fitter and stronger. Lumps in mattresses turn out to be unaccustomed thigh muscles. Two miles after we started today Mark's chain broke and laid itself in a neat line across the road. He managed to fix it, but it broke again after a short while. Ray was on standby to pick him up and transport him and the bike to a bike shop, but he managed to remove the offending bent link. He and Pete left me and Brian near Lancaster to find a shop and buy a new chain. When the chain broke the second time, Pete was obviously put out by all the attention Mark was getting so he fell off. Again. Nurse Jane had to get the anti-septic wipes out again and provide anti-septic cream.Brian and I had coffee in Carnforth Station (location for "Brief Encounter") and lunch at Arnside (location for family holiday of Brian's in 1966). The rain began at 11 and got steadily worse from Arnside until we were cycling in a downpour. But hey, we've been very lucky with the weather up to today so no complaints. The only thing making me swear is this website - things disappearing, become underlined, changing colour etc., then a message pops up to say "We're sorry - this site is experiencing problems. Your page has not been updated" Aaaaarrrgghh! Apologies to any readers who see the update in a peculiar state.
Day 10: Liverpool to Scorton (near Garstang) 62.7 miles, 906 feet climbed, 1 heron, 1 lama,
Flattest day yet. Mark sorted the route from Liverpool to Preston, and did a good job of finding scenic ways on disused railways, canal towpaths and an interesting section of dirt track lined with nettles and brambles which we will skip over as it all worked out fine in the end. We stopped to watch a heron for a while. (forgot to say that Brian and I saw a kestrel yesterday). I know Glenn will be devastated if we don’t tell him these things. No blood to report but I’m slowly building up a collection of irritating insect bites and will be breaking out the jungle formula tomorrow. Support team (Ray and Diana) went to Martin Mere Wildfowl Centre and saw numerous avocets and otters (don’t know how they got in). Pleasant coffee stop in Southport and then hammered along the main road to Preston for a late lunch. Then Mark and Pete continued to Garstang and Scorton along the A6, and Brian and I followed the quieter Phil Horsley route (ish). Yvonne joined us for the night in the Priory. So warm we ate outside.
Day 9: 3rd July , Church Minshull to Liverpool 41 miles (Pete and Mark 22.5), 1 accident
Easy day (well it was Sunday after all). Brian and I set off and did a leisurely ride to Frodsham to meet Mark and Pete. Mark led us through Widnes along the Trans-Pennine Trail, across the Runcorn Bridge, and alongside the Mersey on a very nice path to Liverpool centre. Pit-stop at a pub in Hale. Brian incurred derision from some locals at the bar because of his cycling kit but this turned to respect when they found out that we were cycling Land's End to John O'Groats, and they wished us luck. Now settled in at Mark and Yvonne's in Liverpool, all showered and shortly to be fed and watered (or wined, or beered). Today's accident caused by Brian turning a corner and stopping to wait for Pete, not realising that he was right behind. Result - Pete on floor again, but unhurt.
Day 8: 2nd July, Much Wenlock to Church Minhsull 55 miles (Pete and Mark 49), 1919 feet climbed
Don't know of any cycling accidents - will have to quiz Mark and Pete tomorrow when we meet up again in Frodsham (which is where they were cycling to today from Shrewsbury). One minor non-cycling accident involving my arm and a kettle of boiling water at 7 this morning, but that's much better now. Sun tan lotion is very soothing.**STOP PRESS** Pete fell over AGAIN! This was coming up the steps to Mark and Yvonne's house after a a trip to the pub in the evening. ?For me and Brian, it was a hard slog from the River Severn up the Wrekin. After 9 miles we had got to our highest point of the day. From then on it was relatively Easy Riding (but without the dope) and we met Ray and Diana for lunch in Market Drayton sooner than expected. A mere 24 ish miles more and we were 5 miles north of Nantwich, in another excellent B&B sourced by Diana, ably assisted by Ray. Out to Lea Towers then for another home-cooked meal (how spoiled are we!). Surprised by Glenn - he joined us again and is staying the night in Nantwich. What's more, he had turned our house upside down and found Eric! So our mascot is back, and can relieve Deirdre, or double up. Thanks Mary and Jon. I'm still chuffed that the 'unsocialable' cat came to me and let me stroke it.
Day 7: 1st July, Ross-on-Wye to Much Wenlock 62.5 miles (Pete and Mark 69), 3684 feet climbed, 1 road rage incident (PH), 1 splinter group formed owing to mechanicals.
Set off on time and rode together for the first few miles. Pete had mechanicals so Mark and Pete decided to go the direct route to Shrewsbury via Hereford on the A49. Brian and I stuck to the plan and rode through Leominster and Ludlow to Much Wenlock. The support team picked us up and drove us to Shrewsbury where we had a lovely meal cooked for us by Sally. Glenn and Yvonne joined us. Much post ride senseless gabbling (unfortunately some of it captured on Mary's answer phone when I called her about tomorrow. Brian's GPS ok again. Huge thanks to Sally for the meal and for putting the boys up.
Day 6: Clevedon to Ross-on-Wye 52 miles, 1 accidents, guest riders Heather and Chris (Mark's sister and brother-in-law)
Brian's back is ok, but his GPS packed in today, after sending him on a (virtual) 332 mile trip to the mid-Atlantic and making his average seem very good indeed. Sadly, his stats will not be usable now. Hope mine continues to behave!
We cycled across the Avonmouth Bridge and the Severn Bridge (M48). Chris and Heather joined us on the bridge and cycled with us to Ross. Coffee in Cheptsow (neatly missing the rain) and sandwiches in Coleford.
?Mark went into hedge owing to a driver overtaking and then taking a sharp left in front of him, but he was unscathed (if very scathing).
?Pete lost the nut holding his back brake together and Mark had to provide his electrical tape for a patch job till Ross. Big thank you to the man in the bike shop Revolution who opened up for them and didn't even want paying. Staying at a wonderful farmhouse tonight.
Day 5: Taunton to Clevedon 48 miles, flattish day, 1 accident
Very pleasant ride along canal tow path, disused railway line and some blasts along A roads (we are getting bold!). Lunch very kindly provided to cyclists and support team (which includes Sue at the moment) by Brian's friend Fred, in West Hay.
Pete took Brian out on the railway line through pausing to look at an information board but not disengaging pedals in time. He fell in front of Brian who fell on top of him. They had to be disentangled. Nurse Jane had to remove grit with anti-septic wipes and apply cream and plasters (well, they let me anyway - I just wanted to get rid of some of the kit I was carrying). Brian's back bruised, Pete's arm and leg grazed. Fingers were crossed that Brian's back trouble would not reoccur with this jolt. Sue provided a wonderful meal for us in Clevedon (mucho flavoursome pasta - very well received).
Day 4: Okehampton to Taunton 58 miles, 2687 feet climbed
Lovely day's riding. Good tactic to switch route and do more miles to avoid (bigger) hills. Coffe in Crediton and tea in Tiverton. Met 3 Scottish cyclists in Crediton also doing the end-to-end but mostly on A roads. Saw them again just outside Wellington (somehow we had beaten them there). They were carrying all their stuff themselves, and asked how much it cost us to have support. I said "Nothing, but we do have to sleep with them!". Got to Taunton at 5.30. Sue there to take Mark and Pete off for a night of revelry in Clevedon. Hopefully they will be back for our leisurely 10am start tomorrow.
Day 3: 27th June - Wadebridge to Okehampton 50 miles, 4035 feet climbed
A very hilly day! Somewhat further than the projected 37 miles (my mistake I think). Pete had his coat stolen in Launceston. But as he left it on a bench when we went to have coffee it may have been considered abandoned. All glad to arrive in Okehampton. Meal in the Fountain Hotel (Doombar beer)
Day 2 - 26th June Mylor Bridge to Wadebridge 41 miles, 3140 feet climbed, no accidents. Notable Wildlife: one pygmy shrew, one dragonfly, one little owl
Scorching hot day. Plenty of what Pete calls 'fashion moments' - stopping to remove layers, change headwear, change gloves etc. We stormed past loads of other cyclists today. However, this was on the Camel Trail and they were mostly very old or very young and on hire bikes that weighed a ton. But we are getting fitter on the hills. Stopped for lunch at a nice pub called the Ring O'Bells in St Columb Major. Met 2 other cyclists there (from Cookley) - one an identical 'I love Marmite' top to mine.
Day 1: 25th June, Land's End to Mylor Bridge - 37 miles, 2888 feet climbed, 1 accident.
Steve Jones saw us off from Land's End - very nice of him to come all that way! (from Perranporth).
I'd like to say that Pete spectacularly risked life and limb in order to save a small child from being run over, but actually he was unable to unclip from the pedal, shouted "Support me!" as he cruised towards us as a we stood wondering what he meant, and then he fell against me. Damaged pride and grazed knee.
My brother Nadin and partner Kim came over from Mullion, and friend Pat came over from Truro to join us for a meal in the Lemon Arms in Mylor Bridge.
Well, we are finally going to do it – cycle 1,000 miles, from Land’s End to John O’ Groats. It’s a personal challenge for all 4 of us (that is, Jane, Mark, Brian and Pete), but also an opportunity to raise some money for Cancer Research. After all, it would be a shame not to, especially when generous people keep asking me if we’re doing it for charity!
We’ve been riding as part of the ‘Wednesday (formerly Tuesday) night cycling club’ since 2002 and have previously done a few longer rides together (such as the Whitehaven to Tynemouth C2C), but nothing on this scale. We range in age from 49 to 67, and have an average level of fitness (or will have by 25th June I hope).
We have chosen to raise money for Cancer Research because we don’t know anyone who does not in turn know someone who has suffered from cancer, and that includes some very close friends and relatives, as well as colleagues.
So, if you want to help us in the battle against cancer, please make a donation. It doesn’t have to be much, every bit helps.
What are we doing?
Cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats covering at least 1,000 miles
3 main reasons: 1) Personal challenge 2) To raise money for Cancer Research 3) Love of cycling and the countryside
Who is doing it?
Jane, Brian, Mark and Pete
When do we start?
Saturday 25th June
When do we finish?
Saturday 16th July