Sunday, 21 September 2008
LEJOG Day 11 (The posting for 19/09/08)
This morning Dave dropped me back at Tore. My challenge today was to try and catch the rest of the team before John O Groats. I was 18 miles behind. John And Gareth were going to start out a little later to give me a chance of the catch up. The day looked as if it could be dry, we all deserve that at least. I stood there on my own and tried to focus on the task ahead. I climbed on the bike and started to spin the pedals. I still didn't feel 100% but I did feel a lot better than yesterday.I set out on the A9 and the first road sign told me that John O Groat's was 114 miles.
I powered on into a bit of a headwind that was holding my speed down as I crossed the Cromarty Firth towards Evanton and Alness. This was more like it.I was motoring along. The first stop was almost at the 20 mile mark. Before Dave said anything I knew that I was doing
well. Dave confirmed what I knew. I was gaining on the others. I was only 25 minutes behind them.I asked how they were doing and Dave told me that they were also doing well and in fine spirits. 3 minutes later and back on the bike I was off again. I was going well today. Everything seemed to be coming together. Next stop 10miles along the road and as ever there was Dave. "Your doing really well" he tells me "You are now only 15 minutes behind them." Yesterdays terrible day was going to be worth it after all. Back on the bike and away I went. The broom wagon swept pass me and out of sight. I glanced down at the Garmin, it was telling me that I was doing 23.4mph along the flat and the legs felt good. I can't remember where it was, but I rounded a bend to be faced with the scene in the first picture. It took a minute or two to take it all in. "What's happened"? I said fearing the worst. "Everything is OK" was Dave's reply. Apparently an impatient Truck driver had tried to overtake Gareth and John on the bend. When he realised traffic was coming towards him he had swung back in towards the kerb and had knocked John off his bike. John landed on the pavement sprawled on the ground very very badly shaken but thankfully not hurt. It is thought that the lorry was from a local company based at Wick so he should know the road well. Traffic on the other side of the road had been forced to a halt. The Lorry DID NOT STOP !! There is no way that he would not have seen John as John was wearing a post office high viz top as you can see. The policeman reckoned that you could see John from a mile away. After all the bad weather that we have travelled through this happened on a dry day with good visibility. All details were recorded by the Police and he radioed ahead to have the lorry stopped. At this stage I don't know the outcome of this. Before we set off on our way the policeman reminded us of two massive climbs we had still to come. Helmsdale - climbing from sea level to Ord Point at 750 ft and then a bit further on Berriedale - climbing from sea level to 560 ft. Berriedale is actually worse as it achieves it's height in a shorter distance by the use of hairpin bends. At least the team were now all back together. We all powered on - all riding well considering that we had travelled the distance we had. Yes, the two climbs were every bit as bad as we had been told that they would be, probably the worst of the whole trip. Even Perranporth in the west country was as nothing compared to these brutes. But once done they were done and we cycled on. We had calculated that we would not arrive at John O Groats until about 1930. As the rest of the day wore on we were all feeling the effects of 10 full days in the saddle. By the time we arrived at Wick we were all but done in. John had said earlier in the trip that the closer we got to the end the easier it must become. I had not dared tell him that this is very rarely the case and that it can become more difficult. About 3 miles past Wick the road takes a sharp right. The sign said JOHN O GROATS 13 MILES. For each one of us this was to become the very longest 13 miles that we had done. The road went on in a never ending kind of way. 13 miles should be done in less than an hour we had thought.We pushed on always expecting a downhill gradient that never came. This had been a huge day for each one of us. We were all riding on empty.You could tell now how difficult this had become for John who up to this event was really a non cyclist. Three pedals spins and then he would try and coast along, but you can't coast up hill. This was the sting in the tail about the last 3 miles it was uphill! How cruel can this ride be? Even the last three miles is going to be tough. "Come on John you can do it" "Keep on pedalling" Three pedal spins coast- three pedal spins coast and then just over a rise there was the ever present Dave parked at the side of the road. "You are almost there" he said. And the last few hundred yards was actually downhill -we all sailed passed the John O Groats sign together with Dave in the support vehicle rolling in just behind us. We have done it. We have all cycled from Lands End to John O Groats. We have done it for the Dorset Kidney Fund. It had been an adventure that not one of us would have missed. Tonight a nice meal - a few drinks - followed by a comfortable bed and some rest and perhaps a little pat on the back for each other at beating the challenge !!
Todays Mileage 115 (Gareth and John 97) Average speed 12.3 mph - Top speed 40 mph - Calories burned 6211.
A REVIEW OF THE RIDE TOGETHER WITH UNPUBLISHED PHOTOGRAPHS WILL BE POSTED WHEN IT HAS ALL HAD TIME TO SINK IN (PROBABLY WITHIN THE NEXT 2 WEEKS) IN THE MEANTIME A REMINDER OF THE IMPORTANT LINK TO THE JUSTGIVING PAGE : www.justgiving.com/revproteamride
IF YOU ARE ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO TOLD US THAT YOU WOULD SUPPORT US ON LINE WITH A DONATION AND YOU STILL HAVEN'T DONE SO,NOW IS YOUR CHANCE.WE KEPT OUR END OF THE DEAL ,TOUGH AS IT WAS,NOW YOU NEED TO DO YOUR BIT, JUST PUT YOUR HAND IN YOUR POCKET.IT'S EASIER THAN CYCLING FROM LAND'S END TO JOHN O GROAT'S !!