In early 1997 I decided to celebrate my forthcoming 40th birthday with an attempt to cycle end to end, from John O’Groats to Lands End, a distance of approximately 900 miles. My father had successfully completed the ride in 1982 to celebrate his 50th birthday, so I looked to him to help me plan the route.
With very little training or preparation I travelled to Scotland via train on the 13th August 1997 and after a brief stop at John O’Groats for the customary photograph I started my journey south the following day. The lack of preparation took its’ toll on my body over the next few days as I climbed what seemed like endless Scottish hills. I met up my my parents at Galashiels and was grateful that I would now have support for the remainder of my journey.
Crossing over the border, through the Lake District, northern England, the west Midlands and down into Somerset I managed to once again some of the fitness that I had once enjoyed as a youth and the miles passed with surprisingly ease. Just outside Bridgewater I said farewell to my parents and travelled onto Exeter where I met up my next support crew, Sarah & Ben. My one big mistake came that day when I elected to cross Dartmoor rather than cycling around it and ended up with a shortage of miles in torrential rain. I was transported to Tavistock where we had rented a cottage for the coming week and gathered myself for the final push. The next day I was taken back to the place where I had stopped the previous evening and in torrential rain again set off for what I hoped would be the last day of riding.
Passing through Liskeard and on to Bodmin I realised that the end was in sight. As I climbed out of Penzance and onto the Land’s End peninsular the road flattened out. The final couple of miles were flat out, there was no holding back now, through Sennen and there it was, Lands End and the famous hotel. Down the final straight and through the car park barrier to the end of the road. But where was by support team? Eventually saw Sarah and Ben who had not expected me so soon. Ben presented me with a special certificate that he had done for me and a mug of Lands End.
We wandered on down to the famous signpost where I had the official picture taken and then into the hotel to sign the official end to end book. Then into the Post Office to register my journey and get the official certificate. Back to the car for a well deserved glass of champagne. Car loaded and back to Tavistock via a MacDonalds for a well deserved rest and an enjoyable weeks holiday with Sarah and Ben.
I had achieved something that I had always wanted to do, to cycle from one end of the country to the other. I had achieved it within my original plan of 9 days, an average of 100 miles a day. I had proved to myself that at nearly 40 I was still in reasonable shape. I had proved that if you set your sights on a goal you can achieve that goal if you really want to. Realistically I didn’t do a great deal of training for the ride but that didn’t seem to matter that much. Sheer will power and determination kept me going and the support and encouragement during the hard times from my support team. I had raised nearly £600 for ‘The Winged Fellowship, the charity that I had chosen to do the ride for.
What next ?
Well there is always the ultimate cycle adventure, USA Coast to Coast and who knows one day that dream may also come true.