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All about my 14 days challenge

Day 15 - Home time… John o’Groats to London

24/07/2021

Day 15 means home time for me, Renata and Dom. Mick and Sara are meeting some friends at Inverness airport and will travel back home over the next 5 days - a well earned rest for them..

Was on the 2.50pm flight to Gatwick and arrived home at 6ish… feels quite weird being back! 

So pleased to have made these little videos - have got some wonderful memories from these last 2 weeks. 

Once again… huge thanks to Mick & Sara for everything they have done - I don’t have enough words to express my gratitude. To Olly for coming up and joining for the day, was a lovely boost. To Dom - Micks Nephew, who came and joined the last 4 days and of course Renata, who has been been so amazingly encouraging and supportive - achieving this goal has dominated out lives for the last 6 months… and I couldn’t have done it without her.

Over and out… ❤️ 🚲 👍

Day 14 - Crask Inn to John o’Groats

82.38 miles / 4017ft

23/07/2021

Day 14 completed in 5h32 (cycle time). Today is the last day! We set off in the mist and cloud - looking forward to a 30 mile decent towards the coast, but aware that we had 30 miles of tough hills beyond that. More amazing views and lovely scenery as we made our way towards Bettyhill and despite the pretty tough hills and strong headwind that followed our spirits were high knowing we were so close to completing this goal.

We finished with a bit of a sprint towards the end and arrived to medals and champagne (thank-you Sara and Renata)! Can’t quite believe we’ve made it to this point, without bike issues and feeling fully fit and well throughout. Apart from the odd muscle ache, its been a very smooth 14 days. Massive credit must go to Sara for keeping us fed up with the right nutrition and ensuring the correct hydration was happening - she worked incredibly hard the entire week, and I can’t thank her enough. 

I have been well and truly spoilt by the skills and experience that both Mick and Sara brought to this tour - it has been a real privilege!

What’s next?! Will have to get planning…

Day 13 - Inverness to The Crask Inn

67.08 miles / 3383ft

22/07/2021

Day 13 completed in 4h40 (cycle time). Set off for the penultimate day of this tour around 11am and headed out of Inverness over the Kessock Bridge towards our lunch stop at Bonar Bridge. A reasonably flat route with some lovely views again over the rolling hills and mountains of the Highlands.

After the lunch stop we just had 23 miles up towards the Crask Inn which is on the A836 - basically in the middle of the wilderness - popping up out of miles of nothing but hills and fields.

An evening off from cooking for Sara as we ate in the pub together - a nice penultimate evening meal, overlooking the Highlands - with a beautiful sun set and some great ale.

Final days tomorrow - 85 miles up to John o’Groats… feeling quite weird that this amazing journey is nearly at an end.

Day 12 - Fort William to Inverness

76 miles / 4334ft

21/07/2021

Day 12 completed in 5h12 (Cycle time). Today was a bit of a later start. Mick and Sara came to our hotel on the Lock and we had breakfast sat outside by the water in the sunshine. 

Today was a shorter 66 miles up to Inverness - or so we thought. It started with a ride out of Fort William in the shadow of snow capped Ben Nevis, which dominated the skyline for several miles. The route took us on a quieter road, which was a really nice bit of respite from the busier A82. Unfortunately the route ended up following a cycle path which became very gravelled and rocky - really only suitable for mountain bikes. After some investigation and talking to some guys who were coming the other way - we decided to turn around and find an alternative  - this took us back to the A82 and added 9.5 miles to the day.

We arrived into Fort Augustus at the bottom of Loch Ness for some refuelling - we knew we had a big climb after this so didn’t want too much food - and a big climb it was, made much harder with the 25 degree sunshine blaring down on us. Once at the top of this climb we had some spectacular views and lovely downhills back towards the waters edge of Lock Ness where we tracked along until the tip of the Lock - very lovely route.

As we left Lock Ness we headed on towards Inverness and the Premier Inn where myself and Renata are staying for the night. Sara cooked up another fabulous meal and we finished the night with some yummy local cheese and red wine - all rather tired!

2 more days to go - the final stretch is upon us… off to a little pub in the middle of the Highlands tomorrow - The Crask Inn.

Day 11 - Lock Lomond to Fort William

86 miles / 3502 ft

20/07/2021

Day 11 completed in 5h38 (cycle time). Today we are joined by Dom - Micks Nephew, who flew into Glasgow this morning and was knocking on the motor home door before 8am. He is joining for the last 4 days, and was initiated into it with the longest ride of the tour.. 86 miles up to Fort William.

We set off and got to the base of Lock Lomond very quickly, from here we tracked the lock on the cycle path for almost 30 miles - some beautiful views. As we left the lock we started to go up - pretty much for the next 30 miles! Up into the Highlands - long roads of about 4-6% - not my fav type of hills.

60 miles in and we met up with Sara and Renata who had picked a lovely spot for lunch. Yummy food to fuel us for the last 26 miles over to Fort William.

Tonight Renata and I are in a hotel near Fort William, right on the Lock - so enjoyed a beer (after a protein shake) with everyone in the sunshine before saying goodbye to Mick, Sara and Dom who went off to a campsite..

Off to Inverness tomorrow.. 👍

Day 10 - Moffat to Lock Lomond

75.70 miles / 2761 ft

19/07/2021

Day 10 completed in 5h36 (cycle time). Woke to the sound of sheep again today ready for a reasonably flat cycle up through Glasgow and along to the base of Lock Lomond.

Set off around 10.30am and initially encounter a route error so took a 4 mile detour to find ourselves back on track. The route was pretty much following the A74(m) again for the first 40 miles - and have to say I’ve never cycled on such poorly maintained roads - utter rubbish. A few cycle paths were ok, but overall - bum-bashing, pot-hole riddled crap.. really hope the next few days get much better!Cycled directly through Glasgow, heading for our lunch stop - 60 miles in, and was ready for a sit down and some yummy food!

Just had a quick 15 miles to do after lunch (which was at 4.30pm) - and was surprised that it was along the canal path, quiet and picturesque - nice after the long bumpy road leading up to Glasgow.

Tagine for dinner - another delicious meal from Sara.. and an earlier night ready for the 85 miles tomorrow up to Glencoe.

Day 9 - Keswick to Moffat

80.9 miles / 4240ft

18/07/2021

Day 9 completed in 5h35m (cycle time). Set of for Scotland today, quite a warm one. Reasonably hilly to start with as we navigated our way over the rolling hills of the Lake District - lovely views as we dropped down into Carlisle. On through Gretna Green and shortly afterwards found the ‘Welcome to Scotland’ sign. From here the route navigated along next to the A74(M) - not a particularly nice route, long, straight and really bumpy. Lunch stop in Lockerbie and then a quick final 18 miles up into Moffat.

Arrived to find Sara and Renata had set up camp in a nice spot surrounded by lovely view - and sheep! Yummy veggie lasagne for dinner tonight, followed by cheese and wine! Nice…

Off to Lock Lomond tomorrow…

Day 8 - Slaidburn to Keswick

66.19 miles / 5509 ft

17/07/2021

Day 8 completed in 5h16mins (cycle time). Today was a hot one! Saying goodbye to Olly halfway through and meeting Renata today so started a little bit earlier.

Set off and up into the Forest of Bowland, some beautiful climbs up through the valleys - tough, long, hot - but amazing views. Today seemed to be pretty hilly, and we were ready for our lunch stop after 45 miles on the edge of Lake Windermere - where Renata met us having come up from London… shes now with us for the rest of the tour! Hooray! ❤️. Said goodbye to Olly - was so great for him to join for the day yesterday.

21 miles after lunch, skirting more lovely lakes and up towards Keswick to meet Sara and Renata who had already set up camp. Staying on a working farm, up in one of their fields, surrounded by sheep (who are rather too vocal)

Off to Moffat tomorrow. 

Day 7 - Runcorn to Slaidburn

62.5 miles / 3848 ft

16/07/2021

Day 7 completed in 4h48m (cycle time). Olly arrived to join the ride for a day.. so brilliant that he was able to come up from Biggleswade, visit his mum in Manchester and then join us in Runcorn.

We set off around 10.30am and headed towards Warrington, was a bit of a busy route as we traveled on to Blackburn for our lunch stop, but not without some nice views of the sweeping hills, and Manchester popping out on the horizon.

Some reasonably nasty climbs as we headed on to Slaidburn - and the sun didn’t really help - but shouldn’t complain, at least its dry unlike the first few days!

Off to Keswick today via Lake Windermere… where Renata joins the tour! ❤️

Day 6 - Clun to Runcorn

85 miles / 4381 f

15/07/2021

Day 6 completed in 5h59m (cycle time). A slightly leisurely start this morning as both myself and Mick were feeling slightly snoozy, plus we had the entire camping field to ourselves and the view was lovely and the sunshine was out!

Set off at 11.15am, straight up and over the Shropshire hills - actually dropping back into Wales 3 times on this trip as we skirted the boarder, through Shrewsbury and up towards Wrexham, before bearing left to Runcorn. Did come across a road closure which meant we had to detour up more hills - adding over 700 ft to the climbing for the day, but overall it was really nice ride.

Had a great lunch stop with yet more yummy food from Sara (THANKYOUUU!) - who had to battle through some very narrow roads to get there!

Pub meal and a few pints.. looking forward to Olly turning up tomorrow.

Day 5 - Monmouth to Clun

63 miles / 4115 ft

14/07/2021

Day 5 completed in 4h42m (cycle time). Said goodbye to the lovely Welsh countryside and beautiful view from the camp site and into the very narrow and quite hilly Welsh roads over towards Hereford. Didn’t see a car for at least 8 miles.

First stint was 41 miles to meet up with Sara for lunch… both were quite ready for a stop, tiredness kicking in a bit but also the roads were so bumpy, the back side need a rest too!

After lunch we headed off up into the Shropshire hills - pretty much up hill for 22 miles, with one mother of climbs quite near the end to really make sure we were knackered.

Arrived at the site a bit earlier today, 5pm and launched into various jobs.. Sara being the busiest with the rice cakes, banana loaf, washing, dinner… and Mick changed the other side of the Motors Homes break pads.. I washed the bikes, and tried to be useful!

Early night was had by all…

Day 4 - Glastonbury to Monmouth

68 miles / 3530 ft

13/07/2021

Day 4 completed in 4h 59 mins (cycle time). Waved off by my sister, Emma and Sarah as we set the gps for Monmouth in Wales. Pretty soon found ourselves in Wells - where I went to school for sixth form.. lovely memories of the place.

Up over towards Bristol - through Aston Park where Mick has raced his mountain bike several times, and then skirted the city - under the Clifton suspension bridge and (sadly) through a massive industrial estate… too many articulated lorries to avoid.

Crossed the old Severn bridge and into Wales where we met up with Sara for a late lunch at 4.30pm - all that was left was a quick 14 miles following along the Wye River and then up into Monmouth.

Pub attached to the site, with lovely views - so enjoyed a meal in the pub garden… and few of their local ale!

Day 3 - Bovey Tracey to Glastonbury

74 miles / 5429 ft

12/07/2021

Day 3 completed in 5h 39 mins (cycle time)…. And started with a coffee stop with my Dad.. followed immediately as we left Bovey Tracey with a 25% climb. Pretty brutal. As was most the morning actually, hill after hill. It rained and it shone, got pretty wet, and a little sunburnt.. Lovely little lunch break at the top of The Blackdown Hills, and then some amazing sweeping down hills - Heavenly.. Didn’t love the busy B-road into Glastonbury, which seemed to go on and on - but were met by my Sister and Sarah, who had travelled down from London to support! Amazing, and massive thanks to them!

Couple of pints in the pub, and I’m now back with the hair dryer and the shoes! Monmouth tomorrow… 🚲

Day 2 - Fowey to Bovey Tracey

66.5 miles / 8087 ft

11/07/2021

Day 2 completed in 6h 6 mins and can be described pretty much in 3 words… COLD, WET, HILLY! Started off at about 10..15am and was hit immediately by a pretty horrible hill - nice wake up for the legs. 2 ferries and a lovely meet up with my cousin half way through - when we also were met by Sara and the motor home, so great to be able to change into dry kit and have some nice food! Afternoon was up onto the moors. Loads of hills - 2 x long 20% climbs but some amazing scenery.. in the words of Mick it was ‘tough’.. !

Back a bit later than hoped due to the hills and the rubbish weather to find Sara had a nightmare with the motor home - stuck in the mud twice trying to park up at the campsite - so had to back into a barn - see below!

Staying on a working farm - in the yard(!), newly born foal, 5 puppies, 2 kittens - a bit too much dog poo, some of which found its way into the motor home.. 

Managed a BBQ and a few beers… set the hair dryer on the cycling shoes then 😴. 👍

Day 1 - Lands End to Fowey

64 miles / 5528 ft

10/07/2021

Day 1 completed in 4h40mins.. Looked like rain yesterday and started the day waiting for the skies to open. Actually was a nice sunny start and a lovely ride through picturesque Cornish villages - for the first 35 miles… and then the skies opened. A pretty hilly day, and terrible breaking with carbon rims, so made for some fun and quick hill decents. Mick lost one of his knee warmers - much to his annoyance - understandable, they’re special Team Wiggins ones..  Met some guys doing the same ride as us, so shall be meeting up with them in the same Pub on the penultimate night in Scotland!

Back about 5.30pm and Mick had to change the break disks on the motor home while I meticulously washed the bikes… pub dinner.. bed.. 😴.. tomorrow is even more hilly! 

Day 0 - Chipstead to Lands End

Travel Day

09/07/2021

Today its all started, packing the motor home and traveling the 290 miles down towards Lands End… not much to say but in the words of Mick - the traffic was $h!T and the weather was $h!t….