kipperfish: (thinking)
[personal profile] kipperfish
Land's End to John O'Groats Day 14 - The Crask to John O'Groats 82 miles (988 miles done, 0 miles to go)

Wow. Did that really just happen? I'm still having to pinch myself to convince myself it wasn't a dream, and I still keep looking at the picture of my bike leaning against the sign post at John O'Groats in mild disbelief that I actually made it! There were points during the evening where I didn't know whether I should laugh or cry, which I think proves two points - I'm an emotional wussbag who seemingly does a fair bit of crying, and that this trip, this achievement is quite an emotional one to have done. 14 days hard work on the bike actually doing the ride, and the weeks and months of training your body to be able to cope with it all culminated with a photo of a bike leaning against a sign post. Oh, and some sore legs, but amazingly, not a sore bottom! Props to halfords for their Gel Saddle Cover for that one I think!

So, we started off today in the middle of the middle of nowhere with more of the roadway to nowhere stretching out ahead of us, and going uphill. However,this was to prove a false dawn, as it wasn't long before not only did the road start sloping downhill, but we got real bona fide Tarmac rather than Scottish vibramac! These two things combined made this our longest section of the tour as our brew stop was some 29 miles away from starting point! 29 miles to the cup of tea! Yet, when we got there, I was still surprised that we had reached it already such was pace we were able to keep up - it was just like a training ride. The only problem then was that on my training rides, I would then stop for the day, and let my legs recover. Today was not a training ride!

After brew, we hit the North Scottish Coast which is a bit lumpy, to put it mildly. There were lots of ups and downs along the coast, which took the final toll on a pair of legs that simply put had had enough of hill climbing! The uphills were probably the slowest I have done all tour (excluding the walking, or even possibly including the walking), but honestly, I didn't care one bit. I was going to get there by hook or by crook, and quite frankly, it didn't matter how long I took, especially after the first session blitz. On the plus side, each uphill was complemented by a really fun downhill, unlike a number of other occasions on the tour, and it made the climbing all the more worthwhile.

We eventually stopped 10 miles before the end so that we could all group up and ride in together, and it was that this point, with the final point within touching distance, that the emotions really started to show. There were at least two of us riding in memory of people who had died, and as we stood outside the pub we were regrouping at, both of us, separately, were thinking about why we were here, what we were doing this ride for, and about the person we were riding in memory of. In my case, I had the T-Shirt I had printed at Ashbury manor, mum on the front, mum and me on the back. Neither of us really wanted to socialise with the other LeJog'ers for those few minutes, and fair play to them, they let us go through what we needed to go through for a few moments, before it was time to set off, all together, for the last 10 miles.

I don't remember much about the first five miles of that stretch. Trying to cycle whilst your body is trying to cry is not an easy experience. You can't breathe properly, you can't cry properly, you can't see properly as your vision does really weird thing in front of you, and you really don't want to explain to anyone who sees you why you are crying, so I managed to get myself a little space and somehow managed to get myself under control again. Once that had been done, the adrenaline caught, and the final wind went into my legs as we finally reached The Sea View Hotel, 1/4 of a mile from the John O'Groats sign post. From there, it was downhill all the way, and it wasn't a race to the sign post, it wasn't a race from Land's End, but I was totally the first one to the sign post, so I totally won!

Having had them see me off at Land's End, it was one of the best things ever to see My Dad, my Brother, and my Sister-in-Law waiting for me at the sign post. As much as I got to know and like the group I was with, there is something different about people you know being there for you at the end of something like this.

I wish someone else was there too. She would have been so proud, so happy, and wouldn't be able to stop telling everyone about it, but then, if she was, I might not have done the ride in the first place. But I guess you can't have everything in life, so enjoy what you have while you have it, savour the good days, and things won't work out too bad.

I know this was meant to be a light hearted record of the trip, but I guess sometimes you just gotta write what you feel, especially when it is the main reason you did it. Thankyou so much to everyone who read this, who liked, commented on, and shared my Facebook posts, and who donated to the two charities. Seeing the likes and comments pop up almost constantly gave me a link to a bunch of wonderful friends whilst I was in this weird LeJoG bubble where what went on in the outside world had little bearing on what I was doing. It made me feel you were all doing the trip with me and on the times when I was on my own, in a valley, with a big headwind in my face, staring up at the ludicrous hill I was about to climb, that was worth more than anything in the world!



Still not in..., no wait, Arrived in John O'Groats!

K.

Date: 2016-09-18 06:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] same-difference.livejournal.com
Many congratulations, a serious achievement and a very touching memorial.

Date: 2016-09-18 09:19 pm (UTC)
xanthipe: (violet)
From: [personal profile] xanthipe
To quote Sir PTerry:

No one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away, until the clock wound up winds down, until the wine she made has finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested. The span of someone’s life is only the core of their actual existence.

So yeah, she's still proud of you, as are the rest of us :)

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