Day 14 – Altnaharra to John O Groats – 82 miles (less 6 miles!)
And so we came to the final morning of our end to end route… After 13 days of 6.30 am starts, 13 days of fry-ups, 13 days of applying ointments to eradicate saddle sore (enough said), 13 days of early morning briefs conducted very professionally by Nick and 13 days of luxury packed lunches provided by Steve we were within distance of the finishing post…it was just about completing the final 76 miles of our LEJOG cycle route, easier said than done.
Due to staying in Altnaharra the previous evening, it meant a few of us had 6 miles less to complete so we took advantage of this by taking in a full Scottish fry-up. And so began the final morning ride in what was to be the only day that it rained throughout the end to end tour.
Leaving Altnaharra we meandered through the Scottish highlands and 20 miles later, we hit the coastline and were in sight of the Atlantic Ocean as we arrived into Bettyhill, a small seaside village where we stopped for an early lunch.
It was not long after breakfast so I took this opportunity to stock up on extra supplies of chocolate and sweets and into my pockets as they were sure to come in handy as the afternoon progressed.
We had not encountered any serious hills as yet, and Nick’s meticulous planning was not to let us (him?) down as we started to climb out of Bettyhill, following the coastline and onwards to the final destination, John O Groats.
Cue the rain..and wind..The Scottish weather unleashed all it could as we battled the headwinds and rain, it was as if all the foul weather had been saved up during the past 13 days and released in one swoop.
The final 30 miles seemed to last forever and it was at this point it began to dawn on me what I had actually achieved and that the weeks of training, planning and eating a (relatively) healthy diet had paid off – Would I really be coming to the end of this end to end challenge?! Just to add to my strict dietary requirements, Chris, Mark and I stopped off in the town of Thurso and decided to sample the local fare of a deep fried mars bar from a local Fish ‘n’ Chip shop. Energy food at its best!
I would like to go on record to say that the deep fried Mars Bar was the reason those final 15 miles went past in a flash, the taste was delicious but I don’t think I’d opt for another for a while…although if Mars are looking for a sponsor – email address is available through this blog.
And then the holy grail was in sight, John O Groats.. Signposts began to populate the side of the roads and it was then that you were on auto-pilot. Before arriving at John O Groats, we all decided to re-group at the village of Mey, which was around 7 miles from the end. We planned to meet up at the local pub, the Castle Arms where, soaking wet through, cups of tea and coffee were the order of the day rather than a swift pint…
We then all re-grouped and for the final time onto the saddles, and as one, made the final cycle to John O Groats finish line – we had done it! Cue the champagne corks in the wind & rain and high fives all around…..LEJOG was done
Amazingly, I encountered zero punctures and even more amazingly, I didn’t even pump my tyres up over the course of the 14 days.
To anyone planning an end to end – Go for it, achieve a personal goal, you will not regret it. Hopefully this is the start of me achieving a few more goals and dreams and realising we all have the ability when you put your mind to it.
My journey raised money for Cancer Research and feel free to visit my sponsors page at: www.justgiving.com/swan-simon
The words of American General George Patton provide a nice summary to the cycle when he said: “I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom” – It was a challenge, but I am so pleased I had the determination to achieve taking it day by day.
I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my LEJOG Blog. I hope you’ve found it interesting and feel free to post your thoughts and comments. Once again, thank you for visiting Simon’s LEJOG blog