Day 11 – finished
One last push today, we sang the national anthem as we lined up for a final morning photo shoot, and the boys headed off. the rain came soon, and we headed up into the clouds, the fog was really thick and the boys kept close together, we even drove along behind them at some points, a van is more visible than a bike!
the clouds lifted in the afternoon, and the boys left the A9 for a cross-country route. I had some shopping to do so headed into Wick, sadly one of the most lifeless places I’ve ever been, more shops were shut or closed down than open, but i did manage to find a road atlas for the journey home (still unimpressed by the SatNav!)
I met Geoff and Christine at John O’Groats, and we prepared bunting, signs and cameras for their arrival. They came in together, and crossed the line in a big group, the same as we started in Land’s End. 10 started but only 8 were in that group, it was gutting to not cycle over the line with them, and gutting not to have Jobby with us, but we’ll finish it in the future.
Next up was the obligatory photo shoot, they actually charge you to have a photograph next to the official sign, and they stop at 5 so we’d missed it anyway, trust the Scots! So we found another John O’Groats sign and had photos in front of that, all together, and individual shots of the boys holding their bikes above their heads (or at least trying to!) We all held Jobby’s bike up, some were wearing his clothes, his best mate Boardy wearing his personalised cycling top.
as the rain started we ran to the end of the harbour wall, and the boys stripped off for some very quick and cold photos with just helmets for the essentials, and yes these photos will be available online! Calendar to follow in time for Christmas…
we all piled into the car and the van, elated, singing, i felt like the bus driver at the end of The Italian Job driving the windy coastal roads to Thurso, trying to to spin the van off a cliff! Battered mars bars were purchased and we headed out for a celebratory curry in the only restaurant that seemed to be open in the whole of Thurso!
Not reaching John O’Groats on my bike was one of the most disappointing moments of my life, having trained hard, invested heavily and dreamed wildly about this for the last year. I hate the pain in my knee that put an end to my ride and is still making my limp now, and I had to put all that to one side as I celebrated the incredible achievement of my friends today, what they’ve done has been truly amazing. But I’m so glad I’ve stuck with them, seen their frowns turn to smiles as we spur them on up the hill. I gave my all whilst I could ride, and did all i could in support since. The “med run” every night, making sure they had all the drugs and creams they’d need to get through the next day’s cycling, getting the bike parts they needed, food and drink, and yelling out of the van how well they were doing.
I’ve seen this amazing country from top to bottom (bottom to top actually), I’ve fallen in love with the UK even more, bonded with the guys, taken hundreds of photos and gigabytes of video, got lost, found again, shared joy and felt pain, and it’s been amazing. Most importantly I’ve still managed to raise some money to give the amazing kids at Adonai in Uganda a house ti live in, thanks to your kindness and support, and I WILL finish what I promised you I’d do. On the first day as i pushed my bike up the hill after 91 miles, knee already starting to hurt and scared of how I’d cycle the remaining 900 miles, I thought of what an honour it was to make a difference to these kids’ lives, they’re not “less privileged”, they’re just not privileged at all. I’m so proud of Steve Allwright who rode the whole way for Adonai, between us we’ve raised about £3500 which will do so much for Adonai.
So thank you for your kindness, support (texts, tweets, comments and facebook messages have lifted me from some pretty dark places in the last 11 days!), thanks you to EVERYONE who’s helped us along the way, too many to mention, for your your amazing hospitality, kindness and support, my fellow support team Rachel Tara Geoff and Christine, and Darren, Steve, Dan, Pete, Chris, Jobby, John, Matt and Jonny, biker boys forever!
(i’m late for dinner and haven’t proof read this, and i’m hungry and can’t be bothered, sorry for the bad spelling!)