John O Groats to Lands End

The Charities we are supporting...

The Charities we are supporting...
We have decided to cycle the length of the country from John O Groats to Lands End in aid of two charities that are very close to our hearts. Both charities have a similar goal to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people albeit it in very different areas of the world. The Zambia IDEALS project is dedicated to empowering young people who are living in poverty using sport as a basis and educating communities about the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. This work is carried out in one of the most socially and economically deprived areas of the world namely Lusaka, Zambia. Best Chances is a UK based charity which works in some of the most deprived areas of the country and aims to offer young people the best chances in life by breaking down financial barriers which prevent them from fulfilling their dreams. Both of these charities are currently carrying out tremendous work and have been involved in transforming the lives of many, young, deprived individuals. This work is obviously very dependent on funding and it is for this reason that we both felt we should do our bit by trying to raise some funds to allow this fantastic work to continue.

Monday, 5 July 2010

The grand finale

‎​980 miles, 38 free bottles of lucozade, 13 days, 9 mosquito bites, 5 repaired chains, 4 fatigued legs, 3 wrong turnings, 2 sore bums, 1 bee sting, 1 puncture AND one GOAL...John O'Groats to LandsEnd by bike...DONE!!

After months of planning, preparation and training, today was the day we had both been waiting for, the day we roll across the line at Lands End to officially complete the John O'Groats to Lands End bike ride!!

Spirits were understandably high as we awoke in our beautiful rooms at Kinberley B and B in St Agnes! We had planned the route to leave us with a 35 mile coastal ride to cover today, allowing us a bit of time at Lands End before heading to Penzance train station for our long ride home!! We were treated to yet another fantastic full English by our hosts Sue and Neil which set us up for our final journey!!

The route was beautiful and took us right along the cliffs through St. Ives, St. Just and finally into Lands End!! The coastal road is renown for being one of the most beautiful roads in the country and it certainly did not disappoint! The views out to sea were fantastic and it was a very fitting way to end our adventure!!

As we began to see the signs to lands end counting down through 6 miles, 4 miles, 2 miles and 1 mile, we began to realise the enormity of the feat we had achieved! This was the first time during the trip that I had feared for Beckys life as she shot off down the 15 percent declines shouting 'were nearly there' and forgetting that their was other traffic on the roads!!

As we cycled the final mile to Lands End we began to see Beckys parents who had prepared a banner for us to cycle through at the finish line! We un vailed our victory T-Shirts (kindly designed and created by Beckys Dad) and headed over to the Lands End sign post!! We were treated like celebrities and we pushed to the front of the queue for photos and had every Tom Dick and Harry taking snaps of us with our bikes by the sign! We chatted to lots of people about what we had done and both felt so proud of our efforts!! With our huge smiles at this point permanently glued to our faces we headed over to the hotel to become official members of the end to end club and to sign the book along with many others who had completed the journey, some had run the route in just nine days and some had even completed the journey in a motorised bed (sounds a lot more enjoyable!!) We were also let loose with the 'end to end' ink stamp where we proceeded to stamp everything in sight as souvenirs...including our faces!!

After a few (well lots) more photos with various signs at Lands End we pushed our bikes back to the car and strapped them onto the bike rack ready for the car journey to Penzanze!!

We are now sat on the train headed back to Birmingham and are passing through many places that we have recently passed through on two wheels!! We have now got some time to reflect on what we have just achieved! We both agree that this was the hardest but most amazing thing we have ever done, it has tested us physically, emotionally and to a higher degree than we expected, mentally!! Everything seems so far away when you are up in the highlands and it can feel quite lonely as you cycle for hours without seeing any sign of life! This is usually balanced out by the beautiful scenery that can be viewed, we were both amazed by the vastness of the open spaces in the highlands!!

We have been so lucky to have had amazing support from so many people which has enabled the trip to take place and for money to be raised for two great causes- special thanks must go to:
- Every single person who has sponsored us.
- The owners of all of the B and Bs who put us up for free, treated us so well and always provided us with fantastic breakfasts.
- Our families who have provided us with moral support throughout the ride and have given us much needed support in order to get the ride up and running!
- Phil O'Connor from Halfords who provided us with a multitude of cycling equipment, saving us an absolute fortune.
- Guy and Fran who lent us their bikes for the ride.
- Brian Rose, James Blackwell, Laurian Pepper, Emme Moutrie, Chris Watt, James Drysdale and Kieran Gallager for meeting us on route, providing us with treats and motivating us through various sections of the ride!
- Bernie and Maureen from Best Chances who have always been there to provide us with support and ideas of ways to increase the benefit of the ride.
- Everyone who has sent us messages of support throughout the ride!

We have had many highs and lows during the trip but in every case the highs have out done the lows (even though the negative vibes from some of our blog posts may seem to say differently). At this point we are going to look back at some of the most memorable parts of the trip:
- Arriving in Thurso on a beautiful evening and contemplating the journey ahead whilst sat on the sea front with a Chinese take away!
- The 17 percent decline into Loch Ness and the journey along side the Loch.
- Catching a glimpse of the amazing Ben Nevis and being thankful we weren't climbing it.
- The numerous motivational people we met on the way.
- Ben forgetting how to read a map and ending up 4 miles in the wrong direction with a big hill to climb (very little conversation was had during this climb).
- Realising our pump didn't work as we got a puncture in Fort Willian (Probably should have checked the pump before setting off).
- Cycling through the lake district in the pouring rain, laughing at first before realising it really wasn't much fun!
- Donations from interested members of the public on route.
- Passing through Gretna and into England!
- Some of the amazing places we stayed in and all of the amazing breakfasts.
- Crossing the Severn bridge after popping into Wales.
- Taking a trip on the Great Glen Cycle track!
- Seeing seals!
- Beautiful coastal paths in Cornwall.
- Becky being surprised by Emma after not seeing her for 5 months!
- The sight of Lands End after 980 miles of cycling.
- The amazing banner created by Beckys parents at the finish line!

13 days cycling provides you with a lot of thinking time...and a lot of thinking was done!...we are both in agreement that this is one of the most difficult challenges we have ever done, and our mental strength was most definitely tested over the course of the fortnight...however the thought of all the people we would be helping with the money raised most certainly kept us going throughout some of the toughest points of the journey!...
...It wasn't an easy challenge, it wouldn't be a challenge if it was!...but it was most certainly an emotional journey..laughter was shared and tears were shed, but we wouldn't change it for anything in the world!...we are both gleeming with proudness right now of what we have achieved and the thought of helping so many people is something that will definitely stay with us for the rest of our lives, along with some amazing memories!!

Will we ever do it again? It is tough to answer that question in the state we are currently in but if we do then it will certainly not be for a few years!!

...John O'Groats to Lands End...complete!!...:-)...

...What next??...

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Final stop - Cornwall

So our penultimate day was full of surprises and excitement!!...

...The thought of arriving in St.Agnes this evening ensured we both flew out of bed and down to yet another delightful breakfast from our host Susan!! The excitement grew even further when we were presented with some unexpected visitors during breakfast...Beckys parents!! Without Becky knowing, her parents had arranged to stay at the same B and B in St Agnes as us and they provided great motivation to get us the 78 miles from Okehampton!

The route we chose kept us mainly off the busy A30 and instead we spent most of the day on quiet minor roads! Although this route proved to be slightly more hilly, it was a welcome break from the traffic!!

Having made an early start in the morning we arrived into Beckys childhood holiday location during the late afternoon! This allowed us time to explore Perranporth, Chapelporth and St Agnes itself!!

Beckys parents treated us to a wonderful dinner including the biggest deserts we have ever seen called 'Death by Chocolate' and it literally nearly was!!

As we lie in bed we are bubbling over with excitement about what tomorrow brings!...with an early morning in store we better get some kip now, to ensure that we can tackle the last few hills Cornwall (and the UK) has for us!

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Saturday, 3 July 2010

Into Devon...

Today your getting alternative paragraphs off the two of us...(Mine will be the more intellectually stimulating ones...yes this is Becky writing)...

...After yet another full English from Elaine at the Beltane B and B we were all set for a long and hilly day!!

We tried to keep off the main roads as much as possible after experiencing a couple of days on busy roads, so we proceeded to sing our favourite tunes along the country lanes of Somerset!

As we approached Taunton, the lovely James Drysdale treated us to a delightful little BBQ in the sunshine...thank you Drysdale, that was AMAZING and really set us on our way for the afternoon!!

During the afternoon we proved that even when your legs feel like they can no longer work, they in fact can!! We climbed a few big hills as we began to learn that apparently the roads in Somerset and Devon don't avoid the hills but instead tackle them head on!!...
...However being met on route by Kieran Gallagher who provided us with some motivational marine chat, most certainly lifted our spirits! He treated us to tea and cakes - thanks mate (not that you even read our blog)!!

We arrived in Okehampton in good time after making the most of our early start! We are currently sat in a pizzaeria contemplating our penultimate day of the trip! Becky's quote of the day 'I think I might actually miss the cycling' something I never thought I would hear her say that!!

So as our penultimate day dawns closer and our legs become more and more fatigued by the hour...the excitement of reaching LandsEnd is forever increasing, and will most certainly keep us motivated when facing the gruelling hills of Cornwall tomorrow!
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786 miles done 186 miles to go...

So as our blog didn't send first time...let's try again...

Shortly after arriving with our host Teressa in Hereford, as a trained massues she treated our aching bodies to a wonderful massage!

This morning we again had an amazing breakfast and received another contribution to our fundraising total from a man who was also staying at the B&B...thank you!

We started our journey with a lovely little ride through Hereford and stopped to take a few snaps before pushing on into Wales!

After a spot of lunch just outside Monmouth we then got to experience the Seven Bridges cycle path heading into England, which was all very exciting! Becky spent most of the trip over the bridge worrying that I was going to fall in even though I was definitely in control!!

The afternoon passed without any dramas , just the occasional steep incline to get over, followed by enjoyable descents where we hit speeds of nearly 30 mph (sorry mums)!!

We slowly rolled into Wells at about 8 o'clock, we have got used to the long days now and have accepted that we never have much time to explore the places we are staying! We found an ASK for dinner where we were amazed by the interest people showed in our challenge (probably because we stood out like sore thumbs in our dirty cycling kit)! The staff treated us brilliantly and the manger showed his support by giving us our main meals free!!

We left ASK on a bit of a high before descending into the Beltane b and b for the night! The house was beautiful and we were made to feel very welcome!!

After watching a tense penalty shoot out between Guana and Uraguay we called it a day...

Highlights of the day:
1. The feeling of our legs after our massages
2. The donation from the kind man in Hereford
3. Crossing the Severn bridge
4. Free dinner at ASK
5. Wells cathedral with a backdrop of red sky
6.Seeing Chepstow race course
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Thursday, 1 July 2010

What an AMAZING day!!

With just 4 days left of the trip I have at long last been allowed to get my hands on the blog writing...for which I shall adopt a much more optimistic approach after being informed that our blogs of late have been a bit doom and gloom!

Well it is true to say that seeing a few friendly faces today have most certainly lifted our spirits in camp, as fatigue is well and truly beginning to kick in! Laurian Pepper, James Blackwell and his parents were a breath of fresh air and most certainly pulled us through the morning...soon after midday day we stopped for lunch, along with our support car for the day (James parents) and witnessed both James and Laurian consume a full 3 course meal in under an hour...impressive!! Thanks to Les and Caroline for treating us to lunch!!

The thought of seeing my parents within the next few hours soon got me back on my bike...with a fairly flat road the time seemed to fly by (besides the multiple pitt stops we had to make for James slow puncture)...and the sun even decided to show its face, the day was most certainly improving and was topped off when I saw my parents waiting for us in the distance! this point we said farewell to Laurian, James, his parents and their super duper road bikes!! (Thank you again for making such an amazing effort guys)

With a few wise words of wisdom and yet another delightful meal from my parents it most certainly spurred us on to complete the 76 miles to our final destination in Hereford!

The company we received today definitely made up for the lack of scenery we experienced on the A49, and seeing my parents has left me with a bounce in my step (not to sure how I could associate this saying to cycling).

Now we three tough days ahead of us, we are determined as ever to complete this amazing challenge and reach our fundraising total!!

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Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Hello Market Drayton

One of the toughest days of the trip today! The sun was out in full force and really took it out of us! The day was also a series of slow and steady climbs which are beginning to take their toll on our legs!!

We took an afternoon break to avoid the full heat of the sun, meaning we arrived into Market drayton after 830!! We were lucky enough to have a little suprise visit from Emma Moutrie and Chris Watt who met us at our b and b!! We had a lovely quick Indian with them in the village before catching some sleep!

Tomorrow sees us being joined by blackie and laurian for the day for a bit of well needed motivation!

Short blog today as we are both knackered!!

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Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Keswick to Preston - DONE!!

After waking up to a very wet and windy keswick and climbing for the first few miles we thought today was going to be another one of those days! However, not long into the day the clouds cleared and the sun came out! We were then able to enjoy probably the flattest day of the trip so far!!

We were lucky enough to be graced with the presence of Brian Rose for the day - he is a busy man so we appreciate being able to spend some time with him-many girls would pay a lot of money for the privalidge!!

The morning saw us cycle through the lake district, along lake windemere and out into lancaster! We stopped for lunch just short of Lancaster which was the half way point of the day-enjoying a good old pannini! The first few miles after lunch were up hill and felt a little harder due to the extra weight we had consumed at lunch!

The afternoon again went smoothly and we arrived into Preston safe and sound at about half 7! After a quick tour of Preston in search for the hotel we finally made it to our room for the night!!

We had a nice dinner at the hotel, a quick shower and now getting some sleep before another long day tomorrow! Becky spent 20 minutes in the shower trying to get the mud off her legs before realising it wasn't in fact mud but was a collection of bruises, bumps and cuts!!

We would like to thank Brian for cycling with us today and keeping us motivated! He was an excellent pace setter even if he did fly up the hills ahead of us with his fresh legs-but none he definitely kept us going throughout the day!!

Highlights of the day:
1. The scenery in the lake district, especially lake windemere
2. How flat it was
3. The sunshine
4. Brian Rose
5. A really nice chat with our host Margaret in Keswick about Zambia and receiving our clean clothes from her-thanks Margaret!
6. A fantastic cooked breakfast to set us on our way!
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Monday, 28 June 2010

England arrives

We have made it safe and sound to engalnd and now need to try to find some establishments who will take our scottish wonga - I think ull find its legal tender!!

We flew along from dumfries to carlisle this morning covering the 40 miles in just about 4 hours! During this ride we hit a massive milestone of the trip as we passed through Gretna and into ENGLAND, briefly stopping for a photo op by the sign!! We stopped for some food in carlisle and pondered the biggest climb of the trip so far into the lake district! We would be climbing for about ten miles and would reach a max height of 1100 feet!! This climb proved to be even more difficult than expected as the heavens decided to open and the wind gathered pace! The climb went on and on and we got wetter and colder, so cold that we didn't want to go to fast on the down hills to avoid the wind chill!!

The weather meant that it was difficult to enjoy what should have been some more amazing scenery! Instead it was head down, legs pumping and very little conversation!!

After stopping a few motorists to check we were headed in the right direction, we eventually found the main road to Keswick! Just as the weather cleared and we saw the 6 miles to keswick sign I managed to get stung by a bee, somehow the little guy got through my jacket and my top and got me right on the chest!! After a bit of winging and sympathy searching we continued on the final path to Keswick arriving at the Cherry Trees bed and breakfast just after 7, looking like drowned rats!!

We were greeted and shown to our amazing room by our friendly hosts! We ordered a take away to get some energy and our host Margeret very kindly took our wet clothes from us and gave them a quick wash for which we were very greatful!!

Off to bed before being joined by a special guest for the trip to Preston in the morning!!

Highlights of the day:
1. The nice flat morning in the sunshine which saw us setting new records for speeds on the trip
2. Passing through gretna and arriving back in our homeland
3. Meeting a friendly cyclist who was doing a casual 100 mile ride (he was probably triple our age)
4. Becky begging me to get married in the famous chaple in Gretna
5. Arriving at Cherry Trees and relaxing in our nice room
6. The beautiful lake district
7. Checking the weather forecast for tomorrow and expecting a brighter day!

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Sunday, 27 June 2010

Dumfries-england tomorrow!!

After catching the ferry bright and early back to mainland scotland we set out on our long hilly journey to dumfries!!

We met some interesting people on route including a couple who were walking the length of the country just because they had time on their hands after recently retiring!

This is going to be a short post as it is getting late but we arrived at our b and b about 8pm and had a nice hot bath before going to bed!

After 6 long days cycling we will finally be back in ENGLAND tomorrow! This will be a major milestone in the trip! My phone battery died today so there are no pics - sorry!!
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Onto the Isle of Arran

Scotland is very hilly, the uphills hit you like brick walls, the flats are very rarely flat and the down hills just disappear too quickly for our liking!!

We have both realised that the first ten miles of the day are always the toughest, our legs take a while to warm up and we often feel like we aren't really getting anywhere! This was made even more difficult today as the first 6 miles were a fairly steep climb! We made it to the top in a pretty slow time before settling into a few miles of flat!

Another huge climb seemed to go on forever and we only realised we were near the top when we began to see cyclists coming the other direction who were gasping for breath-we have learned that this generally means we are in for a nice downhill! We stopped at a cafe for a spot of lunch and were served by the snobbiest woman of the trip yet! Food was good but overpriced and after 30mins we were back on our way!

After lunch we really got into the swing of things again, we had a nice flat 30 miles which we covered in record time!

This left us with one BIG climb before a descent into Clanoig to catch our ferry to Arran! Clanoig was probably the biggest anti-climax of the trip so far with literally a car park and a toilet to offer!

So we caught the ferry and as we fast approached Arran (well as fast as scottish ferries go) we began to catch ominous glimpses of the beautiful Arran hills!!

We arrived in Lochranza and completed the final miles of the day down to Brodick and the Invercloy guest house! We quickly checked in and had a spot of dinner before bed!

Highlights of the day:
1. More free drinks and haribo from Lidl and Aldi.
2. The 14 percent decline into Clanoig.
3. The flat 30 miles to Clanoig.
4. The amazing views that we witnessed through the whole day.
5. The banquet of a meal we had once in Brodick.
6. A nice comfy bed for the night!
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