LEJOG

The Ride Across Britain (26-31 May 2016)…

By Idai Makaya

My main training goal for 2016 was to ride across Britain on an ElliptiGO bike – from Land’s End to John O’Groats (often referred to as ‘LEJOG’). The journey would be about 850-miles long and the Audax UK time-limit for the distance would be 113 hours, while the Guinness World Record for the journey by elliptical cycle was 6 days and 10 hours.

LEJOG Start

Land’s End…

On 26 May 2016 I awoke feeling quite nervous! My trip to Land’s End started around 10am (after dropping the children at school and bidding Ivy good luck in a Maths exam she was writing that same day). My trip was quite a long one and I had found it difficult to eat anything along the way (nervousness)! Much of the car journey went along the same route I would be riding, so I had used the drive to the starting point as an opportunity to plan ahead for the ride. I was a little apprehensive of the dual carriageways and motorway-like conditions I would be riding in, as well as the amount of undulation in the route (especially as I had entered Devon and Cornwall).

I had stopped for a coffee at a service station along the M4 motorway and also bought some new Ironman brand sunglasses there, to replace my previous sunglasses (which were lost during my 215km tandem training ride with Steve Abraham, two weeks before). That purchase of the sunglasses had left me feeling completely ready for the journey ahead. I had reached Penzance, where the car hire people were kind enough to allow me to drive on to Land’s end (some 20-miles away) so that I could start on time. They’d then collected their hired van from there later in the day, after we’d arranged for me to leave it in the Land’s End Hotel parking lot.

Arriving in Land’s End I was impressed with the beauty and tranquility of the place. The scenery was breathtaking and I had used the pleasant settings to relax my mind prior to the trip. I had set up my GPS routing equipment and had finally set off on my ride at 18:15hrs – after signing the guest book and my log books at the hotel (for verification purposes). I was working with 3 different types of verification for this ride – Audax UK, Guinness World Records, and the End to End Association (which promotes rides across Britain, from Land’s End to John O’Groats).

As soon as the riding had commenced I had felt calm. I had begun to think through the various things I’d need to deal with on the road and had started to look forward to the journey ahead. The first thing I had noticed was a light opposing headwind, which was slowing my progress a lot more than one might have expected (because of the low power output I was using on a ride of this distance).

At the diner

Dinner at the truck-stop, my first ‘proper’ meal on that first day…

I was averaging 18kph in the first 3 hours and it had started raining after about an hour of riding. At 21:00 I had stopped for a full English all-day ‘breakfast’ at a truck stop in Redruth, about 50km into the ride. The first day of my journey went smoothly – and saw me riding all through the night. I went on to 153km in the first 10 hours and 45 minutes.

I had met my friend (and fellow Audax rider) Ian briefly, just outside Exeter, which was a real motivator for me on that first morning – and I had also met fellow Audax rider Richard (and his grandson), on the outskirts of Cullompton. I covered the first 325km in 23 hours and 15 minutes – and then crossed the Severn Bridge at about 19:15 on 27 May 2016 – a full 25 hours after I had started the ride.

On the Severn Bridge I had met my friend Tim, who was just a few days away from his own big ride (a 5,000-mile ElliptiGO Bike tour around the Eastern USA)! Tim rode well into the night with me, before turning back and riding all the way back to the Severn Bridge (to get his car and drive home). After parting with Tim I had ridden into Hereford where I had tried to take my first sleep break, using my Outdoor Adventure Bivvy pack. I was at a well shielded church, which had a motion-sensing light (ideal for me to sort myself out with good lighting and then lie down in total darkness).

Crossing the Severn Bridge...

Crossing the Severn Bridge…

It was midnight by then – and I had been awake for over 36 hours at this stage (since getting up on Thursday morning). But I wasn’t ready to sleep, strangely – and after 15 minutes of trying I had packed up and got back on the bike. From there I rode through the night to a town called Ludlow, where I had found myself feeling really drowsy. I could not find a suitable sleeping place there, so I had just stopped for a snack, hoping that would make me feel more alert for a while. As I had sat on the pavement in the high street, after finishing my meal, I had thought I would just sit down for a minute more before getting back on the bike – but I had then fallen asleep almost instantaneously, right on the pavement in the high street!

The place was deserted – unlike Hereford (which was extremely busy with ‘night-life’). But I had been awakened after half an hour of sleep by a car that passed by playing very loud music. Luckily, not too much time had been lost (and I had become a bit more alert after the little nap, enabling me to ride to the outskirts of town – where I had found the main A49 trunk road heading to Shrewsbury).

At the main intersection joining the A49 from Ludlow, where I was to turn left towards Shrewsbury, I had spotted an enormous bus shelter (it was at least as large as a big garden shed)! I instantly knew this was an ideal sleep spot (and although at the junction of a main road, at that time of the night it was totally deserted – and there was no traffic on the roads to disturb me).

I’d set up camp there and set my alarm clock for 45 minutes’ sleep. I took a few minutes to fall asleep, but when I did so it was a very deep sleep. I was awoken by the alarm – which was extremely loud – and had headed towards Shrewsbury, feeling really fresh and ‘alive’. I had enjoyed that part of the ride quite a bit – and was feeling strong and quick. There were some big hills there, but the route had meandered between them (and, although surrounded by the hills, there was not much real climbing in that section at all – if anything, there was a net descent).

Ian Photo

On the road – making good progress early in the ride…

In Shrewsbury I’d found a Starbucks Coffee shop with a really good/clean toilet, where I’d gone to freshen up. I had discovered at that point that my toothpaste was rock solid, so could not brush my teeth – and I had removed my underpants because they were causing a lot of abrasion between my thighs (the fat under the skin had already been exposed by this point) and there was also abrasion around my backside area (with sores as bad as one would expect if sitting on a conventional bike saddle)!

Instead of wearing underpants (I had spare underpants packed) I had used my short cycling leggings from then on – which were much more comfortable and did not exacerbate the sores I already had. There had been rain, on and off, for almost the entire first two days of riding – but from this point at Shrewsbury it was pretty much a dry run. I had ridden strongly through the day, after a big latte and some caramel waffles at Starbucks (one of my favourite junk food treat combinations – I might add).

My diet throughout the trip was made up largely of sandwiches and assorted food wraps, bought at the shops and petrol stations I had stopped at on the route (and also the occasional large cafe meal, maybe 2-3 times a day). But I would only have those sandwiches and wraps at 3-4 hour intervals. At hourly intervals, I would snack on full chocolate bars, which I could eat whilst on the bike – without stopping.

The afternoon had been very hot on that second day of riding – and the stretch along the A6 route through Wigan and the surrounding towns had been extremely urban. I had ridden through many very busy town centres (it was now Saturday!) until I finally reached Preston, where my friend Andy had met me (just as I had reached town centre). I’d covered 612km in 46 hours, to reach Preston in the late afternoon.

Leaving Cullompton

On the open road…

Meeting Andy was the highlight of the day – and I had felt really relaxed when he was there riding with me. He navigated me through Preston town and onto the A6 again, headed towards Lancaster. Along that fast stretch of the A6 in Lancashire (the flattest part of the ride, so far) we ran into another ElliptiGO rider – it was our buddy Chris! He had his wife Liz following in a van behind him, having come out to the Fylde Coast on a cycling break, with all his different bikes. At exactly the same time we met Chris we’d also spotted our buddy Shane, in a car parked by the roadside.

Shane is an ElliptiGO dealer and also a mechanic – based in Preston – and he’d come out to provide mechanical support for me (just because he felt I might have needed it – we hadn’t actually planned this liaison beforehand). So after a while, when I was ready to stop for a 30-minute sleep break, Shane and Andy had got to work on my bike – doing a full service (including changing the track system load wheels and the chain – as well as lubricating everything on the bike), all while I had slept in Shane’s car.

I was thrilled with the bike service – and the bike had felt brand new when I had got back on it. However, Shane had noticed some ‘play’ in the bottom bracket (the bearing running through the frame on which the cranks turn). He had kept quiet about it at the time – because he did not have a spare one to replace it with (and he didn’t want me to become preoccupied and paranoid about it).

With Shane, Chris and Andy – in Lancashire…

I had split up with Andy and Shane after Lancaster and had ridden on for a while with Chris (with Liz in the van – following behind us). Chris, Liz and I had split up just before dark – after they had given me a special Catholic pendant to carry for encouragement and for good luck. I had then continued on the A6 alone, into the Lake District.

I had felt really upbeat as I headed towards Kendal, but as I got there (into the Lake District) I had to ride on big dual carriageways, which had looked like motorways, with very fast traffic. I had driven on those particular A-roads on previous family holidays to the Lake District, but they were not decent cycling roads (although legal to cycle on).

There was a massive climb out of Kendal, which had taken me hours to complete – in total darkness. I had not anticipated its length, or its steepness, so it had been something of a low point after the lovely afternoon ride with Andy, Chris, Liz and Shane. My biggest regret at that point was the fact that I had discouraged Andy from riding all the way from Preston to Carlisle with me (which he had actually offered to do).

I could really have done with some company on that third night ride. While descending the big climb and heading towards Carlisle I had felt extremely cold. I was unable to maintain my body temperature and had felt like I was shutting down. I had become very sleepy as well. I had tried to pedal harder, in order to warm up, but it wasn’t working – and even after completing the big descent the route was still very undulating (meaning lots of regular downhill stretches, with a very bad wind-chill).

The hypothermia was causing me to almost doze off, whilst still on the bike. It was extremely rural out there and I could not find anywhere to sleep. There was ice and frost everywhere in the fields – and all the churches in those areas were inaccessible (churches are usually useful for impromptu sleep stops). I was becoming really concerned about my ability to continue in that state, but I had somehow fought all the way to Carlisle.

I had found a service station on the route, where I had bought a snack wrap and some drinks. But I was unable to continue riding at that point and the guy in charge had taken pity on me and allowed me to use their storage rooms, behind the counter, to sleep. We brought my bike into the store so it would be safe and I had set up in the storeroom – which was really warm. I had set the alarm clock for just an hour of sleep, got myself into the bivvy sleeping bag, and just lay directly on the solid floor – flat on my back. I was surprisingly comfortable sleeping like that…

A stroke of luck - getting a place to sleep in Carlisle...

A stroke of luck – getting a place to sleep in Carlisle…

When the alarm rang I had got up quickly and packed up. I found new staff in the service station store (although the guy who had brought me in was still there as well) and I had set off on a crisp (but sunny) morning. I was feeling really upbeat heading towards Gretna (on a side-road beside the M6 motorway) and was actually on familiar ground, having ridden this route in the LEL 2013 Audax event. The route was quick in this section and I had enjoyed it for that reason. I had loved finally seeing the sign welcoming me to Scotland, which had brought back fond (and similarly triumphant) memories from the LEL Audax ride, 3 years before.

But as the morning wore on the road had become increasingly rough – something I did not remember from the LEL 2013 ride. The bike was moving really slowly and I had noticed a strange, metallic, pinging noise – seemingly coming from the track system. At first it would only occur occasionally – every hour or so. It was very intermittent – and sounded like stones were getting in the bike’s tracks – which had made sense at the time (in view of the grittiness of the road surface). This strange sound would later turn out to be significant, because it was not being caused by what I had thought was causing it…

Welcome to Scotland

In Gretna – entering Scotland…

I got through the very rough road section in the mid-afternoon and had expected to join the Scenic Route To Edinburgh – a truly scenic and quite gradual climb towards Edinburgh (which we had traversed during the LEL 2013 event). But, instead, I was routed onto a circuitous series of unending short climbs, on a completely different route to Edinburgh from the one we’d used in the LEL 2013 ride. The wind was strengthening by this point and really had slowed me down. But I had found the hilliness of the route really frustrating. Reaching Edinburgh had felt like an achievement and I was so frustrated with the difficulty of the route, by then, that I was just relieved to finally be there.

I had started to feel groggy in the afternoon heat, with the headwinds and all the climbing – and when I got to the Forth Road Bridge I had seen my arrival there (symbolically) as a departure from that awful, slow route. I was right about that aspect – and the route had changed in nature from that point. I had actually sped up again, despite some big climbs along the way. There were some breathtakingly quick descents through the ensuing villages, so I was making up for the climbs with fast descending – on long and straight roads.

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The Forth Road Bridge had marked the end of some very rough roads leading to Edinburgh…

Also, the road surfaces were good, so I was performing to my expected potential.
I had started looking out for sleeping places that evening, from after dark (about 22:30 onwards), but was failing to find anywhere suitable to sleep – which had surprised me. I did eventually find a shopping centre with an ideally set up bus shelter in the car park (next to a car wash) and had parked my bike inside the shelter and lain on the bench, using the alarm to wake me 45 minutes later. I was exhausted (and once-again hypothermic) by the time I had reached that point – and barely capable of stringing a sentence together. So the nap was badly needed.

When the alarm had rung I had taken a long time to re-orient myself. But I then got onto the A9 and rode well for some time, with the very gradual uphill drag ruling out any wind-chill, but still allowing a decent pace. I was still quite drowsy, despite having just slept, and that ‘alertness situation’ was not improving as I rode along. I had started feeling extremely cold as soon as the uphill riding had ended and the speed had picked up again – and was once again hypothermic (and unable to keep my body temperature up).

I soon became disoriented again – and could not really remember why I was there. I could not figure out whether this ride was my own idea, or someone else’s idea. I sometimes could not remember what the objective of the ride was. I think I even forgot who I was, at some points that night. But I had an overshadowing instinct to just ride on – and to follow the map – whilst waiting for the rationale of why I was there to somehow come back to me…

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This was all my clothing for the trip – note the alarm clock…

After 2 hours it still hadn’t come back to me why I was there – or what I was there for – and the cold had really messed me up, mentally. So I had started to search for new places to sleep along the route. I’d eventually found a hotel around Pitlochry – which had a nice veranda and a gazebo in the front – and I had set up there for a short sleep in the bivvy sleeping bag. It was about 6am by that time and I had slept for a full hour. When I awoke (with the help of the alarm, of course) I was finally back to normal – and it was warm enough for me to continue to ride (without any trouble with my body temperature).

I had noticed my hands were quite tender by this point – and my right wrist was actually sore at this stage (with severe weakness in the last 3 fingers on the hand). This was due to the battering I had got on the rough roads to Edinburgh, on the previous day, from which my hands had not recovered.

Even my feet had been battered by the vibration on those terrible roads to Edinburgh, but they had recovered during my two short naps. I had a renewed sense of purpose and determination at this point in the ride, realising that the Audax time-limit of 113 hours was becoming a tight call if I didn’t get my act together and find a way to ride through the chill of the final night to come. Stopping was bringing down my average speed, closer and closer to the time limit, after having had a 5-hour ‘buffer’ on the previous morning.

I was riding along the old A9 road, now designated as a cycling ‘highway’. The road surface was good in some places – but rough in others – and whenever it had become too gritty, or too hilly, I would simply switch back to the main A9 highway and ride with the cars. The two routes ran alongside each other, making it really easy to change over at will.

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Leaving Blair Atholl…

The headwind was a real nuisance in this part of the journey – and so were the hills. But despite those hindrances the bike had seemed to be uncharacteristically slow (for the effort I was putting in). And the strange noises, which I thought had sounded like dirt getting into the tracks, had become more and more frequent in this section of the ride – and more and more metallic-sounding…

About 4-miles from a town called Dalwhinnie (the location of the world’s highest whiskey distillery) my chain had come off the sprockets. I was quite surprised by this and had immediately put it back on – and continued riding. But within minutes it was off again – and I then realised there was a serious problem. I’d quickly figured out what the strange intermittent noises had been (that were emanating from the bike earlier in the ride). They were actually being caused by the bottom bracket ball-bearings being ground down, as the bottom bracket had failed…

The bottom bracket is the big robust bearing running through a bike frame – between the cranks – on which the cranks and chain ring turn. A bottom bracket failure is often a ride-ending mechanical setback on any bike ride – and I was well aware of this. I had attempted to tighten the chain further, to see if that would allow it to remain on the chain ring, until I could find a bike shop further along the route. But the bottom bracket had ceased completely by that point and the cranks were very wobbly (and could no longer even turn, because the ball bearings were completely destroyed in the bottom bracket).

The trip had seemed to be in serious jeopardy at that point and I was already preparing myself for the worst. I did some quick searches on my phone for nearby bike shops – and even called a few to see if they could help – but the office-based operators where rather unhelpful (and had told me they already had customers booked in for bike servicing – and it would be unfair to let anyone jump the queue). Fair enough…

The bottom bracket is the area marked "GO"...

The bottom bracket bearing runs through the frame area marked “GO”…

My next line of inquiry was to leave my bike at layby 85 of the A9 and to walk across the A9 carriageway onto the neighbouring farm – where I could see a group of Land Rovers parked on the grass. I had wanted to see if any of those guys could help. I had thought they were fishermen parked at a stream, but upon getting closer I had realised it was actually a sheep farm. The cars had belonged to a group of farmers who were really busy – moving the sheep into pens – and the scene was quite chaotic.

But, luckily, the farmer’s daughter had brought her toddler along to view the spectacle – and they had some local knowledge – so she had agreed to drive me (and the bike) to Dalwhinnie train station, where I could either link to a couple of local bike shops, which she’d identified for me (or even head for London, by train).

At the train station I was not sure what to do – whether to concede and give up my quest – or to keep looking for solutions. I had phoned home and Ivy had given her consent for me to see it through, suggesting that I had invested too much (and gone too far) to back out without a big fight. So I had messaged my Audax support group back in England and the guys had rallied to find local bike shops (which had the specific bottom bracket we needed in stock – and were also willing to fit it at short notice).

Ivy had also called around to different local bike shops and had come back to me with the name of a shop (and a mechanic) who were willing to help me. We had then narrowed things down to the closest and fastest options available – as well as the most definite shop to get the job done that same afternoon (some shops had said they could “probably” help, but had not confirmed all the specifics).

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I was dropped at Dalwhinnie Station after the mechanical setback…

I had lunch at the local “Toll Gate Café” while waiting for the taxi to collect me. We had decided on Nevis Cycles (a bike shop in Inverlochy, Fort William – at the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain) to get the repair job done, after my support group had identified them as a definite stockist of my required bottom bracket. I had called them to confirm they would definitely help with the task that same afternoon and the deal was sealed.

I was connected (by the café, where I had lunch) to a local taxi company – and a friendly guy called Ruaridh (pronounced ‘Rury’) had shown up with an estate vehicle and conveyed me (and the bike) to Fort William. I had already been off the road for 3 hours when Ruaridh had arrived…

Ruaridh was really helpful – and was also really interactive, when he needed to be. He had been an engaging ‘host’ and had kept my spirits up throughout the journey. I had slept in the car for much of the time – while we drove there and also during the bike repairs – but I had also used the visit to the bike shop as an opportunity to buy some wind-proof clothing for my final night of riding (knowing I could not face another episode of hypothermia). The windproof vest I got from Nevis Cycles had looked thin and flimsy, but I was assured it would do the job.

Nevis Cycles

Finally back on the road! At Nevis cycles – with Ben Nevis (mountain) in the background…

We then drove back towards layby 85 of the A9 (where I had broken down). Along the way I had woken from my sleep in tremendous pain, with numbness and shooting pains all along my right arm and a completely numb right hand. Both my wrists were seriously swollen and I had almost no use of my right hand at all. I was in a panic and had asked if there was a nearby hospital I could go to, but Ruaridh had said there wasn’t.

I had to take the situation into my own hands – so to speak – and had started massaging the wrists, specifically on the swollen parts. This had an immediate effect on the right hand, much to my surprise, and I had continued to do so until the fingers were all mobile again. I then did the same for the left wrist – and also took a dose of ibuprofen and paracetamol, to fight the swelling. It had seemed to work – really quickly…

Within half an hour the hands were almost back to normal and the swelling had receded – which had seemed miraculous to me, at the time. I was still loathe to continue, despite this improvement, but Ruaridh had suggested that I try my best to continue – and had said he would even follow along in the taxi for a few miles, until I had decided to either call it off or continue. To my surprise, I had become completely normal (and fully comfortable) as soon as I started riding – and I knew at that point that I would succeed in completing the journey.

My goal to finish the ride in under 113 hours (the Audax UK time limit for the distance) was no longer realistic, after about 9 hours off the road due to the mechanical problems – but the Guinness World Record (of 6 days and 10 hours, for the ElliptiGO ride across Britain) was still within my reach (having been riding for 4 days and 30 minutes at the time I had resumed the journey, at 18:45 on 30 May 2016).

So the Guinness World Record had become my main focus from that point on – and I had made speedy progress along the A9 (and parallel routes) – stopping at a café for dinner, before heading out into the night for a non-stop ride into the morning. I was upbeat – and feeling strong – after more than 4 hours of sleep (during the down-time, whilst having the bike repaired). I did not get drowsy at all that night and actually enjoyed the night ride a lot. I had felt ‘progressive’ and fast again – and I was physically and mentally strong again.

I had ridden strongly throughout the whole night. The wind speed had lowered, making for good progress through the night (despite the wind still actually blowing against my direction of travel – as it had for the entire journey – much to my surprise). I had powered all the way to Inverness, which I had entered at great speed – as I had descended the fast roads towards the bridge at Moray Firth.

I had crossed the long bridge at Moray Firth and entered a very hilly final section of the course. The signs indicated 104-miles to John O’Groats, which, under the circumstances, did not actually seem too far. But it was exceedingly hilly in this part of Scotland – and progress was extremely slow. That might have been the slowest 104-miles I have ever ridden, thanks to all the wind and all the steep hill climbs.

104 miles from JOG

So close – and yet so far away – 5am on 31 May 2016…

The climbing was causing me to overheat, but the fast descents were cold, so I could not strip off my layers of clothing. I had stopped just once during the final day, for lunch in a café along the coastal route, and then I had continued laboriously towards the finish. It was pointed out to me that afternoon, by my support group, that I was probably on course for a 5-day finish time (and it was suggested, in the support group, that I might want to try to get to John O’Groats just under the 5 day mark for the full journey). That challenge had really engaged me at the time.

I had been awake since the bike repair the previous afternoon – meaning that I was becoming quite drowsy again. So, in order to help keep myself lucid, I had started to sprint hard up all the uphills (and to relax on the downhills and flats). But that did not work, in that I still became quite drowsy and detached despite the big efforts. I had felt like I was no longer participating in the ride, instead I had felt like I was observing someone else riding. I regularly forgot why I was there – and what I was there for. I also had a weird sense of deja-vu all through that final afternoon of riding.

But I had kept on pushing – physically (and even mentally). Sometimes I would sprint to the top of a long hill and then actually stop there to ponder where I was – or to ponder over why I was riding so hard. Then it would all come back to me again in a brief moment of clarity – and I would coast down to the foot of the next hill and start a new sprint for the next summit. But often, by the top of each successive hill, I would have once again forgotten what I was doing – or why! That’s sleep-deprivation for you!

This ‘detached’ riding went on until I was very close to John O’Groats, at which point I was dead set on beating the 5-day mark (and I had become very lucid and alert again, as the end had neared). I had sprinted hard for the final hour of the journey, even on the downhill sections and flat sections of the course, but the road surfaces were very bad (as was the headwind – and the hills).

So I was not quite able to make the sort of pace I had needed, if I was to finish the whole ride in under 5 days. This part of the trip had seemed unending – and I could not understand why I hadn’t reached John O’Groats yet. The last 2-miles to John O’Groats were the most frustrating, as I’d realised I would probably not beat 5 days (but would likely get very close).

I had got suddenly furious as I rode those final 2-miles. I’d decided that I hated John O’Groats – and the ‘crappy’ roads – and the hills – and the deserted, derelict, old houses I could see everywhere – and the strong headwinds – and the barrenness of it all… I was really angry when I finally reached the ferry terminal at 18:19 – just 4 minutes over the meaningless 5-day ‘limit’ I had imposed on myself only that afternoon…

I had still broken the Guinness World Record for riding across Britain on an elliptical cycle (by a whole day and 10 hours, actually) but that achievement had not been the foremost thing on my mind in those final minutes, thanks to the effects of sleep-deprivation completely skewing my logic and my reasoning.

Idai JOG 31 May 16

Job done! In John O’Groats (after 848-miles and 120 hours of riding)…

As soon as it was all over I had suddenly realised just how silly I was being (and, in hindsight, I now put that sudden ‘fit’ of anger and frustration down to extreme fatigue). All the tourists taking photos and chatting to me at the John O’Groats Ferry Terminal had lifted my spirits. The representative of the End 2 End Association had presented me with a certificate to verify my trip time (of 5 days and 4 minutes – based on the stamp I got at the start of my ride, at Land’s End).

I had then ridden the 1-mile back to my B & B (which was located conveniently, just outside the ferry terminal). When I got to the B & B I had first uploaded my GPS data (which can be viewed on this link) and then I’d let all my family and friends know that I had finished safely. Then I had ordered two helpings of fish and chips – via Gordon (my host at the B & B) who was exceptionally helpful with everything during my short stay there. I had mailed a change of clothing and fresh toiletries to Gordon, before setting off for Land’s End, so I had found them waiting for me when I got to John O’Groats.

My End to End Certificate...

My End to End Association Certificate & medal…

After eating my two helpings of fish and chips I’d fallen asleep in my room, whilst actually attempting to change out of my dirty cycling clothing to go for a shower. I had eventually got up again just before midnight and finally had that long-overdue shower! When I woke up, after having had a few hours of sleep to refresh my mind, the world had seemed like a much better place!

At that point I was much better able to appreciate what I had achieved on the bike a few hours earlier. I had taken a full day longer than I’d planned, to ride across Britain, but I was actually okay with everything (and I was okay with the athletic achievement and the general outcomes of my ride).

More importantly, I had learned a lot on this journey – and I had seen the best of humanity through the various challenges I had faced on the road (and through the various people who had helped me to overcome them). For those reasons, I would not have it any other way!

The official press release from ElliptiGO Inc. can be read on this link and below is a full-length video documentary of this undertaking. It covers the story visually, giving more insights into my training and preparation (as well as providing insights into the mind, body and spirit aspects of long-distance cycling). I hope you enjoy watching it and I hope it really brings the whole adventure to life…