Land's End to John O'Groats 2012
28th July to 6th August
For many reasons, this would be a very different kind of tour. I'd be cycling twice the usual daily distance for twice the number of days, pannier free and in a team (David, Haydn, Gav, Me, Rob).
photograph by Alex Randall - teammeek
Another major difference was motivation. Whilst I'd only dreamed of cycling end to end, the opportunity was made possible by the tenacity and vision of my friend Ian Meek. I'd met Ian for the first time on the morning of the Bristol to Bradford ride on 29th April 2011. Ian and his son Sam decided to cycle LE2JOG as their next Meeksfeats fundraising event for Brain Tumour Research and Support across Yorkshire (BTRS) and of course I was immediately on board. The motivation therefore was clear, to raise awareness of this terrible disease and collect as much money as possible. To that end, please click the BTRS link for more information and please sponsor me at my JustGiving page.
Preparations began in September 2011 with regular visits to the gym and twice weekly spin sessions, as I attempted to keep my fitness level reasonably high throughout the winter. The route became established as accommodation requirements were finalised and hotel rooms booked. Between 6th March and 24th July 2012 my training reached 1,044 cycling miles which included the BTRS BIG Ride from Wetherby to Scarborough (62), Pontefract Hospice ride (58) and Wetherby to Scarborough and back (122). Haydn organised two training rides around Emley Moor and Halifax. I also climbed Yorkshire's three peaks which rendered me unable to walk for two days.
The bike enjoyed a full service at Ellis Briggs in Shipley and they made me a very nice set of spare wheels. These would allow a quick change in case of puncture or other damage during the day to avoid delays, with repairs being effected later in the evening.
The northern contingent met at 6.00 am on Friday 27th July 2012 at David's work in Leeds and loaded up the mini-bus and trailer with bikes and luggage. Alan and Dale were the support drivers for the first two days of the ride and together we travelled south, stopping at Tamworth Services for lunch. As we sat eating, a guy came over and gave us a donation, the first of many such instances of spontaneous generosity when people handed us money having read the t-shirts or seen the livery on the vehicles.
We stopped at Rob's work in Bristol to meet up with Rob and his guest rider colleagues together with the second support vehicle and its driver Alex. There was some faffing in the sunshine whilst magnetic signs were fixed to the van and photos taken. We had a lovely meal at La Piazza, located in the atrium at the back of Aztec West.
Rob's work colleagues kindly joined us for a send off and the convoy left Bristol with first a brief diversion to collect an ocean of water contained in dozens of 19 litre water cooler type bottles. We rejoined the M5 south to Exeter, then the A30 took us through Devon and Cornwall. We arrived in St. Just where we stopped outside the Wellington Hotel, our home for the night.
The little square outside the hotel was slightly tight for the van, mini-bus and trailer so eventually we found a small car park down the road and unloaded the luggage and bikes before wedging the trailer in with the two vehicles for security. Rooms were allocated following lengthy discussions with the landlord. Gav, Dave, Haydn and I shared a room round the back of the hotel.
We ate an evening meal upstairs whilst the Olympic Games opening ceremony was on TV downstairs in the bar.