September 9, 2011, by Andrew Burden

The VC’s blog: JoGLE Day 14: Bodmin to Land’s End

1625, September 8th 2011, mission accomplished.

It was an early start for me. We arrived at Bodmin late yesterday, ate late and had energy for little else but bed. So I set the alarm for 0500, to get the Day 13 blog written and posted before our departure.

Conditions were miserable as we prepared to leave Bodmin on our final leg, with rain, a sharp breeze and poor visibility. Nick had downloaded ‘Moves Like Jagger’ on his iPhone. So to lift our spirits he played it and Chris J went through his moves, and as you can see from the photo he is quite a mover.

For the first time since John O’Groats we set off together and for the first time, we rode a complete leg together. Weather conditions improved quickly and it was a real thrill to see the full team of eleven riders in our yellow shirts snaking through the lanes and minor roads of western Cornwall. Although the terrain was undulating, we faced nothing like the steep ascents of recent days, nor the persistent headwinds which proved so energy sapping.

We passed through some lovely Cornish villages and woodlands, the old mining towns of Redruth and Cambourne, and on the high ground caught glimpses of the coast. Our first landmark of the day came at 1220 in Redruth, when we passed 1,000 miles for the trip, as confirmed by our various computers and Satnavs. However, Chris J’s Garmin only lasted for a few more miles. His handlebar bracket turned out to be as reliable as Steve’s. Having flown out once this morning and been retrieved and reassembled, it flew out again in Cambourne and was crushed by a passing car. It was not quite as slim as Steve’s iPhone, but was just as useless.

The honour of the final puncture of the trip went to Andy rather than Nick, who remained stuck on eight. (Nick was on his fourth bike of the trip today, but with no mishaps or mechanical failures whatsoever).

On the way in to Penzance we had wonderful vistas of the town and St Michael’s Mount and our first glimpse of the Land’s End peninsula, shrouded in mist. That was a big thrill.

After sandwiches and a recharge from the back of the van, we set off for the A30 and the final 12 miles of our journey. It was genuinely atmospheric. The thick mist only added to a growing sense of anticipation as we counted down the miles to our destination. We had a final re-group just over one mile out to ensure everyone was close and in we went. As we got to the finishing line, through the mist we could see the Support Team had a tape in place for us to break and Susan and Liz (a friend of Nick’s) plus a group of other well wishers were there to cheer us in. it was an exhilarating moment.

Spontaneous celebrations followed. Susan had brought champagne which replaced our revival drinks and chocolate to replace the usual oat bars. There was no sense of anti-climax just unalloyed joy and a great sense of satisfaction. That carried over to the bus ride from Land’s End to Newquay, where we were staying overnight.

So, it is all over. After months of training and preparation and two weeks on the road, we have ridden from John O’Groats to Land’s End, a final 57 miles today making 1,030 miles in total. Eleven riders started and all eleven finished. It seems amazing that we have been on the road for two weeks.

It has been an incredible experience. When I first thought of doing this, I had no idea what it would turn in to, or how it would work out. It has surpassed any expectations I had, not only as a personal challenge, but as an opportunity to see so much of the UK at a pace which makes appreciation easy.

For me it has been the experience of a lifetime, made all the more special for being shared with such a wonderful group of people. I owe the other ten riders (Karen, Chris R, Kate, Chris J, Andy, Nick, Neville, Steve, Alan and David W) and four Support Team (Gavin, Simon, Paul and Ed) a great debt of gratitude for the very real sacrifices they have made in taking this on and for being such wonderful companions over this past two weeks.

Thank you to everyone who has sponsored and supported us. I heard yesterday evening that we have passed our target of £200,000 raised for research on palliative and end of life care, and support is still coming in. This will make a big difference to the work of the Sue Ryder Centre.

Finally, thanks to all of you for reading these blogs. They have been a real pleasure to write and I and the other riders have enjoyed reading your comments and welcomed your many messages of support. Your interest and enthusiasm have meant a lot to us whilst we have been on this journey.

We have so many memories to cherish, memories which will last a long time. But right now, the prevailing sentiment is ‘we did it’ and we feel proud of that.

David Greenaway, September 8th 2011


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