September 7, 2012, by David Greenaway
The VC’s Life Cycle 2 Blog: Day 14 – Eastbourne to Dover
It’s interesting how distance becomes relative. At breakfast today when our maps were handed out, there was real delight that we ‘only’ had about 65 miles to do. Four months ago we were not even doing that in training runs. And, apart from two big climbs, one out of Hastings and one into Dover, it looked pretty flat.
I was again last out, but Gavin and Andy had waited for me. They were not the only thing waiting for me. My bike was adorned with every bit of tat you can imagine: streamers, bells, a pink chicken, even an orange warning bar to stick out from my back wheel. It was a fair cop after the fun I had poked at all and sundry through my blogs over the last two weeks
Unlike yesterday, the first stage of the leg was flat. Andy set a pace and we rattled through the Pevensey Marshes, picking up the others in Bexhill. There Andy and I took a wrong turn, got separated and rode on through Hastings, up over the cliffs and back down towards Rye. It was a nice ride at a good pace. Hastings was much more attractive than I imagined and for me, Rye is the most distinctive of the Cinque Ports. We stopped there for a quick coffee.
By this time further separations had occurred. Chris R, Kate, Penelope and Karen were riding together and followed us in to Rye, the others pressed on to the pre-arranged lunch stop at New Romney. All of us met up again there and kept the staff at Elsie’s busy for quite a while.
We knew there was one final stiff climb ahead and that always strings riders out, so we left New Romney in three groups to complete the final 27 miles or so. The elevation charts promised us a gradient as steep as any we had faced, and it was.
Unlike in John O’Groats and Land’s End, there is no ‘official’ start /finish point in Dover, so we had agreed our finish would be on the promenade in front of the hotel where we were staying. The one way system made it tricky getting there, but Sebastian came out to lead us through it and we were rewarded with a lovely 600 metre stretch along the waterfront, Dover Castle and the White Cliffs behind us and departing ferries beyond the harbour wall. The Support Team had a finishing tape ready and Susan and Kate’s parents were there to welcome us, with champagne and sandwiches at the ready.
So, at 16:01 on September 6th, our mission was accomplished, with all twelve riders safely over the finishing line. There was obviously exhilaration and celebration, but also a palpable sense of relief. Chris R and Steve even marked the occasion with a swim in the Channel. No one followed!
So after months of planning and preparation, it was all over. Job done.
Our logistics team had estimated the distance from Cape Wrath to Dover at 1,100 miles. After today’s 70 miles our final total was 1,089 miles, accurate to 0.01%, not bad at all. But that is just a cameo of how professionally the whole challenge has been planned and delivered.
This is a really tough challenge to have taken on, tougher than John O’Groats to Land’s End, and not just for the riders. The Support Team have been marvellous, working long days, bearing the responsibility of ensuring bikes are roadworthy each day, keeping track of riders on the road, and helping keep their spirits up.
As for the riders, they put their lives on hold for two weeks and their bodies through the mangle. I have nothing but admiration for their spirit and resilience. On many days, getting to the end was a mind over body triumph, and every rider completed every leg. Without the anaesthetic of getting back in the saddle and pedalling, they can expect a week of aches and pains, twitching legs, and hot flushes.
They can now look forward to getting back to their families and their day jobs, as well as a world with washing machines and tumble dryers.
Thank you to everyone for all your amazing support. Your emails, texts and comments on the blogs have given us constant encouragement and helped keep us going. Thank you also to everyone who has supported us financially, we are closing in on our target of raising £250,000 which is a remarkable achievement. That will make a real difference in helping break down the barriers facing young people in disadvantaged backgrounds who would like to access further and higher education. That really does make it all worthwhile.
On the promenade, Penelope said some very nice words on behalf of the team and they presented me with some mementos: the Support Team’s mascot (Ed the Ted who had made the entire journey on the front bumper of the minibus); the Captain’s armband; a fine cycling mug; and a red bell to go on my red bike.
Thank you. When I’m out cycling, my new red bell will remind me of you all, and the great adventure we shared that was Life Cycle 2.
Professor David Greenaway
If there are any aspirant cross-channel swimmers out there I would recommend Decathlon gel-pants very highly. They’re warm, stylish and provide a super level of buoyancy.
🙂 Well done to all.
Well, all done and dusted. How proud you must all be feeling. the promenade at Dover made a wonderful setting for your final run. To see the warmth and comeraderie that has has become the ‘trademark’ of you rides was wonderful. You have shared experiences that will last a lifetime and created a special bond that will sustain many happy memories. Big congratulations to the team riders, support team and of course, the planners back in Nottingham. relax and enjoy the weekend one and all. Susan X
A nice recount of the day but one little omission; the ‘wee detour’ through Dover Town Centre, comprising of narrow backstreets, pedestrianised no bike zones, one or two short stretches in the opposite direction and a couple of hundred metres along the A20 surrounded by articulated lorries – eek!
Thanks to you & the rest of the riders for taking it so well… especially after 14 days and1100 miles in the saddle!
Congraulations everyone on a brilliant achievement!
Congratulations to you all, a truly inspirational team, here’s to you. I can’t believe it’s gone so quickly, it feels like no time at all since I was reading about the lazy crofter! You should all be feeling incredibly proud of what is an amazing achievement. Time to enjoy a dram of that Muir of Ord whisky & I hope the John Wayne walk wears off quickly. Fingers crossed for hitting that target, not far to go.
Thanks for a great read, it’s been thoroughly enjoyable catching up on the team news and following the escapades of the pink bell. I’ll have to go back to reading the news now!
Well done to you all once again.
Well done to you all. A really fantastic achievement. Enjoyed last Sunday’s ride from Lincoln and a chance to see the team in action.
Dave, having reflected on this achievement and our being the same age I feel duty bound for at least this coming year to be less of a Wuss! Very well done to everyone involved. Best Wishes.
well done david,and the crew…….like brian clough did,you,ve conquerd britain,now for europe!!!!amazing,acheivement…..big respect from all at paterson towers….
Wow – we are all so proud of the hard work you have put in, not just during but leading up to the cycle! The hours have paid off for such a worthy cause! Congratulations to you all!! Love Georgina and Dan xxx
Dear David, just a short note to say how much I admire you and your wonderful team for having successfully completed this extremely challenging ride. This is for a really good cause and, I’m sure, has been truly inspirational to many. My sincere congratulations to you and the team for this great achievement! Best wishes, Hai-Sui
Congratulations to the team led by David for completing a long journey again. You have shown us a great spirit, tremendous energy and endurance for a great cause. Half of the legnth of a tour de France, this journey is a ride of athleticism and is a “tour de Britain” in its own form. It is admirable and inspirational.
Another fantatstic achievement for the team and all done for such an excellent cause. Well done indeed. It has been fun reading the blog and keeping up with you all and I hope you enjoy time away from the saddle for a well earned rest!
Well done all of you and for such a worthy cause. It was great seeing you all arrive on campus last sunday at the community day; I can well imagine the elation you all feel at having completed your challenge.
Congratulations and well done to you all for completing the other ‘End to End’ cycle challenge, from Cape Wrath to Dover. I admire you all for your courage and stamina in taking on these challenges. It must be immensely amazing and gratifying feeling once you have done it. You have made us (all council members) very proud. I look forward to seeing you soon in even better shape.
Yet another stunning achievement from a wonderful team of people. I am impressed by your endeavours, the camaraderie and your commitment to young people that lies at the heart of this venture. I am proud to be associated with you all.
p.s. don’t let Chris R persuade you to swim the channel as the next challenge. Gel pants are not a solution to the problem
Dear David and Team!
Well, what can I say? What a tremendous result on completing an incredible cycle – and for all the funds you’ve raised along the way.
As my friends who are the cyclists will know, the first cycle earlier in the year co-incided with my diagnosis of a tumour in my liver and your journey at that time gave me a focus on my road to recovery. This second mammouth cycle co-incided with me getting the ‘all clear’ on very level and I just now have to focus on my full recovery – a road down which I am travelling quickly!
So, a huge thank you from me for keeping me ‘going’ when I needed it most – and just enormous CONGRATULATIONS! to you all. Its a amazing achievement and one of which you can be truly proud.
I’m thrilled you made it in such style – be in on a massage table or in a red bowler hat! – and grateful for all the lives you will change for the future.
Well done hardle covers it – but that and a huge “thank you” is so very sincerely meant.
I hope you all have a good and well earned rest,