Wow. What a day! It’s hard to believe that what started as a pipe dream back in March has finally come to an end and in many ways its difficult for me to grasp what I have actually achieved right now, sat on the sofa of our Travelodge in St Ives. I am exuberant, delighted and exhausted all at once and it feels like this has all been a dream. Only the ever present aching of the tops of my legs and the roughness of my hands remind me that I must have really done this thing. Let’s start at the B&B in Bude this morning.
I had trouble sleeping – I was up until late last night preparing items I needed for today and the magnitude of the last day began to hit me. I lay awake just planning how I would get through today and what I wanted to do along the way to make it more than just a hard slog to the end. Luckily we had persuaded our hosts to make breakfast early as I was determined to hit the road at 8am. I knew there may be an issue at the end of the day with the photographer and the Land’s End sign so I wanted to give myself as much time as possible for the last leg. For the last time, I hauled the Azzurri Primo out of the car and set off into the morning light. Full of adrenalin I had worked out that ideally I would arrive in Newquay at 11 – 11.30 and with the elevation I would encounter there was only one way this could be achieved. Ladies and gentlemen, a word that should by now be familiar to you all: RACEPACE. And this was not the ‘chasing a cyclist’ here and there RacePace, this was the real deal, head down all the way, progressive fast cyclising at full power both up and down the hills. Without a doubt the biggest effort I had put into any part of the entire JOGLE and the statistics spoke for themselves. Despite almost 3000 feet of climbing I averaged 17mph over the 44 mile route and arrived at 10.45am, well before Mrs W.
Arriving so early was the cause of a hilarious if slightly disturbing scene that was to shortly unfold. I was there, in my blue helmet and fluorescent jacket waiting at the entrance of the car park in Newquay looking at my iPhone mounted on my handlebars. A weird guy comes up to me and asks me ‘what you doing then?’ I replied ‘end to end’ and he said ‘no, on that thing’ pointing to my iPhone. His manner was aggressive and I wasn’t sure what he was planning to do, so I said ‘its just my phone’ and ignored him. Then he continued ‘do I have to get a ticket for this car park?’ he asked – ‘I don’t know’ I replied to which he said ‘well can’t I just wait for free?’ to which I replied ‘honestly mate I don’t know but I think the machines are over there’. He went off muttering obscenities about me under his breath with the word ‘suspicious’ thrown in a few places. I had no idea what was going on. He came back and waved this ticket in my face saying ‘see I have a ticket now’ at which point the whole charade was getting stupid so I replied ‘listen mate I’m not who you obviously think I am’ and he walks to his car shouting ‘I saw you putting number plates in that thing [iPhone] – you are obviously waiting around for something’. The answer was, yes of course I am: my lunch, but it was now clear he thought I was an undercover parking attendant!! Quite why he would think parking attendants would wear full lyrca and be on pushbikes I don’t know, but he must have felt like a prize idiot when Tasha arrived and I put the bike in the back and ate a sandwich! Especially as we didn’t get a ticket for a while either ?
I headed off at just after 12 noon – this was all part of the plan – head out early for the second leg and have the luxury of taking it slowly. As I rode out of the car park I passed Tasha’s parents who were meeting her for lunch, and then heading to Lands End later. It was good to see friendly faces and the weird guy was forgotten. The sun was shining and I realised that this was really it – the last 45 miles until the end! So many miles but they have flown by so fast. Yesterday I came up with this great plan to thank all those who had supported me with donations and the like and I was determined to see it through. I really was touched by all the support I had received and so wanted to give a mention to as many people as possible. I found myself stopping in weird and wonderful places, pulling out some Lego Men, taking photos, often to the bemusement of onlookers, and then racing off again. All in the name of the blog. And this is how it panned out
Determined to somehow show how grateful I was for everything Mrs W had done, I had planned to detour to Penzance town center and pick up some flowers. The mile 10 photo is taken on the seafront of this pretty town. It took a while to locate anywhere selling flowers but once they were paid for I had the problem of how to attach them to the bike for the 10 miles to Lands End. Insulation tape can come in very handy at times like these and I rode off with them strapped to the top tube! Yes, I did get some odd looks. I cycled to the five mile to go point where things started getting a little crazy, stopping at one mile intervals to take more photos!
The last one needs more of a mention, clearly. I think it’s always the case that the person doing these sorts of challenges is the one who gets all the attention, and the equally important people who support them can get ignored in the process. Well as some of you have spotted, Mrs W has been a true rock of support to me and has run this whole thing from behind the scenes. Thinking back it was only because she was so positive about ‘my crazy idea’ that I went ahead with it in the first place. I remember very clearly gingerly mentioning it to her one day and her immediately saying she would support in her Audi. Its moments like those when you know you have a keeper. Poor Tasha has had to put up with her car stinking throughout the whole thing, my moaning of aches and pains, having to book millions of B&Bs, waiting in tons of car parks, buying food for me every day, and driving thousands of miles. But she never once complained and only ever gave me encouragement and help. I’ll hope to find a way of repaying her kindness one day, but for now it’s difficult to find the words. Thanks hon.
I should add that by this point my body was acting strange, a sugar low perhaps, and I had shaky hands. Somehow one of the Lego Men had lost his arm. I scrabbled around in the dirt but to no avail, and end to enders were cycling past wondering what was going on. So the arm had to go. I never found it. There will always be a part of that Lego Man 1 mile from Lands End and there is something poignant in that.
And so there I was, only a mile or so from Lands End. The conclusion of 12 days cycling and almost 1100 miles on the road. It was quite a moment and I took a while to savour it, texting the reception crew that I would be around 5 minutes. For the final stretch I un-taped the flowers, attached a Lego Man and Woman to the brake cable and rotated the iPhone to video the whole thing (below). I must have been a sight rolling down that hill to the end of the country and as I approached the final run up to the Lands End point I had a tear in my eye. I could see three people in the distance intently looking my way. I hoped they were looking for me. As I got nearer I saw Tasha, her dad and mum waving. It was such a great reception to the end of my journey, and I know I will never forget it. As I drew over the last few meters I stopped and handed the flowers to Mrs W and gave her the hug she so deserved. Phil, her dad was extremely concerned that I hadn’t yet quite crossed the ‘start/finish’ line that was marked on the road. I rolled forward a meter and it was complete. The JOGLE was over.
The champagne came out, the photos were taken and a great feeling of achievement surged inside me. This was something special, a moment to be savoured and remembered for the rest of my life. What we had achieved was out of the ordinary and showed that with commitment and determination anything was possible. It is times like these that define you.
So, all that remains is to say that, until the next adventure, it’s a final goodbye from ReubiMax, Mrs W and the Lego Men.
Distance travelled: 89 miles, final total 1100 miles! Here is the route and photos: