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LAND’S END TO JOHN O’GROATS DIY 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 failed to beat the Audax (BR) time limit of 113 hours, due to my 9 hours off the road on the previous day, but I had still completed the ride across Britain (despite quite serious mechanical setbacks) and I had broken the Guinness World Record (for riding across Britain on an elliptical cycle) by a whole day and 10 hours). However, at the time of my completion of the ride, that achievement had not been the foremost thing on my mind – at least not in those final minutes of riding – thanks to the effects of sleep-deprivation completely skewing my logic and my reasoning. But 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 (I’d been awake and riding for about 24 hours, without any real breaks and without any sleep at all). 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) and a medal. 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. As mentioned earlier, 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. 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 selflessly helped

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me to overcome them). For those reasons, I would not have had it any other way! This ride, as expected, had turned out to be a deeply spiritual experience for me. I had found the sorts of insights and surprises I had hoped for prior to making the undertaking – and much more. One of the things I really like about these big ‘expeditions’ is the fact that the stories they generate are always very unpredictable. Heading into a major event, all I know beforehand is that I am mentally and physically prepared - and that I will reach the end, in one way or the other. I also know that if I truly give my all – and use my experience – I will get a good outcome. Beyond that, the rest is as much of a surprise

to me as it is to anyone else who happens to observe the undertaking. And that’s the whole adventure of it all. But, paramount to all of this, is the knowledge that true effort and determination will yield learnings and experiences which I could not have possibly conceived – or gained by other means – and the knowledge that the spiritual quest I am on will be advanced by every trip I make into the ‘wilderness’ of the open road. This aspect makes it a special (and earned) privilege every time I take on a major cycling challenge. It is a very special type of ‘meditation’ or ‘retreat’ for me and by isolating myself in this way I often feel that I am actually connecting more closely with everything, everyone, myself – and even with God...

Arrivée Summer 2016 • No.133

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Arrivée 133 - Summer 2016  

Arrivée is the free magazine of Audax United Kingdom, the long distance cyclists’ association, which represents the Randonneurs Mondiaux in...

Arrivée 133 - Summer 2016  

Arrivée is the free magazine of Audax United Kingdom, the long distance cyclists’ association, which represents the Randonneurs Mondiaux in...

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