We did this ride without a support car and self-funded our accommodation and all costs. If you would like to donate, we are raising money for two charities. I have chosen Big Issue North Trust www.justgiving.com/fundraising/edward-stonecliffe and Richard has chosen The Foxton Centre in Preston who work with homeless and vulnerable people in his home town. www.justgiving.com/fundraising/richardstonecliffe
Ten years ago my brother turned forty. To celebrate we rode the C2C. Simple maths said that his year he turned fifty. “I fancy doing something a bit bigger” he said. Before I could engage my brain my mouth said “Let’s do Land’s End to John O’Groats”.
Training began as I had a fair bit of weight to lose. I was 18 stone with a spare tyre around the middle. Diet became important and progressively tougher training rides led me to lose over 3 stone.
We left Land’s End in August with a cheery wave to Richard’s family. My brother lives in Preston and his son was waiting for his GCSE results. We had five days to get there. It was back-to-back 100-plus-mile days including the merciless hills of Cornwall and Devon. We put in long days with late finishes. The route followed back lanes, closed railway lines and canal towpaths leading north. The quality of the canal towpaths was variable… When they were bad they were awful.
Four days in I picked up four punctures in one day: two on the tow paths and two when I hit a pothole riding in to Stoke-on-Trent at ten o’clock at night. Puncture-resistant tyres and gel-filled inner tubes installed and we pushed on through Cheshire, Salford, Wigan and Chorley, making it to Preston. My sister-in-law, niece and nephew were waiting at dusk with cans of lager at the ready.
We had a rest day in Preston but Richard had bigger things on his mind…Billy’s GCSE results. WELL DONE BILLY! We went out for a carb-loading dinner to celebrate.
We had less than 80 miles to Penrith but the small matter of Shap Summit stood between us and the evening’s accommodation. “It’s a hill, get over it” was Richard’s Mantra. A low gear and a will to keep going was required. After the elation of the summit we turned Potential Energy into Kinetic Energy on the well surfaced roads, stopping in Eamont Bridge for a couple of beers.
Scotland! Northwards and a steady climb over Beattock Summit to Abington for the night. A beautiful day followed over to the Firth of Forth and an unexpectedly steep climb to Perth before dinner at ‘Spoons.
Inverness came and went. Then…disaster. My back wheel collapsed. Broken spokes and a buckled rim meant I was going nowhere. Four thirty in the afternoon and I was looking for a bike shop in Alness. A cyclist working in a car parts shop put me in touch with Donnie, a local cycling enthusiast with a side-line in bike repair. If you are ever in Alness it is worth having mechanical problems there. Donnie was the genius at LC24 Cycle Repair who re-built my back wheel in an hour. http://www.lc24cyclerepair.co.uk Forty seven miles more through failing light then pitch black darkness to reach Helmsdale.
Final day! Only 50 miles to go…two steep climbs and one steady ride through rolling countryside. 25 miles from the finish my bike payed one last cruel trick on me. My rear derailleur fell apart. We made it single speed which worked a treat and we arrived in John O’Groats for photographs and beer.
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