Helen's Epic Ride
On the 26th April this year I set off on an epic bike ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats (LEJoG), mainly because I had never been to Scotland before, and retirement from my lovely job as swimming teacher at Hamble Sports Complex had left a gap in my life that needed filling. So I set about servicing my trusty thirty year old bike, complete with wicker basket on the front, and started cycle training through our wet and windy early Spring.
The plan was to meet up with husband in our little VW camper at the end of each day and use it as a mobile B&B. However due to his work commitments we could only meet up in Bristol, which meant carrying all my camping gear, clothes, food etc, up and down some ridiculously steep hills through Cornwall and Devon. There were times when I really wanted to throw the whole lot over a hedge, and when I finally off-loaded to some very understanding friends, I felt like I’d won the jackpot at weight-watchers! Despite one very wet night under canvas, the weather gods provided beautifully warm days throughout May and into June.
I had decided to follow the National Cycle Network routes which, although adding significant mileage, guide you away from main traffic highways and onto quieter rural tracks and paths. I averaged around 45 miles each day and as the English countryside and expansive Scottish Highlands rolled by it was fascinating to hear the ever-changing local dialects. We met some lovely people, curious to discuss my adventures and wonder at my aged bike, and even came across an elderly Austrian chap doing LEJoG on his unicycle. Eventually I arrived at John O’Groats in early June and by coincidence a piper struck up a fine tune on his bagpipes as I reached my journey’s end. I felt quite emotional and set about recovering with a well earned cup of tea while contemplating the 1200 or so miles that I had cycled.
I would like to say a big thank you to all the friends, relatives and supporters who helped me to fund raise for the Hamble Lifeboat by generously donating a whopping £830.00. Phew!