I’ve only gone and done it and together we’ve raised over £7000 into the bargain!

Just arrivedPosts are like buses, none for 2 days and then 2 come in short succession! After 90 minutes and just before 12:00 yesterday (Wednesday) I reached John O Groats having covered the 17.24 miles from theimage image imagestopping point last night. It sure felt good.
The place has changed beyond all recognition inimageimageimagethe few years since I last visited and for the better. Certainly a better place to arrive at than the monstrosity of an eyesore that is Lands End.
I was fortunate that a couple who’d also arrived offered to take my photos after seeing me struggling to get me, the bike and the sign post in shot – they sponsored me too!
After a refuel at the excellent new coffee shop with the large glass window facing the sea it was back ontothe bike for the 4.4 rtn trip up to Duncansby Head with its cliffs and sea stacks – an amazing site and what a fantastic cliff top walk that will be when I’m up this way next

This will be one of the final posts of this trip. I may do another based around my journey South and another to publish the actual route details and some stats and maybe another with some video links.

Thanks to all who have kept in touch, sponsored generously and left messages and even come out to see me – it is much appreciated. I’m very relieved that after the lowest point emotionally (last Wednesday, Preston to Penrith) I pulled my finger out and got on with it. It is a mental as well as a physical effort. Attitude really is more important than aptitude. I may not be the fastest cyclist out there, in fact probably the slowest, but I never know when I’m beaten, so I’m not!

If anyone is thinking of taking on this great cycling challenge, all it requires is time, training and effort. I have a lot of experience having done it now 5 times, (4x South to North and 1x North to South) with 3 supported trips with a team and two unsupported rides. Please ask.

If you haven’t sponsored me yet, there is still time, let’s see If the final total can top £7500? http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NeilBarker1

 

Neil 🙂

 

 

How wrong I was!

image

imageimage image imagei hadn’t posted about Tuesday’s Penultimate stage which I had said would be relatively easy and mostly downhill – how wrong I was!

in reality I’d forgotten about a 3 mile climb out of Helmsdale and lots of other little climbs that added up gave me a 70 mile day with the equivalent of a hike up scafell pike thrown in! However the fact that I had the sea to my right virtually all the way with spectacular views made it well worth the effort.

The first memorable stop was at the mound, a causeway that I visited with my parents in the 70’s. It was those holidays that make the North of Scotland my favourite place on earth and somewhere I am irresistibly drawn to return too as often as possible. The mound was also a stopping point on all of my LeJog rides and so holds special memories of the teammates I’ve been here with.

Berriedale Braes were brutal as predicted fast descent and drag up the other side and it does drag on, and on, and on!

Dunbeath was a pussy cat with the momentum going down virtually getting me up the other side!

Oil rigs are visible from the shore, but not the support ships that stand by them permanently. Last week a ship carrying  nuclear waste lost power and almost drifted into a drilling rig, the ship towed it away from harm! The crew are on station for a month at a time with little to do for about £1200 a month – hard life especially in storms.

to really enjoy an end to end ride I’d recommend no more than 50 miles a day, so that cyclists can stop off and explore places. Originally I’d planned to go west coast up, but with hindsight I love the NE coast route up, there is so much history and interesting places. look up Navigale or Badbea.

Whilst I have been blessed with backwinds most of the time, do it in Late spring or Summer and enjoy the longer days. With £7000 riding on my shoulders I ve made finishing my priority and the sightseeing can wait till I return with a car and bike on the back!

As light was fading I made it into Wick after just an hour or so of headwind and rain – relieved I’d not given into tiredness and stopped earlier. Those last 20 miles were hard, but to have just 17 to do from Wick on the Wednesday and being able to leave my panniers there made it a no brainer!

Lovely Dinner with Scottish football fans going bonkers in the adjacent bar made it a good albeit noisy end to the day. Will add some video links when I can upload them.

Neil