Last Years Bike Ride Final Total £8061.75p

I’m pleased to announce the final total of £8061.75p raised following my bike ride after over 201 very generous people sponsored me. Overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings. The support from friends during the ride kept me smiling and pedalling as my emotional highs and lows matched the terrain at times. To Adrian, Paul and Jon who rode with me for 4 days thank you. To Jane and Linda who also came and helped Thank you including bringing my spare bike. Stuart and Clare who brought extra supplies. Finally my Maggie for letting me go.

Sue Ryder – Thorpe Hall Hospice, Macmillan and Crohn’s and Colitis are very happy too and your support will make a big difference to their work.

A few stats:

111 hours cycled over 15 days and no punctures. Used 2 bikes

925 miles ridden

43300 ft climbed

49500 calories burnt

11mph Average

Longest Day 83 miles. Crediton to Yatton

Shortest Day  Lands End to Hayle

Hardest Day Bodmin to Crediton

Wettest Day Whitchurch to Preston

Average mileage exc day 1 and 15 = 65 miles

Sue Ryder PresentationMacmillan presentation

Thanks to you…

image image image image image image image imageHere are the names of those people who’ve made my bike ride the success it turned out to be for the 3 Charities. Thanks to an anonymous sponsor (DrWho) for pointing out that he wasn’t on here, I realised with horror that my collage tool didn’t include all my sponsors on the one picture. So here are the latest 8 ‘Roll Call’s’ with everyone on! With just a few pledges still to be received the current total is £7466.75.
If anyone hasn’t got around to it yet, it’s not too late!
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NeilBarker1
Thanks, Neil

Latest Total

Thanks to an anonymous sponsor – Dr Who – for pointing out that he wasn’t on here, I realised with horror that my collage tool didn’t include all my sponsors on the one picture. So here are the 7 ‘Roll Call’s’ with everyone on! With just a few pledges still to be received the current total is £7466.75.
If anyone hasn’t got around to it yet, it’s not too late to appear on the final Roll of Honour!
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NeilBarker1
Thanks, Neil
Ps there were several ‘Anon’s’. This is almost the final post, the stats and route files will be added to my blog in the near future.image image image image image image image

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

 

Downhill to the top – almost!

Today saw the 3rd highest point on the ride and some long descents, miles in some cases with the occasional ascent to remind you that biking requires your input to move forward! A tad under 58 miles covered, could’ve ridden further, but no need.

Highlights? Well Schlod Summit, crossing the Kessock Bridge and the Cromarty Bridge. Being 85 miles from JoG is pretty cool too!

I came into Tain along a small road with houses named along the lines of ‘Ponderosa’ as you can guess horses outnumber sheep along this 7 mile stretch! Including a white horse which I called ‘Freedom’ named after a toy horse that my daughter Helen once had.

Tomorrow has probably the most brutal climb in over a week – Berriedale Brae. Lungs and legs burn in equal measure – then after that Dunbeath is a  milder version followed by a procession of undulations amongst sea views and bleakness that describes all of the UK’s coastal extremities.

The final few miles will be ridden on Wednesday morning all being well.

Dinner in a Castle tonight – I don’t do that often. A jacuzzi bath too.

Several people have sponsored the ride today and so £7000 has been reached!

Feeling relaxed!

Neil

Does anyone ride a bike?

Blair Atholl Blair Atholl image A bech on NCW 7 made of old ski's image image image image imageWell it’s day ?? . I’m in my usual routine of having woken up after dozing off with my washing drying on the radiator and kit strewn all over the room and bed. Today and yesterday I’ve seen cars laden with bikes heading North and yet seen very few actually cycling – must be some big Mountsin biking event on? For the majority of the time it has just been me heading North, with no other End to Ender’s evident. Until I reached Aviemore when passing the other way was a chap who looked like ‘old father time’ (I.e very bearded, old and wearing a kilt with enough kit to circumnavigate the globe). “Don’t look Ethel – too late she’d already seen” Remember that line from a 70’s song?

The A9 does what it says on the label and gets motorists from Perth to Inverness quickly but bypasses most of the interesting stuff. So today I took the little roads and experienced Lochs, nature reserves, enough dead cock pheasants to feed the 5000 and used the much maligned NCW route 7 without incident. In places it was necessary to slow down on the rough, small rock strewn Tarmac as the feeling my 700x25c’s were about to pop was very real, but they didn’t thank goodness. This did impact on the average speed, but I’m in no big rush.

So almost 58 miles ticked off in the remote grandeur of the highlands. The stage from Blair Athol to Dalwhinnie was the remotest of my ride so far, It’s also noticeably colder today.

So next up is the 24 miles to Inverness with the schlod summit climb and another one or two then a 2+ mile descent into the Capital of the Highlands and once over the Kessock Bridge it’s up the East coast mainly heading NE on an A9 that gets quieter as you go (relatively speaking), there are some spectacular views to be had and whilst in my opinion this stretch does not rival the NW Highlands in awesome beauty it’s still big on a cyclists ‘to do list’ and has some wonderful sights. (Note to self, ride the NW Highlands in the Summer months). Just need to decide how to split the 141 up. 63 miles to Dornoch next is looking favourite at the minute.

in summary 141 miles give or take to go. I’d meant to write this post earlier, but the highlands air, a lovely dinner and a pint of wildcat left me conked out on the bed!

Finally, today has seen the Total rise again with requests for the sponsorship link and some more donations. Thank You – I’m very grateful and Unless you are a totally anonymous sponsor I will be getting in touch to thank you personally..

Neil

Musings, mentality and Miles

I arrived in Blair Atholl earlier this evening and this village is the perfect outdoor venue in the Cairngorms National Park. For walkers/climbers there are more Munro’s nearby than you can shake a stick at, white water, Fishing and super cycling all to be had!
Just had my meal and now enjoying a pint of Bellhaven Best ‘the cream of Scottish Beer’ and I wouldn’t disagree! I’ll sleep well tonight. The disco and live band are in full swing too, some great tunes. Music can send my mood soaring like an eagle on the thermals of joy! When you are happy it’s not possible to be sad.
Today I covered just over 65 miles in stunning scenery with only one navigational ‘balls up’, due to me being too interested in some migrating geese and missing a turn – cost me 2 miles!
Met Steven Black an old colleague after 4 miles this Morning. Ruth saw the photo of me sitting in his car having a coffee and said ‘you didn’t even look tired!’, at the time I commented that it was the reviving properties of hot coffee. Having only been pedalling for 20 minutes at the time certainly helped too!
I’ve seen my heart rate lowered quite considerably these past 10 days, strenuous continuous exercise helps and a key factor in keeping going hour after hour is getting the carbs intake right and maintained throughout the day. Messed that up to start with on Wednesday but recovered late in the day. It’s a learning curve.
All the messages, calls, friends riding and seeing me en route are making a difference to my mood. Some detected I was a little down earlier in the trip and I was thinking ‘crumbs, what have I done, can I do it? will I fail? Negative messages feeding into my mind. Luckily I adopt a ‘little by little’ approach and build up to the full day, week etc! Now I’m feeling very positive, not complacent though as there are about 200 miles left and they will be hard miles. However even if I’m crawling uphill at 4mph then I am still moving forward.
Now that I’m on the A9 it’s a case of ‘Nearer by far’! I’m amazed at how the map is being crossed. The oddest thing cycling by Maggie’s Aunts farm near Edinburgh – turning up on my bike from lands End! Me!
The A9 is scary and so I’m cycling some of the old A9 tomorrow, it’s more scenic, sCoffee with Steven Another County The brains More brains Today's goal The firs Eric A treatafe and enjoyable – even if it does take longer. I’m a big fan of safe cycling and the NCW (national cycle network) is an amazing thing, but it does need investment from Government. The benefits of exercise are indisputable – I’m proof of that. Being able to reap the benefits without being wiped out by a vehicle from behind that you didn’t see coming is worth investment. Still cycling on busy roads does help focus. Earlier in the week I almost nodded off such was my metronomic action, not today

Mist, Rain and Splendour

A good day in the saddle yesterday that began with a gradual climb up from Moffat to the Devil’s Beef Tub, although the tub itself was hidden with a thick image image image image imagemist, which probably was why it was so effective as a hiding place in the days of cattle/sheep rustling!

The Scottish borders are bleak and beautiful by turns and very up and down. I found a nice tea shop at Bfoughton late morning and then happened to pass by Margaret (Mrs B’s) Aunt mid afternoon too. It was then the rain set in and persisted until I reached the Forth road Bridge. The Highlight from a riding perspective was riding over it. The new bridge to my left under construction plus a view of the new Aircraft carrier at a Rosyth and Leith and the majestic rail bridge to my right (that I look forward to crossing next week on my way home).

i think there are about 260 miles to go, with some remote stretches as I cross the Cairngorms. Days pass into night and Im quite tired to will probably stop in the Pitlochry area tonight to be fresh for bleak bits of the A9 tomorrow.

Neil