Thursday, 1 September 2016

Lands End to John O'Groats.

We have here a brief account of the amazing journey of James Dowding, our Bristol Velopost manager, as he cycled from one end of Britain to the other for charity.


So I've just got back from my charity cycle ride from Lands End to John O'Groats.

It was predictably a very difficult start to the ride, Devon and Cornwall is as hilly as everyone says and covering over 100 miles for the first two days was a real challenge.  I was effectively cycling a county a day which was awesome but knackering.   With a 10 hour day on day 1 and 9 hours of riding on day 2, I made it back to Bristol in 2 days (that was great as it meant a free night in my own bed)!  
The weather for the first two days was glorious sunshine but incredibly windy, it broke 30 degrees at one point and pedaling into a head wind as well was no fun.  I was feeling really sick from putting in so much effort. 
Day 3 was a much easier ride as I had a relatively flat day on some easy roads with no wind and the weather held out as well.  Day 4 was the worst of the trip; the midlands are awful and it poured with rain solidly for the whole 8 hours of riding to get to my overnight stay at Preston.  The roads were awful and super dangerous and in the heavy rain I took a wrong turning off my pre planned route and ended up 10 miles off course, not a good day at all! Day 5 was equally as wet but thankfully I had a great tail wind pushing me along! I made it to my destination in good time if completely soaked, plus this was half way and I had made it to Scotland!

From here on out it was almost like being on holiday, I had done over 500 miles in 5 days and had purposely stepped down the millage once I got into Scotland to allow myself some time to take it a bit steadier and enjoy being in one of my favourite parts of the UK.  The roads in Scotland are so much quieter and nicer to be on as a cyclist. 
On day 7 I began having a bike issue - there was a really loud squeaking and grinding coming from the drive train.  I spent all of day 7 trying to work out the problem while riding, by which point I think the damage had been done as it got worse and worse.  I finally figured out what it was and attempted to limp the bike the remaining 250 miles to John O'Groats.  I think the heavy rain had removed all the grease out of the free hub in the rear wheel and was now running dry/  I dumped a load of chain lubricant into it to try and eak the remaining miles out and thankfully it just gave up the ghost as I was rolling into John O'Groats on the last day!

Day 10 then and with my last day excitement came the wind!  The strongest headwind I have every cycled into and it didn't lighten up for the whole 95miles.  I have never been stood up cycling flat out and getting nowhere for so long as I was that day!  At one point I was cycling as hard as I could and only achieving 12mph (my average speed needed to be 15mph every day to make good time) so this was not looking good.  But I dug deep and arrived just after 4:30pm on Friday 26th August. I was shattered but so pleased with what I had achieved on the ride.  I had just enough energy to stand for a picture and grab a coffee before finding our hotel and having the earliest night I've ever had! 

The trip was so memorable and I met some lovely people on the way, but more importantly we managed to raise £600 on Just giving and over £300 through outside donations for the St Peters Hospice.  I'm so proud to have cycled all that way and raised so much money for a great cause.

If anyone is still interested in donating the address is:

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