Land’s End to John o’Groats – 2011. How was it for me?

God! The Summer has been a long one, six weeks of holiday feels like a lifetime. They say time flies when you’re having fun, so either I haven’t been having fun, or ‘they’ don’t know what they’re talking about….because it’s been a blast.

I thought, unlike Rob (my cycling buddy… hell… I’d even be prepared to drop the ‘cycling’) I’d give the ride time to percolate before writing up my thoughts. Now that the bum is more or less untainted, the muscles reverting back to normal size and the tiredness due to lack of sleep as opposed to turning peddles endlessly, the ride has assumed a warm glow in my distant memory and that, for me, is a better place to write my thoughts from than the raw mess of my immediate post match ruminations.

Obviously people have been interested to hear about the trip. I have found it really difficult to talk about it. Not in an ‘oh my God, it’s too emotive’ kind of way. I just find it hard to encapsulate such a huge undertaking in a snatched conversation over the garden fence or the like. I have been asked on many occasions (almost as many occasions as we heard ‘you should have done it the other way round…it’s downhill that way’) whether it was as expected. That again is difficult to answer. As a repressed optimist I often find myself picturing a forthcoming experience in the best possible light. Before setting off my mind was filled with sunny days, cycling carelessly through idyllic British countryside on quiet roads with great people. And that’s exactly what happened – the weather was fantastic, only half an hour of proper rain in the 12 days and the route exceeded expectations, every stage an unfolding beauty (with the exceptions of Avonmouth and Irlam). I am happy to report that the country is in very rude health indeed and I can not praise the route highly enough…whoever put it together must be a genius!

But naturally this is only part of the story. Physically we coped well (although Rob pretended to find it hard at times I know it was all an act aimed to elicit sympathy from the groupies), but there were times when I had my worries. In fact, if I hadn’t been told at the end of the second day that underpants were a no-no when cycling, my bottom would have disintegrated long before the borders (certainly Scottish, possibly Welsh) had been reached. Mentally the ride was much more draining for both of us.  I cycled a 100 mile ride in the Autumn with Rob and on that occasion I trailed in his wake.

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