Monthly Archives: May 2012

Made It!!

On Thursday my Dad and I finally made it to John O’Groats after 17 days of cycling covering 940 miles climbing over 40,000 feet during the trip. No surprise that Mars Bars are my new best friend! What a great journey and I feel chuffed to have completed a big personal challenge and most of all I feel incredibly happy to have enjoyed it so much.

So a (as brief as possible) summary of my adventure followed by the photos I managed to capture when the rain stopped.

The Best Bits

  • Cycling from Penzance train station to Land’s End on day one in horizontal rain and gail force winds feeling very alive but slightly crazy.
  • Trying to take a photo of myself on my iPhone at Land’s End while my Dad sensibly waited in the dry. It was too wet to get my camera out and I struggled to hold my phone, hence this accidental video while I tried to find photo mode. It looks like I end up in the water and in the weather we had it felt like that Land’s End Movie
  • The buzz of cycling, travelling under your own power, harming no one and no thing and covering such a great distance every day.
  • Living for nearly 3 weeks with one pannier and one handlebar bag of possessions which gives such a sense of freedom.
  • The flowers and hedgerows, especially in the South West.
  • Animals (laughing lambs, lamas, beautiful horses, Dartmoor ponies, Shetland ponies, cows, deer, hares, rabbits, chickens, Highland cattle), I spoke to many of them. And I saw so many wonderful birds too.
  • Singing. I don’t sing in tune but that doesn’t matter when you’re singing alone on a bike. I loved making up songs about all sorts of things.
  • Eating purely for energy and feeling my body burn up food so quickly.
  • M meeting us in Stirling then cycling to Aviemore with him through a snow storm and feeling like we were in a little plastic snow-shaker.
  • My Dad never tiring so I always had someone ahead waiting for me!
The Kindest Bits
  • Finding a post card to ‘Father and Daughter Cyclists’ when we arrived at Sparrowhawk Backpackers Hostel in Moretonhampstead from a lady I’d chatted to briefly in Golant Youth Hostel. She went out of her way to leave this note of congratulations to us for crossing Dartmoor in such horrendous conditions and she wrote that she thought the post card would show us what we couldn’t see in the rain!
  • Ali at this hostel who helped us get our stuff dry and posted on my fluorescent band that I left behind.
  • Being looked after by the landlady and team at the Bell Inn at Pensax en route to Ironbridge who fed me after the kitchen had closed and were so friendly. The hug helped too.
  • Being offered a warm refuge by the staff at the Travelodge and nearby carvery in Telford on the wettest day ever.
  • Having our clothes washed and dried by the owner of the Tarras B&B in Lockerbie.
  • Receiving lovely texts from special friends and family which gave me such a boost and I don’t think you even realise what a boost you gave!
  • Waving to 4 VW camper vans I passed over the journey and having return waves from all 4 – lovely people!
  • Waves from an elderly chap on his mobility scooter in Taunton then thumbs up from two guys cycling to work. And many other friendly cyclists and also waving postmen in Scotland.
  • My Dad putting up with my slow pace. Thank you Pa.

I think this could be the start of some more cycling adventures. To anyone feeling in need of a little lift, get on your bike and cycle around, it’s the best!

Posted in LeJog

LeJog Very Nearly There!

Scotland has been wonderful…not overly warm but lots of fresh sunny days and blue skies. And this trip has taught me that the challenges of long cycling trips are all about the weather. M arrived by train in Stirling on Friday afternoon just as I cycled into town and we had a fab weekend cycling the three of us until he had to jump on the train back home from Inverness on Monday afternoon. We hardly touched a busy road all weekend due to Scotland’s fantastic cycle route of pathways and old roads that avoids the A9. We passed through beautiful valleys looking up at snow-capped hills. We did cycle through a brief snow then hail storm which was amusing (what are we doing in this?!!) but the sun saved us again.

So it’s now only two easy days’ riding until my Dad and I reach John O’Groats, I can’t quite believe we’re nearly there! But I was pedalling along today thinking that in a way I don’t want to rush there because then the journey is over. I’m not saying that I am not VERY excited about going home and seeing M and my friends and family again but the end of these sort of adventures can be a tiny bit sad because you’ve made it, it’s all done. But I am so glad that I have really and truly enjoyed the journey. Every day I have felt so lucky to be doing what I’m doing, even on the more challenging bits. I’ve been buzzing all the way.

And what a life lesson…remembering to enjoy the journey rather than thinking only of getting to where we want to go. This is even more obvious having spent the last 15 days on a bicycle with so, so many drivers tearing past me in a mega rush to get somewhere. And I know I can be the same, rushing about thinking there’s never enough time…but when so many cars have hurtled past me it does start to make me wonder how crazy this life can be (especially when I’m passed by those drivers who don’t know that you should leave some distance between the car and a cyclist, I’ve had too many hairy scary moments!)

Hours of cycling time gives plenty of thinking time and aside from wanting to stay as fit as I feel right now when I return home (and be able to eat as heartily as I can right now!) I’ve also thought that at any point when I find myself getting into that manic rush mode again to apply the choice word of one of my nephews: chillax. Because I’ll get to wherever I’m going, so just enjoy.

 

 

Posted in LeJog

LeJog (…?)

To explain…when I left my old corporate life I wanted to create a life full of a happy balance of work and play doing things that I was passionate about and felt rewarded by. I’ve always has those words “life is too short” in the back of my mind but when you’re just trying to pay the bills and get on with life it can be easier to ignore that whisper. It was a long process to work out the way forward and I’m not saying it was an easy process, but it’s been the best thing ever.  And taking the leap to change my life has also brought about so many unexpected and wonderful things too…it definitely started a snowball of joy.

My photography business was what I really wanted my work to be hence this website and all the commissions I’ve been given. Doing photography for a living is fantastic. I get to work with many lovely people and use the creative bits of me. It’s just right for me.

And for the ‘play’ side of things, amidst a list of various personal challenges was the idea of cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats. M and friends did this in 2010 but unfortunately I wasn’t able to join them back then, so on April 23rd 2012 (just over a week ago, wow!) I finally set off with my bike from Leeds train station to Penzance to start what still feels like an epic journey.

I’m not an amazing cyclist, but from my experience of these sort of physical challenges it’s about being reasonably fit and more importantly having the right mental attitude i.e. Just Do It. And I’m also relying on family genes as my Dad has cycled across continents, my Mum has cycled across the USA….so I am hoping that I have some of their strength and determination to help me on my way. And as I was looking for a cycling buddy my Dad kindly offered to join me, so I have someone to keep up with which can only help!

I felt very chuffed with my minimal packing of a few clothes, my SLR, an iPad and my iPhone, all ready to blog about my journey every day as I sped up the country. What I hadn’t planned for was 1) a lack of any wifi in most of England’s youth hostels (not something that’s an issue in most parts of the world where I’ve travelled!) b) sadly somehow losing all my notes on the iPad when i’d thought they were so safe…this remains a mystery and c) not being able to upload photos to a WordPress blog from an iPad. I’d thought I was pretty technically savvy before this adventure!

Na ya.

So this is a summary blog that I’ll enhance with photos and stories on my return.

The story so far is that we’ve made it to Scotland today, Lockerbie in fact and are over half way to John O’Groats = over 500 miles. Yay. We’ve cycled through rain, hail, gale force winds and I’ve done two of my most challenging cycle rides ever. I crossed Dartmoor in torrential rain where all that saved me was singing a wide selection of Brownie songs followed by Christmas carols (well what’s a girl to do finding herself alone on an eery moor!) and cycling over Shap Fell (Lake District) into Northerly headwinds which was rather like cycling uphill into a brick wall. But it’s been brilliant and I’ve loved the physical exertion of the cycling more than I ever imagined I would. And it’s been an amazing journey in so many other ways. It has reminded me of how we are surrounded by so many kind and considerate and lovely people who go out of their way to help a stranger. It has reminded me of what a stunningly beautiful country we live in. And it has shown me quite simply what our bodies are capable of when we ask them. And it has made me very, very hungry all the time! Thank you Rick for the Mars Bar I savoured in the gales at Land’s End, you’re a star to offficially set me off on my eating adventure!

So unable to upload any photos at this point, by chance I was sent a YouTube link from Suzy Greaves whose blog I’ve followed for some time and the contents resonated. The film is full of cyclists and a message that is American cheesy and yet so true and is exactly why I am doing what I am doing. So having spent the last 10 days keeping those pedals turning, this is what I’ll sign off with…….

Until the next pedalling update….

Posted in LeJog