THE CRC Three Do Britain

Our Support from Threshold Sports:

I feel humbled by the sponsorship received but also awestruck at how well the actual event was organized by Deloitte and Threshold Sports.  A fully functioning camp for 900+ riders was relocated every day and it functioned perfectly.  It wasn’t just the tents, there were marquees for catering including kitchens, a café, bar, laundry and drying facilities, mechanics, medical, massage, physio, yoga and stretching facilities as well as the toilets and showers. 

On the road we had marshals on motor bikes, medics and mechanics patrolling, not to mention the team of awesome chaperones also cycling the whole route, leading groups, sweeping up stragglers and lending a hand and wheel whenever needed.  Some doubled up as physios in the evenings, something I was to learn later.   This was their tenth year, and a well-oiled machine it is.  Was it worth the cost, yes!  You could see where it all went and it was also reflected in the quality and quantity of the chef’s (Lulu) cooking every evening.  One of us would gain the nickname ‘Three Puddings’ for the rest of time.  I’ll leave you to guess who that might be.

.

The Route

The 980 mile route, comprising nine stages through some of the most scenic areas of the country, many of which were new to me, was superb.  It was certainly worth the extra hundred miles it added to the direct route.  The scenery in Scotland was so breathtaking it almost distracted us from the remnants of Hurricane Dorian!

The Task Ahead

The War Party and ‘Tis But a Scratch

Cottingham Road Club was well represented, with Neil Catterson, Rich Habbershaw and myself in the expedition south for the start.  We clubbed together for a hire car and left East Yorkshire to drive to the Penzance drop-off on the 6th September and then travelled from Penzance to Lands End by taxi. 

We were all rather subdued on the journey down, all very apprehensive about the task ahead.  Rich did the driving and was the first to get stressed out when we dropped off the hire car to grumblings of a lost deposit due to some tiny scrape on the bodywork, which was there before but not logged on the paperwork.  To his relief, it was soon sorted with a few calls to the depot in Hull and he could return to getting stressed out about 980 miles instead.

Weight Training

I learnt during the transfer to the taxi in Penzance that my ‘16kg allowance’ bag was a tad overweight, I could barely lift it, I hadn’t purchased the extra weight allowance to 23kg so was likely to have issues with Threshold, fortunately I didn’t and they just gave me a wry grin as they hoisted on and off the lorry each day.  I also foolishly neglected to consider the upcoming impact of having it contain a lot of wet kit.  It was only 15kg when I weighed it at my first packing attempt, however, this was before I bunged in a few extras, and then a few luxuries and then a few ‘well I might need…’ items.  As I lugged it around I would soon be questioning the need for hiking boots when I was simply too tired to mooch around much in the evenings.

Base Camp at Land’s End – Moved Every Day!

Land’s End Base Camp and What, No Bonfire!

Although I hadn’t done as much training as was recommended, nowhere near, I was more anxious about the camping aspect.  The last time I went camping I was wearing a woggle, singing Kum-by-Yah by the fire and was getting badges for doing knots.  Despite being rather daunted by the camp site experience, we were soon put at ease by the electric atmosphere, the food, the briefing from the Threshold Sports Crew and a medicinal beverage, or was it two. 

Strategisin’

While supping a beverage we discussed our master plans for the event.  My main theme was survival, to take it very steady for the first two very lumpy days hoping my confidence would grow and then see how I feel.  Rich was very much in agreement, to keep our matches unburnt, play the long game!  Adam Hardy had advised that there are two schools of thought, the ‘steady approach’, or the ‘push hard and get more time to recover’ approach.  Both made sense but the hard option could lead to burn out whereas the steady approach could always be pushed on later if feeling spiffing.  Neil didn’t nail his colours to the mast, leaving us guessing.

Knowing we had an early start everyone was in their tents sleeping by 9pm ready for the tannoy blaring ‘Let’s Get Ready to Rumble’ at 5am and a very hearty breakfast.

No Turning Back….

Day 1 – Lands End to Okehampton (105 miles and approximately 9000 ft of climbing)

We all met up very early, stuffing down a full English and then getting ready to rumble.  Well, after I spent ages trying to manhandle my bag to the transfer lorry and carefully trying to avoid injuring my back.  This was the only time I could eat the breakfast, oddly finding I had no appetite at all in the mornings for the rest of the event.  A tough day to start, it would seem nothing in Cornwall is flat! 

Live Long and Prosper

The weather was very kind, warm, sunny and no wind or rain.  Early in the day we gained a stunning view of St Michael’s Mount and stopped for a photo while looking fresh and unruffled having only cycled a few miles.  The fresh look didn’t last as before our eyes Rich aged 20 years over the nine days.  Reminded me of that scene in Star Trek ‘The Deadly Years’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3qV_a8KT_U), but like Ensign Chekov, Neil remained unaged throughout. 

The Dynamic Duo

The route would take us from Land’s End to Penzance and in land towards Truro and on to Bodmin Moor and up to Launceston before riding the old A30 to Okehampton.

Cornwall, the Land of Underestimating Road Signs

While we plodded on as a group all the punchy climbs began to tell and the first feed station was a welcome sight, if somewhat manic.  So many riders, queues for food, drinks and toilets, it was chaos in quite a confined space but we were soon sorted.  The coffee van was doing a roaring trade and had every tea under the sun.  It was a regular welcome sight for the rest of the ride.

Feed Station First Call

We were heading for Bodmin Moor, but all roads had more energy sapping punchy climbs, but then this was the leg with the most climbing.  Up and down on the Cornish roller coaster!

The road took us past Lanhydrock with its manicured gardens before crossing the A38 at Doublebois and on to the second feed station before the grinding climb to Minions being the highest point of the day.

After the we regrouped and sped on downwards for the tricky twisting descents towards Launceston.  We enjoyed this section as the bulk of the day was done and we would soon be into the slightly less lumpy Devon.

It was now the undulating old A30 to Okehampton and Base Camp 2.  I had seen Okehampton on many road signs with the miles indicated and was counting them down but every time I checked them against my Wahoo we appeared to be doing 50% more miles than the signs were telling us?  I wonder if this is why the pace of life down there is slower, there’s some sort of relativistic phenomena?  Reaching the camp, it was time to quickly settle into an efficient routine as it was essential to use the time well to maximise recovery time/sleep.

It was a gillet stuffed up my jersey!

It was somewhat sobering to think we had to do this another eight times but we were all pleased we had got through one of the hardest days.  As it turned out this was the last opportunity to get all of us in the same photo as our strategies evolved. 

Before the Reality of the Situation Dawned

So, wipe down the bike, lube it and get it into the storage area while making a note where it is as it’s amazingly hard to find it amongst 900 others in the dark when your tired brain fails to recall the mental navigation markers you thought you had remembered. 

110 on the Bike, No Problem, Walk Across a Field with a Bag, No Chance

Then tent allocation, and the tummy wrenching realization I was as far from the luggage lorry as was possible.  Stopping to rest three times, the bag was eventually hauled to the tent and I spotted Neil was in the same area but he already had everything stowed, showered and was ready to eat.  Graciously, he lent a hand.

It Wasn’t Me, Honest

So, shower, change, dinner and briefing at 8pm with a beer and then bed.  Sounds simple but with 900 or so people all doing the same thing you need focus and organization, or simply try to do things in different order to minimize any queuing.  A lesson I should have learned was to set out the sleeping gear earlier as trying to fumble about inflating a mattress with an internal foam pump (after watching a you-tube to show me how), in the dark with little elbow room and whilst exhausted, was a real pain and it made some rather rude ‘pffft’ noises, which I am sure must have raised a few nearby eyebrows.  Well worth it though as it was surprisingly comfortable.  Slept like a log.

Every Man for Himself

Neil and Rich were better organized in the mornings and in the following days they always got started earlier than I did and Neil choose the ride harder, get back for a beer sooner strategy to enjoy more recovery time so was in a different time zone altogether now.  So, the first order of each day was to catch up with Rich.

Day 2 –Okehampton to Bath (110 miles and approx. 6500 ft of climbing)

Erm, Where’s My Bike?

A Few Quid Here

Following the morning call of ‘Eye of the Tiger’, my morning theme for the rest of the ride emerged.  I couldn’t eat at 5am, I could only drink tea and force a little bit of porridge down and struggled to get moving or find my bike.  As a result, I got to the start about 30 minutes after the others.  Once out on the road I was motivated to catch them up, spotting a likely suspect or two at the first pit stop.  Neil was just leaving and Rich was queuing for food.

Stunning Scenery

Say “Cheese”

It was another tough day with many steep climbs and descents including Cothelstone Hill and Cheddar Gorge, two tough climbs.  Riding together after the pitstop Rich and I got a bit competitive (who’d have thought that might happen), me giving him a beasting on Cothelstone and him returning the favour on Cheddar when he snuck in behind and, seeing a photographer, choose his moment for maximum psychological impact. 

To Busy Overtaking to Know He Was About to Pounce

Clickety click

I was suffering an infuriating noise on climbing was getting significantly worse and it was becoming an obsession to track it down.  I must have tried 66 (see how many twig the reference) different adjustments and experiments from pirate pedaling to bending things but couldn’t pin it down.  So, a visit to the mechanics at the end of the day thinking my crank bearing was shot.  Turned out they couldn’t work it out either.

As it turned out the Gorge was a long long slog and we were soon back together before I got a second wind and we lost each other again only to regroup again and lose each other again later. 

Herding Cats

It seems we were simply a terrible group, Neil fitter and quicker and miles up the road, Rich quick up the hills and even paced while I was all over the shop with highly variable pace as my ‘wind’ came, lingered about a bit and went several times.  The result being that we simply couldn’t ride together although there was a familiar presence on my wheel quite often. 

When the Cheddar Gets Milder

We were soon into the scenic views from the Quantock Hills and Mendips and then the architecture in Bath.  Again, the weather was kind but it was forecast to change overnight for the next day.

More Cheese Grommit?

We climbed up to Crediton to take the roads via Shobrooke Park and on towards Bickleigh.  Cruising up Upton Hellions onto Stockleigh Pomeroy, where we met a few old friends in a field, Shaun the Sheep, Grommit and a Paignton zoo gorilla.

A Grand Day Out

Completing day two gave us all a lot of confidence.  Two tough days ‘on paper’ done.  However, at the time we were so underestimating Scotland, always a dangerous thing to do!

Have Pity on an Old Man

This was our only night in a proper bed as we were guests of the University of Bath and were able to use their Halls of Residence and campus facilities.  Luxury!  I was even rewarded an offer to help me with my bag.  A lovely young lass made the offer, to which I declined but she grabbed it anyway and hoisted up like it weighed nothing.  Gobsmacked, I fell in behind feeling very weak and feeble.

After spending ages getting lost around the campus and getting a massage booked, I eventually found Neil but had to stuff my dinner down quick to get to the evening briefing.  We had guests to give us a pep talk, including Shanaze Reade (BMX World Champ and GB Team track cyclist), who would be riding with us the next day.  There were a few celebs around but I’m useless at recognizing them, bar Shanaze that is. 

Track & BMX Star Shanaze Reade

Blimey, Three!

At the briefing, about a dozen riders were presented with the prized ‘Golden RAB Jersey’ that are only awarded to people that have done three RABs.  Awesome achievements.

Day 3 –Bath to Ludlow (101 miles and approx. 5900 ft of climbing)

I awoke early from a good night’s sleep and immediately got up showered and dressed and went down to collect my laundry.  Overnight my kit had been washed and dried.  On the campus everything was more spaced out involving more walking so more time to do things.

I couldn’t eat at all.  Despite feeling confident that two hard days done, I was still a bit anxious as although I have ridden two consecutive days in a row, never three 100+ miles in a row.  After dropping the bag off and then resting for a few minutes, I discovered I was one of the last to leave as there were very few bikes left.  It made finding the bike easier.  Starting with dry kit was nice, which lasted all of 100m as the heavens opened.

Plug Not Pulled, Very Wet

We would climb out of Bath, I am told every way out is up, well, like a bath I suppose.  We hit the Bristol area in commuter time on a Monday morning, nice!  However, after the climbing of the previous two days this would be a nice transition day and perhaps the easiest day’s riding.  

We were soon crossing the Severn Bridge into Wales, past Chepstow Castle and then following the River Wye, a truly stunning area.  Ross-on-Wye was noted as a future place to visit for a holiday. 

There’s Longer Bridges in Klopps Teeth

The Severn Bridge wasn’t what we in East Yorkshire call a proper suspension bridge, being a bit on the short side!  The bridge is showing its age although the view along the estuary was good.  We were drenched from steady rain, which never stopped all day.  Sadly, a lot of glass was present on the bridge cycle path causing dozens of riders to be fumbling with cold wet fingers to fix flats.

Must Be the Only Severn Bridge Pic With Nobody Fixing Flats

Beware Left Turns

Andy Cook the route designer was determined to use safe roads without traffic and also ones where the scenery is stunning.  One characteristic of Andy’s routes we had quickly learnt over the first two days was that left turns usually meant changing down in a hurry as there was always a damn steep hill around the corner.  Always!

Rich managed to ride with Shanaze Reade for a while, but she gave up after 35 miles of trying to shake him off her wheel.

Blimey, Even More Cheese or Give me Those Calories

Reaching the feed station, I realised I was I was becoming very partial to toffee custard desert things, Jelly Tots and Malt Loaf.  The feed stations were quite similar each day but little extras could be found to make it more interesting, today it was freshly cut pineapple and melon.  You soon learn on a ride like this that you eat whatever, whenever it is presented but there was always some quality savouries too.  Replenishing your energy was paramount, something I am usually terrible at, but I was learning!  As always, a few extras were stuffed in the back pockets.

A nice climb up a tree-lined road brought us to a thunderous descent into Ludlow where we climbed the main High Street and down the other side to a fast A road.  We were soon at the racecourse where we were staying the night.  A treat awaited, a luxury cheeseboard, which was a lovely touch as you got off your bike.

Very Apt Snack Straight off the Bike

A beer and Lulu’s superb food wrapped up another great day.

Awesome But Only Just Enough Puddings

Biohazards

The racecourse was interesting in its setting and also proved to be the only dodgy bit of support we had with a kit drying room that didn’t.  Would have been good for a steam bath though, if it wasn’t for the aroma (indescribable!).

Day 4 –Ludlow to Haydock (107 miles and approx. 4000 ft of climbing)

Today’s morning call was ‘Wake up Boo’ by Boo Radleys and we were greeted by a drizzly and overcast day.

Bloody Lancashire, Can’t Even Do Weather

Our first ‘easy’ day.  Views of the iconic Stiperstones and a day transitioning from rural to industrial heartlands and over the Manchester ship canal.  Predictably, as we approached Manchester the rain set in hard.

It was this night that I was reminded of one of the ‘joys’ of camping, once you have wet gear in your tent everything else becomes wet too!  As I found out the next morning, wet gear isn’t the best thing to dress with at 5am.  Spent a few idle minutes trying to understand out how dry stuff was now wet.  My theory is condensation, the wet gear produces loads more on top of your breath and as the temperature falls overnight it condenses on everything.

Oh the Embarrassment, a Fecking Brompton

As repeatably requested at briefings, whenever passing people we had to shout ”on your right” as a warning.  This could get a bit tedious when passing lots of solo riders with loads of room so I picked my moments when there was limited room or streams at different speeds.  Nearly got caught out, started to pass a group and another group came steaming past me bombing along.  Right in the middle of the train was a guy on a Brompton.  It still bugs me that this guy zipped past me every damn single day late morning. 

One of My Fave Pics

Bingo!

A further irritation was the unidentified clicking was really getting worse, on every uphill section it sounded like clackers!  Another try with the mechanics later.  This time it was diagnosed, it was the head bearing.  I left the bike with them expecting a bill for a new bearing but as a temporary fix they had repacked the bearing with gunk that looked like Copperease.  It worked, and it got me through but still needs replacing.

Homer Type Drool Time

What a Sight to a Starving Boy

The Deloitte surprise tonight was special.  Deloitte had arranged for double Rio silver medalist Becky James to bring her cupcakes as a treat.  She has retired from cycling to concentrate on her baking business.  They were divine and I loved the carrot cake ones.

Becky James, Double World Champion (Wearing her Minsk Medals)

Cycling Royalty

To our complete shock, at the evening briefing we received our pep talk from none other than Sir Dave Brailsford and he dropped a bombshell.  This was the first time he has made it public he had just recovered from prostate cancer.  I’m sure just having him around made some marginal gains the next day!

The One & Only

Day 5 –Haydock to Carlisle (116 miles and approx. 6000 ft of climbing)

Queen’s ‘I want to Ride My Bicycle’ woke the camp to a very wet morning. 

We’ll Deliver Anywhere It Seems

On the third (rainy) day, Rich pulled out his swanky Velotoze to keep his tootsies roasty-toasty.  In his haste he put his foot straight through them.  Somehow, he managed to find a mobile signal, ordered a new pair of overshoes with the delivery address some field at Haydock.  Unbelievably, here they were waiting for him to use.  Good timing as well!

Manchester, A Bad Influence and Unlearning Law-abiding Cycling

As we made our way through Greater Manchester we had a hideous time with dense traffic, long delays and probably the worse bit of the whole ride.  As someone that had never ridden in urban traffic, I was keeping strictly by the book but my patience eventually went and I joined the many others riding down the gaps in the middle of the road passing miles of stationary vehicles.

Manchester Must Have Heard Me Badmouthing It

After navigating all this, my first real problems started beyond the expected fatigue and the bike issue.  Three punctures before the first timed pitstop.  Glass in the tire fixed only to find cold wet fingers had missed another shard, which stopped me again after ten minutes.  Then, the next inner tube burst when pumped up.  Finally, up and running, I was under pressure the rest of the day to keep ahead of the broom wagon (the van used to pick up stragglers and a failed day). 

Hi Ho Silver, To The Rescue

Luckily, a chaperone, Nathan helped me with the punctures, stayed with me to give me a wheel and also called the mechanics for more tubes after we went through my two and his spare.  He then paced me through to the pitstop with the broom wagon hot on my tail as I was nearly an hour down on the cut-off time.  His advice was that if I could keep up same pace, I would be back in the main field by the second stop.  As it turned out I had begun to feel the fitness building and, pushing on, soon got back on schedule and saw a familiar face at the next stop.  Rich got to hear of all my troubles before he set off and I went to get fed and watered.

Another Olympian, Nathan Robertson (Badminton)

I found out later that the chaperone was none other than one of the most unassuming Olympians around, Nathan Robertson who won silver in 2004 in Badminton mixed doubles with Gail Emms.

Putting Red Rose Misery Behind Us

As we left the industrial areas and headed up through Preston we could see the Lakes and we gained a sense of foreboding as we knew the mighty Shap Fell climb was coming after passing through Kendal (see below for the ‘bump’ after the half way arrow).  At least the weather improved the further we got from Manchester.

Despite the fitness I was feeling, the extra effort began to tell and I realized I had been so focused on catching up I hadn’t taken on enough fluids and food.  Exhausted, and with a new knee pain that had started on the 8 mile Shap climb, I reached Carlisle, ate and went straight to sleep.  I must admit being a miserable unsociable **** that evening.  Probably Manchester’s fault.

Sneaky Place to Get in a Feed Station

Day 6 –Carlisle to Hopetoun (nr. Edinburgh) (114 miles and approx. 5200 ft of climbing)

Today’s feast for the ears was appropriate, The Proclaimers ‘I’m Gonna Be’ (aka 500 miles).

Through Gretna Green and on into Scotland with a steady (very wet) climb onto higher ground.  Fantastic views of the Lowther Hills, the River Clyde and our first view of the Forth Railway Bridge.

Iron Bru, Made From Girders and Roads From Boulders

Into Scotland and the roads were either brilliant, smooth new tarmac or rough as f*** that were shaking teeth loose.  At home, we do road ‘dressing’, but here, they have to be all macho and use boulders, none of these namby-pamby southern chippings here.  What with the roads, the hurricane, mountains and rain, Scotland was to be constantly conspiring to keep us English out. 

Odd really, they gave us a fabulous rousing welcome, we were ‘piped aboard’ with some highland sword dancing too.

Damn, What’s the Safe Word

The knee that had ached the day before quickly became a serious issue.  After every stop it became more painful to get going again.  The day completed, I found I couldn’t walk after getting off the bike.  Feeling totally beaten, I hobbled off to see the Physio. 

The verdict was mixed, I should abandon but it could possibly be ‘managed’ with daily physio, massage, high cadence and painkillers.  My quads had gone so tight they were pulling the kneecap off kilter so it wasn’t tracking properly.  This caused wear and pain.  In an effort to keep me going she gave me some extra time to give the quads a right pummeling.  I don’t mind admitting I was whimpering!  It did work a little, I could walk and hope began to return that I could go on.  Rich and Neil were great, helping with sympathy, encouragement and more painkillers although, as you can see below, Rich was feeling the strain too.

He Could Lift His, But the Legs are Going

Haggy McHaggis

I must admit, I didn’t hold out much hope I would be able to set off the next day into the lumpier bits of Scotland despite the allure of trying to spot the mountain haggis, that rare species with its right and left legs of different lengths, enabling it to quickly scurry around steep mountains. It is a fluffy animal whose fur is long and mane-like, the clockwise species with the shorter right legs and the anticlockwise variant with the shorter left legs.  If you think about it there has to be two species, they can’t mate!

I Remember That Hill

Day 7 –Hopetoun to Strathdon (nr. Bellabeg) (112 miles and approx. 8000 ft of climbing)

Wakey wakey, Mark Ronson ‘The Bike Song’.

A Grand Set of Bridges Here Mr Bristol

Lambos Everywhere or Up, Up and Aweeeee (Hoping the Brakes Work)

Our first full day in Scotland, and what a welcome starting with views of the bridges across the Firth of Forth.  The scenery become stunning as we passed through Perth following the beautiful River Dee into the Grampian mountains, and began our 35 mile ascent of the Cairngorms.  This really ramped up after going through Glenshee, seeing a huge convoy of supercars coming down having decided it wasn’t the right kind of snow for a spot of skiing.  We went up past many Swiss style cottages, up, and up some more to the Glenshee Ski Resort advertising ski hire whilst it was glorious sunshine….until we reached the summit when the rain came down only for the brightest rainbow to appear beneath us in the valley.   

Our Deliotte Cheerleaders with an Apt Message

The climbing was hard on the knee but I was keeping the loading low by pedaling at a high cadence whenever possible.  This also helped with the fatigue; I began to feel fitter and hope returned that I would finish the event.  The descent was intense, having never experienced anything like it but huge fun!

Day 8 –Strathdon to Bonar Bridge (Kyle of Sutherland) (118 miles and approx. 8000 ft of climbing)

Wake up call, ‘Jump Around’.

This was an absolute blighter of a day, beginning with the iconic ‘Lecht’, which was the toughest climb on the whole route.  It immediately ramps up well over 20% and had many people off their bikes walking up.  Just when you think it’s becoming more manageable it ramps up again.  Another ski resort at the top had our much needed first pit-stop.  The descent was a thrill, hitting well over 50mph, which soon ate up some miles.

Did I Mention the Hurricane?

To reflect the toughness of the day a third pit stop was provided.  It was during the third and final pit-stop that the wind hit hard.  Dangerous crosswinds would be with us as we went towards the east coast.  I had caught up with Rich, who had been very rattled by the crosswinds already and was planning to bail for the day.  The organizers rounded up all the riders and for safety reasons advised the riders to abandon the final 35 miles and take busses provided to the next camp site.  Many took the offer, but to his immense credit, Rich joined me in accepting the risk and we carried on regardless. 

When we reached the campsite, we all realized that the final day was nearly upon us but we were sobered by the prospect of turning into the gales and rain the next morning.

An Awesome Shot

Day 9 –Bonar Bridge to John o’ Groats (104 miles and approx. 5000 ft of climbing)

Wake up call, ‘The Final Countdown’.

Maybe I Forgot to Mention The Hurricane or ‘Hey Dude, Seen My Tent Anywhere’

The wind battered the camp overnight and so sleeping was an issue for many, as was keeping their tents grounded, many were blown away when not weighed down by somebody and the camp was struggling to stay functional. 

The day’s ride started with a steady 30 mile climb up to the very isolated Crask Inn.  So, uphill and into horizontal rain from a headwind gusting up over 50mph!  Wind chill become a big factor and quite a few called for assistance suffering from hypothermia and there were many blankets used at the stop.  I had gone for many layers but as they were all wet, it didn’t help much.

Turning into the remote splendor of the Strathnaver Valley gave some relief from the wind but it wouldn’t be until we hit the north coast at Betty Hill would it become helpful. 

OMG, The North Coast at Last

After Betty Hill, eight rolling climbs took us along the rugged, isolated coast towards Thurso.  These climbs were the final straw for the troubled knee.  At the final pit stop, just over 30 miles from the finish, I could not continue. 

No More Going North

Pedal Like a Pirate

I spent a while with the medics undergoing treatment of various types and encouraged by Rich and some handy painkillers, I eventually returned to the bike to slog it out.  Heavily favouring one leg on the pedals for some time while the poorly one just revolved, helped free up the knee a bit.  Suddenly, I was a man possessed, the finish was within my grasp.  All the worry of the previous few days was gone, the fitness I had built up came through and I sprinted the last ten miles, much to Rich’s surprise.  I nearly cried when I saw the desolate white buildings of JoG as the stress of the last few painful days was suddenly released.

It was amazing to be greeted by cheering crowds in JoG.  Not surprisingly, a beer was consumed before our coach back to Inverness for the night.  Arriving in Inverness at 11 at night on a Sunday night isn’t a good idea if you are hungry, and our standards were very very low at that point!

Numb Nuts

You’ll be thinking by now that Neil ‘three puddings’ Catterson has got off light in this article, having ridden so well, untroubled by any of it and having a complete breeze of a ride, alas no, he was suffering in stoical silence and we suspect he’ll be looking for a new seat when he gets home.

Enough Energy Left to Smile, Just

Who’s the Old Dude?

The queue for the official photos was huge so we went DIY.  I found some old guy to take mine and returned the favour.

Random Old Guy
The Full Set

The Verdict…..

Would I do it again?  For sure, I learnt a lot about my riding and food/hydration needs and how I reacted to the workload and would love to apply the lessons learned to another go.  Would I do it with Threshold, on another RAB, definitely!

Fundraising Update

I am pleased to report that having successfully completed the 980 mile cycling event in the allotted nine days, the sponsorship total is almost £2,500 for the Prince’s Trust (plus a similar amount from Rich for his charity, Great Ormond St. Hospital).  This is enough to provide a 12-week training course to give a troubled youth a second chance to get their life back on track.  This benefits not only the person but the wider community, it could be our community.

Out of the 900+ taking part, the 76 cyclists riding for the Prince’s Trust as a whole have raised about £200,000, which can:

  • Buy equipment for 4,000 after school clubs
  • Purchase a laptop for 2,000 young people entering further education
  • Ensure 3,500 young people can get to work before their first paycheque

Particular mention should go to https://www.woodplc.com/ for £ for £ matching and from our local Café https://www.facebook.com/GingersEmbassy/ for their sponsorship and encouragement (not to mention the fabulous coffee and cake!).

The Prince’s Trust Charity

The Prince’s Trust is a charity in the United Kingdom founded in 1976 by the Prince of Wales to help vulnerable young people get their lives on track.  It supports 11 to 30-year-olds who are unemployed or struggling at school at risk of exclusion.  Many of the young people helped by The Trust are in or leaving care, facing issues such as homelessness or mental health problems, or have been in trouble with the law.

It runs a range of training programmes, providing practical and financial support to build young people’s confidence and motivation.  Each year they work with about 60,000 young people; with three in four moving on to employment, education, volunteering or training.

The Prince’s Trust is one of the most successful funding organisations in the UK and the UK’s leading youth charity, having helped over 870,000 young people turn their lives around, created 125,000 entrepreneurs and given business support to 395,000 people in the UK.  From 2006 to 2016, its work supporting young people has been worth an estimated £1.4 billion to the economy.

Huge Thanks for the Support