Sunday, 16 May 2010

LEJOG - Epilogue

It didn't feel that special at the end. It's strange, but as people keep saying, it's the journey that counts, not the destination. JoG is kind of what you expect - remote scenery, a couple of tat shops, man charging £10 for a photo of a sign - but it could have been anywhere. We kind of rolled up to the finish, had a few pictures taken and then got back in the camper van.

I've felt more satisfaction at the end of races - particulary my first 12-hour solo. This finish was like the end of another 100 mile bike ride (done a few now... in the past week), although a 100 mile bike ride when you have had your legs beaten with broomsticks for the previous seven days.

What has been more special has been the comments and reactions of others - we've just riden bikes for a few days, but hopefully we've kept other entertained, maybe inspired, and we've definitiely raised some cash for a good cause. We've also had great help and assistance from others - the official support team, the visitors (planned and surprise ones), the cake makers, the people at Prendas and Spokeshirts, the campsites that gave us free or discounted rates.

Certain days and sections stand out. Day two, the 218km in the cold and the rain and the wind was truely Belgian. If that had been a single day ride we'd have been talking about it for weeks. As it was, as part of a bigger thing, it was a real highlight. Also on day two we had the visit to Darren's parents, with the signs in the street, the bunting, the marching band, the flags, the 100s of people out cheering us on and the photographer from the Bridgwater Mercury. At the end of day seven we had the surprise bunkhouse, with the real roof and heating and everything. The scenery on the final day was breath taking, as were some of the sections after coming off the ferry.

Ah, the ferry. OK, so 5 miles of our route was spent sitting in the warm, but we didn't count that in the 959 miles. Also, we had to team time trial it to actually get to the ferry on time - and losing ten minutes to a puncture on the only day when we had a deadline really really didn't help. Except... it did. It made it more memorable, added a touch of spice to the ride.

We learnt a few things.
  • Under stress we all slightly lose our minds, giving uncensored train of thought monologues to the world in general. It was like the filter between brain and mouth had been removed ("Why don't we cycle on the Loch instead of along it? If we put enough air in our tyres...").
  • We will pee almost anywhere without thought to who might be watching (sorry Liz/Lynne/Becky!).
  • Tracklogs under estimates distance, but over estimates height gain.
  • Procycling must be brutal, and drugs would almost certainly be needed. You should have seen our ibuprofen consumption. Two, maybe three pills a day!
  • When planning to go through towns, study the one way systems.
  • Banana and marmite toasties are wrong.
  • Nutella in porridge is right.
  • Bunkhouses are better than tents when there is frost on the ground. May is not a warm month.
  • Eight days cycling in the wind and rain makes your face peel off.
Would I do it again? Probably not in the same style. Non-stop as a relay? Maybe. Race Across America? Would love to. Big single day races/stage races? Oh yes.

It's not about where you ride, it's how you ride and who you ride with.
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