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Donations for our chosen charity; YoungMinds

Over a 10 day period in August Jo Lewis accompanied by her two sons, Anthony and Graham, cycled 1,019 gruelling miles from Lands End to John O’Groats in aid of the YoungMinds Charity.  You can read more about their epic journey in the blog posts below.

YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people. Driven by their experiences they campaign, research and influence policy and practice.
http://www.youngminds.org.uk/

Donations can still be made at the following link:

Days 8, 9 & 10 – Lands End to John O’Groats

The most beautiful part of our LeJog trip – cycling through Scotland and the Highlands – 40 years since my last trip to this part of the country – magical, outstanding beauty, amazing views of Ben Nevis, steam trains chattering through the woodlands, cycling on well maintained roads, close to the heathers and Autumn shrubs lining the hedgerows, the occasional grab of a ripe blackberry, almost in stroking distance of sheep and young cows, a collection of resting lapwings in a field close by, and the sheer pleasure of cycling with my sons, who continued to be caring and protective of their Mum.

One of my favourite moments was observing a fisherman fly fishing in Loch Lomond – this reminded me of my dear Father, who held this passion for many years. So many memories flashed before my eyes, and it was difficult to concentrate on the job in hand, when I started to reminisce favourite haunts and family days out. A real stomach turner ………

Saturday night was spent wild camping overlooking Loch Linne – illegal overnight parking, Hey Ho! In total, 115 were cracked today, and we had cycled beyond our stopping place, in order to get the miles in, gosh did it see a long way back to where we were camping! The midges were on good form, as is the norm in Scotland, so had to close all windows and doors tightly before sleeping. We were all looking forward to a pint of beer to replenish our thirst, found a quiet hotel, took a sip and then realised the beer was “off” – that spoilt the taste! The steak and rice, so nicely prepared by Roger, was the perfect sustenance for our evening meal, together with apple pie and custard!!

One of my favourite photos from the trip was the sunset we observed from the hotel, captures our Adventure completely.

240 miles still to go come Sunday morning, so we were keen to get going (I was the Slow Coach!) from Fort William.  With only 2 days left, pressure was upon us, and Anthony was not having any nonsense. 120 miles had to be achieved today, come what may!  So we just got on with it, and there were only a few moans from me, generally when a tough climb was looming.  My left shoulder blade was “prickly”, an indication of fatigue and tension, the massage stick came into it’s own, as did Ibuprofen and black coffee!  I simply loved our ride, long, gently undulating descents, getting up to 35 mph, and stunning scenery with rivers on either side of us, had an amusing conversation with the wife of a fly fisherman, who poked her head through the window of Big Bertha, and asked us what we knew about the success of fly fishing, a favourite pastime of many people today.  Random conversation but nice!!  The one disheartening occasion was stopping for a cup of tea at our designated campsite for the night at 7.15 pm, and having to cycle a further 15 miles to ensure we hadn’t left too much for our last day, Day 10!  That was mentally challenging, especially as we had to manage a steep climb before stopping for the night – yes, I moaned and moaned, desperate for fish and chips!

We overnighted in Dingwall, a comfortable campsite, with welcome showers and, most importantly, hot water!

Monday began at 6.00 am, on Anthony’s insistence, there was business to be done! Bradley decided my front tyre should be swapped, not a good idea, as within the first hour of cycling, I had 2 punctures – ended up riding Anthony’s bike for 30 minutes whilst the boys got their hands dirty, and I made up some of the lost time. Again, we were blown away by the beautiful countryside in glorious sunshine, and knew we were on the home run.

Come early afternoon, the clouds filled the skies and rain started to fall, together with an easterly wind. A change of clothing was required, so we were quick at our regular stops and ate, drank, stretched out, and hopped back on the bikes. The road sign for John O’ Groats eventually loomed, 37 miles – what, still another 37 miles, that can’t be true, it must be 27 miles!’ The boys reassured me, “Mum, the last 20 miles are flat” – on your bike, were they hell, every small incline felt like a mountain climb, and I wasn’t happy, the wind was pushing us into the middle of the road and the rain was beating against our backs, just get on with it Jo, keep saying your Mantra and Stay Positive! The last 7 miles went on for ever, I broke the distance down into 2 x 3 mile chunks, just a Park Run 5k x 3!! We battled the elements and that was tough going – I was having to dig very, very deep yet again, suddenly a sign saying 1/4 mile to JOG appeared, we turned the corner into a well lit road and sped down the road together, side by side, elated and so thankful we had made the end, 8.30 pm!! We couldn’t have timed it better, or any later – Job Done, Mission accomplished, Adventure Before Dementia completed …………!!

Believe it or not, I got my fish and chips for supper, Anthony was up at 5.00 am to catch the 7.00 am flight from Inverness back to London and was at his City office desk by 9.30 am, wearing the incorrect socks – he had to pop out and buy some more!!

What a trip – 1,019 miles completed, 55,000 calories burned, 4 punctures, 100+ miles a day, 3 countries, 2 days of rain!!

Anything is possible if you put your mind to it – I even learned a new skill – a Chris Froome finish position, both hands off handlebars and held wide, that was a bonus, took me 10 days to build up the confidence to do this!”

Jo, Anthony and Graham rode the gruelling 1019 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats in aid of the YoungMinds charity. YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people. Driven by their experiences they campaign, research and influence policy and practice.
http://www.youngminds.org.uk/

Donations can made at the following link:

Day 7 – Lands End to John O’Groats

After a much better night’s sleep and healthy portions of porridge and toast, I was looking forward to cycling through the Lake District, and wasn’t disappointed. An older gentleman, as we left our comfortable campsite, commented on “looking the part” which cheered me up no end, the dewy ground cover was beginning to burn off with the sun rising, and we were all in a good place!

Brassenthwaite was our starting point, and we got going, with Lesley’s marching orders, and enjoyed the breathtaking scenery of the Lakes, clear and wide roads, cows and sheep lazily munching the long grasses, and giving us the occasional stare of concern, and the regular stop to admire and take in the views. We reached Lockerbie in good time for lunch, and this is where Lesley relinquished her Roadie role and Roger took over, Roger arrived by train and Lesley left by train! Flashbacks of the dreadful air crash haunted me for many miles as we approached the town, it held a sense of calm and communal strength. Our Roadies exchanged the Order of Play for the boys and I, and we left them discussing favourite snacks, sandwich fillers, and menus, no concern of the 3 cyclists, we had to get on with getting the miles covered.

Bradley was in obvious discomfort with a patella issue, so Lesley massaged the leg and sent him off with some encouraging advice. Roger had a lot to live up to after Lesley’s fantastic nurturing skills, so we got him worried before he had even pulled his sleeves up to wash the dishes, he knew he had a hard act to follow, and the boys, particularly, gave him a good ribbing! We didn’t need to worry, Roger capably took on his responsibilities and had his pinny on in no time and managed to stay ahead of us and get the kettle brewing ready for our demanding food and drink requests. By this time I was drinking copious amounts of full fat milk at every stop, and was quickly nicknamed Moo.

We managed to negotiate our tricky way around the roadworks in Strathclyde to find our campsite, which we reached late.  Not being a regular caravaner, I didn’t know what equated to a good campsite, but in my opinion, this was fabulous – piped music in the showers!  Roger cooked us one of Graham’s favourites, Macaroni Cheese, which we demolished in one swift swoop, and I left the boys drinking whisky and retired quietly to bed.

Bike

Days 4, 5 & 6 – Lands End to John O’Groats

Days 4 and 5 were all about getting the miles in, 250 miles in total from Bristol to just short of Shrewsbury, Clitheroe infact. I developed an annoying noise from the bottom bracket, which then had to be checked out by a cycle mechanic, must have come out in sympathy of my somewhat bruised and uncomfortable undercarriage! Fortunately, nothing disastrous and the bike was in a safe condition to continue riding, phew. Just had to put up with an annoying and continuous clink, which speeded up with my leg cadence. We finally finished our cycling at 9.40 pm, which made for a very long day, infact I was too tired to eat, forced myself to, and collapsed into bed without brushing my teeth.

The amusing moments have been Anthony sliding off his bike chancing a ford which looked too tempting to miss, Graham driving over my cycling shoes, myself taking a comfort break, standing up and walking down the road, forgetting that I was actually cycling, when Graham reminded me I should pick my bike up and continue cycling!

A low moment was having to cycle 20 miles further on the last leg of Day 5, meaning 55 miles without a stop, and another late finish, 9.40 pm. I had to dig deep, very deep, and was beyond being amused at the end of the day.

Day 6 started wet, drizzly and a very fine mist – the hardest climbs were about to hit us as we made our way through the Forest of Bowland. I struggled from the start and we had to have a Team meeting to decide the best plan – I knew a shorter day with more rest was required, if I was to continue – I was disheartened, fearful and tearful – the boys asked me to make the final decision on how much further we should cycle and I agreed on 85 miles, instead of the planned 115 miles. Having had my wobbly, I felt better about continuing and the rest of the day was manageable, with a beautiful ride alongside Lake Thirlmere, all 10 miles of it, we ended the day earlier and Lesley found a campsite where we could walk to the pub for some decent food and a lovely pint of beer, before crashing at a sensible hour.

The photos from these 3 days will be added once I get some decent internet, Scotland isn’t switched onto modern technique.

Day 3 – Lands End to John O’Groats

Phew! What a day, 98 miles recorded – started from Exeter and finished in Bristol, with some beautiful miles of flat stretches, rolling hills, however, nothing as strenuous as our first 2 days! This is the furthest I have ever cycled in one go – and I’ve done it, although I had to dig deep at the end of the day!

Highlights were waving Goodbye to Grandson Ralph after watching him trying out his new trike for his Birthday present, enjoying some wonderful views of Glastonbury Tor, hanging onto either Graham’s or Anthony’s wheel for dear life for miles at a time, cycling past Wells Cathedral, emergency sewing repairs to Anthony’s cycling shorts, lovely picturesque villages to admire, and some great conversations with both sons along the road, they have been amazing company, I am so proud of them both.

We are now staying with Gillian, one of my athletes, who is being very hospitable and cooking for us this evening, whilst Big Bertha sits on her drive, before we head out to Shrewsbury tomorrow, only 112 miles!

Day 2 – Lands End to John O’Groats

The day dawned in beautiful sunshine as we set off from Looe at Silly O’Clock, we felt refreshed and strong, little did we realise that today was going to be tougher than yesterday – Devonian hills are far more severe and longer than any we did yesterday, 2,000m of climbing, I had had enough of hills by 4.00 pm and, fortunately, there was a lovely ice cream at the end to make me smile, rather than grimace!

The highlights of today were having two very supportive and caring sons, who made me laugh when the going got tough, the young lamb who ran out in front of me on Dartmoor, the early sunshine which turned to incessant rain for 3 hours, amazing views across the Tamar estuary, the Torpoint ferry crossing, and seeing my Grandson, Ralph, who smiled incessantly all evening! We celebrated his first Birthday with chocolate cake and candle, and the opening of his gifts. My daughter-in-law, Jess, prepared us a fantastic supper, and now it’s to bed for all of us. Phew, can’t wait to get in ……….Nite Nite!

 

Day 1 done, and what a day

Day 1 done, and what a day. Barely any sleep because of the rain pelting against our windows and gale force winds almost lifting Bib Bertha off our pitch, not deterred Graham, Anthony and I,got going from Lands End at 9.30 am after stocking up with porridge and tea, and clothed in waterproofs and overshoes.

The tail winds helped us achieve 80 miles over some tough climbs through Cornwall, 2 pit stops for grub ably prepared by Lesley Whiley, our Wonder Woman, 2 ferry crossings, picturesque towns Falmouth and Looe were admired (no time for ice creams), homemade flapjack tucked away, and we even timed one of our two stops to watch the start of the Women’s Triathlon on our neat TV, and now resting up before retiring to my bottom bunk, which is so cosy!

Dartmoor here we come tomorrow ………….the weather has to be fairer than today.

Adventure Before Dementia

Am sat here at my dining room table listening to the rain pelting down outside and the wind whistling through my ears, contemplating what I’m just about to embark on later today – cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats, accompanied by my two sons, Graham and Anthony. A year in the planning, although not in the training (!), and now it’s all about to happen over 9 days, Yikes!

What the hell am I doing this for, you may well ask yourselves? – well, I’ve hit a notable new decade in my Life, not the 50’s but the 60’s, and I’m very blessed with good health and bundles of energy, a wonderful family, a great circle of friends, and I wished to celebrate this by challenging myself and taking myself way out of my comfort zone. 960 miles isn’t going to be easy for my ageing legs, both of which like to complain and grumble most days, one temperamental arthritic knee and one sore calf which has been nurtured with ice packs for the past week!

Many of you know that I prescribe bespoke Training Programmes for triathletes, duathletes, runners, and swimmers, and I put them through some uncomfortable sessions week on week, now it’s my turn to be punished with cumulative cycling, and I’m going to have to dig very, very deep to get myself through, what I know, are going to be very tough days – I will have both sons encouraging me, although am sure they will end up getting frustrated and impatient with their aged and dear Mum.

We collect Big Bertha, our 6 berth motorhome this afternoon from Devon, drive down to Penzance, and my good friend, Lesley, whom I’ve known for 40 years is our Support Crew for the first 7 days, until Roger takes over in Scotland, sees us through to JOG and then drives us back to Devon!! Living in such close proximity will be difficult at times, how many of you have spent a full 10 days with children, now adults, in the past 12 years, I haven’t? Lesley will be cooking for the Lewis Lot and looking after our every daily need, including massages, what could be more luxurious? Roger will try to live up to Lesley’s capable skills! Anthony is responsible for route logistics and Graham for bike maintenance, and I’m responsible for the number of coffee and food stops.

Am planning to write a daily blog, time and fatigue permitting, with supporting photographs, so please keep checking in for progress being made …………. I look forward to your support, and if you wish to donate to the charity that Anthony and I have chosen,Young Minds, we have set up a Fundraising page, which is – .
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserPage.action?userUrl=lewislot2016&faId=743547&isTeam=true. We really value any donations.

Let’s Go …………….!

Jo