Latest News Flash: Mr Billy has been reinstated as Bed Inspector at Park House, Stratford upon Avon
We would like to say thanks to the following people who made this a bit easier:
The Cycle Studio, Stratford Upon Avon – For your advice, for supplying our kit
Richard Edward Painter – For your really helpful advice and support
Richard Popple – For being there on Snowdon and for transporting the kayaks
Tracey and Martin – For your support and your assistance in carbohydrate upload in Padstow, top drawer as usual!
Michael from Carousel Digital – for the website, for your help and great advice and producing our vehicle graphics so quickly
Sammy, Griff, Lucy and Laura – for your support at all times
Carol – For your nutritional advice before and during this challenge, for your support too
Gillian – for being with us on the 3 peaks, for a good laugh and your continued support
Fred Baker Cycles in Bristol (Donny) – what can we say, top class service, nothing too much bother
Elens Castle Hotel – Betwys y Coed – thanks to Adam and Helen and your regulars for making us feel so welcome, we will be back!
Elidir – our Snowdon guide
Stephen and Jean Heyes for their support at Llangollen, Bala and Chester
Tom Mitchell, for your support and coming to see us
The pub in Montgomery – for helping Ruth out when her mobile phone ran out
The IBIS at Preston North – Really helpful, friendly staff, nothing was too much bother
Katie, Dave, Jules and Fred, for your support all through and for joining us for the Carnforth stretch
Rob Hopkin – for your support and advice, for sorting out the kayaks, for being a mate
Ray Webb for his support and advice regarding bike shops and his very funny messages that kept us smiling
Harbour Master – Lake Windermere
Phil Kershaw our Scafell Pike guide
Hillthwaite House Hotel – to the really nice chap who works there for following our progress on Windermere on his day off
Best Western Moffat House Hotel – lovely staff, lovely hotel
Loch Lomond – Inn on Loch Lomond – wow, what can we say, we will be back
Nevis Cycles – Just brilliant, your work was first class, the most friendly bike shop North of the Watford Gap!
Ben Nevis Guide (Nathen) – for not turning back in such terrible weather
Bombay Duck Restaurant Fort William – for the scoff – superb!
The unknown boat owner on Loch Ness for the use of their boat, it was cheeky of us and we would have asked if you had of been there…
Best Western Palace Hotel in Inverness – lovely hotel, lovely staff
The Royal Marine Hotel Brora – For the most relaxing couple of nights on this challenge, your hotel is beautiful, your staff are great too
To ALL of our supporters
The many people who waved and smiled along the way
To the sad creatures that tried to mow us down with deliberately poor driving and those who shouted obscenities, thank you, maybe your place in life is to serve as proof to us that evolution can work in reverse?
Waitress to Hoppy “the soup of the day is Mental and your server today is Lairy”
Ruth to Felix when faced with 110 mile ride in bad weather “Think of this not as a really long cycle ride, but as an exercise in recapturing your youth”
Felix Schmid (Kirkstone Pass to Pooley Bridge) “I am going to write a book, called False Summit, A Celebration of British Road building”
Mr Billy when arriving home “err, Mum, this bed is too hard”
Ecclefechan Taekwon-Do – Just made Colin and Felix laugh
Anon – “No, don’t look over the side, or de little fishes will bite yer nose off, so they will”
Felix would like to personally thank the following people:
Dr. Mark Sterling, Head of the School of Engineering for allowing him unpaid leave at the start of the academic year.
Mrs Joy Grey for dealing with all office issues in my absence
Will Cooper and the team for producing the postcards.
Charles Watson for keeping troubles away from me.
Florence for pulling me up and down mountains.
Robert Stolz for completing my heavy haul bicycle at minimal notice.
Rob Hopkin, Bridget, Richard Popple and…me!
Firstly, apologies for the delay in this post.
The final day started cold, with a bitter wind chill and it was mostly overcast with huge black threatening cloud.
The boys set off from Brora at a good speed whilst Bridget packed and I did the shopping for their lunch break and refuelled the car. The weather had brightened a bit, but the wind seemed even colder to us soft Southerners so I was pleased to hear the local woman at the petrol station say it was “‘f”ing freezing”
By the time we caught them up they were at the top of a very large hill looking really pleased with themselves. They were actually enjoying these really steep inclines now, which quite frankly makes you a bit of a weirdo in my books!
Lunch was taken at a lovely village about half way to JOG, the boys were really cold and got into the car to warm through before setting off again. We travelled on to John o Groats to check out the route in to the signpost. At this point the weather changed drastically, we drove through horizontal rain and hailstones and the wind was gusting really badly. I got out the car at one point and could hardly hold the door, it was awful.
As the boys approached John o Groats they were so cold that they could not feel their hands and feet, despite having dressed for these conditions. A tired, frozen and emotional pair of cyclists arrived at the signpost at approximately 1430hrs.
We stopped briefly for photographs and quickly loaded up the bikes and started the thawing out process in the car.
Final statistics for you (TBC):
940 miles cycled
47,384 feet climbing on bikes
34,496 calories burned cycling
32 miles of kayaking
10,990 feet climbing on foot
The picture is of the boys holding up their Railway Children cycling vest, they were going to be wearing these, but it was too dangerous to strip down to put them on given how cold it was.
One final post to follow tomorrow. But I would like to say at this point, this is not the end, this is just the beginning for Ultimate Three…
Colin and Felix are both looking tired today, I think the kayaking really took its toll on their muscles. Together with the lactic build up from the Ben, they are a wee bit uncomfortable.
It is a bitterly cold day and Felix has now taken to covering his legs with ‘leg warmers’. Unfortunately it reduced him to looking like Nora Batty as the boys transited through Inverness. After some ‘adjustment’ in the trouser department, they stayed up for the rest of the day.
A good early start today though, with no mishaps whatsoever! The bikes ran well and the boys made great time. The terrain was a little kinder in terms of climbs and the roads were without too many gaping holes.
We met up around lunchtime, Colin said that a truck had narrowly missed hitting Felix with its trailer a few minutes earlier, there really is not an excuse for driving as poor as that
They have now arrived at Brora, which is a lovely village approximately 60 miles from the finish. The hotel is once again very nice and the people here are really friendly. Two policemen tooted their support today, so did two RLC soldiers who were running an army boot camp for women! That sort of thing really cheers the boys up.
Felix has taken up an offer from me to ride my road bike for the last stage of this journey. Given that we have all ribbed him somewhat about the weight of his Swiss made steel bike in comparison to ours, I think it is really nice that he wants to try out my racing bike and not just let my tyres down instead! This means that Felix’s bike will be the back up bike (which is in fact my veiled threat to Colin not to break his AGAIN)!
I can report to you all that there is snow on the mountains here, with more coming this week. Probably good that it is the final leg of the journey tomorrow . Having started out from Cornwall with temperatures of 28 degrees we are now down to about 5 degrees.
PS/ Billy has been sacked as bed inspector, this is because this hotel insists that its beds are inspected by customers and staff only, not Mr Billy. He has however, filed a case for unfair dismissal on the grounds of discrimination regarding his facial hair problem.
Today started with an early breakfast. Rob and Colin had agreed that the weather was likely to be very tricky on the loch and decided that ‘sooner, rather than later’ was the best plan of attack.
Gillian left us this morning with Lily, Florence and Rosie, so we said our farewells and set off to bag the loch.
Finding a launch point was not too difficult and the boys set off swiftly with a very strong south westerly breeze behind them.
The weather was just about as bad as it gets for kayaking and the strong wind and torrential rain were causing us all a great deal of concern. It was disconcerting to say the least, that this loch is so vast, we could not see them for much of the way.
To be brutally honest, Felix could not be described as anything other than an enthusiastic amateur when it comes to kayaking and Colin did his training many years ago with no practice since then, so we were all relived to see them both after about 14 miles. By this time the waves on the loch were reaching 3 feet, they were also regularly swamping the boats. The final two miles were the hardest 2 miles for everyone. The boys both did brilliantly to kayak 17 miles in these conditions, no lack of bottle there.
Earlier on, when on the radio to Rob, Flacky described the conditions as “a bit exciting” as always master of the understatement, at this point Rob and I both understood that the game over light was starting to flash.
Needless to say, we were very pleased to pull 2 cold, exhausted kayakers from the loch when we found somewhere to bring them in (our thanks to the owner of a very nice boat which we commandeered during this operation, hopefully they are still none the wiser)!
It was back to the hotel to warm through for the kayakers. At this point Rob left us, he was off to visit his parents who live in Inverness. Our grateful thanks are sent to him. He has carried the kayaks on the car since bringing them from Long Marston to the Lake District. He has been instrumental in planning the kayaking and also our resident comedian and bon oeuf
The picture is of the Nessie mascot from Gillian, she comes with us in Colin’s pocket now x
Now that we have both boats we thought that a photo opportunity was too good to miss! The dogs like the idea too. Both Billy our miniature English Bull Terrier and Buster the Boxer will be with us on the adventure
Final decisions have now been made on the kayaking part of the challenge. We did not know quite what to do so said “SOT it”! For those of you still in the dark, SOT stands for “Sit On Top” a popular choice of canoe or kayak for the novice (which we most definitely are). The modern boat is however much more than a comedy craft designed for splashing about at the beach. Ours have hull profiles which are identical to the more conventional sit inside craft and cut the water in very similar fashion (a Perception Freedom – Expedition and a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120). They are however easier we believe to manage as capsizing is more a case of falling off, rather than an upside down underwater oddessy; although we are rather hoping that it is not something we will have to worry about!
After a weekend on Derwent Water in the Lake District with Felix and Bridget we have decided to use “sit on” style touring canoes. I am sure there will be purists chocking in to their beer at this point, but for novices they are very simple to use, are safe and cut the water nicely. The chosen boats look like being Perception “Freedom Expedition” which are built by a British company in Surrey and have the same hull profile as their closed cockpit K1 sea-kayak. One result of the weekend training is that Felix is now going to use Bridget’s rowing machine each day (she was a Cambridge rowing Blue… so no rest for Felix then).