I hadn't cycled over fifty miles in a day before this trip, and when I set off I had no idea if I could make it, but I was going to give it a try. There were times in the first week when I thought "What on earth am I doing." But if you have read any of the previous entries in this blog I hope that they have conveyed the enjoyment I got from this trip. At times it was very tough mentally, but it did show me what I am made of. Mostly it showed me the goodness of my fellow human beings, the people I met on the trip were amazing. I realise now after writing this blog is that I regret not taking photo's and names of all the people I met and who helped me.
After finishing the ride I had a massive sense of achievement, but I was sad that it was all over. The ride allowed me to let go of the feelings I had for my wife, as we were separating, it gave me time to think about what I wanted for my life and rejoice in the freedom I now had. I have to say that there is truly no better feeling of freedom than riding a bike with everything you need being carried. When you get to somewhere you want to spend some time you can, and than move on again when the desire takes you.
Before I set off I was interested in slowing my life down and visiting ancient sites in the UK, the pace of cycling is a fantastic way to travel. Great distances can be covered, but at a speed where little is missed. It is easy to stop and take in a view or talk to someone, sometimes you don't even need to stop. People are friendly and helpful to cyclists and the cycling community really embodies this fact. I realised that this whole Island we live on is ancient and stunningly beautiful, okay we have messed up some bits of it, but the rest is lovely and I was brought to tears on several occasions by the beauty and how happy I was feeling.
Paradoxically with the intentions I set out with I was obsessed with beating my top speed and ended up with a max of 53.55 mph (86.2 kph) and I was always pleased to reach a new bit of tarmac as it was smooth and fast to ride on. New tarmac is far from ancient, unless you consider that tarmac is derived from oil, which in turn comes from tiny creatures that lived millions of years ago.
I was disappointed that i didn't make 4,000 miles, I was 48 short. I was going to do a lap of Bristol to make this milestone, but the Monday morning was so wet and windy there was no chance of me doing that. When I needed to it wasn't a problem, but I'm not that mental. I averaged about 80 miles a day, but in the early part of the ride it was about 65, as my fitness improved it became so much easier. If anyone reading this is inspired to try a bit of touring cycling you do not have to do as many miles as this, you don't even have to carry all your equipment, you don't have to camp either, there are plenty of cycle friendly b&b's or warm showers dot com. This is a website dedicated to the touring cyclist were you can stay with like minded people.
The legacy from this ride is that every holiday I go on I want to cycle, whether it is in this country or abroad. If need be a train could be caught to reduce time on the ride. I quite simply love cycling and particularly touring, doing over a hundred miles a day and then camping is such a great feeling. If the weather is good then there is no better way to travel in my opinion. I lost about two stone (12 kilos) in weight and ate and drunk everything I wanted, the weight just fell off me.
This was quite simply the best thing I have done. Absolutely loved it.