The final day dawns and the excitement around the camp is tangible. This would be the day we reached the end of our journey, the last day of riding 100 miles on my bike. (Let’s face it, after this it might be the last time I ever get on my bike...)
Some had to start extremely early in order to catch their buses, trains or planes! We didn’t have to start too early, we had been less optimistic about our capabilities and all gone for worst case scenario so our buses weren’t until after 6pm!
Having thought I’d be excited from start to finish, tiredness was disappointingly dragging me in the first section. The scenery along the River Naver, past Loch Shin, Loch Naver and Loch Loyal didn’t seem particularly interesting and there were lots of sheep that had to be navigated around but we did pass numerous gorgeous and happy highland cows. The boredom and sluggishness evaporated the moment we hit the North Coast at Tongue. The view of the sea, the beaches and beyond as far as the Orkney Islands seemed too good to be true and we cycled along the rolling and wonderfully smooth roads with huge smiles on our faces. The pit stops were buzzing with excited chatter, everyone was in such high spirits, the end was in sight!
Through Betty Hill, past the turn to Scrabster, through Thurso and before we knew it the last sign to John O’ Groats appeared and we were on the final stretch. Our group came together to ride past the kilted bagpipers and lines of cheering supporters and after 9 days, 976 miles, 9 nights of camping, all types of weather conditions, consumption of more paracetomol, bananas, flap jacks and dairy milk than is altogether healthy and incredibly No punctures, we rode over the line and under the blue inflatable ‘Finish’ arch. I must confess that as I did so, behind my (much maligned) Prada sunnies, I was crying (very unlike me) with joy, relief, happiness and a sense of achievement I have not felt before. I have done some adventurous things in my life but I tend to take most things for granted believing that there isn’t much that I cannot do when I put my mind to it. Nothing so far though had compared to this demanding ride and I was mightily impressed not only with myself but with all the riders who made it all the way. There were lots of hugs, high fives, huge grins and congratulations, some much enjoyed and deserved champagne and to top it off we received our medals from the rowing legend Alex Partridge to more rousing music and noisy cheering. Nothing short of an awesome time!
After the obligatory photo at the John O’Groats sign, triumphant phone calls home and some slightly sad goodbyes to old and new friends, we packed up our bikes with mixed feelings and handed them in to the UPS guys just as the heavens opened. Some of us headed to Inverness to begin the journey home and some of us headed back for one last night in the camp and the celebrations with the crew, all of us unbelievably exhausted and all looking forward to the journey home to missed family (for me my young and sweetly proud sons) hot baths, clean sheets, comfortable beds and a long, peaceful night’s sleep.....
All that’s left is for me to thank firstly, all who sponsored me and in doing so contributed not only to the fantastic charity Combat Stress but also to The British Paralympic Association and its incredible athletes – the cumulative pot of Deloitte Ride Across Britain fundraising (in its 3rd year) passed the £1,000,000 mark about halfway through this year’s event!
Last, but as they say by no means least, a huge thank you to the Threshold team for an incredibly well organised, brilliantly enjoyable and challenging adventure which I can highly recommend it to you all!
Deloitte RAB 2013 - The lines are open.....