Imagine an amazing cycling trip, a life-changing experience, all whilst helping an incredible charity. On Saturday 10th Aug, the physical and emotional journey began. A team of 6 spent many laborious hours pedalling up the length of UK and its rugged landscape from the desolate moors of Cornwall to the lochs and peaks of the highlands. It was a journey into the unknown, all for a good cause- contribute towards the research to find a cure for Parkinson’s. ENOTRAC team succeeded and are now recovering after the journey. We would like to share the daily challenges that we faced:
With all the torrential rain and wind warnings hitting the UK last night and this morning, the outlook for us finishing at our planned night stop for the first day did not look good. Luckily, the strong wind was South Westerly and we were able to use this to sail our way from the hilly depths of Cornwall up the Country and into Bodmin as planned. The scenery was epic. Spirits are high from having conquered the high winds and reaching our planned end point for close of Day one. We have a great support team and tomorrow we go again. 🚴🏻♀️🚴🏻♀️🚴♂️🚴♂️🚴♂️🚴♂️🚚
Today was hard, lots of ups and downs on B-roads because we had chosen a route to avoid heavy and fast traffic. Day 2 and we rode more as a Team today - evidently as people are becoming tired, they are inclined to stay together with the main pack. Having conquered 2 days of LEJOG, we are more confident of achieving our Goal and reaching John O’ Groats.
A fantastic day 3. Inspired by a breakfast amongst classic motorcycles at Union Road Moto Velo, we speeded down the road on our push bikes completing the last section of Cornwall.
A big thanks to Andy (who has Parkinson’s) and his wife Julie Frounks for meeting us and wishing us well. Such a kind and generous couple with great stories - gave massive amounts of inspiration to us to succeed in our LEJOG challenge.
it’s unbelievable that Day 4 is now complete and we have traversed Cornwall and Somerset to arrive in Wales. A drone was used for camera shots while we cycled across the Severn Bridge. We look forward to sharing the results.
Day 5 and yes, the Team are tired. Legs are stiff, moods volatile and as I peered out of the window early this morning, the forecasted rain had arrived.
We cycled 70 miles, Monmouth to Shrewsbury on wet roads and were completely washed out ourselves.
Of note today, we had our first accident. Guillaume cut across a kerbside - his tyre slipped, he tumbled and cartwheeled. We also hooked-up live with Neil Knight’s Spinning Class - hopefully, we motivated them. Their large cheering and energy inspired us greatly. Massive thanks to them !
We were glad to reach Shrewsbury, Guillaume tending to his cuts and braises and all starting the drying out process ready for Day 6, tomorrow.
Day 6 and when we view our own location, it seems as though we have moved a considerable distance up the length of the Country. We are due to pass the half-way mark tomorrow as we reach Kendal and so feelings amongst the Team are much more upbeat and optimistic about completing our Cycle Challenge.
Strong blustery winds were in our face today which slowed route progress, bet we still managed to reach our destination in time to enjoy an evening swim and steam sauna. Patrick - who has the same mindset as a Royal Marine Commando, of course didn’t partake in such leisurely activities. He went for a workout in the gym.
We go again tomorrow, this time to Kendal. We thank all those that are backing our pedal mission by donating generously as we blast away the long miles.
We reached Kendal after 72 miles cycling in the rain and squelched to a warm welcome from our colleague who has Parkinson’s. He has joined us this evening to spend his Birthday with us and to celebrate our reaching of half-way to John O’ Groats.
Special thanks to Meg and William for tonight’s accommodation and such a fantastic 4-course evening meal.
We are a little smug from a sense of reaching half-way but conscious that there is still a long way to go with some very serious climbs ahead - and, of course, more rain.
We head for Carlisle tomorrow.
Day 8, we woke to a fantastic breakfast by William and Meg. Freshly homemade bread and jams as well as porridge from a slow cooker were a special treat.
We passed half-way the day before and so treated ourselves with a late start. We were off at 9am expecting heavy rain again - so glad the forecast was wrong as we enjoyed sunshine the whole day.
The morning consisted of a 12 mile hill climb - we all cracked it, no leg cramps. Guess, we are all unaware of our developing fitness levels. Tomorrow, some wish to test their endurance and so there is a plan for a head-down 80 miles sprint ride to Lanark - though it’s probably more to do with wishing to arrive early to enjoy the jacuzzi and steam sauna at Lanark Inn.
Tomorrow, we pass into Scotland - Farewell England. John O’ Groats still feels a long way away.
Day 9 and we are browned and burned, not from the sun but something far less pleasant, heavy rain, fierce blustery winds and sharp, hard-hitting hailstones.
We passed into Scotland today and roll off our bikes having completed 568 miles.
Perhaps the most remarkable scenery today as we cut through the hills of Lanarkshire. The whole team showing surprising competence now in tackling long and exhausting gradients. After yesterday’s 12 mile hill climb, we all seem ready to take on any ascent.
Vanessa’s bike gets lighter by the day with her removing more parts each day and even upgrading brake pads. Today, we though she had suddenly flipped as she removed a front wheel. We thought this was another tactic to save weight and to proceed Unicycle. Luckily, the wheel went back after a puncture repair.
Team dinner at 8pm tonight then Team prayers before bed. Another 76 miles taking us up through Edinburgh tomorrow, hopefully in the dry, if our prayers are answered ....
We have today gone up through Edinburgh and crossed the Firth of Forth drawing Day 10 to a close with 643 miles (1029 KM) completed. All of the Team are showing great strength and focus to finish the task. They have cycled through some appalling weather conditions, very strong winds and rain and even hailstone that seriously hurts when it hits your legs and face. They take on any ascent as a matter of course now and without any great difficulty.
I have to say I am surprised and didn’t think we would see such determination from all to complete the task. It is their will power that has brought them this far. Naturally, their is immense tiredness and each with some specific soreness that brings a harmony to the Team. I see less selfishness and more of a Team orientation.
We had advertised for a volunteer support driver/helper to join us and assist. Giedre, a young female responded to the advert with several others. She has proven to be a gem, thinking ahead to support the needs of the cyclists, very flexible and resourceful in resolving support issues behind the scenes. She is an excellent driver and navigator.
I am confident that all will complete the Challenge this coming Friday but for accidental injury or, some unknown of the elements that makes such challenges interesting. We just need to stay cautious and maintain the determination and focus that all have shown thus far.
The Team orientation develops noticeably each day and the dynamic is now much better.
Support from all who meet us along the journey is overwhelming.
This evening we have Neil and Sigrid bringing cakes along - just what we need !
Day 11, the sun was shining, only a little rain and a nice cool breeze. Our prayers had been answered. We were surrounded by beautiful panoramic vistas. This was cycling at its best - in fact there has been nothing to complain about that is until Roma, always sharp-witted, felt compelled to complain that there was nothing to complain about !
Enjoying the sunshine, we seized an opportunity to visit the Salmon Ladder at Pitlochry and then progressed on route to Dalwhinnie. Just when you think everything is going well, we nearly lost Zhan who came within an inch of being hit by a car and then Guillaume caught our second puncture 15 mins out from our night stop in Kingussie. The knock on effect was rushing again on arrival, this time to meet with Hazel - a victim of Parkinson’s who has been following our Challenge on a daily basis. Thanks Hazel, your poem was inspirational and dear to us. So glad you shared this. Then into the shower and out again to quickly order dinner before the kitchen closes. Another day zones to a close. We have only 3 days of our Challenge remaining...
Day 12, Kingussie to Inverness. This was our first day without rain and no steep ascents - sheer bliss. Beautiful ride and wonderful scenery. We cycled-up through Aviemore where we parked-up the bikes, jumped in support vehicles and sped-off up Cairngorm Mountain for some panoramic photos. Carrbridge proved to be quaint and the ride down to Inverness a joy with several high speed descents, though our record speed of 49 mph from a few days ago was not beaten.
Guillaume, caught a second puncture today. We hope there’s not a trend developing.
Ollie Guild, an experienced Track and Sprint Cyclist joined us today. Will be interesting to see how he fairs with our Royal Marine Commando, Patrick....
Special thanks to Rhoda and Hannah for a lovely meal this evening and thanks to Alex for washing-up. They join us for our last few days of our Challenge.
We have only 2 days to go to John O’ Groats.
Day 13 was superb. We gorged down our self-made brekkie within 30 mins and came the closest ever to our target departure time. We planned for 0800 departure and we left the Youth Hostel at 0802 hrs ! Wow !! The sunshine followed us the whole way up the North East Coast of The Highlands from Inverness up to Helmsdale, where we rest our weary legs before the final remaining 52 miles to John O’Groats.
Highlights of the day was crossing the 3 bridges of Beauly, Cromarty and Dornoch Firths and dropping into Glenmorangie Distillery for a car park buffet lunch followed - naturally - by a tour round the distillery.
With one whiskey downed, the remaining 30 miles were a breeze. Smooth roads and lovely cliff edge views overwhelmed the treacherous cross winds that would randomly hit you and blow you out into the middle of the road ! Hannah joined us for the afternoon cycle and as though that wasn’t enough. Hannah and and Patrick were caught on camera in a star-jump competition.
Team Dinner tonight was cosy and fish supper massive; 2 large fish and mushy peas - delicious. Hotel tonight is a very strange place, an old Inn. It was established in 1816 and looks and feels very strange and haunted. Who knows .... there may be a strange encounter in the night, and we may not all be alive tomorrow....
Breakfast came and we were all still alive and accounted for despite the experiences of our Haunted Guest House. The proprietor while running an old spooky building surprised us all by being very charitable and making a very kind donation to our Cause.
The first ascents of the day were tortuous - as if we hadn’t been challenged enough, the climbs out of Helmsdale were near vertical. Felt like we were cycling, not so much to John O’ Groats but up to Heaven.
We followed the North Coast 500 all the way to our destination of John O’ Groats, indeed we had reached Heaven. We now see why it’s listed as one of the top coastal routes in the World. It boasts some of the most staggeringly beautiful and diverse scenery with jutting mountains, serene lochs, large sea caves, deep glens and Caribbean-style beaches and some of the oldest rocks on the planet. With this, The North Coast 500 was a spectacular finish to our Cycle Challenge with stunning sights and photos for us to all to take.
We achieved what we set out to do, to reach John O’ Groats as a Team within 2 weeks. Our route recording just over 900 miles. Our resolve was certainly tested with more than our fair share of very strong winds and heavy rain. Some ascents were tortuous and some high-speed descents slippery and dangerous. Most suffered from the time absorbing fast tempo of eat-cycle-shower-eat-sleep and some even felt deprived of sleep. Each of us had something we could have moaned about, but all learned not to surrender to that discomfort and sometimes pain. In reaching John O’ Groats, discomforts have been overcome and each of us has learned not to give in. Because of that, each of us will be a better person.
We have raised nearly £6000 for Parkinson’s with donations still coming in. We have met some really lovely people during our journey and been made to feel humble by their stories of Parkinson’s and been overwhelmed by the charitable donations received from people along the way.
Our support team and family and friends have been wonderful.
Thank you to our sponsors, Power Earth, Aspire Promotional Merchandise, Bhalloo Consulting, Uni-t Associates and Neil Knight from Welcome Gym (Sutton) for their continued support throughout our Challenge.
We would also like to thank Giedre Kasparaviciute – our volunteer support driver and Raimondas Giedraitis for donating his time and recording our challenge.
Sometimes we finish an adventure with relief but for us all in the ENOTRAC Cycling Team, we finish our Land’s End to John O’ Groats Challenge with a certain feeling of regret that it’s over. Each of us take away lifelong memories and as a Team look forward to new challenges ahead.
You can still donate to Parkinson’s UK on www.justgiving.com/fundraising/enotrac .
ENOTRAC AG, Seefeldstrasse 8, 3600 Thun, Switzerland, Tel: +41 33 346 66 11, Fax +41 33 346 66 12
ENOTRAC SA, Avenue de la Gare 1, 1003 Lausanne, Switzerland, Tel: +41 33 346 66 19, Fax +41 33 346 66 12
ENOTRAC UK Ltd, Chancery House St Nicholas Way Sutton, Surrey SM1 1JB England, Tel: +44 20 8770 3501