The final day. Breakfast had been scheduled for 08:00, and I arrived a few minutes early so that I could make a quick getaway; at this point we were all keen on getting to the end. John and Jamie were there, and we were soon joined by Amardeep. Carl and Les were having breakfast in another hotel and would be ferried over at about 08:30 by Rob so that we could all set off together. There was to be no solo stuff from me today; we had planned a triumphant processional ride, like the last stage of the Tour de France, but without the sprint on the Champs-Élysées. With this in mind, it made sense to discover that the slightly slower Cornish contingent, with Mike, had decided to leave a couple of hours early that morning so that we could meet up a few miles from Land’s End. That would explain the bicycle noises I had heard as I woke up!
With the exception of John and Jamie, who wore their Honeypot shirts, we were all wearing our Bike Adventures kit. Almost as stylish as Team Ineos Grenadiers, I’m sure you’ll agree. Amardeep and I are modelling the shirts here (right), and I took a selfie of me and my bike as well (below).
We headed out due West, aiming for the North Cornwall coast. It was what we cyclists call ‘lumpy’. Up and down, up and down. So many rivers to cross.
I can’t remember where we stopped for coffee—Perranporth or St Agnes, I think it was. Maybe one of my fellow riders will read this and be able to tell me. All I really remember was that the coffee and cake were OK, but the service was glacial. For a cyclist in a vague hurry, this was hopeless. I did get a chance to fill my bottles, however, and as the day wore on this became increasingly important. It was getting hot, and the thing with cycling is that it’s easy to lose fluid without knowing it. You may be sweating, but it evaporates so quickly you’re hardly aware of it. As Julian Hutchings says—drink before you’re thirsty! Jamie was very good at this. Almost every time I saw him he was swigging from his bidon.
Anyway, refreshed, we left our coffee stop. We were setting quite a reasonable pace, and eventually caught the Cornish contingent, who had stopped for a lunch break. We thought of stopping with them, but had resolved to have lunch 46 miles into our ride in Hayle, at the HQ of Philps Pasties. Apart from an inadvertent Ginsters earlier in the ride, this was to be my first and my last pasty, and from the size of it, it could have been my first, my last and my everything. (Note spurious references to popular songs in this part of my writing.) It was huge, and, I must say it was delicious. I think I managed to eat about 70% of it, and if I hadn’t been cycling it would have easily made a nourishing meal for two.
The Cornish crew passed us while we were having lunch, and we continued along the North Cornwall Coast and into our last major climb before Land’s End. (One climbs into Land’s End because thanks to a cliff it is 223 feet above sea level—see the profile below.) The coast was as beautiful as ever, and the weather was perfect.
With eight miles to go we met up with Rob in the van and with Denise, Donald, Mike and Sonjia. I replenished my water bottles, and we cycled together towards Land’s End. There were a few little climbs, but mostly this was a triumphal procession. As we approached the famous line in the road we were met by Denise’s family and friends, and by John and Jamie’s partners and family, and it was all quite emotional. The photos below sum up how we all felt.
Rob gave us all a glass of fizzy wine, a certificate and a medal (Jamie is wearing his in the photo above) and eventually we dispersed. The Cornish contingent went home, while others, including me, went to a hotel in Penzance, where our bikes either went into our rooms or into the van eventually to be delivered to our homes.
Dinner that night was bittersweet. We were relieved to have finished, but it had been fun, and it would be strange not to be cycling the following morning! I ordered a bottle of red, and received with it the biggest wine glasses I have ever seen. I was reminded of Theresa Marteau’s work. To quote the Cambridge University web site, “when restaurants served wine in 370ml rather than 300ml glasses they sold more wine, and tended to sell less when they used 250ml glasses.” I should have asked them whether they had heard about Theresa’s work.
And then to bed. Today’s route is below, and you can see nicely how well we followed the North Cornish Coast. It was a great end to a great ride.
We cycled 69 miles today, climbed 5,764 feet, and took five hours 35 minutes to do so. My weighted average power was 124 Watts, my average speed 12.3 mph, and my maximum speed 32 mph. I used 1,826 calories. The total distance from JOG to LE was 1050 miles.
And here is my favourite photo, of the whole team around the famous sign.