Our expectations for our last day were mixed for a number of reasons:
The forecast was windy and wet all the way. On the whole, the weather has been good to us except on two days when once wet, we became incredibly cold and uncomfortable which many of us found extremely tough. The forecast filled some of us with dread that this last stretch may be our toughest yet.
We had 75 miles to cover to follow the recommended route and avoid travelling the whole way on the busy and fast A9. The thought of doing this distance in the predicted weather terrified some of us and so the evening before a few of us had taken a preemptive strike and had cycled on to Kinbrace to reduce our final day’s mileage to 60 miles.
We have all worked so hard training for this challenge and the last two weeks had proved to be the most physically demanding we have ever experienced. We have been physically and emotionally challenged, uplifted, exhilarated and exhausted. There has been little time for anything other than cycling, eating and sleeping. After all our hard work, the end was in sight and we were excited that we were so close to achieving our goal yet a little sad that our adventure was coming to an end.
From our many different backgrounds, locations and with our own reasons for doing this challenge, we have come together to achieve something really special and in order to do so, we have formed an incredibly supportive, fun and determined team, building on existing friendships and developing new ones which we will miss when we go our different ways.
In reality, our last day was, for the most part, warm, dry and not too windy. With the weather conditions able to make or break the challenge, we were filled with gratitude that our last day was not to be as tough as we had anticipated. The route took us along some wonderful roads through stunning countryside and we managed our fastest consistent pace of the challenge. The majority of the group even added another few miles to visit Dunnet Head en route.
Late afternoon. we reached John O’Groats within half an hour of each other. Our thoughts were with Christine, who’s accident had prevented her finishing with us, as we cycled he last few hundred metres together to the infamous John O’Groats sign, cheering, laughing and some of us crying as we experienced a mix of emotions at achieving our goal.
Due to the size of the group, our matching team jerseys and our exuberance, many bemused tourists watched as we celebrated reaching our goal with a champagne toast, an abundance of photographs and much hilarity and mixed emotions.
WE DID IT!