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Sunday, 21 September 2014

End of Detour

Guess where we were today....?

We had a comfortable night's sleep, and got up later than usual. We noticed the weather outside was foggy as we went down to enjoy large amounts of muesli and tea to fortify ourselves for the last stretch. Over breakfast, we had a good chat with a group including some Canadians, one of whom claimed responsibility for the good weather, as he'd last visited during the long, hot Summer of 1976! Preparing for the big finish, we were sent on our way by well-wishers from the breakfast group, and our hostess.

We got on the road by 9.45am, but had to put our lights on straight away due to the foggy conditions. First, we tried a short-cut which turned out to be a rough track straight into a farm yard, where we were met by friendly dog and a rather startled young farmer. He informed us somewhat pointedly that this was private property (though fortunately with no guns to back this up!), but then warmed up considerably as he questioned us and discovered what we were doing and revealed he was a keen distance cyclist himself, having done Land's End to Blackpool (End to Middle?). He eventually let us carry on, and we successfully rejoined the route close to the coast. At least we knew we were near the coast, but the fog meant that we couldn't see it, despite signs rather unfairly promising "scenic views". We realise that this means in 2 end to end trips, we still haven't managed to see this bit of coast, as it was foggy when we went the other way 10 years ago! We'll have to do it again in 2024 and see if it improves... Maybe with child support to carry luggage... Or would Pete and Roy like to rejoin the team to lend their support?

On the road

We carried on round through Hale, before turning North towards St. Ives. At this point, the mist lifted a little, so we had a clear run in, but still couldn't see the sea until we got to the viewpoint above the town. At this point John H was keen to carry on taking advantage of being on high ground and avoid going down into the town, but he was lured in with promises of Cornish pasties... We did manage to locate, and enjoy, a selection of Cornwall's finest pastry products, as we consulted the maps to work out the easiest road climb out of St. Ives. Route chosen and fortified, we set out. At this point John H discovered that he had been suckered as we rounded a corner after going along the northern bay sea front to be confronted by a wall of tarmac - a hill of at least 20%, and possibly 25% in places. JR and JC managed to struggle to the top (actually, it was a breeze, they say in retrospect - though that may have just been the heavy breathing). John H then had a problem with physics. His bar bag attachment had broken, so he'd stashed it in his rear pannier, and this probably contributed to his bike attempting to perform wheelies at this point. He got off, had a think, and got back on with a new, forward crouching stance to put more weight on the front wheel, looking like a performing frog in distress. Thus positioned, he eventually joined the other 2, who were by now waiting in hysterics at the top. JH arriving at the top, "If that was the gentle slope, I'd hate to see the steep one" (amazingly polite in the circumstances, possibly due to the @!**s being used further down the slope).

Tin mine looming out of the mist

Climbing out took us back into the fog, which meant that the area's famed tin mines loomed out of the mist in wonderfully eerie shapes as we passed. We carried on round unable to enjoy the views, eventually arriving in St. Just, to enjoy the 17% climb into the town, (JH says he did enjoy it - as it was a doodle in comparison to the previous one - which was maybe what inspired him to pop into the local coop to buy a bottle of champagne, quickly stashed in JR's pannier). With just one more down and up it was relatively flat all the way to the finish, which we hit at 2.05pm - just 5 minutes after our eta. We were surprised to be greeted by the gate-keeper as he cleared the way for us, when he said, "You'll know the way from here. I gather you've done it before". He'd had a chat with Tracey (wifiepedia No1), who was waiting at the finish for us, with JR's sons - Ash and Rowan. They greeted us enthusiastically as we crossed the line, plying us with more champagne and a carrot cake decorated with... bananas!

Celebration Cake

We finished the obligatory pictures at the signpost and more Cornish pasties, before cycling back to Penzance in a leisurely fashion, for a slap up meal and 1920's Jazz in a 500 year old hotel that JR's family are staying in.

Pictures at the signpost.
It's finished!

Cheers! Thanks to Katie and Marc for the champagne.

On the train on the way home after the ride, John H was moved to poetry.

End of Detour - a poetic epilogue. 

Our epic journey is now finally at an end. 
Cycling from John O'Groats to Lands End. 

Three old(ish) men on the JOGLE. 
To some we made minds boggle. 

Because LEJOG we had already done. 
Le Detour we called it and we won. 

JRs navigation kept us, mostly, on track 
For good route finding we did not lack!

Fog, mist, black clouds, rain, wind and hail. 
But with fortune mostly sun did prevail. 

In to Scottish headwind at the start. 
But lucky tail wind mostly from Tarbert. 

From YHA and wood hut to bunkhouse. 
From hotel and pub to John's house. 

Calorie and banana intake certainly rather a lot. 
But also occasional welcome beer and whisky tot. 

Bikes served us well and kept us right. 
Except chain, gear cable and light. 

At end, with our countryside we remain really smitten. 
As we truly conquered the length of Britain

Deer, dolphins, red squirrels, seals and stoat - wildlife abounds. 
Raptors, snakes, slow worms, mice, even otter sounds. 

Loch, lake, glen, dale, river and brook. 
"Spectacular" scenery wherever we look. 

Tumultuous peaks and mountains to top. 
Geology also abounded at every outcrop. 

We rode it all, over 11 hundred miles. 
No wonder when finished we couldn't hold back smiles. 

Moreover great to be with best friends throughout. 
The joy of cycling left in no doubt. 

At end cake and champagne to greet us. 
We never let any of those hills and valleys defeat us!

John H
21 September 2014

Final thoughts

JH - concludes that Britain is still a green and pleasant land (he's had a generous post-ride whisky)
JC - concludes that it's time for bed.
JR - says so long, and thanks for all the bananas!

Stats for the day
Distance 36
Average speed 11.2 (max 35)
Total climb 817 m
Energy 2035 cals

JC 3
JH 2
JR 1


  1. Happy to join you in 2024 (you obviously need a meteorologist) but I wouldn't mind a few rides between now and then, too! But well done, guys - not that we ever doubted you'd make it :-)
    Nice cake, Tracey, and thanks for the blog!

  2. Congratulations, Joglers!!! Thoroughly enjoyed the story and the photos!!

  3. Congratulations and appreciation of the planning because it has gone surprisingly according to plan (i'll let you off the 5 minutes late at LE). Best wishes to all you Jogleurs. Andy

  4. Guys, I know I'm late posting this time. Sitting here in sunny Bermuda waiting for my return flight. Sadly I only arrived yesterday so after one night and a board meeting am feeling suitably shattered but not in that fantastic "I've cycled 1130 miles" way.
    Have loved keeping track on the blog and clearly the jealousy has occasionally got the better of me! 2024, now that is a challenge! When I cycled in North Wales some moons ago we met a guy who was 82 and was going to do his 15th Lejog.... So there is hope for me yet! As long as there is Stannah on the hill climbs!

    Anyway amazingly Well Done, let us know how much you collected for your charities please.


  5. A last thought:

    JC clearly eats more bananas than anyone else... Is that your secret John?
    119 Big Macs is truly scary and perhaps indicates how the modern world is stuffing itself into oblivion
    Don't move to Lands End unless you are a mushroom!