Browsed by
Month: August 2019

My Two Weeks, The End

My Two Weeks, The End

The fruits of my labour came in the final days of my trip.

Each time I wanted to give up I knew that it wasn’t an option. One of the main reasons I wasn’t going to call it a day was because I never wanted to do it again. And if I didn’t want to do it again, I had no choice but to complete it on this attempt.

It could have been a joyous trip, it has been for thousands of people. I could have got a suitable road bike, I could have given myself more time, I could have travelled in a group and I could have even taken a tent! But I wanted to do it differently and I wanted to prove that anyone can turn up and fulfil their dreams of adventure.

In the final 4 days my emotions were absolutely all over the shop. I was getting closer to the finish line and closer to everything I loved back home. I was so finished with the slow bike. I was exhausted from reaching the end of cycleways and discovering I’d need to get on a busy A road. I was over trying to find somewhere to sleep in the rain at the end of the day.

But in those final 4 days positive emotions started to show up. I felt like I could complete it. I felt like each hill was one less. I felt like I was nearly home.

Honestly I cried a lot towards the end, but I wasn’t sad, I was just overcome.

I cried up the hills and it gave me power, I shouted as loud as I could and it gave me power. I was going to get this done, and I was going to go home.

On the final day I cycled through Penzance and took on the final 20 miles of hills.

I rolled into Land’s End with tears building behind my tinted glasses, I went past the groups taking photos and headed to the cliffs. People looked at me as I walked my bike past them, they had no idea where I had been.

I put my bike on my shoulder and carried it to the edge of England. Once I was there, I phoned my pal Coxy with my last 4% of battery. When he picked up, I couldn’t speak, no words would come out, I just looked at the crashing waves and cried.

Coxy told me well done, he told me I achieved what I set out to do, and he told me he’d see me later. I was happy to speak to a friend in that moment, it had been a long and lonely journey.

I was a shadow of my former self, in the same clothes I started the trip in and I was drained of everything. I was ready for the journey home and when I did get back people asked me how it was….I told them “it was great!”.

I appreciate this all sounds very sad, but it was the test I wanted. And in finishing what I set out to do, I found my joy.

In fact, during the final days I tried to think of a way to express what I had experienced, and good lord I wrote a poem!

“I’m weak yet I’m strong

I’m heavy yet I’m light

I’m broken yet I’m whole

I took on the challenge, and was almost defeated

And although I’m tired, and I’m depleted, the challenge I took on, has been completed.”

Yours in cycling and thanks for reading,

Dan Boyle

 

My Two Weeks, Chapter 2

My Two Weeks, Chapter 2

I made it to the sign at around 8AM and weirdly there was a Starbucks, so I went for breakfast.

I started the process of using electricity wherever possible and got the phone on charge. Whilst the phone was charging, I went outside and strolled over to the sign. It was covered in stickers from years of people starting or finishing the trip and I enjoyed looking at them all. One of the arms of the sign pointed south, it said Land’s End – 874 miles.

I met two couples who were travelling around Scotland, I joyfully told them where I was headed and it resonated with their sense of adventure. They insisted that I had breakfast with them and paid for it, day 1 and I’m amongst good people. I thanked them, wished them safe travels and said goodbye.

I went back outside, walked my bike over to the sign and took my final moments. I was finally there.

Full of optimism and coffee I set off for 2 weeks of personal development.

Now I could tell you about every moment of every day, but unlike America this wasn’t a completely joyous trip. Scotland was incredible, England was mostly a commute. I photographed a lot of the trip, so the story is in picture format, and we all know that they speak a thousand words.

Instead I’m going to tell you about my experiences.

I had victorious days. Day 3 in Scotland was one of the best days of my life. I climbed Slochd Summit and the Pass of Drumochter and rolled down the other side on gravel. The sun was shining and as soon as it began to set I found a lovely place to sleep under the stars. That was a good day.

I had horrendous days. Day 8 I woke to a wet head in the rain (this became frequent), I packed up in the rain, I rode for 10 hours zig zagging the main A road and got lost a load. I kept riding, looking for some kind of shelter and by around midnight had to accept defeat. I found a hotel still open and they let me take a room for the night for cheap.

I had days where I bumped into people cycling their own routes, one bloke in particular was riding 70 miles that rainy day to say hello to his mum. He was also carrying home made strudel for her, and he gave me a slice.

I had days where i barely spoke. I even had a day where I spoke to one person in 24 hours, and that was the cashier giving me my change for the water bottles I bought.

I had days where I felt powerful and the 10 hours were a breeze.

I had days where my knee ached and ached and I stopped regularly.

I guess what I’m saying is that I had ups and downs.

I asked myself most days “Why am I doing this? If I just call it quits right now I can be home in max 10 hours.”. I knew deep down that the trip wouldn’t compare to America, but I still hoped it would.

In America I was the wanderer from a foreign land. I was travelling across sparse unknown landscapes. My journey made people laugh and gasp. Back here in the UK none of the above was true.

Truth be told, my drive to go on steadily fell as soon as I left the start line. But alas, all was not lost, this was a journey of grit and holding power!

 

Yours in cycling’

Dan

My Two Weeks, Chapter 1

My Two Weeks, Chapter 1

Good afternoon,

I have a story for you.

I took the 14 hour coach to Glasgow, I took the 7 hour train to Thurso and I cycled the 20 miles to John O’ Groats. But there is more to it.

I did my back in when running for the train to Thurso with my bike box. The bloke at the gate left me hanging until the final seconds before departure because I hadn’t reserved a bike space. He gave me the all clear and as I was running with my 72” plasma box something pulled in my lower back and I dropped it.

My legs went and I knew it was bad, but the train was about to go so I dragged the box along the platform and into the carriage. I leant against the wall and felt awful. The pain was serious but what really hurt me was the worry of whether I could get this trip done.

I phoned my friend Coxy for support and he told me I needed to jam something hard into the small of my back and sit down. I got my helmet and put it behind me, bought two shot bottles of JD, necked them, and just sat there.

The 7 hours were a tormented time. I had given it the big one two everyone I knew. I’m going from the top to the bottom of the UK and it will be a piece of piss. I had talked the talk, but now I wasn’t sure if I could walk the walk.

I made it to Thurso and slid the box off the train. I built the bike on the platform with wobbly legs, but it was manageable. I got the rucksack on and cycled the 20 miles to John O’ Groats.

I arrived at my starting point and headed straight to the most northern pub on mainland Britain. I met a bunch of gentlemen who arrived that evening having rode from where I was headed, Land’s End.

It was so good to meet champions of the journey, with peeling noses, no shoes on and walking like John Wayne. They told me their tales of the trip but more importantly for me they expressed their relief and joy of having completed it. The conversations and the beer took my mind off my back. I sat there and listened to them, I didn’t really know what they had been through, but I was about to find out.

I left the bar around 11:30pm and as I walked out it was still light. It turns out that every 100 miles you head north, the sun stays up for another hour. I was in the twilight zone.

I headed to the famous signpost to look for somewhere to lay my head. It was day 1 of sleeping under the stars. I should add that John O’ Groats was covered in mist and drizzle, so it was also day 1 of using my survival sack.

I slept okay but woke to something on my arm. It turns out that because I wasn’t a visible human, birds were comfortable standing on me and happily they didn’t shit on me.

I packed everything up and headed to the sign.