Friday, 3 August 2007

Celebrations after 1,000 miles!

Beer and cake was consumed, parents and friends were phoned and then the boys posed by the famous Lands' End signpost.

They didn't want to cycle back to the farm so we had to press cycle carriers into use. Wicks had to take his bike to pieces to get it into the back of Ruth's car.

We journeyed past Penzance to Marazion to eat at The Clipper Cafe and to walk on the beach. The tide was coming in and had covered the causeway to St Michael's Mount.

Back at Embla Farm, everyone changed into swimsuits and played in the pool before another celebratory barbecue in the evening with champagne.

Finally, everyone walked to the top of the hill for the view of two coasts as dusk was falling.

A great adventure.

Photos show the boys lined up at the signpost, relaxing with their beers/cider, in the pool, cracking open the champagne and enjoying a feast at the barbecue.

Day 17 - Embla to Lands' End

August 1st

The day was gloriously sunny and warm. The sea was still.

Tom's Mum, Ruth, had arrived by breakfast, having driven through the night, with a couple of hours' sleep at a service station.

We all began leisurely. The boys finally got ready, with just another 20 odd miles to go, and dressed in t-shirts and jeans rather than their biking gear. Knowles donned his flip-flops, dismissing a suggestion that he might need his bike shoes, which I think he might have regretted later after he collided with a wall, sustaining some nasty grazes.

But they did take puncture repair kits and spares. Panniers were left behind at the campsite.

They departed by a coast route from Embla, while the supporters converged on Morrisons to buy the requisite celebratory beers and chocolate cake.

We spotted them riding down the hill to Lands' End around 1pm. Fortunately, a tourist coach parked on the Finish line moved out of the way as they came up the final 100 yards.

Well done you guys!

Photos show departure from Embla Farm, coming up the final stretch, crossing the line and the winning champagne shower.

Byword on maps and campsites

George and I decided to go electronic when it came to route navigation. Ordnance Survey recommended Road Angel Adventurer 7 which could be pre-loaded with the OS Landranger 1:50,000 scale Standard series of maps. These contain more information than the standard route maps which come with satnav systems.

It took a bit of getting used to, but George was able to plot his map route on his PC and download the itinerary to the device. En route, we used a laptop to amend routes in the southwest, once we'd realised that the wrong campsite had been identified on the penultimate day!

We bought a bike mount for the weatherproof Road Angel but it fell off and George ended up carrying it in his pocket. The other difficulty was the power supply. Road Angel and TomTom satnavs are powered by USB port. It was impossible to power the Road Angel during the day while the boys were biking, and our cigarette lighter in the car broke, so we couldn't use that for charging either. The satnavs proved to be at their most useful for determining end points.

You can buy USB charger adaptors, but we were reliant on power hookups overnight to charge the satnavs. And thanks to Mr Hopkins at Powderham Castle who charged the Road Angel for the leg to Embla.

Another issue was restrictions on camping for all male or all female parties. Virtually every campsite at which we stopped would only accept mixed parties, and had reservations about the age of the boys. Which means that if they had tried this venture on their own, they would have had difficulty finding overnight stopovers. Bodmin Camping and Caravan campsite wouldn't accept the party full stop, because there were an inadequate number of adults for the number of minors - irrespective of the purpose of the ride.

Day 16 - Lostwithiel to Embla Farm

31st July

Sunny and warm. Lots of sunscreen applied. The hills appeared to get less steep but a lot of leg power was still needed.

The tent pitches at Powderham Castle near Lostwithiel in Cornwall were at the furthest end from the shower and lavatory block, but the site owners kindly put the Road Angel satnav that the boys were using on charge overnight and told campsite visitors all about their exploit to encourage donations.

And a huge surprise! Len unexpectedly got extended leave, so he and Sue turned round from home in Leicestershire and drove with George's sister Rosie all the way back to Cornwall.

We like to think that the boys' expression of disbelief as we drove past them on their final leg was of joy at seeing us. But having gone all the way from John O' Groats to Taunton, it seemed a real shame not to be there for the finish and watch them bike over the line at Lands' End.

By the time we reached Embla farm on the Lands' End peninsula, the party consisted of the lads, Adele and Harriet, Jennifer and Charlotte and Victoria, and Len and Sue.

We were all extremely grateful to Jackie and Michaela who loaned us the use of a small enclosed field on the farm for the final two nights. And the use of their substantial barbecue. There was a pre-arrival celebration with copious numbers of burgers, sausages, meat grills and cooked chicken from Morrisons in Penzance.

Photos show departure from Powderham Castle, Len and Sue back at Sainsbury's at Taunton to re-establish their credentials, the back of Adele's car which had been crammed full of belongings not wanted actually on the ride, and Adele, Jackie and Jennifer at Embla Farm.

Day 15 - Okehampton to Lostwithiel

The weather was getting steadily better and less breezy, but as soon as they met the road sign for Cornwall, the hills seemed to get steeper and steeper.

Photo shows the lads setting off from Betty Cottles Inn at Okehampton in Devon.