In 2020, we would have experienced the 107th edition of the Tour De France, a number that not only has a great significance to me personally but also to many families and friends associated with The Pace Centre.
The Pace Centre is a school dedicated to transforming the lives of children up to the age of 18 with motor disorders such as cerebral palsy. Completely self-funded, it's founded on the firm belief that every child has the ability to learn and make progress, whatever physical or sensory challenges they face.
Each of the 107 children that attend the school face their own monumental daily struggle. Every element of their day requires complex planning. Not only by the teachers, who create tailored programmes to fit each of the kids' needs, but also by their families just to get them to and from the school each day.
These kids are the inspiration for the challenges I take on. I certainly faced a few struggles throughout this project. But, then again, we all struggle.
Starting on the 29th August, I rode from London, to Land’s End, to John o' Groats, then the long way back to London, cutting through Lowestoft, the most Eastern point of the UK, covering a minimum of 107 miles each day during the course of the 2020 rescheduled Tour De France. The amount of climbing, the distance and the weather conditions really took its toll on me more than anything. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, no competition.
There were some rest days, as tackling this challenge was no easy feat and from experience the body needs a few opportunities to recover, and I was carrying all I needed on me for the challenge.
To donate to Pace visit here: justgiving.com/fundraising/107tdf
Things started to get lumpy on the second day but the weather was incredible. Still with some fresh legs but I was definitely feeling it towards the end. We managed a great cafe stop at The Yellow Deli, would definitely recommend it!
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The third day stretched from Sticklepath on Dartmoor, close to Okehampton to Penzance near the tip of Cornwall. The B&B I was staying in had a fantastic doggo which you can see in the pics. The route was another lumpy one, it's crazy how undulating the South West is!
I started out riding from Penzance to Land's End which, was a bit of a let down... They've removed the sign and you have to pay £12 to have a photo taken with the official sign!
This was the first day starting to ride back on myself and head north to John O'Groats, riding back east towards Tavistock on the edge of Dartmoor.
Crossing over Dartmoor National Park with my friend Liam, we were incredibly lucky to have such a beautiful and clear morning. Unfortunately the heavens started to open as I got closer to Bristol heading up the popular Cheddar Gorge.
From Birmingham to close to Blackburn, the route cut slightly into the Peak District, where it rained, in Leek of all places!
I always am blown away by how beautiful the Peak is. One of my favourite places to cycle.
The Lake District, as brutal as it is, is also simply stunning. Ive always loved cycling through here and taking on some of the tough climbs here was always a definite thing I needed to do.
The day finished close to the border of Scotland in Carlisle.
This day was crazy fast! A tailwind all day and an awesome bunch of Scottish gents met me as we headed further North. We stopped at a local cafe, The Apple Pie Shop which does, unsurprisingly, incredible apple pies!
The cycle lane which runs through the Cairngorms parallel to the A9 is like a kids playground. Bits of gravel and some newly resurfaced sections.
Unfortunately I had a bit of a brutal headwind all day which was incredibly sapping chugging up the main climb. Of course it rained too!
The bed and breakfast I stayed in was amazing, such a lovely and welcoming couple (see the note on the door).
A lot of people warned me about this stretch that the roads were dangerous but I have to be honest I didn't think it was all that bad. Lorries gave me plenty of room and cars were patient. Maybe I'm used to London?!
This was probably one of the hardest days I have ever had on the bike.
I had a 40 mph tailwind to get to John O'Groats which sounds great, until you realise it was in a torrential thunderstorm.
Once I arrived to John O'Groats I was keen to get on the road again because that tailwind became one of the strongest headwinds I have ever had to deal with.
At the end of the day I sat outside the hotel and broke down...
So weird to be properly starting to ride back towards home and heading south!
I was honestly knackered after the previous day... Dealing with that headwind again. I can see why no one cycles back from John O'Groats!
Gravel galore heading back into Edinburgh on Day 14. Wet and wild, I knew after this stage I had a rest day which was definitely needed.
Not much to report on this one as it was mainly a case of cycling back on some of the same roads I'd headed north on.
One heck of a challenging day this was!
The three major climbs had sections of well over 20% which with a loaded bike and so many days into the challenge really took their toll on me mentally and physically.
Lots of company and fantastic weather. It was great to see George and Jess again, it's been way too long.
Here the goal was to tick off some of the Peak District's iconic climbs. It's a stunning part of the world.
Towards the end of the day, I was cooked. The tyres were running low on air and the bike was battered...
Finally starting to get to the flat lands and hitting my last 'Monument' in the challenge, the most eastern point.
I had to make a stop in a bike shop called MegaBike where I purchased a new rear tyre as my current one had a huge rip in it!
HEADWINDS ALL DAY! It may have been flat but the winds were brutal. My mate Nibs had a bit of a sense of humour failure in the winds. It was incredibly flat and to be honest I was incredibly thankful for the improvement in the weather.
THE LAST DAY! The goal here was literally to go as straight as I could back home. The route may not have been the best but is there ever really a nice way to cycle into London? Lots of incredible company. Completely broken and blown away by all the support. x