After I had said a long, lingering goodbye to the cat, we set-off for Inverness, where we were to meet Ed’s parents. We made a frantic ‘Challenge Anneka’ dash around the town looking for free food and charity shop kitchen ware (The sort of challenge we all wish Anneka had attempted, she was so lazy, she never stretched herself, what a waste).
We made our final journey to the end of the world; it was a bit like the last supper, but with Juice Doctor instead of wine; very moving anyway.
John O’Groats acted like it had never seen a bike before – OK Miss Cobi, is bright purple, she has seven saddles and looks like a fair ground ride but she isn’t a freak ….. Alright, you got me, she is a freak.
We pitched our tents in the midnight (10pm) sun and met some of the locals – they were very excited that Charlie Boy (that is Prince Charles to you and me) was staying at his Mum’s house that week.
At 5am we rose again and took the CoBi down to the start line for the start funnily enough. The famous sign was missing, presumed stolen, but actually it turns out you have to hire it… capitalism hey? Don’t worry, Ed is going to photoshop it in, along with a unicorn and Ali Baba.
The local seals put on an opening ceremony to rival the Beijing Olympic Games and then at about 6.45am with began. There were 5 of us on the bike, including two Aussie lads we had kidnapped in Helmsdale the day before, using chlorophyl and some chest harnesses.
It was a crisp morning, and without sounding twee, freaking beautiful. Suddenly the GPS told us some great news, we had done our first mile – you would have thought we had actually discovered the cure for cancer, that is how excited we were, but it was the watershed – we will do this.
2 miles in the excitement turned to hysteria, as some Miss Trunchbull lookalike appeared from her house looking puzzled, she jumped the fence and looked at us ‘Oh’ she exclaimed, ‘it’s a cluster f**k’- only later after scaling a hill so steep it has it’s own name, did I realise that it indeed was a cluster f**k , and my clusters were well and truly f**ked at that.
We passed two horses standing in the field and a lady standing in the doorway. “The horses think you’re mad” she shouted, which was a pretty damning statement given it was coming from a woman who talked to horses.
We needed some fresh legs, but luckily came across two 15 year olds girls staggering home after a night out …. They climbed aboard and gave their best effort for 7 miles, before they had to get off to be sick... but would you have got the same spirit in London? I fear if we had asked some drunk girls to help us on the bike, we would have ended up either dead or in court.
We lost out Aussies in Wick, and then there were 4 of us ….. the next 10 miles or so were pure hell, tripled distilled and 100% proof. The car honks, photographs, smiles and donations kept us going. We were also lucky enough to stop off just outside the house of Wendy and David, who offered us plenty of biscuits, toilet facilities and tea. Then a miracle happened – round the corner I spotted 3 young guys riding along wearing pink bra’s and I thought, they were the perfect additions to our team …. We bribed them with some La Senza lingerie and they hopped on. Thank God they did, because we encountered 3 beasts …. One hill was hard but fast, the other was slow but light, the last and worst was put on earth to test all men (not women; there is a little lane in Brighton which was put on earth to test woman).
But by jove we did it – even though we let a first-time driver take us down a 13% incline at 36mph , causing the breaks to catch fire. … we arrived in Helmsdale, 55 miles and 10 ½ hrs later …. Nah,nah,nah,nah,nah,nah,nah,nah!