Sunday, 29 August 2010

The Final Push (except we didn’t push, we pedalled)

I apologise for cramming the last few days into one post.

We started the day with a superb Pipers Farm breakfast; scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, beans and toast... Piper thought it would be good to have a picture of the butchers on the bike, which indeed it was. What wasn’t so good was Tubs getting his leg over a bit backwards (not for the first time I’m sure) and snapping our Cancer Research UK banner. This was easily fixed with some sticky tape but meanwhile one set of pedals had cracked off the frame so We had to go and see Dave Gillard for another spot of welding. I think Miss CoBi is getting used to it now, and sees it a bit like going to the salon. While there Piper and I had a long chat about the farm and good animal husbandry. Although we didn’t agree on everything I must say I am extremely impressed by the Pipers Farm ethos, especially in regards to creating, sustaining and supporting a real countryside community.
We didn’t start cycling until 11am, which wasn’t ideal, but with Juicy Lucy, Matt, Will and Paul joining us, along with Big Will and Betty Boo we knew we had the A-team, and we had to get to Okehampton this evening. About an hour in, this didn’t look like a problem as we clocked up 47mph; Ed was facing backwards, and for the first time on this ride he actually looked scared. Things were going so well that we stopped into a pub and some of the guys had a pint (being a sensible driver I had lemonade). Not only were we going at a good pace, but the weather was ‘fine’ (not sunny, but not raining... Just a misty, faint drizzle which was quite refreshing). We kept hearing bad things about Okehampton (they called it Soakhampton on the radio) but when we arrived it was not too bad at all. We drove up to the Youth Hostel to see if they would shout us a free nights camping, which they did. Then we drove down to the pub, where I had a minute steak to start and a suet game pie for my main; it was all very nice, apart from the vegetables which were bloody disgusting.

Chris drove us very badly back to the campsite and we put on our swim suits and went to bed.

In the morning we snuck into the showers disguised as ‘Youth Hostel goers’ (I covered my face in mud and feigned a German accent). We met Colin Sanderson; Colin lost his sister to cancer and today was her birthday so he drove all the way down from London to join us and ride the bike, which was really special.

We also met Kim and Guy at Waitrose (these weren’t just any cyclists; these were premium hard saddled cyclists with extra gears). Not long into the day we met Kim’s 86 year old mum; she was quick to mount the bike and became our oldest rider to date (although she only took it round the hotel car park). A short while later we rattled by ‘Jethro’s Place’; Jethro is a local celebrity, and a thoroughly nice chap and that is all you need to know.

The climb into Launceston was really rather steep, but waiting for us at the top were traditional Cornish pasties (apparently Cornish pasties used to be half meat and half jam). We were also joined by the soon to be Mrs Greig, aka Natasha, and Juicy Lucy’s friend Anna the Spanner. Also young Ella (12yrs) gave us her local knowledge, 3 pronged camel bag and legs of steel.
Suddenly Peter flew passed honking his horn (like Mary Poppins but with less hair and a bigger horn); on board he had a precious cargo, the world famous Chithar. Some people say he is half man, half god, some people say he is the messiah, I say he is a good cyclist.

For Natasha’s birthday we went for a traditional Cornish curry; Ed covered the bike in balloons and Ed's Mum made a mess out of the cake (a delicious Eton mess). We let off party poppers and sang many rounds of happy birthday. After all the fun and laughter we headed back to Kim and Guy's house to sleep. Ian refused to share a room with me, but it was possibly the leopard Gecko in the glass tank in the corner that really put him off!

The next day we didn’t really want to cycle down the massive hill we'd climbed the night before so we decided to keep going up; this may have been a mistake as we hit some of the hardest hills we have had to face since Edinburgh. Somehow we managed to cause congestion and tail backs on little farm tracks, which shows you how long it actually took us to make progress. After the worst was over Ian delivered Jamie to us, Ed asked how he had found out about the ride and Jamie informed him that he was a second cousin which was rather embarrassing.

Coming down into the Eden project was stunning; if you have never been then I recommend you have a gander. It was like something from a different world (and that was just the ice cream). We met Maren again and her boyfriend Graham (if Ed and I thought our legs were looking good then Graham made us think otherwise). We also graciously accepted Maren’s friend Michelle onto the bike as well as local legends Anne and Jenny. With a full contingent we arrived into Turo just in time to witness Gay pride; being offered coke in public toilets reminded me of home (I declined, I don’t like sniffing coke because I get bubbles up my nose).

After the penultimate day we went for a Chinese in Redruth; if you ever find yourself in Redruth then please visit the Sunny City. It was like Fawlty Towers; again as with Aaron from Edinburgh it is probably best you ask me about this another time.

On the morning of our last day I think everyone felt quite tired; the night before Kate had rejoined us which was just lovely but it also meant there were ten of us with 2 tents and 5 mattresses. I took one for the team and snuggled into the front seats of the van. Sometime in the night the hand-brake came off but I managed to put it back on just in time (Thank goodness for morning wood).

We rescued Chris Oliver from Redruth station and then we were off; Chris used to weigh 27 stone but had a gastric band fitted and has lost 10 stone. It was brilliant to have him on the bike and he raised the tone of our conversation considerably.
It was such a sunny day, and we were so lucky to be taking the beautiful north coast rode. Cornwall delivered some spectacular views, especially the tin mine shafts which dominate the landscape!

Coming into Land’s End was incredible, we got such a rapturous reception; Henri and Peter managed to kidnap every tourist and added them to our welcome party (it was reminiscent of the North Korean fans at the world cup). On the last descent we got 13 people on the bike, including granddad Guinness (the man who helped create the Guinness Book of World Records now was part of one). Peter popped his cork all over me (not for the first time) and we all got a little sloshed on the cliff.

The last 29 days + 4 have been so utterly incredible; the support, the inspiration, the love have humbled Ed and I. We want to say thank you 1000 times over; somewhere in this blog everyone has been named and thanked somewhere. If you haven’t then please send me your complaint on the back of a self addressed envelope.

Sometimes people just need the opportunity to help, and when you give them one they will always surprise you with how much they have to give. We have ridden Miss Cobi ultimately to raise awareness of the greatest weapon we have against cancer and all adversity, and that is each other.

Goodnight, and don’t have nightmares.

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