LEJOG – Day 9 – The Chequered Flag
Here it is, the big day. They are going to make that finish line!
The day started early, the fact they were about to finish was edging them out of bed and into their saddles. By 8:30 they were already 18 miles in, the boys stopping as their fuel levels were running low, somehow the three curries they shared between the two of them last night was no longer enough to sustain them, the energy from a full bowl of porridge from breakfast was already dwindling and flapjack supplies were at a low so the boys tucked into some sandwiches at 9am. Just after 10 they were at 25 miles, just the 52 to go! Another hourly check in, the excitement pitch at fever point, just 44 miles to go. However, the previous hour had been spent doing the final big climb of the challenge- a great cause for celebration! It was over a gruelling 6 miles, a 1000ft climb, an 800ft descent, then back up 800ft.
Once they got their breath back, they peddled off, 13 miles later stopping for lunch and a FANTASTIC surprise. When the boys sat down for a gorgeous picnic lunch in the sunshine with Martin and Karen they were soon disrupted by another car pitching up and spoiling the tranquillity and seclusion they had bagged for themselves. Those unwelcomed interrupters were none other than James’ parents Alison and Adrian, as well as his brother, Adam- all three part of the previous support teams. This unbelievable show of family spirit, the three of them driving straight from home in Hereford to the furthest part of Scotland bar 30 miles, brought out a very emotional response from James.
A few tears might have been spilt, I don’t think anyone else would have had a different reaction. 9 days of cruel riding, only to be surprised by your entire family arriving in time to cheer you over the finishing line. There has been some pretty special commitment from both the Hopes and Galloways over the past 9 days to make this all possible.
Once the pair set off they were again treated to yet more unspoilt views. Mark even commenting that it was like something out of Skyfall. When they were just a mile and a bit away they stopped to take off all their layers so that the o2e kit could be in plain site when they found the finish line. Ironically, they could not seem to find the finish line and ended up doing a couple of loops before nailing it down…
Once they finished officially, it was very emotional with both amazing supportive families there. The stress and strain of the last 9 days bubbling over, eliciting a very teary response from everyone. Karen and Martin fished a bottle of Champagne out of the Mini which they had lovingly carried for the whole length of the journey and they popped this in celebration of this phenomenal achievement. Once the obligatory photos were taken, they all headed off for much-needed showers and beers in Wick.
It has been a very long journey for James and Mark but they have finally finished, riding 918 miles in 9 days.
“Firstly, we can’t believe we actually made it… Thank you to everyone for all of your incredible support. We would not have been able to make it without every single one of you.
We have both been humbled and moved by all of the messages, videos and donations that have kept us peddling every day. We can’t say thank you enough to Alison, Adrian, Adam, Karen and Martin for driving and being our fantastic support crew. We’re sorry it wasn’t the holiday we both promised you but you kept us fuelled and moving!
Another thank you is to our PR team. Thank you to Sue Smith and Harriet Mills for supporting us from home with posts, shares and plenty of likes and to Lucy Turner for writing the blog updates every day and sharing our journey. It has given us a huge boost every morning.
Finally, we hope we have inspired others to get out of their comfort zone and do something extraordinary for O2e… See you all at the ball!”