Final Thoughts

Some final thoughts from each of us.

Gary

As I wrote the drivel I'm trying to pass off as a ride journal I have little to add here.

The other guys however wanted to add some comments, so below are the ramblings of the other team members.

No need to say why I had to do the ride. It was something I was just going to do, Mum's passing gave the organisation of the trip a whole new context. Friends and family wanting to get involved to honour Mum's memory helped ensure that we were never going to fail.

There were some highs and lows. I felt pretty low approaching Settle but then the feeling of completing the day was also quite a highlight. The fantastic reception we got at Land's End made it worth the entire trip, the exhaustion and the saddle soreness.

There is nothing I'd have done differently. Well I might have taken a few more days, 18 to 21 days would've give us more time to explore the country, but otherwise, nothing.

There are many things I took out of this ride. The wonderful sights, wonderful people and the will to do it all again.

So check in to the Sheila's Wheelers website and see what challenge Sheila's Wheelers set themselves for 2008.

Bryn

I had known Sheila for many years and I had watched her illness gradually affect her more and more. Throughout she remained cheerful and never felt sorry for herself. I unconsciously noted this but never thought about it. Sheila just did what Sheila did. When the vicar at her funeral spoke about her courage it was if someone had slapped me in the face, and I was taken aback. She was a courageous lady I just hadn't recognised it until then. This was such a shock to me that I felt very guilty that I hadn't recognised what had been straring me in the face all through her illness. I wanted to pay my own tribute to this courageous lady which is why I volunteered to drive the van. I couldn't do the ride but I could help those who did. It would be my own personal tribute to a very special lady.

I expected and got good company, beautiful scenery, meeting new people. I didn't expect the feeling of pride I felt when you had come through difficult parts of the trip, the constant sound of Tarzan's cry as Matt's irritating ring-tone every five minutes as his phone kept ringing, how nice some of the digs were and how truly awful Little Chefs are.

The infamous Settle day started in Carlisle where I went round the castle while waiting for the service wash to be collected. Really hot day. I travelled down the motorway in the early afternoon and peeled off to start the journey through the Yorkshire dales to Settle. By now it was boiling hot. I couldn't make contact with the team and had no idea where they were. Whether they were waiting for me, whether they were trying to contact me, whether they had finished and were waiting for their luggage (unlikely). It was now a boiling day and I was driving in, what had turned out to be, a combination of oven and sauna. I wasn't sure whether I was being roasted or steamed. I was driving as fast as I could down small and narrow roads that would give you a sharp right turn followed by a sharp left turn whilst all the time it was either a steep climb or a steep fall. I eventually had to stop in a small town/village where I bought three cold drinks and downed them in one go and then bought another three to drink in the van – that's how hot it was! I eventually reached Settle about tea time booked into the digs and went to find somewhere to eat for myself and the lads. It had been a tough day for me so what had it been like for them? They eventually staggered in around about half past eight and I had been standing outside the pub waiting for them. I clapped them all in and I didn't think I could have felt any prouder of them as I did then. I was wrong.

The start of the trip was low key, a really really beautiful summers morning, a sense of just taking the first step wherever it would lead. It seemed to be a nice slow and steady start to the trip

The biggest highlight for me was at the end of the trip and watching the four of them after 14 days and god knows how many miles ride line abreast towards the finishing line. If I felt proud of them in Settle it was nothing to how I felt about them now. I know it was emotional for them, it was certainly emotional for me - which turned to amazement when Eddie tried to run me down.

Other highlights - cresting a rise and seeing the Yorkshire dales laid out before me - stunning view. The lovely people we met whether it was Kirstie in Luss who did our washing and was so helpful or Arthur who got in the van with me to show me how to overcome a one way system that I had been going round and round to get to a laundrette that wasn' far away. The young couple I gave a lift to who inadvertently got out with my camera and then ran back to give it to me before I drove away. Getting to know Daniel and Matt and Gary better and being even more impressed with their strengths.

What should we have done differently - We should have started earlier each day - we should have got cracking!

Edward

At the beginning of the ride I was apprehensive. We were at the furthest point from Land's End on mainland Britain and had it all to do. We needed to get cracking. I wanted to get the first day under our belts, get up the next day and do it again. I felt confident that we'd complete our task.

For me, the most difficult part spanned several days. Days 2 and 3 were tough getting back into the saddle following the big miles we had already put in. Not to mention the ride to Settle.

I felt proud to be part of the ride. It bought out a pride in Sheila, pride in myself for achieving this after not being on a bike for over 20 years until I started the training. I felt pride in my four team members. And a special pride in Dan for who kept going in spite of all the problems he encountered.

My expectations were confirmed leaving Scotland, we had covered over a third of the route and it felt like we would accomplish our targets.

Some of the highlights included cycling along Loch Ness, though it was hilly and the roads in poor condition. Gary said this part would be easy, nice and flat. He lied. On a non cycling subject I enjoyed the bowling at Crewe. I wasn't looking forward to it and considered giving it a miss. It turned out to be good fun and a welcome distraction. Also meeting up with family and friends at Ludlow. Keith and Karen, Mick and Jan, Sharon and Andrew and Tom who turned up with our Team T-Shirts.

I felt for Gary when he blamed himself for the tough route through Settle. We felt that we'd pushed it too hard that day and Gary took the blame upon himself as he planned most of the route. But we agreed the route and were happy before we set off. We didn't blame him and felt the day quite an achievement. At least after the fact we did!

We did it, and I'd do it again.

Dan

After the first few miles when my knee first gave in for the first time the pain was excutiating. I didn't think I'd finish the first day, let alone the the entire ride. As we're all aware by now, in addition to my knee I had a couple of other problems, but the great support I had from the team and my family along with the thought of letting everyone down kept me going.

The most difficult part was, err, all of it. It all seemed worse when things were going wrong but I had to just take the rough with the smooth, and “get cracking”

I felt a bit unprepared looking back and thought it would be a lot easier than it was and expected my fitness level to rise with each day. If only!

But there were highlights. And this more than made up for all my problems. The day after meeting Brummie family who we met in Fort William, seeing them cheer us on during a long ascent made me feel very proud and quite emotional. I think there were tears running down face for the next half mile. Just enjoying a couple of pain free days was quite a highlight. But of all the highs of the ride, crossing the finish line was by far the greatest highlight, of the ride and my life. It was tinted with the sadness of it being over but the atmosphere of the finish line was electric, I felt famous!

If I was to do anything differently, I'd change just one thing, and that would be to change the mode of transport from a cycle to a motor bike.

I'd like to finish off by thanking all who supported us and all that were generous enough to donate to our charities. I would like to thank my team mates for making the whole experience all the more enjoyable. I'd like to thank Bryn for his support (running off for bike spares or bandages for my injuries) and encouragement when things went wrong.

Matt

The most difficult part I found was four fold; Berridale Brae(where my lungs nearly exploded!), the second day when I put my arse into the seat and it felt like a razor blade, Settle (of course) especially when we had seen those signs with about 8 miles left then we seemed to ride another 5 and the next sign still said 8 miles, and being without the family.

Expectations were of extreme excitement at doing such a mammoth event. I did seriously underestimate how difficult it was going to be though as I thought we were well trained! not!

Three highlights have got to be finishing the ride; I don't cry very often but seeing all those people,friends,family and strangers just wanting to congratulate us and welcome us home was just very humbling and certainly brought a tear to my eye. Elation at finishing but sadness that it was all over! The feeling of how much you really do miss your family. Absence really does make the heart fonder!

Second highlight has got to be seeing Bryn standing on the side of the road clapping us into Settle after such a tough day. It was such a sense of relief and achievement. I will really never forget that day!

Third highlight was both the scenery and the company. The scenery at times made me feel very humble and appreciate how beautiful this country is. The friendliness and generosity of the folks we saw on the ride and last but not least my team mates who helped me through this experience and kept a smile on my face throughout!

Lowest moment was settle and those sign posts!

We should have avoided Settle:) Only joking I am so glad we did that-memories eh!that was character building!

I really don't think I would have changed anything. The only thing that came to mind was the Travel lodge but they seemed to add to the adventure somehow! Usually having to cycle down dual carriageways or having a beer in the garden!

Only other comments are that I will never forget those 12 odd days in the sweltering heat. It has been my greatest achievement to date and is certainly the hardest. Character building is built on these type of journeys and the team we had certainly made it easier.

Only other thing to say is when's the next ball breaker:)