Brilliantine Mortality (It’s a boy)
First of all: we are exhausted. Waking up at 0605 as hazy sunlight floods into the living room, I was sleeping as my mind wandered back over the trip so far. 15 days on a bike. One on a train to Thurso. One in Glasgow. Two in Pontypridd. It has been almost 3 weeks that we have been consumed with the task of cycling the length of the country. Last night saw us sat in a first floor flat overlooking Perranporth beach eating risotto generously prepared by an old friend of Aldercy Manning and walking back through pitch black unravelling country roads to bed down in a beautiful cottage owned by another friend. Once again we are at risk of taking the exceptional hospitality we have seen throughout Scotland, the North of England, South Wales and now the South West for granted. It really would not have been possible for us to get this far without the encouragement and belief of a few key people. You know who you are (TEAM CHAINLUBE FOR LIFE).
As I lie there looking to the days and months ahead, I am filled with a strange anxiety. It has been 19 days of heaving our heavy limbs out of bed, to climb back onto our bicycles and push on relentlessly towards our new destination. Now that we are closing in on Land’s End – I wonder what happens the morning after we arrive, and the morning after that. The joy and the relief of reaching our goal is twinned with a melancholic nostalgia. Luckily Reuben Merriweather and Lucius Harvey soon appear, dog walked and begin preparing a hearty breakfast of tea and porridge to distract from such thoughts.
Brushing aside the news of a Royal baby, we clamber back upon our bikes and head determinedly towards our final destination. Reuben Merriweather leads us along 20 miles of stunning coastal roads towards Hayley but we pay a price for such beautiful views, climbing some of the steepest and taxing hills along the way. Here, feeling somewhat the worse for wear and with my bicycle’s front derailleur once again refusing to shift into the little ring, we rejoin our old friend the A30 for the final jaunt. Before the day is out, we will see an unlucky cyclist slumped by the side of the road, having collided with one of the many seemingly reckless cars; which come careering around the unaccomodating corners at eye watering speeds. It is a stark reminder of just how lucky we have been to escape the trip with only a few near misses, rather than full blown accidents.
There has been a constant balancing act on our trip between “avoiding highways” picking smaller more serene scenic roads and a simple need to get to where we are going. On the whole, we have been successful albeit several long hot shifts on the sides of unforgiving and precarious dual carriageways which would have been much better avoided. While we have enjoyed the success of the Sustrans routes in Scotland, they are unaccountably unsatisfactory in England and we have more often than not, neglected them for the pure reasons of efficiency.
As we spin towards Land’s End however, these thoughts are pardoned and we are triumphant. Some 5 miles from the coastal precipice and abrupt ending of England it suddenly becomes very clear that we may well indeed complete the pilgrimage after all. A bunch sprint is in process on the final flats into the theme park that is Land’s End and instead of the Atlantic, we see the Arc De Triomphe. Instead of the call of the tides, we hear the roar of crowds. There is no sun, only bright lights and music. It is 1pm when Team ChainLUBE assuredly arrive. The milometer reads 1109 miles. Reuben Merriweather wanders into a local cafe to order us 3 cream teas and is charged £24. We are home.