“He only did it” Day 14: Somewhere on the A30 near Newquay to Lands End

Well the day has come. The final leg of the challenge and the end of an epic journey from John O’Groats to Lands End for ‘Never Give Up’.

After 13 days of cycling from the most northerly tip of the UK to the most southerly, Jer is on the home straight and the end is almost in sight. All that stands between him and the fulfilment of an ambition and a tribute to the memory of Abbi is 34 miles. But would those last miles treat him kindly or does fate have something left up it’s sleeve to dash his hopes…

From the off, the weather was ominous. Cornwall had treated us to overnight rain and decided to throw in strong gusty wind this morning for Jer’s cycling pleasure. As Jer cycled away from the start point just after 8am, the wind was swirling around him and the wind turbines over the next hill were spinning in quick time. The wind wasn’t against him exactly but swiping his side. I held back for a while and overtook him after the first couple of miles. For the first time, Jer didn’t put his thumb up to me and I knew he was already finding it hard going. As I drove on to the 10 mile stop, the clouds joined forces ahead to form a single cloud laden with rain. Just as I passed Redruth, the heavens opened and it was as fierce as any rain Jer had faced. I winced as I knew that within minutes, it would meet Jer head on. Setting down at 9 miles, I watched the cloud roll over the top of me to reveal blue skies. I hoped they were the ones predicted to be with us for the rest of remaining miles.

When Jer reached me, he was not happy. He wasn’t concerned about the weather, he had more important problems. The bearings in one of pedals had gone and every few turns it jammed and tried flipping his foot over. We had spare pedals but they were old ones. One of them had to go on and Jer wasted no time in replacing the pedal. In doing so, he cross-threaded it!  A quick ride round the lay-by showed that it was oscillating each time he pedalled. He was concerned that if he put too much pressure on it, it might work it’s way loose. He was more than mad. Jer cursed all the way through drinking his soup and eating a snack and barely waited for it to go down before setting off. I found a Halfords in Penzance if needed and looked for bike hire shops just in case it went completely pear-shaped. We agreed that I should go to every lay-by from now on.

I stopped at 13 miles and Jer reached me still unhappy. Ahead of us was a long, steep hill and he asked me to wait for 20 minutes to give him plenty of time to reach the top. I did, and as I made it up over the hill myself I dreaded seeing him too soon. Each mile that he was not in my sights was a good mile and each empty lay-by was a comforting sign that he was limping on. I passed him after the 17 mile point and, encouragingly, he put his thumb up. I stopped at the next lay-by. He paused only to acknowledge that the pedal was holding but he was having to push harder than he wanted as the wind was in his face. And it was very strong – he was cycling hard down the hills just to keep going. It was not how it was meant to be today and it was fast becoming a real trial of stamina and bloody mindedness.

Once again, he asked me to hang back for 20 minutes to be safe. There was just over 16 miles to go and it was nail biting. Jer was waiting at the next lay-by at Crowlas and my heart sank as I assumed something was wrong. I needn’t have worried, he wanted to stop for a cuppa and refill his water bottle. There was 13.5 miles to go and the bike was holding…for now at least.

I hung back once more knowing that the next time I caught him up, we would have reached Penzance. Sure enough, I passed Jer on the ring road around the town and he gave me a thumbs up. I pulled in at a makeshift lay-by near a sign saying “Lands End 9”. It was very gratifying to know that Jer was running out of road. We played leap frog a few more miles until the signs for Lands End announced that there was only 4 miles to go. Jer could push it that far if needed and was no longer concerned if the pedal would hold. I followed him for much of the remaining few miles, taking video as he passed Sennen. As the distinctive white facade of the Lands End complex came into view, I overtook Jer to video him coming through the entrance. I went into the car park and took more video of Jer as he passed that finish line. What an achievement! Very well done Jer. It was so worth it and I’m honoured to have been there with you.

There are so many people that we would like to thank for their unreserved support both on the lead up to the challenge and, in particular, during this journey. It’s times like this that you realise just how special your family and friends are and it’s truly humbling. For Jer, during those dark moments in the wind and rain as well as those more serene moments when the sun was shining and the wind was at his back, the thought of those nearest either pushed him on or made him look up and smile.

But that’s not quite the end…we took scores of photos and many minutes of video footage of the journey and we will be posting it here soon. We will also be compiling a behind the scenes look at how it was all done. We will also be telling you how to turn those pledges into cash now that Jer has completed the challenge.

I’ll leave the final words to Jer:

“I will smile whenever I hear your name and be proud that you called me Dad”

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3 Responses to ““He only did it” Day 14: Somewhere on the A30 near Newquay to Lands End”

  1. Paul and elaine says:

    Well done guys, fantastic achievement!

  2. Wellden family says:

    What can we say, you were both ‘Absolutely Fabulous’,

    Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Jer!!!!!!!!

  3. Geoff and Jackie and crew says:

    Well done bike and rider! And driver. Looking forward to the Directors Cut, Behind the Scenes, Outtakes, How do they do That and of course, “John o;Groats to Land’s End – the Return Journey”.

    Jer – you never gave up – Abbi would be so proud as we all are.

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