Kate and Phil - RAB

Ride Across Britain - 5th – 13th September 2015

Philip Mann and Kate Gannon embarked on the Deloitte’s Ride Across Britain having heard such great things from riders who had done it previously. It is a ‘softer’ way to do LeJoG as it is fully supported, allowing us to focus solely on the joy of the ride. It took a mere 9 days to ride 1,000 miles up hill and down dale (50,000ft +) across stunning scenery that changed with each county we passed. We pedaled our way from Lands’ End to Okehampton to Bath to Ludlow to Haydock to Penrith to Hamilton to Fort William to Kyle of Sutherland and finally to John O Groats. Each day we covered a distance {had a mileage} of around 110 miles which takes some doing day after day after day. The 150 strong back up crew were incredible. Nothing was too much trouble and the organization is literally flawless – tents were set up and packed up for us each day, unbelievable amounts of home cooked food at each stage, chaperones to cheer you along (although we seemed to cheer them along), banter, signs at every junction along the LeJoG route, hot showers, fresh towels, a drying room and Halfords on call to fix any bicycle issues. Indeed the Halfords team provided invaluable support to Philip, who had declared before the ride that his part worn 23mm tyres would be perfectly fine for the ride, whilst I had insisted upon new 25mm Grand Prix 4000s’. After 3 punctures, they replaced his split 23mm with a new 25mm Gatorskin at their mobile workshop in the shadow of Ben Nevis. I said nothing.

If you were tired, or just in need of a pamper, a very good deep tissue massage was available every other day. Seriously nothing was too much trouble – If I was to grumble it would be to say that at times it felt we had accidentally gate crashed a corporate event, even pace setting for Deloitte clients on more than one occasion, but that also meant that I met and rode with Olympic gold medalist Nicole Cook and Paralympic gold medalist Helena Lucas.

We were all treated equally, including being woken at 5:30 am to motivational music for a 7am departure – it is blimin’ cold and dark at 5:30am! Not good for a contact lens novice. We had trained hard for the event and this paid dividends, as soon as we hit any hills –the inevitable peloton that had quietly formed behind us would go from 20 to none in an instant! The first two days out of Devon and Cornwall were tough – up and down all the way (although nothing compared to the Tour of the Peak which we did earlier in the year, and which will forever be the benchmark of a truly grueling ride.) After that the body adjusted and we just hopped on our bikes and rode. The adjustment to eating breakfast at 5:45 took a while longer.

We didn’t manage to find a group to ride with as the serious boys were on their way before we made the start, and we were faster than most of the rest, but that meant we had time relax at feed stations in the sunshine and take photos en-route. We even stopped in Kendal for an hour long rendez-vous with my Aunt Mo, after which, and fuelled with more coffee and cake, we headed up Shap Fell. This was a glorious climb, but not a patch upon the Glencoe Pass, the huge expanse and wild mountains, which were a personal highlight.

On the final day we were greeted with a massive head wind all the way to John O Groats – it would have been nice to have coasted in, savouring the last few miles, but we had to fight our way right to the end. It was really quite emotional to ride under the banner and receive my medal at the finish, but hugely satisfying and rewarding. I’d recommend anyone do it as, with a bit of training, it is easily achievable. There were a surprising number of people who hadn’t trained much and they suffered as a result. There were an awful lot of legs taped with the ever popular Rock Tape by the end. Pretty much everyone got there in the end but for us it was good to finish strong and not too exhausted. That said, we were both glad to get out of the saddle and were looking forward to a proper bed.