The last day!
Weather forecast bright, sunny and warm; the only time since the first day 1,000 years ago in John O'Groats. So just a simple run across Dartmoor, pick up the A390, a few side roads to miss Helston, Penzance, Land's End, no problem.
The climbs start right after Exeter, leading to the big ones up to Dartmoor itself. Once at the top our luck was in today; warm, sunny and almost no wind. And the view is magnificent. As are the roads, dips followed by 200 metre big-ring rises. None of these horrible endless hills. Too much to resist, so I pounded all the way along until the long drop to Tavistock, which is even better with 45mph straights and not-too-tough corners.
Once again, hah!
The rest of the day was an endless series of steep, strength-sapping climbs. On and on and on. Then we turned off the main road at Carnon Down to take side roads until almost in Penzance - blessed relief, we thought. Wrong! The roads got even steeper, but now often tiny one-tracks, and the navigation not so easy; we were paranoid about getting lost because we'd being going so long, it was so late, and all we wanted to do was finish.
A quick bite of fish-and-chips in Penzance then the final run-in. Still hilly until about 4 or 5 miles to go then, at last, some flat roads. A huge hill right in front of us which I dreaded going up, but the road went round it. That was indeed a surprise.
So back to the Old Success. We were already too late for dinner - our run had been dead slow yet again, this time we blamed the endless hills. So we'd sit around till late, chat, have a few drinks, wouldn't we? The bar was packed with holidaymakers; the first time our evening meeting place had been jammed since Scotland. In the corner was some incomparably dreadfulimitiation Irish band bashing out Gawd knows what. And finally, although we could sit in a residents' area when the bar shut, getting a drink was like pulling teeth. Painful.
My own memory of the week is pretty negative; it was mainly cold, too slow (because of the roads and conditions, not the riders) and not conducive to the kind of cycling I like, where you can ride alongside someone and chat as you go. The runs were often single-file, our evenings so rushed, that we hardly got to know one another at all. But everyone who had completed the full run was pretty pleased in the end, so in spite of it all we managed some sort of party atmosphere. Quite an achievment under the circumstances.
Congratulations to Aaran, Chris, David, Dennis, Ian, Kevin, Marion, Roger, and our runs leader Greg for successfully achieving the End to End. And great thanks to Jimmy Cullen for support work beyond the call of duty.