Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Final Preparations

After months of planning, the journey is about to begin. Tomorrow morning I will be making my way to Carlisle and boarding the train to Penzance.

I’m feeling a mixture of excitement and apprehension, eager to put all the training into practice. I’m worried because I injured my knee two weeks ago and I know that it could scupper all my plans and bring about a premature end to the whole journey.

I’ve ignored all advice to postpone the trip, as I’m determined to succeed against all the odds. I’m trying to convince myself that I can overcome the pain and I remain positive that I can do that, but in the back of my mind there is a nagging doubt that is perpetuated by the very fact that the knee is not right.

I feel responsible for all the people who have sponsored me and I don’t want to let anyone down. I’ve received about £2000 in pledges and I can’t just give up. The Great North Air Ambulance Service relies on people donating money and they need as much support as they can get.

Apart from the knee injury, which seems to have been the result of an over zealous training ride, I’m feeling strong in all other respects. I have finally settled on a comprehensive list of equipment that I will be taking. The choice has been a compromise over what I need to take, what I want to take, what is absolutely necessary and what is merely useful to make the journey more comfortable.

I was hoping to update the web site with a detailed list of every item, but I have been so busy preparing that I just didn’t have the time. I will, however, compile a full list of all the gear and how it performed once I have finished.

In the meantime, everything is packed and the panniers are full with all my worldly goods. I’m prepared for just about anything. The weather has been awful, but I’ve not been overly concerned as it can only get better. Even if it doesn’t fair up, I’m confident of some warmer weather to come as I’m always the eternal optimist.

I’m not looking forward to spending 9 hours on a train, but I’ve got a good book to read which I’m planning to throw away when I get to Penzance, so as not to have to carry it on the bike! I won’t have time to do any reading once the journey starts. It will be just a case of turning those pedals and focussing on the job at hand.

I’m excited about the places that I will be seeing. Lands End to begin with, which I haven’t visited since I was a small boy on holiday with my parents. I’m looking forward to riding along the Camel Trail starting at Padstow, also crossing the Severn Road Bridge and cycling through the Forest of Dean. Then there is the Malvern Hills, the Peak District and following the Tissington Trail.

It will be great to follow the Pennine Cycleway and re-acquaint myself with some of the villages that I first visited when I walked the Pennine Way. I’m particularly looking forward to cycling through the Yorkshire Dales and then travelling through the Border Region to Edinburgh, crossing the Forth Road Bridge as a springboard to Perth and Pitlochry. Then it’s up through the Highlands to Inverness before the last leg to John O’Groats.

I can’t wait!


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