Lands End to John O’Groats
1997, Tony Blair led New Labour to election victory over the Conservative Party, and Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in a car crash.
After the 20th of June of that year the temperature failed to rise above 20 degrees centigrade. It was the very day that The Wattmeister and Ray, “The Real Deal”, commenced their two week journey from Cornwall to Caithness. In fact it was so cold on June 27th, that their departure from Chester was briefly arrested by a visit to The Bike Factory in order to purchase thermal cycle clothing and replace waterlogged luggage. Flaming June!
Despite the inclement conditions, riding the length of the UK was the greatest of experiences.
The purchase of a Raleigh Medale dropped handlebar racing bike for £40 allowed training to begin in the autumn of 1996. We joined a cycling club, London St, Christopher’s, whose meeting place outside Barnet Odeon was a mere 5 miles ride from Muswell Hill. On our first outing, we drove the 5 miles because it seemed such a very long way and, additionally, it was spitting with rain.
Kitted out with an inexpensive and overgeared bike and sporting some old football kit, a woollen scarf and plimsolls, the debut ride developed into an interesting and painful affair. There are good reasons why cyclists wear padded shorts and The Wattmeister was learning the hard way.
Suffering had never been focussed on such tender tissue, and when TW was overtaken by a pedestrian on Essendon Hill, it could have signalled the end of an illustrious career before it had even started….