Downhill all the way? Roy, Richard and friends complete the John O’Groats to Lands End cycle challenge.Published on: 12/07/2023
When Roy Barber and Richard Clements visited us to tell us about their John O’Groats to Lands End cycle to raise funds for the hospice, the first question had to be, “Do you think it was easier cycling from north to south for the challenge?”
“NOOOOOO…” they laugh. “Whatever is down on the way up, is up on the way down and vice versa. It’s definitely a long, long rollercoaster! However, for most of the trip we did have a prevailing tailwind which definitely helped.”
In all cases the journey, of over 1,000 miles in 12 and a bit days, is a truly awesome challenge and also an opportunity to take in some sights along the way. (Roy and Richard are pictured on the immediate left of Ruth in the banner image).
Roy, married to Sally, has his own care business as a support worker for 15 people living with dementia and Richard is a retired physicist who worked at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.
Roy and Richard chose to cycle exclusively for Wirral Hospice St John’s while riding companions, Ray, Geoff, Terry and Ian, were on board for other charities or along for the ride. Other pals, Mark, Stan, Graham and Dave joined for a couple of days as they took a slight detour around the breath-taking Cheddar Gorge in part of the southern England leg of the expedition.
Richard had planned all the routes including the small matter of a 40 mile practise ride from the most northerly point on the mainland, Dunnet Head to John O’Groats, on the day BEFORE the challenge really began.
Richard’s wife Ruth drove a support car, transporting the riders’ bags to their accommodation each day, and welcoming them on their arrival.
At 63 and 57 years of age respectively, Roy and Richard’s dedication to cycling keeps them fit and provided the inspiration and energy for the gruelling ride. Their team, nicknamed the JOGLETECS (John O’Groats to Lands End Tuesday Evening Cycling Stars), regularly meet up for rides and the camaraderie that goes with them.
But… even the best friendships can be tested at times and rooming with Roy early on was a bit of a challenge for his buddy, Ray… you see, Roy’s a snorer, Oh Dear!
They soon resolved that Roy could have his own room because, with 10 hours of cycling ahead for the next several days, he needed his beauty sleep. And so did everyone else, HaHa!
Roy has mapped the whole ride on Strava and their Just Giving page but hopefully some of the place names they passed will give you a flavour of their epic adventure. So,
Day One to Five: John O’Groats, Wick, Helmsdale, Brora, Dornoch, Cromarty Firth, Tain, Alness, Kessock Bridge to Inverness, Culloden, Aviemore, Cairngorms National Park, Kingussie, Dalwhinnie, Blair Atholl, Pitlochry, Dunkeld, Perth, Bridge of Earn, Kinross, Forth Road Bridge Edinburgh, Livingston, Biggar, Abington, Lockerbie, Ecclefechan and Gretna to the Scottish Border crossing to skirt around Carlisle and finish Day five in the North Lakes at Newton Reigny (Northwest of Penrith).
Day Six to Twelve: Penrith, Greenholme, Tebay, Sedbergh, Kirby Lonsdale, Wigglesworth, Barnoldswick, Burnley, Rawtenstall, Ramsbottom, Bury, Culcheth, Risley(!), Appleton Thorn, Comberbatch, Church Minshull, Crewe, Nantwich, Wrenbury, Upton Magna, Church Stretton, Leominster, Hereford, Symonds Yat, Monmouth, Tintern, Chepstow, Severn Bridge, (Bristol detour), Portishead, Clevedon, Axbridge, Cheddar, Priddy, Glastonbury, Taunton, Oakford, Puddington (not that one), Black Dog, Sampford Chapple, Okehampton, St Neot, Bugle, St Just, and, of course, finishing at Lands End.
It was mainly smooth progress with a few punctures along the way, surprises, like when the Severn Bridge cycle lane also had fairly speedy learner drivers on mopeds to contend with and the small matter of companion Terry 71, taking them on a detour to get a photo of his old school in Bury. Unfortunately, Bury has changed a lot since Terry was a schoolboy so the school took some finding!
Just for good measure Roy, Richard and Ray took a (relatively) short bike ride of just over 25 miles the day after reaching Land’s End for a ‘warm-down’ to the most southerly point on the mainland – Lizard Point on Cornwall’s South Coast, completing what is known as the Top-to-Bottom challenge to boot.
Just completely incredible! And… they’ve raised a lovely £1500 for the hospice.
Previous to and since their epic ride, Roy and Richard have been racking up the miles with their Tuesday Evening Cycling pals, riding past 4,000 miles this year and with no plans to stop.
Before we part, Roy tells us about his other seasonal work… he’s a professional Santa Claus, aaahh the white beard grows even more from November!?
Please be careful with that bike on the rooftops this Christmas, Roy. Ho, Ho, Ho!
There are hundreds of pics of Roy and Richard’s ride on his Just Giving page – along with Roy’s other pre and post practise rides at www.justgiving.com/page/roy-barber-1681138097902