It all started as a beer-fuelled idea in ‘The King’s Head’ in Llangennith on The Gower in Wales…
…neither of us can remember exactly how the conversation started but we do recall being in full discussion about how each of us thought it would be great to see more of the British coastline, which led to Joby expressing his desire to “one day” cycle the whole coast of Great Britain. This is where there was a little discrepancy in our aspiration to tour the coast… Jilly had always wanted to do it by car! The conversation flowed some more and then to Joby’s delight Jilly expressed the words “but I’ve always loved cycling”… Well that was it, the very next evening with beer in hand the conversation then turned real because we wrote the idea down, and before we knew it Joby had signed his name to it and made Jilly do the same… all of a sudden something made it feel like a legal binding to do it!
So when would we embark on said tour of Great Britain on our bicycles? Well we have all had those wonderful ideas of things we would love to do in life, but how many of those ideas actually become reality?! So, after a short discussion on there never being a ‘right time’ to embark on said adventure, and always seemingly in life there being an ability to find an excuse to put those wonderful ideas on the back burner and say those dreaded five words “I’ll do it one day”, it was decided… Lets do it NOW!
Joby modified and serviced his mountain bike and Jilly modified and serviced her road bike (Phil Corley’s did it actually!) And hey presto! Two lean, mean cycling machines… Well, not very lean once panniers and kit had been attached! Joby set about plotting the route and Jilly set about working out how to survive six months without a hair drier! Gadgets and kit were researched and collected, sanity was well and truly discarded.
Then there came the question of where to start and which way around the coast to go with there being four distinct legs of our journey due to various events we had to attend throughout the summer. That’s what made it really tricky (we didn’t really want to have to get back to Bath from John O‘Groats and back up again to resume the trip!)
The first ‘perfect’ route was with the first leg starting in Liverpool and going North around Scotland… until Jilly discovered the possible temperatures in Scotland at the beginning of April! There would be a distinct possibility that we could be building igloos to sleep in rather than using the tent, say no more. There really isn’t anywhere in Great Britain that’s likely to have a heat wave in April so, after much deliberation and painstaking calculation, Joby emerged with the ultimate ‘perfect route’. Starting in Scotland (Edinburgh) we would cycle south (out of the snow drifts… I hope I’m making a joke there) down hill all the way to the south coast (it is down hill isn’t it?!) Ok, we know, the east coast in April probably isn’t all that grand in terms of heat waves either but they say, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’! (And it is down hill, Joby promised me it is!). The first leg would bring us to Poole in Dorset before a five day break whilst we head off to enjoy ‘The Great Escape’ music festival. On return to Poole leg two would take us around Devon, Cornwall and onwards towards Bristol. Here we would take another five day break for the ‘Glastonbury Festival’. For leg three we would head into Wales and up to Carlisle where we stop for the last time for Joby to fulfil his best man duties. This time a two week break would be necessary but upon return to the bikes the final and longest leg of the tour would take in Scotland, with us completing the trip crossing the Forth Bridge and rolling into Edinburgh, sometime in October.
So, route determined, kit collected, bikes tweaked and adventure confirmed… so that’s it then? Oh no… how about handing in notice on your rented cottage, finding storage facilities, removals men, Jilly telling her physio patients that she was deserting them (a few suggested roadside treatment if they were willing to travel… wonder if anyone has been treated in a snow drift before?)
Of course our parents have been very supportive although perhaps a little reluctant to see their treasured offspring set off into the sunset for six months of uncertainty. Jilly’s dad seems to think we’re especially mad as he recounts tales of mere two-week cycling/camping expeditions as a “youngster” involving his bike being trampled by a horse and pitching camp in the middle of a small river, which didn’t become evident until they were safely tucked up for the night and the torrential rain started… what tales can we expect to be reciting from a six month trip? Who knows?
One thing we’re sure of, it’s gonna be ‘character building’, we may still be talking to each other at the end, and we’ll have massive thigh muscles!!!