Well the trip is over and we’ve been back with our loved ones for a couple of days now.  Our trip home was uneventful.  Being cruel I laughed as the rain hammered down, having started an hour after we finished.  The wind also turned and I watched with pity the LEJoGers leaving John O’Groats into the now headwind.  As with the trip down, the three of us had many laughs and mutual mickey taking.  The roof cycle carriers (Thule) proved how robust they were as we turbo charged home both on very fast main roads and also quick windy lanes.

One of the pictures that will long stay in my mind is of Wendy stood waiting outside our house with a big “You Did It, Congratulations” sign on the window and a lovely smile on her face.  I ran out of the car as Rob pulled up and the guys stayed in the car as we embraced and I fought the tears back.  This trip has been far, far more emotional than I ever imagined.

Rob and Ian came in and we sat in the back garden in the warm sun (it had lashed down all through Scotland and Cumbria, but was beautifully sunny in Warwick) and shared a drink and a chat.  Ian was being picked up by Nat’s Dad and it was a lovely surprise for Ian that Nat came with him – but I’m sure Ian will tell his own story.

So, what of the trip itself?  I have to say that it was harder than I had expected.  In hindsight perhaps that was a bit predictable.  I’d never ridden over 80 miles in a day before, but had to do it 4 times in 6 days.  I’d never ridden more than 170 miles in a week, but had to ride 500 a week twice one after the other.  I’d never climbed more than 4,500 feet in a day and had to do it 3 times, 2 of which in the first 2 days and I had to do all this with fully loaded panniers (12kg) and day after day for 14 days.  

So yes it was hard, but what really made it harder was the relentless wind.  Normally rides start and finish at the same place so any wind gives easy parts to make up for the hard parts, but this was sapping both mentally and physically with virtually no respite.  The wind on Day 8 was actually dangerous for an hour or so where we fought to make any headway at all against the strongest wind I’ve ever ridden in.  But on the few occasions when the wind was not against us, how great it felt.  I’ve just seen the following on the website for the Drumlanrig Sportive we stumbled across

“Well done to all of you for battling against that relentless wind. I reckon anyone who managed better than 15mph average is worth a gold award and everyone else who got round a silver standard”

On the other hand, we were so, so lucky with the weather.  Apart from an hour on Day 1, we had beautiful warm sun every day.  I have a classic cyclist tan, with very dark forearms, lower legs and face and pasty white everywhere else!  This made the views and the scenery absolutely stunning every single day of our trip.  I cannot believe how beautiful this country of ours is.  My photos, taken with my Blackberry, give hints of this beauty but cannot accurately reflect the beauty we saw and enjoyed.

We also met a large number of lovely people.  Most times we stopped for a breather or to take a photo, or have our meals, we chatted to whoever was about.  Maybe it was our frame of mind, but almost without fail, people were friendly, interested and helpful.  Our hosts at the various B&Bs were great and some I would go out of my way to stay with again at some point.

We decided early that we would write our blogs daily, one to ensure we had a record of our trip but also to keep those at home involved and sharing the trip with us.  Sometimes we really did not feel like spending the time to get this done after a hard day’s riding but I’m really pleased we did.  I cannot believe the response we got from people and the comments placed were really gratefully received and helped us enormously.  The graph shows the number of visits our website received – over 500 unique visits per day which is absolutely amazing.

One unforeseen outcome of this trip was the way it seemed to bring our family(ies) closer together.  Everyone was interested, everyone chipped in and it was great.  We enjoyed riding with our older brother, Paul for a couple of days as well as our Dad for a while.  It was lovely to share a meal with our older sis, Chris and her husband Pete and of course the Athlete’s lunch with Mum was superb.

And so onto my title.  This trip was of course about an iconic cycling trip, but it was also a chance for me to spend time with Ian which is not something we can do very much of in our everyday lives.  I loved the time we shared.  We are very similar in many (but not quite all) ways and we had no cross words or even close to it in the whole 2 weeks.  We laughed a lot, once so much I really actually fell off my bike.

With a young family, Ian has not been able to train anywhere near as much as I did and the mental toughness he showed especially in those first hard 2 days was immense.  Ian told me at the start that whatever it took, he was going to complete this and I always knew he would.

This tune was one we both sang a lot on the ride.  The starting words seem very apt – The Road is long, with many a winding turn, that leads us to, who knows where who knows when – and to be honest apart from the chorus, I didn’t know the rest of the words.

This is where the analogy falls down.  The song goes on to talk about one brother carrying the other, and on our ride nothing could be further from reality.  We did this trip together but we often travelled at our own pace and we each did what we had to do.  We knew the other was absolutely there if needed, but as it happened we never really needed to call upon this.

I watched Ian get stronger each day and when he left me for dead climbing away from Rannoch Moor I loved it (but I got him later J ).  He also got the highest speed of 48.6mph against my fastest of 46.8mph – not that I can’t forgive and I’m gunning for him there.

So, we’ve come a long way.  It’s been almost exactly a year since I took up cycling after stopping my previous addiction of motorbike racing.  This trip has been great and I’m sure I’ll look for a new challenge to aim for soon.  For anyone thinking about doing this, whatever you level of fitness, I’d say just go do it – It has been an experience I’ve loved and won’t forget anytime soon.  Nae Bother.

8/5/2011 05:57:54 am

I was wondering when that song title was going to appear - I've been waiting for it!

It has been a real pleasure to read your blogs every day - something I had been doing since you set up your website. You are right that the blogs kept us all in touch with your epic journey - and let us know that you were at least alive!!

I cannot tell you both how proud it made me feel to be your sister as I read of your challenges and successes. As your older sister, I have many memories of you two as little boys and the various tricks you used to get up to. These last two weeks add such a lot to those memories.

Well done for achieving so much and thank you for letting us feel just a little part of it. xxx

8/5/2011 06:39:22 pm

What comes across to me is how well the whole thing was organized and how well it worked out. Well done.
I knew you were competitive but surprised that you are more so than Ian.
I'm so happy that you completed the ride successfully and obviously enjoyed the experience and that you had no disagreements between you. I am a very proud father!

8/5/2011 10:47:43 pm

Great great journey u've shared. Me n mario definitely have plans to do something similar if not the same, and I shall certainly be asking advice.
I love having fit uncles and it certainly is true that the Norris family is closer because of ur trek, how often do I get to read about u eh?!!!!
As I said to Ian, I'm really proud of what u've achieved and u r a wonderful example to me. Thanks unc, I really hope to see u soon and give u a big niecey hug! Maybe we should hav a big Norris family celebration get-together?!!! A VERY big well done xx

oldest niecey
9/5/2011 07:43:24 am

I felt very emotional, reading ur last blog. An unbelievable turn of events at the final hour, would ..you Adam and Eve it!
You are more competitive than Bamp! What drive, zeal and zest for life. It's breathtaking.
Congratulations on your ride of a lifetime. You've enriched the whole family.
Love Em x

9/5/2011 10:04:27 pm

Read you E-mail ! mum

Arthur Ely
15/5/2011 09:44:09 pm

Finally caught up with the last few days blogs, having last tuned in along Loch Lomond.

Congratulations - well done - truly inspirational.
Will be looking for something further than the 2 day C2C which I did last year.


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