The End2End Gold is an Iron Butt Association ride between the extremities of the UK - Lands End in the south and John O'Groats in the north - which is approximately 1040 miles/1675km. The ride must be completed within a 24 hour period.
Although it is possible to make a shorter ride of only 874 miles in 24 hours via the most direct route, this would make one eligible for the basic End2End ride certification, not the End2End Gold, as the Gold must be over 1000 miles to qualify. To make up the extra mileage from the basic 874 to over 1000, it is necessary to skirt London around the ring road (M25) to the south and east of the city.
I'd been wanting to do a ride somewhere in the UK or Europe, so this seemed like an easy enough ride. My friend Rob Roalfe asked if he could ride along with me, as he wanted to do the Gold ride as well, having already done the basic E2E previously. This would be a whole new ballgame for me, as I invariably ride long distances alone. But I'd ridden some short stretches with Rob and liked his riding style, very similar to mine. So I thought we'd make a good team for this ride.
As I re-entered the UK from Europe, I spent a couple of days making my way slowly from Dover down to Lands End, generally staying relatively close to the south-east coast. For the life of me, I can't remember the name of this castle or where it was, but it was most striking, as I sat eating lunch in a cafe over the road from it.
Eventually I rode into the carpark at Lands End, being given free parking by the attendant, for some reason. I checked it all out, locating where we had to go to get our witness forms signed and obtain starting receipts the next day prior to starting the long ride.
I went back inland a few miles and located a suitable caravan park, where the receptionist offered me the use of the overflow carpark to erect my tent, as I didn't want to dismantle it until quite late the next day when Rob arrived. There in the carpark, I could stay as long as I wanted, as all the official camping spaces were prebooked for the next day, so I couldn't have a late checkout from one of them. I was happy tucked away by myself, although I caught the full force of the wind against the tent, causing it to sag occasionally until the wind slackened later in the evening.
Rob rang Sunday morning to advise that he would be arriving earlier than planned, so I gave him directions to the park and how to find me. We sat and had a cup of tea, then I packed the tent and we set off down to Lands End - the start.
A father and son who were passing our bikes parked out the front of the entranceway stopped to chat about the bikes, as they also were bikers. So we asked them to be our ride witnesses, to which they promptly agreed and completed our forms. Then we wandered inside to get our forms stamped by the hotel staff. On the way back out to the bikes, we called in to a souvenir shop and each bought some small items, to obtain the required official starting receipt. We were on the clock!
I won't go into full detail about the ride, as Rob has already written a great report, posted on his website here.
However one thing I must mention is the rain! It started about 3 hours into the ride and stopped somewhere far north, about Wick, I think, although I could be wrong. All we knew was that we had ridden almost the whole ride in teeming rain, which around the ringroad south of London had been the heaviest recorded for quite some time. Ahhhh, it does help to have totally waterproof gear, doesn't it? And the electric vest came in very handy too, in the coolness of the early hours of the morning as we headed further north. Snug as a bug made for easy riding, made all the easier by just following Rob all the time!
Above and below: we made it!
We had ridden 1043 miles (on the GPS) in 20hr27mins, and both felt great at having achieved this milestone under the awful weather conditions through which we had ridden!
We rode back to Inverness and stopped for warming drinks and bacon burgers before going our separate ways, Rob out to the west coast and myself to Gourdon on the east coast to visit friends. Some time later that day, I squelched into Emma and Hamish's home in Gourdon, having battled even more torrential rain all the way from Inverness to Aberdeen and south to Gourdon. It was time for a rest.
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