Rolling out of the final basecamp at Kyle of Sutherland is a moment many of the riders dream about from about three quarters of the way through the first day. How will it feel packing up the bag for the final time? What will it be like brushing teeth next to tired fellow riders knowing tomorrow you’ll be home? Will it be weird taking the bike from the racking for one final day in the saddle? For some it is keen anticipation as the sense of the goal on the horizon is tantalizingly within reach. For others there is a tinge of melancholy knowing you must imminently return to normal life.
In order to ensure people could meet their connections, we opened the start line at 5.30am and the first riders headed out onto the dark roads with their rear lights blinking off into the distance. However, it wasn’t long before the sun was up and, other than a heavy passing shower, the day was set fine for the final run in to the most Northerly point of Britain.
The route North from Kyle of Sutherland is one of the most dramatic day’s riding in the UK. The route heads North on single-track roads winding it’s way along the River Naver until it hits the coast and heads East to the finish line. The views as the riders cycled in the sunshine with the wind at their back were incredible. The North Sea glittered in unseasonal sunshine with the Orkneys rising from the sea and the white lighthouses marking the headlands off into the distance.
In fast conditions, it wasn’t long until the first rider crested the ridge and dropped down to the finishing arch. After over 960 miles of hard graft through all conditions the sense of achievement was overwhelming for everyone. As more riders arrived in ever larger groups the scenes at the finish line were hugely emotional. Wives welcomed husbands, children hugged fathers, parents welcomed daughters and proud grandparents waited in anticipation for the rider they had come to see complete the challenge.
The variation in the emotions of the riders when they cross the finish line is huge. For the fittest completing the challenge is within their limits and it is about the position they have attained or the time they have set. For others it is the culmination of a fundraising challenge to which they have dedicated themselves for months. For some it is about regaining self-respect and confidence after a hard time in their lives and for others it is a celebration of shared experience with new friends. Bear hugs, high fives, tears and cheering filled the air around John o’Groats for about 5 hours as the music played and people grabbed cold beers before having their photo taken by the John O’Groats sign. All too soon the final riders came in with their escort of chaperones.
All too soon after the last rider arrived it was time to pack up bikes and load the trucks for the trip down South. It had been an incredible week for everyone with the usual mix of hard times and camaraderie. To explain the mood to those who were not there will always be hard. However, for those who went through the journey of Deloitte Ride Across Britain 2012 the memories will remain of a group of people brought together with one single goal and a single minded focus to try and achieve it. It is testament to the dedication and focus of the riders that over 95% of those who took part crossed the finish line this year. There will always be those who watch from the sidelines and say they could have done it, but there are not many who actually step up and take the challenge on. Deloitte RAB is for those who want to take that step and we take enormous pride in helping those who step up reach that goal.
We look forward to seeing many of you again in the future whether for a beer, a cycle or another Threshold event. Until then remember More Is In You.
Entries for the 2013 Deloitte Ride Across Britain open on Wednesday, 19th September at 1200. You can enter online here. If you would like to know more then have a look around the website or give us a ring on 0845 486 2012.