Unsupported John-O'Groats to Lands End
A member of 849 Naval Air Squadron who works on the Sea King Mk 7 Full Mission Simulator at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose has finished Britain’s longest cycle route in an amazing 11 days, unsupported.
Tony Wysocki completed his challenge from Britain’s Northern edge at John O’ Groats to Lands End in Cornwall with only his bike for company and strong motivation to raise as much money as possible for the Marie Curie Cancer Care Charity. Who had supported Tony’s family during his mum’s battle against cancer in 2012. “It’s always been my ambition to ride ‘End to End’”, said Tony. “I’d started planning about 18 month ago, researching other un-supported efforts; I felt it achievable with the plenty of preparation. The right equipment was going to be important and knowing my limitations in terms of distances each day would be crucial.”
“I wanted to cover Scotland in four to five days so planned to make the first part of the journey high mileage; then tapper off the miles in order to give myself less distance each day. Starting at John O’Groats was pretty bleak; I didn’t see any vehicles pass me for the first 20 miles.” Tony continued across the Highlands through spectacular scenery down the Great Glen and Loch Ness in fine weather, before pushing onto Glencoe and along Loch Lomond. But his solo cycling trek was not all plain sailing.
“By day four I was between Paisley to Dumfries. I’d been in the saddle for over eight hours and was quite fatigued and finding it hard to concentrate. I’d decided to use a cycle path about a mile from that days target as the traffic was quite heavy. As I entered the trackway I noticed a lot of mud ahead which I tried to avoid. But as I turned my wheel, it gave way and I flew over the handle bars with force ending up flat on my face. The gear cable snapped and I injured my right elbow and knees, ripping a large hole in my jacket. I struggled the final mile stuck on only one gear, but managed to find a shop that repaired my bike within half an hour. It had been a very long, wet and very uncomfortable day.
Tony’s journey south continued as he rode on through the Lake District which was equally scenic, but he found suburban middle England built up with monotonous towns and cities. In Shropshire he was joined by his nephew Dougie Bruce for about 40 miles near Telford; a very welcome riding partner for half a day. Then the Westcountry loomed; and Devon presenting the toughest part of his adventure in terms of hills, climbs and pretty poor weather.
“As I neared the finish the weather began to deteriorate dramatically. By day 10 I started to recognise a lot more countryside. The forecast was for high winds and rain, then passing Launceston the full force of a storm front hit me. To get past this leg quickly I decided to take a direct route on the A30. Bad choice! After cycling 500 metres trying to push through horizontal winds of over 30 kts and heavy traffic I was defeated and had to walk back off the main road, dejected.
I set off again using my GPS which was having a day off. I ended up down several country roads leading nowhere. This was probably my lowest point of the trip both mentally and physically. I was at one stage on the outskirts of Liskeard; 15 miles away from my route before finally reaching Bodmin for the last night.”
Tony’s final day in the saddle was not as lonely as many before. He was joined by Andy Hodge who works with him in the Sea King Mission simulator. “We’d planned to arrive at Lands End by mid afternoon where I knew my family were waiting. We arrived on time and with fine weather, where hundreds of tourists were treated to a surprise flypast by an Mk 7 Sea King. It was such a great relief to finish but quite sad it had ended.”
The Challenge had taken Tony 11 days, covered 871 miles with a total climb of over 47,167 feet. Not a single puncture, only a broken gear cable to contend with, got through a tub of Sudocream and consumed 40 Snicker bars.
“I had a great sense of achievement knowing I’d raised over £1400 for the Marie Curie Cancer Care Charity and very privileged to get such a warm welcome by family, friends and work colleagues. If I’d the time I would have loved to take longer on the ride and see some of the amazing places and sights in the UK which I passed. It was a fantastic experience but mentally harder then I’d expected.”