Since I last wrote to you on our #whatdisability trip, a great deal has happened. We rolled into England, Filipe rolled out the blog video footage and we’ve rolled into Worcester. We’re now two-thirds of the way to Lands End! Since realising my responsibilities in my last post and implementing the necessary changes; we’ve had a ball!
John o Groats was small, quiet but significant; being the furthest north I’ve ever gone. Betty Hill saw the most beautiful river/mountain combination a person could witness. Our second accommodation, in Beauly, gave our first touching encounter with people. Sheena and Dougal offered free accommodation and charity donations, plus our favourite accommodation thus far. We also took in Loch Ness nearby. Aviemore gave us our first off-road route and a picnic in the woods.
Pitlochry presented our first on-the-ground accommodation woes and a near-miss on the road. Accommodation wise, by compensating with our earlier fortunes, we were able to use the more expensive accessible accoodation solution – a common occurrence unfortunately with using a chair. Dunfermline didn’t leave a major lasting memory, but the Forth road bridge to Edinburgh did. This was especially great with my video interview with cafe owner Liam. Then we rolled onto Motherwell, Moffat and finally Carlisle in England.
The videos show these beautiful experiences very well.
From Carlisle we implemented our self-catered lessons from Beauly and sourced a similar setup for our rest-day and beyond. By having a base for a few days; we lessen the difficulties of a fully packed car and reduce our food spend as well.
By this point we were less worried by the lack of accessible accommodation options, but more by the busy roads. Riding into Carlisle we had our biggest and closest near-miss with a car! A couple of cars were behind Martin in our safety support vehicle. Some idiot on his mobile phone overtook all 3 cars before a junction, wanted to turn towards Kasia and I to avoid a head on collision, but realised this wasn’t a good idea. Instead, both cars aiming for each other just managed to stop. A big wake up call!
Since then we’ve decided to avoid all major roads. Where small roads aren’t available, we’ve adopted a ‘compensation’ model. Basically we find traffic-free cycling spots and ride as far as possible. Due to team safety; we have had to use the car on a couple of occasions.
Before anyone judges this, please consider these few points. We are still going from John O’Groats to Lands End. I’m with Kasia, carrying out our personal challenge. The message we carry; live your life as you want, encouraging disabled people to go for their dreams, highlighting inaccessibility/discrimination and encouraging people to join www.whatsyours.org; is succeeding big time. Overall, the project is awesome, but I don’t want to put my life at risk because of it!
I would also add this for disabled people, and indeed all humans. It is important to have dreams, to not be boxed in by others or ourselves, and to have big goals. Until we try, we never know! If on the journey the method isn’t quite working, it’s also fine to reassess. To achieve a goal by taking longer, or with a new strategy is fine, noble and humble. It is better to try and learn, than to not try at all.
This lesson followed a lot of thinking from my side. This trip has highlighted some of my own limits, made me realise that extremity isn’t always healthy and ultimately I want to live to tell the tale.
And believe me, the past two weeks have been quite a story! We’re still alive, we’re happy,, the PR is gathering momentum, we’re meeting amazing people, seeing the most beautiful scenery and starting to raise good money for our charities.
In my next post I’ll bring you more up to speed on the Lake District, Manchester, the Peak District and beyond. This includes the RAC and a broken wheelchair. Plus any other new occurrences along the way.