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The Grand Finale

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The Grand Finale

The day started with a ferry crossing from Dartmouth, then followed with a bit of faster riding than normal as we had to arrive on time in Seaton in order to meet the waiting crowds.

It was slightly unusual leaving Dartmouth, the last time that we would be together, and the last of 64 morning rises with a bike ride ahead of us, many saying goodbyes in advance of the finish, knowing it would be a quite hectic day.

Another ferry and a bit of lunch, we rode into Exmouth where a small group of riders were waiting for us. The group contained some familiar faces of those that had been part of the Tour for a week or two; faces not seen for 50 days in some cases.

The small group expanded with yet more cyclists as we very steadily rolled up and down the hills of Sidmouth, some familiar to us, while others were just local cyclists who wanted to show their support for The Great Tour by joining us for the final kilometres.

At Seaton Hole a larger group of Axe Valley Pedlars joined in along with a mobile PA & very large bicycle that had previously been used at The Tour of Britain start in Hatherleigh nearly a year ago.

So the entrance to the Great Tour finish was pretty loud as we were welcomed back into Seaton by a large crowd, 64 days after we departed back in July.

The day was finished off with a Waitrose buffet & speeches, a great thank you to those present at the time. Of course many of those sponsors, suppliers, riders and people who have helped out over the previous 64 days and made The Great Tour such a memorable and rewarding experience for all concerned weren’t present to receive their thanks and applause, so on behalf of everyone involved in The Great Tour I’d like to thank everyone who played a part, however big or small.

From our Official Partners Waitrose and our charities Caravan and The Prostate Cancer Charity to the various ferrymen who have taken us across various bodies of water during the course of The Great Tour, thank you. Thank you for being a part of this unique and epic endurance challenge, and we hope to see you all again on a bike soon.

Posted by Graeme

A day of ferries

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So it’s the Day before Tomorrow then, our final night on The Great Tour where we’ll be waking up and pedalling again the next day. This time tomorrow night we’ll be enjoying our buffet reception in Seaton thanks to Waitrose, and looking forward to the delights of the Seaton Carnival.

For our penultimate day riders from Waitrose and Tesco joined us, a good bunch and very friendly and enthusiastic they were, so a great crowd to spend the day with. Even though the day was only just over 71 kilometres we still didn’t finish until well after 6pm, mainly thanks to the number of ferries we had to take to cross the many river and estuaries of the South Hams.

The day started off with an early ride out of Cornwall and across Plymouth Sound into Devon. We rode around the seafront beneath the Hooe and past Tinside Lido and round to Sutton Harbour, past the famous Mayflower Steps and the stunning aquarium.

It was then on into the beautiful South Hams, where we took morning tea with a fine selection of donuts with morning tea. Lunch came at Thurlestone, just after Bigbury. After sitting outside the village hall and eating lunch, we were invited inside for a homemade cream tea, which was every bit as good as you’d expect! The lady there responsible for the baking says she has baked over 500 scones so far this year, as apparently the cream teas are a regular occasion, and we can heartily recommend them.

On from lunch we dropped into Salcombe and across the Kingsbridge Estuary by ferry. It was a very small ferry though, so it took several crossings to get as over to the other bank. A brief flatter section led us from Torcross alongside Slapton Sands, and past the D-Day monument, as the beach here on Start Bay played a key role in the rehearsals for the landings.

Tonight’s accommodation also has a distinct naval theme, as we’re at the Britannia Royal Naval College up above Dartmouth, and had dinner in the very nice Officer’s Mess, a fine way to prepare for Day 64 and the final 91 kilometres of The Great Tour. 6,509 kilometres down, just the 91 to go!

Posted by Graeme

A busy day on The Great Tour

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Twenty additional day riders from Official Partners Waitrose and one of our Official Sponsors Tesco joined for today’s ride across Cornwall, swelling The Great Tour’s ranks for our next to penultimate day.

Another sunny morning greeted us for our final Cornish ride, heading around Gerrans Bay and Veryan Bay and through Mevagissey to St Austell. After lunch at Fowey we hugged the narrow country lanes across to Polperro for an afternoon stop and a lovely Cornish ice cream.

From there it was on around the coast to Looe and Whitsand Bay, before cutting across Rame Head to the banks of Plymouth Sound, with fantastic views across to the breakwater and beyond.

We also had an eventful day, as Hugh, one of our core riders who has come all the way around Britain with us, had a nasty crash and picked up some bruising, but fortunately nothing worse, as he swerved to avoid a Royal Mail van that pulled out in front of him. Just highlighting that even this close to the finish, you’ve still got to pay attention at all times!

Tonight's accommodation is also a new one, as we're staying in some Nissen Huts at Millbrook just outside Torpoint, ready for an early morning trip across to Plymouth, and back into Devon for the third, and final, time.

Posted by Graeme

The Lizard

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Last night’s trip to the theatre was lovely, and a great way to celebrate as we draw towards the end of our adventure, although I think my tired legs could have done without the late night if I’m truthful! The Minnack is an amazing setting and a very unique part of the Cornish, and British, coast, so if you’ve never been, I urge you to check it out. Just make sure the weather is good when you visit.

Speaking of weather today was another lovely sunny day, though there was quite a stiff easterly breeze, so it wasn’t the easiest of days, particularly with quite a lumpy, hilly route on the agenda around the Lizard Peninsula, the most southerly point on The Great Tour.

From Porthcurno we rode all the way around Mounts Bay, through the fishing villages of Mousehole and Newlyn and onwards through Penzance. Passing the world famous St Michael’s Mount the tide was in, so we couldn’t extend our ride with a pedal across the causeway.

Joining us for the 100 plus kilometres were more riders from our Official Partners Waitrose, plus Dave Carrol from our Official Partners British Airways. Dave’s a long haul pilot for BA, but he’s managed to support us on a couple of stages of The Great Tour, so it was nice to welcome him back. Plus he bought us an ice cream as we waited for the ferry at Helford Passage, which is a sure fire way to get into our good books.

There was lots of naval history along the route today, just prior to stopping for lunch at a friend of Hugh’s at Mullion Cove we passed RNAS Culdrose, famous for its role in search and rescue and the many lives in the waters off Cornwall that have been saved by the aircrew serving there.

Although not naval, we also passed the Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station right down near the tip of the Lizard, once the largest satellite earth station in the world!

On around the eastern side of the Lizard, and after crossing the Helford, we reached the famous port of Falmouth, and yet more maritime history with Pendennis Castle, overlooking Falmouth Bay. From there just a ferry ride across Carrick Roads to St Mawes, watched over by another of Henry VIII’s castles, awaited, and then a brief ride out of the lovely village to St Just in Roseland, and the activity centre here that is our night’s accommodation.

Posted by Graeme