On the 4th of June Lee Hammond, CEO of ASIC, completed his epic, 9-day, solo bike ride, covering the entire length of the UK, from the bottom of England to the top of Scotland. Below are Lee’s thoughts in his own words…
“So many of you have been following me over the past few months, in training and especially during my 9-day journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats, will know that I completed this event for the Rose Education Foundation, Hearing Aid Appeal for Sotpattana School for the Deaf.
“My original sponsorship target was £5,000 which would have been an amazing amount to raise, however, due to the incredible generosity of family, friends, work colleagues, organisations and sometimes the general public, we have so far raised, with gift aid, £12,015. I am blown away by how much people have donated and I can’t put into words how grateful I am and how much of a difference this money will make to the Sotpattana School for the Deaf. My family and I will be going out to Thailand at the end of July to visit the School and to present them with a cheque which will go towards the new digital hearing aids which they so desperately require. It also isn’t too late to still donate if you haven’t had the chance yet as the sponsor page is open until 21st July 2017, https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/rideforrose
“Now that I have finished, I can reflect on the ride and overall it was an amazing journey and experience to complete LEJOG (Land’s End to John O’Groats) and one I wouldn’t change. However, there were some definite low points along the way.
“The first day was one in particular due to it being the longest day (117 miles) and the hilliest (8200+ feet of climbing). This coupled with the fact that it was 31 degrees and the blazing sun didn’t help and after 75 miles I had burnt my legs and I felt as sick as a dog. My Garmin sat nav also ran out of battery at approx. 99 miles and I ended up getting slightly lost and doing an extra 5 miles, so not a good start.
“The second day started off like the first with 34 miles of long hills although it was pouring with rain and windy instead of the beating sun and I think it was at this point I started to think I had bitten off more than I could chew.
“The only other real low point for me was on day 6 at about the 70-mile point when for the next 4 miles the road surface was unbearable. It was so bumpy and uncomfortable that I was putting all my effort into cycling forward but only managing to move at about 6-7mph and my arms, shoulders and neck were very painful at this point. As you can imagine I was not in the best of moods when I met my wife for a pit stop at this point, although she did a great job in cheering me up.
“The lows aside, there were plenty of highs along the 9 days of cycling and these far outweigh the above which I experienced.
“As I’ve mentioned, day 1 had been extremely tough going, but at the end of a very long day the staff at the Brewers Fayre in Bideford (@BidefordBF) were brilliant and packed my dinner so I could take it back to my room. The foil that covered the meal even had a good luck message written on it. The following morning they also packed my wife up with a sausage sandwich for when she met me after cycling the first 20 miles.
“Even though the second day had started badly it took a big turn for the better when I met a good friend of mine (Sean) in Taunton for lunch. We then cycled the last 40 miles back to Bristol where we stayed that night and eat well. I also learned that Bristol Airport is perched on top of a very large hill which is almost 200m above sea level, easy when you are driving up in a car, but a lot more difficult when pedalling on a bicycle. Sean also cycled the first half of day 3 to Gloucester with me where we saw the Tall Ships festival.
“During day 5 whilst travelling through Preston, I got the chance to meet up with my uncle and aunt who I hadn’t seen for a while so that was a welcome break. I also met up with another good friend (Andy) in Lancaster and he joined me to Kendal. It was during this part of my journey where I probably laughed the most. We had come over a hill and in front of us slowing up traffic was a steam engine, after a few minutes following it, we decided to go for it and overtake it and cycle past. We waited for some cars to pass and then we went for it. Bombing past it at about 24mph on a bike whooping and laughing still makes me laugh as I write this.
“I think the other highlight that stands out for me is visiting the Dalwhinnie Distillery, which happens to be my dad’s favourite whisky. Whilst there they let me have a free taste their 25 year old single malt due to me undertaking LEJOG. I must admit it was amazing and certainly gave me the kick I needed to carry on through the Cairngorms.
“During the 9 days of this cycle, my family and I also experienced some lovely acts of random kindness. Whilst in Ballinluig in Scotland, we stayed at https://www.facebook.com/RedBrolly/ and having met a family during dinner they then sponsored me, the owner of the Red Brolly Inn also made a very generous donation during breakfast. The Premier Inn’s at Kidderminster and Wigan both provided me with a large amount of ice so that I could have an ice bath in the evening, not something I enjoyed although did help the legs. Finally, on the last day of the ride, we stopped in Helmsdale at a lovely place called the Garrison https://www.facebook.com/bunillidh/ where again they showed us great generosity.
“Along with these acts were also people who we bumped into and spoke to who generously donated money to this great cause.
“Overall the cycle was an amazing adventure which had some breathtaking views and we met some fantastic people. The generosity displayed by people we met and from everyone who has donated has simply been beyond my wildest dreams and I thank each and every one of you including a huge thank you to my wife, Joanne, and two children Libby and Lucie, who without their support along the way I wouldn’t have been able to make it.”
– Lee Hammond (CEO of ASIC)