At around 2pm Mike and I arrived at Land's End to a rapturous applause.
Well, maybe not but there was a good deal of interest in the individual cyclists, duos or groups who were finishing (or starting) their 'End to End' endeavours. There was an older solo rider of our vintage who had taken the same number of days as me but camped, and a couple of lads in their twenties who had taken 12 days. Two club cyclists out for a day's ride were very interested in hearing about our journey.
They sounded a little envious and we wondered how long it might be until they planned their own 'End to End'. A Scottish woman - who looked every inch a professional in her kit - was overheard saying she would never have too much to drink again. Apparently she had agreed to the group ride when her better instincts had been blunted by alcohol and they were just setting off.
We began the morning with a visit to BBC Cornwall, recording a piece for their Sunday morning programme, and left Land's End after recording something for BBC Wilts & Swindon, again to go out tomorrow. The weather for the last stage could not have been better but I discovered from the BBC reporter that Wiltshire has experienced flash flooding. I have a feeling my euphoria at completing our challenge may have come across as not very empathetic if the flooding has affected homes.
The thunderstorms predicted for the South West missed us and the wind had also dropped. Cycling along the coast road through Penzance and Newlyn was a highlight, with views across to St Michael's Mount. The sea was a veritable millpond and we ate some lunch in warm sunshine but watching for the bold seagulls which apparently would make off with the contents of your plate if you were not vigilant!
As I rolled into Land's End and reached the 'Finish/Start' line marked in the road I saw that my bike's trip computer recorded 959 miles and two tenths and we had averaged 14.5mph. One generous church member said he would sponsor me at 50p/mile - but he wanted to be sure I could do it before making his donation. I know he will be pleased I have done it.
I say 'I' have done it knowing full well it would have been impossible without Mike Palmer. He has been a true star in this venture, always ready to do the most menial tasks to support me and always thinking one step ahead. Mike has spent hours working out the route and then adapting it as we went along; his contribution has been magnificent with 'reliability' and 'unflappability' as his middle names.
Now that the first part of the challenge is compete we want to ensure we reach the ultimate goal of meeting our financial target. I said at the outset that it was ambitious but I believed that we could expect 1000 people to contribute 10 each. Many have already pledged or donated very much more than this but the cumulative smaller amounts are as significant as the substantial donations. Please continue to refer others to the Virgin Giving page as the challenge is still on.
Once again thank you so much for all the messages of support, for the prayers, encouragement and donations so far. We give thanks today for safe arrival, for strong bodies and no punctures!