THOSE who know Mr ‘Kip’ Fraser were not in the least surprised when he announced that he was going to bike from Land’s End to John o’Groats.
And this just a few months after the 75-year-old suffered broken bones and received 13 stitches after a skiing accident in the Dolomites.
But on July 5 he set off by train to Penzance, and encountered one of his few privations - the train had no dining car and 12½ hours of sandwiches is not his idea of a balanced diet!
After a night in a B&B at Penzance, he cycled to meet his fellow bikers, with whom he was to share the journey north.
In fact, the first direction taken was south, to the Lizard, for the first night’s stop.
Day 2 - 53 miles were covered, starting north via the chain ferry.
Day 3 - 66 miles, was hard, with torrential rain up through Bodmin and into Devon and Dartmoor.
Day 4 - 68 miles, over the Blackdown Hills, and with some of the worst road flooding that Mr Fraser has encountered. For 400 yards the water was up to the hubcaps on the bikes, and when you pushed down your feet were under water.
Day 5 - 75 miles and the longest distance in a day, crossing the Severn Bridge and the Wye Valley. “A hard day!” he wryly commented.
Day 6 - 58 miles through Leominster, Ironbridge and Shifnell, Derbyshire.
Day 7 - 58 miles and on Friday the 13th it rained all day. Having used the word ‘deluge’, Mr Fraser said they finished up at Youlgreave, Derbyshire.
Day 8 - 48 miles over “big hills”, but including Holmfirth, ‘Last of the Summer WIne’ country.
Day 9 - 62 miles and no respite from hills, over the Pennines and through Skipton and Keighley to Bronte country and more hills.
Day 10 - Easier cycling but heavy rain in the afternoon and the haul to Carlisle.
Day 11 - 59 miles, into Scotland on the old A74. He visited Kirkpatrick Fleming, famous for the legend of Bruce and the spider.
Day 12 - 65 miles, torrential rain, a hard climb at the Campsies, and a very tired party arriving in Stirling.
Day 13 - A rest day in Stirling, and a chance for Mr Fraser to get his washing done!
Day 14 - 60 miles, by Aberfeldy to Pitlochry.
Day 15 - 65 miles in beautiful country, including the highest part of the journey above sea level, at Drumochter Pass. Then ‘potting shed cream tea’ at Aviemore, before Boat of Garten.
Day 16 - 68 miles, by the Slocht to Inverness. Very strong winds, but from the south so no complaints, and a pleasant night in Tain.
Day 17 - 68 miles, Bonar Bridge, an outdoor pulpit and Lairg. Highlights included seeing a polecat and a golden eagle.
Day 18 and final - 73 miles, 26 of which were very hard work indeed. Through Thurso to Dunnet Head at 3pm, and John o’ Groats at 4.15pm.
It was the longest cycle run Mr Fraser has undertaken, but his only ailment was a slightly stiff neck. All other moving parts were generously and regularly treated with soothing creams.
He admitted: “My legs were sore for the first three days, but they got used to it.”
Every one of the 11-strong party made the finish.
Mr Fraser will accept sponsorship for Marie Curie, in memory of his late wife, Hilda. So far he has collected £600 with more coming in.
He explained that he had not publicised the trip in advance: “In case I didn’t finish it, and I didn’t want people to know my house would be empty for a fortnight!”
Surprisingly he had not slept as soundly as one might have thought, althought that improved.
His tip for avoiding cramp? Tonic water.
Mr Fraser admitted that he was the slowest cyclist but added: “Of course, I had the heaviest bike!”
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Weather for Montrose
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 8 C
Wind Speed: 45 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 4 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east