End-to-End -- June 2000
Land's End to John o'Groats
"Only those who toil the six long days out of the seven, and all year round, save for one brief glorious fortnight or ten days in the summer time, know the exquisite sensations of the First Holiday Morning. All the dreary, uninteresting routine drops from you suddenly, your chains fall about your feet. All at once you are Lord of yourself, Lord of every hour in the long, vacant day; you may go where you please, call none Sir or Madame, have a lappel free of pins, doff your black morning coat, and wear the colour of your heart, and be a Man. You grudge sleep, you grudge eating, and drinking even, their intrusion on those exquisite moments. There will be no more rising before breakfast in casual old clothing, to go dusting and getting ready in a cheerless, shutterdarkened, wrappered-up shop, no more imperious cries of, "Forward, Hoopdriver," no more hasty meals, and weary attendance on fitful old women, for ten blessed days. The first morning is by far the most glorious, for you hold your whole fortune in your hands. Thereafter, every night, comes a pang, a spectre, that will not be exorcised--the premonition of the return. The shadow of going back, of being put in the cage again for another twelve months, lies blacker and blacker across the sunlight. But on the first morning of the ten the holiday has no past, and ten days seems as good as infinity."
-The Wheels of Chance: A Bicycling Idyll, by H.G. Wells, 1896
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Back in January (January 4, 2000 to be exact), I got an email from Duane. Duane and I had toured together for a weekend last summer. In this email, Duane forwarded an invitation to cycle from Land's End, England, to John o'Groats, Scotland. This is the classic British end-to-end route.
Well, I hemmed and hawed for a while. Not enough vacation time. Too many miles in too few days. Lots of excuses. But I knew all along I wanted to go. It took a bit of effort juggling all the logistics on the home and work front, but eventually I got the green light.
Here are the slightly edited missives I sent out while traveling, along with some photos from the trip. I haven't changed anything, except to correct the grossest and most obvious errors of fact, such as place names and dates; and to fix spelling errors caused by my big clumsy fingers typing on the little chiclet keys of my Sharp TM-20.