The last few days…

One last drama

16.10.15
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I knew heading into the last few days of the trip there’d be one last drama – symptomatic of the whole trip overall. I thought I’d managed to dodge it though, until I got to the P&O port at Rotterdam and tried to get through passport control. Over an hour I was there in total, myself being photographed, the passport being photographed. I was being given the whole ‘good cop / bad cop’ routine by two guards, who weren’t happy there was a tear in my passport near the photo.

After much deliberation though, I finally made it on board, spent an hour finding my cabin, and then settled in for the 12-hour cruise to Hull. I barely slept actually, laying there reflecting on the whole trip, it didn’t seem real. All of the drama along the way, being chased by wild dogs, held up at gun point, falling down manhole covers, it all felt like a lifetime ago.

At 4am I went up to the bar to watch the sun rise slowly over England, my home I’d set off from 5 months earlier. Even though it was foggy, raining and all I could see was a miserable Hull, it still looked incredibly beautiful.

After we finally docked I made my way off the boat, another bit of drama with passport control. I was pulled to one side and questioned about my trip to Iran. All was explained easily enough, hands shaken, and off I went. 150 miles to Liverpool. This time though, I had company, 15 of my amazing friends had made the trip up to Hull the night before, just so they could ride the next day with me. So lucky to be blessed with friends who’ll give up their time and money and push themselves out of their comfort zone, just to keep me company.

The last two days were a breeze, for me at least. The cycling in itself was fairly tough, especially crossing the Pennines, but having friends there really made such a huge difference. They spurred me on, even though they were suffering themselves. I’m not surprised they struggled, I basically had 5 months of training for the last 2 days, but this crowd didn’t. They were all brilliant though.

With 30 miles of the final day remaining, we started to pick up other riders, total strangers to me. It was then it all started to sink in a bit. They’d came from miles around just to cycle the last stretch with us. What an incredible gesture. It was then I knew that this trip had been a success. Awareness and money had been raised.

In total I think it must have been around 25 people who finished the ride, and at 11:30am on Sunday 5th October, 151 days after I’d started, I finally cycled towards the Liver Building, the finish line. It was all a bit of a blur, I was expecting maybe 50 people there, friends and family, but when I cycled around that corner and saw over 500 people, I nearly fell off my bike! Banners, air horns, balloons, I was absolutely blown away. So many people had taken time out of their busy lives to come and welcome me home. Unbelievable, I was gob-smacked.

I love this city, the best in the world as far as I’m concerned, and to have so many people waiting for me when I got back, in front of the iconic Liver Building, was fantastic. The proudest moment of my life without question. It was great to see my little Mum as I crossed the line, she must go through so much worry with me and all of my crazy adventures. Poor woman.

I’m writing this 10 days after I’ve finished, and my feet still haven’t touched the ground. Right back into work, media interviews, and I’ve even had to move house. Every spare second I get, all I’m doing is planning my next adventure. Atlantic Ocean, I’m coming for you!

It gets kind of addictive this adventuring lark…

@cyclingscouser on Twitter
www.justgiving.com/shanghai2liverpool
www.anthonynolan.org