Days 22 - 29 John O'Groats to Barnes, London

Posted by: Anthony


Olympianist 'Recyling' Tour - Weds May 30th to Tues June 5th

It was with a heavy heart that I left Dunnet Head, the most northerly point on the UK mainland, and set off in the BeethoVan for my 'recycling' tour - the Olympianist's swan song - for this year at least!
Torridon in the western Highlands was our first port of call and the scenery here cannot be compared to anything else in this country, such is its majesty. Torridon community hall lies directly beneath the steepest mountain in Britain and it rises like a spectre from sea level to 3500ft (the mountain not the hall!): Britain's North Face, but here cushioned by the milky glow of Loch Torridon, and befriended by many other Munros (Scottish mountains above 3000ft) within its reaches. A slight glance to my left from the piano and I could see the gullies at the top beckoning me back to my other love - hill walking! 
-Thurs 31st we travelled back to strange and pleasant lands - England - and passing many of the roads where we had cycled on the way up - nostalgia doesn't distinguish between days and years. It took us 10 hours to drive through Scotland and my achievement was becoming ever more apparent! A night off at my parents' house in the Lakes and then a latish start the next day to Shropshire for a concert at Concord College in the middle of nowhere. I have to admit it wasn't easy shrugging off the anti-climax, but as soon as I was on stage in front of an audience the adrenalin started flowing again. 
-Sat June 2nd - my goodness it's June I only just noticed - what happened to the darling buds of May?! Mind you the weather was deserving of February but, wouldn't you know it, the gods smiled on us again for the BeethoVan concert in Much Wenlock, site of the first modern Olympic games (a little-known fact). I heard rumours of Jubilee mania gripping the country and splendid river pageants in a distant city called London. 
-Saturday June 2nd WALES! Sorry we didn't cycle through you, but a big detour to Lampeter in Pembrokeshire, so we hope you feel less galled by it. 
-Sunday June 3rd cycled to Tenby and gales were in order but we weren't paid to be galled by the worst weather of the whole trip - was good to be back on the bike again though. I was temped to cycle to St David's Head, Wales' most westerly point, and then I could have claimed to have been to the extremities of three of the four home nations.
Monday June 4th - home territory and a visit to Henley Park near Windlesham, Surrey, coming full circle to the neck of the woods where I had done much of my winter training with Twickenham Cycling Club. I performed on the BeethoVan in the beautiful grounds of an historic lodge once used by Henry VIII for hunting, and now home to a prince from the Hohenzollern nobility - albeit living amongst others! I was met by an orchestra of hooters and eventually got my photo taken with the Queen.....cardboard cut-out, picture to follow.
We raised over £1000 from the local residents - fabulous - which pushed us ever closer to the £1000 per 1000 miles statistic! Thank you Henley Park!
-Tues June 5th a final, raucous and rib-splittingly funny homecoming bash with cycling buddies at the Hambleton-Greys in Twickenham, home of the best curry in the Western Hemisphere - no kidding. Natasha and Sophia made an Olympianist cake replete with UK map, route, piano, and bike ingeniously carved into the cake - now that's appreciation! I am though having a hard time shedding that glitter they threw over me! 
- Today June 6th - unpacked, tidied up my flat, went to the Supermarket and bought some batteries...WOW
Fear not, the Olympianist will return in 2013 for an even greater quest!