Unless you are very new to Splodz Blogz you will know all about the Graham Homes Memorial Ride. I didn’t post much about on it here because I set up a special blog to document the challenge properly, but I realise that it has been remiss of me not to share any of my thoughts about the adventure with you on here when it was such a big part of my journey last year.
The Graham Homes Memorial Motorcycle Ride was our attempt at doing something helpful with our grief at the loss of my father-in-law Graham to cancer. He died in the summer of 2012 very shortly after being diagnosed with Kidney Cancer. By the time he had been diagnosed the cancer had already spread to his bones and his lungs. He lasted just a few weeks, passing away far too young. It was devastating for all those who knew him, not least his family and close friends who will always miss him dearly.
Back in 2009 Graham had taken part in the Top Down Motorcycle Ride, a 2,500 mile fundraising ride from Lincolnshire to John O’Groats, down to Land’s End, and back home again. We took the scenic route to raise money for The Salvation Army in Boston and Macmillan Cancer Support. We decided it would be fitting to do something similar in Graham’s memory, as a way of being constructive with what we were feeling but also to try and do something so someone else’s family might not have to go through what we did. We chose to ride our motorcycles to the four compass points of mainland Great Britain – starting in Lincolnshire we headed over to Lowestoft (East), down to Lizard Point (South), up to Ardnamurchan Point (West) and up and over to Dunnet Head (North) before going home again. In all we rode over 2,200 miles and had the bike engines running for over 52 hours.
This was an adventure in the traditional sense of the word. Yes our machines had engines and so there was little or no fitness training to be done (I admire anyone who can do something like this under their own steam – wow), but it was still a challenge. We had the British weather to contend with, the British roads, and our own endurance levels, all of which tried their best to persuade us to go home. But we did it, and at each of the four compass points – and in between – we were presented with sea views to last a lifetime.
There are two specific memories I have personally retained from this trip that I am sure will remain with me forever.
Memories and Boats at Lizard Point
I remember going to Lizard Point several times as a child. I knew exactly where we were heading, and even knew the route we needed to take. It’s funny how some things, some journeys, stick in your mind even when you only ever made them when you were young and sat in the back of a car packed full of camping stuff. This was our second compass point and we were only on our second day of riding, and we were all smiles when we reached the most southerly point of mainland Great Britain. It really is a stunning place; we had bright sunshine, tall cliffs, sea views, and broken boats to mess about in. Wonderful. We spent a good hour or so wandering (and allowing our bums to relax before getting back on the bikes!) and looking and taking in and remembering why we were on this trip.
The Road to Ardnamurchan Point
We knew we were in for some single track road along this part of our journey, but what we were faced with over in West Scotland took some patience and skill… the main A road turned to single track not long after we got off the Corran Ferry, and when we reached our turning for Ardnamurchan we realised our journey was going to take a very long time! From there it was 25 miles of narrow single track road with passing places, gravel sprinkled over it at random, grass growing up the middle in places, sharp bends on steep hills, local drivers who didn’t like the idea of giving way to anything coming in the other direction (eek!), and suicidal sheep darting about all over the place. We had to concentrate well! Thankfully the highland cows stayed put and there were no deer to contend with; a dog did try to eat one of the bike’s rear tyre though! It was incredibly tiring after what had already been a very long day.
While it might have been slow and difficult riding, I simply could not argue with the scenery – absolutely amazing for miles and miles around; landscapes and seascapes that are permanently ingrained on my mind. It’s a good job it was a clear day and not as disgusting as the day before, that would have been rather demoralising! And of course once we reached our destination we had no option but to turn around and go back the same way. We all slept well that night.
When we closed the accounts on the fundraising efforts we had raised a total of just over £3,317 (plus gift aid, of course) which was split between Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support. Thank you ever-so-much to every one of you who has supported us and donated money in memory of Graham – it meant a lot that you all took our little challenge seriously and did your bit to help us raise a decent sum.
You can read the full story over on the GVH Ride Blog.