3PS Blog stage 3 –battling against the conditions
Following this summers’ exploits the 3PS cyclists have become very experienced in packing for all day bike rides and weekends away. Tyres were pumped, spare inner tubes and energy drinks on board, the team stretched outside Prime’s Coventry office and everyone was well aware that this final stage was a greater challenge than anything we had attempted before.
The 3PS cyclists contingent consisted of Owen Johns (14), Scott Johns (12) Ian Jeffery, Jamie Skelding (making his 3PS debut on this stage), Lance Johns and of course lead cyclist Kevin Johns. Supported by the ever present, Helen Johns, quite the family affair this ride.
Off they set in the early hours of the morning, waved off by Laurence who wouldn’t see the team again until five days and 500 miles had passed.
The early start helped the team escape the busy streets of Coventry on a Saturday morning and shortly before the first stop the sun was out and they were well into the countryside. Cycling along in the sun was very pleasant for a few hours, until around lunchtime when most people were heading out to relax at the local pub, the team continued to pedal mile after mile, hour after hour under the blazing sun.
It didn’t take long before there was the first puncture of the trip. Inspired by the F1 race that was taking place over the weekend , the boys jumped into action whipping the tyre off and replacing it in a flash… well not quite, but the 20 minute rest did provide the opportunity for some respite from the sun.
The next four days saw the team push through the 100 mile mark each day as they cycled up through Doncaster, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Perth.
Halfords has done very well out of the 3PS challenge this year as the team had to divert to another one of their stores for the second time this summer following a collision between Kevin and his youngest son Scott. A combination of sharp braking and eyes on the sat nav instead of the road led to significant damage to Kevin’s bike. Thankfully Scott didn’t press charges against his Dad for “driving without due care and attention”. Jamie was also relieved to see a Halfords as he was doing his best to use all available inner tubes as he racked up 4 punctures.
It just so happened to be the Edinburgh fringe festival whilst the team was in town, unfortunately by this stage the team was in no laughing mood, mainly because Lance was almost knocked off his bike after a disagreement with a coach driver.
By day five the heavens opened, and all day the team cycled in the pouring rain. The boys Owen and Scott had to take this part of the journey in the back of the support vehicle as the conditions were too much for them. The A9 is a large dual carriageway and the team had 18 wheelers racing alongside them. The rain and the spray on the road made the decision to cycle on it suicidal, therefore an alternative route had to be planned which challenged the cyclists to further distances and higher mountains. Fortunately, Ian consistently reminded the team that what goes up must come down, if only the length of time taken to ride each way was the same!
Loch Ness was a welcome sight with fresh faces joining the team. Morgan, Laurence, Kelly, Bonnie and Ashleigh had driven up to meet the team and take part in rowing across Loch Ness. It was agreed that driving was a much quicker, relaxing and generally more enjoyable way of travelling to Scotland in comparison to cycling. The new team members energised the group and motivated the team out of bed to tackle Loch Ness, which I should probably mention , is harder to row across than the English Channel! The not quite “experienced rowers” of the 3PS team were embarking on arguably the most dangerous element of the challenge. And so it proved…
22.5 miles of freshwater lay between the team and the finish on a dark misty Thursday morning. It didn’t take long for the conditions to start affecting the boats. A strong current was blowing west to east and forcing the rowers to paddle at an angle to avoid paddling against the current. Waves lapped against the side of the boats and unlike the previous escapades, technique and discipline was vital to not only get the boat across the lake but to keep it from capsizing.
At the halfway point the team docked at the shore and took the opportunity for some lunch. On returning to the lake the boats started to head for the middle where the water was faster than at the coastline. It didn’t take long for a formation to start with Morgan and Kelly out in front, Kevin and Lance shortly behind, Jamie and Bonnie occupied the 3rd position and Ian and Ashleigh were bringing up the rear… not that it was a race of course!
With 5 miles left to go, disaster struck when a strong wave caught the side of Ian and Ashleigh’s boat and knocked them into the water and capsized the boat! They managed to turn their boat back over but it was full of water and they were unable to move it. They were stranded and despite their best efforts to move the boat their only option was to stay in the freezing water and wait for help. Upon hearing the cries for help the other boats attempted to turn around and get back to them, but the current was too strong to paddle against so the only options was to paddle to the shore, pick the boats up and re-enter the water along side the sunken boat. Kevin, Jamie and Lance all jumped in a boat and set out in their attempt to rescue Ian and Ashleigh. As more time passed, panic began to set in and in a frantic effort to reach the stranded boat the boys capsized their own. Luckily for them they weren’t too far away from the shore and managed to swim back. After half an hour our very own Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet (Ashleigh and Ian) made it to shore soaked through and freezing cold, at this point a decision was made to abandon the rowing to take Ian and Ashleigh to hospital just as a precaution. Fortunately the only lasting damage was to Ashleigh’s iPhone. The whole experience shook the team up and reminded us that the elements posed a very real danger.
After the dramatic events on Thursday the “paddlers” had the next day to recover and rest, the same however, couldn’t be said for the cyclists as they cycled another 70 miles from Loch Ness to Fort William. The ride gave the cyclists ample opportunity to enjoy the Scottish Highlands and experience the mountains first hand as they climbed over 4,300ft!
The final day saw the team head off to climb Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK, and again the team had expanded with the addition of Sarah & Steve Allbutt, Steve, Chloe, Anthony, Laura (who had flew back from a holiday in Jamaica only the day before!), Joe and Richard Smith from NC Creative. As 19 people embarked on heading up the mountain the conditions would take their toll on the team. The weather was dreadful and everyone was soaked from head to toe. At various points throughout the trek, several team members had to head down for the sake of their health but despite the terrible conditions we had 13 people successfully make it up to the summit.
The 8 hour walk up and down Ben Nevis finished the week and the entire challenge off nicely and everyone was reunited at the base of the mountain amidst an air of celebration, this crazy challenge that was thought to be impossible had been accomplished.
Everyone had pushed themselves to their limits on this trip, and throughout the summer so many members of the team have gone above and beyond what has been expected of them. We are immensely proud that their efforts have resulted in achieving our fundraising target of £15,000 for The Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
We would once again like to thank everyone that has supported and sponsored Prime and our fantastic team during this mammoth challenge.