Martyn Sibley is halfway through his extraordinary trip from John O’Groats to Land’s End in his wheelchair. Now back in the UK after travelling through Scotland, find out how he’s getting on, from the beautiful scenery to near misses.
Since I last wrote about our #whatdisability trip, a great deal has happened. We’re now 2 3rds of the way to Land’s End! Since realising my responsibilities in my last post, i.e. making sure the team stayed safe, and therefore implementing the necessary changes, we’ve had a ball!
- In Betty Hill we saw the most beautiful river/mountain combination a person could witness.
- Our accommodation, in Beauly gave us our first touching encounter with people as Sheena and Dougal offered us a free stay in their self-catering accommodation, and charity donations.
- We took in Loch Ness nearby – we couldn’t miss that!
- Aviemore gave us our first off-road route and a picnic in the woods, while Pitlochry presented our first on-the-ground accommodation woes and a near-miss on the road.
- Dunfermline didn’t leave a major lasting memory, but the Forth road bridge to Edinburgh did. This was especially great with my video interview with cafe owner Liam.
- Then we rolled onto Motherwell, Moffat and finally Carlisle in England.
The videos show these beautiful experiences very well.
From Carlisle we implemented our self-catered lessons from Beauly and sourced a similar setup for our rest-day and beyond. By having a base for a few days, we lessened the difficulties of a fully packed car and reduce our food spend as well.
By this point we were less worried by the lack of accessible accommodation options, but more by the busy roads. Riding into Carlisle we had our biggest and closest near-miss with a car. A couple of cars were behind Martin in our safety support vehicle. Some idiot on his mobile phone overtook all 3 cars before a junction, wanted to turn towards Kasia and I to avoid a head on collision, but realised this wasn’t a good idea. Instead, both cars aiming for each other just managed to stop. A big wake up call!
Since then we’ve decided to avoid all major roads. Where small roads aren’t available, we’ve adopted a ‘compensation’ model. Basically we find traffic-free cycling spots and ride as far as possible. Due to team safety, we have had to use the car on a couple of occasions.
Before anyone judges this, please consider these few points. We are still going from John O’Groats to Land’s End. I’m with Kasia, carrying out our personal challenge. We’re still encouraging disabled people to go for their dreams and highlighting inaccessibility/discrimination. And most importantly, the message we still carry is successfully being heard: live your life as you want. Overall, the project is awesome, but I don’t want to put my life at risk because of it!
I would also add this for disabled people, and indeed all humans. It is important to have dreams, to not be boxed in by others or ourselves, and to have big goals. Until we try, we never know. If on the journey the method isn’t quite working, it’s also fine to reassess. To achieve a goal by taking longer, or with a new strategy is fine, noble and humble. It is better to try and learn, than to not try at all.
This lesson followed a lot of thinking from my side. This trip has highlighted some of my own limits, made me realise that extremity isn’t always healthy and ultimately I want to live to tell the tale.
And believe me, the past two weeks have been quite a story! We’re still alive, we’re happy, the PR is gathering momentum, we’re meeting amazing people, seeing the most beautiful scenery and starting to raise good money for our charities.
By Martyn Sibley
Are you setting yourself a personal challenge? We’d love to hear about it! Get in touch by messaging us on Facebook, tweeting us @DHorizons, emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leaving your comments below.