Sunday 28 September 2014

4 corners gold attempt report

For the past 6 months, myself (Chris O`Sullivan) and two friends ( Derrick Hall and Yoli Maydew) have been meticulously planning our attempt at the 4 corners gold ride, for charity. We planned routes, we planned stops, we planned clothing,equipment,drinks... the one thing we didn`t plan for was the severity of the challenge, and to all of you reading this that are new to this, or just planning attempting the challenge, then i hope our experiences will help you in overcoming the issues which caused us to abort the challenge and settle for an ss1000.

Our route was planned to start at JoG, proceed to Lowestoft and St david`s, then end in LE. Our ride was to start on Friday the 26th of Sept 2014 and end , hopefully 24 hrs later, well it ended 24hrs later , just not the way we had hoped. We had a trailer donated for the ferrying of the three motorcycles to JoG, to save us being saddlesore before even starting... and here was our first mistake, we overnighted TO Jog, instead of overnighting AT... and the weather was terrible all the way from Stoke-on Trent to JoG, blowing the trailer all over the show and keeping us from sleeping properly in the land rover discovery.
Friday morning after a quick bite to eat in the tea room, we topped up the tanks at the post office at JoG and got our receipts at 11h41... post code for a filling station in Lowestoft tapped into the satnav told me arrival time should be 22h53, we were good to go, despite gale force winds with gusts even worse. we made good time to Tore services, reducing our lowestoft ETA by 6 minutes, after our fuel stop we were back to square one and on the run down to Perth we once again gained precious minutes, the winds were still strong, but so were the three of us, nothing was going to beat us, our next stop was todhills services, where,thanks to good going and lessening wind, we arrived having gained 13 minutes, and here my personal tale of woe begins. My hydration tube,which was just resting over my shoulder, slipped off and unbeknowns to me, got trapped between my "seat" and my seat and in shifting weight, i sat on the squeeze valve and allowed my isotonic drink to leak out all over my seat which soaked through my "waterproof" trousers and give me a good dose of "nappy rash", this added to my visor being dislodged by the gales in JoG which caused my right eye to water uncontrollably till i was able to stop and fix it, was not doing me any good... but gold was still on and my mood was still good. We continued to make up enough time on the roads to offset our fuel stops and it was a happy three riders which coasted into the Oulton Broad esso in "Lowestoft".... it wasn`t. although the filling station is shown as being in lowestoft, the receipt shows it as Beccles, so we then had to go further into lowestoft to find a cash point... and here our meticulous planning fell flat on its face, firstly, the satnav i was using had not been updated for 4 years and showed roads that were now cul-de-sacs and dead ends. all time made up thus far was lost, and we departed Lowestoft for St David`s 2min behind schedule, but we were positive we could make the time up on the motorway stretches. second mistake, having only the one satnav meant we were following a route slightly different to the one we had researched and in so doing we were actually backtracking for a few miles, but the satnav was showing this was the fastest route so i wasn`t overly concerned, and we even managed to make up the 2 minute deficit by the time we turned onto the A11, 12 miles further up the road was suddenly just closed off for repairs, no warnings at all, meaning we had to back track again and follow a diversion route, this put us 43 minutes behind schedule...  we rejoined the A11 only to find another closure 3 miles further up and yet another diversion to follow and by the time we had rejoined the A11 we were 1hr 47min behind schedule, and this was when we collapsed. we had spent 6 months working toward this one ride, it was gold, it was never anything else, and having it snatched away just crumpled our moral, and by this time our physical and mental states were at a low point, when we stopped at the M11 services we had a chat and decided that we`ll continue to just do the "standard" 4 corners, on the approach to reading i found myself taking longer and longer to readjust my vision from looking at the satnav to back on the road ahead, and blinking my eyes was taking longer... a potentially deadly affliction. we stopped at reading services at 04h13 and decided to have a coffee and a ten minute power nap, we refuelled and i noticed the time on my receipt was 06h38... we had "napped" for two hours, it was time to call it off, but we decided to continue to Bagor services and see if the nap had helped, it only made things worse, and another thing, Newport just so happened to be the services closest to our respective homes, so we called it off, looked at our mileage and saw we had covered 976 miles, we decided to ride home and refuel at a petrol station close to home, as long as the mileage was over 1050 miles in total, my total ended up as 1054.4 satnav miles or 1098 odo miles. i was severely disappointed when i got home, and looked upon the ride as a failure
but after a good afternoon and night of sleep... i looked at it in a positive light. my do`s and don`t`s

drink plenty of fluid
eat often
stretch when possible and rotate shoulders and neck

change your saddle shortly before a ride
drink coffee or energy drinks, the lows offset the boost
wear untested/untried clothing/gloves/helmet
continue if you are struggling, the rides will always be there for you to try another time, you on the other hand, cannot be replaced.

i hope this wasn`t too long winded, we had a blast on the first leg, we got beaten on the 2nd leg but we arrived home in one piece. grateful for the experience, and wiser. one last snippet... nothing you read or are told will prepare you for the sheer severity of the 4 corners gold, it is epic, it is the top of the UK tree, and if you meet anyone who has done it, feel honoured, as i was, because they are the elite but don`t let that stop you from badgering them for info and tips lol
ride safe and enjoy


  1. Nice write-up Chris. By your own admission your 'meticulous planning' ended up being flawed, but I'm sure it's been a good learning experience and you'll undoubtedly be successful in the future.

    A good place for a receipt in Lowestoft is the 24hr Tesco. Located just off the A12 as you come in from the North (Gt Yarmouth direction).

    1. Thanks Mark.
      Yes our planning had flaws, for one, make sure gleneagles isn`t hosting a pesky golf tournament on the same day as the ride, a lot was learnt from the experience and i`m proud to just have attempted it, and after the advice of other successful members, i will definately be taking another crack at it

  2. Chris,

    You did the right thing, stopping a ride at the right time is an important lesson, you've learnt it early, good luck for the future.


  3. Well done folks not only for managing to change the ride and achieve something but for the ride report, I to have learned a lesson or two from planning and how things can go wrong, we didn't do a ride report from our last ride.
    I hope that it all goes right for you when you do it again :-)

  4. A good attempt. Here's to succes after lessons learnt

  5. thanks folks, its all a learning curve, and the advice given by the more experienced members is priceless, as is their acceptance that not every attempt will succeed, and there is no shame in not succeeding as long as lessons are learnt, i learnt a lot about myself on this ride and i will be attempting again next year but first i have a BB and a BBG to bag , for experience you understand, not because i am now hooked ;)