Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Day 11 The Final Leg

Breakfast at the Fountain in Okehampton was the best breakfast of the trip, but it was a bit of a struggle to get it down. The usual routine was to ride 20/30 miles and then stop for breakfast.
We set off in light rain and a 20mph SW wind which once we got on the A30 was right on the nose. We had discussed a few routes for this last leg but with difficult weather conditions we decided that the fastes

t route would be straight down the A30.
The first coffee stop was at the services 4 miles west of Launceston and before we got there we had had several heavy showers. Fortunately we were able to ditch our luggage at this point as some kind neighbours had agreed to meet us there and take it from us. As we left the services I was beginning to doubt that we were going to make it as it was already nearly 11am. As we rode over Bodmin moor the heavens really opened, so hard that it was stinging my face and we were soaked through. A few choice words were shouted at the heavens but we were not going to be stopped. The rain eased and gradually conditions improved from there on. Once we had passed Bodmin and I could see signs for St Austell and Truro I knew we were going to make it. With the luggage now gone we were making much better time. Lunch was at Mcdonalds and our last coffee stop was at a second Mcdonalds 10 miles east of Penzance.
When we got into Penzance and saw the sign for Lands End only 8 miles away we both were really spurred on and were flying along. In no time at all we were there to be met by my wife and a friend Ennis. It was now 630pm. I felt on top of the world, we had made it! Photos were taken at the finnishing post and after a quick change of clothing it was into the First and Last pub for a couple of well deserved beers.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Day 10 Bristol to Okehampton

Day 10 started with a flapjack and a nice cup of coffee made by a guy who was camping in a roof tent on top of his 4x4, Adie was very impressed by this and I think there may be one added to his pickup truck sooner rather than later. We headed towards Bridgwater along the A38. It was several miles before we passed the campsite we had planned to stay at. We were on a roll this morning and the average speed before breakfast was nearly 16 mph, not bad with the luggage we were carrying. We were on a mission to make it to another Premier Inn for their superb all you can eat breakfasts. Donna came along to visit us at breakfast and it was a real morale boost to see her friendly smile. The Premier was mobbed and it took nearly 1 ½ hours to have breakfast, which put us behind target a little.
We rode past my work and down towards Taunton and onto Wellington, the weather was okay and there was a slight headwind. After Taunton the roads started to climb and that was the theme for the rest of the day. This was especially true of the road between Torrington and to Crediton, if you decide to do this route, take another road!!. On the way it started to rain and the rain coats came out. The climbing was tiring and the weather was starting to take its toll. About 6 miles from Okehampton we were starting to wonder if we were going to be able to camp that evening. Adie talked about just carrying on riding to try and make the next day a bit easier, we had seen Tuesdays’ forecast and we needed to complete the ride on Monday now. We decided to ring ahead to the campsite t see if they had somewhere to eat and perhaps alternative accommodation. There was no reply, well it was Sunday evening. Going straight to the campsite meant bypassing Okehampton, so we made the decision to go to Okehampton, find somewhere to eat and get warm and make a decision on the next step. Afetr talking to some helpful people in the main street we had a few options, there was a hostel at the top of a long hill, we could look for B&B and there was still the original campsite. We went to the Fountain pub in the main street, which one of locals recommended for food. Ot was a really friendly place and the food was excellent. Adie asked if they had any rooms, we were cold and wet by this time. After a lot of negotiation and a cal to the manager, Adie managed to whittle the price down for a twin room, to be far it was still too much for the standard of the room, but we had somewhere dry to stay, a shower and somewhere to dry our things. Not to mention the comfy bed and good night sleep.
95.59 Miles
7.36 Hours Riding
11.5 MPH Average
31.2 Max MPH
6012 Calories burnt
4016 Feet of climbing
B&B at the Volunteer, Okehampton, £50. Good food and great breakfast.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Day 9 The Wye Valley

It was a pleasant surprise when we came out of the campsite and instead of sending us left up the steep hill we had encountered the previous evening, the satnav sent us right over gentle undulations. George especially had been dreading the climb with cold muscles and injured knee, so it was a great relief. After a few miles of country lanes we were back on the A49. After breakfast in a layby cafe we continued on into a noticable headwind and stopped for a coffee in Leominster. We also found a bike shop who obliged with a stirrup pump. We continued on the A49 past Hereford where we picked up the A466 to Monmouth. There were a few nasty hills on this stretch but the best part of this route, Monmouth to Chepstow is a winding level road following the river Wye. If we had been at the beginning of our journey we would have been stopping taking photos at this point, but as the days were now longer and tougher the pressure was on to reach our destination. The Severn Bridge finally came into sight and we stopped at the services at the Bristol end for a Burger King. It was now 6pm and we still had a fair way to go. As we ate we saw the weather forecast which was warning of a severe southerly gale coming in on tuesday. That was it, we had to be at Lands End by monday evening as planned.
Rejuvenated with extra calories we whipped through Bristol and onto the A38. We had to keep our wits about us in the fast moving traffic but we were moving well. A mile or so before reaching Bristol airport George spotted a camp site and we swung in. It was now 8pm and we threw up the tents in the fading light. A plate of chips and a couple of pints later and we were sorted. Only two more days to go!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Day 8 Croston to Presthorpe

We left the Royal Umpire early. This was one of the least eventful days of our trip. However the end of the day was to prove interesting. Most of the day was spent riding down the A49 and bypassing the bigger towns we visited. We went through Wigan to start with and found a Premier Inn to have an all you can eat breakfasts. These are highly recommended if you need to pack in calories for the day, when they say all you can eat they mean it, Adie loves a 4 sausage breakfast. We continued down the A9 until we got close to Whitchurch. Phil had sent us a text the previous day, warning us that the road to Witchurch was closed, due to bridge repairs. He had reached this a couple of days before and turned left at the diversion and found himself climbing some big hills. On his advice we turned right and the trip was much easier. We stopped in a lovely cafe near the canal in Whitchurch for coffee.
Back on the A49 we headed towards Shrewsbury, most of the roads were in good condition and reasonably flat and we were starting to think it would be a reasonably easy days riding. Just after stopping to eat a flap jack in a lay-by, whilst riding along a busy dual carriageway, I heard a shout from behind. It was Adie, who had forgotten to put his helmet back on after our stop and realised it had fallen off his pannier. I remember discussing riding on dual carriageways with Adie before the trip and we had agreed to avoid the like the plague, because they were too dangerous......it’s amazing how things can change once you’ve been on the road for a few days, this type of road helped us to keep a very good pace during the day and you get a little pull along from passing trucks. Adie made the decision, against my better judgement, that his helmet couldn’t be too far back and he could ride the wrong way down the carriageway to retrieve his helmet. I offered to buy him a new one instead, but he was determined. So off he went, whilst I sat at the side of the road waiting for the sound of sirens. It wasn’t long before he was back, with a grin on his face and his helmet on his head.
Shortly after we left the main roads and started to ride through country lanes for the first time that day. I didn’t realise that the area was so hilly, we had ridden about 85 miles and the legs were tired. My knee was playing up again and we hit a series of very long steep hills. However we were very pleased when we were riding down the 2 mile long steep hill towards the campsite. When we planned the route this campsite looked like it was in a little village, so we presumed that there would be a pub to eat at. That was not to be, the nearest pub was back up the 2 mile long hill and then a further 1 ½ miles alongthe road.
The campsite its self was quiet nice, but expensive, it cost £5 each for the washer and drier and we really needed to get some washing done, we were slightly whiff. We pitched our tents and popped down and put some washing on. We then decided to ride to the pub for dinner, this was the first time that I had thought I might not be able to complete our trip. My knee was in agony and I had started to get some pain in my ankle too. When we got back to the hill I couldn’t ride the bike back up and Adie was finding it hard too. We ended up pushing our bikes 1 ½ up the hill and then riding along the flat to the pub. The pub itself was probably the most expensive place we ate in the whole trip, but we did have a nice meal, before riding back down the steep hill to the campsite, in the dark, with only one headlight. It was a little unnerving. Back at the site we transferred the washing to the drier and headed back to the tents, on the way I told Adie about my fears of not being able to climb the hill the next morning. We would need to see what happened after we picked the washing up in the morning and got on the road.

90.48 Miles
7.08 Hour riding
13.6 MPH Average
36.2 Max MPH
5798 Calories Burnt
2798 Feet climbed

Mill Farm Caravan Park (not recommended due to position)

£5 each, but £5 each for washer and drier and then we had to pay for the showers too.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Day 7 Pooley Bridge to Corston

Another early start and a the last of Jackie’s cake got us going in the morning out of Ulswater, it was a beautiful morning and we found that we were climbing right from the start, which didn’t go down too well with my knee. Adie was climbing well and we found ourselves winding our way through a country estate towards the A6 and Shap. Shap was one of the longest climbs of the trip, however it wasn’t t

oo steep. We reached Shap village, where a welcoming sign at the Bull pub invited us in for breakfast, just the thing to get the calories in before we climbed the next 5 miles to the top of the hill. The North side of Shap was a little grey and hazy, but once we had reached the top it had started to brighten up. We stopped to take a picture of the bikes against the sign at the top and later found that these were some of the last picture we would take until the end of our trip.

We had this idea for most of the trip that the run down from Shap would see some of our fastest speeds so far on the trip. Unfortunately we started well and were flying down the hill very quickly and then we saw the road works half way down, DOH!! The brakes came on and we had to slow, maybe next time we can set a new speed record. The South side of Shap was very pretty and much greener. We wound our way towards Kendal, where we stopped for a coffee. Kendal was a very nice town and I will look forward to visiting it for longer in the future. We even found a Holland and Barret which allowed us to stock up on flapjacks for the rest of our trip. These proved to be the ideal food to get us going in the morning and then ride 30 miles ish before stopping for our now daily full English breakfast.

The rest of the day went really well and we soon found ourselves at our destination, the very nice Royal Umpire Campsite, not only was this one of the nicest sites we used, they didn't charge us for our stay. The pub wasn't far to go to either and we would highly recommend this site, even if you are paying. We met a young lad here that was heading North on his LEJOG and he was camping too, we did invite him to join us for dinner, but he declined, shame it would have been good to share our experiences.

83.44 Miles
7.04 Hours riding
11.79 MPH Average
35.6 MPH Max Speed
5204 Calories Burnt
2578 Feet Climbed

Royal Umpire Corston Free

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Day 6 Abington to Pooley Bridge.

We did wonder why such a lovely quiet campsite was so unoccupied. All became clear in the night as every hour or so a train went past which sounded as if it was coming through the tent.

We got away fairly early and number 1 priority was to find a bike shop so I could put a new back tyre on, it was in poor shape, with the outer layer separating from the inner. We were still stuck on the same road r

unning parallel with the M74. The surface was better than yesterday, but not much better. It soon became apparent that the nearest shop was in Carlise, 65 miles away, so it was a question of trying to avoid all the potholes and a large stone, the biggest worry was the tyre failing catastrophically in the middle of nowhere. With 15 miles to go I really didn’t think the tyre was going to last, it was getting more out of shape and bulging. But it did make it and changed the tyre at the Specialised shop in the centre of Carlise.

It was great to get back out of the city and into the countryside. George’s knee seemed to be giving him a little less pain than it been giving him all day or was it just the painkiller kicking in.

We rolled into Waterside campsite at 6pm and pitched up close to Ulswater Lake. A 15 minute walk along the shore into Pooley Bridge for some grub and a pint and we were all sorted.


86.17 Miles
7.27 Hours riding time
11.5 MPH Average speed
35.68 MPH Max speed
5555 Calories Burnt
1153 feet Climbed

Camping at Waterside campsite £10 each, great site and great facilities.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Day 5 Inveranan to Abington.

It started of dry this morning, but we didn't get far before the heavens opened. We were set up for the day with a lovely breakfast at the campsite, where Adies got his first experiance of the relentless Scottish Midge. My knee was still sore from them yesterdays riding, but we ploughed on towards the Erskine Bridge. Kristina had said it was flat all the way to Glasgow, ( maybe in her car). We made it to Paisley for brealfast, where we locked our bikes to the Court railings just to make sure they were still there when we got back. We had a great meal in a local cafe, where the owner brought is over some Tablet to up our energy levels. The roads through Glasgow were rough, and it wasn't long before I got my first puncture. It's a bit of an ordeal changing a tyre on a bike laden with luggage. We carried on and I got another puncture on East Kilbride. We got it changed but couldn't get enough pressure in th tyre. Later Adies had his first puncture, his tyre went with a bang on a hill. The side of his tyre had blown out. We fitted a tyre boot and carried on, about 10 miles later he had another blow out. The tyre was comming away at the side walls. We arrived late at the camp site and got the tents up as quick as possible. We wanted to get ou r washing done , but we also needed to get down to town to eat before everywhere shut. The laundry room shut at 8 so we asked if they could leave it open. We took our luggage off the bikes and cycles into town, what a weird feeling riding the bikes without all the weight, we nearly fell off. Beck at the campsite we got the laundry done and charged the sat nag, thinking we would get a lovely peacfull sleep in such an idyllic place .

Monday, 29 August 2011

Day 4 Fort Augustus to Inveranan

The night in the hostel set us up well for today. Everything is dry and packed back in the panniers properly. After some toast and coffe3 we set off. It was cold, but dry. We headed down towards Fort William along the Lochs. We stopped to take lots of photos today. What an amazing way to see this beautiful contry. The mountains were amazing, the hill climbs were long, but not steep, more relentless. H

owever the down hills made up for those long grueling climbs. We made it to Inveranan by 6, Kristina joined us for dinner which was really nice. Down through Glasgow tomorrow, we"re not looking forward to the heavier traffic.
92 miles
6 hours 29min
14.2 mph average
35.29 mph max
6343 calories burnt
3367 feet climbed.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Day 3 Lairg to Fort Augustus

Despite a text from Jackie my wife saying that the forcast was for gale force winds and 50mm of rain overnight and tomorrow. We decided to camp. Well, although the wind had picked up it was still bright. Needless to say the forecast was right. Fortunately the tents stood up to the battering and the ear plugs helped with the noise. It was a bit grim setting off from the campsite in the rain, but fortun

atelythe strong NE winds were mostly behind us.
It was a bit of a slog untold we stopped for breakfast at Skiach. After two Skiach breakfasts we hit the road again with dry jackets after the lady cafe owner offered to put our jackets through her dryer.
Inverness and then followed the road alongside Loch Ness.It was pretty much a wet ride all day, but arrived in good time in Fort Augustus.As we entered the very picturesque town, we spotted signs for a hostel and as it was still raining, we decided it would ne a good move to book in and dry out a bit.
After another haggis and black pudding supper I am writing this blog hoping for better webeather tomorrow.

83 miles
6.12 hours riding
13.31 Mph average
32.65 mph max
5457calories burnt
2534 feet climbed.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Day 2 Thurso to Lairg

Today was quiet a. challange, we headed West into a strong head wind towards Betty Hill, this was after riding around Thurso for half an hour with the sat nag throwing a wobbly. The wind was so strong at times it nearly ground us to a halt. The rain for the most part stayed off, we had some short showers, but nothing much. We also rode up some long hills today, which made me use my bottom gear lot. Ad

ie was kind enough to wait for me though. The scenery was amazing and it wasn't long before we could see the mountains. We had lunch at a little cafe in Betty Hill, before turning left and heading South, this put the wind slightly behind us and upped the speed. We cycled along Loch Naver, which was stunning and gave us some great photo oppertunities. We saw some Dormouse type things in the middle of the road and lots of buzzards, no sign of a Golden Eagle yet though. We reached Lairg about 4, so not to bad on time although our avarage speed has slowed a lot. The forcast is bad for tomorrow......Doh!!


74 miles
5 hours 51 minutes riding
Average speed 12.6mph
Max speed 34.08
4663 calories burnt
3359 feet climbed.
Total miles 102
Camping at Dunroamin Campsite

Friday, 26 August 2011

Day 1 Wick - John O'Groats - Thurso

We flew out of Bristol to Edinburgh at 6:20, ready to meet the 11:00 flight to Wick. The Wick flight was on a Saab 340 twin prop plane which was fantastic. Leaving Edinburgh it was slightly wet, but the sun was shining on us in Wick. We picked our bikes up from The Spot Cycles and they were nearly ready to ride. A few adjustments to the pannier and I was ready to go. Adie had a problem with the pressu

re in his tyres to, but this was quickly solved with a visit to a local tyre garage. We cycled the 16 mile or so to John O'Groats quite quickly and had our picture taken next to the sign. We then headed towards Thurso.the wind was at our back all the way which helped a lot. At about 25 mile. I decided to change my hand position too quickly and with the weight of the panniers, lost control of the bike and wound up lying in a ditch. Tonight we are camping in Thurso campsite right on the cliff in the middle of town. The views are amazing. Fingers are crossed for good weather for tomorrows ride to Lairg.

Stats for today.

37.48 miles
2h 26 minutes
15.4 mph avarage speed
30.27 mph max speed
1249 feet climbed
2466 calories
£10 for camping.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Nearly There Now!

Its just three days to go now, the bikes have been packed and collected, and today I have confirmed with 'The Spot Cycles' in Wick that they have been delivered and will be ready for our arrival on Friday.
We fly from Bristol early Friday morning into Edinbrough then a connecting flight into Wick arriving middayish. Then a few adjustments to the bikes and away we go!
Just pr

aying for a bit of decent weather now.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

7 Weeks To Go!

Just returned from 10 days in glorious sunny Spain. I had taken come cycling kit, shoes and pedals and found a great little bike shop in Javea and hired a GMC road bike with aluminium frame, carbon forks and 105 components. The bikes were all a bit battered but functional and could be hired for 12e a day, so I hired it for 3 days of great riding and got quite attached to it.
The best ride was from Moraira out to the Jalon followed by a route called the Coll de Rates which took me all the way into Callosa. It was a long winding 14km climb followed by a fantastic descent into the next stunning valley. Unfortunately I didn't take a camera but took this picture from the bottom the following day. I also found these pictures on the net as it is quite a popular route. http://www.cyclingcols.com/asp/imageframe.asp?cl=7601
From Callosa it was back to the coast at Altea and back up to Moraira, total distance approx 55 miles. I really could get used to living out there!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Three White Horses

The week following the Magnificat, I managed to get food poisoning, so I had to take nearly a week and a half off training. The first ride back was a 60 mile club ride last Sunday, which I found a real struggle. I couldn't even keep up on the flat never mind the hills and my heart rate was way over its normal average. Still I completed the ride and got back into my training program for the rest of the week, I completed 16 miles Monday, 30 Tuesday and 30 Wednesday, by the weekend I was feeling much stronger.

This Sunday we had an amazing club ride we did 95 miles and visited Three White Horses. Ten of us turned up at the Weyhill church and set of towards Pewsey, then Devizes and onto Westbury.

It was a stunning day with tempratures getting up to 25C, but whilst we were riding along the light breeze kept us nice and cool. The climb up the hill at the back of Westbury nearly had a couple of us walking, but we all made it, even me who yet again was the last up the hill, puffing and panting like an old man. From there we headed to a nearby garden centre for lunch, we were 65 miles in and famished. The poor girls in the cafe had just started to wind down for the day as "Sunday afternoons were usually quite", with the sudden appearance of ten sweaty cyclist, they were really struggling to get the orders out. It was 45 minutes before we were back on the road and the lactic acid had built up so we started off slow to get rid of that, before hammering the pedals all the way home. I would recommend this ride to anyone it takes in some beautiful countryside along quite lanes and through lovely sleepy villages. I'll certainly be doing it again soon. My next big event is the Isle of Wight Sportive, starting at Brockehurst, then over the ferry around the island, back across the ferry and then through the New Forrest back to the start, lets hope the weather holds for this one.

Friday, 24 June 2011

This Weeks Training

Rides this week : 65, 16, 16, and 45 miles.
A few things starting to wear out now as the bike has covered at least 2500miles. Chain and cassette replaced already, need a new deurelier cable as there is a rough spot where it meets the deurelier. I replaced the orriginal 32mm tyres to puncture resistant 23mm ones a while back which made a huge difference. I,ve also fitted a shorter stem and turned it over to the 'sportier' position which so far feels quite comfortable and I'm sure has increased my speed slightly. Before we do our trip it will have a thorough service and anything suspect will be replaced.
Off to Spain for 10 days in the morning but have sussed out some local bike hire shops and will try to do some riding while I'm out there otherwise I'm going to come home a stone heavier!
When I return on 6th July there will be 7 weeks to go!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Damage Report

I was a bit worried I had seriously damaged my bike after my tumble at the weekend, but a quick visit to Certini in Saltash confirmed a bent deurelier hanger which they quickly and easily straightened for me. Whew!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Newbury Magnificat - another tale of woe!

Initially the forecast for Sunday was terrible but by Saturday there was a glimmer of hope that our ride would remain dry until the early afternoon. As we waited on the start line however it was already drizzling. The plan was still to do the 127 mile route together.
We were released at 8 o'clock on the dot and after a few miles settled into a reasonable pace in quite a large group of riders. I knew George was behind me in the group and I tried to keep track of where he was but it was difficult with so many riders in close formation. The rain was getting heavier and the wind stronger all the time, and soon I had that horrible feeling of my shoes and shorts full of water,not nice at all. The number of riders getting punctures was ridiculous, it just seemed a matter of when rather than if!
Eventually the field started to thin out but by this time I had lost George. I did think about waiting at this point but it was quite likely that he had punctured so I carried on. I worked with a couple of equally paced riders for a while until a faster group came past and we hooked onto the back of them. We were now going at a fair old lick and it was good riding, but as we came to the first feed station I was struggling to keep up on the hills. I was thankful that they all pulled in.
Unfortunately the group was separated as people spent differing times in the feed station. I jumped back on the bike and chased after one rider I had been with most of the way but he was already 200yds up the road and try as I might to catch him I never did and after several miles gave up the chase.
Then disaster struck. I was riding through one of the villages on route and approached a 90deg right hand bend with a junction on the left. As I did so a car approached from the junction and I didn't think he was going to stop. I was busy looking at him rather than the road surface. The next thing I knew I was down and sliding along the road, my slide finally halted as I ran into the kerb. I got up and hobbled about for a few minutes with a bloody knee, elbow and hip. The most pain was coming from my hip. Another rider had stopped to pick my bike up and see that I was o.k. He said,"oh I see you did what I did and swapped to the 81 mile route". It was a double blow, not only had I fallen off but I had missed the turning for the 127 mile route as well!
After straightening out my brake levers which were both pushed badly out of line I got back on and gently rode on. Slowly I eased myself back into a rhythm but it soon became apparent I had damaged my deurelier, I was missing my lower gears and could see that it was twisted out of line with the chain. Each hill from thereon had to be taken standing in a higher gear. From that point on I just wanted to finish as soon as possible. My distance meter had become waterlogged and stopped working so I had no idea of how far I had to go so it was just a question of head down and get to the finish line. As soon as I had finished I was shivering violently. The only positive I can take was a decent time of 4hrs 50mins for the 81 mile route. I can understand now why a lot of riders wont ride in the rain!
All good experience for our end to end!

Monday, 13 June 2011

The Magnificat

Well anyone in the South of England will be fully aware of how wet and windy it was yesterday. It was raining heavily before I met Adie at the start line, he had cycled in from Newbury. Still optimistic we headed out in the first group at 08:00. 127 miles is a long way to ride even in good weather, so I started off spinning a lower gear than normal, just to make sure that I would still have some energy left to get me to the end. Adie started to move up the field and before long was out off sight, but I wasn't going to try and keep up, hoping there may be a tortoise and the hare situation later. The first feed station was a welcome site at around 40 mile's, by this time we were all soaked through and cold, the weather was relentless and the wind was increasing all the time. About a mile after the food stop was the route spilt, straight on for the 81 miler and right for the 127. I was very tempted at this point just to ride straight on, I was freezing, but Adie was ahead of me and so I turned right. At 61 miles there was a drinks stop and I took 5 minutes to warm up in the village hall, several riders gave up at this point. All the riders that stopped were looking tired and cold, there were lots of tales of brake failures and people unable to change gears or brake because their hands were too cold. I was feeling fine, so I headed off into the rain and wind once more. We climbed up onto a ridgeway on the South Downs where there was no shelter at all from the driving wind and rain. It was here that things started to get really bad, I got a puncture, I'd been passing people all day that were fixing punctures and thinking how lucky I was (Doh!). Fixing a puncture at the side of the road even in good weather can be difficult, but today, it was awful, my hands were so cold that I could hardly grip anything, never mind the twiddly things on the inner tube valves. It took me 20 minutes to get back on the road and by this time I was shivering violently. The next food stop was 16 miles away, so I kept on pedaling as hard as I could, trying to get warm, about 5 miles later the course turned North and the wind was at my back for the first time and boy did it help, all of a sudden I was flying along at 27 mph, with no need to pedal, it just shows how windy it really was. After 6 hours and 81 miles of cycling, I made it to the second food station. There were some very helpful volunteers there with hot cups of tea and sandwiches at the ready. I was given a hot cup of tea which I couldn't hold on too, I was shivering so hard the tea wouldn't stay in the cup, that's when a kind lady said " I think your race is over for today, its time you came into the warm", I wasn't so sure, I was convinced that I could finish, until she pointed out that there was still 46 miles to go and the wind and rain was getting worse. She led me into a room where to my surprise there were 9 other people wrapped up in blankets, their race was over too. I was given a sleeping bag and silver blanket to wrap up in and given copious amounts of tea to try and bring my temperature back up. I was shivering so hard it looked like I was having convulsions. In total 12 people ended up in this room, waiting for the broom wagon to come and rescue us and we were the lucky ones, lots of people were being picked up from the side of the road, there were tales of people who didn't even know their names by the time they were rescued. I opened my "Waterproof" pocket to get my phone and give Adie a call to see if he was OK, unfortunately my phone now has it's own wave, which rolls about inside the screen, thank goodness I was told to stop, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made it too much further without needing to be rescued and with no phone I would have been in real trouble. I was in the hall for about two hours before the broom wagon arrived to take us back to Newbury and I'd like to thank the young volunteer who drove with her heating on full blast just to keep us warm.

Yesterday was the first time that I have had any doubt that I might not be able to complete the End to End. If the weather ever gets that bad on our ride, I think we may have to sit the day out, at least we've got some leeway with our time.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Training on the run up to the Magnificat.

Well its only a week to go before the 127 mile Magnificat. I'm still not sure if I can ride that far, but tweeks training may help. Sunday saw another sunny ride with the Behind the Bikeshed club. We met at Weyhill Church and rode a very fast hilly 60 miles. The pace was very fast and due to having been training with all my luggage for the trip recently, I found the going really hard. Most of the ride I found myself chasing the pack, which meant I was working much harder than I wanted too. However nearer to the end of the ride, when we were climbing up to the top of the causeway, some of the faster riders started to run out of steam. It was all a bit turtle and hare. I still had plenty left in my legs and felt really good when I got home.
I was working locally on Tuesday so decided that I would join the club ride that evening, it tends to be quite a fast 30 -35 mile ride starting at 18:15, we're normally home by 20:30. Not tonight though, again it was really fast and I was struggling to keep up.
We were flying through the Hampshire countryside and because of the pace I wasn't really paying attention to the route. When we dropped down into a little town, I though I would get my bearings, oh my word we were in Hungerford. We kept heading further away towards Swindon, when one of the guys got a bad puncture, which caused his tyres to split. 30 minutes later we were riding again, heading homeward at last. By the time I got home I had completed 50 miles (on a school night Doh!). Thankfully I felt ok the next morning.

That added to 20 miles on Thursday and another 50 on Saturday made up a total of 180 miles this week. Next week I'm working in Cornwall, so I'm taking my bike along, I'm looking forward to getting some training done with Adie.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Another Sportive Coming Up

I didn't manage another ride last week and had to settle for the 'cross trainer' instead because of foul weather. Had a great club ride though yesterday, 60 miles over a very hilly Dartmoor route and had to work really hard to keep with the leading riders the whole way. Had to have a little lie down afterwards!
Our next goal is the Magnificat in Newbury on 12th June. We are both doing the 127 mile route and will be the furthest either of us have ridden in one day! Looking forward to it now!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Fast and Furious

I've just done my first evening club ride. Evening rides are designed to be faster over a shorter distance (25 to 35 miles). There are usually two groups covering the same route but at a different pace.
For some reason tonights turnout was low, about 12 riders, and apart from myself and one other, they were all from the faster group and included a few 'Shred' riders who are the super elite riders. This was going to hurt!
The route was approx 32 miles up to a reservoir on Dartmoor and back. I was working at my absolute max for virtually the entire ride trying to hang on to the back of the pack, and failing most of the time. They had slowed their usual pace as well! It was great experience though, I would never be able to push myself that hard riding on my own, and thoroughly enjoyed the ride. I am definitely going to try and do more of these evening tempo rides as they are probably the best training there is.
That takes this weeks mileage up to 170 miles because of last weekends trip which is a new record, so if I manage another evening ride this week I might hit 200.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Bath Trip

Another good day with a bit of a westerly blow. This was going to be the first ride fully loaded up. Each pannier weighed a bit over 4.5 kg plus the tent was perched on top. We wobbled off down the road from Georges place but soon got used to the extra weight. The first time I tried standing on the pedals and rocking the bike from side to side was when I really noticed the weight, but I soon changed my motion and smoothed things out.
The route we took to Bath provided a very pleasant ride, and what a lovely city it is. We seemed to ride right through the middle of it and it looked great in the afternoon sunshine. We arrived at the campsite and set about putting the tents up. It was the first time I had set my tent up properly and it did cause some amusement amongst the other campers. No it wouldn't be much use in a howling gale and torrential rain but we'll be in a B&B if we get that kind of weather on our End to End - although I think George has really got into this camping idea after his initial reservations and might want to prove his tent is better than mine in adverse conditions!
After a couple of beers and something to eat in the on site bar it was time to retire. Rain was forecast overnight and it did! It sounded pretty heavy at times as well but I slept fine thanks to the self-inflating matt, and I woke up fresh and raring to go.
We had another good ride on the way back with a strong westerly which was fortunately mainly behind us.
So all in all it was a great success. We had covered 140 miles in two days fully loaded, managed some big hills and survived camping overnight! A few tweaks here and there to what we will need to take with us is all that's needed now and we're ready to go! 

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Our Trip to Bath

This weekend was our first trip carrying all our camping equipment. Adie arrived first thing on Saturday morning, we were meeting Phil and John at the campsite near Bath that evening. Phil has done a lot of bike touring so we were keen to pick his brains to gather tips for our trip. John is riding from Ludgershalll to Italy later this year, unfortunatley he has been poorly all week and will just be doing the camping bit this weekend. We set off at 08:30 and again we were really lucky with the weather. We climbed up to the causeway towards Hungerford, before taking the back roads towards Swindon. We passed through lots of beautiful villages on quiet roads. We stopped for lunch at a little cafe in Wootton Basset, I was amazed when the bill arrived and was only £7 for both of us. I was using the Garmin to navigate for the first time and it took a while to understand how to set it so that I could clearly see when to turn. It was doing quite well until we got to Bath and then the screen had far too much information on it to make any sense. Fortunately I had had the foresight to make a note of the postcode. After entering it in the Garmin, things started to become clearer, until it decided to take us round and round a park. We finally forced it to work by sticking to the roads and ignoring all attempts to take us off road. We finally arrived at the campsite about 15:30 having ridden 75 miles. Phil was already there so we pitched our tents down in the meadow.
The campsite was lovely and the shower block was excellant. After a shower and a change of clothes, we popped back to the meadow, where lots of other cyclists from Bristol CTC had arrived for a weekend camping trip. There was a lot of talk about Adie's tent, comments like "thats's the smallest tent I've ever seen" and " I have one of those but I wouldn't use it for more than one night" are among some of the more useable comments. I must say that it does pack down well and for under 1kg of weight it doesn't take up much bike space.

At 18.00 we headed to the bar for something to eat and a beer. John arrived just in time for dinner, he had driven over, but had still brought his bike and touring gear. We spent a few hours talking about bikes, touring and camping, getting loads of good advice from Phil, before retiring to our tents for the night. This was the first time I have ever slept on a self inflating mat and I must say that it was the most comfortable night I have ever spent in a tent. I was woken by heavy rain in the middle of the night, this put a smile on my face, at least in the morning we would get an idea of how the tents coped. I woke around 5:30, went for a shower and started to pack my gear. Adie surfaced about 6.00 and by 7:30 we were ready to go. We had both had a good night sleep and were raring to get back on the bikes. Sitting on the saddle was initially painful, but after a short time the aches disappeared. We headed West into a strong head wind and up some steep hills, before turning South then East again to gain the advantage of the wind behind us. By 10.00 we had reached Melksham and stopped for breakfast, it was Sunday and there were no cafes open, so McDonalds provided breakfast (we will need to remember about Sunday hours on our trip). We carried on towards Calne and then Malborough, where we were lucky enough to stop for coffee and cake, missing a really heavy shower. The rain passed quite quickly and we managed to get all the way home without getting caught in any of the heavy showers, Phil however, who had taken a different route home, later told me that he got soaked on the way back. We arrived home about 14:30 having completed 65 miles and our first camping trip. We had carried everything we would need to our End to End without any problems, we're ready now and I can't wait to start our tour. 

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Preparations For Weekend Camping Trip

George had organised a weekend trip, camping overnight in Bath on 21/22nd May. At this time I hadn't bought any camping gear so it was time to get some essentials sorted. When it came to a tent, weight was the deciding factor and I purchased a Coleman Exponent Rigel weighing in at less than 1kg. Next was a self inflating roll matt by Vango and the same panniers that George had gone for, the Raleigh Avenirs.
When the tent arrived I popped it up in the lounge. Its single skin design is very basic and easy to put up but there really isn't much to it. But what the hell, I am only going to sleep in it and as long as it keeps me dry that's all that matters!

Saturday, 30 April 2011

We're moving the End to End forward !

Training has been going really well and May seems too far away, so we have decided to move our dates for the End to End. After a lot of discussion we have agreed to start on the 26th of August 2011. I rang the bike shop at Wick and they were very helpful, we can send our bikes up by courier and they will set them up ready for us. We have looked at lots of different ways to get to the start, trains, hire cars etc, but we have decided that flying up to Wick is the easiest option, we will fly from Bristol to Edinburgh and then on to Wick. All we have to do then is cycle home. When we first talked about this we thought that we would need 14 days to complete the ride. However having mapped the ride out and looked at where we will camp, it looks like it will be more like 11-12 days (the last day is from Okehampton to Lands Ends, at 102 miles, so we may split this into two days due to the hills, we'll see how we feel when we get there). We have all our equipment now and we are planning to do a camping trip in May to try everything out. Being a bit of a geek I have a spreadsheet detailing the campsites, their tariffs, the daily estimated mileage. I have also mapped the route out on bike route toaster (what a great tool) these can the be uploaded to the sat nav, I just need to work out how to keep it charged up now.

Start FinishMiles Campsite 
WickThurso37.03Thurso Bay Campsite
Thurso Lairg75.56Dunroamin Camping Park 
LairgFort Augustus81.17Cumbernalds Campsite
Fort AugustusInveraman90.88Beinglas Farm
InveramanAbington85.64Mount View Campsite
AbingtonPooley Bridge82.42Waterside Campsite
Pooley BridgeCroston75.83Royal Umpire
Croston Presthorpe89.76Mill Farm Caravan Park
PresthorpeClevedon105.23Bullock Farm Campsite
ClevedonOkehampton87.93Betty Cottles Inn
OkehamptonLands End101.89Home