Categories
2013 Land's End to John O'Groats

Day 10: Moffat to Loch Lomand

9th July 2013

We have unanimously rated Buchan B&B as our best so far. Can you believe our hosts Brenda & Chris both actually waved us off?  Can you also believe that Chris made a 20 mile journey to find us on the road, to return a couple of power cables one of our Group had left behind? These people are so utterly professional & make everyone so very welcome at their beautiful home.

Day 10 loomed large & lovely. Clear blue skies & the promise of a long day, with Glasgow as the prize & Loch Lomond as the end game. It was all to start with a long, slow climb out of Moffat , which we did with a very cheery heart & everyone up for the day ahead. When we reached the top, we then dipped down to join our ongoing road, the motorway & the railway line. The only problem was that in order to afford the motorway, the local council had clearly to make cuts elsewhere & our road was clearly on the hit list. For 30 miles we rattled & shook as we tried to navigate this impossible road. They charge at the gym for the vibration power plate & here we were getting an overdose for free. It was purgatory. We also got a puncture & there was little doubt that this was attributable to these terrible roads. The result was that we really didn’t take a great deal of notice on what was around us as you can hardly let your eyes wander when there are endless potholes looking to bring the bike down. At one point on this leg, I had the bike propped at the side of the road, surrounded by grass & wild flowers, so decided to take a photograph I thought would be interesting. I promptly knelt down in a bed of nettles. Not all bad, as the stinging in that knee (the left one) took my mind of the pain in the right knee & the penile numbness that I’d developed as a result of the last 30 miles of shaking. If the latter complaint persists, I’m going to sue Alex Salmonds & I suspect Judith will too. 

We did meet up on this leg with a couple of other cycling Groups who were also doing ‘End to End’. There was the Deveron CC who came from an area near Aberdeen & also a couple of young lads who were carrying their own equipment. The latter two we saw as we were having a ‘brew stop’ (as Tony calls our breaks) & offered them coffee & food which they happily accepted & it was good to share experiences with them. The Deveron group were moving at a pretty fast pace, doing the trip in 10 days, but like us were held up with a puncture a little further on in the day. The two ladies in their group were sleeping in the van & the men were in tents. Of these arrangements, we felt ours was still our preferred one. A trip of less than 14 days just doesn’t give you time to enjoy the scenery & the stops although I suppose the vast majority of people doing the trip are having to fit it into their family life & holiday allocation, so it can’t be easy.

Just before Glasgow, we ate lunch at Chatelherault Park which has a wonderful stately home & splendid grounds. On a day like yesterday, it was doing a great business in playing host to hundreds, who were looking to sunbathe, stroll & enjoy picnics & BBQ’s. We had an area set aside in the cafe where there was soup & sandwiches. Tony immediately struck up conversation with a couple of ladies who quickly got out their purses & made a donation to Macmillan. One of these ladies had honeymooned in Jersey many, many years ago (Rita Stewart, her husband is Archie). They have friends in Jersey called Jean & Jimmy Bowman who we will call, when we’re back in Jersey, to pass on Rita’s best wishes & share this experience. Another lady, Anne, also passed by the table & gave us £10 & quickly walked away. Later that night, in Ballock, we chatted with Ailish & Susan, who gave us £10.00 each. Susan is getting married in a couple of weeks, so if you read this ladies, thanks so very much & we hope your wedding day is wonderful Susan. People are just so kind & so very generous. Ken also had the pleasant surprise here of a visit from his Brother in law, Andrew, who came along with his son & grandson, to wish Ken well & send us all on our way with their best wishes

Had you asked me what I expected of an approach & ride through Glasgow, on a bike then I’m not sure how I would have answered but however I had, I would have been utterly wrong. It was just such an enjoyable experience. A full 6 miles before the City we were on a tow path/cycle path which runs for most of its length by the side of the mighty River Clyde. It had a good surface; it was beautifully shady, which was such a blessed relief on yet another heat wave day & it gave us dramatic views of the river, as we cycled along. Just before we reached the City, we passed the largest housing construction project most of us had ever seen. Apparently it is called part of the Tartan Tigers Awakening with 13 miles of the Clyde River corridor being developed, including the venue for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Over 10,000 houses are being built. As we got nearer to the City, the path widened, there were people doing what people do on a sunny day in a City, fine bridges, lawns & planted areas & an air of prosperity & contentment. Closer in still was some wonderful architecture, old & new & all the while we’re cycling along simply stunned with the beauty of it all & certainly, in my case, the awareness of my misconceptions of this stunning City. We found ourselves doing a loop of the stunning Maritime Museum, to look at the tall sailing ship Glen Lee, built in 1896 which was used for a while by the Spanish Navy. I’ve got a wonderful photograph of these two, great structures which I’ll try to get onto this page, if at all possible.

Not only does Glasgow welcome you, on a bike, in style, it also sends you on your way, similarly impressed. We proceeded from the City, all the way to Ballock on Loch Lomond, a distance of 18 miles, virtually all the way on cycle tracks. En route, we past tenements, harbours, & locks, much of it on the Forth Clyde canal network. What we also passed was dozens of walkers & cyclists & the vast majority of them gave us a wave or a smile. I don’t doubt that, like every City, Glasgow has its seamier side, but over a distance of around 30 miles, what we saw was a Glasgow that was welcoming, vibrant & friendly.

A long, long day but Ballock is a great place, loads of pleasure boats, people picnicking & enjoying the sunshine & even at 10.00 pm, still sitting on the river banks & enjoying the evening. We shall try & do likewise!

We’re told that tomorrow promises to be the best & possibly, easiest day of the trip. Ironically, Tony feels that we will not get the best view of the Moors, which he feels need to be seen in the more misty conditions to be truly representative of Scotland. I think we’ll struggle by!

Awards of the Day

Glasgow                                                              Exciting, Cycle friendly, People friendly & hugely interesting

Those lovely ladies mentioned above      Generous, warm & welcoming

Philosophical thought of the day

The vast majority of people in this world, whatever their shape, size, colour or circumstances, are kind, welcoming & interested only in going about their daily lives & caring for their families. How come we let the tiny majority have such a disproportionate influence?                   

Vital stats for the day;

Distance                               81.19

Cumulative                       705.69

Average Speed                 11.7 mph

Time riding **                   6 hours 56 minutes

Climbing                               3,202 feet

** I should make a point this is time actually riding, not time out on the road                       

Categories
2013 Land's End to John O'Groats

Day 9: Keswick to Moffat

8th July 2013

I think we all enjoyed Kendall, which is a pleasant town & particularly so in the warm glow of a hot summer’s day & with a British Wimbledon champion in the bag.

The following morning’s breakfast seemed a challenge for our landlady, as everyone seemed to have opted for the full monty & there were lots of ‘full English’ produced for the hungry hoard. Afterwards, Tony gave a demonstration on how to take out a rear wheel & change a tyre. I think he has second sight on such things & sees a puncture or two in the offing over the next couple of days. In any event we all set off in good spirits.

The route out of Keswick is quite dramatic & we climbed for some 17 miles, mostly on a farming community road which was very narrow. There were frequent photo stops as the scenery was truly gorgeous although many of these stops were necessitated by the regular flow of agricultural equipment & 4×4’s. At one point, Ken & I were pressed hard into the hedgerow as a huge tractor squeezed past, the spikes hanging off his back just centimetres from us & our bikes. Ken came out with blood down his leg which I insisted we treat with an antiseptic wipe & antiseptic cream (you know what these farm animals are like for hygiene!). We cycled on a way & I glanced down to see streaks of blood down my own leg, so the process was repeated. By now we’d lost the rest but we carried on as the day became hotter & the climbs steeper. Eventually we came across Rebs & then Tony who was standing at the side of the strangest sight; eight little bodies, strung from a wire fence, just up the road from a farm. We decided they were probably moles, but the reason they were there? To scare off their mates who might dare to create a small mound somewhere on the hundreds of acres? Some sort of pagan ritual? We soldiered on, looking for our two companions. There were a couple of brutal little climbs which took us to the top of this area & a moorland plateau, which led to a junction, but no Paul D or Rodney. So odd, we always regrouped at any major junction. We tried telephoning but no signal. We waited, we conjectured, all in the heat of the day with not an inch of shade. What if those bodies were not moles but dead cyclists? You just never know do you. Eventually we took the inevitable decision & left & started to mentally divide up their possessions. Lo & behold, a short distance on, they were at the van & tucking into goodies. Mild expletives were exchanged & Rodney said ‘I knew we’d be in trouble – I’ve made coffee’. Instant forgiveness, as Tony demonstrated by offering the two of them dried banana. (Note; have you ever noticed how much dried banana looks like dried sheep shit?)

We were now in ‘Ken’ territory as he’s a Carlisle lad. Tony, being an avid crossword doer & quiz night attendee at The Royal, St Martin, was, not unnaturally, full of insightful questions on the area; ‘Where was the wattle & daub factory’? ‘Could one still obtain a knitted suit hereabouts’?

We managed to skirt Carlisle completely, on a road system that seemed new, had a decent cycle track at the side & was very lightly used. It was hot & there was no shade, but we made good progress & of course the inevitable happens when you keep going North in England i.e. you enter Scotland! In fact we didn’t, not straight away anyway although we made a mental note not to miss the Gretna Gateway Outlet Centre at some point in our travels (Not!). We went for lunch at the Gretna Chase Hotel in Sark, just on the border, England side. The Gretna Chase is a very pleasant hotel, lovely patio & gardens & obviously caters for the wedding trade. There was a buffet lunch set up for us, including soup, which seemed a little inappropriate on such a hot day but was in fact very good & very welcome. The barmaid & waitress who served us were delightful & said that business was good & that the number of weddings in the area was pretty constant, year on year. Like Blackpool, this speciality area has obviously managed to keep re-inventing itself & remain successful, not least of all as I believe the age difference that used to make it the place for youngsters to elope to, no longer exists. When Rebs came into the bar, the waitress took one look at him & exclaimed ‘yous knackered’ – priceless! Paul D also came back into the fold as we were having lunch. He’d been abducted a little while back & taken, by Tony, to The Carlisle Physiotherapy Centre to have his hamstring looked at. He was once again taped up in a most impressive way & we all asked if we could be around when these strips of plaster were ripped off his hairy legs (you get your pleasure when you can don’t you). What was impressive was the fact that he’d been used as a guinea pig (good job it wasn’t Chile, they eat them there don’t they?) & had afforded CPD to 4 students. As a result they not only treated him for free, but made a £20 donation to Macmillan. How good is that!

And so we entered Scotland. Had our group photograph taken at the ‘Welcome to Scotland’ sign by an Israeli lady, as we chatted to another & her husband from Queensland, Australia. We then headed off down the side of the Clyde.

The afternoon was pretty relentless. It wasn’t particularly steep but very hot & very long. There was one type of relief that I noted & looked forward to, each time it happened. The countryside was very pleasant, a lovely agricultural area with lots of mature trees. These gave shade to sections of the road & as you cycled through them, creating your own breeze of say 15mph. Add this breeze, your wet, perspiring body & the section of shade & you have God’s own air conditioning. Absolute bliss, but it doesn’t last long & coming out the other side seems doubly worse. We stopped pretty frequently through the afternoon & kept reminding each other to keep drinking. There was mild amusement as we passed through ‘Ecclefechan’ & later through ‘Heck’ (the inevitable ‘What are we doing here, by Heck’!)

We arrived in Moffat at around 5.15 & received the most welcoming reception from our lovely landlady, who was standing on her porch, surrounded by an intricate cast iron fence & with table & chairs that looked so inviting. ‘What took you so long’ she said (inject Scottish accent if you will) with a big smile & a hand shake for each of us. The Woodvale is a great B&B with lots of quaint style, on a nice little side road & overlooking the bowls & tennis club, which were alive with activity as we settled in. Rodney had not had a good day & was very tired (Note to check Big Vern’s Cycle Club Rules on conjugal visits whilst on tour & consider rescinding). I was feeling OK & had not had as much of a problem with my knee as I had the day before, a day when Rodney was on top form. That’s the way it goes, day on day & there’s no knowing how you will cope, in advance. We did decide however that if we sat down/lay down, we’d not get up for many hours, so we had a quick sort out  in the lovely bedroom allocated to us on the third floor, had a shower & headed for town. We had a beer in the yard of a local pub & then met up with Tony & Ken at the Star Inn for dinner (reputed to be the longest/thinnest hotel in the UK – thought you might be interested in that little factoid). Not the finest meal of the trip & we should have been outside on such an evening but by now I was so tired I could barely speak. We slept with the windows & curtains wide open & I can now say, at 06.30 am & with a cup of Rodney’s Tanzania AB Mringa Estate coffee at my side, that I’m ready to take on the day. Given that it’s billed as the ‘Lumpy/Grumpy/Bumpy’ day due to the length, the state of the roads & the inclines, I think we’re going to need all the help we can get!

Rebs & Paul D reported over breakfast that they took time out to visit the Lockerbie memorial & were impressed & touched by the visit. They also said they’d had Euro20 by guys from Kemtiles who they met in the pub & who were impressed with our efforts.

Awards of the Day

The Staff                                                             Carlisle Physio Therapy Centre

The Waitress at the Gretna Chase             Effective/Explicit/Concise expression of feeling

Philosophical thought of the day

My ‘God’s Air Conditioning’ moment made me realise you find joy & relief in such simple things when you strip away all the trappings                               

Vital stats for the day;

Distance                               75.07

Cumulative                       624.50

Average Speed                 13.4 mph

Time riding **                   5 hours 38 minutes

Climbing                               3,103 feet

** I should make a point this is time actually riding, not time out on the road                       

Categories
2013 Land's End to John O'Groats

Day 8: Condor Green to Keswick

7th July 2013

This will be a short daily diary, even though, in the opinion of a number of the Group, this may be rated number one. The Lake District is simply stunning, but if you add a blue sky & a viewpoint from a saddle, via quiet country lanes then it becomes doubly impressive

We were joined on today’s leg by Peter Adams & his son in law Dennis. Peter is a friend of Rodney & Brian & a long term resident of the Lakes. He & Dennis had breakfast with us at the Swan & we were ready & onto the road at around 08.30. We were immediately into quiet back lanes which wound & undulated as they took us to Lancaster and whilst our notes tell us navigation is tricky, we had no problems, not least of all as there was not a lot of traffic & of course it was Sunday. The traffic that we didn’t mind at all & indeed found very interesting were the dozens of classic & vintage cars, all heading to a rally in one of the villages we passed through. These villages all had a common theme of wonderful stone houses, dry stone walls & beautifully manicured gardens. Real picture book stuff & wonderful cycling country although there was no rest for the legs with incessant ups & downs   

Lancaster is the capital City of Lancashire & has an incredibly interesting history & a most impressive castle, perched high & looking down over the City & which until recently was also the local prison. However, we didn’t play tourist & seemed to be through & out the other side in no time at all.

We did however cycle over the Millennium Bridge, which spans the River Lune. The high mud banks & low water lines of the Lune are evidence of the huge tidal range in this part of the world & this is also a magnet for bird life & there were an impressive number of species to be seen, as we cycled over the bridge. This impressive structure links the City, for pedestrians & cyclists & its dramatic design is intended to convey the City’s maritime history.

We then had a long climb towards Nether Kellet, with impressive, distant views of Morecambe Bay, on our left. The long uphill was well rewarded & we had a great downhill on the other side as we made our way to Kendal & the start of the Lake District National Park.

The approach to Peter & Beryl’s home, which is close to Kendal, is simply stunning & we were all in great spirits as we swept around the curves, sprinted up the short inclines & enjoyed the stunning countryside & beautiful stone walls. We were within a 1/4 mile of Peter’s home when there was a loud bang, like a shotgun, which was in fact Peter’s back tyre blowing out. We agreed Dennis would take us all to Peter’s & Peter would walk home which he did, just in time to meet Tony our driver, who promptly got out the bike stand & fixed the tyre (the tube was blown apart). Rodney has taken to calling Tony ‘Mother Duck’

We had a great lunch, Rodney was reunited with Pam, we met Beryl & Dennis’s daughter Tilly, ate inside because it was too hot & took in the most amazing countryside house view you have ever seen. There’s no wonder the Lakes poets got so excited & could write such happy stuff. Dennis quit riding with us at this point & I’d call him a wimp but he’s a really big bloke so I’d better not. In fact he had the most perfect excuse; he had to take the kids to a duck race (little yellow plastic ones, on the river). They also had to go to the sheep race (they have teddy bears on their back – sweet, but note to check European Rules on sheep rights). Village life is alive & well in rural England. Shortly before we left, we also met Dennis’s wife Jane & their second daughter (whose name escapes me but hopefully I can remember before we go to press)

Peter & Beryl’s lane, which we rode on for quite a way, as we left, is simply the prettiest road I have ever been on – beautiful lichen covered walls, rolling countryside all around & as green as you can get, outside Ireland (they both of course get bucket loads of rain). Beautifully shaded by huge, mature trees, it even has a ford which fortunately was going off at a tangent so we didn’t have to ride through it.

About this time, Paul D said, ‘we’ve been in the Lakes for ages now. Where are the lakes’? He was right of course but was very soon rewarded with a glimpse of Lake Windermere as we entered the town.  We then got the big screen item which seemed to stretch forever (over 11 miles, in fact) & which was full of activity from graceful sailing boats, elegant ferries, rowing boats & ever other type of vessel know to man. The town has grand homes, hotels & restaurants, beautiful lakeside parks & lawns, gardens & trees. Also, loads & loads of people, cars & busses. It was all too much for the senses of us simple cycling folk & all that water had Ken rushing off to find a toilet. The ride along the lake towards Ambleside, whilst wonderful in a scenic way was somewhat marred by the constant flow of traffic. Life however became quite serene when we got to the town & lake of Grasmere, home of William Wordsworth (‘wonder if his mates called him ‘Bill’) who penned the words ‘the loveliest spot that man hath ever found’ I couldn’t have said it better myself so I wont bother trying. It was so lovely, so peaceful, that Tone & I had a kip, under a tree, in the car park. Paul D pointed out a nearby mountain that rose at a steady pace, to a height I’d judge of about 500 feet  & at an angle that looked about 70 degrees. He told us that the local fell runners run up & back in about 12 minutes. I think that was the point at which I felt the need for a sleep!

That sleep was a good idea however as we had a mountain to climb ourselves when we left Grasmere & by now it was seriously hot, so it left us all pretty exhausted by the time we arrived at the top. However, the run along Thirlmere reservoir was a real tonic & by contrast to Windermere had a single, small dinghy on its whole calm & beautiful length. Rebs was quite upset to know it was man-made & that there was a whole settlement at the bottom. It was in fact developed in the 19th Century to supply water (via a 96 mile aqueduct, still in use) to the thirsty lot  in the Manchester area, who were beavering away, having babies & making an industrial revolution happen.

There was a fair amount of upping & downing, as we covered the last ten miles or so into Keswick, where we were to stay for the night. There was utter confusion for a while when Rodney’s Tom Tom GPS gave him two choices of direction to our B&B. You don’t give hot, tired Rodney choices; you tell him what to do & where to go. However common sense prevailed, we used the tried & tested ‘ask a local’ method & were soon safely established at The Lyndhurst where we watched Andy Murray make tennis history. What a weekend it has been!

Awards of the Day

Andy Murray                      For making history & for putting Britain on the sporting world map

                                                for the second time this weekend

Beryl Adams                       For hosting us at her wonderful Lake District home, for a great & welcome lunch & for a view to die for.

Philosophical thought of the day

The Lakes are simply stunning & on a par with anything in Europe, so if you have a bucket list then

you might like to consider adding this destination to it

Vital stats for the day;

Distance                               60.03

Cumulative                       549.43

Average Speed                 12.4 mph

Time riding **                   4 hours 51 minutes

Climbing                               3,139 feet

** I should make a point this is time actually riding, not time out on the road                       

Categories
2013 Land's End to John O'Groats

Day 7: Runcorn to Condor Green

6th July 2013

The Holiday Inn at Runcorn is OK. It’s quite big, has a gym & swimming pool, a good restaurant & decent rooms. Why it has to upset its guests by charging £12.95 for a night’s WiFi I really don’t know. We told the nice lads on reception to tell their management that Landladies were giving us B&B for a pittance & throwing in WiFi, so they needed to alter their policy

The night before went well & we all used the facilities to their maximum. Rodney had his first ever sports massage (& pronounced it a success) & the bar & lounge were both well used. Paul’s niece (Emily) undertook an hour’s drive with her partner, just to surprise Uncle Paul. I think he was most touched by the gesture.

We refined the plan for Day 7, which was roughly to leave at 06.15, ride as far into the day as we could, pre 11.00 & then stop at a pub, with Sky, to watch to final & deciding Lions game against the Wallabies. Rodney & I planned accordingly; we put the alarm on for 05.15 (but beat it), put our days riding gear to one side & made two bowls of cold ‘Pam’s porridge (1 part Jordan’s Oats, 1 part unsweetened Soya & 1 part natural Yoghurt – don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it as it will keep you going all day & up the steepest mountain – give or take a bit, that is). All went to plan & we finally left the hotel at 06.30 (the moan about the WiFi & then making friends with the receptionists so as not to hurt their feelings took a little while)

We soon realised that the day’s Rugby activity had inadvertently turned this leg to our advantage. I would imagine that navigating Warrington on a normal day, at around 08.30/09.00, would be a nightmare, both to navigate & also not to lose a team member. As it was, we swept through the town like a true peloton. Dave Brailsford would have been proud of us and with a blue sky & the sun streaming through the abundant trees; it was a wonderful way to depart. We went over waterways on lovely old bridges & thoroughly enjoyed our speed & the ease of travel. I was able to text Judith that at minutes to 07.00 we saw our first signs for her birth place of Wigan & at 07.00 precisely, crossed the Mersey to the sonorous voices of a number of the team who couldn’t resist the ‘Ferry me across………’ etc. 

We also collected some lovely new names such as Locking Stumps (sounds like a marital tiff doesn’t it?) & a pub called ‘The Comfortable Gill’ (probably the landlady used to make a few bob on the side)  

I can’t say we were too enamoured with Blackburn, which didn’t look too bonny, even under a blue sky & with sleep in our eyes. It did however seem to trigger something in Tony & he broke into song whilst we were waiting at a set of traffic lights. His voice seemed a little higher than usual, but I’ll put that down to the shorts. The song was ‘A day in the life’ which I think is from the Sergeant Pepper album & one particular line goes;

‘4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire’

If this is referring to the potholes, then we’d like to have the song updated as we found 4,000 & didn’t even go on the other side of town.

However, we suddenly left all the ‘Final Liquidation’ & ‘Chippery’ signs & boarded up premises, to see in front of us, a rise of unadulterated, unsullied land, which was sign posted Chew Moor (good dietary advice?). What a lovely area, sort of a mini moor & not at all vast & forbidding as many of the Northern moors can be. We climbed to the top where there was a row of cottages, identical to those in The Last of the Summer Wine series & which have a porch running along the front. We had a lovely ride across the ridge & then down the other side & along the Dingle & Springs reservoir, proudly looked over by a grand old building belonging to Bradford Water Works, as evidenced by colourful cast iron, hand painted plaques. There was more moorland as we made our way to the (original) planned lunch stop & we all acknowledged that the ride would be markedly different, were it wet & cold. On our ‘new’ schedule, we arrived at the original lunch stop at 09.30 – great progress, so we carried on as quickly as we could & finally arrived at our designated pub at about 10.40, to hopefully watch the game & eat. It was closed & had no indication of having Sky in any event. We therefore pressed on a couple more miles, with no success, but checking all the pubs, as we went along. At 11.00, nothing – we carried on & even had a lady invite us to watch with her & her husband, as she was sympathetic to the Macmillan cause. Finally, at 11.10 & 52 miles, we found the Townley Arms Hotel, which not only gave us the warmest welcome in the world, but also proceeded to serve us an ‘all day’ breakfast. We, meantime, watched history being made & joy of joys, a fabulous result at the end of a proper game of rugby, with all the drama & tension you could possibly want. We made friends with all the locals in the pub, some of who promised to look at our website & make a donation – if any of you guys & lovely ladies behind the bar read this, thanks so much for making us so welcome & for sharing the occasion with us.

Almost as soon as we left the pub, we went onto the Lancashire Cycleway/Sustrans network, which was an absolute joy. This is such appealing countryside & we all agreed the sort of ambience you felt you could touch, feel, smell & enjoy. It was particularly intoxicating, warmed under the sun with smells of hay, mown grass & farmyards around every corner. Everyone en route was also quick to say ‘hello’ or wave & we’ve decided we really like Lancashire, its glorious countryside & its lovely inhabitants.

With about 3 miles to go, we found a piece of heaven – Wallings Farm Ice Cream. If I tell you that between us we had the following flavours, you’ll understand what I mean;

  • Blackcurrant & liquorice
  • Rum & Raisin
  • Fruits of the Forest
  • Raspberry & something we can’t remember

We sat like kids; swinging our legs & all with giant cones. Having checked the calories used thus far in the day, (around 4,000) we happily decided we were also still well in credit.

Tony, our driver had gone off to Blackpool at lunchtime as his Grandson protégée was riding in an important cycle race. He’d told us we’d like The Swan, at Condor Green & he wasn’t exaggerating. It’s great; a real pub, one of only a few buildings on this wetland/estuary (probably best described by looking at the photographs we’ll try to post or on line). It has a beer garden, a play area for kids & lovely, helpful staff.

 I’d normally say that what goes on tour, stays on tour, but was mildly shocked when Rodney went into the bar & said he couldn’t wait to get stuck into a Lancaster Blonde (& still in his sweaty lycra at that). He had a massage last night & now this. I’ll ask Tony to adjust his saddle tomorrow; that might calm him down.

So here we are – half way already, the week has flown by!

Tomorrow we’re heading into the Lake District where I understand there are some hilly & wet bits, so we’re drafting in a couple of locals to guide us through & to feed us. Peter Dawson, Keswick master baker & renowned sailor & golfer is to travel South with his mate, have breakfast with us & then take us to his Keswick home where we will be fed & watered by his lovely wife Beryl. How good is that on this glorious, sunny Sunday morning. Rodney’s wife Pam is also staying with Peter & Beryl & it will be lovely to see her. Hopefully, Rodney, she will be in a forgiving mood.

Awards of the Day

Those Magnificent Lions  All involved in this amazing series, nail biting games & fabulous final

Ken                                        This lad’s guiding expertise is growing by the day & there’s never a moment       when he doesn’t have his plastic bag of instructions to hand. Rebs & I are negotiating to sell him to Peak Tours at the end of the trip

Northern Jokes

A wealthy Northerner had ordered an expensive headstone for his beloved, recently departed wife. It was to read ‘She was thine’ & was dismayed to see the result which read ‘She was thin’. ‘Thar a daft bugger’ he ranted,’tha’s missed off ‘e’, gerrit put reight fer t’morra or thall gerra clout’

He returned the following day to see the corrected work which read;

‘E She Was Thin’

There’s been an explosion of a particularly nasty use of the rave drug ecstasy in the North of England, we hear, with club goers injecting the drug into the mouth. This frightening habit is known locally as ‘e by gum’

Are you impressed I’ve not lost my accent?

Philosophical thought of the day

We’ve been sent a personal message from Max Hewitt reader of our diaries, friend of Tony & friend & retired colleague of Rebs which says;

May you all get to heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead

Thanks for thinking of us Max & assurances we’re not planning on going there any time soon                       

Vital stats for the day;

Distance                               71.35

Cumulative                       489.40 

Average Speed                 12.3 mph

Time riding **                   5 hours 45 minutes

Climbing                               2,542 feet

** I should make a point this is time actually riding, not time out on the road                       

Categories
2013 Land's End to John O'Groats

Day 6: Monmouth to Runcorn

5th July 2013

The White Horse Inn at Clan is a winner on all counts. The atmosphere is welcoming & it successfully combines a local pub feel along with excellent accommodation & a great restaurant. We enjoyed the bar & the great range of local beers (Tony chose one beer which a neighbour claimed had been made at the back of his house). I had a pint of Thundering Molly Cider – absolute nectar! The restaurant had a great menu, but with local beef on offer, it wasn’t a difficult choice was it?

If yesterday was a bit of a relaxed day, then today had to be a grafter. Not a particularly hilly day, but 80 miles (79.9 in reality) does take a bit of getting through, even when the conditions are good & the wind is kind. What strikes me at this point is that I don’t recall anyone taking their cameras out. That could be a bit of an insult to a whole host of places & I apologise if it appears that way, but we were a bit preoccupied with putting on the miles & in truth there wasn’t the dramatic scenery we’ve had over the first few days. Bucolic, lovely fields & farms, some great looking buildings, but much flatter & with none of the big climbs & dramatic views that we’ve had before.

Probably the most memorable cycling event of the day came quite early, when we entered the village of Hope (wouldn’t you just love to deliver the line ‘We live in Hope’ & wait for the response?) & then enjoyed what is described in our route notes as ‘a long gradual descent that seems to go on forever’ & indeed it did. It was fabulous. Even though the weather was clear, fine & warm, it was actually quite cold & shady on this long ride down the valley & although very lovely, with lush foliage & lots of ferns, it reminded me of why I prefer a hilltop home & a view of the sky. There have been a number of comments from the Jersey contingent over the past couple of days, that much as we love the countryside & views, it’s a bit disquieting to be so far from the sea.

Once again we had some lovely English names, en route; Plox Green/Wagbeach & The Bog to name just three. We also cycled past Percy Thrower Avenue (for those of more tender years, he was the guy who gave us gardening tips before Charlie Dimmock & Alan Titmarsh were invented).

It’s a shame that we spent most of our time in Shrewsbury in a bike shop, as it looks a beautiful town. However, we had a variety of kit needs & I had suffered a few days with a saddle that kept altering its pitch, when subject to any sort of pressure. Quite disconcerting when it’s so close to the family heirlooms. Tony, our incredible support driver (support everything actually) was reluctant to over tighten the bolts as the stem is carbon, damages easily & is quite expensive. Even though the shop was busy (Dave Mellor Cycles on New Street – www.davemeloorcycles.com), I was given immediate service, the guy Googled the product on line & ascertained he could apply additional torque & then fixed it. He also replaced the plug at the end of my bars. In all, about 15 minutes of work & when asked the cost merely suggested I ‘put a couple of quid in the charity box’. How good is that (& the saddle has held up all day)

We were warned that navigation through Shrewsbury could be tricky, but in the event, Ken did a great job, using his route notes & we went through without a problem. Welsh Bridge, over the River Severn was particularly impressive, with many of the towns inhabitants enjoying the water, on what was turning into the most beautiful of days. There is also a most dramatic sculpture by the river, dedicated to Darwin

Lunch was at the Burlton Inn, a very smart restaurant with an impressive menu, although we had been asked to pre order. Everyone was delighted with their choice & in particular those who chose to enjoy either of the desserts (Chocolate Brownie or Sticky Toffee Pudding). I think the calorie counter said we’d used up around 4400 calories at the end of the day, so what harm can a big pudding do (& I need the energy)

Although we crossed a couple of busy junctions & spent time on short stretches of main roads, the majority of the day was on roads with a B in front of them & four numbers, so the riding was pleasant & relaxed. We also added Herefordshire, Shropshire & Cheshire to our County tick list. The latter seems a very posh place & has some seriously ‘des res’ places. We also had long, long views West over what I presume would be Snowdonia.

Tony, our support, said that today was typically the point at which groups fall out, presumably due to a combination of tiredness, uncertainly & pain. I shall therefore register that we all seem to be doing just fine. There’s been a great atmosphere in the Group & no one seems to be looking to be ‘Top Cat’ & there’s great mutual support. Long may it last!

Tomorrow we have to see the Lions match – unanimous decision &  no question. The current plan is to leave at 6.00 & find a pub around the 48 mile mark where we can eat & see the game & then complete the remaining 30 miles. God bless our boys & give them a win against those pesky Aussies. At this point, I am acutely aware that my son in law, Tom, who edits & posts this diary, is an Aussie. Over to you Tom !

Got to go to bed now, up at five!

Enjoy your weekend

Awards of the Day

Trek Domane 4.5              REB’s wants it officially recorded that his decision to purchase this expensive, carbon framed road bike was entirely right & that he is completely in love with & ‘at one’ with this bike

Tony Warne                      Tony is our support everything guy. He is an avid cyclist & gets our gears oiled, our rims cleaned & our tyres pumped, almost on a daily basis. Add to this our ‘brew stops’ (which is like a mini Sainsbury) & this guy deserves a medal. On Saturday, his Grandson, who he coaches, has an important cycle race in Blackpool. We wish him good luck.

Philosophical thought of the day

Man sacrifices his health to make money. Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health. Then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future. He lives as if he is never going to die and then dies having never really lived                           

Vital stats for the day;

Distance                               79.90

Cumulative                       418.05 

Average Speed                 14.7 mph

Time riding **                   5 hours 55 minutes

Climbing                               2,342 feet

** I should make a point this is time actually riding, not time out on the road                       

Categories
2013 Land's End to John O'Groats

Day 5: Monmouth to Clun

4th July 2013

I seem to remember from my school years that this is the time of year when you get those days when you have Sports Day or you’re allowed to mess around a bit. As you’ll see from statistics, below, we’ve been given one of those days today, even though there was a fair bit of climbing & some windy sections.

We left Monmouth with heavy black skies overhead & everyone with waterproofs to hand. The weather report also spoke of possible rain. However once again we were fortunate (Rodney says I have to say ‘fortunate’ & not ‘lucky’ but I’m not absolutely sure of the difference). However, with the exception of a minor rain flurry as we approached lunch, we had a clear day & latterly lots of sunshine. We’re told that summer weather will start today, so out with the sun cream & shorts.

This was a day of little drama, just wonderful lanes & hedgerows, beautiful villages with lots of picture box houses (many thatched) & miles & miles of patchwork fields & mature woodlands. We didn’t see more than 2 or 3 miles of major roads & I’ve decided the odd brush with a sticking out nettle plant or a mouth full of insect beats white van man any day of the week. That said, the roads in the morning had their fair share of pot holes, but we became quite handy at passing the message down the line, with the use of hand signals. The day can best be described as undulating. This is an expression that Cycle Tour Companies use, universally, to describe anything from the drive out of the hotel car park, to something resembling the north face of the Eiger. Paul D had a far more descriptive term for some of the morning’s climbs, but as this is family reading, I shall refrain from quoting him

  We have to thank Hereford Town Fathers for providing a very effective cycle track to & around their town, but I must admit that I find it quite odd to come from big countryside scenes, to then be cycling through the car park at Sainsbury’s.

Lunch was the best yet. Ye Olde Steppe cafe at Pembridge is a delight, fronting a most unusual church, with manicured lawns & a most unusual bell tower. It also has a fabulous little terrace & the most wonderful, friendly & helpful staff. Great sandwiches, thoughtfully garnished and with a selection of cakes to die for. This was a treat AND we’d cracked the day’s cycling with only about 20 miles left to finish off the day!

Unlike yesterday, there were not the grand designs & structures on our route, although we did come across one little gem. Hopton Castle, close to Knighton, is a sort of poor Lord’s pad, more Barrett Homes than Church’s. Quite small & built on a pidley little mound, it is however the site of an amazing battle in 1644 when the 31 inhabitants, lead by Samuel More, Parliamentarian, held off more than 500 Royalists for 3 weeks, losing 1 man in the battle, whilst killing over 150 Royalists. The brave occupants were ultimately murdered, whilst More survived & became an MP

At one point we travelled past Herefordshire Golf Club, which had a couple of the lads drooling for a game. I don’t think we’d be allowed in with lycra shorts. However, we did find a golf ball at the entrance (a Bridgestone 4 with green markings), so if anyone from the Club happens to read this & has lost this ball then let me know & I’ll send it home. Failing that, I’m willing to sell it to the highest bidder, proceeds to Macmillan Jersey.

Not much else to report, just a wonderful day in the saddle, wandering around lanes, having a great lunch & a fair few laughs. Good to note we’re a third of the way there now (how quickly that came about) & latitude Birmingham.

.      

Awards of the Day

Jersey ingenuity               When Paul D’s mudguard began to rattle & rub he took it off. The immediate question however was what to do with it. With help from Tom, hopefully we shall bring you pictorial evidence of his amazing ingenuity

Quote of the Day

Samuel More                     I understand no message that comes without Drum or Trumpet (I’m going to use that one on Judith)

Philosophical thought of the day

Even on a relatively easy day like today, when you’ve burnt around 3,400 calories, you can have any cake at Ye Olde Steppes cafe at Pembridge you wish, even that great big slice of Coffee & Walnut, all with complete impunity!

Vital stats for the day;

Distance                               58.4

Average Speed                 11.7 mph

Time riding **                   4 hours 54 minutes

Climbing                               3,229 feet

** I should make a point this is time actually riding, not time out on the road                       

Categories
2013 Land's End to John O'Groats

Day 4: Glastonbury to Monmouth

3rd July 2013

What a cracking B&B the Apple is. A lovely landlady (Julia) who serves the finest of healthy & interesting breakfasts from her character full home. And what a place Glastonbury – exactly what you’d expect from this Festival Mecca – aged hippies abound, along with shops that wouldn’t look out of place in Morocco

In Peak Tours style, we managed to travel the 6 miles to the Cathedral town of Wells, barely touching a main road, but with ominous clouds overhead. These same clouds were to stay with us much of the day, although we barely saw a drop of rain.

Wells is such a charming City, with the prettiest of Cathedrals & a moated castle, complete with a lovely outdoor market We made our way under ancient arches & across cobbles & thoroughly enjoyed the ambience, but dented the day’s timetable quite badly. It was hard to leave & given the hill that met us, immediately we did leave, the general feeling was to ask why we’d bothered. Most thought the worst hill yet. However, there was payback & we had wonderful ‘big country’ views & ultimately a great, long downhill as we made our way to the morning brew stop at Chew Valley Lakes. Paul D took over as route master, after the break, given his intimate knowledge of the area & to hopefully get us through this busy City without too much trauma. Unfortunately & although we really enjoyed the ride through the Long Aston Estate, it was a little disarming to realise the only way to see the hugely impressive Clifton Suspension Bridge, was up a bloody big, traffic infested hill,. However, we were quite blown away with this part of Bristol’s architecture, history & road network. It is one of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s creations (he was never going to be a dustbin man with a name like that was he?). He won the contract to create this masterpiece, designed to span the Aven River & started work in 1829. Simply amazing in complexity & size, breathtakingly high & like a piece of giant meccano. Sadly, also a magnet for suicides.

Next stop Wales, but in order to get there, you have to travel across yet another bridge, the fabulously impressive Severn Bridge which was completed in 1966 & which runs for 1600 metres over the rivers Severn & Wye. How great to cycle on a dedicated cycle lane across that engineering & artistic masterpiece. Even with a small gale blowing, it was a most wonderful experience.

All this sightseeing & photography put the lunch plans well behind schedule & it was past 2.00 when we arrived for lunch – all tired, all hungry & not a little bruised & battered from the last 4 day’s activity. However, lunch revived spirits & we were quickly off again & heading for an Abbey without windows & a roof but magnificent nevertheless. Tintern Abbey was founded in 1131, but dissolved at the time of the Reformation & clearly like many of Henry’s wives, lost its top bits shortly thereafter. Awesome though & so worthy of a visit & photo shoot (we will at some point get our photographs together, to share with anyone who’s interested).

What came after was cycle heaven – a long, long ride down the magnificent Wye Valley, which is so green with trees, it’s almost black. Great sweeping hills & curves for about 10 miles. We had long, steep descents & then a lengthy ride along the side of the river & ultimately to our destination for the night in Monmouth. Tired, aching, but with a real glow, we shall look forward to a good meal tonight & the chance to rest up, ready for tomorrow.    

Awards of the Day

British Engineering          Centuries apart, Wells Cathedral, Tintern Abbey, The Clifton Suspension Bridge & the Severn Bridge are all magnificent, beyond description. For a simpleton who gets excited when he changes a light bulb successfully, I cannot begin to imagine the type of brains that designs these things & then make them happen

 Reb also wins                  At a particular low mood point, after we’d been told we had some respite, Rebs dramatically points out a  hill with a 13% climb & makes us all groan. A closer read tells us it’s a 13 ft canopy height sign. He could well loose his coveted route master badge

Brian/Rodney                    I think my sheep jokes are quite the best of the day so I’ll put me in here, but Rodney’s ‘Plastering Duck’ seemed to get by far the best reception so I reluctantly add him too

Philosophical thought of the day

No matter how much your bum hurts, you wouldn’t change places with those guys down there on the motorway would you

Vital stats for the day;

Distance                               69.38

Average Speed                 11.7 mph

Time riding **                   5 hours 55 minutes

Climbing                               3,599 feet

** I should make a point this is time actually riding, not time out on the road                       

Categories
2013 Land's End to John O'Groats

Day 3: Moretonhampstead to Glastonbury

2nd July 2013

This was the day that we heard there were fatalities on the A30, involving two cyclist doing Lejog on a charity cycle for Holiday for Heroes. When I relayed that information to Tony, our Peak Tours support driver, he said ‘that’s why we take you on the routes we take you on’. I have to admit that this is pretty self evident, so far. If you want a tour that gets you from end to end in the quickest time, then this is not the one for you. If you want to see Britain, at its very best, to wander down quiet lanes & along tracks & by riversides (not always on tarmac, but certainly not totally unsuitable for our road bikes), without too much regard for average speed or breaking records, then Peak Tours have the answer. It’s impossible to imagine how many hours & how much effort has gone into the planning, when 4 miles can equate to a full page of written directional instructions.

Today we set off on what was billed as another tough day & immediately it lived up to its reputation by giving us a steep climb out of Moretonhampstead. However, we were then given our fair share of down hills & undulating countryside which made for a very pleasant ride through this lovely part of the country, some glorious views & woodland areas, with more than a few very impressive residences. With the considerable expertise of Rebs & Tony (the Garmon Etrek still not helping with this role), we made a good job of navigating through Exeter & the morning coffee break came around remarkably quickly, just after passing over the M4. About this time however, the rain came down, so we donned the rain gear, Paul D is his cape & not totally unfamiliar to a cinema hero who has been seen in such garb.

Pre lunch gave us a fair share of undulations with some wonderful downhills. It also saw us into Somerset, our 3rd County in three days. We passed towns with such evocative names as Ham & North Curry & marvelled at a property that could boast its own suspension bridge.

Lunch at Broadenberry was an excellent choice of the very best of English pub grub & a great atmosphere, all mildly clouded by the threat of a monster hill, promised to us as dessert. Again, they weren’t exaggerating & this was a brute, which rose at 15%, straight to the cloudy sky & flanked by muddy tracks & woodlands & which saw Rodney’s heart monitor earning every penny of its cost. With that over, cycling life looked up & we had some wonderful flat stuff, & more than our fair share of exhilaration as we wandered around back lanes & Sustrans tracks, towards Taunton, which we approached via the most amazing of downhill runs.

Glastonbury came shortly after, although not quite quickly enough for Rodney, whose system was reacting in a most violent way to all those odd energy boost formulas & subjecting his legs to a life of constant motion……other parts of his anatomy were not impressed. However, a few hours on, a fine meal & a pint of Cider & I can confidently state that he is a new man & ready for day four!

So that’s day 3. We’ve had a great meal in a lovely restaurant called ‘Who Would Have Thought It’, we’re in a great little B&B called ‘Apple’ & face day 4 when our northern journey takes us into the Principality of Wales.      

Awards of the Day

Paul D                                   painful, knackered knees but soldiered on

Philosophical thought of the day

Rebs commenting how many Stags there were for sale in this part of the world;

We’ve yet to tell him ‘Stags – For Sale’ is the billboard of a local Estate Agent                      

Vital stats for the day;

Distance                               73.86

Average Speed                 11.2 mph

Time in saddle                   6 hours 36 minutes

Climbing                               3,818 feet                          

Categories
2013 Land's End to John O'Groats

Day 2: Fowey to Moretonhampstead

1st July 2013

The blurb says today is one of the toughest of the trip. I hope so! However the sheer joy of the day, the views, the magnificent countryside, the pure ‘Englishness’ of it all left us all breathless & forgiving the pain

We left our respective accommodations at 08.15 after a great breakfast at our particular digs & likewise comments from the other lads. A short, bumpy ride down to the port & onto the ferry ride to the ‘other side’ & immediately into a very steep climb out of that lovely town (favourite so far). We then spent hours on wonderful lanes – the sort that have grass down the & where ferns grow in profusion. The odd car or truck was a bit of a drama, but all were polite & gave us plenty of leeway.

We hit the coast at a place called Seaton & the descent, past the huge pines was simply breathtaking. On the steep route down we also met a guy walking around 350 miles for Teenage Cancer Trust (along with big rucksack & flag). We gave him a donation from the kitty, he took our photo & we took his. We expected a coastal ride at the bottom, but no such luck – long, steep, slow hills followed the coast through Downberry & on towards Plymouth where we ooh’d & aah’d about all the lovely houses, perched high & with glorious sea views. The lunch stop, right at the side of the Cremyl Ferry, was very welcome & we all enjoyed the excellent pork/beef carvery & a view of the estuary, some wonderful leisure sailing vessels & the historic naval buildings of Plymouth. We chatted with the ferry crew on the way over & again were delighted to get such a warm reception into our second county of the trip.

Plymouth was a delight & we wandered a little as we had to queue to get over the swing bridge where we were accused of being ‘girls’ by someone who had twice done Lejog, self supported. However he was only joking (I think) & did say that our afternoon, albeit tough & with lots of climbing, would be fun as we would enjoy the wonderful sights of Dartmoor on what was a remarkably pleasant day. By the end of the day, we all appreciated how lucky we were to have had such good conditions to climb & cross that beautiful but oh so exposed landscape.

We left glorious Plymouth by its Industrial parks & via a series of Sustrans bike routes which went on for miles & miles. These gravel surfaces are not what road bikes or their rides prefer but the views of the river, the glorious trees, the happy walkers & their dogs & the slow pace, all lead to the sort of atmosphere of feeling life is good, so sod the schedule & the grit in the cogs & just enjoy it. However they do also take a bit of navigating & as we ducked & dived under bridges & into Industrial areas & inevitably (shock horror) a busy road section. Eventually (& after following the route to the point of ‘do we put the bikes on shoulders & climb’), we backtracked to climb a section of road that was so steep, only two riders (modesty prevents me naming them) managed to stay on their bikes & lo & behold here was the Downs as we know it – ponies, sheep & millions of acres of wide open spaces laced with undulating roads. Those undulations were to be the curse of our lives as we followed them for miles & miles on those exposed plains, with tired legs & an ever growing appreciation that it would be 7.00 at best when we got to our digs. However there were some glorious down bits too which made your teeth rattle & your helmet threaten to leave your head. Our Guest House at Moretonhampton, albeit not the finest hostelry in the world & with a shower in our room that makes you want to slit your wrists, was a very welcome site. A pint of local brew & a decent meal at the Union Inn, bed for 10.00 & dreams of a saddle free life was all that was left of a day full of the very heights of all the emotions, most of them memorable & good.

Awards of the Day

None – too tired !!

Philosophical thought of the day

Brian:

‘You’ll know you’re at the top when you’re at the top’ Well I know what I mean!                

Vital stats for the day;

Distance                               65.41 miles

Average Speed                 10.00 mph (that’s the price of using Sustrans routes & paper maps)

Time in saddle                   6 hours 33 minutes

Climbing                               5,587 feet                          

Categories
2013 Land's End to John O'Groats

Day 1: Land’s End to Fowey

30th June 2013

Any thought that the England we all felt we knew & loved, as kids, is gone, can be dispelled by this one day’s bike ride alone. Amazingly pretty villages, perfect houses & gardens, picture book cottages, steep sided, wild flowered bedecked hedgerows & gorgeous estuaries & coastal towns abound not to mention forests & fields & long rolling, unsullied views. There is however a process you have to go through before you’re entitled to start this ‘end to end’ challenge. One obligation we knew we had, was to be photographed in our kit sponsors gear i.e. Vistra, Proviz & also the kit of Peak Tours who were organising the trip. This might have been a problem, but for the fact it was misty, cold & windy as we left our village pub square & headed of some 7 miles to officially start our trip, so we put on the lot & merely peeled off a layer as the photograph dictated. What is amazing is that until lunchtime, we kept it all on! Happily thereafter, we did see some sunshine & also some pretty big hills so that excess clothing became something of a handicap.

Land’s End was quite special, even on a cold & misty day, in its massive significance & we signed the register to say were attempting to do an ‘End to End’. If we do so, we will sign at the other end & will be entered into the ‘End to End’ Archives. OK then, let’s do it!!

Towns & Villages with names like ‘London Apprentice’/Lower Sticker/Par/Mevagissy & Praze en Beeble have got to mean a journey through antiquity & time. Morning coffee under the shadow of St Michael’s Mount was magical & very welcome, in particular as Rodney has devised a method of serving us freshly brewed Italian blend (100% Arabica no less!) A chain drawn ‘King Harry Ferry’ across the impossibly pretty estuary of the River Fal (50p for cyclists, but they let us off) & pubs called the King of Prussia, has to all add up to a very special day, whatever your age, whatever bike you have or where else you’ve been in life. We met two guys on the 5 minute ferry ride over the river. One had done our ride in 8 days, the year before. He was young, handsome, charming & sprinted up the very steep hill on his carbon framed bike, when we left the ferry on the other side. The other chap was overweight, not exactly cool in looks or dress & had a Saracen steel framed tourer bike; heavily laden with panniers, to the point I couldn’t lift the rear end. He was also doing Lejog, single handed, with no electronic navigation & in the same time we were. He had a huge smile, an oil smudge on the end of his nose & none of us doubted he would make it!

Lunch was at the Royal Oak, where a Sunday crowd met us with big smiles & interesting enquiries on the trip – I suspect not every such pub group around the country would respond to a group of lycra clad oldies, in quite such an open & friendly way but we were grateful & enjoyed their company.

By now we were beginning to think we really had got the day cracked & after a rather steep climb to the afternoon coffee stop maybe even more so. Big mistake! The last quarter of the day was such a dose of hills that the ‘we’ll be finished at 4 – 4.30’ turned into a rather tired but happy finish at almost 5.00. A lot of very steep hills, a lot of very tired legs but the biggest of smiles!

Rodney & I are at a B&B at 28A Park Road & despite a very ordinary house look it is extremely comfortable with a big modern bathroom & very acceptable double bedroom. A most congenial dinner at the Boat House, in the wonderful harbour town of Fowey & the day closes to an end with the Group not displeased with their day & getting along famously. Tomorrow we are told is the BIG ONE!!

Awards of the Day

King of Mountains                           Paul Rebours (REBS)

Most improved/impressive         Rodney

Best Joke                                             Paul D (the women & son in a London taxi – I’ll tell you later)

Most damaged bike                        Paul D – one bent big chain ring which he’s coping with, but has to spin his legs like a hamster in a wheel (the very able Tony the support driver is on the case)

Most rubbish equipment              Garmin – my 500 Edge played up all day & Garmin Etrex we bought has been less than useless. Thank god for Peak Tours excellent maps & route notes

Philosophical thought of the day

Rodney’s ‘DIK’ theory

He tells it stands stand for ‘DO IT NOW’

I know, I know but he can’t spell either!

Vital stats for the day;

Distance                               71.10 miles (includes Penzance to Land’s End & return)

Average Speed                 12.5mph

Time in saddle                   5 hours 54 minutes

Climbing                               4,569 feet