Friday, 29 April 2011

Day 8 - the final push

The end is in sight (just about!).

After some bike fixing, pizza for breakfast and Jo really hurting herself falling down the stairs some very tired bodies plus two fresh pace makers set off to Landsend!!

The hill out of Bude was the first test of the day for most. The normal warm up 10 miles went on for ever as were faced with continuous undulating hills.

After 50 miles, and the going getting lighter after the initial hills, we reached Truro in a surprisingly short amount of time. We stopped for our normal self made sandwich lunch which we ate whilst chatting to other JOGLE-ers who were doing over 12 days and supported!!

Once again some hideous hills had to be climbed coming out of truro however once on the A30 we made rapid progress where we averaged +20 mph.

Penzance couldn't have been reached sooner and the first
signpost listing Landsend was met with a cheer from all.

Hills observer out of Penzance were not fun inthe slightest! The road just went constantly up and down and even the adrenaline of finishing our mission could ease the pain during the remaining 10 miles to Landend.

However the last 2 or miles were much easier and all 7 of us grouped together for one final time to ride in together.

We came into Landsend to cheers from our supporters and one final check of the speedometer calculated total miles of 917 (115 miles per day average). We then found the famous lamppost although a second grumpy man didn't allow us to stand next to it and take a photo - instead we had to stand the other side of the fence!!

A picnic and very strong cider then followed very kindly provided by Toms parents.

We then sadly parted ways not really beliving what we have just acheived.

All in all it was a fantastic experience, although tough at times, but the strong team we had pulled us through. It's going to be bizarre adjusting to life apart.

Day 7 pm for the single speeders

In the meantime, from when Tom and Rich set off to Taunton the remaining 5 started to tackle the remaining hills of the day. With Charlies single speed bike managing 18.5mph(5mph faster than yesterday) fast progress was initially made.

We didn't appreciate that Devon is perhaps the hilliest county and that Exmoor was best avoided! Lunch happened at a perfectly reasonable time of 6pm (!!) after some rather hideous hills entering into South Molton, however, we didnt realise the worst was still to come!!!

Soon after lunch life on a bike got interesting as we hit hills which Jo described as rollarcoaster like! 20% down and 25% up!! Not most fun however we all plodded on despite all suffering moments of mild hysteria!!

Eventually the gruelling hills subsided however darkness set in after a beautiful sunset. Going down country roads in the dark was tricky to say the least and especially when you are trying to share lights..

Eventually Bude was within a few miles and we arrived circa 10pm when the only place to get some much needed supper was a greasy kebab shop which sold v cheesy pizzas! Even Si was defeated!

Despite all the previous calamities of the day, the remaining 60 miles of the day were testing and exhausting but still fun at the same time. Switching Charlies bike into a more functional bike was to be left til the morning!

Day 7 Bristol - Bude 118 miles (Or so we thought)

The day started with high spirits after an amazing nights sleep at a friends house in Bristol which we were extremely grateful.

We then set off through the maze of Bristol and finally made it on to the A38 towards Taunton. Setting a very good pace along the flat with a lovely tail wind yet again. Into the north Mendips where the top speed was reached by Rich of 53.4mph.

We then got into Bridgewater before midday where we met another friend at a supermarket stop on a search for yet another strapping device to fix another breaking body.

Simon then reminded us that there was actually quite a long way to go. So back on we got and back to our flying pace as we have now worked out how to work as a team and be efficient. After Taunton we turn and start aiming south west towards Bude still with 70 odd miles to go. Sadly the route comes close to Exmore and thus hills are in abundance. As we head up one the all too familiar smash of Charlie's bike as her deraillure snaps off again.

Solution Tom & Rich peg it the 11 miles back to Taunton and pick up the part and back to the now slower group and replace the part so Charlie has some gears again. HOWEVER, Rich's bike died as we got back into Taunton, this resulted in 1 hours labour done for free I might add by the guys in "the bicycle chain" in Taunton.

Result was that at 5pm Tom and Rich had 80miles to go with some of the hilliest terrain yet, Tom & Rich were still 25 miles out when night fell and the cold set in. The final straw was getting a puncture at 11 pm after 14 hrs in the saddle. For some reason this really put the bit between our teeth and the last y miles were knocked out in a flash even if Tom was having his drowsy moments from the antihistamines.

We finally got in at 11:30 and it was great to see the team waiting up for us with copious amounts of cheesy pizza.

Day 6 - Shrewsbury to Bristol

We awoke early as usual and started our day with a small packed breakfast in a bag. It consisted of the smallest bowl of cereal ever, a small croissant and a mini muffin. Definitely not something to set us up for the day! Either way we needed to set off so we grabbed our bikes out of the Travelodge office, leaving as quickly as we could so they didn't comment on the oily floor.

We set off along the busy A49 south, however this quickly turned into another fast flowing, traffic filled road so we took a small detour down a country road to avoid the cars. This was successful in some ways but it did take us on the bumpiest road known to man, past the farm yards and through 2 fords. It was quickly decided that we needed to get back on the A49 to pick up the pace again! A short while later and we took a side road off towards Hereford, taking us away from the traffic and through some nice villages.

We arrived in Hereford for a quick break and stop at Tesco before ploughing on through the countryside to Monmouth where we were due to meet mummy and daddy Hunter Smart and mummy Robinson. However, a few steep hills later and Jo's knee started to give up, closely followed by her pannier rack. Entertaining to say the least. We ditched the rack and Rich took on the extra load.
A few miles further and we'd found another hill, but this time it was Charlie's turn to break something. The power she was laying down to get up the hill, she managed to shear off the derailer hanger, essentially the whole gear mechanism! Bugger...with no spare parts near by and a long way to go, we had to make an emergency repair by making the bike single speed. She managed to cycle this the last 10 miles into Monmouth where we hoped we could locate the part. It also gave us the opportunity to have some lunch, sit by the river with the parents and think about how to solve our problem.  Unforunately there was no spare part, so she was going to have to cycle single speed another 30 miles to Bristol.

Lunch with the parents was just what we needed. We sat in the sun by the river eating a mountain of pasta, soreen, sandwiches and fruit, something we'd been missing a lot. It also gave us a long rest and a chance to tell a few stories so far. However with 30 miles to go we had to set off.

We headed straight along the Wye valley, absolutely stunning in the sunshine and mainly downhill. It was possibly the most scenic place we'd been. The hills were relatively easy for Charlie to tackle in her single speed while a few points needed a gentle push up. We quickly crossed the Seven bridge in the sunshine and headed straight for Bristol city, up and down the hills into the city centre to stay with Pete and his friend.

Luckily Pete had managed to source a part for Charlie's bike and prep food for us so we quickly fixed the bike, cooked a spag bol and rested. Even Zigi the dog was on hand to help(ish)! Incredible showers and beds...just what we needed after the day we'd had.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Day 5 - Kendal to Shrewsbury

We started our day in Kendal, having had a huge fry up, cereals, fruit and even a few jam sandwiches packed away for later! We embarked on our 125 mile journey just before 9 along the A6, a very busy road through Lancaster and down to Preston. The hills provided a lot of entertainment and a welcome break to the constant drone of traffic going past us.

A number of traffic lights later and we were on our way to Wigan. By this stage we were doing well to stick on each others back wheels to maintain speed, but unfortunately as Olie eased on his breaks at a set of lights, Rich clipped Olie's rear wheel and promptly flew over his handle bars! Luckily he managed to tuck his shoulder down and roll straight over, getting up quickly to check if everyone was ok. Luckily it was just him who had fallen off! Best of all, Pete was on his way to meet us and managed to see the whole lot from the other side of the road!

A quick fix to the gears and we were back on our way again.  We continued on the A6 to Warrington, crossed the river Mersey and turned onto the A49. We followed this all the way to Whitchurch where we met up with Pete again who had bought lunch ready for us. Back on the A49 we powered out the last 40 or so miles, Pete in tow, to Shrewsbury where we stopped in a travelodge for the evening.

All in all a fairly un-eventful / un-interesting day covering our distance on 2 roads!  We cleaned our chains, stashed our bikes in the Travelodge office where we managed to spread oil all over the floor and headed off our usual 2 meals each.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

DAY 4: Epic!!!! Our monster day began with an amazing all-you-can-eat
continental breakfast in Kilmarnock Premier Inn. Let's just say that
the other hotel guests had to make do with milk and jam for their
breaky. The early part of the journey took us through the very
picturesque sights of north west Scotland, that we were so glad to see
the end of, we hammered the miles as a group and ended up on the
border in Gretna in no time. Group photo by the sign for England
ensued. In charge of navigation for the day was Ollie who obviously
had an affinity with Carlisle seeing as we spent far too long there,
clearly not lost. He paid for this mistake with an embarrassing
stationary flop at the lights. The whole group was in shock that it
wasn't infact Si, who had experienced 3 such falls previously. On
roughly 100 miles into the journey with Penrith behind us, the route
began to climb (pretty steeply) as we skirted the Lake District. The
long climb was rewarded however, with an awesome 15 mile stretch of
continuous downhill that took us straight into our destination,
Kendal. In the fading light/complete darkness this section was
obviously not done at an average of 40mph??? Approaching 10 o'clock,
the group then gorged on several dominoes pizzas in our hostel whilst
contemplating what an enormous day had just rolled by.

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, 25 April 2011

Day 3

Day 3 started with 35 miles up hill through Glencoe Valley!! A steady paced climb got us to the top in one piece albeit cold (although several stops later!). Near the top Rich played the part of the Easter bunny by hiding eggs on bikes ( Jo pulled a minor tantrum after thinking all eggs were eaten before realising the eggs were hidden on the bikes).

Ipods then went on to create a much needed distraction from the pain of the hills and our journey along Loch Lomond.

After 80 miles we stopped for lunch in a random village before making our way to Glasgow. On the way, whilst our pelaton style cycling was much improved, we weren't totally in command when a constatina effect crash happened and Charlie fell into the dual carriage way.

We had a scenic tour though Glasgow past the airport and over suicide bridge and Si managed his 3rd stationary fall in 3 days.

We then faced a massive hill which gave us views all over Glasgow before tackling the final stretch to Kilmarnock. Olie was taking pictures all day whilst managing to power up hills, along with Tom, up all hills.

Jo, map reader for the day, got us to our destination for the day, Premier Inn which luckily also served food - much needed after 116 miles. Most people gobbled down two mains, well except for Ben who was having issues finishing his super sized roast beef. Then it was time for much needed sleep!

day 2

Successfully made it to the end of day 2. 200 miles down but still
lots to go. Today went down the length of the caledonian canal, past
loch ness and finishing in the shadow of ben nevis, which still had
snow on the top! Although it appeared on the map to be a very flat
day, it ended up being very hilly. Sadly as a result, we've lost our
team member pete who had to take a break for a few days due to worries
over severe lower back pain. The rest of the team are doing well,
olie, tom and rich finished the day with an ice bath in loch linnhe!
We've all fully fed and watered and now off to bed with very full
bellies from eating 1.5kg of pasta! Tomorrow takes us south past
glasgow and nearly to the base of scotland, almost 1 country down!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Day 1. Done.

Good morning.

Day one was a great success, transport north was fantastic, bike building went smoothly, and then all we needed was the mandatory John O'Groats signpost photo. Now, as this is a "privately owned signpost" you are welcome to pay the grumpiest man on the planet a significant amount of cash to take said photo for you. If you are us, you can jump the chain, collar an unsuspecting member of public, get the shot and run away.

It was a grinding, breezy start to the day, with Pete well fuelled on kebab meat paninis. The miles began to tick off as the bleak, treeless countryside became rolling hills. Stunning views were had along the east coast beaches and through the highland hills. Great ascents and satisfyingly rapid descents.

Jo got the hostel with a sore head and heat bonk, some rehdration and salty water later and we're ready to go for day 2.

Our arrival

Having opted for the reclining seats over bunks, we were not setting ourselvers up for a great nights sleep! And that's exactly what it was. I suspect at least one person was awake the whole time. We finally arrived in Inverness at 8.30am with our taxi waiting, bikes still in boxes pre-loaded on the trailer. After a 3 hour ride we arrived at John O'Groats.

The Team

The Team