Tuesday 31 August 2010

LEJOG day 4 Pushing it to Preston

Better start to the day, felt like I had a better nights sleep which makes all the difference. Up around 7 a.m for a breakfast prepared by the Shrewsbury Christadelphians. I opted for Weetabix today as I have had porridge everyday up until now. Usual extra's of toast, tea and orange juice to wash it down, plus a slice of Ben A's birthday cake. Our hosts kindly offered to wash stuff for us last night too, which was nice. However, the voices in my head were not quite as nice when 2 odds socks were returned from 3 complete pairs!
The start of our journey looked promising weatherwise as the sun was shining bright, although it was just a little bit chilly. The more we cycled, the warmer it became. The first leg was kinda strange because several potato's (or beets according to Dave) were found randomly littering the road. After about 30 miles we stopped for our first break.

We stopped again after another 30ish miles and Nathans dad showed up. This was cool because we were spoilt with further supplies of food and medicines and I believe (hope) that Nathan's dad might be my lift back home from John O'Groats (as he is spending time in Lake District whilst we cycle). All our stops seem to follow a similar patten - we eat lots, stretch, fill up water bottles, rub in deep heat and then head off again. Nigel, a fellow cyclist with whom I cycled from London to Paris with, swears that Ibuprofen gel beats deep heat, but there are a few cyclists here who would argue the toss.
Was not particularly paying attention to the route today but thought of friends from LEJOG 2009 when I passed certain landmarks. Indeed, I though of Clive the Dr when I passed a place called 'Clive' and likewise thought of Wiggan Mark when I passed a sign for 'Mark'. Mark got a double thought because today I also passed through Wiggan. Wiggan wasn't as menace as last year but sure enough it does have it's fair share of scalliwags. A few random folk cheered us or whistled us as we passed which was nice.

Our last stop was short and sweet. Just a quick stop to stretch really before we pressed on for the last few miles. The whole day (like yesterday) we all cycled together which was great and unexpected. Within 2 miles of our finish, we were met by Neil Sutcliffe on his mountain bike. Neil led us safely back to his house, our destination. Neil and his family are kindly putting us all up for the night.

This blog entry is being typed in the comfort of Neil's lounge. The Sutcliffe's provided us with a super meal (pasta, bolognese, noodles and garlic bread) and fluids. As I sign off now, dessert awaits!

Cycled a distance of 82.83 miles at an average speed of 12.9 mph and a max speed of 36.7 mph.

LEJOG day 3 The slog to Shrewsbury

Awoke today feeling absolutely knackered. Did not go to bed till just after midnight and todays wake up was at around 6 a.m. We had to get up so early because a chap called Phil wanted to cycle the first 6 miles with us before he went on to work. Getting up so early was soon eased when the Downend Christadelphians cooked us porridge and other breakfast items. Just after breakfast we readied ourselves by filling water bottles and I kindly pumped up everybody's tyres. We set off later than planned following Phil in a stop/start fashion. Phil was a lovely guy, but the voices in my head were shouting 'you got up 3 hours early just to cycle 6 miles with this random dude'. Once Phil left us, we sped on a little way and then BANG, Dave's tube had exploded and blew his tyre off the rim (wonder if this had anything to do with my pumping action earlier?!). This took hours to fix, we didn't have a spare tyre and people kept me amused as they tried to inflate the tyre with grass (I really have seen it all now!). Suffice to say the grass didn't work, but Ian sped away and returned with a new tyre. After this major incident we crossed the Severn bridge and were now in Wales. Woo hoo! The bridge crossing was not half as windy as it was the time I crossed it during LEJOG 2009. Just after the Severn crossing we stopped for our first legitimate stop. Ian's family were there and his little kids made LEJOG banners which they proudly showed us. Awesome. A random woman, whose drive we were blocking, came out and made us all tea and coffee. We stuffed ourselves with plenty of food and set off again.
This next section was super zoomy! We had a fantastic descent all the way down to Tintern Abbey, which just went on and on and on. This will be hard to beat. After the descent we had quite a hilly section back into England. Once in Hereford, we met another LEJOGer who was making his way along on a fixed wheel bike. We stopped in Hereford, at another Christadelphian Hall, for more sarnies and food. When we left Hereford it was starting to get dark so we kitted our cycles up with lights. My lights were pretty naff, but they were better than nothing. This last trek was tough going, it was late and dark and I was tired and in much discomfort. My backside was sore, my knees were shot, my body was riddled in sweat but thankfully the voices in my head were singing a sweet tune. Ian left us near this juncture too, to return to family and work life. Ian was a great guy and cycling with him was fun, such a shame he can't continue along with us. Still, we are 8, and that's pretty great. Fleur, by the way, has no intention of joining our party now either. I may cycle some more with Ian somewhere in time.

It was nearly 9 p.m by the time we reached our destination - Shrewsbury Christadelphian Hall. (This late finish explains why I have blogged this entry a day late). On reflection though we had a great day and an awful lot to reflect on, stories and memories that'll last a long time.

The Shrewsbury Christadelphians looked after us real good too and cooked us pasta and bolognese and catered to all our needs. The helpful Hannah left us here but will return and help some more towards the end of our trip. A guy called Mike has taken on the support role for a few days - I hope he knows what he has let himself in for! After feeding, I made my way to bed and promptly crashed out.

Cycled a distance of 104.81 miles, at an average speed of 13.5 mph and a max speed of 41.5mph.

Sunday 29 August 2010

LEJOG day 2 The battle to Bristol

Early start again today. Woke up with painful legs. Waking up wasn't so harsh though because the Avery's cooked us up a neat porridge and provided us with tea and toast.

Once fuelled up we set off from Devon on what turned out to be a beautiful sunny morning. The first 10 miles or so were lovely - quiet undualting roads. We cycled as a group the whole day which was awesome. After these first 10 miles, my right knee played up big time and I dropped towards the back of the group. Reached our first stop after about 30 miles where the helpful Hannah provided us with tuna sarnies, and more importantly deep heat which helped my knee pain a great deal.
The next leg to lunch was not too bad and sure enough my knee felt a whole lot better (though still hurt on occasions). We reached a pub and ate more sarnies outside plus left over burgers and sausage from the night before. The pub was packed, but since it started raining a little we made our way indoors and treated ourselves to some tea.

After lunch we set off again and the weather had reverted back into sunshine. We formed a worm like chain and cycled until we reached our next stop. At this next stop I got talking to 2 old grannies who kindly donated further monies to our charity.

The last leg was pleasant too, we cycled through parts of Bristol and we passed signs to UWE, which reminded me of the days I was studying for my BSc in biomedical sciences. Is kinda nice travelling through towns and cities as there is so much stimulus to fill up one's head space. Before it was dark we reached our destination - Downend Christadelphian Hall in Bristol.

The Christadelphian community in Downend were awesome and allowed us to use their hall as a base for the night. To top that, they cooked us an awesome curry and bread and butter pudding too and even washed some of our clothes. Today was a special day for Ben Adams too - it was his birthday. We sang Ben happy birthday and Hannah got him a cake and made him blow out the candles. Some of us showered using a hose pipe and just before midnight we had all crashed out.
Cycled a distance of 94.78 miles today.

Weekly totals: Cycled a distance of 263 miles.

Saturday 28 August 2010

LEJOG day 1 Killing the Lizard

Early start to the day, leaving the Jones' around 6 a.m. Gareth kindly escorted myself and the 4 other cyclists (namely Ben, Ben, Chris and Guy) plus our bikes to the start - Land's End! The 4 cyclists who started yesterday were able to spend a while longer in bed, until the cyclists in my group (but not me) cycled back to the Jones' for breakfast. I wouldn't be cycling to the Jones' because I had a certain Lizard to kill...

At Land's End we all had our photo's taken and then we were off on our epic journey. We cycled as a group to Helston and then I parted company with the others. The others were going to meet up with the remainder of the group, have breakfast and cycle to our destination in Copplestone. I was cycling to the Lizard, the Southernmost point of mainland Britain. No one else was brave enough (mad enough?!) to join me.
The trip to the Lizard was well worth it, very pretty and gave me a good feeling that I had achieved another goal. One of the hills was pretty tough and was a 17% gradient. I passed through a place called Cury which I found of some amusement. At the Lizard, I treated myself to a well earned full english breakfast before I set off again.
Cycling such a distance by myself was hard work - no one to slip stream and only the voices in my head to keep me company. Guy would phone or text me at random times to update me on there whereabouts and check to see if I was ok, which was nice. John V, and my sis Jane also text me to wish me well which was also real nice, and I spoke to my dad (and ma by proxy) on the phone.

After a long stretch on the A30 I pulled over and had a break at Mc Donalds and suitably fed and watered myself here. Phoned Guy, he was in Wadebridge (which was only like 12 miles away, but at the time I didn't know that). Left Mc Donald's and continued my trek.

After I had cycled 110 miles I eventually caught up with the other 8 cyclists in Bude. This was such a great meet, because now we were all together, and better yet, Hannah (Ben Adams girlfriend) was there doing a wonderful job of supporting us (ie getting us food and drink, and transporting all our luggage and providing me with a plaster for my 'cyclists nipple'). The other cyclists were Nathan, Dave, Ian and Steve.
We cycled as a group all the way to Copplestone, stopping and stretching at random times. It was nice to talk to others and share a experince. Steve is a youngster at only 17 years of age, Ian is only cycling till Monday, both of the Bens and Nathan have never cycled more than 50 miles in one shot before. Apparently a girl called Fleur is joining us for some action soon.

After I had cycled 151 miles (some 30 miles more than the guys I set off with, and 50 more than the others), we reached our destination. Our destination was the domicile of the Avery's. The Avery's were awesome and suitably catered to our needs and cooked us an amazing BBQ. Sweet! I write this blog on Gareth Avery's laptop! Plan to shower and crash now, ready for another day of cycling tomorrow.

Cycled a distance of 151.79 miles, at an average speed of 14.7 mph and a max speed of 41 mph.

Friday 27 August 2010

LEJOG day 0.25 False Start

Whoa, what a busy week! Was still in a haze after 'Beautiful Days' festival where I stayed until Monday. On Tuesday I forced myself to go for a short spin - just 18 miles, the only training miles completed this week in preparation for this LEJOG 2010 challenge menace! Wednesday was busy with on-call duties and Thursday was the 'night before' which was spent packing and drinking at the Lark with friends to suppress any feelings of anxiety... And then, bang, it's Friday, the (supposed) start of my latest challenge. Despite efforts to start challenge today, (was originally a 9 day challenge, then folk opted to start early - a whole quarter of a day early) it didn't happen. My day started ok, I went to work and hugged work mates goodbye. Some folk from work thought it might be the last they see of me, so photo's were taken with various individuals and some commented 'have you wrote a will', 'where's your teeth guard' and other random comments. Carmel and Max escorted me to the train station. My train was seriously delayed, over an hour. Train was also packed and slowly made it's way to Exeter, where further delays developed. Eventually I boarded another train and got to Plymouth where I was informed that the next train to Plymouth would not come in till 6pm (should have arrived at Penzance t 5.30pm)! Horrors! Phoned Guy (1 of the 8 other cyclists doing this challenge with me) and he too was seriously delayed - having major troubles with roof rack and trailer. The rail company were pretty cool to be fair and organized a taxi to take me to Penzance. This taxi was fun - it was shared with a German guy, a Spanish girl, 3 bikes and a trailer! I took this taxi as far as Truro, deciding I would start LEJOG tomorrow and stick with the original 9 day challenge.
Was hoping we would have a common sense of team spirit and all cycle together, but 4 of the 9 cyclists started out today. Hmm! I was picked up at Truro by a Allison Jones and escorted back to her abode. At her abode I met her husband and 2 daughters and some 'Brown' family members who made me very welcome. My blogging was disturbed and I was treated to chilli and rice - mmm delicious! I now await the return of the rest of the cycling group and various others who are all crashing out at the Jones' tonight.

(Sadly, I have forgotten my camera lead so will not be able to download any photo's till after my challenge. Please check back in a couple of weeks to see pics I have taken, or find me on face-book where I will add photo's at completion of trip).

Thursday 19 August 2010

Twenty 1

Argh! An awful week on the training front. Only cycled 21 miles. Am off to the Beautiful Days festival you see. At least Cayo and Scotty have nice new tyres ready for when they'll be cycled again.

Weekly totals: Cycled 21 miles

Saturday 14 August 2010

Acoustic motorbike*

Another great week cycling my acoustic motorbikes (this title was coutesy of Pantalong). Less than 2 weeks today I will be starting my LEJOG 2010 challenge - I think we are officially starting on the friday now and planning to cycle LEJOG in 9 and a 1/4 days. I am planning on cycling Southernmost point of mainland Britain (Lizard Point) to Northernmost (Dunnett Head) point too.

Ron and I cycled our mountain bikes at the beginning of the week and cycled new off road tracks. Was a pleasant run and is always good covering new terrain. We hit some trails previously cycled, but did these in reverse, including the wooded area where the cart once was. We raced up the majority of hills - Ron beating me up most, but I raced so hard I felt sick. Took Scotty out again towards the end of the week and noticed her rear wheel was wonkey. I thought the wheel was buckled, but only closer inspection could see that a spoke had snapped. This cut my training session short and Scotty's rear wheel was taken to Cult Cycles for repair. Cult have promptly fixed said wheel but inform me that I need a new tyre as the sidewall had a big hole in it exposing the tube. All this damage must have been from that rogue nail last saturday. Ron is also having bad bike luck - he rang me today and informed his mountain bike frame had snapped! Scotty's rear wheel awaits collection.
Had better luck with Cayo. Early in the week I took her for a quick 20 mile cycle and then the following day took her for quite an epic ride. This epic ride covered 100 miles and skirted around Warwickshire and Worcestershire and into the Cotswolds where I cycled both Saintbury and Fish Hill. Broadway Tower made a pleasant place to stop and eat beans and toast. This ride continued back into Studley where I cycled a well known circuit with Ron including a couple of short, sharp climbs around Astwood Bank. The ride finished by me topping up to the 100 mile mark by cycling just a few more miles on Ron's rollers and then heading home. Fitted Cayo with new tyres which look awesome. The new tyres are Schwalbe Ultremo's and with the red graphics and stripes have proper pimped my ride! The tyres are race tyres and I chose these not because I wish to race, but have found my previous gator skin tyres were just rubbish. The gator skins punctured and were a real menace to get on and off. These Schwalbe are easy to get on and off and apparently have decent puncture protection properties. Time will tell.

Weekly totals: Cycled 162 miles.

Tuesday 10 August 2010

What a result

Am happy to be able to provide the results for the Evans Ride It Off Road sportive that I completed in the Cotswolds last saturday. 174 cyclists completed the long route and I came in 12th position. :)

The results for myself and my 2 buddies are as follows:

Tim 4 hours, 29 mins (av speed 6.88mph)
Ron 4 hours, 48 mins and 24 secs (av speed 6.45mph)
Meekon 4 hours, 48 mins and 34 secs (av speed 6.45mph)


Saturday 7 August 2010

Big boy shoes?

Another great week on the cycling front. Cycled most days and covered a fair few miles. Mid-week both my favourite cycles were taken for a service. Cayo still remains in the bike shop but is ready for collection. Prior to Cayo's service she completed the 'Hunting for hills' route created last week. Scotty was all working well after her service, that is until the completion of the Evans Ride It event.
The Evans Ride It event was an off road cycle in the Cotswolds and we chose to do the 30 mile (long route option). By 'we', I mean myself, Ron and Dave Meakin. Dave Meakin is a keen cyclist and likes to time trial. [The Meakins are 3 ginger brothers known well to both mine and Ron's family. All of the Meakin boys are often called or reffered to as 'Meekon', and indeed my sister even had a ginger kitten once who was named 'Meekon' after the infamous Meakins]. Am not sure as to whether this event was a real/proper sportive or not, but suffice to say it was timed and we were all fitted with starting chips attached to our ankles. We all started off together, but Ron and I ensured that Meekon crossed the start line a good few seconds ahead of us.

The event started well, but after no time the heavens opened and we were soaked to the skin. Course markers were not particularly brilliant and we took a few wrong turns at times. The actual course was quite nice with some super descents but there was also enough menace hills and climbs and lots and lots of gates. The majority of the route was off road but small sections of tarmac had to be navigated.

Ron was the first to puncture. His puncture had to be fixed in the pouring rain. At least this gave me oppurtunity to eat my gel that was given to me at the start of the event. A stop point was located about mid-ride where thay gave away delicious cake too - I had 2 slices, mmm. I punctured towards the last 10 miles of the event - a large nail ripped through my tyre and peirced my tube. Was soon fixed (though Ron and Meekon were keen to press on) but following this my rear brake played up (?air in the cable). I shouted to Ron and Meekon but they were gone.

I did not finish the last section alone, I caught up with 2 cyclists from Reading and cycled with them. The one guy had taken a fall and had bad markings covering the whole of his chest, and the Gore clothing he was wearing 'try before you buy gear' was suitably ripped (he didn't have to pay for this at end of ride either). We cycled to the end in quite a leisurely but fun fashion, sharing stories and the like.

At the end I crossed the line and was expecting to be greeted by Ron and Meekon. They were not here, they had taken a wrong turn and gotten a wee bit lost. This meant that I won (yay), I had the quickest time! Is a good job that not the fittest, strongest or fastest cyclist always comes in first. Official results are not out yet, but as soon as they are, I will publish all of our results on this blog!

The day finished in style, with the drinking of tea and much eating. I think I managed to devour a pastie, chilli, bread roll and a snickers bar! Now to clean my bike...


Weekly totals: Cycled 114 miles.

(Big thanks to sis Jane for sending me a super groovy cycling book mark which featured on last blog entry).

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Mid-week menace!

This week started out so well. Took Cayo out for a nice trek. On return I noticed her front tyre had a little cut in it. Hmm, am sure she needs a new chain and casette too. And bar tape. And possibly new front chain rings. A service is booked this week. Let's hope her fate is not fatal!

Scotty didn't fare too well either. Last week I noticed (or heard) strange creaking sounds. Took her for a cross country spin today across naughty woods and past Studley castle. Just before the castle, Ron had to stop for an emergency (hahah), something to do with apricots... On the steep hill climb, Scotty's chain snapped. Ron thinks the creaking is ceased bearings and despite the fact we fixed the chain, it is somewhat shorter now. Poor Scotty is in need of a service to. Just hope she can be fixed up before the weekend and the pending off road challenge that is planned.

The Specialized is gathering dust at work too. She sits all alone in an empty office with a punctured front tube. They say bad luck comes in 3's. Hmm.

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