Sunday 26 September 2010

A ringing bell behind my smile ...

An awfull week on the cycling front. I cycled only 5 miles, and these miles were indoors! I managed to get hold of a Tacx indoor roller. This is basically a machine that allows one to ride their bike indoors, in the comfort of their own home. An incredible machine that allegedly improves fitness and pedal stroke. My fitness wasn't improved at all, after sweating incredible amounts and having only just started to perfect my balance, my rollers broke. The belt (rubber band) connecting the rollers together snapped. Great - end of training. Grr!

An excuse for not cycling much this week was the fact that I had a visit to the dentist who promptly removed 2 of my front teeth. Ouch. This left a nice 3 tooth gap at the front of my mouth. For those new to this blog, this tooth loss was necessary following a cycle accident last year that mashed up my face a little.

However, this tooth removal wasn't so bad. The dentist removed 2 teeth but added 3! Bonus! I don't remember the last time I had a full set of straight teeth. My teeth are only temporary, I have a plate at present, but over the next 8 months I will hopefully have implants fitted.
Hope to start cycling a little more this next week. Hopefully, Wiggle will send me a replacement band for the rollers. On saturday next I should be meeting up with the LEJOG 2010 boys for a re-union and 100k audax in Bristol. Will be great to meet my cycling comrades again and share some stories. Oh, at this time of blogging, the LEJOG 2010 group have raised £6,478.04 for our charity, which is just awesome. Many thanks again to all those that have sponsored, and if you are still wanting to, then please visit here:

Weekly totals: Cycled 5 miles.

Saturday 18 September 2010

Welland Wonder

A rather leisurely week on the cycling front. However, Scotty was ridden for the first time in what seeems like an age. This week also saw me complete my 7th audax event.

Took Scotty out on a solo trip as John was busy with work and Ron had become a fair weather cyclist (ha!). I cycled a familiar training route that took me to where the cart used to be, through Coughton and back home through Sambourne. The ride was slippery but the rain held off. It was nice to get out on a mountain bike after so long. The ride was a little eerie, as I was alone and it was dark. But darkness means super awesome ay-up lights. I passed a deer in Sambourne, and I swear I was that close to it that I could have slapped it's backside (I refrained).

The Welland Wonder 50k audax was great. Weather was fine, the sun shining bright. Only about 9 people opted for this short event (longer distances were being ran at the same venue). I chose to do this short event just so I could add a 50k medal to my collection (now I have all distances from 50 - 300k).

Almost as soon as the event started, I joined 3 cyclists in a splinter group and stuck with these guys throughout. These guys were new to the audax scene and cycled at a leisurely pace. The trek to the first control was real easy. We only had to cycle 13 miles to the first control and it was mostly downhill. The control was in a pub and they handed out free juice and biscuits (I would have opted for a beer given the choice).

The second (and last) leg did not prove too difficult either. It was a little more hilly but nothing major. A random deer crossed our path as we were cycling and we passed a badger who had been victim of road kill. Almost before we began, we had finished. A 50k audax is a seriously silly distance to cycle! Cycled this 32.80 mile event at an average speed of 14.6 mph.

Weekly totals: Cycled a distance of 45 miles.

Sunday 12 September 2010

Mr Pickwick goes to Hay in a day

Mr Pickwick goes to Hay in a day was another awesome 205 k audax event that I completed with Ron yesterday. This was the first lot of cycling I have done since LEJOG last weekend. The day started off fine, we were 2 of about 25 cyclists undertaking this challenge. The audax was split into a number of stages, and each stage was not without incident.

Stage 1 started in Tewkesbury. We had not cycled for more than 6 miles before we had to stop. Ron's computer sensor had fallen off and needed to be adjusted. This was soon fixed and we made good progress from falling to the back of the group to nearing the front. Just before reaching the first control in Wormlow a number of cows (with calves) had broken out of a farm yard and were running up the road alongside us.

Stage 2 from Wormlow started to become a little lumpy after the relatively flat start. The weather was great, but my bike was not! My rear tyre had developed 2 bulges and looked like it was about to pop. This tyre (Schwalbe Ultremo) had only done 1,000 miles and during LEJOG I couldn't sing it's praises enough. Now, I wasn't overly happy with this fast rolling, pretty looking piece of rubber. I let out some pressure and continued to the next control. The next control was only a few miles away and woo hoo we reached it! This control was in Hay and that means we had cycled into Wales! Better yet, the control was next to a bike hire shop. A quick stop at this shop and a new (cheap as chips) tyre was purchased and swiftly replaced the Ultremo menace. I no longer have a matching pair, but hey, I could continue my day. Beans on toast, and much tea was consumed at this stop before we continued with the adventure.

Stage 3 was real eventfull. We were cycling alongside an Irish hag (witch) for a while. This hag was old and wrinkled as you would expect, but was also zoomy fast and cycling wearing a pair of sandals (fitted with spd cleats). This hag led us to a far-away tree, that is allegedly as old as the Doomsday book. This tree, (I think it was an oak), was massive. So wide was the tree, and hollow, that one could hide inside it. The hag went inside first. I'm sure she hinted that she had found some gold inside the tree. After I'm sure I heard her cackle, poof, she was off like a shot.
We could see the hag in the distance as we left the far-away tree and continued on our way. Every time the hag would go out of sight, she would re-appear but be a good distance further ahead. Ron and I concluded that it must be some sort of dark teleportation magic she was practising.
How we did, I don't know, but we caught the hag up by the time we reached this bridge that crossed the River Wye. This was no ordinary bridge with booth. This was a Troll booth. Ron paid the troll the troll charge and we were allowed entry over said bridge. We then sped along to Bromyard, the next control. This control was great. We sat and ate a curry with rice. This curry was so, so hot. It burned my mouth each time I belched. Delicious all the same. With breath this bad, I though all folk would stay away, but can you believe it? - the Hag came and sat with us. The hag introduced herself as Mary and shortly teleported off. Today was also the Bromyard folk festival. This provided light entertainment as numerous Morris Dancers danced away before us as we ate our curry.
With a belly full of curry, I figured I had enough carbs and gas to commence the next stage. This and the previous stage were quite undulating in nature. We experienced a brief down pour of rain, nothing heavy. When the rain had stopped, a beautiful rainbow came out which was awesome. The rest of our ride was fairly benign, although there was the odd little climb to get me pushing the pedals. We reached the control in Tewkesbury feeling pleased with ourselves and the knowledge we had had another great day.

Cycled a distance of 128.47 miles, at an average speed of 14.5 mph and a max speed of 38.3 mph.

Weekly totals: Cycled a distance of 129 miles.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Reflective thoughts on LEJOG 2010

Today is not the greatest. Indeed, today is the day that I return to work. Don't get me wrong, I'm gratefull for having a job, it's just that now I am back in the real world and already missing new friends and adventure, the smell of deep heat  and the taste of pasta (hmm, then again...).

Chris Hodges asked each of us to scribble a testimonial down at the end of the trip. The idea behind this was, I guess, to preserve and share some memories that would last forever. I did the same and present my testimonial below (in all honesty, am not really sure what a 'testimonial' is, but it's a nice big word that sounds kinda cool).

At the request of Chris Hodges, I write here a testimonial for the LEJOG 2010 trip in support of ‘Help4Happys’s’. In the short space I’ve had to think over the last 9 days of challenge, it is proving difficult to put into words what this adventure has really meant to me.

This journey has touched me on numerous levels.

I like a good challenge and to achieve something I only dreamt of doing once is quite awesome. As most are aware, I have now successfully completed LEJOG twice, this last time with an added personal challenge of including Southernmost and Northernmost points of Mainland Britain too. Both these challenges could not have been done without support of all the cyclists involved. LEJOG 2010 was supported in so many ways. Support came in the form of each other, but add to that our support crew Hannah and Mike, our awesome hosts - the Jones’, the Avery’s, Downend and Shrewsbury Christadelphians, the Sutcliffe’s, the Dawson-Bowmans, top that with extra support from friends, family and work, add a sprinkle of random good natured folk and you have the best support one could hope for. Over and above all of that, God had blessed us greatly with good weather, healthy bodies and food. Without this support system in place, LEJOG 2010 would not have been completed.

Emotions were stirred inside of me. Emotions so powerful and strong that I laughed till I cried and cried till I laughed. Irrational excitement was ripe. And what’s wrong with a bit of irrational excitement once in a while?!

Senses were out of control. The sheer enormity of landscape and the beauty of creation seen with my eyes. The banter, laughs and kind words I was able to hear. The smell of the seaside, tuna, pasta and Chris (ha!). The feel of soft handlebar tape and rockery roads. And the taste of glorious foods and the ocean air.

How beautifully are we made? Amazing to think that my pair of legs travelled over so many miles and still function. Sure pain was an experience and my head went to some ‘dark places’. But with the support outlined above, was able to by-pass this and even race to various destination points.

On one hand is great that the challenge is completed, well done one and all. Is nice that my bum can take a short rest and my knees won’t feel discomfort for a while. On the other hand, what a shame it’s finished, I have not laughed like this in an age and am missing folk already. Is great to see family and friends again and totally awesome seeing my little puppy dog Cody, but like I say, new friends are being missed already.

Is great to consider that we have helped others too. We have helped those poor kids in Africa. Families and friends have gotten together and support just seems to grow. I could go on and on, but I guess it’s time for me to go. I will conclude by adding just a few words about my fellow riders:

Ben Adams aka ‘Badams’. Not a bad bone in this guys body. Such a nice all round dude, never a bad word to say about anyone or anything. Fought through sickness and came out a winner.

Ben Bramhill the ‘king of the mountains’. Such a strong cyclist, I think he took us all by surprise at how he just got fitter and fitter whilst the rest of us got more and more whacked.

Chris Hodges the legend! I miss this guy more than anyone else. Chris was just so funny. A clever, witty guy with an awesome sense of humour and a heart of gold.

Dave Cross Very fit and knowledgeable cyclist. Kept the group together and seemed to have legs that wouldn’t wear out.

Guy Kieser The Kieser chief! This guy was responsible for a number of knackered men. Treat this guy with caution. The manager of the team, and what an awesome job he did. He completed his LEJOG challenge on a broken wheel!

Ian Cross Part-timer (ha!). Very fit and knowledgeable, much like his brother. Was missed when he left the group after only a few days.

Nathan Briley the triathlete. The energy bar/gel/drink junkie of the group. This guy was like a power cell with his bursts of activity. Impressed with the way Nathan showed others that LEJOG 2010 could be completed on a triathlon bike!

Steve Cross The youngest member of the team. I think this guy had a rocket hidden in his shorts, he was so zoomy fast. Very fit like all the Cross’s.

Hannah Bolton and Mike Brown Our wonderful on-hand support crew. These guys were awesome at looking after our every need, acting like mum, and feeding us!

I also wanted to provide some statistics. These are as follows:

Total distance covered - 959.26 miles
Time taken - 9 days
Punctures - 4. (Tim 1; Dave 2; Ben A 1)
Damaged tyres - 2 (both Dave)
Broken Spokes - 1 (Guy)
Money raised for 'Help4Happy's' - £4,493.89 (This was correct at time of entry. That is 90% of our intended target and further monies are still to come in).
Super hero's - A whole bunch!

Tuesday 7 September 2010

LEJOG day 9 Joy at John O' Groats

Got up at another painfully early time the morning of our final ride. Breakfast was per usual, all eating porridge together, except Chris who would eat Alpen or Muesli (probably the cause of his terrible wind). Considering the lack of sleep and the fact our bodies had been pushed for so long, we all appeared in good spirits.

The day had a nice start weatherwise. On reflection, the weather for this whole trip has been great. We only had 1 spot of rain early on in the challenge and at that time we took refuge in a pub. Once leaving pub, the rain had stopped and we never saw it again. We experienced no rain in Wales or Scotland. To top that, we all have a cyclists tan - white hands, white feet and half brown legs and arms. Steve even has a tan mark on his face from his helmet straps. The beginning of this final day was great on many levels, including a nice big descent pretty much from our Youth Hostel in Inverness right over the first bridge we encountered. I spent the first leg of this day chatting mostly with Chris, he said 'talking to you Tim, is like opening a window to another universe' - I like that quote. At out first stop we had sarnies again. These sarnies were different though, for this leg we were treated with macerel instead of tuna.

Cycling to the next stop was difficult. This stretch seemed to go on forever (and forever is a very long time). I could not find a good pace and I just couldn't get comfy. At least the scenery was nice and I lost count of how many bridges we crossed today. I think Chris was suffering a little too - he took a cheeky nap at the next stop.Next leg was also difficult. This must have been the most undulating part of the challenge. We all started off as a nice chain, but this soon split up with 3 cyclists in a group at the front, followed by Timmy no mates (my good self), and a group of 3 at the rear. Is probably good I was by myself because only the voices in my head heard my groans and complaints. Everything hurt and my pain threshold was on red alert. Even the wind was menace at times here, blowing right in my face. My senses were working well though and the smell of the seaside was great and the view of the coastline was awesome. Then, before I knew it, it was lunch.

Lunch was like magic. After I had eaten I felt great again. It was like I was given a second, fresh pair of legs. Happy days. The lots and lots of big ups and downs that followed were all suprisingly fun. Seemed to get to the next break stop without too much bother at all.

The next section too Wick was super zoomy. Young Steve, Ben B and myself sped off like lightning. We all took (reluctant) turns at the front of this group whilst the other 2 slip streamed. We all stopped short of the next break stop, so the whole group stopped together.

This last stop was great because we all knew that only about 20 miles were left to John O' Groats. I, however, was looking at about another 50 - I had a certain Northernmost point to conquer. As much as I tried to convince others to come with me, this was going to be a solo expedition. I wished the others well, downed a can of Nathan's monster energy juice and sperated from the group after about 1 mile.

This last section started off great. I felt like I was following a great black tar river - the road surface was smooth, the wind had gone and I was zooming along. It felt like Nathan was pulling me again as I was reaching and maintaining speeds of about 25 mph plus. Nice. I wrote directions on my fingers, but these directions soon became destructions. The B874 I was supposed to follow until it joined the A836 had vanished. I was at a fork in the road and decided to take a right onto the 876 (not sure if this was an A or B road). This section slowed me down a little, but my shadow gave me much amusement (felt I wasn't talking to myself anymore). After some time I found a signpost pointing to Castletown. This was good news, Castletown was in my instructions and was only 8 miles away. After these 8 miles I took a right and started to follow the A836 to Dunnet. Yay, my goal was not too far out.
Slight menace happened here. I needed a toilet stop but no where suitable could be found for what felt like an age. I thought my luck was in when I found a caravan park. Silly me, I raced up the drive, hit the loose stones and swiftly fell off my bike (this is the second time I have fallen off my bike this trip). Got back up, raced to the toilets and found they were locked. Not wanting to put pressure on either my bladder or my bowels I cycled standing on my pedals (off the seat) all the way to Dunnet Head. Was pleased I had found the way to Dunnet Head but forgot how tough the climb up to the top was. When I reached the top I took a photo of my bike against the sign that read 'Dunnet Head, the Northernmost point of mainland Britain'. The view up here was great but the whole place felt a little eerie and was desolate. From Dunnet Head, I was only about 15 miles away from the finish. Getting to the finish was tough though. The descent down from this Northernmost point was difficult and scarey. The wind was blowing real hard and shunting my bike from side to side. I remembered the same thing happening last year. Not only was staying on the bike difficult due to the wind, I couldn't sit down either because I still needed the loo! Finally got to the bottom again, out of the wind, and only 12 miles left to cycle.

Was so happy once I found a pub. I darted in, ordered a pint and went straight to the toilet! Argh, such sweet relief. Bliss! Returned to the bar, downed my drink in 2 swigs and was about to set off again. The others would have finished by now. It was dark and the Landlady said 'be careful out there, there's a lot of crazy folk on tractors' as I headed out the pub.

It was real dark. I had no suitable lights on my bike and no phone. Oh well, only a few miles left to go. I had a knog light on the front which Chris had given me. This knog light was a single LED but provided just enough light for me to see about 1/2 a foot ahead and so miss any potential menace pot holes. I ate my last cereal bar plus an energy gel and raced all the way to the finish!

Got to the finish, yay, had reached John O' Groats! The voices in my head were bigging me up big time and congratulating me for not only completing my 2nd LEJOG challenge in 9 days, but completing said challenge with the addition of the Southernmost and Northernmost points of mainland Britain. Woo hoo! Job done! Took pictures of my bike against the John O' Groats sign post (fingers to the sign were missing) but couldn't take a picture of myself here because there was no one around.
What the Dickens?! Where was everyone? I cycled to a nearby pub, no one around. Cycled back to John O' Groats, no one around. Eventually, I found the campsite and the missing cyclists! Great! Congratulated everbody, cheered, smiled and repeated the woo hoo, job done lines!

What followed then was celebrations in a nearby pub. We celebrated with a few drinks and much pizza and chips (whilst watching a disgusting program on T.V about folk who had major nasty mishaps whilst cycling). A pat on the back to all before we retired and spent a nice last night together in a tent in one of the windiest places in the whole World looking out at the North Sea.

Morning came and I took a walk with Chris to the obligatory sign post again and took pictures of myself and bike in the light. Pleased challenge is over but will remember this adventure for a long time. Thanks be to God for keeping me safe, and thanks to all my fellow cyclists for being a part in one truly amazing adventure. And, many thanks to all those who believed in us, supported us and sponsored our charity.

Cycled a distance of 145.70 miles, with a maximum speed of 46 mph.

Total weekly mileage was 707 miles.

Total Land's End to John O' Groats distance (including Sothernmost and Northernmost points of mainland Britain) was 959.26 miles!

Not sure as to what happens next, or what challenge lays ahead. Hope to provide further stats in my next blog entry with details of fundraising and maybe a testimonial. Unable to cycle anymore as the dude below has stolen my bicycle....

Saturday 4 September 2010

LEJOG day 8 In to Inverness

Woke up this morning in the grotty Youth Hostel at Glencoe. Awoke several times during the night as Chris and I were sharing a room with a bunch of folk who snored and made animal noises in their sleep. Our fellow cyclists were all sharing a different room. At least the food we had last night was ok - a pasta bolognese again. Porridge this morning was a bit different to say the least - this porridge could be chobbled! After washing dishes and getting bikes ready we were ready to go. Only a few thousand midges, and Ben A's sickness got in the way of a near perfect start. The day was hot and bright already.

Our first trek started off great, a neat descent from the beginning. Dave, Chris and I were feeling quite energetic at the start and we shot off from the rest of the group and cycled at a zoomy pace, each taking turns at the front whilst the other 2 slip-streamed. After we stopped for a toilet break, the others caught up and we continued along as a group. We passed Ben Nevis and finally stopped at a Commando memorial, where I remembered stopping during LEJOG 2009.

There was no sarnies at this stop. Hannah had made lots of pasta and tuna instead. I dislike pasta (despite eating so much this trip) and really missed the sarnies. I covered my pasta in mayo to try and disguise the fact it was pasta. The voices were telling me 'pasta will make ya go faster'.

After fuelling up and stretching we were off again. The scenery was again fantastic, the enormity of what I have seen is difficult to put into words. We found Loch Ness and cycled alongside it for a wee while. Being a good bunch of folk, we stopped and helped this French couple who were having troubles with a broken down car. Some thought it was clutch or handbrake problems, the voices told me it was a 'dodgey solanoid'. I think the couple made a call to the hire company or something. Before too long we were off again. I remember following Steve for a while and witnessed his water bottle eject from it's holder and land in a big fat dirty puddle. Steve reclaimed his bottle and now has some classic dirty hand prints on his jersey! Cycling continued and it seemed like quite a while before we reached the lunch stop.

The lunch stop was nice. We were near a corner shop. The voices commanded me to buy a sausage roll, twix bar and mini milk ice cream - the first 'real' food that I have had in days! Mmm delicious! This food was followed by tuna pasta, fruit and flap jacks courtesy of Hannah.

Took the next section at a more leisurely pace with Chris. We admired the awesome scenery. Passed Urquhart Castle and stopped to take pictures. Met the rest of the group at the next stop.

This next stop was in a car park, where again I remembered stopping during LEJOG 2009. No sarnies or nasty pasta was available here, so I fuelled up using an energy gel instead. I remembered a big steep climb followed this stop last year.

The big steep climb never happened, we took a different route. Instead, I led out another splinter group. Nathan, Ben and I took turns at leading this new trio and we raced at quite a pace. Nathan's lead out was super fast and we were reaching speeds of 25 mph plus. We waited towards the end and all re-grouped. A few wrong turns were taken, and a few locals were consulted before we found our way to the end point.

Our finish was the Inverness Youth Hostel. This hostel was way better than last night's. We have a cleaner place to stay with working showers (this really grabbed my goat yesterday). I am sharing a room with fellow cyclists today (Nathan and Ben are sharing with random other folk).

Hannah cooked up an awesome meal tonight. We ate an African dish called 'Bunny Chow', which is basically a curry stuffed into a half load of bread. Absolutely delicious! Following dinner, I washed up and Chris dried - this task proved a little difficult as the cycling induced madness had taken affect again and we were reduced to giggling idiots. Such funny times.

Tomorrow is our last day. We have something like 120 miles still to cover and have to get up around 6 a.m. I am still hoping to cycle to Dunnet Head, the Northernmost point of mainland Britain. Am not sure if anyone is brave (mad?) enough to join me on this venture, only time will tell. With this closing words, I retire for the night.

Cycled a distance of 84.96 miles at an average speed of 14.3 mph and a max speed of 34.1 mph.

Friday 3 September 2010

LEJOG day 7 Happy days in the Highlands

Awoke feeling a little groggy today. Spent the night sleeping on a sofa as I was too tired to sort my own inflatable matress out. It had been a tiresome night after all the cycling we had done thus far and the incredible food we had consumed. Last night Chris and I had a case of incurable giggling. I laughed so much that I cried and my stomach hurt. I firmly believe that long distance cycling induces madness.The Dawson-Bowman's prepared us a suitable breakfast and after following our usual routine we set off.

It was a very cold start, visibility was poor as eveywhere was foggy. With our lights shining bright and wearing our high visibility jackets we left Neilston, Lanarkshire. Not far into our journey, I swear I caught a glimpse of Brian May (guiatarist from Queen) bopping along the side of the street. We continued a wee while and passed over the Erkskine bridge which gave us an awesome sight of Scotland. Some of the group stopped not long after to take pictures. I stopped too, and fell off my bike! No worries, no damage done. Our first stop was at the foot of the beautiful Loch Lomond.

Loch Lomond was a very welcome stop. Hannah, as usual, had prepared us lovely sarnies once again. By now the sun was starting to come out too and the day was warming up.

The next leg till lunch was fast paced. I cycled off, leading Ben B and Nathan for 10 miles before Ben took place at the front and we cycled on a further 5 miles or so. Our pace was so fast that we left all the other cyclists behind. We stopped and waited for the group to catch us up, but this never happened - we had taken a wrong turn. A couple of random cyclists pointed out to us that we had taken this wrong turn, and now that we had waited 30 mins we had to back track a little way and race to reach the group. Nathan was leading us out now, and boy he must have been hungry. Nathan nailed it for a good few miles and I was finding it hard to keep up. Shortly before we reached the others I took place at the front again and nearly flew straight past the group who had started eating lunch in a layby. This section of the ride was on horrible bumpy roads but the view of the Loch was stunning. We stopped a while, had lunch and set off again.

After lunch I cycled with Ben A. Ben kept me amused by sharing stories and singing African songs. As we were cycling along, a plane flew overhead and the sound was so loud I nearly fell off my bike in shock. I turned to tell Ben that I nearly fell off, and can you believe it, he fell off! Ben got back on and we cycled some big hills with beautiful scenery, mostly big mountains, to look at as we gritted our teeth and climbed to the next stop.

More sarnies were consumed at this next stop. Our stop was in a car park and I got chatting to random folk before we set off again on our last leg. My brake blocks seemed to be a little wonkey, but hey, decided to just press on.

The final leg was awesome. Saw big sized deer scattered along the roadside - victims of road kill.

Big long descent which went on for miles. I felt like I was being rewarded for the big hills I had climbed earlier. This descent pretty much led us too our destination. Our destination was Glencoe Youth Hostel.

Glencoe Youth Hostel was a bit grotty on first sighting (we had been staying with excellent hosts). Chris and I were sharing a room with some other random folk (we had originally thought it was just us 2 in a room). Our faces soon brightened up when Hannah called us for dinner. Hannah had prepared a big pasta blognese meal. Devoured my food quickly and typed this blog entry super fast (at a cost of £2). Unable to add any pictures but will update at a later date. Plan to shower now and then go to bed.

Cycled a distance of 89.93 miles, at an average speed of 13.6 mph and a maximum speed of 37.1 mph.

Thursday 2 September 2010

LEJOG day 6 Nailing it to Neilston

Woke up this morning nice and snug, fully clothed in my sleeping bag. I was in a tent with 7 other people. This 6 man tent was housing 8 bodies. Where was the 9th?! I was the first to get ready this morning and when I went outside, en route to the shower block, I found the 9th body. Guy was fast asleep outside next to his car. His car had been fixed by the RAC and he returned to camp at 1 a.m (the problem was that a fuse had come loose). Breakfast this morning was not the usual quality - today I had muesli with dodgey milk in a throw-away bowl and plastic spoon.
After we were fed and watered we set off as a group and stopped after just 3 miles. Woo hoo, we were now in Scotland! We took lots of photo's at the welcome to Scotland sign. I was wearing my Irn Bru cycling jersey and Scottish socks today in honour of a lovely Scottish girl - Kirsty MacDonald. I hope she reads this blog. :)
On route to the first stop we passed a gate that had 2 bicycles perched on top, I thought this was pretty neat and the voices in my head interpreted it as a good omen. Again, like everyday thus far, the weather has been awesome and the scenery great. So many great (and sometimes bizarre) things to see.

The next stop was equally as awesome. We stopped near a river (and indeed I stopped in the same place during LEJOG 2009). However, this time, I along with the others took a dip in the river. The river was cold, but this was great fun and helped relieve our tired legs. After our dip we ate and set off again.
Scottish roads on the whole, thus far, are horrid. The road surface are uneven and feel like cobble stones. I shook, rattled and rolled for the most part of the day. Some sections had been recently resurfaced and these short sections were speedy and way more comfortable. As well as menace roads, Scotland appears to have a high percentage of menace drivers too! Drivers would toot horns at us for no apparent reason, and 1 driver it would seem had a touch of road rage. I cut this driver up and took photo's of him - he took photo's of Chris and his gesticulations. At some point on these Scottish roads we passed a sign post for Ae, which is the shortest place name in Britain.

The last official stop was a welcome break, not a lodging place, just a welcome break. I found a pair of dodgy sun glasses here. I thought they had comedy value, but I think I was alone on this. I sold said glasses to Chris for a £1. The last push to our destination was hard going. We were all whacked and feeling various aches, pains and sores. Speaking for myself, I had a sore bum, painfull knee and sun burn to the rear of my legs. To make things worse, this section was hilly, or undulating and lumpy if you prefer. Anways, after 1 wrong turn, re-trace and final push we made it to our destination. Our destination was the home of the Dawson-Bowmans.

This Dawson-Bowman domicile is huge. Absolutely massive! Marvellous! The conservatory has housed all our bikes and we were treated to an amazing meal with splendid dessert. This house is even equipped with a suit of armour. I plan to write off now and go to bed soon. Have 3 days of cycling left and the next 2 nights will be spent in youth hostels. Oh, Mike leaves us today after his hard slog of supporting us the last few days and helpful Hannah has returned to resume her previous position. Goodnight!

Cycled a distance of 99.92 miles, at an average speed of 13.5 mph and a max speed of 36.9 mph.

LEJOG day 5 Cycling to Carlisle

Had a great sleep at the Sutcliffe's and not long after waking up was treated to another superb breakfast of porridge, toast, tea and juice again. Usual routine of sorting bikes and bottles out and then we were off. Today was slightly different in that Neil Sutcliffe led us out for the first 3 miles.

Today's cycling was awesome. The weather was great. Laughs, jokes and light hearted chat a-plenty. On route to the first stop we encountered an awesome sight - some 50 or more Bambi like deer grazing in a field and many standing in the river drinking. This view really was awesome.

A major hill was encountered today. The infamous Shap Hill which rises to about 1,400 feet. This climb was awesome and seemed much easier than when I climbed it last year. Ben B was crowned 'king of the mountains', as he reached the summit first. Ben was followed by me and then Steve, the 17 year old. Both Ben and Steve have certainly proved themselves to be young, fit cyclists. At the top, we met a JOGLEr who like us was doing the trip in 9 days - how bizarre that we meet in the middle of our trips. Following the climb, we had an absolutely amazing, super zoomy descent.

All the stops followed the usual patten of eating plenty and filling bottles. The majority of the food we eat is the same - tuna sarnies, fruit, cake and flap jacks. Occasionally we have extra delights (usually left overs from the night before).

Our last official break was in a Morrisons car park. Some of the group took walks in search of toilets at this juncture. Chris fitted new lights to his bike which Mike had gotten from Halfords. Dave had to change his tyre. Dave was fitting a new tyre (again) as his had developed a bulge and was quite severley cut. I had warned Dave that bad luck appears to come in 3's, and here was the evidence - he punctured day 1, blew his tyre day 3 and now this.

As soon as we left Morrison's, Chris's rear light flew off (haha that'll teach him to buy from Halfords). Chris had the last laugh a little while later though, cos he got to use his lights after I had punctured. Such menace! We were near the finish for the day, so the other cyclists continued on whilst Chris and I fixed said puncture before cracking on at a speedy pace. Of course, by this time it was getting dark.

After about 12 hours from our start, we reached our destination. Our destination was High Gaitle Caravan Park in Carlisle (3 miles outside Scotland). And, no we were not spending the night in a caravan ... we were camping. The voices in my head were having a right giggle and commenting 'whose idea was it to camp after cycling for hours and hours, they should be hung, drawn and quartered'. It was dark, and despite having 2 tents, we only had the energy to erect one. With tent up, we then had to wait for our food to cook.

Our evening feed was such menace. We were used to being spoilt and having banquet style feasts prepared for us. But tonight, we had to cook for ourselves. Tonight we planned to cook chicken breasts on disposable BBQ which worked fine until the BBQ went out leaving un-cooked chicken behind. Grr. We moaned and complained and eventually decided to order takeaway. To order takeaway involved sending Guy and Mike downtown to pick up same. After a wait of about 2 hours they returned with pizza and chips (yay!) but the support vehicle was missing (boo!). During their abscence a few of the chickens did actually cook and were soon devoured. A 3 legged cat ate some of the un-cooked chickens. The support vehicle (actually Guy's car) had broken down, and the pizza guy retuned them to the camp site.
The takeaway food was great. So much pizza and various varieties. Over feasting we decided that we would call the RAC (Ben B being a member) and hopefully fix guys car. I was not sure of the outcome at this juncture, as after eating I went straight to sleep. Tonight I was 1 of 8 people to sleep in a 6 man tent.

Cycled a distance of 104.54 miles, at an average speed of 12.7 mph and a max speed of 38.7 mph.

Happy New Year 2022

Happy New Year folks. I wonder what's in store for 2022,  - something crazy, something new? It's a shame Covid is still here and I&#...