Jul 11, 2011

130 miles rollin’ through cheese country

We left late today, 0930 before we got breakfast in, maps in pockets and fuel for the day. I think we were quietly apprehensive about what was ahead.

This was the most the big ‘M’ and I had ridden in a day, and we wanted to know when the pain was going to start.

The first 30 miles where through car-less rolling Devon countryside. Dramatic views raced past our peripheral vision and tore our eyes away from the Tarmac.

Taunton was the first big conurbation today. We flaked out under the firs in the grounds of the Court Buildings.

There was a killer hill on the approach to Bristol Airport, but once crested, a 3 mile descent came as just reward.

Tony met us in a lay-by with hot soup around Bristol. By this stage we were half way, and hoping the next half would be flat.

Thankfully the run in to Gloucester was pretty horizontal. There was a dramatic event where a milk truck lost part of it’s tyre and wheel arch, leaving debris strewn across the carriageway. I jumped off and flagged down the fast approaching traffic while someone retrieved bits of truck from the outside lane.

Quirky encounter of the day: a man dragging a 12 foot cross southwards. We didn’t know where he was from or where he was going, but we wish him well. It looked just as tough as our escapade.

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Jul 10, 2011

The big off

A great start to the day. There were plenty of other riders at the Land’s End hotel, taking pictures in the sun for their own trips.

The wind was on our tails all day, and allowed us to get our heads down and cruise the first 50 miles.

After that the big lumps started appearing and the granny gear had an early look in.

Tony was a welcome site in a lay-by around mid day, and I happily off loaded the camera bag, and we tucked into squashed tuna roles, nicely warmed from a morning in the back pocket.

The last 30 miles were a killer. I was a broken man by the time we reached the ‘Barley Meadow’ camp site. Somehow I hit the wall with about 15 miles to go and couldn’t wait to drop the bike and crawl into a hot shower.

Tony cooked up a feast of chicken and bacon pasta which we fell on, despite the fact that we’d chugged back a pint of protein shake and a beer. Mmm.

Glad we’re on track. Tomorrow should be flatter at least.

Jul 10, 2011

The day of many climbs

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Going to keep this short as I am absolutely knackered and just want to sleep. But day 1 went pretty well with only a puncture after about 30 miles to spoil the day.

Safe to say it was myself and Dan’s hardest day for as long as I can remember. Even though it was short by mileage I expect it to be up there as the hardest days on this little adventure.

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The A30 wasn’t as bad as we had imagined although the hard shoulder was not always a nice place to be. It got us to our end of day camp site with the minimum of fuss, if you ignore the relentless climbs on route of course.

Now to chill before getting some well earned rest.

Jul 9, 2011

The night before

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Right that’s it then, I’m here and all set for tomorrow’s early start. I’ve chucked on the new wheels, that look amazing. Had a final check of my bike and a quick sprint up the lane to check everything is running smoothly. All seems pretty good and from the short ride the new wheels roll amazingly well.

We’re just up the road from Land’s End in a campsite above Sennen Cove. Very nice site and an ideal spot to get a sleep in before starting From Land’s End which is a couple miles down the road. Still waiting for Dan who has apparently been mixing with Katie Price at the polo, can’t wait to hear more about that.

On the drive down, by chance, we travelled down the entirety of the first days route along the A30. To be honest I wish I hadn’t as it looks like the hilly nightmare that we have been expecting. I took some data via GPS and it’s going to be a total of 1600m of climbing over just over 100 miles. No small task then.

Found an ok pub down the road called The First and Last where I took in a suitably carb laden meal and a cheeky pint of Doom Bar. Should help me get a good nights sleep before starting in earnest tomorrow. No backing out now.

Jul 2, 2011

Photo project for the trip

I had an idea that it would be interesting to photograph a person a day during the trip, to make up a kind of facial diary of the areas we pass through.

I’m thinking that this would be a really good way of engaging with some of the people on the road. Otherwise, I get the feeling that we’ll arrive in John O’Groats with less of meaningful experience; the only physical contact being the two inches of rubber of our skinny tyres on tarmac.

Maybe I should ask these random people some questions…?
Like:
- Do you ride a bike? If not, how do you get around?
- What’s your biggest fear?
- What’s your biggest dream?
- What would you do with a million pounds?

I wonder how these questions will change as we wend our way north. Any more suggestions greatly appreciated…

Jun 28, 2011

30 degree London to Brighton

This time in a fortnight we’ll be on our third day of LEJOG and on our way to just north of Gloucester. For now though it’s about working out how much training to do in the last few days before we head of to Land’s End.

While Dan went large this weekend and took part in a full triathlon, I opted to stick to the bike. I have been using my ride home to squeeze in some useful hill climbs by taking a detour via Crystal Palace which has been working the old thighs pretty hard. This weekend I thought I would put this training to the test and follow last weeks BHF London to Brighton route sans a few hundred amateur cyclists. My plan was to ride there and back which would be a 110 mile round trip, which is almost as far as we will need to cover on average heading up to John O’Groats and I think this would have been doable had it not been for the conditions.

Continue reading »

Jun 26, 2011

Dartford Tri results

Stop press: Swim 00:25:47, T1 00:01:25, Cycle 01:14:44, T2 00:01:18, Run 00:46:18

In answer to the previous posts’ question, it’s damn risky relying on brain power alone to keep track of laps completed. I was enjoying the bike so much, I carried on for another half turn, so lost time on the field.

Continue reading »

Jun 24, 2011

The wheels will be a turnin’ a bit quicker

So I need all the help I can get in tackling the 120+ miles a day that we have planned on our Land’s End to John O’Groats 7 day odyssey. To that endI have just put in an order for my most frivolous bike purchase yet. Continue reading »

Jun 21, 2011

19 Days to go…

The bulk of the training has been done, with countless laps of Richmond park and random jaunts into the countryside under our belt. This weekend I have the Dartford Bridge Triathlon, which I’m really looking forward to. Watched the race last year and was envious enough of the competitors to sign up this year. The bike course is a drag race up and down flat tarmac between two roundabouts, with a cheeky extra roundabout thrown in half way. The question is: can I keep count of the 7 laps…

Jun 5, 2011

Nearly the last Richmond training day

Myself and Dan Norwood are about 5 weeks away from setting out on our Land’s End to John O’Groats adventure. I’ve been squeezing in training wherever i can and if I’m not fit enough now I’ve left it too late. So we met up this morning to put in a few of laps of Richmond Park.

We haven’t had chance to ride together properly for a few weeks due to one thing and another. To be honest Norwood is a much better cyclist, due in no small part to more leverage in the leg region. So I was quite keen to see if any of my training had paid off and evened us up a little.

We started off fairly gingerly and built up the pace slowly. The nice thing with Richmond is that over a fairly short 7 mile circuit you cover a good variety of terrain. There are a couple of reasonable climbs where Dan always kicks my butt and good runs downhill where I can generally catch up.

The first lap went as normal with Dan having a much better run with me flagging behind. But as we clocked up the laps I got in my stride to the point that Dan tells me there was a section of the last lap where he couldn’t catch me and the normal hills didn’t slow me as much as normal.

Allin all a good day and a good sign for the real event.

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Links and information

  • Just Giving charity page We have set up a page to raise money for The Alzheimer’s Society, please donate if you can
  • Map of our route We initially used Google maps to plan the route, here it is in it’s entirety.
  • Mule bars for energy These yummy natural bars will be keeping us going all the way up to John O’Groats
  • Strada Wheels These guys hand built a new set of hoops for Martin to ride for the trip

Our photos

One down...to goThe first puncture, CornwallRehydratingRiver WyeBristol docksCelebratory breakfastThe evening ritualAn ice bath substitute in Loch LomondCalories'In or oot'Tartan rug hiding stuff, on the drive homeCooling off in Loch LomondThe morning afterYachts off InvernessFeet up 2Feet upFlaked out in GloucestershirePuncture!Beer, protein shakes and Mule BarsSilhouette on the Erskine Bridge