Browsing articles tagged with " end to end"
Jul 15, 2011

Into the heart of Scotland

I managed to get an interview with the Camp owner first thing, so I’m still, tenuously, on track with interviewing 7 people on the 7 days of our ride.

It was a beautiful morning. We’ve been unbelievably lucky with the weather so far. It looks like it could break tomorrow, but with only 2 days left we’re due a change of fortune.

Saddle sores are a, er, real pain in the backside. No matter what you think about. No matter how happy your happy place (for this is where one has to be on a trip like this), the pain clouds everything.

On the plus side, the landscape here is gorgeous. We were following a deep sided river for the whole morning, and kept catching glimpses of clear silvery water through the trees.

The quality of the roads veered from extremes of silky smoothness to cracked and lumpy, with not much variety in between. A bit like Tony’s porridge (ha ha, only joking!).

Tony did make the saltiest soup for lunch I have ever or am ever likely to taste. It was incredible! You could almost feel yourself shrivel up once it was inside. It did keep the cramp at bay though, which was the main thing.

Having crossed the Erskine Bridge and caught wonderful views over Glasgow, were now in the land of the midge on the banks of Loch Lomond.

Left knee was a little swollen last night, it won’t get worse today, or I’ll be watching from the van. Having come this far, this is the last thing I want to happen.

The first thing I did when we got to Luss on the banks of Loch Lomond was strip down to the essentials and sit in the water. Just me and nature after a great day on the road. I couldn’t have been happier.

Jul 15, 2011

Struggling through day 5

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Now that I’m back in Scotland you would think I’d be riding with a smile and a spring in my peddling. Unfortunately that’s not how I was yesterday, it was the first day where getting to the end if the day was a drag rather than a joy for me. Not that the views weren’t awe inspiring or my bike wasn’t running as smoothly as the Fonz in a room full of 25 year old hotties.

No, the problem today was mostly to do with my focus, and that’ not my bike for the mote observant of you. My head was in a dark place, making every movement a struggle. The progress was slow because my body was also in a mood. I have to give big thanks to Dan as he put up with my grumpyness and just hot in with his own ride and left me to it and a well timed ice cream treat from our support driver (my dad).

I had a mini second wind on the way through Glasgow as we neared the end of the day, it was finny to cycle through my brothers old neighbourhood Newton Mearns. The Erskine Bridge was a great thing to ride over.

The midges are out in full force here though, which didn’t help me break out of my dark mood. There just so damn aggressive in large numbers!

Hopefully today will be better as the views on the ride from Loch Lomond to Loch Ness are sure to be Epic.

Jul 13, 2011

Fighting to get back on track

So to start with we were both gutted we didn’t make our goal last night if getting to the campsite in Ormskirk. We got so close, but a mixture of a couple of wrong turns and tired legs meant we had to throw in the towel for the greater good of the entire trip with a mere 15 miles to go. we resolved over night to do our best today to catch up that difference.

Any other day and it would have seemed fine to find an extra few miles in our daily schedule. Day 4 however was the day that we faced the Lake District, specifically a massive climb out of Kendal that was going to take us up to 430ft.

We redesigned the route slightly but started from the exact point that we were rescued from last night. Even though we hadn’t finished the day in the correct place we had covered a full on 147 miles, the furthest either of has ever cycled in a single day by some margin. This in mind our legs were creaking to day the least, but on we went with the knowledge that we had an equally big day. It started off fairly steady but on nice roads, eventually getting to our route du jour the A6. All was looking lovely until we got to Carnforth where we stopped for lunch, from here you can see the majesty of the Lake Districts peaks spreading out in front of you and we knew our road had to find a way through.

After a plate of carbonara we headed out and the scenery just became more and more stunning and with that it also started to get a little more hilly but we new the worst was to come. Once in Kendal we took the opportunity to take some mint cake to get us through the imminent climb. Off we went again.

We quite quickly once clear of Kendal could see where the A6 was taking us and it didn’t look pleasant. The climb started in earnest and kept going, and going, and going. The climb was only broken up by passing another group of fully laden End to Enders and my second puncture of the trip. There is also a false peak to make the pain last that bit longer. Dan and myself tried to push a race up the final stretch if the hill but in true amateur style I put too much effort in early on only to see my lead slowly but surely ebbed away by Norwood, I had nothing left to give do had to just watch him go past. Once at the top the views all around were amazing and dad was there with some light refreshments.

The reward was a long and enjoyable downhill sprint followed by more rolling climbs. Our next stopping point was Penrith and to be honest we hadn’t worked out where we were in the day yet, once we met up with dad again about 6:30 he told us we had a pithy 25 miles to get our campsite for the might. That was just the target we needed and made the decision there and then that we had to do it.

Probably the toughest 25 miles I’ve ever ridden but the goal was set and the climbs and descents kept coming one after the other. We finally got to Carlisle which is so close to where we need to be you could almost smell it and after meeting a friendly local for directional advice we attempted the final 7 miles. Nice they were too, both of us found a second wind and even found some time to snap a shot on the edge if Gretna (below).

So we made it, we caught up the whole lost amount. And more importantly we made it to Scotland at the end of the fourth day and are back on schedule!

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Jul 13, 2011

127 to Gretna

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The fact that we had to return to the spot where we were picked up yesterday was probably why we weren’t particularly inspired to get back on the bikes early this morning.

It took us an age to get ready. But despite the dithering, it was a great morning to be out on the road, and we finally left St. Helen’s around 0930.

All was well once the legs were moving in their restricted rhythm. Martin came up with a great analogy the other day: ‘the body is like a Sat Nav- as long as one keeps persevering, ignoring the easiest route, it will find a way though.’ I thought that was brilliant.

We had a near miss where MIJ’s front wheel was almost taken out by the ‘classic’ car turning right across a line in traffic. We both also dropped our beloved shades at in-opportune moments, but kit and body are, thankfully, still intact.

Gorgeous scenery and relatively quiet roads up here. We saw a few pelotons on a mid week jaunt. We also passed a few ‘End to End-ers’, on slightly more sedate missions.

After the ubiquitous photo at the Gretna sign, we raced the last few hundred metres to the Camp site. A good sign for the next few days (despite needing ice on the knees).

Weather not looking so good for the Highlands. Best get out the tartan long johns…

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

The first puncture, CornwallOne down...to goCelebratory breakfastBristol docksRiver WyeThe evening ritualRehydratingAn ice bath substitute in Loch LomondCalories'In or oot'Tartan rug hiding stuff, on the drive homeCooling off in Loch LomondYachts off InvernessThe morning afterFeet upFlaked out in GloucestershireFeet up 2Beer, protein shakes and Mule BarsPuncture!Silhouette on the Erskine Bridge