Tuesday, 15 May 2007

What's the record for pushing a bike from Land's End to John O'Groats?

Hello all, sorry for lack of updates but it's hard to find an internet cafe in the South West of England. Apparently they don't get much call for that sort of thing down there.

I'm currently in Chepstow, having just met up with a kind (although pony-tailed) footie poster who's going to escort me up the Wye Valley. I'm a tiny bit behind my (very ambitious) target, but I could possibly catch up with it tonight, if all goes well. I'm aiming for Hereford, but if the road, and my body, are good I might make Leominster as planned, which is only 13 miles on from Hereford.

A summary of the trip so far: wind, sun, rain, rain, hills & rain, rain, hills, hills, sun, flat, light rain, Wales.

And in more detail:

Day One (Sat 12/05/07)

Route miles 46
[Total miles 58]

A 6 hour train ride from Paddington got me into Penzance at about 1.30pm. From there it's an annoying 11 miles journey to Land's End, even more annoyingly straight into a 20mph wind. Land's End is nothing much - a hotel, a gift shop, and a concession taking photos and the fingerpost that's been there for 50 years. I avoided the charge by standing outside the railing and getting a pic a couple of yards from the post itself. It hardly matters.

I avoided the A30 almost entirely in Cornwall, as advised - it's a horrible road for the most part, more or less a motorway with two lanes, no fun and pretty dangerous for cyclists. So on day one, a half day for me, I took the coast road round to Perranporth, through St Ives and St Agnes. The weather was pleasant, mostly sunny with a stiff breeze off the sea, and the route not particularly arduous. St Ives looks like a lovely town, and the beaches along the north coast of Cornwall are very long and sandy, but I didn't hang around to check the views.

Perranporth is a small coast village just down from Newquay, very popular with surfers as it has a vast, flat sandy beach, and the youth hostel, in an old coastguard hut on top of a cliff, has a fantastic view of the coastline. And in the morning, it had a fantastic view of the rain too.

I met a few women in the hostel who were also doing Lejog for charity, but in 20 days, so not much chance of our paths crossing again.

Day Two (Sun 13/05/07)

Day miles 63
Total miles 109
To go c 865

A bad day. It was raining when I got up, I left at 7.15am, and it rained non-stop for another 5 hours. Pretty unpleasant stuff. I always knew days 2 and 3 would be pretty tough, the terrain in Cornwall and Devon is pretty notorious, but adding rain to that makes it miserable. Did you see the news story of a thousand or so students being plucked off Dartmorr because of the weather? That's what I was enduring. I had a full English breakfast in Padstow, and tried to get a bit dry, then a big pub lunch, then a huge meal in the evening. I was wondering how I'd get the 7000 or so calories per day I needed. Lots of food very regularly is the simple answer.

I was aiming for Okehampton, but it was closed for Sunday and Monday, I presume on account of the Ten Tors challenge, but in the end I only made it as far as Launceston, about 19 miles short. I was pretty shattered by then, although it was only 4.30pm, so I had time enough to head on. No hostel, so I stayed in the White Hart Hotel for £38.

On top of the rain and terrain, my knee started to hurt. It wasn't so debilitating, just an ache when going up the tough hills, but a warning signal. By the evening I was very much doubting the 11 day target, and perhaps whether I could do it at all.

Day Three (Mon 14/05/07)

Day miles 88
Total miles 197
To go c 780

A much better day. I wasn't much looking forward to the hills across to Okehampton and Crediton, but they weren't so bad - helped by a fair amount of pushing the bike. The weather started off cool but overcast, but from about midday there was plenty of sun, and getting into Somerset, rolling countryside rather than sharp ups and downs of the moors. Much of the ride was really quite nice, although my knee was getting worse. I took the back roads a lot, avoiding the busy main routes (I'll put a full map up of the exact route at a later date), and when I got to Taunton, at around 5pm, I felt still energetic, and saw that there was a canal towpath route into Bridgwater. That was the best part of the trip so far - flat, sunny, beautiful countryside, completely unhurried. Got into Bridgwater at 6.30pm, from a 7am start, about 8 hours on the road out of that for an ok average of 11mph.

Day Four (Tues 15/05/07)

I'll update this a bit later, but briefly, it was 50 miles or so from Bridgwater to the Severn Bridge, skirting Bristol, where I met Martin, who's waiting patiently for me to finish this so we can go up thw Wye Valley. I may pop into Tintern Abbey, see what Wordsworth was going on about.

I've covered a quarter of my route so far, but my knee's getting worse. I know that woman with cancer cycled across the States recently, but I bet her knees were fine. So were mine before I started this...

Thanks for your support. I'll check in again when I can.


Helen said...

Great stuff. Keep it up - the blog and the bike ride!

Tom said...

Great progress, keep the updates coming. I know Damien in Sydney wakes up each morning itching to check whether you're still on course to make the 11 days. I promise to pay a charity bonus if you make that Thursday train (without bending the rules :-))

Anonymous said...

Dartmore, ffs...

M (FatMediaCorrespondent) said...

Pony-tail? Plait, ffs. Take your Wenger glasses off!

Anybody not certain whether he is actually out there doing all this riding, or wondering if he's telling the truth about the weather can find some partial proof here ,here ,here ,here ,here ,here ,here ,here and here .

Looks like he's having a ball, right?