DAY 4 – TELL ME WHY?

Day 4: to Bristol to Tewkesbury (39 miles)

Today was officially my one and only rest day. By that, I mean I cycled a fairly flat and relatively uneventful 39 miles from Bristol to Tewkesbury via Gloucester. Another day, another county!

So totals to date are (79 + 79 + 57 + 39) 254 miles from my reckoning, but the big days are still ahead of me.

INTO GLOUCESTERSHIRE!

Without wishing to go one, the accommodation last night was fabulous (www.lodgeonthepark.co.uk) and it took a lot of effort to drag myself out of the power-shower this morning, due to the “massage” setting! Try it if you get the chance!

I’m now in the Royal Hop Pole Hotel (I’ve yet to find the pole!), a Weatherspoons, in the centre of Tewkesbury, and enjoying the beer garden, by the river, in glorious sunshine. This won’t last – a nasty forecast for Friday will balance this out.

VIEW FROM THE BEER GARDEN AT THE HOP POLE.

I cycled the last 10 miles with another solo LEJOGGER (so I’m not the only nutter around), albeit hes a lot more “hardcore” than I. He’s riding around 120-140 miles per day, and his Dad is driving alongside in a “Bimmer” Estate feeding him energy drinks etc – all very Team Sky!

A WELL DESERVED PINT IN THE SUNSHINE, IN THE GARDEN AT THE ROYAL HOP POLE PUB.

For those that don’t know me well, I thought I’d give some context to why I do this sort of thing, every now and then. Maybe explaining it will mean I find out as well!

Like most kids of my age, I grew up on a bike, as we had fewer distractions than now. After starting work however, and getting a car, the bike became a surplus item. Despite this, we always made a point of watching the then grainy Channel 4 coverage of ‘Le Tour”, when I admired the mens (now accepted to be sadly drug-fuelled) ability to endure such suffering and yet still compete rather than survive.

I found this feat of suffering as addictive as the riders were to EPO, Steroids and other such performance enhancing offerings. I interpreted this as an opportunity to carry out a “control-alt-delete” of your sensitivities, and test yourself with something that is both physically and mentally challenging.

My first attempt at this was to sign up to do a stage of the TdF, known as the “Etape Du Tour”, which was to be 157 miles of a stage that the pros would ride a few days later. My acceptance letter came too late to go, so instead I rode from Whitehaven to Roker Pier, Sunderland, in 24 hours. That was hard work, especially the morning of the second day.

A few of my associated nutters have on occasion (every two years’ish) under the banner of “The Midlife Cyclists”, done daft things on a bike, like riding from Arnhem to Berlin and then Bordeaux to Paris, raising money for the @ClimbHQ Charity.

I then had a go at riding up the “feared and revered” Mont Ventoux, of TdF infamy (google Tommy Simpson, for reference). That was really, really tough! Just because I had the chance to see if I could do it. I have a white stone from the top of the climb on a shelf as a memento of my completion.

This latest challenge therefore seemed a natural progression of my madness, and so having met up with Dan at my beloved Manchester Citys ground, I felt I would also like to ride this for Millie, and the Trust that he and his wife set up after her tragic death, to promote and make accessible paediatric first aid training. Read up more about @MilliesTrust and why this is more important than you may realise.

All the above is why I’m doing this…

Cheers,

Chris

4th September 2013

DAY 3 – I KNOW! I’M AN IDIOT…

Day 3 –  Taunton to North Bristol (58.93 miles

“If it’s easy,  you’re not trying hard enough “, I said. “Or you’re an idiot”, I thought…

A nice “easy” 50 miles today, early to hotel, daily chores/washing etc out of the way.  That was the plan.

58.93 miles later and much more climbing than anticipated, with to be fair, some feisty descending (47.5 mph max speed), I arrived!

Mentally, spirit felt slightly better today (last nights blog entry reflects a lack of energy, so, sorry). Physically, still not getting it right with liquids and food. I’m finding it harder on my route to stock up, when you begrudge carrying things that weigh something!

Anyway, my new favourite road is the A38, or at least the part until it gets to the turn to Cheddar…

I know, I’m an idiot.  I turned right and decided to tick off another “must do” off my bucket list. Hence the 8 mile detour to Cheddar Gorge and the ascent of said place.

AT THE BOTTOM OF THE CHEDDAR GORGE, AND I ALREADY LOOK KNACKERED!

Passed by many cyclists, including a couple on a tandem, I made it up The Gorge without stopping. Interestingly (to me, if no one else), it turned out they were also LEJOGGERS, but had a big camper van and drivers for support. When I pointed to my pannier, after being asked about my own support, I got a telling “High 5! Respect!”, then some funny looks.

I paid for the dalliance by having to climb daft little farm tracks and then their monumental descents that you get when playing in the Mendips, and then enjoying the inevitable payback-climb until I got back on the A38.

Bristol centre was buzzing today in the Indian Summer, with everyone seemingly out to enjoy the day, and they seem to have their attitude right towards cyclists as well! Hurrah for Bristol!

Albeit, an uphill slog (are there any others?) to the hotel, that was the only downside. I’m staying at the Lodge On The Park tonight, courtesy of Chris, the GM & Irvine Aldridge of Shire Hotels. My room is fab (very “posh home” feel, and not “hotelly”) & the power shower (digital, I’ll have you know!) is probably one of the best I’ve been lucky enough to use.

THE SUN HAS BEEN FIERCE & THE CYCLISTS FABLED TAN LINES ARE COMING OUT BEAUTIFULLY. APOLOGIES FOR THE ARSE IN THE PHOTO! THAT’S ME.

I’m no hotel critic, but I can say that the Calamari starter followed by the chicken & mushroom pasta were absolutely spot on, and was matched by the service. The draft Warsteiner also has assisted in my recovery!

I’m on a night off, given I’ve got my shortest day tomorrow, so am living it up by drying socks and repacking my panniers!

Good night & “Chapeau!”

Chris

3rd September 2013

DAY 2 – LIFE IS A ROLLERCOASTER

Day 2 – Tredagillett to Taunton (79.77 miles)

Ouch. A supposedly 70 mile day which ended fractionally longer than yesterday’s, at 79.77 miles, due to detours and map reading “issues”. However, it does mean I’ve now ridden through Cornwall and completed Devon, which as previously commented, are supposed to be some of the tougher sections.

An interesting day, starting out poorly, when the MapMyRide app I’ve been using to plan routes and then act as a satnav locked up and required a reinstall. Great, but not without WiFi or 3G! That’ll teach me to not stay at a Client site!

A 4 mile detour into Launceston, to cadge WiFi and then back off and running down my not-so-favourite road, the A30 again. On to Oakhampton then a much needed change of cycling scenery, as I then swapped the wagons for tractors on the country lanes.

The lanes, all 40 or so miles of them, provided their own challenge, with poor road surfaces and short snappy hills (one of which was surely a 1-in-3). That was somewhere near Nomansland (seriously), from recollection! You know you’re in a low frame of mind when you get cheered up by The Smiths and Radiohead on the MP3 player!

After a “carry the bike across a cow field” moment to get back on a bypass I’d missed, I made better progress, speed wise, and had already got my head around it turning out to be another 75+ mile day.

ME SHOWING OFF THE ONLY “NON CYCLING” CLOTHING I HAVE WITH ME.
I’M PARTICULARLY KEEN ON THE RUBBER & NEOPRENE “SLIPPERS”!

The weather and my mood lightened for the last 20 miles into Taunton, where I’m delighted to say I’m now resident. Thanks go to Andrew Thombs and Rob Holmes of Somerston Hotels for providing my accommodation at the Holiday Inn Express Taunton. A shorter day in store tomorrow, so will be making the most of the free breakfast and a lie in!

159 miles done, so just another 750 or so to go!

Cheers

Chris 2nd September 2013

DAY 1 – TO FINISH FIRST, FIRST YOU MUST FINISH.

Day 1 – Lands End to Tredagillett (79.04 miles)

That was gruelling. It ranks in my top 3 hardest days on a bike:

  • Ascent of Mont Ventoux -1900 metres of climb on gradients of 8-13% and the odd stretch over even that
  • My first and probably now only “Century Ride” – an uphill 107 miles to Betwys Coed into a headwind, alone
  • Today – 79 miles of long 8% hills on a nasty and busy main road

Having had a slow start to the day, after a full Cornish breakfast at Trevedra Farm, I only ended up crossing the start line at 11:30.

It took me around 5 hours on the bike, but 6 1/2 hours to arrive – thanks in part to one slow puncture then a full puncture after 44 miles. The joys of riding in the gutter on an A road, with all the road kill and metal shards from lorry tyres!

Couldn’t help but think about the two Scottish cyclists, as I passed the place where they were both killed by a Lorry, just 40 miles in to their LEJOG attempt. Sobering and sombre though. Having recently been hit by a car myself, the sound of every approaching Lorry made me wince, until they’d gone by.

I got a few things wrong today, despite the planning, so will be looking to improve on that at least tomorrow. It was very warm today and I didn’t hydrate well enough, and my food choice left a lot to be desired as well.

I just made up for that though, with a pie and a pint in the Eliot Arms, in Tredagillett, which seems a cracking old pub! No client hospitality tonight, and to be honest its “basic” to say the least, so I’ll say nothing!

Well, I’ve completed Day 1, which as a standalone ride is a pretty decent achievement, and I’m one day further into getting into the right mental approach.

I’ve no intentions of racing this and trying to finish first. Its just about finishing!

Cheers,

Chris

1st September 2013

TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRIS MUST…Set off from Lands End!

I’m writing this, sat in our trusty VW camper, overlooking Sennen Cove and have just watched a fantastic sunset over the sea with my wife, Jane and son Charlie.

Our location is down to the generous support from Wendy & the Nicholas family who run the Trevedra Farm Campsite and impressive Ocean Blue café, where I had my “last supper” before tomorrows Grand Depart.

I’m packing and repacking my pannier even though I’ve got it down to a fine art. Its just nerves. I had too long to contemplate the challenge ahead whilst driving down the route I will be riding back up north, and too much of a view of the rolling hills through Devon and Cornwall, along the unhealthy looking A30.

All I’ve read about the “LEJOG” suggests that its this first 2-3 days that are the hardest, before you get “into a rhythm”.

An early night ahead, but unlikely I’ll sleep well. I’m just wanting to get on with it now…

Chapeau!

Chris 31st August 2013

FINAL PRE-RIDE UPDATE: LANDS END TO JOHN O’GROATS

As you may be aware, I’m now only a few days away from the beginning of my Lands End-John O’Groats solo ride attempt, so I thought it was about time I updated you all on progress to date:

  • I’m now physically recovered after being hit by a car on the A34 bypass, and have replaced my written-off bike & most of the kit.
  • I’ve been training “fully loaded” with all of the kit I will be taking, even whilst on hols in the hilly Dordogne.

All accommodation & travel arrangements are now confirmed, including some generous offers of accommodation from Airangel clients (very much appreciated!)

To increase the challenge, I am attempting to ride this “unaided” – I will cycle alone and without the help of a support vehicle, the length of Britain. So! It’s just down to me now, getting on my bike and turning pedals for 13 days, climbing 80% of the height of Mount Everest (over 23,000 feet!) and over 900 miles.

I hope you can take the time to read up on the charities and keep in touch with me throughout the ride by following me on here, on twitter @chrisairey, & for those “in the know”, via my personal social accounts!

My route is as follows:

I’m hoping that the ride will allow me to raise awareness and donations for the charities below, so would hope that during the ride, I’ll be seeing donations coming through for both. It would certainly spur me on, when my heads down and the wind’s in my face!

CHILDREN LIVING WITH INHERITED METABOLIC DISEASES

WWW.CLIMB.ORG.UK

Donate at: http://www.Justgiving.com/ChrisLEJOGChallenge
(Registered Charity in England & Wales: 1089588)

I have personally been involved with this charity since 1995, through friends who lost their daughter to a rare yet curable metabolic disease. Such diseases are so rare that individually, it’s difficult to gain the required focus on research and support, hence the coordinated efforts of CLIMB.

CLIMB is a national organisation working on behalf of children, young people, adults and families affected by metabolic disease. The National Information Centre for Metabolic Diseases is part of the Climb Group.  Climb (Children Living with Inherited Metabolic Diseases) is the United Kingdom’s foremost provider of free metabolic disease information to young people, adults, families, professionals and other interested groups.

Their vision is to provide Metabolic Disease specific information, advice and support to children, young people, adults, families and professionals in the United Kingdom and to provide information and support to families worldwide, to fund educational and primary research programmes and to investigate treatments and medical services.

MILLIES TRUST

WWW.MILLIESTRUST.COM

Donate at: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/chrislejogchallenge
(Registered Charity in England and Wales: 1151410)

Millies Trust was established following the loss of the daughter of a friend and former work colleague.

Joanne & Dan Thompson, Millie’s parents, co-founded Millie’s Trust together on December 16th 2012 following the passing of their beautiful 9 month old daughter following a tragic choking incident whilst at nursery. As parents, they believe that first aid should be an essential part of your knowledge whether you are a parent or the carer of a child.

Millies Trust want to help people feel confident about administering first aid if you ever find yourself in a situation that you need to use it in. They aim to raise funds to promote Paediatric First Aid awareness and provide courses to those who could not otherwise afford them or know where to look for them.

That’s as much as I need to update you all on right now, so my next post will be as part of my attempt!

Wish me luck and help me keep turning those pedals!

All’t Best,

Chris

27th August 2013

LEJOG Kit List – All I took…

Bike Equipment

  • Specialized Tarmac Sport carbon road bike with Shimano 105 upgrades
  • Harry Rowland handbuilt wheels – Mavic OpenPro rims, 36x Sapim spokes (both front & rear) on Ambrosio hubs
  • Profile Design Century ZB Cycling Aerobar Road Handlebars
  • Plescher seatpost Pannier mount
  • Axiom Columbus DLX Pannier
  • Velotrac pak (modified)
  • Cateye lights (front & rear)
  • Topeak Road Morph G Bike Pump
  • Specialized bike lock
  • 2x  1 litre drink bottles

Bike Tools & Repair

  • Cable ties
  • Electrical tape
  • 2x QuickLink chain repair links
  • Spare inner tube x 3
  • Alien multitool
  • Puncture repair kit
  • Spoke spanner
  • Tyre levers

Clothing

  • Specialized Propero II Helmet
  • Maxpro sunglasses plus spare lenses
  • Rapha Team Sky short sleeve jersey
  • Probike PBK Newzealand Champion short sleeve jersey
  • Endura XTract gell bib shorts
  • Gore Bikewear gel bib shorts
  • Socks x 2
  • Endura neoprene overshoes (winter)
  • Funkier Winter leg warmers
  • Garneau Winter arm warmers
  • Agu Secco lightweight rain jacket
  • Specialized Bodygeometry gel gloves x 2
  • Uniqlo underpants x2
  • Evening Shirt (Dare2B Base layer Teeshirt)
  • Evening Pants (Cargo Mid-length Shorts)
  • Neoprene Beach Shoes

Toiletries & Consumables

  • Contact lenses
  • Toothbrush & travel toothpaste
  • Razor & oil
  • Sudocrem (transferred into a flat tin)
  • Suncream
  • Tablets (paracetamol, hayfever, proplus)

Tech!

  • Garmin FR60 with Speed/Cadence & Heart rate monitor
  • Sigma speed & distance cycle computer
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab2 tablet & charge cable
  • GoPro Hero 3 Silver camera, bar mount, helmet mount & charge cable
  • Powergen mobile Juice Pack 12000 and charge cable
  • Masterplug Surge protector USBx2 mains charger
  • Apple iPhone4S and charge cable

That was absolutely everything, as all of the above had to pack into my Axiom. I love my Axiom – like the film, Wall-E, it was my mothership for 13 days.

Note: The photo shows my bike setup prior to me being hit by a car (the day after  this photo). The bike was totalled, and was replaced with the Tarmac Sport.

Chris

12 June 2013