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