Archive for the ‘The Ride’ Category

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Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Dunbeath to John O’Groats

It seems like yesterday we were standing in the mist at Lands End, fresh faced and raring to go on our adventure. But, all good things come to an end, and today the final ride was upon us.

A grim windy morning greeted us, and it was hard to convince our legs to pedal once more, despite “only” needing to go 50 more miles. The north sea glistened as the sun began to break through, and several oil rigs stood proudly offshore. By the time we arrived in Wick to pick up some final supplies, the sun was shining, and apart from the strong headwind it was a perfect day for cycling. The final miles were a mixture of head-down into the wind cycling, and stopping to photograph the magnificent coast – a stark contrast to how we started.

Before long we were pedalling down into John O’Groats, the end! Feeling a mixture of joy at managing to complete the distance, as well as apprehension that the holiday was at an end, and we still had to cycle back anyway. With the obligatory photos at the signpost taken, we basked in the sun with lunch and relaxed – job done!

Now, I’d been thinking about extolling the virtues of our reliable bikes, and how they got us the length of the country in fine form. However, the old man of the ride (my bike) decided that it had only signed up to do one length of the country, and 100 metres out of John O’Groats, there was a “ping!” as a spoke gave way, and an impressive buckle formed on my back wheel. There were still 17 miles to do, so we reduced weight by loading up pack-horse Mel with my pannier (thanks Mel, you’re a biking legend! You always knew you could’ve carried more…), and gingerly set off back to catch the train from Wick, which was a piece of cake with the wind virtually blowing us back.

It really doesn’t feel like we’ve cycled the length of the country, maybe we weren’t paying attention, maybe it’s too hard to fathom, or maybe we’ve been too tired to remember. I’m sure in days and weeks to come we’ll sit up startled in bed as though awakening from a dream saying “I did what?”

Personally, whilst this has been an excellent adventure, I’m looking forward to not spending 7 hours in the saddle after waking up at the crack of dawn or not going further than a few hundred yards without pedalling. No more obsessing about the weather reports on an hourly basis, or ensuring that the online map is updated before going too far, or worrying about the journey height profile and the steep hills it forecasts. It’ll also be nice to not have helmet hair, even after washing it.

The journey has shown us we live in a beautiful and varied country, and I’ve been inspired to visit more of it, although at a much more relaxed pace. I’m still amazed at the genius of the simplicity and efficiency of the bicycle, and how far it’s possible to go with two legs and a bike, and yes, I’m going to keep on cycling!

I’ve not only completed a huge journey by bike, I’ve spent it with three of the best cycling companions I could hope for, and had a great time to boot, so Dad, Mel and Pete you’ve made this trip special, thanks! Hopefully you as a reader can see past our complaints about sore bums and legs and realise we’ve had a great time and are inspired to try an adventure for yourself.

So, thanks for reading and helping us keep going, it’s been great having you along for the ride. There’s only one question remaining… Where next?

Mel’s Muse:


‘I may not be fast but I’ll get there in the end’
Well I certainly did get there in the end! My motto kept me going through some tough times, many of which saw me panting and plodding up to the brow of the hill to see 3 well-rested, patient men waiting for me (normally heads pouring over their phones!). On a good day I’d then slowly cycle past them knowing that within minutes they’d be overtaking me again – The hare and the tortoise story came to my mind many a time.

I may have grumbled at many points during our trip but I have to admit I have really enjoyed the challenge. I’m sure a huge part of this is due to the excellent company I’ve had. I take my hat off to all of the men for supporting me, keeping me company at the back and letting me slipstream them! I really couldn’t have made it through many of the days without their encouragement. Thank you all very much. You don’t know how special to me you all are! (Hope this isn’t too gooey for the blog)

Well I said I’d keep it short! So thanks too for all the support from everyone else. Who’s up for the next challenge next summer?

Pete’s Final Thought for the Day:

So that’s it then, LEJOG is over and what a ride its been so to speak. I sit here on the train from Wick to Inverness musing over the last 14 days and what a 14 days it has been.

It has, without hesitation been a real adventure. Now we don’t do much in the way of adventures in modern life apart from the buy a house and get married variety, but these last two weeks has really been memorable stuff. I have just loved the fact its us, our bikes and belongings and its up to us to get to our next destination.

Now to all you blog watchers who may have been contemplating this end to end nonsense now is the time to stop sitting on the fence and sit on your bike (both are as equally painful) you won’t regret it. For those who are thinking about it here are some of my musings and suggestions when it comes to your adventure.

1. North to South, South to North which way to go?

As you know we chose to cycle South to North. It was a decision purely based on wind, ie prevailing is south west and it worked for us, 10 out of our 14 days the wind pushed us along quite nicely. Now I am sure amongst the cyclists out there know how much a pain the devils breath (headwind) is, so we are really glad we did it the way we did it. The only downer is you finish at John O Groats which is about as pretty as my backside after day 5.

2. What gear was really useful?

Top tips for gear from me are as follows:

Good tyres, we used swchelbe marathons, no punctures, didn’t have to even pump up our tyres and we rode some rough tracks, nuff said.

Merino wool cycling tops are the canines bits, comfy, and don’t reek like normal cycling tops.

Travel light, we sore all sorts of crazy cyclists that looked like they were moving home on their bikes. Perfect panniers for the job were the ones Mel had which were Ortlieb City Rollers the front ones but you can fit them on the back.

Overshoes, cycling glasses, something hi vis and sweet, sweet vasoline were all essential.

Also learn from my mistakes, bring a long sleeved top and def more than one pair of shorts, goodness knows how many types of exotic bacteria I have bred over the last two weeks.

3. What route should I take?

Well that’s up to you, we decided on a mixture of B roads, small A roads and cycle paths and tried to avoid the major A roads when we could. It meant a longer but much quieter, safer and pleasurable journey. Finally route top tip, use the sustrans route 7 in Scotland, its fantastic, two days of breathtaking cycling.

Finally I would like to say a few thank you’s. Firstly to my fellow LEJOGERS, Peter, Mel and Simon who have been such fantastic company all the way, I feel sad that our adventure is over.

To all you guys out there reading the blog, leaving comments. It really has felt like we have had an army of support at home willing us on.

Finally my bike, it may have caused me great pain, but it has been my reliable, bum numbing, freewheeling stead of joy, may you bring me further adventures as well as getting me to and from work.

So what next then? Its a question I imagine all end to enders ask themselves. I imagine the responses generally fall into 3 camps. Firstly the nutters, the ones who have merely done the end to end as an hors d’oeuvres to something mad like cycling round the world. Secondally the never again merchants, those never to swing their leg over and a crossbar again and finally and the category I fit in, glad I have done it but probably not again but want to go on lots more cycling holidays.

So next up for team LEJOG will probably be Sustrans route 68 Derby to Berwick Upon Tweed, (well I know Peter and I want to do that). That maybe a little but more relaxed, a little less vasoline, but the same great company and same sense of adventure, I can’t wait.


We’d also like to say a big thank you to everyone who sponsored us over the 1000 miles (if you include cycling to the start/finish) – we’re the top JustGiving sponsors of CoolEarth, thanks to you!

And Finally… Dad’s Closing Words:

Just a few lines from the old codger….
As I sit on the bus winging my way home over Drumochter Pass (where we were pedalling only 3 days ago), I feel privileged to have been ‘part of the team’.

It has been the most enjoyable experience – great company and what an achievement! The joint (in more ways than one) experience of elation, pain, humour and teamwork has been memorable.

Melanie showed her true grit performance, and whilst she may have been behind on the occasional brae, she was always in good spirit and never far behind – her focus on diet and natural breaks, combined with her infectious laugh shone through the exertion!

Pete (Michael Fish) looked after the weather, switching rapidly between merino tops and night vision jacket as he felt a change in the pressure. His upright, jaunty riding style was unique, although you always knew when a major brae was near when he stood on the pedals!

Simon guided us through the route, regularly stopping to catch a memorable photo, and furnishing the team with all the data you could ever wish for! His quirky sense of humour and passion for pies and local delicacies were priceless. His blog has been a key feature of the trip!

We have seen some of the best scenery the UK has to offer, with great cycling weather (apart from Warrington to Wigan!). It has been a tremendous achievement – 4 fit people on good bikes ‘comfortably’ covering 1000 miles in 2 weeks. We had wonderful generosity from friends and family, and almost all the passing motorists were considerate too.

Just to close, for those of you thinking about doing something similar, I would say don’t wait until you’re 60 before doing it, prepare well, travel light, enjoy, but most importantly, have a good team
like ours!

Thanks guys, it’s been an honour!

The infamous Berriedale Braes

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Inverness to Dunbeath

These early morning starts do let us see Scotland in a different light, and today was as crisp as yesterday as well as being calm. For some reason the phrase “still as a pancake” has been stuck in my mind all day – two weeks of staring at a road surface roll by does odd things to your brain.

Today, on paper, promised to be as mean a feat as yesterday. We passed over the mirror smooth Moray Firth to the Black Isle, which is neither black nor an isle, but there were fine views to be had, so who’s complaining. As we dropped down to the Cromarty Firth (I just thought it was something to do with the shipping forecast), seals were hauled out, but apart from that it was time to get going along the A9. We managed a couple if diversions, although Pete got ideas about following a white road on the map – did Devon teach him nothing?

My pie count has been languishing recently, I’ve been trying to be healthy, as well as alter the high energy food du jour. What I was thinking when I bought a low fat sandwich will never be known, but it was regretted further when Pete started cracking the whip, and we didn’t stop for lunch until 50 miles were done. However, the silver lining is that Dad and I have discovered the secret to long distance cycling – Lucozade! It’s like a liquid mars bar that gets absorbed super quick. The strength it gives your legs is astounding, with my back wheel almost fishtailing under the power (I did have a Lucozade and mars bar at the same time though, dicing with fire there!), and Dad zooming off into the distance when his had kicked in.

Whilst the majority of our ride today has been along the A9, it’s been mostly quiet and fun, as there are few cars that bother coming this far up. Several distilleries, including Glen Morangie and it’s tranquil glen, have been pulling us along with their enticing malty aromas, and cows and dogs have been leaping with joy as we’ve gone past, they obviously know we’re getting there. There was always a cloud hanging over today for the tales of woe Dad had spoke of when describing the three hills after Helmsdale. We’d extended the route by 14 miles to ensure we didn’t face them on the time critical last day, despite it making today nearly 90 miles again. So at Helmsdale we all downed Lucozade, and to be fair the first hill was a long slog. Then the Lucozade kicked in, and I didn’t notice the second hill as I was going too fast. The third hill was short and sharp, but I was still buzzing from the previous steep descent to notice.

So, we’ve completed the final long day of the tour and we’re still feeling quite fresh, which seems quite bizarre. Maybe we should just keep going and see what our legs are really capable of.

Pete’s Thoughts for the day

When we sat down at devised our route for our LEJOG this day always stood out like a sore thumb. It was going to be our longest, it is right at the end of our trip, how would be feeling? Combined with Mel’s Dad telling us how awful the hills were at the end of the ride, day 13 almost took on a mythical status.

So then as day 13 dawned we were apprehensive on how well we would do, the previous day we cycled 90 miles would there be anything left in the tank? Well this is the marvel of LEJOG and the human body. You just get used to it, so much so that we cycled the 88 miles and the hills and felt fresh as we arrived at our B&B.

So only 38 miles to go until tomorrow and we have made it. It has truly been an amazing adventure, tomorrow it will be all over, will we be happy or sad, we will see?

Glacial, not the pace though!

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Blair Atholl to Inverness:

We were met with a nice crisp Scottish morning today, by which I mean it was cold and we had to put our jackets on after a few minutes of cycling. The first 18 miles had us powering up the Drumochter Pass, with it’s almost undetectable gentle climb to the highest point of our trip.

The cycle path weaves it’s way along the old A9, so we were always sandwiched between the railway and new A9, but we could be more care free with our cycling, so I could wiggle all over the place whilst taking photos on the go, as I am prone to do. Picturesque it was, many ancient looking mountains with sweeping u-shaped valleys, tell tale signs of glacial erosion if my school days geography is remembered correctly. There was even some snow lingering on top of the Cairngorms, in August! I wonder if new glaciers are forming…

Our bikes are now beginning to feel the toll of all these miles, with Pete’s bike attempting to hurl itself down a rocky embankment whilst Pete wasn’t looking, presumably to hide from the continued punishment. It then also took an attempt at Pete by falling on top of him whilst he munched on a pie – a bike at wits end if there ever was one. Dad also has the dubious honour of first puncture of the trip, pretty good going considering how far we’ve come.

There were plenty more miles, as well as another pass to climb before my energy levels dropped dangerously low and we finally turned the corner for a fine view over Inverness, made even more welcome as it meant the end was in sight for this mammoth ride. We say it quite a lot, but that was a big ride, 90 miles in total, and done at a respectable 12.5mph average too. By the end I was a man on a mission to feed and replenish to prepare for tomorrow, as we’ve crammed in all the long hard days in at the end. Clever, eh!?

Pete’s Thought for the Day:

Well today’s wee blog chatter is going to be short and sweet (unlike the ride). Today was a beast, 90 miles of Scottish Highland. Mel was amazing, my knees are still working (I don’t know how) and I have eaten my body weight in sugary goodies.

That’s all there is to say really as there is food to be eaten (and digested), beer to be drunk and bed to be slept in.

The Lejog machine keeps on rolling, two days to go and we are there, can’t quite believe it really.

Bonnie Braes

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Kippen to Blair Atholl

The Scottish highlands have treated us very well today, passing through some of my favourite countryside, and reminding me why it’s good to live up here. Rugged mountains and mirror-smooth lochs rolled past, great views were enjoyed, we had near perfect cycling weather and as we were following Sustrans cycle route 7, there was hardly a car in sight. Having done the first half of the route a couple of times during training, I knew what to expect, but that didn’t stop me from retaking lots of photos, nor did it stop me from being surprised when I was struggling up the steep hills, although to be fair, my legs are more tired and the bike heavier this time around. Our legs have also developed a new trick, where if we stop for a few minutes, the next time we pedal, even downhill, they burn intensely as though straining to keep up. Funnily, it doesn’t mean we’ve given up stopping!

Our little B&B for tonight is out in the sticks, which meant we needed to eat before getting there, and what else to do but head for the chippy! Even more so as we’ve not actually visited a chippy for the whole trip! I also took the chance to have a haggis supper (haggis + chips for the English), which is the local food for the day. In fact there was porridge this morning too – double hit!

Well, you’d expect a stomach full of offal, potatoes and fat to slow me down, but no, I was raring to go, the sun was dipping to the horizon and shone through the trees, the road was smooth, and I managed to spot a red squirrel along the way. I could’ve carried on further than the B&B, and I did for a few yards – it seemed wrong to leave the mileage at 79.95!

P.S. Chris A – “Wee brae” should mean a little hill, but it’s always a warning of a long steep climb if uttered by Dad…

Mel’s Muse:

Sorry for not adding anything to the blog previously but I’m normally asleep shortly after eating!

You have to go down to come back up again (or something like that – For those of you who know me, you’ll know I’m terrible with clichés!) Anyway, that statement can be applied to much of the terrain throughout our trip but also to my mood. I had a bad day yesterday what with tiredness, bad belly and wind in our faces – I think I’d hit rock bottom, however today was fantastic! After some much needed and well received TLC from Caroline (Thank you) we headed off. The sun came out and shone over the beautiful Scottish Highlands, the roads were gently undulating and the wind even helped us along the way too! Coming down one stretch of cycle track was great – a strip of tarmac twisting and turning just like a toboggan run!

So we’re on the home stretch now. Only 3 days of cycling to go. I have to say though ladies that even with all of the miles cycled and metres climbed I still haven’t made a dent into decreasing my wobbly thighs! I have now officially had to accept that they are part of me!!!

Here’s to hopefully some more great days like today!

Pete’s Thought for the Day:

Now when you decide to undertake a bike ride such as this you obviously think about what the days are going to bring. Inevitably you think about the Scottish part of the trip and you dream of cycling past lochs twinkling in the sun, munros towering above you casting shadows over you path and bees dancing and buzzing about in the heather. Today that dream came true as we cycled some of the most magnificent miles I have ever done. We followed the Sustrans Route 7 which is probably not on many lejogers routes but it should be as it passes through breathtaking scenery along quiet roads and traffic free routes, what a day and a complete tonic compared to yesterday.

On a slightly sillier note mel has taken over the bum baton as it were. With her regular requests for vasoline meaning only one thing.

Only 3 days to go now, off to Inverness tomorrow, once again following route 7. If its anything as pretty as today then we have an other fantastic day ahead of us as long as my knees hold together.

Homeward bound, sort of…

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Peebles to Kippen

Well, here I am, sitting on a comfy sofa at home, digesting a hearty meal made by Caroline, with cotton clothes on instead of smelly synthetic exercise gear, which I’ve been dreaming of for a week. Alas, we’ve not suddenly sped up and completed the ride, this is merely a stop before continuing the adventure into the highlands.

Today’s ride was flat, exceptionally flat, and had the potential to allow our legs to relax, per chance recover. The wind had other ideas, and seemed to be into our face for the whole ride, so it’s been a bit of a chore completing today, especially the final 7 miles along to Kippen, where team tactics had Pete and I swapping the honour of breaking wind for the others.

I also had a wee cheat today, Cat has spotted it already, as the pie count of 10 today was due to a packet of mini sausage rolls. Well, makes it look more impressive, and I’ve already clocked the mini mars bars in the Celebrations that Cat got us – thanks Cat, that will help the count too! 🙂

The past week or so has an almost timeless dream like blur of hills, tarmac and pedals, I really couldn’t tell you how many days, how far we’ve gone, or where we’ve been in much detail. So, as Kippen came into view, it felt like I’d just finished a long training session, albeit with the now familiar weary legs.

Right, time to enjoy home before tomorrow morning rears it’s head. Let’s see if I can convince myself, legs and bike to continue away from home, at least it’s a nice downhill to begin with.

Pete’s Thought for the Day:

So then cycling from one end of the UK to the other that’s a trip for fools that is. I have spent the last 9 days cycling why am peddling all day on the 10th. These were some of the thoughts flashing through my head as I struggled headlong into the wind through some pebble dashed scottish housing estate. Yes today was hard work, not sure why really, the terrain was flat, the weather was not to cold or hot, no rain. I think we are just starting to wear out a bit, we all seem to have niggles now, the nurofen gel is starting to see the light of day more than I would like and mels popping pills like smarties. Despite all this I am still looking forward to the last few days as we head through Britain’s most spectacular scenery. Just need to do a bodge job on our bodies and make it through.

Big thanks to Caroline for feeding us so well at Kippen, mm home cooked food of the fish pie and sticky toffee pudding variety, yum.

OK bed now with fingers crossed that my legs recover enough to see me through the day.

O’er the hills tae Peebles

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Brampton to Peebles

With a lovely eggs benedict breakfast in our bellies, we rolled on northward with the bonny hills of Scotland in front of us. In no time we’d crossed the border, and were obviously faced with a steep hill just beyond the border sign. I have, however, found a new way of getting up hills, Thunderstruck by AC/DC! Various other tracks helped me up the hills for the rest of the day, proof if it was needed that Scotland rocks!

After a final stock up of Borders tablet in Langholm we were in the wilderness, where what looked like towns on the map turned out to be a couple of houses. There was a worrying moment where we thought we’d cycled too far as we came upon a Tibetan monestary, fortunately it’s just a Scottish one. The most activity was from sheep running away from the oncoming cyclists whilst cows hid in the bracken. Still, the roads were quiet, the scenary great, and the weather held making for one of the best days so far. Before long I was rolling along the familiar roads near Peebles where I’d been training a few weeks ago, bringing a bizarre feeling as the length of this journey is realised.

Peebles greeted us in the literal sense, as a welcoming party from the Rotary Club cheered us in (well Dad, really!). After a photo shoot posed next to the adapted mini-buses Dad is being sponsored for, we were treated to a meal in polite company where Dad entertained as the guest speaker.

Our legs that are beginning to feel the burn of nearly 80 miles worth of hills, you’d think they’d be used to it by now!

Pete’s Thought for the Day:

Now I must admit I am a bit of a grumpy old fella at times and I like to chunter at various things. One such thing is lads that wear their jeans half way down their arse. Come on just pull them up and stop looking like a chump. One other thing which I think is the scourge of the modern high street. That is kids that walk around with their mobile phones on full blast listening to some terrible modern dance tune. Its even worse when you are sitting on the bus. Anyway I have always wondered why kids bothered doing this and today I found out why and I have to thank Simon for that. Just as we crossed over the scottish border he whipped out his phone chose AC/DC and he shot off up the hill. So I just had to have a go, chose the best of Prince album and Divine Comedy for that matter and cycled off and peddled some of the finest miles I have ever done. It was fantastic to watch the amazing Scottish scenery slip by whilst listening to my tunes, maybe the chavs have got it sussed after all.

Anyway a tough 78.5 mile ride today and my legs really do feel it tonight, but what a ride, scotland is breathtaking by bike.

Look I have finished my blurb and I haven’t talked about my backside, things must be going well.

The return of the wee braes!

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

Carnforth to Brampton

Weary. That was the word going through my head as the end rolled into sight today. Despite eating many a snack, including food du jour of Kendal mint cake, to keep the energy levels high, the sight of a hill looming was enough to drain any spark from my legs. But, I reckon the key to the low energy level was a lack of pies today (what was I thinking!), so I’ll be sure to stock up before tomorrow’s ride into the wilderness of the Borders.

In reality, it was a glorious ride today, up past Kendal then sandwiched between the scenic peaks of the Lake District to the west, and Pennines to the east. Mainly passing along lush green pastures with cows looking suspiciously as 4 luminous humans fly past. From one hill top we could see for miles, with the dark rain clouds looming overhead and dumping rain over various parts of the countryside in front of us. Taking our time to give the rain time to go away seemed to work a treat, and we only had the odd dousing as we tackled the undulating braes.

We’ve also now passed halfway point of the trip, as well as having climbed the equivalent height of Everest, let’s see if Scotland can add another one to the total!

Pete’s Thought for the Day:

Today’s been a bit of stat attack. First of all and most impressively we have now climbed 30,000 feet, yes that’s the height of Everest. Also we have done it without oxygen and sherpa’s (though could have done with the oxygen on occasion, in fact to come think of it sherpa’s would be quite handy too). We have also gone over half way, 530 miles in fact, now that’s a fair old distance, if my arse could talk (yes, yes I can imagine some of you think its quite chatty already) it would have quite a tale to tell. Actually the latest news with bumgate is all is well, the Vasoline has worked its magic, it was touch and go there for a while mind you.

Anyway today’s ride was rather a fine one, travelling north through Cumbria admiring the views, dodging the rain clouds and cursing the hills. Yes LEJOG showed its claws once again today after the easy flat stuff of the last few days.

Finally would just like to say a huge thanks to all those who have left comments on the blog we really appreciate it. It makes us feel kind of warm and cuddly inside, that people care enough to read the blog and especially send comments, keep it up people.

Well bonny Scotland tomorrow, mm will have to try and pay for everything by card so I don’t get any Scottish notes and get treated like a fraudster if I try and use them back home.

Back to beautiful

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Wigan to Carnforth:

After all that chatter about today being short, it turned out to be a reasonable length, and all that enthusiasm and energy for taking the hilly route had well and truly gone by the morning.

The grim up north label from yesterday does need revising as it is most definitely getting more scenic now we’ve left the main roads and Wigan behind. Thinking we had a short day had us taking the Sustrans cycle route that sends you on weird zigzag paths, just to avoid little bits of main road, but at least they’re on nice country roads. We were even next to the seaside at one point, although the bike computer had us about 80 feet below sea level – it is allowed a funny 5 minutes with all the use it’s getting.

The rain has been teasing us again, fortunately nowhere near as bad as last night, but enough to make us stop and don gear which invariably caused the rain to then stop.

That’s the last of the flat short days now, I promise. The first week has been excellent, we’ve had some brilliant rides, I’ve been surprised by how well bodies and bikes are coping, and we should pass the halfway distance tomorrow morning. But now is the bit I’m really looking forward to, heading over the border to home, to see Caroline, and on through some glorious countryside to the finish.

So, we’re at Judy’s now, and have been well fed and looked after yet again – I reckon with all these big dinners we’ll have put on weight by the end of this trip, and I’m still struggling to eat the mars bars I packed in Kippen, current target is to finish them before getting home!

Pete’s thought for the day:

So half way through then, 7 days of cycling under our belt and 7 days to come. We all have started to feel rather chipper the early nightmare days of the south west have been forgotten, our legs have stopped feeling stiff, and even my backside is getting back to normal and believe me I am a happy man to write those words. So reflecting on the ride so far what are my thoughts: First of all I am so proud of Mel, the little pocket battleship has cycled like a trooper. She really is a driven, stubborn so so, what a gal. Secondally we really do live in a bonny country (Warrington and Wigan aside) every day we have been riding through beautiful countryside. Thirdly the British weather does your head in and lastly cycling is the only way to travel.

So todays ride then, mostly along cycle paths, all very pretty, very enjoyable.

So from tomorrow the push north to Scotland is on the cards. The easy middle days are now behind us and the long hard routes through Scotland loom and you know what, I am looking forward to them.

Grim up north

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Shrewsbury to Wigan

Setting off from Shrewsbury feels like an age away, we were clean, refreshed and raring to go after our lovely stay at Pam & Paul’s. The first 40 miles were done in record time, with an average speed of nearly 15mph (that normally hurts a lot), so the pub lunch with Grandma, Andrew and Jayne was well earned.

The journey north continued, and in no time it lived up to reputation and began chucking it down, all wet weather gear was donned and put to the test. It’s not really surprising that we still got a tad wet, the waterproof overshoes took the brunt of road spray, and somehow managed to let in enough water to test Pete’s theory that goretex shoes would be good at holding water in as well as out, and made the squelch into the hotel a tad embarassing. The showerproof jacket worked well, but hats off to my Argos plastic bag covering the pannier, which kept the bag bone dry. As you can see, there’s plenty of drying going on tonight.

My legs are feeling quite well, and energy levels are high considering we’ve just covered 70 odd miles, to the point of seriously considering not taking the new shorter flatter route tomorrow – I just fancy some hills to get my legs really working! Well, I’ve been persuaded on to the new route, by everyone calling me a nutter – I guess I can always do an extension ride along Morecambe Bay if I need to…

Well, we can hold our heads up high and say that we’ve been tested on our Lejog trip, and looking out on the rainy day, it certainly feels grim up north.

Pete’s thought for the day:

Well I learned two new things today, one I don’t want to live in Warrington and two the weather does make a big difference to your enjoyment of LEJOG. It belted it down today only for an hour and half mind but that was enough to soak everything (wringing out yer socks in the sink, kind of wet). Now our friend Paul did the JOGLE last year and the weather they had was a tad moist. As you can imagine this put a slight dampener (chortle) on his experience and he was full of tales of woe when he returned which I laughed off at the time. After today I can see what he was getting at. So please weather gods yes that’s you Mr McElwee sort out some sunshine for the rest of the trip.

Anyway the ride today a cheeky 72 miles, longest ride so far to date. Its amazing how you get into the swing of riding long miles, so much so Simon is suggesting a long hilly route instead of a more direct flat route for tomorrow the crazy fool.

On a final note a huge thanks to Mels Aunty Pam and Uncle Paul for letting us stay in their fab place in Shrewsbury last night. And especially to Pam who managed to repair my rather embarrassing pair of trousers.

Bonus photo from Andrew of the LEJOGers on their weary way after the pub lunch:

A world away

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Hereford to Shrewsbury

Well, contrary to requests in the comments, we haven’t been to the SAS camps, and in fact have had yet another easy day. That said, it was treated like a training day, and in preparation for the longer days we’ve hardly stopped, clocking up the miles while our minds wander and also managed a healthy speed all the way in.

It’s all been getting to Mel, not the actual cycling, that she can cope with, but at breakfast she managed to pour her tea into a cereal bowl, then attempted to fill her cereal with sachets of milk from the tea. The Wards have also come up with some interesting team tactics, well when I say “team”, Mel tucks in behind Pete’s slipstream so Pete has the brunt of the wind (although that is normally the case anyway ;-), it’s quite a sight to see the Ward train rolling along the road.

So, we’ve made it to Shrewsbury, where Pam & Paul are looking after us very well, taking us on a tour of the town, and giving our clothes a good wash after we’d peeled them off. There’s some tough days ahead, but as Pete and I sit here in our bath gowns and slippers, feet up, waiting for the takeaway, it’s all a world away..

Pete’s thought for the day:

Now I am happy to admit I am a bit of a weather nerd. I watch the forecast on any medium possible and know what the weathermen are called (I like Rob Mcelwee, just on the right side of mad). So as you can imagine I have been studying the weather with some relish over the past week and every time I checked it has been good news. Except tomorrow is forecast rain (typical as we cycle into the north of England) so how will this effect our somewhat smooth progress, I will let you know tomorrow.

Anyway today was canny, only 53 miles mostly pretty scenery and quiet roads, though the A49 is off my christmas card list with its huge lorries, tight corners and impatient drivers.

Wigan awaits tomorrow, what a strange holiday we are on. First of all going to Wigan on holiday and secondally getting there via penzance and cycling the rest of the way, how odd.