Friday, 23 July 2010

23rd July Lands End Finnished at Last

Yesterday we pulled into Lands End around 1:00pm it was no longer a desolate parking spot on the end of the mainland that I remember from many years ago but a commercialized tacky tourist spot for kids all built in the last 10 years or so and after visiting so many wonderful places it was a bit of a disappointment.

As Murray and myself were pulling up into the place there was a familiar cycle coming towards us with the yellow bar bag that I had lent Tim from when we set off and had departed company on the Glasgow to Moffat leg. We welcomed each other as long lost compatriots told great stories of our adventure, now over, we took photos to mark the end of the route as friends before we headed back to Penzance and then go our separate ways. I am stopping down here for a few days before heading back by train.

I would love to tell more of our adventure from Gunnislake to Boswinger but it just poured with rain all days that even my waterproof pannier got a bit wet. The route to Lizzard we were blessed with sunshine but like the previous three days we had many walkers a new terminology invetned by Murray as reference to hills that could not be cycled even in his super low granny gear.

There ends our great adventure and the satisfaction of completing 1040 miles

Monday, 19 July 2010

Monday 19th July Exeter

The morning was filled trepidation about the day ahead only 36 miles but across Dartmoor on the only major road the B3212 and then onto the B3357 at the Two Bridges to Tavistock and crossing from Devon into Cornwall at Gunnislake. This short trip 250m climbs and numerous 100m climbs in total a combined assent of all climbs approaching 2000m which for Tour de France riders may be a small hill but for 65 year old Murray and a overweight 52 year old on loaded touring bikes felt the equivalent of climbing a mountain even though the peaks of our Dartmoor route was only 450m.

We left for once on a sunny morning from YHA on the riverside cycle path into the centre of Exeter with the picturesque cathedral in background at a slow pace knowing what was installed for the day. As we left Exeter had purchased our daily energy provisions, a large packet of jelly babies as we envisaged many jelly baby stops for recuperation, the climbing started and were already into the granny gears.

The day consisted of numerous climbs many of which involved walking followed by downhill rides at which one point I reached 67 kmph (over 40mph),with gravity on my side on the downhills, some long ones over 2km, I flew past a lycra clad roadster on a carbon bike who was still pedalling whilst I just held onto the handlebars for grim death.

It was a long day with no big lunches as they would not have been conducive to the type of cycling on this day with the sun beating down most of the time. We arrived finally to where I thought was the end in Gunnislake only to be confronted with a 2km 1:10 climb so I got and pushed Murray struggled for a while because his granny gear is at least two below mine and whilst his legs seem to be pedalling frantically he was barely going much faster than my walking pace.

We arrived at 6:30pm at the Bridge House B&B, run by a friendly couple who where ex teachers, after our showers we had complimentary tea with home made scones, local clotted cream and jam. At 8:00pm we had a freshly cooked three course meal that would put many classy restaurants to shame, I had smoked salmon starter, trout caught that morning with new potatoes and beans and followed by raspberries in cream and creme fraiche with crunchy broken biscuits mixed in after which this blog and bed. Apparently the breakfast is award winning and we were told to allow at least 40 minutes to get through the courses.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Sunday 18th July Glastonbury

We left early 7:30am the B&B provided a packed breakfast as they don’t serve breakfast until 8:30am. We said goodbye to Paul he was going to cycle and train to Welsh Bicknor to get his car an go back to London.
With an exception of the last 5 miles into Taunton where we used the canal we took A39/A361 roads rather than the planned route we were in Taunton for breakfast at about 9:30. We then carried on the A38 to Willand and stopped for Lunch Cullompton. After a carvery lunch and pint of light bitter we carried on B3181 into Exeter which ran mostly along the motorway route.

We arrived at the YHA in Exeter at 3:00pm much earlier than expected having done 55 miles as opposed to the ambitiously planned 70 miles.

We have now done 909 miles.

Saturday 17th July Welsh Bicknor

We made our own breakfast to make a early start because it was a long day and we left at 7:30am we had to walk our bike on a rough footpath to the footbridge over the river Wye. We took a road right through the Forest of Dean to Bream. We had a look at the YHA which was ST Briavels castle then made our way to Chepstow for coffee.

We used the cycleway across the old Severn Bridge and after day of hills it was mainly flat to Glastonbury the route was mainly Sustran route and included Winscombe railway line converted
into a walking/cycle path and even went through a tunnel. Afternoon/evening was sunny and it was only the second day I wore short sleeves.

We got to Glastonbury 75 miles later at 6:45pm to a grotty town B&B had Italian meal and Paul accompanied me in a few late beers.

Friday 16th July Tenbury Wells.

No local taxi available that morning for 2 hours the manageress gave me a lift and after a bit of driving around we found the place and she had lived in the area all her life. The friendly chap was making final adjustments as I arrived. My bike had brand new carbon forks no more front mudguards because there is lugs for fixing. They would post old forks (still under warranty) and anything I further regarded as non essential to make my load lighter.

At 11:00am took the route recommended by the friendly bike mechanic and with a lighter bikes made relative quick work of getting to Ross on Wye to meet up with Murray before making our way to Welsh Bicknor. The final approach was a tremendous climb to YHA high in the hill with final section a very steep downhill track to what was an imposing vicarage.

Paul joined us from Ealing Cycling Campaign as he would come with ride

We had done a total 778 miles but luckily that day was a short day only about 35 miles.

Thursday 15th July Telford

Away at 7:40am and visited Ironbridge which was built 1779 and was the first iron bridge in the world very impressive structure. After coffee we staggered up a very steep hill to Broseley B4375 to Munch Wenlock , followed by the B4375 and B4365 and the B4361 to Ludlow had a good Thai Lunch.

Then disaster struck when I checked why one of the front pannier was hanging further out and discovered that there was a fracture on the front forks. Pack everything I could into rear panniers and posted the front panniers and brackets and anything I thought I might not need home. Visited the best bike shop around they confirmed it was fractured and said it could collapse at any time they had no spare forks and rang another local shop but they could not help. It would take days to get a replacement. The quest for me was over I sadly said goodbye to Murray and I cycled to the Ludlow train station. I had come 700 miles to be defeated by my bike.

Whilst waiting to get a ticket I called Scherrit in Ealing who runs Pitshanger Whisperer bike place and the place I entrust with anything I can’t do myself. Corrine his wife put me onto Scherrit who told me to wait and he would make enquiries. Within 20 minutes he located a cycle place about 15 miles away Epic Cycles near Tenbury Wells. I got a taxi eventually that would take me and my bike we eventually found it a big barn in the middle of nowhere but had the most impressive display of road bikes I had ever seen under one roof with prices into the thousands. The chap confirmed he could do for me and should be ready at 11:00am next day.

Found a local place called Fountain Inn stopped overnight bar full of local Worcester farmers talking a broad dialect and knocking back the booze following a Hay auction.

Wednesday 14th July Telford

Our morning started early, before 7:00am, with making our own breakfast consisting of muesli, eggs, bacon, tomato, roll and tea. We then loaded our bikes and set of under overcast skies not on the planned route for fear of climbing back up to the Tissington Trail to Ashburne. We went through the village of old stone houses heading south west on the B5054 and then B5053 to Froghall some of the climbs were too steep to cycle and there were many opportunity to stagger up steep hill pushing our heavily loaded bikes.

We had morning coffee and scones with fresh cream at the Frognal steam railway cafe and watched the steam train a very 30’s setting including the music and a steam train shunting carriages. We headed on the A521 Cheadle to Blythe Bridge, B5029 and the A520 to Stone where we had lunch at restaurant La Dolce Vita, good food for lunch time special fish cake starter, lasagna, apple and rhubarb with good custard followed by expresso. The restaurant was situated next to the canal drop lock we watched the long barge move through the lock taking some picture before getting on our bikes with full stomachs it wasn’t long before we were climbing again but at least the gradients were manageable.

We continued on the A520 to Weston, B5026 to Eccleshall, A59/B3062 to Newport we made very good time moving a some spend on not gently rolling hills and only 13 miles from Telford we stopped at Newport in an old fashioned traditional tea house , we were both not very hungry after the generous lunch that we asked for one portion of coffee cake to share, the waiter took must have took pity thinking that we must be trying to save money and gave us a big slice each for the priceof one.

We set off again on the A518 into Telford and my GPS took us to the B&B in Wellington next toTelford where we settled in before going for dinner at one of the best Indian meal I have had in a long time washed down with 3 pints of Cobra in bed by 9:00pm.