Our JOGLE – The Aftermath

It is now 11 days since we finished, so time to look back and sum up what we achieved, what we could have done better, what worked, what didn’t (for us).

Leaving home late in the evening and stopping after 6 or 7 hours driving, getting a good sleep and then finishing off the drive worked really well. We arrived at John O’Groats in the afternoon and had time to check the bikes over, rest, eat and relax ready for the start.

Letting Bryony start the ride, even though she was not 100% was a risk worth taking, even though she had to rest for a couple of days and get over her chest infection, she can justifiably say she started and finished the ride, put in 100% effort and was worth every penny she raised.

We originally had quite a convoluted route, this turned out to be time consuming and much less enjoyable than I anticipated. Stopping frequently to check the map breaks rhythm and  really slows you down, changing the route to get on to some of the “A” roads that ran alongside the motorways, the A6 and A38 for example, gave us roads that were fast, in good repair and not too hilly (with the exception of some notable climbs). These allowed us to eat up the miles at a steady pace in a relatively traffic-free environment.

I think there are 3 main ways of doing the JOGLE/LEJOG:

The “Super fast” ride – 5 days or under, for those trying to beat a record etc. Riding through the night etc. I can’t imagine you’d see a lot, just head down and charge on! Probably not one I’d ever have the inclination to do! (Unless someone asked me!).

The “Retirement” ride – as long as it takes, seeing everything and probably doing 50-60 miles a day, which is definitely the way I would like to do it at some time – yes, once I’ve retired!

The “Workers” ride – a maximum of 2 weeks (including travelling time to the start/from the finish), to fit in with most peoples’ holiday allowance. This was obviously the one we did, it gave a balance of seeing quite a bit, but meant we could not hang around to admire too many views! Perhaps I picked the wrong route, I am sure we could have ridden less miles but seen more in the same time span, but Bry and Jon were on road bikes and so I avoided many of the cycle routes/tracks/canal paths as they are often not in good repair. One Bike Route we did follow, took us over 5 miles of rough, cow-dung splattered lanes to bring us out 1/2 a mile from where we had joined it! On the other hand, we did the Barnstaple to Bideford section of the Tarka Trail and had a lovely morning, a good surface to cycle on, lots of people out enjoying a traffic-free ride, a really pleasant experience.

The Satmap Active 10 was great, I would never do something like this without paper maps, but the Satmap gave me a pinpoint position and was invaluable for routing through towns. Just a shame I need glasses to read the thing! The biggest load of rubbish going (imo) is the bike mount for it though! I ended up putting the Satmap in my pocket and dragging it out when I needed it, the mount, although firmly secured to the bars, rattled with the weight of the Satmap in it, to the point where I thought it was going to split in to 2 parts as the retaining clip(which can be rotated to allow for bar or stem mounting) had worked loose (and once fitted to the bar the positioning screws cannot be accessed without removing the retaining bracket strap – which then becomes almost impossible to refit). I have glued the parts together since getting home!

Riding up through Glen Coe was my biggest disappointment, I’d been really looking forward to riding through the Glens, over Rannoch Moor and alongside Loch Lomond. I’d told Jon and Bry, and anyone else who would listen, how great it would be ! As it was, we had a headwind, drizzle and a cold climb up onto the Moor, with Jon dropping me by the time we’d got to Signal Rock and having to stop “to admire the view” at the Three Sisters to give me the chance to catch up! The coffee stop at the Green Welly was a godsend!

The Support Crew of Julie and Monica in the”Funbus” were worth their weight in gold! Stopping at random (but pre-arranged) points for food and/or hot drinks was so welcome, particularly during the first few days when it was cold and wet. The one day when we could have done with an extra meet was the Glen Coe to Biggar 140 miler. After lunch (and my famous hissy fit!) we’d left them to make their own way to the campsite and we then had around 6 hours or more of cycling alone, before the end Jon “bonked” and we needed to raid a garage for chocolate.

Having people join us for a day was a great morale booster.  Gav and Genius riding with us on day 7 and Steve and Mat on the last day was such a good experience, we all (hopefully) had a good ride, a few laughs and put the seed in to the mind for other long distance rides. I think for Gav and Genius it was further than they expected, but they sailed through and hopefully will let me ride with them again (can the geriatric ride with the youngsters again, please?). For Steve and Mat I think it was a surprise how much the ride had taken out of us and how slowly they needed to ride to keep us in tow! Drafting off them was such a pleasant experience!

We have raised nearly £2,500 (hopefully by the time all the money is in we will have exceeded this sum). We rode approximately 1,020 miles in rain and sunshine and hopefully Jon and Bry will look back on this like I will, with fond memories and with a sense of achievement.

So, to the Awards Ceremony…

The Person Giving the Most Support to the Team:

Has to be Julie, despite driving a huge Motorhome for the first time in her life, driving in a strange location, navigating to remote campsites and putting up with me, she still managed to be stood on the side of the road waiting for us, with a big smile, kind words and a hug. Thank You, take a bow!

The Person Who Kept the Team Fed and Watered:

Monica was a diamond, she had us fed and watered before she had even got out of her pyjamas! A mug of hot tea/coffee in our hands as soon as we got off the bike and a helping hand whenever we needed it. Thank You, your turn to take a bow!

The Team Giving the Most Support:

This has to be the people of Loxhore, helping us fundraise, cheering us up to the Village Hall for the (fundraising) cream tea, feeding us (thank you Rene & Don), and generally being behind us all the way, many thanks from us!

The Person Managing to Smile through it All:

Jonboy smiled through everything the weather, the hills, or I could throw at him. Whenever Bry climbed a hill Jon was next to her, ready with a smile or a word of encouragement. Cheers Jon, it was a pleasure to ride with you!

The Person Showing the Greatest Commando Spirit:

Bryony – Despite falling off nearly every day, struggling up gigantic hills time after time and putting up with me pushing on “to make up time” she kept going, most of the time with a smile on her face (or did I mistake the grimace for a smile?). Well done Bry, shall I put you down for the next one?

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Day 10: They think it’s all over – it is now!

So our last day in the saddle to complete our JOGLE.

We were just finishing the huge full English breakfast in our B&B (West House) when Steve, Sara, Matty, Matt and Tracey arrived ready to join us for the days riding. Sara had come prepared with lots of hot water (like Mother, like Daughter!) to make tea and coffee at every rest stop and we were soon ready for the off – after I’d replaced the inner tube on my front wheel (which we will not mention again, Mark). Steve was sporting his new carbon Giant (complete with compact chainset and granny ring – no wonder he never needed to get out of the 50 all day!).

Once we’d set off we were soon into a good pace and flew along, despite my one navigational error of the day (going left at a roundabout instead of right) which Steve quickly pointed out, to go east would have taken us back the way we had just come!

We had our first meet up with the girls on the B3275 for a welcome coffee and cake stop, replenishing our water bottles and discussing the differences between stoats and weasels!

After that it was on to the A39 and head to Truro. A couple in a roof down sports car were most impressed when we told them where we had come from (sat at a red traffic light – not on the move). They were even more impressed when Steve and Mat overtook them on a downhill stretch! The sun was really beating down on us as we struggled (not Steve or Mat) up the long climb out of the city, heading for Helston to teach Tracey how to do the Floral Dance!

Just before we reached Helston we met up with the support crew again, this time Jons’ parents Nigel and Alison joined us as we ate our sandwiches and Sara provided more hot drinks! After lunch it was off again, with a warning to Bry that the climb up to Breage was not for the faint-hearted! She managed it, of course, although I think her language became slightly more colourful as she replied to our words of encouragement!

We joined the A30 at Penzance for the last leg and catching sight of the 20 miles to Lands End sign Bry decided it was time to stop pussy-footing around and she led the peloton as we started the final charge for the line.

With a few climbs behind us we could smell the sea air and knew we were almost there, finally, FINALLY catching a glimpse of the end of the journey and everyone waiting to greet us. Steve and Mat stopped short to allow the 3 of us to cross the line first and line abreast we went through the tape Sara and Matty were holding across the road, finished at last, we think it’s all over… until we walked over the “official” start/finish line about 200m further up! It is NOW!

So that’s it, all over, 10  days of hard cycling, would I do it again?



Not in a million years…

Unless somebody asked me to join their team!

And Mats’ idea of sailing to Santander and cycling home sounds really interesting!

Stats for the Day:

Time Cycling: 4 hrs 47 mins

Distance: 65.5 miles

Average Speed: 13.7 mph

Time on Road: 5 hrs 45 mins

Approx Calories used: 3,024

Total Mileage: 1,020

Total Cycling Time: 76 hrs 33 mins (approx)

Total Time on the road: 88 hrs 45 mins (approx)

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Day 9: Devon hills, Cornish hills and a Cream Tea in a layby!

Firstly, sorry for the delay in updating the post, we couldn’t find Donalds’ wee-fee in Padstow, so we had to wait until we got home to write up the final episodes.

Well Joe, you owe Jon enough pints to keep him in beer until Christmas! No hills? You can tell you’ve never ridden a bike to Padstow!

The day started with a HUGE breakfast served up by Monica, even though our bellies were still full from the lovely meal we had with Rene and Don last night. It was such a lovely evening, we all ate, drank and laughed until we were fit to burst.

So the ride… We had a pleasant ride in to Barnstaple, despite the councils’ inattention to some of the road surfaces, but that is the same in most areas now. We joined the Tarka Trail and enjoyed some easy spinning to Instow where we had a lovely coffee stop and met up with Pam, her mate Joy and their dogs, although the huge beastie that came in after us thought Jasper might have made a tasty morsel!

Eventually we had to drag ourselves back on to our bikes and finish off our ride on the Tarka Trail at Bideford, with Bryony doing a really good impersonation of someone about to fall off a bike, without actually doing it! She had finally mastered the Gravity/forward momentum conundrum! Once over the old Bideford bridge (yes, we should have got off the trail at the new bridge, but we were enjoying the peaceful ride so much!), we climbed out of Bideford and just carried on climbing all day, Cornwall must be the highest county in England because none of the hills went down! Just as the hills and scorching sun were starting to cause us to flag we saw Julie by the roadside with lunch, such a welcome sight! We met 3 lovely ladies from Bude who meet every Thursday in the layby, all year round, to eat pasties from the local farm shop across the road and catch up on their gossip, news. Rain or shine they sit in the layby, on good days on the benches, bad days in their cars. Today they were sat at the picnic tables, enjoying the shade of the trees and listening to us tell them of our adventures. We left them to finish their pasties as we set off once again to tackle the last of the Devon hills and start the Cornish ones! The day became even hotter as we struggled over the crest of one hill to see another one on the horizon. Bryony looked grim faced but determined, Jon just kept smiling and whispering encouragement to Bryony and I plotted my next challenge – learning to knit, or bake a cake, anything that did not involve anything more physical than picking up a dropped stitch!

Once again Julie came to our rescue, sat in another layby, with our cream tea set out and ready for us, bliss on a plate! having eaten everything she put before us, we set off with bulging bellies once again, ready(?) to tackle yet more hills, each one seeming to be steeper than the last. We passed the 65 mile mark (our forecast distance for the day) with no sign of Padstow in sight, just more hills, so it was a relief when we finally saw the signpost marking our departure from the A39 and onto the A389 for a short stretch. With a final stiff climb we made it to the top of Padstow and headed for our B&B. Once again Julie was stood on the roadside, as she had been for over half an hour, just to make sure we didn’t overshoot the road in to the B&B and sweep down in to Padstow, I’m not sure we could have endured the climb back out if we had!

Once we had all recovered we set off for the harbour and fish & chips from Rick Steins’. Heaven for Bryony and me when the waitress informed us that yes, they did do gluten-free batter!

Joe, Jon will be around to collect the CRATES of beer! (But not by bike).

Tomorrow is the last day, around 65 Cornish miles (so anything between 60 and 75 then!). With Steve Baker and Mat joining us we are looking forward to a good day – we will all be drafting off the two of them!

Stats for the Day:

Time Cycling: 5 hrs 52 mins

Distance: 76.7 miles

Average Speed: 13.1 mph

Time on Road: 8 hrs

Approx Calories used: 3,379

Total Mileage: 954.45 miles

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Further news from the support crew

Support crew were sad to say goodbye to the funbus yesterday, they were just getting the hang of it!  The crew are down to only  Julie now, with Bryony back in the saddle and Monica safely back home with Joe. Julie is now driving Martin’s Renault Kangoo van – bit of a come down from the lovely motorhome.

What a reception the joglers had at Loxhore in Devon – half the village turned out to cheer them in. Everyone enjoyed a cream tea served up by Sue, Rene, Jill and Pam. Thanks also to Pam for making delicious gluten free scones for Martin & Bryony and for the chocolate sponge made by Martin’s mum.

Thank you all – it was much appreciated.

Today was another warm day,  support crew had to carry plenty of cold water to refill the water bottles. Lunch was served just before Bude, and cream tea between Camelford and Wadebridge all from the van!!! Don’t worry there was tea made from a flask of hot water supplied by Monica this morning, along with a full English for the joglers.

Dinner last night was cooked by Rene, Julie’s sister and delicious it was. Julie is looking forward to cheering the joglers in at Lands End tomorrow, and feeling sad it will soon be all over, but will be very relieved to see them arrive safe and sound.

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Day 8: Are we there yet Dad?

So today saw us truly on our own, as the Support Crew returned the Funbus to John and Angela (many thanks, it really was a fun bus!!), and we headed off to North Devon.

Stung by my comments on the amount of clothing he wears, Jon had decided to prove he was well ‘ard, (double A, double R, double D) and only wore one layer, he sneered at our arm warmers, pah! they’re for wimps, despite the chilly morning air.  Despite my feigned concern for his welfare, he steadfastly refused to add a jacket to his short sleeved top.

It wasn’t long before my arm warmers came off, one missing my back pocket and flying onto the road, Bry & Jon carried on as I turned back to pick up my precious piece of kit, with only a few tyre marks on the formerly pristine white stripe, it was firmly retrieved to join its’ twin. I managed to catch up again just before they cycled passed our turning to Burrowbridge. The road from Langport to Burrowbridge is quite narrow and as we are slow moving traffic and not wishing to hold anyone up, we pulled over to allow a car towing a very rattly trailer pass by. As he drove passed we realised there was no trailer, that noise was his car! I’m not sure how far he was going, but I wouldn’t have put money on him reaching his destination!

As the sun warmed us even more I realised we would have to break some speed records to reach Norton Manor Camp for the 1030 coffee stop. Eventually we decided we could not make the time and I stopped to let Debbie (from Go Commando) know we would be 15 minutes later than planned. I didn’t have her number so I was going to ring Julie to pass on the message, I had a missed call, it must be from Debbie to find out where we were, so I rang the number back. It was Angela, Julie had returned the F unbus but left her mobile inside. I now had to ring Monica to let her know about Julies’ phone and once she had it to ring Debbie – wasn’t life so much easier before we had mobiles?

After a short photo shoot at the main gate at NMC and a cuppa  (not as fast a service as we were used to, but welcome all the same)we set off back down the road to rejoin our path to Loxhore. I was quite keen to get on, we were due at Loxhore for 1530 and I was worried all the scones would be gone by the time we arrived!

With no Funbus we also had no support crew, I was carrying the packed lunch, so I was also keen to have an early stop to lighten my load! Bryony took no persuading to stop early and wade in to the sandwiches, but with no Monica there was no warm cuppa – gutted!

It was really starting to warm up now and our water bottles soon needed replenishing so we stopped at Wiviliscombe to buy some. Just as well, by the time we’d climbed out of Wiviliscombe we were boiling over, that is some pull to contend with.

After many, many climbs and a few descents, with Bryony showing off her climbing skills by staying in the big ring going up one tough rise! Chappeau, Bryony, Queen of the Mountains!  Even when we arrived at the Black Cat and settled down for the long slog to the top she wasn’t fazed, after Berriedale Brae and Oakhill it was too easy! She just needs to remember to clip out before she puts the bike down! (Yes, she had another encounter with a roadside hedgerow, this time the nettles bit back,) Jon quickly saved the day by pulling her upright, using his new found ‘ardness to do it one-handed  or was it just because Bry informed him that she had to be removed from the nettles NOW!

Despite the “shorter” day, the hills, lack of tea & cakes midmorning, and the lunchtime mountain of food we were used to from our support crew, had left us decidely hungry as we neared Loxhore . My “just one more hill” only worked for so long before Bryony informed Jon she required his last snickers bar, or else. Jon handed it over, he just wasn’t THAT ‘ard!

Almost an hour later than planned to finally rolled in to Loxhore and yes, a cheering crowd of well-wishers! Thanks everyone for turning up, waiting patiently for us to arrive, but you very nearly got run over in our rush to get to the scones, cream and jam!

It was all very delicious and raised over £80 to go into our fundraising coffers, thank you Sue, the gluten-free scones were delicious! I hope nobody else wanted one. At this rate we should pack in the cycling and just bake some cakes and make coffee, but on second thoughts I’d have to pay people to eat a cake I made, if I knew how to make one, or what the ingredients were, or where the cooker was, anyway you get the idea, Domestic God I am NOT.

So ended Day 8, a day literally full of ups and downs, warm weather and close shaves with some very poor drivers. Before I finish I must add a note from yesterday. It was very remiss of me not to mention that when Alison and Nigel came over to see us arrive at Evercreech they also brought over a full meal so Julie would not have to prepare one that evening. It was sumptious, we ended up completely stuffed, many thanks to you both.

Tomorrow we head to Padstow, a leisurely pace (I hope), coffee at Instow and cornish ice cream whenever the fancy takes us!

Stats for the Day:

Cycling Time: 7 Hrs 6 mins

Time on Road: 8 hrs 15 mins

Mileage: 89.75 miles

Average Speed: 12.5 mph

Approx Cals used: 3985 (with most replenished at the Village Hall)

Total Mileage to date: 877.75

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Day 7: Feeling smug after overtaking a Porsche Boxter, Our first Puncture and Bry makes a Century & gets up close to a hedge, again!

We left Bewdley in sunshine, legs naked and arm-warmers ready to be pulled off once the chill morning air disappeared. Naturally Jon was wearing at least 2 layers more than either Bry or me, but even some of those went in to (my) pannier as the day warmed up! We decided to take the A38 down to Bristol, it was bound to be quiet and not too hilly, well we got the first bit right! How was I to know that the M5 would be closed and everything would be diverted through Tewkesbury?

Riding towards Tewkesbury was going well until TWO Police cars pulled in front of us at a roundabout and both put their blue lights on. Had we been mistaken for bank robbers making a slow get away, or was it because we were approaching a motorway and they wanted to make sure we wouldn’t dare enter the hallowed grounds of the engined vehicle? “Did you want to speak to us?” I asked innocently, “Oh, no,” replied one, “we’ve just got to sweep up all this glass.” Just in front of them was a shattered rear windscreen and on the grass verge was a chap and his wife/partner/girlfriend  a lady, looking a bit fed up next to their very rear-ended hatchback, also on the grass was a slightly worried looking van driver.

On we went and suddenly found ourselves in a very long queue of traffic and proceeded to pass them on  the outside, the inside, the cycle path, in fact anyway we could that was not blocked by drivers annoyed that we could keep moving when they couldn’t, a bit like people feel when the motorcyclist zips passed in a queue, but dammit these are just cyclists!

So it was that we passed a Porsche Boxter, it was barely moving I have to admit, and the driver didn’t seem to happy when I said it was the first time I’d overtaken a Porsche! We stopped in Tewkesbury for coffee and watched some of the cars we’d passed, crawl passed. We tried to warn Julie and Monica that the A38 was horrendous and to try and find another way through, too late, they were stuck in the jam and worried we would be dehydrating!

After finishing up our drinks we jumped back on our bikes and started to pass all those same cars again, as we zipped on down the queues, much to the amusement of some and annoyance of others.

As the queues finally thinned out and we carried on I mentioned to Bry and Jon to look out for 2 chaps cycling towards us, I told them they were 2 Joglers that I’d been speaking to on the internet, who would be in the same area today and I said I’d look out for them. Sure enough 2 chaps were waiting by the side of the road just a few miles on. Strangely they looked just like Gav and Genius (Ben), 2 mates of Jons’ that had secretly been organising with Julie to meet up and ride “a few” miles with us.

So we were now a “Critical Mass” heading down the A38 towards Bristol, but within 5 miles we were “man down”, with a huge bang GAV lost his back tyre! With the speed of a TdeF team mechanic we’d whipped out the punctured inner and replaced it, pumped it up and back on the road. NOT! Having passed Gav the mechanics gloves (to keep his hands clean) I somehow managed to change the tyre, I’m still not sure how I managed it, or even if Gav wanted me to take over, but I did, faffed about trying to get some air into it (it was so bad a council recycling operative told us we could go in the bike shop we were practically outside and get a CO2 cannister to do the job!). Oh well, we got there in the end.

Off again and we finally made it to Bristol, “we can stick to the outer edges and not get too involved with traffic,” I said, decisively. That’s why, 20 minutes later, we were riding passed Cabots’ Circus in 4 lanes of traffic – Nice one Martin, try reading the map and not just looking at the squiggly lines next time!

Eventually (and I do mean eventually) we left Bristol and headed to Chew Valley. To get in to a valley you have to climb over the hill first.  Oakhill Lane must be one of those places that strikes fear into the heart of any “normal” cyclist. It climbs gently at first, to lull you into a false sense of security and then turns a corner and you look at a wall of tarmac, and another turn, more wall, you get the idea! 20 minutes or so I get to the top, I’m not sure, it could have been 15 minutes, or 2 hours, I’d lost the ability to think and ride as it took to much oxygen to do both! All I know is, as Gav reached the top I was seriously wondering if he would let me live more than a few minutes longer! “Did you know that was coming?” he asked.

“No,” I stated honestly. Somewhat mollified he let me carry on breathing.

“Are there any more like that?” He continued.

“I’m not sure,” I answered, worriedly.

Luckily Genius arrived and offered to buy Gav a drink in the pub where we’d stopped (conveniently at the very top of the hill). Time to break out the morale haribos!

After a little while Bry arrived, with Jon alongside. If looks could kill I’d be writing this posthumously. It was time to break out the morale energy gel for Bry (we were SO beyond morale haribos!).

Did I mention Bry came off? Gravity and forward momentum struck again once, before we met up with Gav and Genius, but then she also managed to ride in to Genius’ back wheel on a climb and met yet another grass verge.

At almost every junction from then on 5 heads would meet in a huddle to discuss, amongst other things, my navigation skills, how many signs pointing to Chewton Mendip we could see before we actually got to the place and, more importantly, how long would it be before we got to Evercreech. Well, I can show everyone the track we took, the GPS does not lie, we did NOT ride around Chewton Mendip in a big circle! Okay, we could have taken a few short cuts, but who knows if we would have ridden up any more humongous hills? Not me, I had the map firmly in my back pocket (just in case).

All too soon, I’d like to say, but I’d be lying, Bry reached her first Century ride – Well done Bry, I’m sure the chain oil slick up your leg will come off eventually. We gave her a cheer and a clap, which I’d like to say cheered her up immensely, but again, I’d be lying.

Finally we made it to Evercreech, slightly later than planned, but slightly under the mileage I’d forecast. Yes chaps, I will repeat, SLIGHTLY UNDER THE MILEAGE I’D FORECAST. Oh ye of little faith.

We met up with Julie, Monica, Alison and Nigel (Jons’ Mum & Dad), outside the shop in Evercreech. After many hellos, handshakes, kisses and hugs (you get the picture) Gav finally asked, “Where exactly do you live?”

“About 100 metres down the road,” says Julie, cheerfully. The look on his face spoke volumes.

So, after a cold drink, a warm shower and fond farewells, Gav and Genius set off back to their days start point to pick up the other car, so they could then drive all they way to Reading (Genius) and Southend (Gav). I’m sorry it was a bit further than you had anticipated (or wanted), but THANKS GUYS, you were brilliant company, but yes I know, if I lead another ride, I wont call you, I’ll wait until you ring me!

We say goodbye to the Funbus tomorrow as we head to North Devon and Julie takes it back to John, it was great fun and we will miss it, we want our own now! We will also lose half our support crew in Loxhore as Monica goes home to Joe. Hide the pasties Joe, she’s home tomorrow and has the tape measure out to check your waistline – we’ve heard all about your dining out while she has been away!

Thanks Mon, we really couldn’t have done it without you!

Stats for the day:

Mileage for the day: 107 miles.

Average Speed: 13.1mph

Time cycling: 8 hrs 10 mins

Time on the road: 10 hrs 45 mins (we did have a lot of stops)

Approx Calories used: 4,529

Total Mileage to date: 788 miles

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Next instalment from the Support Crew on Day 6

Last night was spent at Laylands Farm campsite, not the most desirable site but at least the showers were hot! We were glad to pack up and head towards Bewdley. Bryony was feeling much better today so decided to join the boys for the afternoon ride, she said “I’m not spending another day in this bloody van, I want to get on my bike!” so she did!!

Our navigation skills have much improved over the week, we managed to meet the boys for coffee, lunch and arrive safely at the campsite without going wrong once. Having arrived at the campsite early, Julie and Monica had time to have a walk and sit in the sun, whilst contemplating writing an idiots guide to lay-bys in the UK, which ones are best for making tea, having a pee or waiting for the JOGLERS to arrive!

Tonight is our last night in the fun bus, we will be sorry to see it go tomorrow but we are looking forward to a night at home.

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Day 6: The Ying and Yang of Cycling

Jon and I set off at 8.45am, leaving the girls to pack up and try and see the owner to pay. The sign warning not to try to enter because of the guard dogs did put them off trying too hard!

The first part of the day was really great, good flattish roads (A49), not too much traffic and sunshine – the real sunshine, the sort that warms your bones and makes you smile.

We met the support crew for coffee, having made really good time and then went on our way again. We’d agreed to meet for lunch just outside of Telford and Bry would join us for the second, shorter, “half” of the ride. We’d planned to take a more scenic route, keeping off the faster A roads. However, with the B roads comes the hills, lots of them!

The ride down to Ironbridge seemed to take forever, with a few very busy roundabouts to navigate. A very big hello was waved to a chav who decided we were not going fast enough around one roundabout, sorry for the 3 seconds we deprived you!

All too soon we were climbing yet another hill, Bry was really impressed when she managed 35mph on the following downhill. Going up a particularly steep climb Bry decided she had a problem with her rear dérailleur and would get off to investigate, unfortunately gravity was stronger than her forward momentum and she fell off, slowly and gracefully into the hedge! She then realised that lying in the hedge, with the bike on top of her she could not unclip from her pedals and Jon and I had to assist in her recovery.

We decided we only had a few miles left to go, which cheered us all up, right to the point when we saw the signpost “Bewdley 8 miles”. And they turned out to be all hill climbs. Once at Bewdley I rang Julie for directions, the campsite was not in Bewdley but on the road out (the other side), just at the top of a mile long hill! Deep joy! Thankfully Julie and Monica were waiting with coffee and cake, followed by our first holiday ice cream.

In the evening, after a great meal of spaghetti bolognaise, we had a wander down to admire the tipi and enjoy the last of the evening sunshine. Bliss at last, what a shame it is the last night in the fun bus, tomorrow sees us riding down the A38 to Bristol and a night in my own bed!

Stats for the day

Mileage: 99.4 miles
Cycle time: 7 hours 34 mins
Time on road: 8 hours 15 mins
Average speed: 13.6mph
Approximate calories used: 3834
Total mileage to date: 680.9

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Day 5: Thrills, spills and LOTS of wrong turns!

You know you are tempting fate when you open the door of the motorhome to sunshine. You’ve had a great night’s sleep, after a huge and tasty meal at the Stag Inn and you say “we should have a good days riding!”

We did start off well, despite some stiff climbs out off Dufton, dropping down into Appleby we touched 42mph and promptly flew past the turning! Error number one, and the day had only just begun! The views we had after we followed the B6260 and the A685 to Kendal were really stunning, despite the climbs to get to them. We then crossed back to Kirkby Lonsdale having first met up with the support crew, Monica didn’t quite have the water boiled so she was temporarily sacked in favour of lattes from the petrol station we met up at. They were so good Julie and Monica abandoned the now boiling kettle to get their own!

Having made our way to Kirkby Lonsdale (by missing the A6 turn) we then crossed back again (!) to the A6 and headed towards Lancaster. Before we reached Kirkby Lonsdale, Jon had the first off of the trip. Crossing a roundabout a 4×4 turned across in front of us (okay he indicated but his positioning on the road suggested he was taking the turning before). A  sudden swerve put him in front of me and I braked. Jon following closely behind couldn’t stop in time and rammed into me – the “tank” never moved and Jon went down – but quickly sprang back up to avoid the cars behind . Thankfully the car stopped and asked Jon if he was OK? He checked the bike was OK and told her everything was fine! The bleeding ankle was only a flesh wound.

From Lancaster we kept up a steady speed all the way for Chorley, shame we were aiming for Standish and Wigan! Despite this we ended up in Wigan where Jon had a run in with the police, or rather the police nearly ran over Jon! Waiting at the traffic lights Jon didn’t get going quick enough and PC plod raced passed. Can Jon have his sleeve back please?

The evening was coming on at this stage and we were both starting to get cold, the constant stops to check our navigation didn’t help. Having made mistakes already we were reluctant to go pass too many turns or roundabouts without checking. We finally ended up in Warrington, having yet again missed a turning. We had asked a local if he knew where Kenyon was, prompting the answer “no”. He would have gone back to his conversation, but his mate took pity on us and quided by his directions finally made it to the waiting support crew. Five minutes later Monica served up coffee and biscuits!

Stats for day

Time cycling : 8hrs 45
Time on road : 10hrs
Mileage : 117
Ave speed : 13.4
Approx calories used : 4879
Total miles to date : 581.5

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Journey so far from support crew

Day 1

Waved off Martin, Bryony & Jon at John O Groats very windy and cold. Headed off to gift shop for postcards etc. Drove to lighthouse and walked to Stacks of Duncansby, just avoiding the first shower of the day.

Drove to meet joglers for lunch, Bryony feeling exhausted but determined to carry on. Drove to next campsite but navigation skills not good!!! Had a short walk but had to run back as joglers had arrived.

Day 2

Bryony feeling very ill today so was unable to cycle even though she wanted to and felt she would be letting the side down. We packed up camp and headed off to do some food shopping and warm socks for Martin as his feet were cold. Monica bought a warm fleece as she was so cold. Bryony slept most of the day. We took her to doctors in Fort William and he said she had chest infection. He gave her antibiotics and if not better in 48 hours to see doctor again.

Traffic in Fort William was horrendous queues of traffic as building new roundabout. Boys arrived at campsite same time as us. Julie was told off for driving over the grass! Weather awful rained all day drying the boys wet gear wasn’t easy.

Day 3

Left Glen Coe, still raining and misty on mountains. Met boys for coffee in Tyndrum. Navigation skills no better! ended up in wrong place to meet boys for lunch they weren’t happy! Managed to navigate our way through Glasgow ok even if Sat Nav took is wrong way.

Arrived at Biggar campsite owner showed us lakeside pitch with lovely view, then proceeded to get motorhome stuck in the mud! After much revving, we finally managed to get out with help of owner but splattered Monicas new fleece in the process. We finally parked on a hard standing but then realised the water tap was up the road so had to reverse up to it, who said this was going to be an easy job. Boys didn’t arrive back until 8.45 totally exhausted. Thankfully Jon phoned to say they were 12 miles away as we getting worried. We all fell into bed feeling very tired.

Day 4

We left Biggar on route to Dufton, met boys for lunch near Gretna Green, oven chips and sandwiched were devoured quickly and they were on their way. Took Bryony to doctor in Penrith as she was no better – waited over 2 hours nightmare! But at least her chest was now clear but to wait a few more days before cycling and only if she feels well enough.

Set Sat Nav to find our way to next campsite in Dufton which took us down some very winding narrow roads, even had to pull wing mirrors in for fear of them getting snapped off! Boys arrived not long after us. Julie & Monica managed to get a short walk part way up High Cup Nick at last set free from that box on four wheels!!! Decided to have night off from cooking and went to the pub for dinner The Stag, superb meal and managed to collect a few more quid in our collecting box.

Day 5

Bryony is feeling much better today but still sleepy. Support crew had to administer first aid to Jon as he fell off his bike, thankfully not too bad just had to apply antiseptic cream to his leg. Today was difficult to meet boys for lunch as not sure which road they taking but we did manage to meet up in yet another lay by. Sat Nav actually managed to direct is to next campsite ok just outside Warrington.

It’s been a very eventful journey do far, hectic at times and much waiting around in lay by’s for the boys with the kettle ready. We have all slept really well in the motorhome and just about managed to not get in each others way too much. Cooking for 5 has been an experience. And don’t worry Joe, Monica has managed to have a wash! the sites do have showers.

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