Day 4: Bristol to Shrewsbury – approx. 104 miles

Day 4 - Chepstow to Shrewsbury

The second longest day of the ride! The revised itinerary (I suspect the numbers riding have caused the stops to be jiggled about) has created some short days and some really long ones…think today is going to cause some pain for people not used to long hours in the saddle.

We start by crossing the Severn Bridge which I crossed a few years ago when we cycled from Newport to London – a petty lively experience if the wind is blowing!

The first part of today’s ride after crossing the Severn I have been looking forward to enormously.  After I turned 40 Penny and I drove down the Wyre Valley to Tintern Abbey which is beautiful!  Hopefully if we get the chance we can stop and admire the ruins.  We head through Hereford, a lovely town which on my last visit appeared to be full of Goths…about 20 years after the last one was hunted to extinction in Manchester.  Maybe they are a protected species in Hereford, will keep my eyes out for Emo’s  when we spin through it.

After this its onward to Shrewsbury (pronounced SHREWsbury not SHROWSbury…the waiter in the Indian restaurant confirmed this on our last visit).  We rode this route a couple of years ago and its lovely but with some challenging hills after Bishops Castle (very pretty but some steep hills).  The route profile indicates we may miss the worst of them but will keep an eye out just in case.

Discover Adventure website here

Day three – addendum

I forgot to mention a couple of bits of note yesterday…James and I crossed the Avon and passed through a park in Clifton and cane across a statue of James Starley.

James Starley 1831-1881 is considered the father of the British bicycle industry. His innovations to the Penny Farthing included tangential spokes, ball bearings, rubber tyres and hollow frames. Of course with a statue of such an influential man James decided there was only one thing to do:

I think the Ghost of James Starley was close because as soon as James remounted his bike to move on he suffered a classic ‘can’t uncleat in time moment’

Serves him right! He earned himself a nomination for the Outil D’Or that night!

Previously Simon Fisher had been told off for swearing too much climbing Dartmoor and as a result had been provided with a list of British place names to use instead. It was gratifying therefore to hear James shout

“Penistone!”

Instead of swearing as he hit the floor!

Late that evening the Outil D’Or was however awarded to Jono Estell. Whilst James was a strong contender the awards committee felt that gelling your hair with Sudocreme rather than hair wax was more deserving of recognition!

The illuminated spectacles of awesomeness went to Lauren Sanderson who was the fastest LeJogger up Cheddar Gorge and the 8th fastest that day! You could hear Maurice grinding his teeth from the back of the room hehe!

Day 3: Taunton to Bristol – approx. 60 miles

Day 3 - Tiverton to Chepstow

Today should be a relief from the relentless hills of Devon and Cornwall as we enter the Somerset levels (actually I’ve coped much better with the hills and really enjoyed the riding – obvs I am a cycling legend!)

It’s a shame the DA route doesn’t ride through Chedder Gorge or Glastonbury but we have a long way to go and limited time to achieve it.  That said I am not going to go all the way through Cheddar and not see the Gorge so I will ride that and work out how to get to the hotel from there.

Will be looking out for some Cider to take on with us…The itinerary has changed from that originally billed and today is shorter finishing in Bristol. This means that there is the opportunity to cycle Cheddar Gorge with no impact on the day – I’ve never seen it and would like to view it.

We also give a wide berth to Crewkerne (where my cousin Andrew lives the dream – big shout out to the family), Wells and Wooky Hole, all worth a visit – will just have to come back…its just so far from Civilization! Fortunately we also miss Weston Super-Mare (it always sounded so exotic until I got a job surveying the Job center there…its not a prosperous town, but may of course have changed since…I’m not going to go back to find out!)

Discover Adventure website here

Day 2: Liskeard to Taunton – approx. 87 miles

Day 2 - Liskeard to Tiverton

Broadly speaking all accounts of the ride I’ve read state this day is the most challenging of the whole ride! Fortunately I was so knackered after yesterday I got a decent nights sleep for the first time in yonks.

It’s a pretty daunting and lumpy day all round – five category five climbs, two category four and one category two climb up to Dartmoor to deal with, the worst of which is that it occurs before lunch.  Hopefully the cup of tea I’ve promised James H before the Cat two climb will be sufficient to gird our loins before the road starts to steepen.

Its all a series of climbs followed by steep descents that immediately hit new climbs. Apparently there are no flat bits in the entire county. Any shortcomings of my training plan are likely to become quite apparent today. Looking forward to seeing Dartmoor though, fingers crossed we get clement weather.

This day takes in over 4,000 feet of climbing, the most of any day on the ride.  The category two ride up to Dartmoor, taken in context of the day, is one of the hardest of the whole tour.  It’s worth remembering that there is a bike shop in Tavistock if any last minute spares are required…

The descent into Postbridge Goes over the well known Clapper Bridge (nope, not heard of it either) – a single span solid stone slab bridge dating from the 13th Century.  Its typical of what I love about the UK – this bridge is listed and sits beside the new one (also listed!) which dates from the thoroughly modern 1780s, eat your heart out ‘Murica!

Not looking so forward to riding across Exeter.  Over the last five years James, James, Chris and I have done a series of cross country tours and riding through City Centers is easily the most stressful part of any tour.

Originally we were due a shorter day however changes to accommodation now means we stay In Taunton not Tiverton. The extra miles are a bit harsh on this the hardest day! Mileage appears to be questionable too, my GPS unit states it to be 91 miles but DA bill it at 87…I doubt it will make much difference!

Discover Adventure website here

Day 1: Lands End to Liskeard – approx. 74 miles

Day 1 - Lands End to Liskeard

Had a shocker of a nights sleep, it’s always the same before the start of a big cycle ride. It’s also a lumpy and challenging day – rather unfair to be so early in the tour however no sense in complaining, tomorrow is supposed to be worse! Weather forecast is for strong northerly winds and highs of no more than 17 degrees so James Hurrell is looking happy, he says he struggles in the heat.

Met most of the other riders last night, they all seem a very jolly bunch and despite my good intentions had three pints of beer, according to one of my compadres death, pestilence and terror will visit my land as a result! A likely story! James dished the new shirts out so we should all look very cool for at least the start.

Highlights today should be views of St Michael’s Mount (many years ago when I was 18 we cycled in the pouring rain to Mont St Michele in Normandy and Im looking forward to seeing its British counterpart) and seeing the pretty Cornish countryside.  Traffic can sometimes be a nightmare so we will have to take care on the narrow lanes.

sign

Mileage was originally billed as ‘approximately’ 80 miles – somehow this vagueness does not fill me with confidence, though it’s been revised downward to 74 miles with the revised itinerary.  I always remember our old Venture Scout Leader Ollie Evans promising days that were ‘about’ 50 miles which actually were 59 miles…still hope and first day enthusiasm should carry us through.

Discover Adventure website here

Last big ride before the start….

Rode the Suffolk Sunrise this weekend – 102 miles in 6hrs 22mins, not quick but felt very comfortable. Unusually for the Sunrise I rode the entire ride without hardly seeing anyone – it’s usually much busier.

Finished with a beer and burger, not sure it did the diet any good but was good after a long ride.

It’s now just three weeks to the start and only two more weeks of training – all getting a bit real! So looking forward to the trip!

Tower Bridge and snow

No training at all this weekend…despite now acquiring a replacement Turbo (loaner from the most generous Steve Flory) I was in London with my Dad, Mum and brother doing his 80th birthday present – an engineering tour of Tower Bridge.

The tour was great! Guided tour of the two towers and glass floored walkways then a back stage tour of the old control room and bascule chamber (where the bridge counterweight swings into a void at river bed level).

All very jolly – some pretty spectacular Victorian engineering, the riveters particularly we’re on piecework so there are some thing like 3 million rivets on the internal steel frame (typical Victorian over engineering!).

Have to work hard this week to make up for the lack of two long rides this weekend.

Thinks the bots are afoot…

I’ve had a bunch of likes on the site…..but no views!

Think there is some automated codswallop going on because as of today I am pretty sure I am the only one looking at this blog. My current audience is happy at least….

Will be launching the fundraising page and the blog in a couple of weeks time, this is because a number of my contacts will be cycling London to Cannes in a weeks time and will probably be too busy to take notice.

I guess I’d better tell James H that there is a picture of him dressed as a Boy Scout on the blog before I do so!