Saturday, 16 April 2011

Sam says :

Well done to you too for the completion of another successful challenge. This trip has been an amazing experience and we have all arrived at our final destination thanks to your great navigational skills. In addition to cycling every day you have tirelessly recorded the daily events in this blog so that we all have everlasting memories. You have cycled for many miles with the camera or phone (for directions) in one hand which has added to the challenge and is a great achievement. Thanks for this fantastic experience.

Friday, 15 April 2011

St Agnes to Lands End

Friday 15th April 2011 41.49 Miles 3hr 42mins 10.72 mph Average Speed 971.84 Total Miles We left at 9.30am after a breakfast conversation about gardening with the B&B owner and Kris having run up to the beacon and back. Mum and Kris drove off to Hayle while we cycled there. We actually walked the bikes up the road out of the B&B as we learned from yesterdays mistake about pushing cold muscles too far too soon. We bought a lucozade and the lady behind me in the shop sponsored us £5, thank you! We followed the coastal road all day and the scenery was amazing but very hilly! Our first stop was Portreath where we met Mum and Kris, we did not stay long as we were conscious of the huge hill we had to climb out of the town that was lurking over us. We made it out and stopped in a café on the North Cliffs instead which was just up the road. Moving on we took a shortcut on tiny lanes where one was covered in cow dung, it’s a good job we have mud guards! We arrived in Hayle where we headed for the best Cornish Pasty shop ever. As we pulled up we were greeted by Mum, Kris and Kim who is Sam’s sister, a professional photographer, that had flown over from Ireland this morning and driven down in a yellow Fiat 500 hire car with black go faster stripes! We enjoyed a freshly baked pasty on the picnic tables before continuing. The others drove off to our B&B to dump Kim’s car then they came back to find us en route to capture the last few miles on camera. Kris had driven straight to Lands End and was cycling back to meet us. We climbed a hill then descended into St Ives where we did not stop we just past through then climbed a stonking hill out of town where we saw our first sign post to Lands End! We got on the B3306 and followed it for the rest of the journey. The road snaked through the countryside from one peninsular to the next all covered in very colourful flora and fauna. It had several short steep climbs and descents that were a killer and left the legs burning. One climb was signposted at 17% but there were several like it. Every now and then we would turn a corner to find mum parked up and Kim poised with camera ready and waiting. Kris caught up with us with 9 miles to go and at St Just dad said I know its only 5 miles from the end but I had better ‘just’ stop to spend a penny ‘just’ in case I cant wait! So we all stopped in town and found a pub next to a bakery, perfect! As mum and Kim set off to Lands End to wait for us and Kris raced a family on cycles to Lands End they left us to plod along the last 5 miles alone. It was quite sad and exciting, all in all a very emotional 5 miles as the end was in sight. We cycled close together and along the home straight to cross the finishing line at Lands End! We had several people cheer us in and congratulate us on our achievement. We made our way over to the famous sign which was actually there but still had to pay £10 to access it to take photos beside it! We were awarded with medals from mum and a bottle of bubbly from Kim! Thanks! We signed the book for all the End to Enders to record our successful ride. There were three other groups of riders also taking photos under the sign as they were just setting off on the trip the right way! We loaded the bikes in the cars and drove to the B&B in Marazion. Our rooms were lovely with a sea view looking over at St Michaels Mount. We showered then drove to Newlyn to a Meadery for a finger food dinner by candle light in a medieval restaurant. After we drove to Praa Sands to the Sand Bar which was right on the beach. There was a great sunset as we sat sipping our drinks and reminiscing about great memories of the last three weeks. Thanks to Mum and Kim for coming to support us and thanks to Kris for inspiring us to do this trip in the first place. Well done to Dad and Sam for making it! 971 miles has been a great challenge and full of memories. Thanks to you both for your company, effort and determination making this trip a complete success from End to End.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Camelford to St Agnes

Thursday 14th April 2011 39.57 Miles 3hr 40mins 10.78 mph Average Speed 930.35 Total Miles We had a vegetarian breakfast this morning which was actually quite tasty and filling. Kris was not impressed as he has been looking forward to a full English for a while and Dad was not happy as he had banged his head in the tiny bathroom and dried himself on the damp towel and slept in a damp bed! It was very overcast today but thankfully no rain. We had way too many hills but I think we are finally getting used to them now! We stopped to buy Lucozade in the first mile which is a bad sign! The first 15 miles were straight forward navigation wise as it was all on the same road. We stopped on the bridge over the Camel River just outside Nanstallon where we asked a postman for directions as these tiny lanes were a bit tricky and lacking in sign posts! Shortly after we met Kris who had driven the car to our lunch stop and cycled back to meet us and ride back together. We climbed up and down on tiny lanes all the way to St Columb Major having done 20 miles. Kris left us here and drove in the car to our B&B for the night for a 9 mile run and to meet mum. We found a lovely little Tea room that was built in 1638, we had cream teas that were amazing. We had to take a walk down the garden path to the loo and I misunderstood the directions and ended up in the potting shed! We stayed here for over an hour as it was so nice and paid the bill with all our coins to lighten the purse. The small lanes continued up and down hill to Newlyn East where we came across a road block where a tractor was attempting to pass a horse box in a narrow lane. We have been in sight of a wind farm for the last two days and it was slightly concerning that it was the same one and we have been going round in circles! As we cycled we heard a horn noise and I said what was that, dad said sounds like a steam train. We were in the middle of nowhere and it would be the last thing you would expect then as we turned the corner we came across a miniature steam railway that deserved a short visit. We waited for the train to depart in order to grab a picture but the next train was leaving at 2.40pm and we waited from 2 until 2.10pm. Just as we were about to give up the train set off! Just like the British Rail timetable! We had another short stop in Goonhavern just to put waterproof jackets on as it started to spit. In hindsight this was unnecessary as it stopped 2 minutes later. We joined a busier road for a few miles then back on small lanes to St Agnes. Our map implied the last section was downhill but it seemed to be climb after steep climb until the last half mile that was down. On the descent we saw mum and Kris jumping about at a pub where we joined them for a quick drink having done 40 miles. We went to the B&B and offloaded our gear and after a quick tea in the lounge we got in the car and went half a mile up the road to the beach. We photographed the dramatic coastline and watched the surfers for a bit before heading back into town to a fish and steak restaurant for dinner. Back at the B&B we sat in the lounge playing games, researching accommodation for tomorrow, blogging and falling to sleep! Another early night, and Kris and I got the four poster bed!

Okehampton to Camelford

Wednesday 13th April 2011

35.70 Miles
3hr 30mins
10.20 mph Average Speed
890.78 Total Miles

Leaving Okehampton we had an extremely steep climb right on our doorstep and with cold muscles at the start of the day this proved quite a struggle. Today was another day of hills but they were generally less steep than yesterday except for the first mile! So we just sat back and found granny gear and plodded pretty much all day.

It was meant to rain all day but it was surprisingly dry until lunch. So we attempted to squeeze as many miles in before stopping as possible. We managed 20 miles to Launceston where we had to climb a long hill and we deserved a rest after it. We enjoyed tea and hot chocolate and teacakes in a little café in the town centre then made a quick lucozade stop before attempting to find our way out of town.

It came to a T junction and according to the road names we did not seem to want either way. One way was steep up and the other way was steep down. I was reluctant to send us either way as I did not fancy retracing our steps! Luckily I guessed right and we went down the hill only to come across a steep climb the other side. There was a man on his cycle in front of us with no luggage and we were slowly gaining on him by the time we reached the top.

We continued on small lanes but before long the rain started so we had a pit stop on the road side hiding behind a house to put our waterproofs on as soon as possible. We had about 8 miles left in the rain and wind which was just about manageable but still hard work. We came across a sign for Camelford that said 5 miles then approximately 2 miles later we saw a sign that said Camelford 4 miles which was hard to believe then less than a stone throw away we found another sign that said Camelford 5 miles again! Sam said she thought she was back in Ireland!

We had to join the busy A395 then busier A39 for the last few miles. The road was quicker but the traffic was worse especially in the rain. Avoiding the cars, cats eyes and gravel in the hard shoulder we entered Camelford and pulled up at some temporary traffic lights. We knew the vegetarian B&B was half a mile away, then as we spotted it we saw the drive, just as a car was pulling out of it and it was Kris! Good timing! We unloaded and sat indoors with a pot of tea to catch up, warm up and dry off.

We jumped in the car and drove to Tintagel to have cream tea and scones in the Camelot Castle Café. It was quirky and very grand situated on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea. Some of the artwork on sale was £17,000 and there were photos of several famous people visiting the castle all over the walls. Dad sat at the round table as if he were a knight! Warming ourselves by the roaring fire we enjoyed the comfy sofas. We drove on to Boscastle which was made famous when it flooded a few years ago. It was very picturesque but we did not get out as it was still raining and very cold. Back in Camelford we enjoyed a pub dinner before retiring at 8pm. 2 days to go!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Wellington to Okehampton

Tuesday 12th April 2011 45.65 Miles 4hr 28mins 10.23 mph Average Speed 855.08 Total Miles We had a bit of a lay in this morning due to late night last night. Dad woke with a pain in his neck having slept awkwardly. Breakfast was at 8.45am and after some bike maintenance and finishing the blog we made it on the road at 10.30am. We were on mainly small lanes today but they went up and down and up and down all day! The climbs and descents were mostly steep and really took it out of us. It looked as though the person drawing the gradient graph on our map had a bad case of hiccups! We had a brief stop in Uffculme to buy some much needed Lucozade then continued on to Cullompton where we managed to get a cup of tea at the Culm Valley Integrated Centre for Health. We climbed a huge steep hill out of town up to Bradninch and went through some lovely little villages with thatched roofs. We made it to Crediton having done 25 miles it was time for a tea break when we came across The Cheese Café where Dads eyes lit up. We stayed quite a while and had a nice chedder cheese toasty each and a pot of tea for three. We kept climbing on small lanes and made it Bow having done 37 miles. Dad had to ring his bell at a pheasant that was walking along the road in front of him and would not budge. It was sunny but fresh and we could not decide whether it was jackets on or jackets off. It was difficult to judge as we were constantly going up and down hill. In the last 5 miles we had to climb two stonking hills and they were on a busier road. They were tough but we all managed to stay on our bikes. We arrived in Okehampton at about 5.30pm having done 45 miles. Our guesthouse was at the top of another big hill. Comparing each day so far, today was not surprisingly our highest total elevation climb! We have a 5 minute walk into town for dinner and apparently a 10 minute hike back due to the hill! One bonus is that the radiators are switched on here so we can wash our socks and t shirts that have not been washed in over a week and manage to get them dry!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Bath to Wellington

Monday 11th April 2011 56.61 Miles 5hr 37mins 10.08 mph Average Speed 809.43 Total Miles Breakfast stood out this morning as one of the best, we had eggs Benedict which I have never had before and it was delicious. We cycled up a hill round the back of our hotel to the Royal Circle which is a long curved row of huge town houses and was very impressive. It appears Bath is situated in a hole as any way you turn to leave the City you have to climb. We had a massive long climb but thankfully the gradient was not too steep, we just had to keep plodding and avoid the busses. The first 20 miles of today is hills and the last 35 miles is relatively flat. We had to follow quite busy A roads today which is horrible compared the tiny lanes we have been used to. In amongst the hills we came across a Road Closed Sign which is never good as we don’t like diversions and extra miles while pedal powered! We decided to ignore the sign and continue which was nice as it meant there were no cars on the road. When it came to the road block we were not allowed to pass so we stopped in Lynda’s Loafs for tea, cakes and advice having only done 15 miles. There were two hikers that showed us their ordinance survey map which was helpful as there was a small lane that ran parallel for a bit and cut out the closed road section. Unfortunately this was on a steep climb and as we kept going up we were in the clouds, literally, as there was so much mist and fog around. There was fine rain in the air and we were getting a bit wet then as we reached the top of the hill we had a steep decline which is when it rained harder and we got drenched and could not see a thing! It was quite scary as we were back on the main road at this point with too much traffic which did not help. At the bottom of the hill we stopped to put our waterproofs on and within about two minutes of moving on the sun came out and it stopped raining so we were sweating! 5 miles on we stopped in a KFC in Glastonbury having done 27 miles. We stripped back to sun wear but still light jacket and trousers as the wind was so strong in our face it was keeping us cool while we battled into it. We had to keep stopping for a quick rest every 5 or 10 miles from here as although it was flat the wind was relentless. We went through Othery to Taunton where we only had 7 miles left but we needed a break. You have to concentrate so hard on avoiding the traffic, potholes and not being blown into the curb or the traffic. Following the busy A39 a lorry went past a bit too close for our liking so we pulled off into a side road then Googled our way on bike paths through the town. We stopped at a Tesco express for a loo break and a bite to eat as the wind had seriously reduced our energy levels and the fact we had already done 50 miles at this point. Arriving in Wellington high street there were no Wellington boots but there was a Coral’s betting shop so we stopped to collect our £45 winnings! We found our Spa hotel just as the sun was setting and the wind was calming! It was very nice indeed and thought we might get turned away when they saw us but they welcomed us in. There was an extremely steep driveway to the front door which nearly finished us off! Dinner was lovely and Dad got his well earned and long awaited cheese board for dessert. Our bikes were locked in the Boardroom overnight and we did the final climb of the day up all 3 flights of stairs to our comfy bedrooms.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Newent to Bath

Sunday 10th April 2011 50.70 Miles 4hr 18mins 11.8mph Average Speed 752.82 Total Miles Breakfast at 8am we went down to a closed restaurant. The same guy that locked up last night arrived to cook us breakfast single handed and the chef turned up just as we finished eating! On the road it was flat for the first 10 miles to Gloucester which is not where the man banged his head and couldn’t get up in the morning! Following Google we were stopped in our tracks as the road raised in front of us to allow a long boat to go through on the river under us and then a marching band serenaded us as we past through the city. We took the bike path our support vehicle found for us which was a bit bumpy but it did cut a busy corner. Unfortunately we had to then climb up to 660ft from sea level which was tough but the downhill was nice! We arrived in Stoud after 20 miles where we met mum and Jill for tea and tea cakes in the pub garden in the sun. Sam purchased a new £8 cycle shirt as she has been wearing the same one for over a week now! We think she just buys new clothes instead of washing them, then today she washed her shirt and the radiators are turned off, typical! The road was fairly flat to Nailsworth where we then climbed a huge hill back up to 660ft which again was tough! We half expected to see Jon coming past in the back of the support vehicle but they were busy shopping and having one last cuppa tea for the road in Stroud! In Leigherton we rolled into the village to the sound of an ice cream van! Dad stopped the van and we enjoyed a lovely ice cream in the sun and a bum rest. Not long after we made it to Luckington after 35 miles and met mum and Jill in a pub garden for a drink and a melted Easter egg! The road continued quite flat with the odd steep climb to put a spanner in the works! The last 5 miles into Bath was all down hill and it was a 12% gradient. With Dad, Sam and I all bracing ourselves on the brakes, Jon was pedalling down! Right near the end I saw a huge pot hole but could not avoid it. My bar bag shot up and my phone flew out the top. As it bounced on the road a few times I hoped it would not cause too much havoc for the others following. Fortunately everyone stopped safe and my phone was ringing so it survived fine. I hit my maximum speed of 30mph! Arriving at the hotel we had done 50 miles on the dot! However we then had to carry our bikes up several steps through a side alley then carry ourselves up 3 floors to our rooms which were lovely! We showered then jumped in the car and made our way over to the city centre for a Paella in a quirky restaurant that was underground and very posh. Back at the hotel we bid farewell to Mum, Jon and Jill then retired for the evening. Thanks to you all for coming down and well done Jon for a great ride and a great achievement.