Friday, 31 May 2013

Day 7 Lands End Ride

The weather was perfect from the start with clear blue skies and just a little cool breeze. We set off with my brother Mike at around 9:30 and took a B road via St Buryan and some steep hills at Treen. Arrived at Lands End at around 11am - Hurrah!
Then as the weather was so nice we did a "lap of honour" cycling up the coast. Mike had to get home but we stopped at St Just for pasties, them carried on to Morvah and up over the hill back to Penzance on a little road via Madron, past Lanyon Quoit.
Job done! Spent the afternoon shopping and walking around Penzance.
Today's mileage 28.
Grand total 345 miles.
Road kill count 1 rabbit!
Grand total road kill (only started on 3rd day): 5 crows, 4 rabbits, 4 foxes, 3 squirrels, 2 hedgehogs, 2 badgers, 1 deer, 1 sheep, 1 pheasant, 1 mouse, 1 blackbird, 1 buzzard.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Day 6 Lands End Ride

We had our fish and chips last night in another White Hart Hotel in St Austell. After a bit of a lie in and a hearty breakfast we set off around 9:45. The weather was sunny with a cool NW wind. Rather than take the main roads we followed some minor roads on our map through woodland with bluebells and wild garlic. 
We joined the main road near Truro for a while and bought some lunch in town that we ate later. Headed to Redruth then up over the moors to Leedstown and some other nice villages. It was a really nice road that led to Marazion where we stopped and had a paddle.
We arrived at about 6pm
Mileage 49. 
Road kill count: squirrel and rabbit only. Although Nicky now tells me she spotted a dead sheep earlier in the week.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Day 5 Lands End Ride

The chippy was shut last night so we had an excellent posh meal at the White Hart, Okehampton (I had venison steak, toffee sponge, ice cream and Dartmoor ale). They didn't seem to mind that I set fire to the menu, which touched a candle ..oops. 
We set off at around 9am on the Granite Way along the route of an old railway line and across the Meldon Viaduct.
Good views of Dartmoor too
We then took the old A30 through Lewdown a nice quiet road with some long downhill sections. Strangely the road has no A or B number, just the name The West Devon Drive.
Crossed the Tamar into Cornwall at Launceston around 11am.
The weather was a bit cool and cloudy in the morning but the sun broke though in the afternoon and it was warm enough for shorts. Cycled south to Callington and retraced the pedals of the Lands End to John O'Groats trip I did 3 years ago. I didn't remember much, but there were loads of hills. Arrived our B&B with help from Satnav at around 5:30. St Austell traffic was the busiest we'd encountered,
Today's mileage 59. Average speed 8.5 mph. 
Road kill count: 3 foxes, 2 rabbits, pheasant and crow.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Day 4 Lands End Ride

The overnight rain had almost stopped when we left Wellington at around 9:30. The town is ok but nothing special, as was the B&B. It turned out to be quite a nice day: dry, cloudy and cool with little wind, although the wind did pick up. We headed south on the A38 then west to Tiverton on a B road where we had a coffee stop. The road south alongside the river Exe was nice and flat, but all of a sudden the main Crediton road went up a steep hill so we carried on south and cut across via Thorverton (pictured) along some narrow and sometimes hilly 
We found a nice cafe in Crediton run by an old couple and I had cottage pie and peas followed by apple and loganberry pie with custard and a mug of tea. 
We carried on to Okehampton and had views of Dartmoor,
and some nice orchids.
They certainly know how to make proper hills in Devon! Many seem to go on for about a mile, but our low gears are coping so far. We arrived at our very nice B&B (59 Station Road, Okehampton) at about 4:30 and was given tea by the helpful chatty landlady, who is used to Lejoggers. We plan to have fish and chips tonight and possibly eat them in the front room.
Today's mileage 49. Average speed only 8.7 mph! (many of the hills involved long 3 mph ascents).
Road kill count: 1 deer (poss roe), buzzard, 3 crows, female blackbird, 2 hedgehogs, 2 rabbits, 1 squirrel and 1 mouse (stuck to shoe!)

Monday, 27 May 2013

Day 3 Lands End Ride

Frome is a pleasant enough place and very hilly. We had a curry last night and were asked if we were "Froomies". Our hotel was ok except we were on the second floor and the floorboards were very creaky. 
Set off at about 9:45 and just outside Frome found a wallet with credit cards and drivers licence scattered on the grass verge. We phoned 101 and arranged to drop it off at Taunton police station. Contacted the owner via Facebook but no reply yet.
I was planning to take the A361 to Glastonbury, but it was quite a busy trunk road so we took a quieter road south to Bruton (pictured) and Castle Cary which was pretty if a little hilly.
We're getting used to the hills now. The weather started off bright and sunny, but a cool headwind strengthened during the day and grey clouds loomed. We had lunch at a nice cafe in Somerton - about the first one we've come across! Cycled westwards near to the Somerset Levels and encountered a massive road bike ride going the other way (A 3 day Tour of Wessex). Saw Burrow Mump (pictured)
I used my Satnav to find Taunton police station then stopped at a garage cafe. We then carried on to Wellington, and I was planning on using my phone again to find the B&B but my iPhone was flat. We got directions though and checked in around 5:30. Had a Chinese meal. Weather wet now.
Today's mileage 54. Average speed 9.2 mph (well it was windy).
Road kill spotted: 2 badgers, fox, squirrel, hedgehog and crow.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Day 2 Lands End Ride

We awoke to sunny weather and set off at around 10 am after a full English. 
Our route was through Hungerford then SW to Burbage on a quite pleasant but undulating A road through the N Wilts downs.
There were some nice villages with thatched cottages, including a two storey one in Rushall raised on stones, that I later found was out built of straw
We bought some sandwiches and ate them 
on a bench, then stopped off at a pub for a 
There seems to be a pattern developing here! 
Although today I only had orange juice. 

We cycled on along the northern slopes of the 
Salisbury Plain to Frome on a quite hilly B road.
 It warmed up quite a bit too.
We saw 3 white horses on hills, the best of which
was at Westbury.
Arrived at hotel at around 4:30. Slightly fewer 
miles than yesterday but more hills. We feel 
like we've earned our dinner today.
Day's mileage 53. Average speed 10 mph

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Day 1 Lands End Ride

We set off around 9.15 in cool cloudy weather with a slight headwind. I'd made a last minute change to my luggage, swapping my little saddlebag for a rack top bag which has more space and a handy handle.
We stopped at Great Kimble after 10 miles for coffee and buns on a playground bench. The sun broke through as we carried on to Wallington and Wallingford, where we bought some sandwiches for lunch by the Thames. We  followed the Thames to Pangbourne, then crossed over the M4 and took a minor road through Bradfield, where we stopped at a pub.
Carried on along a pleasant wooded road and stopped for an ice cream before arriving at Thatcham and Newbury at around 3:30. Neither of us felt particularly tired and could have managed another 20 miles.
After tea and toast we went for a 4 mile walk though Newbury and along the canal with our friend Anne.

Total miles cycling 55. Average speed 11.6 mph

Friday, 24 May 2013

Day 0: Lands End Ride - Final Preparations

I've done most of my packing now and fitted everything into two panniers (as has Nicky). The final weight of my panniers is about 9 kg consisting roughly as follows:
  • 1 bag cycling clothes
  • 1 bag casual clothes
  • 1 pair casual shoes (cycling in SPD shoes)
  • full waterproofs
  • sunglasses and gloves
  • toilet bag (no towels)
  • swim suit (for Cornwall - ever hopefull!)
  • small vacuum flask for morning coffees
  • map (road atlas of SW)
  • iPhone & charger (with Kindle for reading books)
  • bike locks
Also in our small wedge saddle bags we'll be carrying spare inner tubes, puncture kit and tools.

I decided to go for a low tech navigation approach with printed out itineries in my handlebar mounted iPhone case, although I do have the map and Satnav if I need it. I can't really see the maps properly on my phone anyway without reading glasses, although the Satnav app is pretty clear. I'm planning on using single carriageway A roads most of the time too, so it should be quite straight forward, apart from a few deviations to avoid busy dual carriageways. We might take alternative back roads if we get tired of busy A roads, but A roads tend to be straighter and flatter.

The weather forecast is looking ok: mostly dry with sunny intervals apart from showers on Tues and Weds, with light NW winds and temperatures around 15 C at midday.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Last Training Ride before Lands End Trip

Nicky and I set off at about 10 am in fine weather in our shorts and matching high-vis jerseys. We stopped for our first coffee at Wingrave, then cycled on to Stewkley and Soulbury. We returned home via Wing and Mentmore, where we had another coffee. Nicky seems faster for some reason. I'd adjusted her gears, but maybe her engine is improving too!
I plan to clean and lubricate both bikes this afternoon. I spent some time last week checking Nicky's gears and bought a chain wear tool, which has shown that both our chains are fine. Even so I plan to take my small chain repair tool when we set off on Saturday just in case.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Newbury Training Weekend Day 2

We had a full English breakfast with our friends in Newbury, which helped counter the effects of the previous night's wine. At 10 am we set off in clear blue skies, so it was shorts and t-shirts from the start. We decided on forging a new route avoiding Streatley Hill, so headed east to Thatcham then north east on a nice B road though woodlands to Bradfield then on to Pangbourne where we had coffee by the Thames. The alternative route had much gentler slopes although added an extra 7 miles.
We followed a fairly busy A road along the west bank of the Thames to Wallingford where we bought some sandwiches and sunbathed watching boats pass. One boat pictured was operating a remote control battleship as it travelled. We then headed back on our usual route via Chinnor, where we had tea and cakes at the garden centre. Arrived home about 4:30pm. A great trip. Mileage 56.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Newbury Training Weekend Day 1

Nicky and I set off at about 9 am in dry fairly warm weather and stopped in Watlington for coffee from our flask at the local playground. It turned out they had the type of equipment we're raising money for on our Lands End trip. (See pic).
We then stopped for our pack lunch on the banks of the Thames at Wallingford. At Streatley I'd planned to take a nice B road to Newbury, but I hadn't bargained for Streatley Hill over 1 km long and up to 16%. We only managed half way before pushing, but we did have loaded panniers. We've decided on an alternative route via Pangbourne next time.
Once at the top the road was very pleasant and we stopped in a pub beer garden for a well deserved pint. We made it to our friends in Newbury just before 4 pm. 49 miles.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Commuting in the Sun

This week has been dry and sunny every day, so my car's not moved from my drive and I've cycled in every day - making a weekly total of 80 miles. It's been pretty cold first thing when I set off around 7.45 so I've been cycling in in long trousers and an extra layer on top, then cycling back at 5.30pm in shorts and less on top. It hasn't been quite warm enough for just a t-shirt on top, although I've noticed some hardy/foolish types cycling in shorts and t-shirts in the early mornings just after the frost has melted! I cycled once on my road bike, which has a luggage rack for my panniers, but decided that my hybrid is better on bumpy roads, and I prefer straight handlebars and easier gear and brake levers in traffic.
Over the bank holiday Sunday and Monday Nicky and I are cycling to Newbury and back, so I'm looking forward to that as the forecast is good.