Robert Rathbone gave up his time to follow us to various points and take some wonderful pictures and I have put them in this slideshow ....You can use controls to stop and start.
|Day 01||Camelford||Wed 7th May 2014|
|Miles : 70.2||Height Climbed: 5113ft||Weather : wind SW 20mph showers early on|
|Time Moving : 6.05||Time Overall : 8.38||Moving Ave : 11.53mph|
Well after a rush to get here the day before to make the visitors centre before a 4pm close, the 480 mile run took a little over over 9 hours including running out of fuel on the way. That gave me a bit extra training as I cycled for the Fuel can. Neil managed his new job of driving without problems. Tony's son Robert was close behind us at the visitors centre to take the excellent photographs at the start.
The Motorhome was parked at Sennon Cove for the overnight and the fishing village of Sennon Cove was used for refreshments.
The the big off, well sort of as it was back to Lands End visitors centre for more photographs and a radio interview with radio Cumbria to start us off. So it was 8.45am before the proper off happend and just then the rain arrived. Thankfully for just 20minutes, then the day would be mostly overcast with very little sun, only a nice tail wind to help in some parts of the ride.
The roads were split between A roads and small farm type roads many parked as sustrans routes. These tended to be very rough and mud covered in lots of instances. The early part of the ride was flatish and good time was made to Penzance before the coastal cycle track turned to stones and sand and we quickly went back to the road.
I was pleased that our main road sections included not using the dual carrageway A30, the rest of the A30 and A39 was busy but not nerve racking. The riding pace is quicker on the main roads as the road surface is better. However I prefer the quieter routes that allow you to have a look round at the world. The final slog to to Camelford was 10 miles uphill.
The day had been overall a good day and I was plased with the route. It allowed us to see Penzance, Hayle, Redruth, St Columbbus Major and Wasebridge on the way and not just Tarmac.
The nicest place we passed through and took note was St Columbus Major, Camelford main street looked a little tired however you have to take into account the traffic that passes through here churning up the dirt.
Camp site at Camelford was excellent, made even better by the fact that the owner would not take pay as we were on a charity run. Then off to the pub The Mason Arms a excellent choice from the good beer guide where the staff refunded their tip to put into our collection.
|Ride with gps Detailed view of the route|
Tony at the visitors centre
|Day 02||Witheridge||Thur 8th May 2014|
|Miles : 60.2||Height Climbed: 4509||Weather : wet and windy at times|
|Time Moving : 5.08||Time Overall : 7.30||Moving Ave : 11.72mph|
What a poor start still hanging round for the worst of the rain to pass, poor forecast is the order of the day.. Well it turned out to be almost 10am before we departed the campsite into the mist and rain. The climb out of Camelford on the A39 was a test as was the puncture after 5 miles when Tony hit a pot hole on the A395, this followed by another when the tube was pinched in the rim. All good fun in the rain.
By now after 11am and still a days rides to complete, Our first town of any noticeable size we passed through was Launceston reached on smaller quieter roads, this had originally been Tony's choice of the first night stop over. A bridge to far I think and the only memory of Launceston i will have will be the hill out of it.
The old A30 to Oakhampton was the correct choice over the dual A30, Oakhampton looked okay but spoilt by the rain. On the way out of town is a mural on a cable end of a house which was the best I have ever seen. The rain eased and the hills continued as we made our way across county on back roads to reach Witheridge on the B3042 , a small campsite with basic facilities and a great pub 1 mile down the road.
|Ride with gps|
|Day 03||Weston Super Mare||Friday 9th May 2014|
|Miles : 64.3||Height Climbed: 2480||Weather : fine and windy (w)|
|Time Moving : 5.35||Time Overall : 7.40 (inc museum)||Moving Ave : 11.48mph|
Well a better day and a earlier start, the only downturn was the hills in the first 5 miles the only time we have had to stop on the way up. The back roads were not too good to Tiverton and maybe should have stuck with the B3137.
First stop was Tiverton for Tony to Part Ex his bike for a electric cart ?. Then a pleasant ride on the back roads passed some tidy villages before joining fast stretch of road on the A38 from Samford Arundel to Taunton, We then decided after talking to a local to keep on the canal path to Bridgewater, this would add a few miles but at least it was all flat. A lovely pleasant ride though the countryside. Final we were guided into the centre and the heavy traffic by another cyclist Amani, out for a fitness and fresh air ride.
Bridgewater took a while to clear and the traffic was heavy on the A38 all the way to the junction for the A370 heading for Weston Super Mare. The camp site, Camping and Caravan club site as locking was well hiding at the back of town a lovely spot out by the helicopter museum which was worth a peak and took about 45mins to give it a once over, we were told that it is the biggest in Europe.
Another 2 counties were ticked off today Somerset and North Somerset.
|Ride with gps|
|Day 04||Ross On Wye||Sat 10th May 2014|
|Miles : 67.1||Height Climbed: 2937ft||Weather : showers and wind to 47mph|
|Time Moving : 5.31||Time Overall : 8.15||Moving Ave : 12.16mph|
Another day another bike ride, except this time we had company. Paul and Mike had travelled across the previous night from London to join us for the days ride to Ross on Wye. Sadly they had used a different forecast than us as the shorts and the rain appeared to be a poor mix, oh to be young.
A good start out of Weston on the A370 then north to Clevedon on popular cycle roads , reaching Avonmouth and the thousands of cars that can ne seen from the M5 bridge over the river. this crossing was a minor event compared to the Severn Bridge crossing where the wind was lifting the front wheels off the ground. We took the advise and retreated to the other side of the bridge to get a little protection.
Chepstow was bypassed on the A446 north to Monmouth and East towards Ross On Wye , we used the first section of the A40 as it was getting late and showery along with it being Saturday making the road very quiet, at Goodrich we turned off and used the advised smaller roads to Ross, I wish we could have used the road through Symonds Yat. A fantastic campsite awaited in Ross On Wye and even a bath for Tony.
|Ride with gps part A part B (GPS switched off)|
|Day 05||Shrewsbury||Sunday 11th May 2014|
|Time Moving : 5.53||Time Overall : 7.40||Moving Ave : 11.82mph|
|Miles : 69.7||
Height Climbed: 3141 ft
|Weather : overcast and windy (w)|
After a Tyre change on Tony's bike due to a split it was a 9.15am start, 70 miles lay ahead and the weather looked okay if on the cool side. The wind continued to be a problem if you pointed anywhere near west.
We headed North West towards Hereford passing it on the east side on the quieter country roads the B4224 was very good and finally passed Hampton Castle and onto the A417 which quickly joins the A49 , this route was confirmed by a couple on a tandem we meet on route. Time passes quickly and it was 12.30pm by the time we hit the A49 and 45 mile lay ahead. The highlight of the remaining part was a passage through Ludlow and then back on the A49 a lovely place that I will revisit with more time. The A49 was okay but this could be due to the fact it was a Sunday and commercial traffic almost unseen. The final few miles into Shrewsbury on well marked cycle roads.
Shrewsbury campsite was reached at 5pm and was of very high standard. Another will visit again.
|Ride with gps|
|Day 06||Warrington||Monday 12th May 2014|
|Time Moving : 4.55||Time Overall : 8.45 (repairs)||Moving Ave : 12.11mph|
|Miles : 59.6||Height Climbed: 2060||Weather : wet 80%|
A good start at 8.20 with one of the shortest days yet at 60 miles and less than 2000 ft. The only downside was the rain which continued for most of the day , over suit only removed at 50 miles.
The route took us back into Shrewsbury and then north towards Wem and Northwitch on the B5476, This was an excellent road. Whitchurch was quiet and not to exciting Then it off on the A49 north to Tarporley , where Tony had a brush with the law. I had found some packets of prescribed medicine by the side of the road to which they must have been more than 100 packets lining the road around Eaton. At the cafe we talked to the staff who telephoned the police who were quick on the scene and went in search.
Eaton was a charming money belt community and the only sadness was the pub overgrown with weeds, so it was 2 miles before we found the excellent cafe at shire horse centre. After lunch it was back to A49 a bit busier this time as we headed for Warrington and navigating around the motorway junctions.
The final few miles through Lymm another lovely village feeling close to all the busy commotion we had been through, then onto a cinder bike path for most of the remaining before joining the road just in time to find a cycle shop (excellent service from Darren ) which Tony had his chain and associated bits changed,.then across an old toll bridge which was free for us but costs cars 12p.
The camp ground Holybanks has seen a lot better days and not one I would rush back to.
|Ride with gps|
|Day 07||Carnforth||Tuesday 13th May 2014|
|Miles : 64||Height Climbed: 1935 ft||Weather : Downpours|
|Time Moving : 5.29||Time Overall :9.09||Moving Ave : 11.65mph|
What a mess Downpour after downpour then puncture after puncture. This was billed as an okay day 64 miles with not a lot of height, by 10am we had our first downpour. I always knew that the day would not be best in the terms of scenery but add to that heavy rain and the day will be probably best forgotten now see why other LEJOGers choose to try and avoid this section.
The cycle tracks through Leigh were in short supply as we attempted to miss the morning traffic, then Wigan and Standish. By now we were at our third bus shelter and one puncture repair. 12pm and only 20 miles under our belt. It was clear to see that the 3pm finish would not happen as we still had to navigate Preston and find the A6.
On the A6 it still took a while to get going as we navigated traffic lights roundabouts and lots of cars, it was never too busy that you felt unsafe but keeping both eyes on the traffic never allows for a gander.
By the days end I think the only place we passed that I will but on my see again route will be Lancaster. To nights camp was at Carnforth on Hogarths site , a well kept massive affair by the coast.
|Ride with gps|
The only photograph today , look at that rain
|Day 08||Keswick||Wednesday 14th May 2014|
|Miles : 50.4||Height Climbed: 2713 ft||Weather : sunny and nice|
|Time Moving : 4.25||Time Overall : 7.10||Moving Ave : 11.41mph|
What a difference a day makes ! Leaving the camp in sunshine minus a layer and Tony with his shorts on had me wondering if summer was pushing through? Today's ride was an easier 50 miles to Keswick and back to Tony's home town and A catch up with my family..
After a little early morning traffic we soon reached Kendal using the A6, Kendal is easier to go through rather than passed as the by pass is busy dual carriageway and climbs over a hill. From Kendal center you can also pick up the smaller road to Burnside and then a cycle track leads to Staveley , Ings and Windermere, Where at Ings you can find a lovely brewery tap pub , how could I resist as we were now half way on on our way to completing the task.
Windermere onwards to Ambleside and Keswick is executed on the A591 a busy main road that although busy is difficult for cars to overtake on and most are visitors with a bit more time, just hope they are watching the road and admiring the scenery which by now is in abundance.
Dunmail Raise is the hill climb of the day, a steady climb and good enough to test any energy gel and just as we arrived at the top with a lung missing we were greeted by Robert on Still photography and Fiona from ITV looking to report on Tony's achievement. The cameras helped pass the next 10 miles down the back of Thirlmere lake into Keswick, where at just before 3pm friends, family and public created us into Keswick on a glorious sunshine day.
Fantastic our spirits lifted I was off to Braithwaite for my overnight at Scotgate where owner John must have been excited by my achievement he met me at the door, Tony retreated back to spend time at home and a hot bath. Then after home cooked food prepared by Tony's wife Jean we retreated to the George to catch up with friends.
|Ride with gps|
|Day 09||Moffit||Thursday 15th May 2014|
|Miles : 76.4||Height Climbed:3281 ft||Weather : wet 2 hours then dry|
|Time Moving : 6.03||Time Overall :8.30||Moving Ave : 12.63mph|
A terrible damp start to the day, our departure from Keswick in the rain must not look good no mater how goo the ITV camera was, I was overwhelmed at the send of and the traffic warden was trying his best to get in the action despite giving the reporter a parking ticket the day before when she was interviewing us.
Good progress was made away from Keswick on the A66 despite the ups and downs and rain before we finally turned off the main road to head for Greystoke and onwards to Carlisle on the backroads pushing steadily on covering 32 miles by 11am just in time for a radio interview at BBC radio Cumbria , while the ITV journalist had kept up with excellent coverage of us throughout the day until we reached the Scottish border at Gretna.
Gretna was time for a break before hitting the final 33 miles to Moffat using the lovely B7076 in one hit and making for my new personal best of 76 miles.Todays legs had felt the best they have since day 3 and ready for the days ahead.
|Ride with gps|
|Day 10||Edinburgh||Friday 16th May 2014|
|Miles : 56.2||Height Climbed: 2906 ft||Weather : misty start then excellent|
|Time Moving : 4.23||Time Overall : 5.30||Moving Ave : 12.8 mph|
Not much to say about today except it was easy and fantastic on the eye (or are we just getting better at it) we took the, B7076 that runs alongside the motorway to our turn off at Abington 20 miles up on a steady gentle climb, the road was as usual very quiet.. Then the A702/A73 towards Lanark before fiddling our way cross country to Carnwath where we had lunch, 35 miles ion a one hit stint was good going on day 10.
Then followed a steady climb on the A70 towards Livingston and our bed for the night. Oh dear what a wonderful site and free for our efforts in doing this challenge, I think this is our 5th free night on this trip how kind and wonderful people are.
Somehow I managed to snap the spindle in the rear wheel and required a lift to the local Halfords for a replacement, thanks to Barry for that.
Tonight was our first big showing on TV but sadly blighted by the news that Tony's friend with cancer, Dave Stewart who we visited on the first day in Cornwall has sadly passed away today. He had only just mentioned his plight on TV the day earlier.
Neil was reeling from his bad experience buying milk , he visited the local Tesco express and was shocked to find a machine instead of a human at the checkout, the country folk have a bit catching up to do. (one also wonders if he has a personal shopper)
|Ride with gps|
|Day 11||Pitlochry||Saturday 17th May 2014|
|Miles : 68.6||Height Climbed: 3343 ft||Weather : overcast and end hour rain|
|Time Moving : 5.47||Time Overall : 7.45||Moving Ave : 11.85mph|
Well what I thought would be a difficult day turned out to be non too bad, I think we are getting fitter and the mileage does not hurt as it once did.
Chosen route was to take the B800 to the Forth road bridge the the B996 to Kinross and onwards to Perth, an excellent choice as it was very quiet and he major traffic uses the motorway that runs the same route. Into Perth we followed the cycle route and dropped down to the harbour which the takes you passed the city centre and plenty of choice for lunch.
The cycle path then runs along the river in the direction of Pitlochary. The cycle track is excellent linking up the road again to briefly join the A9 and the the B898 to Dunkeld. The NCN route 77 turned a bit sour sour from here and was more of a track, At this point we joined the A9 for the final 9 miles into Pitlochary and our camp at Milton of Fonab.
The only downside to the 4pm finish was my rear Tyre which had developed its second puncture.
|Ride with gps|
|Day 12||Avimore||Sunday 18th May 2014|
|Miles : 56.8||Height Climbed: 2589 ft||Weather : overcast , west wind|
|Time Moving : 4.33||Time Overall : 6.30||Moving Ave : 12.48mph|
A lie in today as it was predicted that today would be a decent stint giving the miles and height combined with the weather. We were not wrong the days height was also different all up for the first half then all down.
From Pitlochary we used the old A9 running parallel to the new road , The B8079 is very good and very light on traffic, this continues passed Blair Atholl to Pitagowan. From here it becomes a cycle way still the old road but no cars except a few farm vehicles (2).Once we reached Dalnanardoch lodge it became a very narrow red track overgrown in places so we joined the main A9 over the pass of Drumochter. By now we had climbed 1700 ft with less than half of the miles covered, so the afternoon would be nice. We stopped for lunch at the top which turned out to be very cold on the top.
A quick burst followed on the A9 reaching 30mph with a tail wind and downhill to the Dalwhinnie turn off. We could now rejoin the old A9 to enjoy the scenery once more to take in Newtonmore , Kingussie and others before finally arriving at Avimore before 4pm.
I could well recommend the back roads for any type of bike except for the narrow section over the pass, were mountain bike tires would be better suited..
People of the day included a couple from the North East who approached me at the House of Breau and donated then a mother and daughter on route the mother from Kendal had been cycling since the 24th April to reach her goal of completing LEJOG.
|Ride with gps|
|Day 13||Dingwall||Monday 19th May 2014|
|Miles : 50.8||Height Climbed: 2237 ft||Weather : Sunny the downpour|
|Time Moving : 4.27||Time Overall : 7.30||Moving Ave : 11.4mph|
A 9am start and in shorts what a nice day and only 50 miles so a nice ride in the sunshine, my effort today would be to stop on the national cycle network and it worked well.
Leaving Avimore on the B9153 and north to Carrbridge and many photographs of the bridge, Tony decided to journey along on the A9 from here and I went for route NCN7 taking me through Slochd and Tomalin. Then cross the A9 and journey through Moy and it's fantastic wooden railway bridge, the last remaining such bridge in the country.
At Craggie the road turns north westerly and allowed the opportunity to visit Culloden, the site of the last battle to take place on English soil.It's then steady away downhill to Inverness and where NCN7 joins the NCN1 and leads through the city centre and onto the Kessock bridge.
It's still possible to remain on the NCN 1 using side paths or little used roads all the way to Dingwall. The last 6 miles provided a rain storm to the likes I have never ridden in before complete with fork lightening , oh joy well at least it's only 4.30pm time to dry.
|Ride with gps|
The bridge at Carrbridge
|Day 15||John O ' Groats||Wednesday 21st May 2014|
|Miles : 63.8||Height Climbed: 3717 ft||Weather : Wet , very wet|
|Time Moving : 5.50||Time Overall : 7.45||Moving Ave : 10.92mph|
What a day , So pleased we took 20 miles off the run the previous day leaving 65 for the day. The Crask Inn was still been talked about and will no doubt get night of tour award. In short its brilliant.
Anyway the days ride was hard and not early pleasant , cold wet and windy and such a shame as I bet they wont be many better places in the world on a nice sunny day.
Our start north east of Crask Inn at Syre on a single track road heading for Bettyhill on the B871 rather than the road to Tongue also badged as the NCN1 as this adds 6 miles and 1000ft climb and why ? as neither had more than about 5 cars an hour. Bettyhill was well named and provided the first real climb of the day. The first 12mile to Bettyhill felt hard with the wind and rain , but I told myself that's 20% of the day and it's only 9am so get on with it. At Bettyhill the road swings right and becomes the A836 and if you stay with it you cant get lost. even with your head down out of the wind.
Our only stop was after 45 miles at Thurso where we left an enormous puddle in the cafe. It was now down to the last 20 miles and my third pair of gloves for the day.
The end was in sight and even the damp could not spoil this final moment it was time for a hand clasp and cruise past the line together, then the moment of your own 5 minutes of glory and a wonder what next running through the body, an emotional shake got my bones as I smiled for the end photographs , bike away dry clothes and a chance for a beer in Wick without that must get out of bed in the morning and ride my bike feeling.
So there it was 948 miles over and a journey complete that had lay in my head for a long time
|Ride with gps|
and finally who said it does not change you.............
Special Thanks to Neil our backup and support driver
Yes I would do it again and without so much worrying, I think we could have cut a day out after Moffat, however the stops were nice. I might even have done it on my fatter tyers (35s instead of 28s). My clothing and waterproofs held out and done the job, my food choice was perfect and I even lost half a stone (3 would have been better). The GPS was invaluable and the ride with gps software on the computer for all the pre planning was the one bit of equipment I would not have liked to be without.
The time of year was excellent and it never got to hot and the midges are not fully out in Scotland. I was happy with the choice of route although Tony did not like cycle tracks (road bike 23 tire choice) I loved the smaller roads and pleased we avoided nearly all the duel carrageway. The last decision we made was to either the A9 from Inverness or up the middle to Altnaharra and once again I was more than pleased, quiet roads and the Crask Inn made it for me even if it did add 23 miles..
The Motorhome was the real bonus, we never had it follow us but been able to plan the stops on a night time, bike away without all the fuss of checking in and the ease at working on the bike refuelling the water bottle and general maintenance was a bliss. Plus the getting there and back without the hassle of the trains.
The memories always include the people you meet along the way and the generosity of lots of them.
Considering I was only riding 12 miles at a time and 1200 miles in a year in 2013 , I then rode 1600 miles from Jan to April 14, plus 4 classes in the gym every week and thoought I had done Okay.
Tony at 81 was just brilliant ..................??? NEXT TIME ???