Day Six

The leg to Edinburgh, a tale of two halves

After replacing the wheel on Roy’s bike and putting the wheel back on mine, we set off for the next leg.

Roads and cycle paths up and down was quite nice if a bit overcast. As we pushed on the rain started and when we popped out on the main road it was really heavy. A stop at a garage and a decision was made to stay on this road all the way to Edinburgh.  A bovril in the garage was like nectar and a burst of energy was taken and we hammered down the road heading for Coldstream and the border.

Good time was again had and we swung over the bridge at Coldstream and Scotland. A quick photo stop and up the bank into town we went. Food drink and a toilet then off pushing hard for Edinburgh stopping for more food and drink.

Back onto the main ride and one long upward drag that went on for ever but once over it was racing downhill to the city and an early finish. Digs sorted showered then out for real food and one or two drinks, bed early and we were firmly in Scotland

Day Five

Home turf

Got off to an early start, breakfast at Easingwold and meet two Wheelers for the ride to Gt Ayton. First obsticle was the bank under the White Horse, much huffing and puffing to the top then a drop down to Bilsdsle and collect three more Wheelers along the way. Then onto Gt Ayton to meet more Wheelers especially Dave Kirton and a spare break lever for Roy’s  bike.

All fed and watered and bikes fixed it was off to the Borough and a photo op  at the Transporter, which was not running. 

We headed out to Hartlepool in a strong head or side wind accompanied by Scott, another Wheeler who was coming with us to Rothbury to share the pain.

Peterlee, Sunderland and Roker were all negotiated as we pushed on at a good pace to our rendezvous with the ferry at South Shields. We followed the Wagon ways cycle paths and soon escaped the metropolis of Newcastle’s suburbs. A change to route as the cycle path was unridable and then disaster, John punctured ! 

Puncture fixed with a bit of teamwork and we arrived at our next stop for some food, which was going to be from the chippy but that was closed, so it was to the shop for cold food or to a little take away for hot food. It turned out that the takeaway was unable to process more than one order at a time and time was lost as we waited.

Clive, one of Mick’s friends,  had met us along the way and also would ride to Rothbury, which was now a case of, how do we get there after the route had changed. Onto Morpeth was the answer, taking a parallel road to the A1 and the cycle path alongside to stay off the A1. Derek got local knowledge by knocking on a door and got directions for Morpeth.

Headed for Morpeth and directions for Rothbury. The route turned out to be hilly with some very hilly hills ! Rothbury never seemed to get any closer but the scenery was very nice.

We were losing light and eventually came to a signpost that actually said Rothbury then a bigger disaster, Roy broke a spoke on the back wheel and buckled it so bad that it was rubbing against the brakes. A temp repair was made and Roy pushed on without rear brakes.

Met the rest of the group and set off in a beautiful backdrop of a sun going down. On and on, climb after climb with bike lights twinkling in the dark, the hills kept coming but eventually we could see the town at the bottom of the hill in the dark.

Over the bridge and there was the bunkhouse, showers, food and more importantly,  sleep.

Day four

Cities rough tracks and falling down

Burton upon Trent was hot in the morning so it was a generous application of suntan cream . 

So with the promise of more hills we set off out of town heading for cities. With it being Monday and school start, all the mothers were chearing us on because of the suits, double takes and shrieks of the grandma’s and scaring of horses and then it was out of town .

Man down, Roy turned too sharp straight into the back wheel and leg of John, Roy hit the deck with some hilarity and John carried on !

Rolling roads, a bit of fast road and Derby was entered by the backdoor, oh er missus.  Through Derby and out via the cycle paths and flood plains we headed out and up, again for our first stop and much needed water.

Rother valley park was interesting in that it was quite nice but the cycle path route turned in a challenging, one guy punctured on what was a good mtb track.

We eventually picked up a road that lead us back on route and towards Doncaster we headed. Doncaster was a disaster with the route being lost, changed then up and down dual carriage ways we went on a hunt for our exit eventually we walked across a roundabout and onto the A19 with cars allowing us through. 

Off we went staying on the A19 at a good rate of knots but Selby just didn’t seem to get any closer.

The planned meet up with the van was missed so Selby town centre was chosen and after enquiring with the locals, the local Sainsburies was discovered. 

A quick shop bought milk, mango and orange, bread,chicken pieces, salad, bananas, coke and a trifle.

At the van , milk was downed followed by the trifle and it was needed! Everyone else filled up with calories and after a  quick shoot at each other, we agreed to set off on the A39 not leaving it till we found the front door of our digs 

Shower, kit wash,  food a couple of drinks and bed.

What a day


Day Three

All Bristol and shipping shape

The escape from the city was a breeze and a pleasure, with very good cycle paths out into the countryside. Well done Bristol.

Today would be flat but rolling, plenty of roads ramping up but nothing to challenge Cornwall.

Riding the main roads we got sorted out into pairs and really bossed it, stopping the cars from passing to close especially at the pinch points. We still had some lanes to ride and one looked very much like a bridal way with its absence of tarmac, hardcore or even a level, rock free mud free surface. We traversed the obsticle with only one casualty and he will get over it.

The day was very hot and water stops were required more often as we made good progress but still looked like another late arrival.

Off the front went Roy and Mick to hoover up the points with a county sign, only to miss a district sign metres along which I gladly bagged !

Major incident today was a snapped chain at the most inopertune moment, halfway up a bank with heavy traffic. Roy fitted a split link and back on in no time and we were off again, rolling the hills up.

Villages came and went, small hills came and went and Burton  got closer and closer but seemed so far. Eventually we hit the town and found the travel lodge and our beds, but first, food, proper food. Just managed to get into a chicken place  (not nandos) and half a chicken chips wings and strips were eaten. Some liquid replenishing at the hotel bar and bed.

Day Two

More hills

A misty morning soon burnt away to reveal a sunny day that would be warm all day as we made progress  to the fun city of Bristol, today’s destination.

First things first was an excellent cooked breakfast from the cook at the Duke of York , Iddesleigh,  who came into work an early just for our crew of Scroats.

Fully fed, it was now the bikes that needed attention, Roy’s gears adjusted and mine needing setting up on the borrowed wheel.

Off we set,  down the lanes which were a road in name only, the grass growing in the middle made Caper Hill look like a motorway.

A couple of stops and I found out why my bike sounded like a canary, the back wheel was not centered and was rubbing on the frame. Sorted we heased out into an easy rolling countryside with a couple of big hills on the way to our stop at Tavistock where a lively discussion was had on who crossed the actually boundary marker first !

On the halt at Tavistock lots of two beeps and attention was given whilst we sat around resting and fueling. Off we went up and down and Roy and Mick Gettings hunting for county and district boundaries.

Towns and villages came and went, small lanes came and went and the miles were eaten up then huge banks were met as the road reared up and the traffic backed up on the climbs, hats off to the drivers of England, as in the main they were patient on another hot day but you don’t get to have nine naked men in front everyday slowly climbing in front of you.

We escaped the main road into a lane that turned into a rough track that turned into a field between two hedges, that turned into the main road again we had just left ! On we went entertaining most car drivers as we blocked their journeys home  before once again escaping to quieter roads and what turned out to be a killer climb.

I can’t remember the name just now  but it was a turn into a back lane that just went up and on and on , with a gradient that would put Chimney Bank to shame, then just when you thought you could climb any longer and there is the junction and relief, it turned out onto a road and went up again so it was, keep turning the pedals keep going it will ease off eventually but it went on and on then opened out into light and an easier gradient and then the top. 

With that out the way it was down hill at a rate of knots but with encouragement in the form of, the next hill is a killer and it is just round that bend. Indeed it was but as a main road (for here ) it had a slightly better gradient but still required us to dig in, stop talking and concentrate on just turning the cranks and hauling ourselves to the top.

We then dropped down into Bristol and all the nightlife and parties in the industrial estate as you do. Digs found luggage bikes and rooms sorted, showered and changed and a hunt for some real food but Dominoes Pizzas had to do !

First Day.

Mechanicals, taking the wrong turns, leaving my behind and other enjoyable happenings. 

The day started ok with bacon buns and tea. We set off up the first hill of the day, which was from the front gate of the YHA. 0700 start and the weather was a bit overcast and cold when we stopped.  The destination was the Land’s End visitor centre and a photo call. Formalities done, we set off on our journey. 

It was up and down as expected and Penzance was reached in good time and the next 40 odd miles were a breeze and the sun was out and set for the day . We made our way to the first rest and feed point set up by our driver, Gary, who had the tea on and water for our bison. 

Replenished, we set of on the next leg and our first mistake, we took the cycle path on the wrong side of the road which meant when we reached the end there was two lanes of traffic to get over and reach the roundabout. That task was done but the group split, on reforming we had two missing ! What to do, and as we debated why and hows, the other two turned up .

Onwards and upwards, a lot of nice descents but they always came with big climbs back out of whatever place we had road into !

The next stop was at 70 ish miles but as we went through the town, disaster,  my pedals were spinning but there was no forward traction ! A shout to the others and a stop soon found the problem, the hub was knackered and wasn’t  engaging the cassette.  A call to Gary and the van was on the way with one of the spare wheels. We had our meals and waited. Wheel changed and it was back on riding.

A few wrong turns and doubling back had me trying to engage a gear to go back up a hill but not quite making it, stopping and engaging correct gears had me chasing the group but they had completely disappeared! Nevertheless, I kept going as it was just one lane that went down then up for what seemed for ever.

Still no sign of the group so I stopped climbing and retraced my steps to see if I had missed something. Back at the beginning a phone call had me setting back off upwards the way I’d come because  “we didn’t turn off the lane” suffice to say the end of the lane was a twe junction and no group ! Ring again. Don’t know what went wrong they said but can you ride the 1 miles to the next town and we will meet you just before. Well I did and riding a main A road on your own at a good speed is no fun especially the hills and trucks .

Met up with the guys and exchanged pleasentries and it was off again. We were now making up time with a more direct route, read main A road. So it was that with some trepidation we headed onto the A39 for 13 miles. Cars and vans were very good and loads giving us two bees after some publicity on local radio.

Well we did the miles, had a couple of chains off one seriously jammed and required the split link opening to remove the chain wrapped around  the pedals.

Off the A39 and into the lanes again, forever down and the inevitable up but we were getting closer with each pedal stroke. On and on,a stop in a lay by with Gary, who told us the pub is down the road about six miles. With this news we raced off going at great speed until we came to a roundabout and stopped for the others. No one came, we started ringing round to find the other four but couldn’t locate them. Between Gary and a local who wasn’t too sure, we set off hitting a massive hill through the village, and I mean MASSIVE.

After going up and up we reached horizontal, asked a couple in a car for directions and plodded on. When we saw the first signpost for the village we were spurred on and a couple of hills later we were pulling into the forecourt of the pub and a rece