FRAME sponsored bike rider reaches Yorkshire
You can sponsor Adrian through his JustGiving page (Click here)
Here is Adrian's progress diary:
Having mounted my trusty steed at 0505 and waved goodbye to normality, I steamed along to New St station on empty roads. Birmingham appeared almost beautiful in the rising mist, or was I hallucinating already on the B6 and other vitamins that will fuel me forward?
Hey - my first supporter of the day. At 0530 a drunk wearing a sailor's hat struggles to stand to attention as I pass and salutes me with full honours. I reciprocate. We laugh. He falls over, clutching a bottle of vodka - appropriately outside Severn Trent's old HQ (vodka = water of life?!!).
Train journey was time to reflect - on the fears and doubts about the challenge over the last month, the race to fitness and heeding the good advice of family friends & colleagues - end of introspective interlude......
Ouch! - Cornwall has hills. Whatever goes up never seems to go down. Lands End is a little tawdry - a mini amusement park, but people are press-ganged to take my photo before the famous signpost and then heyho the journey is truly underway. Cripes the UK seems rather steep looking upwards from down here. Should I have started from John O'Groats? Holed out overnight in Redruth. Covered 56 miles and 6 hrs on train. Job done. Pig of a day in store tomorrow though. CHEERIO. Today: Toil factor 4 (:Hard in places). Smile factor 10 (Great to be underway)
Pig of a day proved to be an understatement. More like nightmare from hell. I came close to my first Eddie Izzard moment of truth. Total 81 miles + several thousand feet of climbing. (Redruth to Bodmin, Liskeard, Callington, Tavistock, Okehampton) Cornwall is two-faced; it is so unremittingly beautiful but its hills creep up and stab you in the back, buttocks and other places I shall not mention. In the saddle until after 8pm tonight. Not sensible - ought to have had planned for overnight in Tavistock.
Highlights - cyclist drew alongside and expressed his 'awe' (well he was Australian) that I was doing the ride alone and carrying all my gear. I did not know whether to be flattered or feel foolhardy. Will reserve judgement on that one. He is going to do the ride next year with his 23 year old daughter. He looked 38 even though he was 51.. Must be something in that Fosters after all....
Had a bizarre conversation in Rusglish with a stranded Russian who wanted me to cycle 9 miles back downhill from where I had come to bring him back some diesel. I am shamed to say that I declined even after he offered his dog in payment and then I scarpered just in case my bike looked too attractive to him.
There is definitely a banana cartel operating in Cornwall. - £1..47 a kilo everywhere. Just the sort of complaint the OFT is bound to pick up....
Nerdy fact. They are reopening some tin mines in Cornwall. Costs £3K to mine 1 tonne of tin now worth £11K
Toil factor 8.5 (really should be 10, but I know there is worse to come; Smile factor 4 (relieved one of the. Big days is over but cannot sit down because my bum is red raw.) If anyone has any suggestions apart from Sudacreme please let me know!). Tomorrow has got to be better - please...... CHEERIO
Thanks to everyone for their emails - as you will see below they do make a difference......
Today: Okehampton to Crediton to Tiverton, Taunton and Glastonbury.
How could today ever beat yesterday's nightmare? But it just about did. Incessant non-stop rain and a fickle wind all day. Imagine your worst rained off family camping holiday, with you standing for 8 hours under a cold shower, with a hosepipe shooting cold water up your vitals and that would probably sum up todays story of grinding out 71 miles until 8pm again. At times it felt like swimming uphill. I knew from the start that this ride would not be a barrel of fun. It is about raising money for good causes and meeting a personal goal, but the experience of last two days has been enough to question my sanity.
But enough of the woes. Some other bits:
1. The smile factor would have been a fat zero were it not for your messages. Please keep them coming. WW3 could break out and I would not know, with being so preoccupied on the ride. My immediate horizon for most of the day is fixed 10 yards (sorry Brussels) in front me - ie pothole watching. So it is great to hear your news and gossip. I will reply to every message once I can stop these late 8pm finishes - these leave little time for a scrub up and then finding something sensible to eat.
2. My bottom has started to restore communication with the rest of my body. I zoomed down to the chemist this am for the Sudacreme and just managed to resist the temptation to drop my pants straight away in the shop to apply it. It is strange how you can have conversations with strangers that you would not have with your nearest and dearest. So later in the day, I found myself discussing the intimacies of the male undercarriage with a bloke (another Aussie-this is developing into a theme for the trip) in a bike shop who was advising on the application techniques of various creams. I will spare you the detail. And to the correspondent who wants a photo of my problem then I will see what can be arranged (for an extra charitable donation!!!!)
3. The Cornish have a way with naming villages, such as Goonhaven, Cockwells etc but they probably don't beat Booze in Yorkshire. Or does anyone know better?
4. In Devon, there are so many thatched roofs on their last legs and so many pubs closed for good. We cannot let this cultural heritage slip away. Pevesner would turn in his grave. Put me out of my misery someone please. Nicholas Pevesner was uncle to someone very famous. But who?
5. I have taken a liking to baked beans on toast. It is supposed to be the cyclists' best friend. Is that because of the extra wind power I wonder?
Toil factor: 7.5; Smile factor 3 (instead of 0)
Surely there can be no more rain left in the sky after today.....
.Glastonbury to Wells to Chilcumpton, Radstock, Bath, Grittleton, Malmesbury and Cirencester.
A small bonus today: just 6 hours rain instead of 8, but really torrential in places, making dips in country lanes almost impassable due to flooding. The Glastonbury festival will be a mud classic if the rain doesn't stop soon. Dry for first 5 miles and then permanently soaked. I might as well give up wearing clothes at this rate and be the first to cycle LEJOG in the buff. At least the panniers would be lighter.
Glastonbury is a tiny bit wierd. Actually it is completely odd full stop. . The High St is almost completely given over to shops with bizarre names such as Cafe Galatea, The Speaking Tree, Gothic Image etc. It is no wonder the locals have nicknamed their once busy shopping fayre Diagon Alley. Apparently it is not unusual to see a white witch in full garb shopping in Tescos. Yet all the different healers, cults etc live in perfect harmony. This is due to a significant demographic change in the population following the first music festival there about 40 yrs ago.
Loads of festivalers (e.g hippies) loved the place so much they decided to settle there and, 40 yrs on, a more tolerant silver haired generation has emerged weilding significant local influence.
Wells is a chocolate/biscuit box dream straight from a National Trust advert from the 1960's. Almost seems too perfect and manicured.
Being in Bath was well, like, being in a bath. The rain pelted down, but as the rain today was warm, unlike yesterday, then. the smile factor goes up to 4.
The County with the highest number of inconsiderate drivers so far, warranting the epithet a_s_h_le is Wiltshire.
Bum story update- I think my bum and I are close to negotiating a compromise settlement (through ACHEARSE?!!?) (Tee hee). It has agreed to only start playing up badly after 50 miles as long as I pile on the Sudacreme, keep out of potholes and do not wear ordinary shorts on top of the lycra ones (thanks to everyone for their suggestions, especially the one about avoiding multilayering the shorts and so reducing the risk of pinch-points.
Best suggestion so far for true place names is Poop Hill (oh dear, more bottom undercurrents).. Can anyone better that one?
Thanks to all for the messages and for the new contributions to the charities.
265 miles under the belt. Only [too many] miles to go. Toil factor 8 (blooming hard) Tomorrow the West Midlands...
Cirencester via country lanes to Compton Abdale, over A40 and A436, above Winchcombe to Toddington, Broadway, Stratford on Avon, Snitterfield, Norton Lindsey, Beausale, Balsall Common, Meriden
Adapting David Coleman/Motty/??'s phrase, this was a day of 3 halves. For the first time since starting the ride I woke with a strident "oh no" (well, to be truthful, it was not phrased quite so delicately) and buried my head hoping the day would disappear. I felt I had gone the proverbial 3 rounds with a Sumo wrestler. And it started to rain yet again. The first 12 miles involved serious climbing up on to the plateau of the Cotswolds which, although offering stunning views, quickly sapped the legs and tested resolve, involving repetitive zig-zagging across the uphill lanes in order to gain height. Then the sun came out. Magnificent. Instant rebound in spirit. Aches seemed to dissipate (apart from you know where). Almost dry too. The world is a better place. But optimism was misplaced....Massive showers and torrential rain from Broadway through to Meriden. Another 4.5 hours in solid rain. Called in at my in-laws in Balsall Common and was greeted with tea and generous sympathy. At this rate it will not be worth bothering to dry the clothes overnight.
A few bits and pieces.
Roman Cirencester and Regency Cheltenham are now officially at war as to which city is the capital of the Cotswolds. On a by-the-by, did I read somewhere that the Isle of Man is still technically at war with Germany because an official peace Treaty was not signed or has that quirk of history been resolved?
"Don't wear a cycle helmet: be an organ donor.." [thought that message is quite powerful]
During the sunny phase today, I chatted to a lone civil engineer above Winchcombe who was overseeing the installation of a £60m 44km (=27 miles?) long National Grid 18mm rimmed (taking 80 bar of pressure) gas pipeline right across the Cotswolds. Topsoil has been removed to bury the pipeline 1.2m deep and from above the 36m wide workings must look like a scar on the face of Venus, but the contractors promise to restore the countryside fully. Hmm yes.. What is shocking is that each 6 tonne 900mm wide steel pipe is shipped over to UK from Germany. Can the UK not make pipes any more? Learned that, as a a sort of "under the radar tactic" dozens of extra zigzags are built deliberately into the line of the pipe (ie more countryside potentially scarred?) in order to use the pipes effectively as cheap storage facilities, rather than build separate gas storage terminals
Broadway is not geared to the needs of cyclists. A request for beans of toast met with dumb amazement. One needs a degree in several foreign languages to understand most of the menus there. Perhaps a request for "fèves cuits au sauce de tomate et repartis sur pain grillé" might have produced the goods. How foolish was I not to think of asking.
Bum report: I have to admit to being a little devious today. In plain hearing of my saddle, a bike shop owner was prompted to say that he would be horrified to have to sit on that saddle to undertake a similar ride and that in ordinary circumstances the existing saddle should be replaced forthwith. Let's see if the saddle values its life expectancy.
A fortune could be made by developing automatic wipers to place on the lenses of bespectacled cyclists.
Toil factor: 9 (during 1st phase), 7 overall. Smile factor (despite above) 10 (because I shall be sleeping in my own bed tonight) and am looking forward to being accompanied for part of the next leg to Derbyshire by a colleague from work. Currently on schedule, quite unbelievable in the circumstances. Thanks for all your best wishes. Keep them coming. They brighten my day considerably. Cheerio. Adrian
A most enjoyable day. No rain + and most genial company.
Leaving home yet again felt like deja vu but the prospect of companionship on the ride and a specific time to meet Grant focused preparation for departure. The now established military routine followed its course. More on the benefits of company later..
Route from Meriden went via Maxstoke, Shustoke, Nether something, Kingsbury Water Park, Shenstone., Lichfield , then on A515 through to Ashbourne and then via 14 mile Tissington trail to Hartington. The trail is one of the unsung joys of middle England. Formerly a railway line, it rises 650 feet into the low Peaks and avoids the horrible main road. North out of Ashbourne. [Note to oneself - the new Monsal trail will open this year linking Buxton to Bakewell]
Poop Hill (Olly) is facing a challenge from Pratt's Bottom in Kent (Louise).
Meriden for centuries has been considered the geographical centre of England until some spoilsports with their GPS's etc proved otherwise. But lore can subvert science any time.....
Todays highlight was sharing the road with Grant from the office. This guy is so driven by his passion for cycling that he would cycle up walls if an opportunity arose. His wise counsel on proper cornering, correct braking techniques, handling lorries and the appropriate signal for signifying a_s_h_le have already proved invaluable. His readiness to shield me from the headwind allowed me to economise energy which proved so useful later in the day when the wind became trying. The 4 hours+ of non-stop chat with a little sight-seeing in Lichfield passed all too quickly and by the time Grant had to head home an unbelievable 43 miles were already under the belt.
Another delicate matter has arisen and is one I broach with hesitation, namely keeping ones nipples under control; more precisely male cyclists' stiff, sensitive, and chafed nipples. It is well understood that for about half the human species nipples offer some potential functional utility. But what is their function for the other half of the species? To remind men of their innate feminine side? To ensure polyester shirts do not stick to the skin? They seem to offer men the same benefits as an appendix. Apparently nipple plasters may offer an answer but their removal sounds painfall. So other remedies now under active consideration include securing beer bottle tops or mini plant pots over the redundant little darlings with masking tape. Any other solutions welcome
Toil factor 6; Smile Factor 10 (due to company on the ride + dry weather). 70 more miles completed. Feel that real progress North is being made . Thanks too to Cobblestone cafe in Ashbourne for donating the price of the baked potato lunch to the ride's charities. Roll on W Yorkshire tomorrow. Cheerio Adrian
Route: Scything bluntly through the Derbyshire Peaks to West Yorkshire. Hartington to Monyash, Tideswell, Thornhill, Ladybower Reservoir, Langsett, Shepley, Huddersfield, Heckmondwike, Tong, Pudsey
A long, largely dry, cycling day, with fantastic scenery in the afternoon sun, unfortunately finishing late at 2030, after some horrible climbs (including a 25% (1 in 4 in old money)) sting in the tail uphill just outside Langsett. Tetley Bitter pubs indicate that God's own country (as the locals would have it) is not far away. Chastise myself for allowing long day. Kept going by suggestions from correspondent for songs. Only look on the bright side of life , dee dum, dee dum dee dum dee dum, is a winner song for hills. Late arrival reduces muscle recovery time, not that much different could have been done. Crash to bed at 11pm feeling absolutely kn---ered. Too tired to write anything.
Bits and pieces
Came across many Pinfolds. dotted around the Peaks. These are medieval stone-walled pens that entrepreneurial types used to house stray sheep or horses that they rounded up, for which 'service' fines were exacted on remorseful owners when animals we're collected. Clearly modern day car clampers have a long pedigree.
Peaks peppered with rhododendrons in flower. Though oddly attractive, they somehow seem out of place, almost in a sinister Triffid like sense, in such a delicate landscape. Could they be the footsoldiers of a plant invasion that has already seen the introduction of some virulent diseases borne by these shrubs in S W Egland?
The Peaks offer the first experience of complete solitude. .No cars, no planes (that had marred Cotswolds) and no intrusive unnatural noises (except perhaps those of sure-footed hillside cattle breaking wind seemingly in sequence). Might cows actually communicate with each other through their bottoms? It is not beyond the bounds of possibility? Many humans talk through their arse......
The unsullied medley of bleating lambs, calling plovers, jarring jackdaws, cheeping chaffinches against a backcloth of beauty just felt completely as nature intended. Only sole walkers and cyclists can feel the power of this emotion. It felt privileged.
Yorkshire people are known for their straight 'call a spade a spade' blunt talking but I was completely unprepared for an encounter on arriving jiggered at a cafe in Langsett. If she had been older, the owner could have been the model for the character of Ivy(?), the cafe owner in Last of the Summer Wine, coincidentally filmed only down the road in Holmfirth. It is impossible to convey in words the true bizarreness of the interlude, but the conversation went like this (I shall call her Ivy):
Me - Am I in Yorkshire?
Ivy - silence, but look of quizzical bemusement
M - Because there was no county boundary sign coming over from the A57 Via Strines
I - ( in the most abrasive clipped Yorkshire tongue possible): You don't need signs lad if you live in Yorkshire
M - Oh but I thought I would have seen one after Ladybower
I - Ladybower is in Yorshire
M- I don't think it is
I - Yes it is
M- Are you sure
I - Course lad,
M- I'll bet you a pound it isn't
I - Yorkshire people don't waste their money betting lad
M - (deciding not to pursue point as icecream has not yet been obtained). Could you please fill my water bottle from the tap
I - (standing by sink but not proffering assistance) Is water from tap in outside toilet not good enough for you lad?
M - silence. I admit defeat and take the hint........
Toil factor 8.5; Smile factor 6 (despite aches the sun was out)
A BIG BIG THANKS in advance for any support you can offer. It would mean a lot to me personally and the thought that there are invisible people out there willing me on will be the best pain relief possible ………..