Friday, 18 June 2010

Day 16 – Friday – June 18th

Made it!!

We had finally made it to within miles of the finishing line this morning, when we woke bright & breezy in St Austell Station. Yet another 6.50 start to the morning for no apparent reason.

Breakfast was provided at the normal time of 7.30, however shortly after, Bob announced that the start time was going to move back from 9am to 10am. This was mainly a ploy to allow Bob to get out on his bike, to get a few more miles on the speedometer, so that he can make the magic 1,000 miles.

As were staying overnight again tonight before departing, we didn’t need to pack up entirely, so it was a case of getting ready for the final 55 miles………

Today’s final legs riders were the original 14 plus Owen Pates & Dave Etheridge who had driven (or been driven) all the way down to join us for the last leg.

We left the station after the normal calls of ‘need my glove, where’s my bike’, and lots of curious children watching who had come for the Cornish version of Junior Citizen, and headed straight up a rather large hill out of St Austell.

It should be noted at this point that Danny last night had been fined for various wrong doings, and been presented with a new riding outfit for the final day. As was appropriate this consisted of a pair of very small pink cycling shorts, topped of with a very slimming light blue top with a suitable motif on the front. Pictures will be available very shortly………

Fair to say that progress in the morning was slow, mainly doe to the number of hills, up, short down, then up again, etc. No major casualties at this point and amazingly no punctures! Most would agree that the first 20 miles this morning were nothing but painful & slow.

20 odd miles in we came to the start of some fairly major roadworks on the A30, near Cambourne, so while Kev and the drivers checked the route ahead. The sight of numerous lycra clad sweating cyclists probably did nothing enhance the reputation of the venue, but we appreciated it…… Finally, we left to follow the slight detour alongside the roadworks although at this point our first serious collision occurred. Leaving the main road through a set of road cones, the group of six that was going through navigated them safely, all except Simon who was on the end. The resounding thud as Simon rode straight into a very large 4 ft cone, could be heard all around, and the slight ouch as he then bounced into the arnco barrier. Luckily after picking himself up and straightening out the bike, he was ok and so was the bike, although we are sure there might be a little bruise or two later….

The 2nd stage through to the lunch stop was a better ride, and we all managed to pick up a little bit of speed, however it was another 18-20 miles before we got to lunch at Marizion beach (a mile prior to Penzance). The last of our ‘Princess’s’ lunch’s was laid out, and we had quite a few visitors who had come down to see us in the final miles (or to check we were actually cycling).

We aimed to finish at 3pm at Lands end, and it was soon realised that that might stretch by a few minutes, as the final riders left about 2.15 for the final 13 miles. Danny had by this time decided that he was not going to be seen in his pink cycling shorts at Lands End, so he changed into something slightly more normal

A few last climbs lay before us out of Penzance, with a fairly steep one just a mile after lunch (why are they always after lunch????), and we were soon coasting (eventually) towards Sennen cove, a mile short of lands End. Bob wanted a final head count – understandable as losing a person wouldn’t have enhanced his career!, and after a quick pre celebratory drink in the car park (apple juice – what else) we all set off en masse for the finishing line.

Fair to say, that moments later as we rounded the last few bends and we could see the finish before us, as well as a group of people who we hoped were there for us (always embarrassing if they aren’t!) we were all greatly relived to have finally made it and we all rolled together towards the line. Bobs dream of all crossing simultaneously was slightly difficult (you try getting 15 bikes across the width of a single road – doesn’t work), but about 3.21 we all crossed the line at Lands End.

After a fantastic welcome by friends, our support team who have all been fantastic, and various onlookers who just thought it was polite to clap, we finally moved from blocking the entrance to lands end, and wheeled our way round through the visitors to the famous signpost on the other side. After having been told off for getting Cava on the signpost (Bobs fault), various photo’s ensued, and please take a look at the flickr gallery via the website to see our record of the past two weeks.

341 hours after leaving John O’ Groat’s, numerous tyres and inner tubes later (in Toby’s case whole bikes), lost bags, pouring rain, burning sun and everything else that the two weeks had thrown at us, finally saw us arriving at our destination, with over £22,000 already given via just giving, and the balance of our sponsorship, and other final totals still to come in.

We will post a further blog later, but as you can imagine we are all now back at St Austell enjoying Julian’s Bar B Que (Although we think he ought to tell his wife next time he takes it- especially when she wanted it), and a few drinks to round it off..

Please take time to have a look at the website, and the links to twitter, facebook & flickr – just click on , and follow the links from the front page! (Top left)

Now to the food and drink………………..

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Day 15 – Thursday – June 17th

55 miles to go !!

Last night was spent at one of the Fire Fighters Charity Centre at Harcombe House, Devon. We were lucky enough to all have a bed for the night in one of the recuperation bungalows, so a good nights sleep was had by all….. following the evening meal (which was around eight o’clock by the time we got there, most adjourned to the bar for a drink and to nurse our aches.

Karoke was the flavour of the night for the clients on site, and never one to be outdone Bob led the way with a classic rendition of ‘If you want to be in my gang’. A few others managed to string a few syllables together, but the award for best performance must go to Tatie for what can only be described as a show stopping performance……

Everyone had wandered back up to their bungalow just after 11pm, in preparation for the next day.

The next morning saw breakfast in the main house, and Tatie relieving the night before. Afterwards, the now common sight of people tinkering and repairing bikes could be seen in the forecourt ready for the 9am off (With the obligatory photo's first. A big mention to Phil 'Filthy' Adams, whose repair skills have been seen morning day and night......

New tyres on for various members, new tubes in and we were just about ready for the off!

As ever Laonies bike felt the need for new tubes, one at Chiudleigh and then one at the side of the road. Andy also had a puncture, and Bob just couldn't leave ASDA without a quick tube change, having also managed at one point to mash his gears into a shadow of their former selves

Today was 78 - 80 miles, with two ASDA stops - One in Plymouth and one at St Austell.

We split into two groups today, A group of 4 who were going to undertake the scenic route (Gav, Jon, Toby & Pete), with the remainder going for the speed ride down the A38. Brave souls :)

34 miles to ASDA ensued down the busy A 38 dual carriageway, and fair to say that today was a hard ride. Navigation was easy (one road pretty much) but the hills were something else.......

On arriving at plymouth, a quick set up of the gazebo and tables by Smithy and the crew, was quickly followed by the arrival of Plymouth's Pump and Turntable ladder. Bobs day was made when they put the TL up in the car park of ASDA (Will, we have the registration for you)

Smithy & Clive, along with Taity, Sim & Princess did an absolutely stirling job giving out information, leaflets and collecting along with the Plymouth crews & Simon Wonnacot (formerly Oxfordshire - now based down in Plymouth). A big thank you to all of them.

The cyclists came and went over an hour or so, having had a lunch at ASDA put on by the store, and then were off to St Austell, with a stop scheduled at friends of Josies at their shop (Coast Country), just off the A38. Fantastic to see a good luck message, and a wealth of snacks, scones, etc which made the day a lot more bearable.......

Meanwhile, further down south of the A38, the rebels on the scenic route were making good progress having managed to achieve Jons dream of a cream tea in Devon, were heading through Plymouth, and out the other side to catch the Torpoint chain ferry. From here a ride of about 20 miles took them to just above Looe (Fair few hills in between). However disaster struck at the bottom of the hill (about 4 miles out, when Tobys cleat disintegrated and he could no longer pedal up hills. Unfortunately in the fact that with them carrying everything else, spare tyre, tubes, gas inflator, cables, etc - the only thing not being carried was spare cleats or pedals!!

Having finally made it into Looe, having walked every up hill in the first part of Cornwall, and then out the other side, (Gav & John had gone ahead at this point) Toby was reunited with his new set of cleats from the lorry, having been rescued by Clive and his Dad George who lives just outside St Austell.

Whilst operation 'Rescue Toby' was underway, the main group were battling the hills (Who said Scotland was hard!), and finally wending their way down into St Austell to ASDA about a mile from our end at St Austell. yet again the support crew were doing a sterling job, and were out spreading the campaign message, and collecting.

A grand total of £724.59 was raised at the two ASDA's, a fantastic result and all of us would like to say thanks to ASDA and the crews for supporting us all in collecting it.

We all finally rolled into St Austell Station around 6pm, to be met by various friends. Our new CFO Dave Etheridge had also arrived, having already met up with Toby & Pete at the roadside whilst they were attempting repairs to Pete's pedal, in preparation for joining us on the last leg of the journey to Lands End

After an hour of ablutions and generally staggering around the station in a haze of tiredness, dinner was served, and a proper meal of real fresh Cornish Pasties , kindly provided by Clive's Dad (Thank you George!), along with chips, beans & gravy was just what we needed to round the day off and recover.

A few drinks down the road to wash it all down, along with the obligatory last court hearing, finished us all off, and needless to say , the climb back up the hill was longer than the one down it earlier!

All in bed by midnight, (after a little feast on the leftovers!) ready for the final day!!!

55 miles to go..........!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Day 14 – Wednesday – June 16th

The longest hundred miles

After a good nights sleep at Trowbridge – (No fire calls – no disturbance!) we were once more getting ready to get on the road again this morning. A big thank you to all the station personnel at Trowbridge for making us so welcome – It was much appreciated!

After a lot of planning & adjustment the night before to the route, to ray and lessen our time on some of the busier routes, Bob and Kev (Orville) imparted the new simplified route to us. Simplified is not a word most of us would have used, and after having written the route down on various arms, and thighs (Danny has a very interesting set of route instructions on his upper thigh), we then proceeded to see how quickly we could get lost.

Just to keep the repair theme going, Laonie decided to have a puncture as we left – it was fine when she wheeled it out 5 minutes later, and then flat as a pancake. Finally on the road for around 9.15 after another photo shoot, and on the road towards Somerset.

Pete’s first puncture of the trip had to happen sometime, and mid way up a nice big hill was where it was. Having spent 10 minutes trying to get the tyre off, losing the tyre levers in the grass and after much general frustration, Julian finally rescued him and the rear wheel from the Dep’s bike was soon on the rear of Pete’s……

First brief stop was at the Haynes Motor museum, at around the 30 mile mark. Thanks to Danny’s connections we were invited in for free, and offered tea. Those of us settling in, could see Bob getting twitchy and ready to go, and atthe end of the day we could see why! Onwards and upwards, (literally), back out on to the Somerset hills.

Fair to say today, was a hard slog for everyone, and finally after some brilliant down hill sections and some very long hard slogs back up again, the next stop today was for lunch at the 57 mile mark at a farm shop type / café just outside Chard. By this point it was pretty warm and getting warmer still, but after a fairly short lunch, we were off for the final push at around 2.30, of around 43 miles to the Fire Fighters Charity Centre at Chudleigh.

After several long climbs, we were on the A38 which has to be the fastest flowing road so far (except for through Birmingham City Centre!), and a fast 10 miles or so ensued. Finally we came to Exeter, and fair to say confusing was just one of the words to describe it. The plan to head simply to the south and pick up a back road to Harcombe rather than take the fairly well signed A28 seemed good in principle, but several variations were undertaken. Several groups went quite a way in towards the city centre, and ended up battling almost stationary traffic on the way out.

Finally after lots of phone directions, and meeting up with Kev, everyone made their way in through some of Devon’s smallest villages, but not before having to tackle what seems to be the longest and most gruelling hill in history. Several of us chose to walk a bit – purely as we were on the point of around 95 miles and it wasn’t going to happen. A few sturdy souls made it all the way – Big cheer for Josie who made it, and a small one for Pete & Toby who stopped, took their shoes off, and walked most of it in their socks!

Finally we were all at Harcombe house by just after 7pm, and we are all pleased to say we had a cracking hot dinner of Chilli & rice followed by Mincemeat sponge & custard!

Everyone is feeling the distance today a little – some more than most, but we are almost there!! We have bungalows to sleep in tonight courtesy of the Centre, and everyone has a bed to sleep in! Hurrah!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Day 13 – Tuesday – June 15th

We came, we saw, we left!

72 miles from Kidlington to Trowbridge

Fair to say, today was a hard day both physically and mentally. First having been home and seen how the other half live, and then having to leave it all behind again to get back on the bike. Also funny how little aches become big aches after having chilled out! Pleased to see Danny and his poorly knee (we know its just attention seeking really) back on the start line! After a round of paracetamol and various lotions and potions we were ready for the off, until………..

The start of the day wouldn’t be complete without the first of our breakages and Laonie played her trump card and had both a kinked tyre & a puncture. All before we had even turned a wheel!

Kev Dell suffered several indignities as numerous people have seen the pictures of him dressed as Orville on his bike and agreed…….

Today we acquired new drivers in the form of Clive Durbin and Chris Smith, obviously they have hard acts to follow but the initial signs are good!

We left Kidlington just after 9 with a great send off by HQ again – thank you all, and set off for Witney, through Hanborough & Bladon. We arrived in fantastically good time (To much lucozade sport!) and after having cycled round the entrance to Marriott’s walk thinking that was where we doing it, but finally using our initiative, we got to the market square in Witney to meet up with the Risk reduction team, Army and Witney crews for their road show.

Fantastic to see everyone there, a big thanks to Witney for their support and a good hour was spent meeting some of our sponsors and supporters as well as getting the safety message out there…. Great to see Mike from County Textile Services, and Catherine from Watermeadow Medical who came down to see us – thank you for all your support! We hope you can see that it is real and we are actually suffering for our art.
The team would also like to say a big thanks to Nathan, who although unable to be on the ride with us as still undergoing treatment for his motorbike last year – BIG THANKS NATHAN, and for all the work behind the scenes you have done and are doing!

We were joined by the day by Steve Dutton from HQ, who joined us on the way to Witney – We were heartened to hear that it was not just us having our trials & tribulations – No-one had told him we were back to leaving from Kidlington instead of Slade, so he had gone all the way there first – Thanks for coming though Steve – great to have your support.

Those of you with good eyesight will have seen Toby staggering out of the pharmacy in Witney with a large bag full of pharmaceuticals to see him through the rest of the week, back to his car to go back to Bampton to find his bike again.

After watching Bob give another interview, we all saddled up and weaved our way off the pavement back onto the road to head for Burford for our last photo shoot of the hour……

Onwards to Burford, having picked up Dino, Jon & Gav at Witney (they cycled there last night), and a stop at the station for yet another photo! What was amazing in Burford was people clapping as we left the station and turned into the main street to go up to the A40 roundabout. Amazing! Big thanks to Phil and his extended family!

Next casualty of the day was Pete who tried to change gear turning onto the main street of Burford, and managed to bend his chain. Phil ‘Grizzly’ Adams to the rescue again in a lay-by on the A361

We finally started to head out of the county, leaving our risk reduction team carrying on the safety message, whilst we headed into Gloucestershire to Lechlade, and then on to Highworth, round Swindon, and onto Lyneham through Wooton Bassett.

Allegedly, Toby joined us at Lechlade (although not all off us saw him join) – rumour has it that a slightly odd person was seen languishing with a bike on a bench in Lechlade, looking like a tramp. Toby is currently competing in James Corden’s ‘Back the Beard’ competition for the world cup, as well as the world’s scruffiest tramp…….

On through Highworth and around Swindon without a break and headed for the lunch stop at Lyneham at the 49 mile mark.

Whilst on the way, several of the group stopped at the memorial in Wootton Basset to pay respects for all the soldiers lost through the current conflicts, or brought back for treatment in the UK.

Lunch was on the side of the road at Lyneham, and Princess’s homemade sandwiches went down a treat. We also met up with Clive’s son who is a RAF pilot at Lyneham, and no time was lost in a bit of banter with Bob and his map.(Thanks Bob – but you had to be there)

We moved on from there for the final push through to Trowbridge, but for once despite a few niggles, we all felt that we were finally getting the hang of this cycling lark, and could have done a few more…..

A brief stop at the Foresters Arms in Melksham ensued as the weather was getting warmer, and it is very important to keep hydrated…

The final push into Trowbridge was uneventful, except for poor Phil (Grizzly) who had to detour via the bike shop to get a new bottom bracket fitted as his had a nasty knack. Only half the group knew what he was on about, but it sounded nasty…….

We arrived at Trowbridge around 4.30 at the station, and after having a few stretches in the yard, we finally got into a meal laid on by Princess of Pork stroganoff or stir fry – Fantastic!

It should be noted that our industrious JOGLE leader (due to his age) has had to book into a nearby hotel to get his beauty sleep - leading from the front – Well done bob. He also managed to find a very complimentary person at the hotel who commented on what a lovely van he was driving J

Tomorrow is our long haul – around 95 miles, although with the inevitable Perry tour of the coast looming is likely to top 100! Who will survive………..

Day 12 – Monday – June 14th

The day we came home to leave again

Monday the 14th and we leave the comfort of Redditch, to make our way to our own beds for 12 hours, via Banbury and Kidlington

Last night saw lots of repairs going on, and more tyre changes than at a formula one race. Rumour has it that Julian got a lot of funny looks when he asked for so many tyres in the shop, so thanks to Jules for standing aimlessly in the shop on our behalf……….

To pass away the evening, Danny & Simon felt that the number of misdemeanours that had occurred warranted another court session, and this was duly held. Unfortunately the worst offender was absent (brief return home), so his cases will be heard in due course when he returns.

A big thanks yet again to the watch at Redditch who made us so welcome, although rumour has it they had our leftovers of Princess’s cooking so it wasn’t all one way………

The usual routine followed in the morning, with another monster breakfast to set us up for the day, and then the daily pack of the van, and sorting of the bikes (again)

We set off after another (yes another) photo shoot - another one for the collection Will! Back up to the roundabout and then the run for Banbury back on to our home patch.

The plan was to make it to Banbury for 12’ish, and then onto Kidlington for 2pm – This went a little awry but not by much.

A quick stop in Stratford ensued, for a little bit of culture, although it would appear that nothing opens in Stratford before midday….. strange.
We did however get to see the memorial stone, set in the walled area by the river in Stratford, to our four colleagues killed at Atherton upon Stour. Having cycled past Alcester and Stratford, it brought it home to several how close to us it all was………..

Leaving Stratford, with time pressing against us, we kept up the pace on the long road to Banbury (the A422), (except Josie and Toby who tried to knock on her grandma’s door in Stratford to use the loo – (but she wasn’t inJ)

Eventually we all got to the pleasure that is Sunrising Hill (near Tysoe). Most managed to make it up it in one piece and stay on the bikes but as Laonie pointed out – it was actually faster to walk than cycle.... ! To compound the shame of those that got off and walked, Sim and Andy were there at the top of the hill, capturing the pain on our faces – (photos will be on flickr later)

After that – nothing could beat us however as we saw the signs for places we had actually hear of, we all managed to eventually to roll in to Banbury. The Tillson brothers led the way, followed some time later by the last stragglers who enjoyed Sunrising Hill so much we contemplated doing it again! The piece de resistance was the final three of Pete, Owen & Laonie who followed Owens cries of ‘I know where I’m going’ and brought us in from the complete opposite direction to which everyone was looking us for us J

It was fantastic to see everyone there, friends, family and colleagues along with the watch from Banbury, Major Brown & colleagues from the Army, & the risk reduction team, and the welcome was fantastic. A few photo’s later, and a chat with everyone ensued, before we suddenly realised we needed to be on our way to get to Kidlington.

The final 17 miles were fairly enjoyable, and we were spurred on by the sight of Josie’s dad who had left work and had a cracking ‘good luck’ sign at the sign on the road which brought a smile to all our faces – Thanks Josie’s Dad!

We met up at the side of the road by the Jolly Boatman to ensure that we actually had everyone – formed a crocodile and held hands so that Bob could count us……., and then cycled the last 2 miles into Kidlington together so that it looked like he was still in control.

A fantastic sight to see everyone as we arrived on the forecourt – thankfully no-one was injured as we all tried to stop and dismount gracefully without falling over. Thanks to everyone for coming to see us – it was a fantastic welcome.

Once the lorry had gone back to pick up Gareth (Bob’s mate who had come to ride from Banbury to Kidlington with us, had a breakdown and not one of us had seen him as we rode past – Oops – Sorry Gareth but we all appreciate the effort!), we were able to unload our bags, or in Laonie’s case form a human chain to get them all off, and finally make a quick dash for home for a few hours rest.

Lots of people asked us about the actual ride and how it was going – it’s fair to say that no-one of us (well except Super Bob!) knew quite what to expect and everyone has some ache, pain or actual moment. As we have progressed down the country, we have all picked up something or other –except in Toby’s case – where he has had everything!

A few brave souls carried on cycling (cant get enough now) and carried on to Witney & Carterton, to pick up the ride in the morning, but for most of us home and a bath beckoned!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Day 11 - Sunday - June 13th

Poignancy comes to the ride

Follow where we have been with Gavs Garmin !- Click on the link

Today's ride was a short ride!!! 62 miles........only! Little bit of a lie in for the team today, breakie at 8.30, a comfortable nights sleep had by all in Staffordshire's Conference room, and an early night for most of the team.

Bit of a rush to pack up and go on our way to The National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas. Once all arrived safe including Rosie and yet another puncture (6th), We met up with Major Dougie Brown and SSGT Lee Davis from Abingdon Station (Dalton Barracks) as well as Dino's family paying him a surprise visit arranged by our lovely Princess. Also to met us was Arther and Julie Jordan as our official paparazzi. We're still not sure who has the biggest lens!

Most of us didn't know what to expect but all we can is it was emotional. We visited the Fire and Rescue Service Memorial first and laid a wreath and held a 2 minute silence, having our army colleagues in with us was poignant and very moving.

We then moved on to look at the other memorials and finally ended up at the wall of remembrance which remembers all of those killed on active duty in the armed forces since the 2nd world war. The fact that everyone of us especially our army colleagues knew one or more names on the walls, which moved most of us to tears and brought our aches and pains into perspective and reminded us why we were undertaking our epic journey.

On a lighter note, we rounded off our visit with lunch in the car park with our guests, far to say the star's of lunch were Dino's daughters who made Tea and served food fantastically. They clearly don't take after their father! :-)

We left the Arboretum at 1.30 feeling rather full for the final 37 miles of the day. The route took us through the delights of Birmingham city centre through to Redditch Fire Station. far to say this route was more challenging although short and several near misses were narrowly avoided. At this point it was still dry however as The Coffee Club (Laonie, Josie, Danny, Simon and new member Owen) hit the city center a storm approached and they were forced to take shelter in the nearest Starbucks (Other coffee establishments are also available in the Bullring!!)As there penance for having Grande Cappacino the entire contents of the lake district were dumped on their group along the A4421 all the way to Redditch.

As all the others had arrived some days (minutes) earlier, Toby, Jon and Pete commandeered the Comms van to go back out on the route to support (laugh) at a very wet but still smiling coffee club. All had made it finally to station by 6.15. Hot showers ensued except for Laonie who has a training need in how to make the shower hot.

By this time we were being looked after by Jon Laight (ex Banbury wholetime) who is the on duty watch manager and Princess was putting the finishing touches to tonight's extravaganza of Chicken Korma and Sheppard's pie followed by Fruit salad and Ice cream. Now the coffee club are back it has stopped raining and all is well with the world.

Plan for the evening is a bit of footie and a bit of washing and then off to dream land.

We're looking forward to getting to Banbury and Kidlington to see everyone tomorrow and to get lots of sympathy for our aches, pains and Danny's knee.

Statistics if your interested,

  • Sore knees - Pete, Laonie and Phil
  • Very very sore knees - Danny
  • Collision with car - Dino.
  • Falling off bike - Pete, Josie, Laonie &Toby
  • Attempting to cycle on motorway (Bob & Rosie)
  • Fastest motorbike - Kev
  • Blisters in places you wouldn't want them - Dino & Andy
  • Most bikes broken or re built - Toby
  • 22 punctures to date, Rosie in the lead with 6, No punctures for Pete, Toby, Simon, Dino, Danny, Mike.
  • Best Chef - Princess.

Following the Ride...

With over half the ride completed, don't forget that as well as reading the blog you can also follow the ride on...

Flickr - now over 200 pictures to view!
Twitter - updated regularly with some amusing little snippets
Facebook - our Facebook Group and Discussion Board

...and you can access the complete list of Gav's Garmin activities with the following link:

Last but not least, don't forget to sponsor the team using the links below! Your donation, however small, would be greatly appreciated!