Daily Archives: July 31, 2012
Day 5. The day that would see us hitting the overall halfway marker at just shy of 500 miles. As usual a target time of early o’clock was planned, and as usual we didn’t get going for a good 30-40 minutes later. Never mind, Today we had Mark D joining us – a keen cyclist and for the next couple of days a ‘domestique’ for the team (in pro teams the domestiques help the ‘top’ rider win the race by drafting them and generally doing the work).
We set off in high spirits, the previous days 140 miles seeming to not have had any major effects on the group, except for a few aching limbs, par for the course on this LEJOG. Our route out of Lancaster took us down some quiet country roads, Mark D earning his place leading the pack for the most part and before long we were passing Kendal and heading into the Lakes proper, climbing as we went. This constant climbing was soon met with our reward, a long descent into Ambleside. A stop was called, ice cream, photos and toilet break taken.
The road onward soon began to rise again, the toughest climb of the day on which we were joined by a local mountain biker. Everyone made it up without too much trouble, and the descent into Keswick was a joy, fast downhill and easy bends allowing us to pick up terrific speeds as we went.
The van was parked up in a pub just outside of town, and we screeched to a stop to decide our next move (lunch). Some quick tinkering was required, so a visit to the local bike shop was first, then lunch in a pub (baguettes or baked potatoes all round), some cakey and then a return to the van (now parked at the Pencil Museum (oh if only we had time to visit) to resupply.
Half a mile up the road and a bang signalle d a puncture – Big J’s front, again. A failed tyre wall, so a quick swap of tyre and tube. Well, quickish. Off we went again, target Carlisle, making excellent time on the A591, minor detour off to catch the planned route (Garmin arguments again) but eventually arriving in roughly the right spot.
A decision to keep rolling to Gretna unless we rode by a coffee and cake shop kept us moving through the town, a maniac in a white van the only incident of note – impatient with the black car ahead of him, behind us, he undercut us all at set of lights in a left only lane, nearly taking Gio out, leading to an exchange of colourful language. Deciding not to give chase, we let the idiot go, the couple in the black car amazed as we were at the van drivers actions.
On we rode, again on quieter roads, I was in the lead position when a tractor pulling a massive trailer squeezed by me. Bus-chaser Daly let out a cry to draft it, and the whole team burst into action, tagging on to the vehicle and getting an amazing tow. For a half dozen or more miles we hung on to his tail, topping 30mph on the flat and 27+ on the upward hills – “dig in lads” was the cry as the road rose, no-one wanting to drop off the free ride we were getting as to do so would mean quickly being left behind. On we hung into Longtown, locals looking on in bemusement as 8 cyclists clung to the back of the agricultural behemoth. Sadlly we were to turn off, Young Davo declaring he’d have happily followed it all the way back to Land’s End.
The path to Gretna was soon made, and the traditional End to Enders stop by the Welcome to Scotland sign was made. A quick (by our standards) van restock made, we piled on to the last 20 miles to the end of todays route.
Travelling 2 up, we made excellent time, swapping a few at the front along with the tireless Mark to drag everyone home up the last couple of hills before a welcome final downard run into Lockerbie and the hotel.
Day 5 done. 114-ish miles out of the way.
embarrasing moment of the day – getting left behind by a lady cyclist just oustside of Keswick (John was “taking it easy” on his new tyre)
best moment of the day – hitting the half way mileage-mark
most frustrating moment of the day (other than lack of sleep and cakey) – 2nd tyre death on Big Js front wheel
LEJOG day 4
140 miles in one day. Seemed like a bit of a mix of crazy idea and sound plan – its the longest ride any of us have ever done, but the profile (not many hills) allowed for a good combination of distance without over-taxing us. So off we headed. Well, we got to the edge of the hotel car park and Big J had a front flat. Sam had headed off to a nearby hill to take a few shots as the rest of us arrived, so I went on to let him know there’d be a delay while the flat was changed.
Half an hour later (or so it seemed) the rest of the team crested the hill and we moved out of Ludlow together, finding our way on the route to Lancaster many miles ahead.
A brief stint on a main road was followed by several miles of winding country roads. The weather, starting bright, if a bit chilly, turned, and heavy showers began, much to the annoyance of a few of the team who had not remembered to pack any waterproofs. As we were on such small roads, a call to the support van wouldn’t get us far, so we just carried on (getting wet). We then hit the main road again, but before we’d got any distance David had a rear puncture.
An excuse for a toilet break, puncture change turning into a tyre change (Gio was carrying a spare after yesterday’s tyre/ pucture issue) and a call to Cameron to order various bits from a bike shop (several spare tyres, arm warmers and a bottle cage). We got going again eventually, and headed along a busy A49. Not too far along, my Garmin declared a left turn, we we turned onto a quiet country lane, picturesque countryside, gravel strewn road. With a big 20% hill on it. Oops. Ah well, we’re all seasoned hill climbers these days so a little hill is no problem. Shame we still had over 120 miles to go. Hill climbed, discussion about where to go next (Garmins deciding we were no longer on the route) ensued, eventually working our way back to the main road.
This time we stuck to it, making our way to Warrington and ignore the beeps from the Garmin telling us we’d missed various turn offs (we hadnt). 11.30 and we’d covered just over 37 miles. We pulled over in a Morrisons car park, where coincidently Mark and Cameron had parked the van. A quick food stop (not so quick it turned out) to eat a quick sandwich and some cakey, bottle refill and then get on our way.
This wasn’t lookng smart – miles to go, poor time made so far. However, the DIFD machine got into action properly, Sam taking the front and setting a great tempo picked up by the rest of us and soon the miles were flying by. One or two brief stops to allow the convoy of traffic tailing behind us (after a maniac lorry driver nearly took out a line of oncoming traffic when overtaking us) and soon we’d covered another 40 miles. Lunch stop 2 at a fine trucker’s cafe.
More food, no cakey. Agreement with Cameron and Mark to see them in around 30 miles time and off we went.
Again we set a solid pace, each man taking his turn at the head of the train, as we powered on, everyone seeming to have boundless energy. We barely dropped pace except for the occasional hill which momentarily damped the pace, before the inevitable downhill speed up to get us back in the swing. We soon arrived at the 30 mile marker (107 done, 33 to go), Cameron and Mark picking the car park of a bike shop to stop the van and meet us. We wheeled in to the car park, and folk began to refill bottles and restock on gels and snacks. I nipped in to the shop, picking up some arm warmers and new cleats for my shoes (the bit that sticks to the pedals). A few minutes later we were back on the road, the last 30 miles or so and we’d be done. The team kept up the momentum of the previous sessions, working well for the most part, some close calls with traffic on round-a-bouts and at the lights, but otherwise uneventful. Until around 10 miles to go, when an unspoken message seemed to ripple through the group and the pace began to pick up. A favourable wind was equalled by flattish terrain allowing us to (perhaps we’ll regret this in the morning) maintain a terrific pace, the last miles flying by as we pushed on and on. We soon entered Lancaster, the pace not slacking, rather seeming to pick up as everyone took their stint at the front. A stop was called barely a mile from home for a photo op, then it was back on the bikes and we rolled in to the Holiday Inn car park.
Done. 140 miles. Everyone intact. No complementary wifi in the hotel. Meanies. This will have to be posted during day 5. Sorry folks for the delay particularly to our biggeset fan, Fino – he’s just read all of our blog posts since the start in one sitting, and can’t wait for more!