LEJOG day 4 (one day late)
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!