7th May 2011
Dave’s journey will start from John O’Groats on Friday 29th July and finish on Friday 12th August when Tony Pitts, Ben Baines, Brian Waters and Richard Rowe will be joining him to ride from the Club to Lands End.
Sponsorship forms for Cornwall Hospice Care (The Captains’ Charity) and the Junior Academy Course are now in the Pro Shop and in the Club’s office for those members who wish to support either or both causes.
For those who want to make an on line donation direct to Cornwall Hospice Care please go to Just Giving and type in Dave Behennah.
Any businesses who are interested in advertising and helping Dave at the same time to cover some of the costs involved would be most welcome. For more information contact Dave firstname.lastname@example.org or ask the office for his telephone number.
9th June 2011
Please see below a message from Dave Behennah regarding his forthcoming Charity Bike Ride
I would like to thank all of those club members who have sponsored or pledged money to the Cornwall Hospice Care or the Junior Academy course so far. I have replied directly to the online donations but have been unable to thank everyone personally who have signed the forms at the club. I would also like to thank the businesses who have kindly agreed to help towards my clothing and transport costs – Colin Marshall Scaffolding, St. Austell Brewery, Blackler and Snelling Finance, West End Motors, Rowett Insurance and Hawkins Motors.
Any other donations would be gratefully received, there are sponsor forms now in the bar with a poster advertising the event on the Centenary Board as well as sponsor forms in the Pro shop. Both sponsor forms are available to members so they are able to contribute to the charity and/or the Academy Course or they can go to http://www.justgiving.com/David-Behennah which sends the money direct to the charity so they can start using it (then I don’t have to collect it!)
20th July 2011
Latest update from Dave who starts his journey to Scotland next Wednesday 27th July.
I would like to thank Kneehigh Theatre who have kindly sponsored me a helmet for the trip and our very own Dave Kitt of D K Enterprise Access Platform Hire, who has very generously paid for my bike to be serviced and prepared for the rigours of the trip ahead. The weather has not been great for training but I have persevered and hopefully have enough miles in my legs to complete the journey! Thanks again for all of those who have donated to the charity Cornwall Hospice Care and the Junior Academy Course, however there is still time for those who have agreed verbally but not yet put pen to paper! I will endeavour to catch up with as many as possible on Captain’s Day Saturday 23rd July. My website justgiving David-Behennah will remain open for at least a month after the bike ride for those who wish to donate online. On the final day of the trip Friday 12th July a group of seven riders will be leaving the club about 9 am and hope to arrive at Land’s End between 2.45 and 3.15 pm depending on the weather.
24th July 2011
Dave has a new sponsor – Clive Rosevear Insurance so many thanks to him for supporting the bike ride.
The St Austell Voice would like to do a photograph with representatives of the sponsors on Friday 12th August at 9 am at the Club when the other riders join Dave for the last leg to Lands End.
The following text is from Gill & Dave’s Blog
Day 1 – 27th July 2011 Polgooth to Chester
We agreed to share the driving, Gill drove 2 miles to Terry’s place, I drove the other 300+ nothing like sharing eh? We left Polgooth at 11.20 but were still in Holmbush an hour later as we noticed the windscreen had a chip so had it repaired; great start! Staying in a very nice coach house outside Chester.
Early start tomorrow about 8 hours to Dornoch, wonder if Gill will double her driving contribution? Pictures to follow when we buy the lead we left behind today, maybe packing this morning wasn’t such a good idea.
Day 2 – 28th July 2011 Chester to Dornoch
Sun all the way until we crossed the border into Scotland and it started raining! A long day in the car from 8.30am until 6.15pm including a delay in Inverness due to the A9 being closed. Dornoch is a very classy place with the Royal Dornoch Golf Club (we checked it out) and nice restaurants – Madonna got married here.
We would like to come back when we have more time. Gave the bike a clean ready for tomorrow’s first leg but still have two hours to John O Groat’s. Having Haggis with breakfast which should be interesting.
Day 3. Stage 1 -29th July 2011 First day on the bike! John o’ Groats to Bettyhill 49 miles
Fantastic breakfast then two hours to reach John O’Groats and the customary photo by the signpost, finally I got on the bike and set off at 12.15? Met Gill for a sandwich after 20 miles but no sooner than the last morsel was in my mouth she told me it was time to go and she would see me 18 miles down the road!
At our next rendezvous looking forward to a cup of tea Gill got out the Next hamper only to find there were no cups in it! I couldn’t do it without Gill and really appreciate her support but don’t think HTC Highroad will be offering her a job for the tour next year. It was a very ‘lumpy’ route and by the end of it I fully deserved the polka dot jersey as King of the Mountains, in fact I also won the green, white and red jerseys as well as the yellow for leading the general classification with a time of 3 hours 51 minutes (49 miles). The legs were good but back is killing me after two days sitting in the car.
I like to share and would willingly of shared the head wind that will no doubt accompany me all the way home but it stayed dry if a little chilly. Still unable to post photos due to browser restrictions on I Pad but Gill endeavouring to sort it out. 70 miles tomorrow as we head inland to hopefully more gentle terrain.
Day 4. Stage 2 – 30th July 2011 Bettyhill to Evanton 78 miles
On the anti inflamatories as my back was really sore, however after a half an hour on the bike it started to ease. I met Alex, a Canadian, after 7 miles and we spent the next 70 miles together, he had already completed 2200 miles on his trip around the British Isles and I felt a little underprepared to ride with him! He was a great bloke and we really got a move on averaging around 17 miles an hour which was much more than I intended but talking all the way helped the miles disappear and stopped us looking at the Garmins to check how far we had gone. Alex was really impressed with Gill in the support van as we stopped for snacks, water and lunch breaks as he was usually a solo rider. We encountered a stiff climb (Gill rang us to warn she was going up a mountain) after 66 miles that was 13 percent in places (I began to agree with Gill!) The weather was great all day and our route was very scenic mostly through a river valley apart from the Mount Ventoux look alike. I managed to double my longest ever ride with 77 miles and Alex went past his longest stage this trip, so a good day all round.
Day 5. Stage 3 – 31st July 2011 Evanton to Invergarry 55 miles
Sore! Need I say more. Waited for the rain to stop before setting off from last night’s impressive B & B on the banks of the Cromarty Firth and it stayed dry for the rest of the day. No Alex today for company only an unfriendly headwind which didn’t relent, not helped by very hilly terrain. During the middle of the day I was climbing for about 45 minutes followed by a hair raising descent, which was fortunately slowed when I caught up three cars (the front one a white van with a Cornish registration no guessing who that was!) The roads are incredibly uneven so we shouldn’t feel hard done by in Cornwall, this was quite a test for my road bike, now I know why guys on touring bikes always seem to be smiling! Upon reaching Loch Ness the views were fantastic and continued for about 20 miles on a very fast but busy A road. Gill’s roadside cafe is now operating like a well oiled machine now she has purchased some cups! We had a great morning and lunch break and the White van parked in a lay-by provided welcome relief when my energy levels were dipping and bottom became increasingly numb. Unfortunately we need to work on our timing as several times following particularly hard sections, I limped towards the next lay-by only to see Gill accelerating away into the distance! Thanks to our technical support team back home Ann and Rob, who have been posting photos for us due to browser issues and an erratic signal at times in the Scottish Highlands.
Day 6. Stage 4 – 1st August Invergarry to Tyndrum 72 miles
Nice hotel by the river and great chef at Invergarry Hotel and we left well fed and watered, unfortunately I turned the wrong way out of the car park (my sense of direction is not good!) Plenty of drizzle all morning but we made good progress on the very busy A82 and reached Fort William in good time. When travelling on the A82 I have found many lorry drivers and some foreign motorists disregard cyclists and get far too close. Anyway we made it to Loch Leven Seafood restaurant for lunch, which was superb. Sat outside overlooking the Loch; Gill had langoustines and I had fish soup, which I must say was better than Rick’s consisting of clams, mussels, razor shells, fish, crab and langoustines. We met someone who worked there who had lived in St.Austell, David Wilson, who asked us to say hello to Dave Morgan. Glen Coe and Ben Nevis pass now awaited as it poured with rain, Gill suggested I do 13 miles all up hill then call it a day because of conditions and the 1554 foot climb. Must have been something in that soup as I hit the bottom of the climb and went as hard as I possibly could for 1 hour and 1 minute until I reached the first summit, it was my Tour de France moment. I eventually stopped for a break after 1.5 hours and a guy (who passed me in a car at the bottom) came out of a hotel bar to congratulate me and even gave a donation! The Scots are so friendly.
Day 7. Stage 5 – 2nd August Tyndrum to Balloch 38 miles in 2 hours 51 mins
Today is our 17th wedding anniversary (happily married for 17 weeks!) so only a short stage today as we wanted time to relax at the hotel, Cameron House Hotel on Loch Lomond. It was an easy ride of about 38 miles really flat next to Loch Lomond but the A82 was its usual busy uneven self. I met two guys from Devon, who were riding end to end in 10 days, I witnessed one of them nearly getting wiped out by a car at a junction which was scary and his mate reckoned he’d had two really close shaves. I got onto a cycle path eventually but it was very uneven and a lot slower going but safe. Lost contact with Gill many times, even got ahead of her as she was on the main road. Bike making strange noises so gave it a clean, which is unusual for me.
Checked into hotel after making a cheeky phone call this morning to reception asking very nicely if there was any chance of an upgrade. When we arrived we found we had been upgraded to the honeymoon suite! It’s the largest room we’ve ever stayed in with a reception area, lounge and dining area, enormous bedroom with roll top bath, dressing room and bathroom with another huge bath and walk in shower. It has fabulous views over the loch. Many thanks to Terry and Muriel for the bubbly! Just enjoying a drink in the bar before heading for dinner. Glad to chill out to ease my aching body parts (in the lower half!)
Day 8. Stage 6 – 3rd August Balloch to Innerleithen
What a day! Started out on a sunny day climbing in the Campsie Fells, I really enjoyed the challenge. We had a morning break at Gill’s cafe then pushed on over the top to a thrilling descent, I actually rode away from the van but had to keep a sharp eye out for sheep that roam everywhere. We stopped in Lennoxtown for provisions then problems began as we tried to navigate around Glasgow. Unfortunately Gill’s Tom Tom and my Garmin differed on the way to go and we eventually stopped in Cumbernauld Tesco to regroup. A very helpful man gave us some directions, however we could not understand a word he said because of his strong Glaswegian accent so smiled politely and thanked him for his help. Then things really got interesting. We agreed on a route, set off but stopped as it appeared we were heading for the motorway! Subsequently we lost each other for about 20 minutes and when Gill finally rang in a state of panic she told me she was on a housing estate then a few minutes later ended up on the M80 heading for Glasgow.
After several phone calls we met back up again at which point I flagged down a local cyclist, Harry the plumber, who very kindly offered to take us some 7 miles out of his way to put us on the road to Peebles. He directed us on to the A73, a road Gill had been trying to avoid on advice from the CTC, however it did the trick and we sped away.
At our next break Gill suggested going onto a quieter road but you can guess my reply, I was sticking to Harry’s route. After 82 miles a cyclist suddenly overtook me, well the challenge had been set and I set off in pursuit, getting his back wheel and now the tension increased. We charged through a village both out of the saddle and rattling across the bumpy road. Unfortunately a long hill approached and I knew, the lighter, fresher man would pull away and he started to do so but fortunately Gill rang so I eased off only to be told I had missed the last turning and was going in the wrong direction! We were both tired but managed to reach Peebles at 7.15 pm after setting off at 9am that morning.
Day 9. Stage 7 – 4th August Innerleithen to Brampton. 78 miles – 5 hours 59 minutes
Rain, hills, more rain, more hills …..you get the pattern. Started off this morning on the A71 and charged along at a great pace then it started raining as we moved onto the B roads which were very hilly but quiet and had lovely views. It poured down for 3 hours, the Gortex got soaking inside as I was working really hard up the hills.
At one point I spotted 3 cyclists and set off in pursuit, it took me over 2 miles to catch them up at the top of a steep climb however they had already stopped for a food break so I said hello and left them, a little disappointed I couldn’t ride with them and have a chat.
Nearly came a cropper when a couple of sheep, that roam everywhere, were spooked by the bike but my brakes did their job. The roads improved markedly as the next valley had a huge timber/logging site, it was the best surface I have cycled on to date and must of had European funding, as we don’t lay roads like that.
After Gill’s cafe (which now even stretches to hot chocolate!) I headed towards the border but it was climb after climb and it seemed to take even longer in the rain. Finally about 4pm the sun came out and the terrain changed to very short but steep climbs as we entered England via Cumbria, a county that reminded me of Cornwall as we passed numerous farms.
By now I was an interesting colour covered in all sorts and looking forward to a shower, unfortunately a road was closed due to bridge problems and we ended up doing 5 extra miles.
We were now in Northumbria and on the way to the guest house Gill pointed out Hadrians Wall which was actually a farmers boundary wall! It did appear eventually (much larger than Gill’s) and Tantallon House, where we are staying, has great views of the wall from our bedroom and has a Bengali Eagle Owl in the garden.
We walked to the local pub for dinner which was very good. Gill found today much less stressful as the TomTom didn’t force her down any motorways and she took lots of great photographs.
Enjoyed riding through Scotland, fabulous scenery and the people were so friendly. Gill and I are already planning to return with golf clubs this time! 90 miles tomorrow … but the forecast is good.
Day 10. Stage 8 – 5th August Brampton to Waddington 80.12 miles 6 hours 25 mins
Following a very good breakfast which we couldn’t have until 8.30, we started off rather late for a 90 miler. I was challenged from the off with a series of hard sharp climbs and again Cumbria felt like Cornwall with high hedges and very attractive villages. Soon we were in the Eden River Valley with more rolling countryside and picture postcard views.
All was going well until we were confronted with a series of closed roads and were forced to recalculate our route; this then took us up to the moors and some serious climbs of over 1000 feet. I was trying to follow Gill but made a couple of mistakes as tiredness set in.
On one climb I missed the van turn off even though Gill waited for me. It was not until she saw a yellow flash racing towards the Lake District from the top of the hill did she realise I was headed in the wrong direction. Gill chased me down after performing a 10 point turn (her words not mine) beeping her horn madly. The second time I again missed a turning only to find myself on a 17% hill following a white van which turned out not to be Gill!! Over the phone Gill asked me why I was taking so long and I realised I had wasted even more energy. It was now late afternoon and I still had 50 miles to go.
An older cyclist appeared in front and I had quite a chat with him about the rest of the day’s route; he advised an alternative as the proposed way included climbs over 1500 feet and category A climbs from the old Milk race!
We took his advice but it included a busy A road, fortunately I met Kelvin, who was out on a 124 mile training ride. He was really good company and training for a 24 hour charity non stop cycle which will be shown on TV. We worked together for about 12 miles and made great progress but time was running out and we decided to call it a day at 7.45 pm because the pub we were booked in (The Red Pump Inn) stopped serving meals at 8.30 pm. The meal was excellent, the best since Luigi’s in Dornoch and the accommodation really nice.
Tomorrow before breakfast I’m going back to where I stopped today to finish off this stage before setting out on the ride to Minshull Vernon. Gill was born in Bolton and was glad to reach Lancashire, however we also visited Cumbria, Northumberland and North Yorkshire all in a day.
Tomorrow is a tricky route between Preston, Liverpool, Blackburn and Manchester but much flatter thank goodness. Heading towards Kendal
Day 11 Stage 9 – 6th August Waddington to Minshull. 61.13miles 5 hours 8 mins
Great breakfast at a superb pub, The Red Pump Inn, we recommend it. The only downside was breakfast was not served until 9am, which meant we left late for the second day running.
I had to make up the 7 miles I didn’t do yesterday, however there was thunder and lightning and torrential rain just as I was about to start. Gill did a quick risk assessment….a very quick risk assessment and told me I had two rubber tyres in contact with the ground so I should be fine! An hour later it eased as we our way towards Mellor, just outside of Blackburn.
I climbed over 700 feet and was beginning to wonder if it was going to be a repeat of yesterday but nothing could really rival the Cumbrian hills. We stopped at The Lord Nelson pub just outside Mellor for a coffee and received a very friendly welcome from the landlord and his wife.
Carefully manoeuvring around Blackburn we stopped for lunch at another pub and because it was raining they even let me sit inside (on my towel). We knew today would be one of the most difficult to navigate as we were trying to avoid the major cities in the north west.
We had been warned by the CTC and various blogs that it was very easy to get lost and they weren’t wrong! We broke it up into small stages avoiding the major A roads and were doing really well until we entered Bolton’s boundary.
I posed for a picture under the sign as this was Gill’s birth place and where she grew up until the age of 6. Can you imagine Gill with a really strong northern accent? Well she used to have one but you would never guess now!
No sooner had we entered the boundary everything went pear shaped. We ended up in major traffic with me attempting to chase Gill in the white van across huge roundabouts.
We became separated, my phone was running out of power and the Tom Tom and Garmin kept directing us in different directions, mostly towards busy A roads. We must of wasted 45 minutes in all and fell well behind schedule charging around the streets of Leigh.
Eventually Gill got us through the chaos and we emerged into Cheshire with it’s flat roads hooray!!!!! We decided to call it a day at 7.20 pm and will return early tomorrow to make up the miles missed. Along the way I spotted a baby hedgehog in the road so we went back to save it.
We chased a Jack Russell, that was in the road, back into his farmyard and finally I tried to find a small kitten that strayed across the road at a countryside junction but didn’t manage to catch it. Animal Rescue would have been proud.
Rob Walters sent me a text inquiring about the cyclist I had met yesterday as I told Rob he was riding a £5000 trek which came from the sponsors of his next venture, riding a 24 hour charity event from Emmerdale to Eastenders. Sarah (Rob’s better half) suggested it could be Kelvin Fletcher, who is an actor on Emmerdale and sure enough she was right, as we checked his Twitter site and it mentioned riding 20 miles with me! We arrived late at The Bears Paw pub, a gorgeous Cheshire pub, and had a super meal. When we mentioned leaving early to make up some miles they provided us with a packed lunch, now that’s good service. Looking forward to a flat stage tomorrow so better get that green jersey ready.
Day 12. Stage 10 – 7th August Minshull Vernon to Ludlow. 77.11 miles in 5 hours 55 mins
We made an early start and didn’t have breakfast because I needed to make up a few miles from yesterday, however the Bear’s Paw pub kindly gave us a packed lunch instead. I made good time on Cheshire’s flat land despite a very strong south/south west headwind which made it very demanding. Gill was very impressed by lots of the properties as they were huge, “Like something out of Footballers Wives.”
This is a very wealthy area. After 3 hours we stopped for lunch and I had cycled 40 miles. The only mishap of the morning was me nearly running up the back of Gill’s van in a country lane as she turned at a junction, my fault of course! Unfortunately the Garmin ran out of battery after lunch so it was back to the stop watch and mileage covered by the van.
As we approached Telford the terrain changed and after 4.75 hours a sign appeared….Welcome to the Shropshire Hills an area of outstanding beauty. 21 minutes later I made it to the top of the first climb, soon to be followed by another long one.
Strange as it may seem I actually enjoyed the climbing as the views at the top were very good. The weather was odd; cold, windy, hot, cloudy and showers! So it was arm warmers on then off, jacket on then off, change sunglasses to clear eyewear then back again, put on overshoes then take them off again. A typical August day I suppose.
The Lion at Leintwardine (near Ludlow) even agreed to wash all of my cycling gear, now that’s very brave! They can’t do enough for you and the food is excellent (all locally sourced). Gill has found another belter; she spent a lot time researching the places we have stayed and it has certainly eased the trials and the tribulations of the day.
We must say a huge thank you to all who have sent messages and e mails to help us on our way, they have been most welcome. If we haven’t replied on occasion, we apologise but often we arrive late and tiredness takes its toll. Looking forward to getting back down in the West country in the next few days.
Day 13. Stage 11 – 8th August Ludlow to Clearwell 67 miles 5 hours 55 mins
A very different day; the first 3.5 hours in Hertfordshire were the most pleasant of the trip with farms, orchards, attractive villages and gently rolling countryside. “I could live here” I thought …..if I wasn’t a Cornishman. It was sunny with a strong cross wind but the hours passed really quickly.
We had a lovely lunch next to an orchard at Gill’s cafe, which has branched out to offer an excellent range of sandwiches and filled rolls, what more culinary delights will she conjure up before the end of the trip?
Just as we approached the Wye valley the landscape began to change and I had spoken too soon as I took on Brinkley Hill near Brockhampton. Gill shouted “Good luck!” but little did I realise there existed a hill outside of Cumbria that was steeper than anything I’d encountered so far.
It was 17% and went on for over half a mile, it was all I could do to move one leg in front of the other, I only kept going as nothing had beaten me so far. Gill said it was bad enough going up in the van and I got congratulated by a group of walkers as I made it over the top.
It continued to be very challenging all the way to the end today and then the support van went missing. Gill’s sister, Julie and niece, Lowri kindly came up from South Wales to cheer me on, however Gill spent time catching up and the van was either way behind me or way in front!
We went out for a meal and upon our return Gill assumed G on the toilet door was for Girls; she thought it was unusual that the toilet seats were up and then noticed the urinals and realised her mistake.
I have recorded today’s eating and drinking below to offset the 6000 plus calories that I’m burning on the bike.
7am breakfast – orange juice, yogurt, porridge with honey and cream, smoked haddock with two poached eggs and two slices of bacon, two pieces of wholemeal toast with marmalade, two cups of coffee. Begin riding -Water bottle 750 ml.
First snack break- banana. Water bottle 750 ml. Second snack break – spinach and pine nut pasta, maple pecan plait, flavoured water drink. Water bottle with replacement drink 750 ml. Lunch – Finish off pasta, Chicken wholemeal roll with spring onion and mayonnaise, cup of tea.
Afternoon snack – cereal bar. Late afternoon snack – bowl of muesli and milk. Water bottle 750 ml. Snack upon finishing ride – maple pecan plait, flavoured water drink. Out for evening meal. Will wake tomorrow at 6 am starving!
Day 14. Stage 12 – 9th August Clearwell to Langport. 73.57 miles in 5 hours 34 mins
First of all we must apologise for the lateness of yesterday’s blog, we worked on it past midnight and assumed it was posted, however there was a signal problem and it didn’t go until the next day.
I’d like to say it was an uneventful today…..but I can’t! We had an early breakfast at 7am and got cracking. The first descent was down a really narrow back road that took ages and was so steep I was on the brakes for most of it, luckily Gill didn’t meet anyone coming the other way. We then had a really nice journey through the Wye valley and the sun shone on us. Once we reached Tintern Abbey then Chepstow Racecourse we knew the Severn Bridge wasn’t far away. I did ask the way to the cycle crossing from a local but thought it prudent not to mention the recent rugby result as we were still in Wales! Gill and myself split up and went our separate ways to make the crossing and I did stop halfway across to feel the sway (Rob’s suggestion).
We knew it would take a while to navigate our way around Bristol and had to stop many times throughout the day, however it went well if a little slowly. We are both getting tired; Gill’s Cafe was closed for most of the day and shop sandwiches were the order of the day. I ate well and drank plenty of water but my legs felt heavy and found it a real grind, I even resorted to singing songs! My right knee was playing up and I took to counting in sets of 20 when tackling the hills to take my mind off it.
As a result we decided to take the quickest route to Wells down the A 39 and then things really started to go pear shaped. Gill couldn’t find anywhere to stop so we became further and further apart. The last phone call we made, we agreed to meet at a lay-by on the other side of Wells.
Unfortunately the battery on Gill’s phone ran out and I took a wrong turning turning at a roundabout in heavy traffic. Gill, using the I Pad, now e mailed Rob Walters (Head of technical support) to contact me, which he did. Because I was moving slowly Gill thought something had happened to me therefore made her way to Wells police station.
The next phone call I received was from the Avon and Somerset police, I thought something had happened to Gill but they assured me she was ok and set about reuniting us at a farmyard turning on the A39. The police were very helpful….. drama over we continued to our destination without further incident.
As soon as we arrived at the Devonshire Arms Hotel in Long Sutton, Somerset, two guys came out of the bar to meet us and offered a drink.
It turned out they are doing Land’s End to John O’Groats in September and we had quite a chat, they felt much more confident when I told them my longest training ride was only 36 miles (they have already done a 100 miler). We had a very nice meal and really like the place.
Day 15. Stage 13 – 10th August Langport to Lydford. 77.33 miles in 6 hours 23 mins
Despite an early breakfast thanks to the Devonshire Arms) we did leave later than we intended as the blog needed finishing and I was trying to contact my sponsors about Friday’s photo call.
The weather was great but there was a stiff headwind, however we were in the Somerset back lanes and completed 20 miles without too much effort although a little slowly as the lanes were narrow. At one point Gill had to reverse into a small passing place for a builders lorry, the guys in the truck looked well impressed when she did it with ease! She has come a long way in her van driving skills since we set out and it’s not easy finding places to stop waiting for me to catch up.
Gill has also been navigating along the route and finding alternatives when roads have been closed. I couldn’t have done this without her and know how mentally tiring and at times stressful (Glasgow & Bolton especially) it has been for her. Sue and Nigel Jarvis with Sue’s parents, who were returning from a short break very kindly met us on route for a coffee and a catch up.
It was great to see someone from home and it really felt we didn’t have that far to go. After a quality lunch at Gill’s Cafe we set off again encountering more beautiful sleepy villages with roadside stalls selling apples, plums, veg. and eggs (it all looked very tempting to buy). It had been so enjoyable but we knew the A38 beckoned and it was a real shock when one of the strongest headwinds hit me hard in the face for the next 12 miles, I did lots of singing and counting in 20’s. I even had to pedal down the hills and Gill said she could feel the wind in the van.
Finally we returned to the lanes then the fairground ride of the Devon hills began in earnest. The villages were stunning with thatched cottages and even a cricket match going on in Thorverton. Time was ticking as it became one of the hardest stages within the last 27 miles of the stage, cue more singing and counting! Gill rang our accommodation to warn them we would be late…very late! I was getting exhausted with hill after hill but managed to get to Okehampton before stopping in the town centre, as if we didn’t stop then we wouldn’t get any food at the Dartmoor Inn.
We were travelling down the old A30 at the end and I was sorely tempted by the Launceston sign to take the turning and head for home. The food at the Dartmoor Inn was superb and they gave me an ice pack for my calf muscle which has come out in sympathy with my right knee. Will try to get an emergency appointment with Ged Gilchrist tomorrow when I hopefully get back before the last leg on Friday to Lands End.
Day 16. Stage 14 – 11th August Okehampton to St. Austell 60 miles in 4 hours 20 mins
Rob Walters, a fellow teacher and good mate, joined me for the penultimate stage from Okehampton to St.Austell Golf Club. As I ran out of time yesterday the ride today was 7 miles longer than Rob expected but he took it all in his stride and set off at quite a pace.
We rode past Okehampton Show ground, which was busy and hit the very strong headwind that persisted all day, it was hard going. After about an hour we pulled in for a break and Rob was able to sample the delights of Gill’s Cafe, which was Waitrose inspired today! We couldn’t believe the array of treats on offer and stopped regularly throughout the day.
Text messages poured in throughout the morning; it has been great that so many friends and family have offered their support and really helped keep me going.
When we reached the Cornwall border, Gill took a photo but the welcome was short lived as Gunnislake challenged us with a two mile climb that was 12% in places, however it was good to be back. Upon reaching Dobwalls, we had lunch but agreed to move on quickly as we all wanted to get home, but not before Gill had served up some delicious sustenance.
As we pressed on welcoming parties were waiting to greet us, the first of which was Brian, who met us just after lunch. Rob’s wife and family were waiting on Par Moor, fellow teachers at Penrice roundabout, Claire on the bypass and finally a crowd of well wishers at the golf club.
It was great to be back and we would like to thank everyone who turned out to welcome us. Thanks to Rob we posted a very respectable time for the 60 miles covered, although my right knee is not impressed tonight. Only one more day to go.
A group of us will be setting off tomorrow from the golf club after a photograph with those companies who have kindly sponsored some of my kit. Gill felt much more relaxed today as I was riding with Rob and she deserves great credit for driving the van, I couldn’t have done it without her.
Day 17. Stage 15 – 12th August St Austell to Lands End (pictures from Sue Pascoe
Day 17. Stage 15 – 13th August St.Austell to Land’s End. 53 miles in 3 hours 24 mins
It was a wet, misty morning however a good crowd turned up at the golf club for the send off. We would like to thank everyone who made the effort to support us.
I was joined by 5 other riders; Tony, Ben, Brian, Richard and Rob. Lots of photographs were taken for the newspaper and the golf club before Gill and the white van led us out of the gates and on our way.
We made very good progress right from the start and were soon negotiating the traffic through Truro, well we followed Rob, who showed no fear (boy racer on a bike!) The boys had stopped for a brief break in Tresillian at Gill’s Cafe, another at Threemilestone for coffee and pastries but we wanted to press on however by the time we reached St.Hilary, after some hectic time trialling by team HSD (not HST the pro cycling team), they were starving. Fortunately Gill had popped into Sainsburys to stock up on the goodies but the pressure was on to serve the ravenous riders.
Luckily Gill’s sister Julie and mum Enid, joined Gill in the cafe and the food was soon coming out thick and fast; it was like an episode of Hell’s Kitchen but the boys were more than satisfied. It was at this point I was told we must extend our lunch break as we would be arriving too early for the supporters and photographer at Land’s End, I just wanted to get the job done but we had our public to consider! Off we went again maintaining the high tempo until we were only a mile or so outside of Land’s End, at which point we dismounted, regrouped and tidied up our kit before facing the photo call.
This stop turned out to be an hilarious interlude with Richard showing us his ‘essential safety item’…..his bell! And Tony, who appeared keener than me to finish, sank to his hands and knees at one point below the Land’s End sign. Was he praying for the finish?
Finally after we stopped laughing and waving to supporters on their way to Land’s End, we started the final mile. The boys lined up in order for the lead out (just like on the tv) and peeled off one by one. Brian was concerned we were
going too early shouting out, “Not yet, not yet!” Rob led me out to the last 100 metres and I sprinted over the line with the Guardian photographer merrily clicking away.
What a brilliant way to finish 953 miles of cycling. Gill, in the van, was in the unusual position of being behind me rather than in front but as she entered the last stretch was faced by a car park attendant, holding out his hand wanting payment. Gill not wanting to miss the final moments , sped straight past him, kangarooing the speed bumps to the shouts of ,”Come back! come back!” We all lined up for a photo call including the famous sign and celebrated with some bubbly. It was very kind of those who made the effort to make the trip down to support us and we really appreciated their support. It was a tremendous relief for Gill and myself to finish and a real sense of achievement.
We would like to thank everyone who sponsored the charity and the businesses who helped with the kit.
14th August Reflections
Time to sum it all up:-
Did we enjoy it? Yes and no! It was really hard work for both of us with early morning starts, long days and late nights but we met some really nice people, who were very helpful and generous.
Total strangers helped us and asked why we were doing it, often giving money to the cause. It restored our faith in human nature at a time when you hear so many bad things on the news.
We stayed in many great guest houses, hotels and pubs and ate some fantastic local food. As we travelled the length of the country we realised there are so many lovely places in the UK that we haven’t been to and were perhaps too quick to go abroad rather than enjoying what we have closer by.
The scenery in many places was stunning and as we were using the minor roads rather than the main ones we saw some gorgeous areas we would love to return to.
If you are thinking about trying the End to End trip; going from John O’Groats to Land’s End is harder because of the prevailing wind being in your face for the majority of the time, although it was great to have family and friends there at the end to cheer us in.
It would also be better to have two or more riders to share the workload and the companionship helps to pass the miles.
The support car makes a great deal of difference and allows you to ride as light as possible whilst providing a continuous supply of food, drink and equipment.
Don’t be surprised by riders you meet along the way who are invariably very helpful, friendly and willing to ride along with you. Would we do it again? Probably not but it was a unique experience and an achievement to be proud of and will give us many memories to look back on.
Finally and most importantly nearly £2000 was raised, thanks to everybody’s kind generosity, for Cornwall Hospice Care. One of the things that kept me going when things were tough was the thought of people who were having to cope with serious illness who would have willingly swapped places with me.
Once again thanks to everybody who donated money, you’ve really helped to make a difference.
Gill and Dave