Today’s route - Weston Super Mare to Ross-on-Wye, via the Severn Suspension Bridge. After a tour of a housing estate in north WsM, we set off on busy roads to start with, gradually out into lovely countryside. The big objective was the Bridge. To get there, we had to sample the tourist delights of Portishead and Avonmouth plus undergraduate level Garmin navigation problems….
First of all news about Ray after the crash. He is now at home with partner and friends and being made as comfortable as can be in the circumstances. I send him loads of empathy, moral support and best wishes for his recovery.
Todays ride was …
What a day! Perfect weather again. They just get better and better (so far!). A very enjoyable 100+ km ride, leaving the hotel at 0845 making for Minions, Tavistock for lunch, over Dartmoor to Mortonhampstead for a bucket of tea. Then wonderful switchbacks (one of 16%, one with a short 25% start) on B 3212, through woodland with views to Exeter. A final flourish through horrendous city traffic to ….
Another superb cycling day in warm sunshine. A short day - only 46 miles or 65 km ish. Left Redruth at 0915 and arrived at 1515. I rode with the same four guys as yesterday, Phillip, John and Peter. I knew Peter from another tour - Manche (Ouistreham) to Med (Montpellier); he's from York and . a great guy to cycle with. We are all about the same speed and get on well. Hope we stay together some more. One can never tell about these things; it happens as it happens. My room-mate is John and he is a very pleasant guy. (see photo with yesterday's Blog).
Some very bad news today. One member…
Another good day cycling from the hotel to Land's End and back, 103.3 km total, so 52 km or about 30 miles made good. The exact milages will be on the Garmin and Strava. Weather very good in the main, just a wee mizzly shower near Land's End. So the journey has actually begun …
Yesterday I drove from Darlington with bike and bags etc to Clay Cross, where Chris Ellison lives. We then went via various motorways and A roads to a TravelLodge near Okehampton at 9pm+. I don't know where exactly, it was late when we arrived and I had to sort my stuff for the next day. I changed into cycling gear here to be ready to set off from Penzance. We left at 0815 for Penzance, arriving about 10 am, today, Friday, Sept 7th.
After a wonderful veggie breakfat (with chips!), I set off for Lizard Point, while Chris waited for the rest of the party to arrive by train. The weather has been perfect today; blue skes not too hot, gentle NW breeze and dry. The ride to Marazion was along quiet roads. Then the route to Helston and Lizard took to A roads - quite busy and narrow in places. The climbs are not too steep - 8% to 11% but go on a bit. It is gently rolling country. Views and wild life outstanding, including buzzards and swallows and house martins.
Set off from Penzance soon after 11 am, arrived Lizard at 1310, had a cheese sandwich and pot of tea, sitting out in the sunshine. Left Fat Sids Cafe at 1315ish, took some videos with the GoPro and pics with the iPhone and set off back to Helston. This time carried straight on to Redruth to meet Chris as he arrived at the hotel!
All very pressurised at the Penventon Park Hotel, booking in, shower, charging all the electronics ad batteries. No time for a beer yet and its half past six!
Managed to aquire my first Witness Book entries at the Lizard Village Cafe and this hotel. I can prove I was here!!
He’s off! Bike packed, leaving Darlington for the trip South to the starting point!
The LEJOG trip will start on Saturday, with a cycle from the first hotel in Redruth to Land's End and back to Redruth. Tomorrow however, Alex is going to cycle from Lizard Point (the furthest South point on mainland UK) to Lands End, and he will also be taking in Dunnet head (the furthest north point of mainland UK) when he is on the North coast.
Alex will be blogging as and when he can over the next few weeks, but the focus will be on getting the job done, so you’ll see blogs from family and friends about how he’s getting on as well.
All the the best to Alex/Dad/Gramps/Great Gramps!
CTC Cycle Clips have just reported the successful completion of LEJoG by an 87 year old. He did it unsupported on an 18 year old folding Brompton over 5 weeks. Competition among 80 +++ year olds is intense!
Laurie Brophy's Facebook page has announced that he has had to abondon his attempt to cycle from Land's End to John o' Groats. It was a brave plan and you have my admiration for the spirit and enthusiam to have a go. To have reached Preston is a noble effort at 86. You had the good judgement to reach the finest county in England.
Training still going well and feeling up for it. There's an autumnal feel now, so arm warmers and leg warmers have been dug out of summer storage. Winter bike, with full mudguards also very necessary. Only 12 days to the start from Redruth. My daughter Jenny is planning to join me from Newtonmore to John o Groats, which is very special to me. My other daughter Beth is now in Spain cycle touring from Barcelona along the Med coast, then across Spain to Santander. We're all on the move together!
I suspect there may be many hundreds, if not thousands, of bicycle riders in the UK who are in their 70s, 80s and 90s. People who have cycled for years and years, out several days a week in all weathers, quietly and anonymously, doing thousands of miles a year. People who are quite capable of riding LEJoG - and may have done it. The current holder of the Guiness World Record for the Oldest Person to Cycle from Lands End to John o Groats is Tony Rathbone of Keswick, who was 81 in 2014, when he was awarded the record.
So why am I doing LEJoG and trying for the record? Having done plenty of touring in the last 15 or 20 years, I know how satisfying and enjoyable it is. The cyclist is in close touch with his environment, can stop and look around, admiring the wonderful sights, sounds and smells. Motor transport isolates the tourer from the surroundings, having to concentrate on roads and other vehicles - even on a motor-bike. It all whizzes by so quickly.
That's one good reason for doing LEJoG again, but why the record attempt? A valid question with a lot of personal answers. One is it's about the challenge and searching for boundaries. Inevitably, exploring boundaries invites the possibility of failure. What then? Try again? The Guiness World Record documents include the words “furthest south to furthest north of the UK”. LEJoG doesn’t necessarily include Lizard Point or Dunnet Head, the actual furthest south and north in mainland UK but this time I intend to include them.
Another of my reasons is to explore what we oldies are capable of and maybe persuade (provoke?) them to come into the light and be counted. To confront the stereotype and see how many others there are like Tony Rathbone, John Lee (who has some world record achievements cycling for an hour in a velodrome), Laurence Brophy, Robert Marchant the amazing French centagenarian (or is it centenarian?) and others. I've learned quite a lot while looking for supra-seventy and eighty achievements on the bike. But the numbers are difficult to find.
Athletics and mountain running are well served with Masters events. Have a look and marvel at the abilities of older runners, for example. I'm not aware of similar opportunities for cyclists, apart from Audax. Is it time to try to change this?
And then there is the hoary old excuse - because it's there! Go for it!
BBC News has just reported that Laurence Brophy, who is 86, will start a circular ride on Sunday, August 26th, from his home in Bridgend to Land's End, John o Groats and back home. He is doing this unsupported and with minimal accommodation planned. This is a massive undertaking and he's a harder man than I am. He hopes to complete the ride in three weeks and is at the mercy of the weather. Good luck, Laurence, we will be following your progress and cheering you on.
I will be keeping a log, hand-written in a little notebook, for formal submission to Guiness World Records. This blog is intended to make quick jottings each evening, in a more informal way and widely available, to let friends and relatives who look at this website know how things are going. This is all new and exciting for an old codger - never done a blog before! Maybe it will become compulsive - writing and viewing!