Liskeard to Tiverton 68.12 Miles 7 hours 11 Minutes 56 seconds.
This was the day I had been worried about the most before the trip. I knew if I could get through this day I could maybe, get through the trip. I also had my vow not to walk fresh in my mind. In fact it turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.
The day started out stunning and I made sure to set off early to give myself plenty of time, I releaxed a bit more and decided that I would go at my own pace, if i needed to stop i would, if i had to stop on a hill i would, but i would compose my self and get going when I was ready.
So after a bit of a gentle start to warm the legs up, we had a bit of a climb towards Tavistock which was a longish hill. It wasn’t too bad and I got up it, with no cramp this time. At the top it was sunny and spectatular so I stopped to take in the view which was amazing. It was here that I met Tim and James, two top lads from London who by the end of the trip I’d get on with brilliantly. Sadly I never really cycled with them as they were far too quick for me! After this I carried on and we had another long, gradual climb, but again I got through it without stopping.
A quick banana, bar and top up on water and I got going again. From here we rode through Princetown, and then turned off. It was time to climb up to Dartmoor. I’d be doing this alone, it was quiet, a beautiful day, I loaded up on an energy gel got my ipod on and cracked on with it.
The sun was out though and I made good progress, I stopped a couple of times but never once did I think i couldn’t do it. My mindset was so different from the day before and when I got up there the views were spectactular! I was blown away and went mad with my camera. The quiet and views made it all worthwhile and I felt good about what I was doing.
It occured to me that it was lunch time, a normal day i’d be in the canteen at work, scoffing down a sandwich, yet I was here climbing up in to one of the most beautiful parts of the country!
The climb went on and on, but the views were stunning, I couldn’t quite believe what I was doing. I hardly saw anyone and it felt like i had the whole place to my self. Once you thought you were done climbing, you’d be round a bend and see it continue! It was tough going but the views made up for it! I did have an issue with my gears that meant it wouldn’t go from the middle to bottom cog, but thankfully some oil sorted that. Finally the climbing stopped!
After more stunning scenery I rolled into a beautiful village called postbridge for lunch. Then it was off up a few more hills, before some absolutely amazing descents out of Dartmoor that were good fun. It was a bit tough at times, due to all the water coming off the hills, making the roads a bit greasy but boy was it fun!
From there I had a nice 16% hill into exeter and the final water break. I stopped briefly as no one else was there, and pressed on.
The last 19 miles was a flat road, but I was tired so it took a while to get to Tiverton which was a pleasant stop. Gareth had beaten me in, but decided he would cycle with me the next day and I was grateful to have the chance for some company. The day had been tough, but I was pleased with myself for getting through it and i felt much more relaxed at lunch and looking forward to what was ahead. I felt a bit emotional this day, thinking about dad and hoping he would have been proud of me for getting through a tough day.
Tiverton – Tintern
96.61 Miles 8 Hours 39 Minutes and 61 seconds.
So this was the first big milage day and also a very wet one. We would be going past my work and not far from home.
Riding with Gareth made a difference, especially on a wet day just to have some company. We also rode with Richard, Sinead, Paolo and Felix. Felix and Richard I have so much respect for they were in pieces most of the ride with dodgy knees and yet never once complained and just got on with it, there was no way they were in any condition to cycle yet they stuck it out the whole way. Paolo and Sinead were lovely too and seeing them staying and helping the guys was amazing and exactly what the trip was about.
The start of the day was utter misery! It was wet windy and cold, and I could not warm up, so it was a long old slog to the water stop in Petherton, 29 miles in. The roads were uneventful which didn’t help.
I was freezing at the water stop and I could not get warm, so when we set off I had to start all over again but it helped riding with Gareth and having someone to talk to.
Shortly after we rode into Bridgwater, what a shithole that was. I had a nice discussion with one pleasant driver who gave me the finger, for daring to cycle in the right lane and him cutting me up. His girlfriend told me I needed to learn to ride a bike, which was funny as judging by the look of her so did she! This put me in a bad mood for a while and I struggled for a bit but thankfully the weather improved and we caught up with Felix and co. From here we rode along some b road which bend and weaved but were flat. We then went into Cheddar and lost our barings a bit but got on track and face a long hill up to Shipham. The hill was tough but I slowly got up it. The incentive of lunch in the warm up the top helped. After warming up we set off towards Yatton and my work!
We were flying at this point the group of us working well and we flew past my work and on towards Bristol. We had fun on Nortons wood land and having to cycle through a huge puddle that i’m sure did my bike the world of good! Here we got a bit lost and missed the turning to Gordano ending up in the services. We got to the last water stop having got back on course but had lost a lot of time, so me and Gareth set off very quickly eager to get in. We crossed the Avonmouth bridge into the picturesque industrial estate of Avonmouth and onwards and over the Severn bridge. We’d reached Wales! From there it was onto to a hell of a fun descent into the Wye valley, four miles of downhill.
That was fun and I was grinning like a kid in a sweet shop. I rolled into Tintern at 7 exhausted after a long, tough day. Then I heard a familiar voice, and saw Loz, wills and Matt fly by in the car! It was amazing that they’d made the effort to come out and see me and lifted my spirits after a tough day. Annoyingly due to my late finish I only saw them briefly but it was nice nervertheless.