What's it all about?

At the end of September 2012 I completed a cycle from Portsmouth 2 Penzance a total of 273 miles! raising money for Children In Need is the Plan. This was also be a personal challenge for me as I haven't been cycling in over 25 years and that was only for fun nothing serious. On top of that have a prolapsed disc, was 46 years old and at the start of 2012 a bit over weight, well lot over weight really, since then I've lost nearly 3 stone! So I opted to do the big one, John O'Groats 2 Lands End on May 6th 2013. The End 2 End or P2P (point to point, as it's sometimes called ) around 1000 miles! This time I had company, Colin, a friend from work, who has said he is as mad as I am and would like to come! This blog contains that story....This event is in memory of the sad passing of my mum on 17th of April this year having lost her fight with terminal Bowel Cancer.

I guess you'd call it the sequel, I have decided it would be just rude not to go back the other way!!! so May 2015, with a new friend, Pete and with Alan driving a support vehicle ( luxury) we plan the classic Lands End to John O'Groats, also known as LEJOG
. Mad ? yes I think we must be.


Me, Colin, Pete and Dave ( Team Jogle4bc )

Me, Colin, Pete and Dave ( Team Jogle4bc )

A few weeks rest

So...what is it with the weather and me and the bike? Glorious sunshine for days ( here in Portsmouth) but the morning I plan to go for a 30 miles knee test ride it pours down with rain!
Anyway The ride went wet.. I mean well.. No knee pain and did 32 miles with a few good hills. So fingers crossed no lasting damage . I looked at a cycling injuries book when I got back ( yes sadly I own one) and discovered what I think I had. The pain in the knee started as an ache as was specifically the inside edge of the kneecap , nowhere else and Plica Syndrome perfectly fits the bill, as is quite an unusual place to get pain. If you really want to know about it I have attached a scanned piece from the book.
Still plan to post a map of the whole route on the blog along with some more final thoughts, things I might do differently, reviews of items etc.
So what now? you might ask. Possibly doing a 101 mile Wiggle ride round the New Forest over to the IOW and back in a month. The plan for next year is currently a 3 day London Paris ride with Scott coming, as he's said he'd like to do something. Although Colin did say yesterday and I quote ........" We 'ort to do it the other way round, you know just to see what its like !"
Watch this space


Redruth 2 Lands End update.

Having arrived in Redruth the day before, we spent our evening separately with family, re telling the stories of the trip. Liz asked how my bike had been on the rough roads? I told her I had been amazed,  I'd had no mechanical issues and no punctures at all!
At 09:30 we gathered back at Redruth to complete the final 30 ( I worked out the shortest route the night before) we stepped outside only for me to discover I had a flat rear tyre, serves me right I guess. We set off in glorious sunshine, the weather gods now clearly having given up trying to stop us. We chatted, laughed and cycled through hilly B roads towards Marazion, where we planned to do the last bit of the route on the A30. As we came over the last of the Hilly B raods, there we saw St Michael's mount, a truly spectacular sight in the sun. We had 12 miles to go and pulled in on the beach for a drink and pasty. We were also to call the families and friends to give them an ETA for Lands End arrival, none of which were answering their phones!  Eventually we got hold of them and set off again.  With 7 miles to go the emotion of it all was really getting to me and I kept crying, regularly wiping away the tears, thinking of mum and how proud I was for both of us. This wasn't helped with mine and Colin's families passing us in their cars waving, beeping and cheering. For the first time on the whole trip I dared to believe we were going to make it. As we approached the hill at the top of the final run in we stopped, to just take it all in for a few seconds. As we did the 4 Devon boys were just coming up the hill having finished, which great to see. Colin had been fantastic company and I couldn't have made it without him. Mutual thanks completed we coasted in to wonderful welcome from all the friends and family who had gathered to meet us. We had made it. 1015 miles in 12 days neither of us really able to comprehend what we had done. There was Champagne and a fab chocolate cake made by Sara our friend with a map of the route, brilliant. For me it was, I guess more of a pilgrimage. Has it changed me? I guess it will have but still processing it at the moment and of course I will share my thoughts with you at some future time. There will still be a few more blogs, I intended to do a full map of the route, I'm sure there are bits missed and we plan a list of favourite roads, days, B&B's etc. I guess I will also post a picture of the tattoo! A final thanks to you all for your messages and support, we loved reading them in the evenings and they were a great help. X

Day 11 Great Torrington 2 Redruth

We were very gloomy at breakfast unsure of what the day will bring. It was to be a planned dash diagonal across from Great Torrington to meet the A 39 and then A 30, the route to the A39 I had in the bike computer but from then on it would be main roads and sign post readings as we had planned to go to Mawnan Smith today. The day started ok with manageable pain from both of us but slow as was quite hilly. We started in warm short sleeves and quite hot, the river looked beautiful at Great Torrington. Cautiously working our way up and down the hills, quietly passing into Cornwall at some point on a back road, no signs or fanfare just a flag flying to confirm our location. As we approached the A39 black clouds started to close in and the temperature dropped so much you could see your breath! Again , this is May right? Then the heavens opened, thunder lightening, we pulled in at Wadebridge for a hot drink, already drenched. We headed back out again into torrential rain more thunder and lightening and cycling up stream as, not for the first time, there were rivers running down the roads. I thought at one point I was hallucinating, as I saw a motor boat drive by! It really was one. Some sort of boat/car conversion, Colin saw it to, you just couldn't make it up! As we fought our way ever closer to Redruth, the weather began to give up trying to stop us and with only a few miles left to go the sun came out, as if the weather gods were saying, "ok you guy's, I give up, you're going to make it regardless of what I through at you, aren't you?".
I look skyward and shout out loud "HELL YES".
Just 35 ish miles tomorrow. I think Colin said we've done 985 miles so far. Again we can't thank you all enough for your messages of support, it's meant so much to us . X

Day 10 Cheddar to Great Torrington Belated

A hill too far!
Ok sorry for the delay. This day didn't start well, we we're both really tired even on the Somerset levels, which is how all roads should be built by the way, flat! We did see a great windmill and it was sunny. We did meet, on and off, a group of 4 MAMIL'S on a quest from Bristol to Lands End over 4 days and were able to take mutual "welcome to Devon" photos.  After that the problems started Colin's thigh was complaining, a lot! He was really struggling. Most days we have reached 30 miles to go and they have always been tough. Today the last 7 miles felt like 30. We came to a sign 15% downhill, use low gear, same going up the otherside. Tough. Shortly followed by the same again but 20%. Very Tough. Unbelievably less than a mile later 25%! First he downhill, which was terrifying! It was like the moment you go over the top on a rollercoaster, brakes on full hardly slowed you down, which we needed to do as the road was wet and in poor condition too dangerous to just free wheel. The uphill was a hill to far. We managed 3/4's but were beaten. We pushed the last 50ft or so, which was really hard and the only time we'd had to do this the whole trip, gutted. We arrived at Great Torrington totally dejected not sure if Colin could continue. It was a very somber evening.

Day 9 Tewkesbury 2 Cheddar

Tired and tyres.
Neither of us slept well and were slow to get off this morning. Colin's neck now giving him grief as well as his arse. We took a few shots of Tewkesbury before we left as it wasn't raining! Lots of time as we only have 75 miles today. Sods law plays it's hand, again! My knee takes a while to get going through shouts and curses, then Colin gets another puncture, not that far down the road, great! After close inspection we find a 1/2cm cut right through tyre. I patch it over with an inner tube patch to get us to Gloucester. We pass a bike shop, closed. So decide to start to look for Halfords for a new tyre. That took a while and probably an extra 5 miles. We replace the tyre, some more spare inner tubes and set off again. I'm sure Gloucester is a great place to visit and we passed the rugby ground but we needed to crack on in case of any more delays, which was a shame. The sun makes an appearance and Colin stops to take a picture of the blue sky, as he says he can't remember what it looked like. It was like we had cycled into an alternative universe, warm and sunny, mad! Then I saw a sign for a health farm that had us laughing again. Shortly after,  another route inputting error had us going down a lane, well barely a lane, more off road, picture of Colin on it is attached. This ended up next to a field of sheep who all started with the baa's, Colin got a great video of them rushing over singing to us. There was a long gradual drag up to the top of Cheddar which was great apart from one point where it first said 'welcome to Somerset' next to a sign indicating 11% climb, the knee really not happy with those short sharp ones.  Soon we were spoilt with a great decent into cheddar, great fun, Colin beaming at the bottom. I did clamp the camera to the handle bars and filmed it :)
I have to be realistic and having spoken to Colin, I'm not going to push my luck and do the bit down to the Lizard, which was included in our original plan, to take in the most  Southern point of mainland UK . I think the plan is now to get to Lands End the easiest way. So we are looking at 79 miles to Great Torrington tomorrow. Then probably just to Redruth ( see if friends Tony and Lucy can store bikes over night) this will save about 25 more miles, rather than go all the way to Mawnan Smith and save some hills as well. Get picked up from and dropped back to Redruth for the Saturday's final ride to Land End.. Well that's what we think is our best chance. Enjoy pic's

Day 8 Alsager 2 Tewkesbury

Sweat, tears and rain.....
Let me start by saying although I'm clearly suffering, I'm ok (well sort of)  Those who are worried, please don't be alarmed, pain is just weakness leaving the body! I must be very weak as there appears to be a lot of it leaving! Joking aside what I try to write is a true account of what happens, physically and emotionally on my journey, as well as the sites. When we can see them!  This is not sympathy or to worry anyone or for another reason, other than for you to know what happens and later for me to recall.
So I begin again with a big thanks to Ei and Ray for their generous and kind hospitality, setting us off with Staffordshire oat cakes, bacon and melted cheese (look them up)  yummy.
Within 7 miles and about an hour of cycling, I'd given up and restarted about 7 times! The knee was incredibly  painful and more one legged cycling, adjusting saddle etc. There have been tears on and off over the last few days but I really thought this was it and I wouldn't be able to continue. Colin was great, patient and we discussed the options. Resting a day, arrive on Sunday etc etc. I looked at the codeine tablets, 2 tablets 4 Times a day. Ok I'll try 4 tablets twice a day, with the Naproxen and paracetamol and see how far I can get. Also purchased deep heat, to see if it could help.  Taking it mile by mile we made a bit of progress, although I was by now feeling a little light headed... not recommended. For the last few day I have only been able to use smallest chain ring on the front and half the rear gears, so progress was slow. After about 40 minutes I became very drowsy. We pulled in at a service stain to get a high caffeine drink. Luckily that worked and I perked up a bit. We were able to continue, with the knee slowly accepting the pain relief. Most of the 96 miles today were very wet, with torrents of water washing across the roads, again. The plotted routes have also been great picking out great, quite roads. However there was a bit of an issue today. Shortly after Albrighton we turned up a road that said, "private strictly no access", I shortly followed the reading of the sign with another "oh COCK", I really wasn't in the mood. So I said to Colin "lets just do it". As we got to the front steps of Patshull Hall with a games keeper looking at us oddly, we turned right off down the dirt track I was being directed down ( by the bike computer, another minor suspect road choice). Expecting to here shouts of "get off my land " at anytime. The track shortly brought us out alongside, what appeared to be the 12th fairway of an exclusive golf club! Here we received even more wide eyed stares from the members playing their round. Probably not happy with Colin's choice of shorts! They clearly weren't tailored! We kept our heads down and were shortly back on the public road, laughing like school kids. Other than becoming wetter than ever, not much else happened other than our first puncture with 20 miles to go, on the shopper. Not much fun repairing it in the rain at the side of a dual carriageway.  Arriving today at 19:00. I said to Colin, if (and I'm still not sure I will) , I do get to the finish, I really think I want the "jogle4bc " and rainbow logo tattooed on my left knee! Colin laughed and added he'd have it on his arse! To Cheddar tomorrow.

Day 7 Blackburn 2 Alsager

Late start today, needed a bit more rest after the ordeal of the day before. Colin informs me he's sure his saddled physically violated him yesterday! He showed a great amount of willpower, we were very broken men when we arrived yesterday. Colin's mum was very welcoming and a cracking breakfast to start us off today. Left about 10.00 having only 66 miles today. We decided for the first time not to do the planned route and use main roads, due to the smaller country roads being harder to find if I need rescue. Hail stones to start us off, nice, it is May isn't it? The A666 was terrifying! No wonder it's called the 666 . We did get to see few nice places Worsley was fab, Tudor houses, a canal, and a very nice McLaren garage, £215,000 for the yellow one! There was a massive thunder and lightening storm, we luckily seemed to have just missed as we pulled in and watched it behind us. The knee still a big issue, big day tomorrow. A wonderful welcome from Ei and Ray, with poster and balloons on arrival. Thanks again for all your support x

 

Day 6 Carlisle 2 Blackburn, belated

A war of attrition........
Every foot felt like a mile, every minute an hour and every hill a mountain.
Ok, so you know a few miles in left knee too painful to continue, so one legged, literally unclipped left leg out of pedal and used just right leg for a while, we limped our way to Penrith Hospital. They were very helpful, the doctor said I really need an ultrasound to see what's going on but thinks I've either strained or torn some fibres in the ligament across the knee. They also confirmed the joint wasn't damaged, which I guessed was good news. I looked at the doctor, who looked back and said " there's no point in me telling you to stop and rest and ice it is there?" and promptly added the strongest painkillers I could have would be codeine and wrote out the script. Having collected that from a nearby Sainsburys and a knee support we plodded on. I think if I am able to complete the ride, this day will have been the hardest thing I will have ever done or likely to do. As we hit, what I think was Shap and the top of the lakes the weather was hideous. I'm sure the views were fab but 35mph head winds (again) the cloud and rain so low, you couldn't see more than a few hundred feet. The cycling across Shap were reading 4.5mph it took us an infinity to do just a mile! We stopped at Orton for hot drink and food. I was now in a very dark place, my own purgatory. We got to Settle, God knows how shear will power I think and Colin's mum came and collected our bags to help lighten the load, We eventually arrived at her house something past 22.00, truly exhausted over 14 hours after we started, having done 106 miles. Thanks to the support of friends and family we made it. My mum must have played a big part in that or I never would have made it. x . Only one photo :)

I'm sorry for the Grammar and spelling please let me know when you see them so I can go back and update . Thanks

Day 6

Arrived at Colin's mum's at 22.09. Not sure what tomorrow will bring

Day 6 supplement

2 miles and knee so painful I've had to stop. Have already taken shed loads of painkillers. Have managed to pedal one legged to Penrith A&E, waiting to be seen . Not looking good

Day 5 Irvine 2 Carlisle

Day of 2 halves.
Very wet start leaving my sister's, with the grim prospect that it was set for the day. One of Colin's favourite sayings of the trip is "when I'm in charge of the weather, it will only rain between 3-5 in the morning!" We got about 200 yards down the main road when 2 lorries tsunami'd us............ I politely asked Colin if he could submit his application for the weather job verbally now please! About 9 miles into the ride we were already soaked and it felt like we'd been cycling 90 miles already. No pictures on route as we couldn't really see anything. The wind was biting and the rain lacerating our faces, which now felt heavily ex foliated. We ground out 36 miles and then just had to stop to warm up and my left knee now felt like it was being jabbed with a hot knife every pedal stroke! Out with the painkillers. I was.effectively now pedalling one legged not really being able to put any effort through the left knee at all.
After a few miles of restart, it would appear Colin's application had been accepted and we got some broken sunshine at last along with a slight change of direction in the wind, now being a bit more in our favour. The roads were quite B roads which was great but clearly B up here stands for broken as they were rough.  Just when you thought things were going your way, a bend, a steep climb and before I knew what I was saying I shouted out loud "OH COCK" confirming I'm more James May than Richard Hammond. At the top I needed to stop. The knee was really quite a problem now. I had some duck tape with me taped around the saddle stem of the bike in case we needed it. I hadn't thought I'd have to be taping my knee up with it! Also adjusted saddle height and more painkillers. Then, 20 more painful miles later Gretna, shortly followed by the last house in Scotland and a sight for sore...knees.....Welcome to England. A few miles later of course more rain but by now we were only a mile from the Premier Inn, Carlisle. Tomorrow is another 100 miles, it was 102 today. Knee on ice, painkillers on board. Let's see how we go in the morning. Colin's mum kindly making enquiries at Blackburn hospital and think I may need to pop in when we arrive there late tomorrow. Fingers crossed I don't need to.

Day 4 Crianlarich 2 Irvine

The first day so far, we're both lying in bed as the 7 o'clock alarm goes...more hysterical laughter, as we re-live yesterday's ride and discuss our aching bodies, my spine still not fully rebuilt. The weather check, oh dear minus 1 to start the day! My feet curling up at the prospect.
The day starts with blue sky if not a little chilly. Luckily the stiff legs are given a little break as we get a 3 mile downhill, which for a change, we don't have to pedal down! we soon clock 10 miles or so and the beginning of Loch Lomand. The roads busy , sky now grey but still beautiful. We stop at Luss for a "Take The High Road" break, if your old enough to remember the TV series. As we leave the Loch a hint of sadness that the roads are now even busier and the stunning highlands were now behind us. This wasn't helped by the I Spy Road Kill count today consisting of a Venetian blinds, a Henry Hoover and a broken claw hammer! oh dear civilisation! The rain was now quite heavy and as we approached the outskirts of Dumbarton, the smell of deep fried Mars bars filled the air and at the next set of lights Colin pulled along side and said "What a grey miserable hole" well ok he might of use a few less words, one beginning with S and ending in T! Then over the Erskine Bridge which wasn't too bad really. We then ended up on a lovely smooth cycle track down an old railway line with just over 20 miles to go. After 10 miles or so for the first time we got a little lost but managed to pick up the cycle route 7 to Irvine. Boy, was that a hilly last few miles to get back on route. At last arrived at my sisters, to a warm welcome and spoilt with a mobile massage booked, bliss. Please keep the text and comments coming as they are great to receive and a real boost to us both. 82.9 miles today ( although this is the first time I have uploaded my Garmin computer info which appears to be a bit different from Colin's iPhone data, I only made it 82.miles?) Left knee really sore, ice pack on. Only 100 miles tomorrow, forecast heavy rain..... in the words of limp bizkit......keep on rollin'










Day 3 Fort Augustus 2 Crianlarich

IIf yesterday was a day of mixed blessings, then today was a day of highs and lows. It all started rather well with blue sky's and broken clouds. Shortly down the road we were greeted by regular packs of colourful MAMIL's, all telling us we were going the wrong way, they obviously new what lay ahead and at this point we didn't. Oh sorry, MAMIL it stands for, Middle.Aged.Men.In.Lycra :-) Shortly after this we turned off the the A82 onto a lovely little roller coaster of a road north of a Loch, I forget the name of, oh it was Loch Lochy . This was fab for a few miles then the road turned into a gravel road that made yesterday's tow, path seem positively smooth. We did however see a stoat shoot across the road in front of us, it's black tipped tail disappeared into a hedge. The road (well track really) got worse and more hilly, and we had at least another 7 miles to go ( In hind sight it would be better to stick to the A82 if on a road bike)  and the gravelly descents were pretty hairy. Clearly my road bike and smooth tyres were not built for this kind of terrain and my route for this little section had turned out to be a little suspect. I was just about to turn round to apologise to Colin for the dodgy road, to only be greeted by Colin's big cheesy grin, the shopper, clearly in its element! The only bonus to the route were more spectacular views, Ben Nevis for one, including snowy top. By the end of that 10 mile off road, as we came past Neptune's staircase (the locks photo), my spine felt like it had been shaken apart so badly and then reassembled in the wrong order! Time for tea and cake, Fort William. And yes, no flat tyres ( thanks mum x) What came next was main road all the way on the A82. I was just about to say how very good the traffic, especially the lorries , were being, giving us lots of room and waiting to pass etc when I was nearly taken out by a tourist and his caravan! It was that close with the caravan as it cut in, well all I can say is thank you St Christopher. As we turned the corner starting our approach to Glen Coe, two things struck us. First was the wind, Met office states 33 mph head winds! It felt like 60! Clearly I had been flippant with the use of the word brutal the day before, as the word much better fitted the bill today. The second was the ominous black clouds over the mountains. Another stop, some food and full wet weather gear, we weren't going to miss the rain today. At the foot of Glen Coe,  we stopped, looked at each other smiled that smile that said, we might not be breaking any records today but we're going to make it all the way to the top no pushing! 8.4 miles of mountain later we did! And from pretty much sea level we had climbed 1142 ft! Most of which I could only hear hysterical laughter from Colin " ever corner....it just keeps going... Aaaahhhh".  At the top I had to have the third PR of the day, only needed two the day before. Sorry PR, Paula Radcliffe? Road side wee wee, you'll be pleased to know no wet clothing, though that was tricky, considering the wind was at full blast on the bleak Rannoch Moor. Moving on, well barely, as we were slower into this head wind along the top than the climb I think! Struggling to keep 6 mph! The temp was now 2 degrees and felt like minus 2! My right foot now happily requesting amputation. Where was the downhill, we'd just climbed 8.4 miles?  Now I knew why the MAMIL's had said we were going the wrong way! There were a few small downhills, which unfairly we had to pedal again. To add insult, another 3.5 mile climb! Finally arriving at the B&B, after a bit of a 2 mile U turn, having missed it, probably through exhaustion! Arrived at 18: 14 having left at 08:20 having done another 85.81 miles. We both lay on the beds and laughed out loud.....it had been EPIC.