John re-joined us in Worcester after getting his knee seen to by a physio in Bath. Mum and Dad made the trip up to see us and we spent a great evening together.
On Thursday morning, with a taped-up knee John was back in the team as we left Worcester. We did a few navigationally-flawed figure of eights around the city centre to warm the legs up and it was the point where we were just leaving the city for real when distaster struck. The pain in John’s knee was too much and he decided to head back for some proper r&r. There’s no point pressing on when injury is causing that much pain. Losing John was a big blow as he was the one who had provided the most entertainment for Dave as they nattered at the back of the pelaton.
So that left Dave and I to press on and cover the day’s 89 miles by ourselves. And that we did.
When trying to compare the size of things, Journalists often use Wales as a unit of measurement. If they ever needed a unit of measurement for “hilliness”, then I can proudly give them the unit “Cornwall”. Using that measurement, I’d say that the first half of day 5 was probably a 3rd of a Cornwall in hilliness. Not quite as relentless as Cornwall itself, but still bloody hard on the legs for a good few miles.
We plodded on towards Iron Bridge Gorge though, and it was on the 40mph decent into the gorge that I hit a massive pothole which, only a day later I’ve realised, catapulted my rear light straight off the bike. Still, it’s summer so won’t be needing it!
After an ice cream at the Iron Bridge, we climbed out of the gorge but this is where Dave’s knee really started to show signs of deterioration.
Nevertheless, we pressed on, passing some lovely villages – most of which had a large manor house.
Our route had been planned to take us over the footbridge near the village of Wrenbury but that had been dismantled for repairs, which forced a detour to get back on track.
We finally made it to Tarporley where we were greeted by Alicia (Dave’s gf) and, as he went off to get physio on his knee, I treated myself to a swim, sauna and steam room at the plush hotel we’d booked as a one off.
A mountain of pasta at the Italian in Tarporley then bed. Weary after Our longest day yet
Stats for LEJoG day 5:
4,85ft ascent. 4,698ft descent.
Fastest speed 38.9mph.
Average speed 12.8mph
Average Heart Rate: 126bpm
Max heart rate 179bpm.
Average cadence 72rpm
Straightforward day today. We had a very late start (10.58am) just as the heavens opened. A gentle exit from Bath along the Bath-Bristol cyclepath but John’s knee forced him to turn back.
Whilst John was having his knee seen to in Bath, Dave and I cracked on and made good progress smashing through 40 quick miles before lunch in Gloucester.
But Gloucester was the scene of the worst event of the ride so far. We had our first puncture. Worst still, it happened to me. That means the “most punctures on trip gets thrown in the sea at John O’Groats” leaderboard looks like this:
We cycled through Tewkesbury and some other pretty villages but the final few miles just had to be done.
Stats for LEJoG day 4:
2,310ft ascent. 2,172 descent.
Fastest speed 35.2mph.
Average speed 14.4mph
Average Heart Rate: 75bpm
Max heart rate 124bpm.
Average cadence 75rpm
John’s back with us for tomorrow’s ride: 87 miles from Worcester to Tarporley via Iron Bridge Gorge.
John’s knee niggle that started yesterday turned into something more serious. Starting the day in Bath he was in agony and felt his knee move. The only thing he could do was turn back and us currently at the physio. Hopefully he’ll be able to join us in Worcester tonight where our parents are meeting us.
Dave and I have made great progress and munched the 40 miles to Gloucester in double quick time. Spot of lunch and 30 miles to Worcester now which should take a couple of hours.
When we were planning the trip, we all agreed that we should avoid the main roads wherever possible. “The traffic wouldn’t make it enjoyable” was one comment, “it’s far more dangerous on the A roads” was another.
So, yours truly set about planning a route that avoided all those nasty trunk roads. I plotted a course that would allow us to enjoy some of the best countryside and view nature up close as we gently tour the idyllic back lanes.
Inevitably, these back roads feature steeper hills. And yes, I admit, there are probably more of them too.
Now, I believe that’s a price to pay for cycling along country lanes but, on only day 3 of our LEJoG, the tide has turned and my travelling companions are becoming increasingly vociferous against my decision to route us up “all these bloody hills”!
Hopefully tomorrow’s stage from Bath to Worcester will keep a mutiny at bay for at least another day as it’s relatively flat; we’re leaving Bath via the riverside cycle path towards Bristol.
Day 3 was a ride of 3 halves. We had a gentle roll out of Tiverton before we hit some of those infamous short, sharp and steep hills in the back lanes. Crossing in to Somerset (2 counties done!) We made good progress to Wellington and Taunton before we got to the Somerset levels. I can’t explain how good it was to cycle on the flat for the first time in 2 days.
After a bite of lunch in the village of Wedmore, we headed straight to Cheddar Gorge.
The climb up through the Gorge was incredibly scenic and, as the legs had been conditioned in Devon, we all made it up in one piece – albeit at different speeds. I even managed to shoot video from my phone on the way up but Dave will have to cough up a few more pounds for the swear box before it sees the light of day!
A couple more “interesting” climbs met us in the Mendips as we headed east and we were greeted on the outskirts of Bath by Kev and the kids.
Liz (sister) prepared a huge feast and the kids have very kindly donated their beds for our tired bodies.
Stats for LEJoG Day 3:
3,579ft ascent. 4,078 descent.
Fastest speed 41.7mph.
Average speed 12.8mph (mostly waiting for John to catch up!).
Average Heart Rate: 124bpm
Max heart rate 195bpm.
Average cadence 68rpm
Bed now. Big day tomorrow. Follow us on live GPS to see if we’ll be on A roads or not!
We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. And we were right. 85 very hilly miles from Golant to Tiverton. It rained all day, we were sodden and we had our first faller too! Dave went down like a sack of spuds when his front wheel slid on wire meshing that was nailed over a wooden bridge. Possibly not the best surface to lay on a cycle track!
Highlights of the day were crossing the border from Cornwall into Devon (1 county done!), huge pasties at Lydford Gorge, views of Dartmoor in the drizzle (and other country views throughout the day) and great welcome from Barbara at Hornhill B&B. Oh, and Dave assures us that the mobile signal from the top of the last hill was exceptional; he overshot the B&B (see below) and ended up at the telecoms mast at the summit!
Lowlights were the morning’s porridge at the hostel, the constant rain, the many, many steep hills and the lads’ reaction when, after 85 miles in the saddle, they found out I’d booked a B&B at the top of a 17% climb. It’s got good views though!
Stats for LEJoG Day 2:
5,325ft ascent. 5,295 descent.
Fastest speed 40.6mph.
Average speed 11.1mph (mostly waiting for John to catch up!).
Average heart rate 132bmp
Max heart rate 183bpm.
Average cadence: 64rpm