Week Two               pictures to follow

Day Eight

Psychologically very difficult driving back north from Michael and Kate’s house (and thank you for the fabulous food and company and doing the washing!) knowing that I would have to cycle all the same miles again going south. Anyway I set off back from Milnthorpe and worked my way down (through the rain AGAIN) and out of Cumbria and into Lancashire. I chose a very scenic but possibly overly hilly route to head south but did see some fantastic scenery. Then it was a fairly long drag south through Lancaster, Preston, Leyland and then another hilly bit up to Orrell and down into Warrington where I had a bit of a navigation nightmare but eventually found my way across the Mersey and up to Acton Bridge where we spent the night. A bit worried that I was struggling with the right gear shifter, and sod’s law would say that this is one of the very few spares I don’t have with me.

Day Nine

So we set off from Acton Bridge, and yes it was pouring with rain AGAIN, had a fantastic Bridget Jones puddle moment 15 minutes in when a truck decided to create a huge bow wave that soaked me from head to foot – all of you that are laughing can stop right now. Shifter is now seriously malfunctioning and the only shop within 60 miles with a spare is in Shrewsbury- Debbie sets off on a rescue bid and I carry on to Kidderminster without anything below fifth gear. The good news is that I did make it to Kidderminster albeit a bit late and then we headed off to Telford to stay with Debbie’s dad Paul and Pauline who also managed to wash all of my cycling kit! As it was a late night we decided to leave the bike repairs until the next day. This was my beautiful lunch stop at Newtown.

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Day Ten

So we started early by stripping and replacing the cassette and chain and then while I swapped the shifter Paul did a great job of cleaning several hundred miles of accumulated grime from the chain rings and jockey wheels. I had a go at setting everything up but it was a struggle to get the indexing spot on when I didn’t have a track stand with me but a quick call to a very helpful LBS in Stourport on Severn and they agreed to lend me one if I turned up there. So Debbie ran me back to Kidderminster (much better driving over miles you’ve already cycled) and I set off with a slightly noisy gear train until I got to Stourport and got everything set up properly. The rest of the day went well NO RAIN there was a fair headwind but everything else was good and having a properly functioning bike back after two days was a great relief. So all was well other than a late start making for a very late finish.

Day Eleven

Set off from Elberton near Bristol and headed down to Avonmouth, for some reason every other bend round here seemed to hide another horse and rider. Then over the Avonmouth bridge which is quite spectacular on a bike even if you do feel slightly vulnerable. Then out onto the Somerset levesl with my rejuvenated drive train churning along in an nice high gear. I was doing so well I took a small detour and headed t Axbridge and Debbie and had lunch together in the medieval market square, it's very pretty but neither of us took a picture I'm afraid so you'll just have to google it! Then I headede down towards Bridgewater, via Cheddar and Mark where I had to persuade the road crew to let me ride gently over their newly laid tarmac to avoid a multi-mile detour, they obviously felt sorry for me and let me carry on. Bridgewater & then Taunton in the rush hour are not fun - definitely best avoided. I then headed off around Wellington for the next night's stop. We were technically still in Somerset by a few hundred yards but the landscape was definitely Devon - hills, hills and more bloody hills! These are very annoying hills, not long enough to get into a good rhythm but very very steep, I was mightily pleased to arrive at the end of the day. I am very conscious that reserves, both physical and mental are diminishing fast. Nice place to stay, terrible pub to eat at - still it was so bad it was actually amusing and it filled a need. We did gain a friend at dinner though!

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Day Twelve

Have I mentioned Devon hills? There are lots of them, in fact everywhere you turn there's another hill, and it always seems steeper than the last. My bike computer has a set of OS maps on it, slightly worried as I have two hills in a row with double arrows on them, both pointed towrds me! For the non-cartographers among you that means very very steep. Definitely not agood route choice, although I must admit the veiws from the top of the hills are magnificent and I had to call Debbie to ask what the big golden disc in the sky was - yes it was a sunny day in August! Reached the finish in Holsworthy and had a great meal at a local pub. Not far to go now. (Thankfully, definitely getting tired)

Day Thirteen

Into Cornwall. A much better class of hill here. They are very very long, several climbs that went on for 10k or more but at a steady and achieveable gradient that you can build up a proper rhythm on and also descents that are fun to do fast as opposed to Devon where you are just wearing out brake blocks trying to control a savagely steep and twisty descent where you don't know what's coming next. Came out on top of Bodmin Moor, views to die for, good roads, sunshine and flat on top of the moor, just great. Then down towards Bodmin and pick up the Camel Trail. Just like the Bristol to Bath bike path the number of families out riding this great trail shows that if we make sensible provision fort cyclists then people will get out and cycle. Finally into Truro, bit of a problem as another mecahanical problem has hit. My chain somehow got itself doubled up going through the front mech and I had to rely on the detailed engineering training from my colleagues at Leafield and hit a screwdriver with a rock to get it free! Needless to say this hasn't actually improved the quality of the gear changes and now changing bewtween front rings means stopping and manually adjusting chain. Have decided looking at the hills round Truro that the last ten miles can all happen in the small ring! Great views on Bodmin Moor:

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Day Fourteen

The end is near - in every sense! The bike, the ropute and me, still one more day's riding and we'll be there. A bit of bike fettling got the gears a least sort of functional and I'm off. I decided (I know I'm mad) to go the slightly longer and hilly route and go down to Helford Passage and get the ferry across and then climb the hill on the other side. This all sounded good until the Garin froze and I couldn't get a satellite link so ended up taking the wrong route outr of the village and gaily added a few extra KM and few hundred meters of extra climbing onto my route - what joy! Anyway up onto Goonhilly downs and past the starngets signpost in the world, I'll post a pictrure when I can extract it from the go-pro. Thjis route all because I foolishly decided to add Dunnet Head and the Lizard into the route. Anyway I made it to the Lizard and left as fast as possible, not the most endearing of English tourist spots. Now we really are onto the final stretch, two big hills out of Helston and then stop for lunch with 20 miles to go. I am actually quite excited about getting to the end which seemed such a long way away at one stage and is now very definitely within reach, I'll walk and carry the bike from here if I have to! Down in Marizon and past St Micahel's Mount which looks great in the sunshine and then along Penzance front across to Newlyn and the last big climb of the journet up out of Newlyn. 10k to go but only 20 minutes to whenI told Debbie I'd be there, with the first tail wind of the whole trip I set off across some pleasantly rolling countryisde and for once with no need to keep anything in the tank for tomorrow just let rip with everything I had, I looked at the speedo and couldn't believe it I'm flying along at 40kph - amazing what a bit of adrenaline (and a tail wind) can do for you.

And then it's done. Debbie was as ever there to greet me and after a quite emotional hug we went off to get pictures taken at the sign and to sign my name in the book at the hotel for having completed the journey.

I will add some more to this when I have had time to collect my thoughts but in the meantime PLEASER PLEASE PLEASE donate if you haven't already done so and if you have then THANK YOU

And of course thank you to Debbie because without her I definitely couldn't have done this.

Here is the view waiting for the ferry at Helford