Saturday, 9 October 2010

Chopper is now sold.

I removed all my modifications some time ago, and went to a local bike shop for a big bike-box to put it in. Chopper sat there for a few weeks, waiting for me to do something.

All the extra gearing goodies were stripped off and Chopper's front wheel replaced. The brakes and brake-levers were put back to normal, the original tyres fitted, and I put on a new chain with the original Sturmey Archer sprocket.

I noticed when I was given Chopper that the gear-shift - though working - the indicator orange tab that showed you what gear you were in, wasn't moving. I stripped it down and with a bit of ingenuity was able to fix it!

Chopper, in all it's glory - minus the chainguard that I had to remove to fit the double chainwheel - sat there waiting.

Chopper was lovingly stripped down - pedals off, seat and backrest off, and handle bars off - and the chainguard - all were put into the box with protective wrapping.

The box sat there for another few weeks before I went onto the Custom Cycles forum and advertised it for sale. I took a long time because it was difficult to get my head round that it was going to go.
I put it up for £200 and it was snapped up by a chap in Essex. I know I could have asked (and even got) more money for it, but Chopper was given to me for nothing, I had a great deal of pleasure from it, and raised a good deal of dosh with my JOGLE. I'm not greedy, and I know that Chopper has gone to a good home.

I will miss it.

Thank you Steve(elbucko).

Since then, the CTC Magazine have been in contact and they've asked me to write an article for publication. Hopefully in the Nov/Dec issue of "Cycle" there'll be a set of articles written by folk like me about their End to End rides and how they did it. I was limited to only 500 words or so, so it was difficult. The copy has been emailed to the editor, and I wait to see the edition in print. (Fingers are crossed!)

Thanks for reading this. I'm not sure that anyone checks in any more as my ride is slipping into the past and into folklore. But if anyone is still reading this, please make a comment.

Thank you all.


Monday, 7 June 2010

An Epilogue

As an epilogue to my story, I thought I'd give an account of my trip to Billing Aquadrome on Saturday.

I had my arm twisted for going there, and to be honest, the only excuse for not going, was the fact that I was tired. Our daughter, Beverly, lives in Bedford so I could easily drive up there with Chopper on the rack and stay with her and Pete. Billing is less than 20 miles up the road to Northampton, so a quick couple of hours up the A428 would be a doddle. I had no real excuse.

Besides, after my mammoth JOGLE, I felt a little bereft of a proper end to the story. Yes, I'd ridden the length of the country, but that was it! Finished. Done. By going to Billing 2010, I was getting a closure to my expedition. I was turning a page and ending the story gently.

So off I went on Friday morning for the 5 or 6 hour drive. I took my time and the journey went quickly and easily. A30/M5/M4/A34 to Bicester, then A421 and A422 to Bedford via Milton Keynes. Chopper survived the journey strapped on the back, and after parking the car, I hopped on and rode the mile or two to the Bedford Arms where Beverly is bar manager!

Any road up, Saturday morning came, and after a good breakfast, I hitched Trailer up and cycled off to Billing. The road was undulating with no particular hills, just rolling countryside and pretty villages - Turvey is gorgeous.

At about 11am, I turned into the Aquadrome and slowly surveyed the place. It was teeming with people. It seems there were a few gatherings there, not least of which was the Street Hotrod meeting, so there were hundreds of beefed-up cars and classics to see. I was overtaken more than a time or two by these cars on the road there, and as I arrived there was a queue of them at the barriers on their way in.

I went round and round, and saw no Raleigh Choppers anywhere and was about to make my way back to the main gate to ask where they were when I spied a couple as their riders were just getting off. I rode over and asked where all the Choppers were! They pointed out the general direction and said they were in a field beyond all the cars, so off I went in search.

Within a few minutes I found them!

There were literally hundreds of Choppers. I wouldn't have believed that there were so many left. Some were immaculate, some modified - even some with engines! - and some Choppers in a worse condition than mine.

People of all ages were riding them around the park, and I felt immediately at home! I had been more than a little worried that I would find a load of boring "anoraks" and "spotters" there with them all being serious and earnest. Not on your nellie! A more friendly and relaxed bunch of people, you couldn't find anywhere.

Within seconds of my arrival, Lampost Dave had met me and proffered a beer to me. He shook my hand and congratulated me and we chatted a while, and I surveyed the place. I was introduced to Querty500 and to Catfood Rob, and dozens of others and I'm sorry not to have remembered their names. Whilst I was there, people would read the side of Trailer and chat to me and study the modifications. I've no idea how many times I repeated myself over the hours.

There was a packed programme of events that day, and before I knew it, we were all assembling for a "Cruise" around the park. Such fun! All those Choppers and modified bikes and Low Riders, all pedalling gently round, in an out of the lanes sounding all manner of bells, whistles and horns. I especially liked the Police Chopper - a Copper! - in black and white check with a siren!

There were parents and children, and parents and little kids in trailers, older kids, big Choppers, Chippers, Grifters, RSW 11's and 14's, Raleigh 20's, Moultons, Cruisers, Low riders, motorised bikes, and a Chopper Tandem too!

It was good to see an RSW11, both our daughters rode one. (without stabilisers, I might add!)

I took a film or two, but I'd forgotten to re-format the storage disk. Sorry! So I couldn't get too much footage. What I should have done, was to re-format, then re-take the footage I'd already got. Instead, I just switched off and put it away. In hindsight, I was wrong to have done it like that. Catfood Rob wore his Starwars Trooper outfit and rode his Starwars Chopper about, there was a Impossible-to-Ride Chopper with reverse-steering, and folk sat about in the sunshine next to their collections of bikes. Everywhere I looked, people were relaxing and having fun.

Mid afternoon, the judging took place of the Show Bikes. The Mk1 that won was a absolutely beautiful. Ruby red in such depth it took your breath away. The chrome-work was perfect and it shone in the sunshine looking FAR better that it did when it was new! A well deserved win.

The other categories, if I remember correctly, were Mk2, Muscle Bikes and Low Riders. There may have been another category - I'm sure someone will fill the gaps for me! Also, a fully chromed Low Rider was being raffled off for a £1 a ticket.

Then came the awards ceremony.

I was given a Top Man Award! I was speechless, more than a little tearful, and very humbled by it. Thank you everybody!

At 4pm, there was another cruise, so off we all went again! I said my good-byes and would peel off for Bedford as we went out to the main roundabout. As I left, I shouted a cheery good-bye and was off back to Bedford. A roar went up as I left!

Thank you all, for reading this blog. It's been an absolute pleasure to have composed it, and I'm going to miss the regular musings and typing.
(Perhaps I need another project!)

Thanks and regards

Monday, 31 May 2010

Good morning everybody!

I feel more tired today than I have for many a week. It's not that I am actually more tired, it's just that I'm relaxing and winding down knowing that it's all over. This ride has been months, if not a whole year in the planning and execution, and now that I've successfully got my contraption from JOG to LE, I can relax properly.

Thank you all, for your kind comments, your thoughts and encouragement, your eagerness to read my missives, and above all, your friendship.

We were up and having a cuppa by 5.30 yesterday. There wasn't much preparation to do as Chopper was still mounted on the back of the car and Trailer was still stowed in the back. All I needed was to refresh my water bottles, check my stuff, dress and go. Meanwhile, I checked weather forecasts for West Cornwall and found that they were suggesting rain and showers. Here in East Cornwall, the day looked promising, so I took tights and waterproofs in Trailer, but wore a light top and shorts.

In the event the weather was ok. Cool and overcast, and only a few spots of rain.

I must be nearly there, I'm at the end of the alphabet!

We left home at 7am and batted down the fairly quiet A30 to St Columb. After connecting up and sorting stuff, I was off south via little lanes through Trebudannon, St Newlyn East, and Zelah and joined the A30 for Penzance. I peeled off the major road into Blackwater and looked for Smokey Joe's Diner. I planned to meet Nigel there, a chap I'd conversed with on the CTC Forum, and he told me that I couldn't miss Smokey Joe's. As I left the roundabout north of Blackwater, I scanned the place and couldn't see it, so sped on down the hill.

After a mile or more, I'm getting a little worried that I had indeed missed it! There was no way I was going to re-trace my route, so kept going feeling a little terrible that we may not meet up. As I passed a young chap walking along, I slowed down and asked if I was ok for Smokey Joe's. To my utter relief, he told me to keep going and it would be on the right. Phew!

As I climbed a long hill. I could see a cyclist in red in the distance, and guessed it would be Nigel. We greeted each other, and cycled together the few hundred yards to the cafe. We sat outside, chatting all the time and ordered a bacon bap and a mug of tea each. Yum.

It was just after 10am and the place was packed! It only opens at 10am on a Sunday, so all those people must've been waiting outside and queueing up. Chopper rested on his stand outside the door, and very soon a small crowd were gathering to admire him. Choppers always gather interest, and soon I was answering questions about this and that - as usual!

By 10:45, we were off. I led the way to set the pace, and we followed the Old A30 though Redruth and Camborne, over Connor Downs and down into Hayle. We stopped frequently as my bum can't stand too much of that saddle after the first few hours.

From Hayle, we went along the Hayle River estuary and up to the big roundabout that joins into the A30. From there, we followed the main road the half dozen miles into Penzance. At one of our stops, I saw St Michael's Mount in the bay, and asked Nigel if there was somewhere on the route that would make a good photograph with the Mount in the distance. He suggested Penzance seafront, so for the first time in my life, I rode into the town.

Me and Nigel at Penzance with St Michael's Mount in the distance.

On my End-to-Ends and driving, I've only ever gone round the Penzance by-pass, and today was going to no exception, but the idea of going through the town and taking a phot, seemed too good to miss. In actual fact, I do believe that the road is flatter through the town and back out to the A30, than staying on the A30 all the way. To this end, I recommend all cyclists go that way.

From leaving the town, it's only 8 miles to LE, but the hills are awful! Up and down constantly and one or two are quite steep too. NOT an easy ride at all.

Throughout the day, Hilary had been in Truro doing a spot of shopping, then made her way to LE. I'm actually quite proud of her navigational skills even though she's hopeless normally. I've tried getting her to read a map, but it's a waste of time. Either way, she followed her nose - and signposts - and made it in one piece. We'd texted and chatted during the ride, so she was kept abreast of our progress.

Shortly after 2pm, LE was in view and I triumphantly crossed the line!

LE is busy during the summer season, and especially at Bank Holiday weekends. Today was no exception. Rudely, a German coach had parked next to the Finish Line and the German tourists milled about and got in the way. I was excusing myself loudly and forcibly to get through them. They just seem to ignore you unless you shout! Anyway, I battled through and rode the last 50 yards to the post.

There, I did it. I knew I could do it, even though I lost sleep worrying about the long leg between Inverness and Pitlochry. From there, I was over the worst of it. It was a great relief to have been able to do the 90 miles over the Grampians, but had the weather been bad - rain, wind etc - I would have had a great deal of difficulty. Perhaps I was asking too much of myself. Anyway, I was lucky and made it. I wouldn't say the rest was plain sailing, but that 90 miles was long and tough.

Hilary drove me home. I was hungry, it was a Sunday afternoon and all I could think about was calling in at Smokey Joe's on the way. I needed one of their breakfasts! We sat down and Hilary ordered a cheeseburger and chips, and I had a Large Breakfast: egg, fried bread, potato fritters, sausage, bacon, hogs pudding, mushrooms, beans, and tomatoes. YUM! I devoured it and nearly licked my plate! Hilary couldn't manage all her chips, so I polished them off for her!

Yesterday's stats:
48.86 miles
6:07:10 duration
4:38:21 cycling
3373ft total ascent
3135 calories

Someone once made the point about hilly rides and how if you convert our Imperial measurements into Metric you can see how many metres of total ascent for each day compared to the kilometres travelled. If you take 10mtrs per Km as "hilly" and anything less as not quite, you get some interesting readings:

Golspie to Inverness - 5
Leyland to Wrexham - 6.7
Ludlow to Gloucester - 7
Gloucester to Bridgwater - 7.1
Wrexham to Ludlow - 7.6
Pitlochry to Edinburgh - 7.82
Penrith to Leyland - 7.83
Beattock to Penrith - 7.85
JOG to Wick - 8.43
Inverness to Pitlochry - 8.44
Edinburgh to Beattock - 9.43
Wick to Golspie - 11
Sourton to St Columb - 12.4
Bridgwater to Sourton - 12.7
St Columb to LE - 13.1

This makes the West Country the toughest, and Scotland and the North, by comparison, relatively easy.

Now, time for the total statistics!

Distance 892.18 miles
111hrs and 75 minutes total time divided into 15 days of cycling
87hrs 4mins and 53secs sitting and pedalling!
41,097ft of ascent
63,328 calories expended!
120bpm average heart rate
65rpm average pedalling speed
10.3mph average speed
8mph average speed for the days including stops

Hardest day was Inverness to Pitlochry because of the time and distance.
Second hardest was Bridgwater to Sourton because of the relentless hills
Easiest was Ludlow to Gloucester because it was short and flat

Best Place to stay (other than Pene's in Wrexham or at home!) Admiral Blake at Bridgwater
Second best Beattock Lochhouse Farm
Worst was Georgian Guest House, Gloucester

Best moment arriving at LE
Second best riding out of the big hangar at Wick Airport! (I wish I'd caught it on film!)
Worst moment having to repair the sprockets in the middle of nowhere high up in the Grampians

That's it. I feel as though I've been typing this blog for years, I think I've exhausted my thoughts and feelings. This blog has taken me a couple of hours or more at each visit, and it took some effort in the evenings after a hard slog on Chopper.

Thank you so much for reading, and thank you once more for all the kind comments. It has brought tears to my eyes on many an occasion thinking of you lot out there thinking of me and enjoying the ride with me.

I have to give special thanks to our great friend Paul Pridham, as without his engineering expertise I couldn't have done this. Chopper has had a lengthened BB spindle and two sprockets added by dint of his workshop technique. These things are small and insignificant, but without them I couldn't even have contemplated the ride. They enabled me to have adult sized cranks and chainwheels and to extend the gear range to get me up the hills and along the flat bits too. Paul also supplied a pallet and wrapped up my stuff so expertly and securely.

I have to thank McGill Transport too, for transporting the pallet with Chopper and Trailer - all for free. I also have to thank Andrew Bruce and Far North Aviation at Wick Airport for being so accommodating in accepting my pallet and allowing me to leave the rubbish and wood for him to dispose of.

I have to thank the CTC Forum and all the contributors who helped me design and build my contraption. They read my endless posts and commented unreservedly with suggestions - some amusing! - about ways forward and also technical advice. Also I had offers of support and parts, not least of which were the front rack, the brackets and fittings (Thanks Ferrit Worrier!), the double chainset and the front derailleur and the modern rear tyre.

I have to thank the folk that cycled with me, Dougie in Edinburgh, Malc in Lancashire and Cheshire, and Nigel down in West Cornwall. Also Mike and Will from Bristol to Bridgwater. I was so sorry to have missed Colin in Lancaster, and sorry that Si couldn't make it to Ludlow and Alan too, south of Wrexham.

I have to thank Katy, our older daughter, for making me such wonderful flapjacks! They kept me going for mile after mile after mile. Thank you Katy.

Most of all, I have to thank Hilary, as without her unending support, encouragement and patience, I could never have even started. I love her to bits. She's wonderful.

Thank you all. Honestly.

Mick and Hilary.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

I've done it!

892 miles JOG to LE on a Raleigh Chopper!

Shortly after 2pm today, a tired and emotional 57 year old bloke wheeled his Chopper through the crowds right down to the Finger Post.

I have much to say, but after a good meal enroute home at Smokey Joe's, and then a few beers at the Buccaneer Inn in Gunnislake, followed by a long hot bath and a couple more beers in celebration, I'm not in the best frame of mind to give a fullsome and informative report.
(I'm sure you all understand)

Rest assured, that tomorrow morning will see me bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to publish my memoirs properly.

Suffice it to say, that today will be recorded in the annals of history as a Momentous Day.

Hang on guys for more .................


Saturday, 29 May 2010

Penultimate day, finished!

I was awake early - as usual - and after breakfast we were off to Sourton. My day off yesterday was quiet and relaxing, Hilary was at work, I had my feet up, but I managed to get some stuff done.

We left home this morning at soon after 8am for the drive up to Sourton where I'd left off on Thursday. Hilary went to do a spot of shopping after leaving me. I pedalled away west towards Land's End, she turned south for Tavistock.

I had already decided to take Trailer on the last couple of legs of the JOGLE, so instead of the panniers being hung on the front rack, I shoved them into the empty trailer. I wondered whether the front of Chopper would stay down on the hills, but it was worth a try. The weather had turned wet - as expected - overnight, and I thought that the panniers would be better under cover. I wasn't wrong. The rain hammered down for a time, so my idea kept camera, maps and flapjacks nice and dry. Chopper was ok without the front weight, but in bottom gear on hills, I had to be careful as the front tyre lost traction on more than one occasion.

My rainlegs came into their own for the first section of the ride. I've had them for some time and never used them in anger, but this morning I put them on. They were ok. I cannot say much more than that, as in heavy rain they are great, but if the rain eases, you are better off without them. Modern fabrics dry out very quickly, and rainlegs seem to trap the damp underneath, so trousers/tights stay damp too. Within 20 miles they were consigned to Trailer for the rest of the trip as although it drizzled for most of the day, the heavy rains had gone.

Just before Launceston as the road crosses the River Tamar
(The border between Cornwall and England)

Launceston came and went, then up the steep hill to St Stephens and out via Egloskerry and Tresmeer on roads I've cycled tons of times. Sourton to Launceston on the Old A30 is one of the best cycling roads I've ever been on. Almost devoid of traffic for most of the time with long rolling hills and straight runs with a superb surface. Absolute Cycling Heaven! After Launceston and Egloskerry, the climbs increase, and by the time you get out onto the A395 and the A39, you get right up to 1000ft. Although the road drops into Camelford, it still holds onto a height above 600ft.

Launceston Castle
The ancient capital of Cornwall

I followed the A39 - dubbed the Atlantic Highway, a term that annoys me as it cannot be next to the Atlantic as the sea between N Cornwall and S Ireland is the Celtic Sea, NOT the Atlantic! The Atlantic doesn't start until way off! I suppose the 'Celtic Sea Highway' doesn't sound so good ......

The A39 down to Wadebridge was ok as a ride. Nothing special and nothing difficult, but after Wadebridge it was hard work. The wind was at last blowing against me, and I found it hard and tiring to climb the windswept and exposed hills. I had to stop quite a few times to stretch my legs and ease the creases out of my body. Hard work - definitely.

The hill out of Wadebridge town was difficult too. I'd decided to take the town route rather than the bypass, but if I was ever to go that way again, I'd stay on the bypass! The town is lovely, but the hill out to the north is vicious. It went on and on and on, and it was steep and very long too.

Taking a rest at the top of the hill out of Wadebridge

Eventually, after struggling against the wind in the latter stages, I made my way down past St Columb Major town, keeping to the main road, and dropped down to the big roundabout where Hilary was waiting for me.

It had only been 50 miles, but it was a hard slog nonetheless.

Tomorrow takes us back to the same roundabout - less than an hour away from here (by car) - and I'll cycle the final 50 miles to Land's End.

Today's stats:
51.36 miles
6:03:00 duration
5:27:11 in the saddle
3787 calories
3352ft Total Ascent - making today the 3rd hardest leg!

Distance from JOG - 843.32 miles !!!!!

Still no punctures, and the tyres are fine. Good eh?

Thanks for reading,
Regards to all,
Mick and Hilary.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Well. Here I am at home, and dog tired as well. Today was an easy morning, followed by a VERY hard afternoon.

I left the Admiral Blake at just before 8am. I can't recommend the place highly enough, it's an oasis of calm in a busy town. Outside the front is a dual carriageway route on the A38 to the north of Bridgwater, traffic speeds past all day, but round the back is silent and peaceful and wonderful. There's a small patio area and garden with seats and tables to sun yourself. The arrangement is self-catering with a fully equipped kitchen and attached dining room (with large telly) just off the patio. The larder is stocked with all the breakfast basics, and anything more for an evening meal needs to be brought in. I went for a Chinese takeaway!

My breakfast this morning consisted of a large cheese omelet, buttered toast and three cups of tea.

The place was packed with thirteen(!) workers employed at Hinkley Point power station. Pauline said that she'd been accommodating various trades since September. It put me in mind of the Morrisons rebuilding at Penrith. As Pauline was otherwise fully booked, I had a rather nice room upstairs - or should I say a suite. Double bedroom, lounge with settee and telly, and a separate bathroom too.

Pauline is very happy to take bikes - End-to-End'ers especially, and you can wheel your bike through the alley-way to the rear and park it on the patio! The room off to one side - laundry room - doubles up as a bike stowage.

Anyway, off I went south out of Bridgwater and headed onto the A38 for Taunton. The morning was cool and bright, and even though it had rained overnight, the day was much the same as the previous days and I powered along straight through Taunton and made my way into Wellington town centre. I stopped there - soon after 9am - and slapped on the sunscreen.

Then off back onto the A38. Not long after leaving Wellington, I spied a cyclist coming towards me and he U turned with a, "Hello Mick!" He introduced himself as Roger Bennett and has been following my blog and is also on the CTC Forum. We chatted for a few minutes and rode together up one of the many hills. After a few miles, he peeled off, and on I went alone, but with a smile on my face in the knowledge that there are many folk out there following my progress and taking a great deal of interest.

At Waterloo Cross north of Cullompton, I turned off towards Tiverton and as the A38 turned into the dual carriageway of the A361, I came off through Sampford Peverel and Halberton to take the back roads into Tiverton. There I rested, ate flapjacks and mixed nuts, drank water and sat in the sunshine. It was soon after 1pm.

Off again to Bickleigh, then south on the A396 towards Exeter to turn right for Thorverton. This route I call "Rob's Passage" as Rob S from the CTC Forum suggested it as a good way to get around the Cadbury Hills. These hills are awful. Up and down and busy with traffic and if you're travelling to LE you have to climb Bickleigh Hill. This hill is terrible. It even has a hairpin bend half way up! By taking Rob's Passage, you avoid the climbs all the way to Crediton at the expense of a slightly longer route.

Lovely Devonshire scenery

In Crediton, I rested again, then took the onslaught of the Devon hills in my stride - at first! Then they took their toll, and the further I made it towards Okehampton, the more tired I became. This ride was (only) 70 miles, but analysing the figures this evening, the full force of what I've ridden through became apparent. Of all the 12 rides before, this 13th had the highest Total Ascent of them all! Even more than the 90 miles between Inverness and Pitlochry!

Total Ascent today was a massive 4722ft as opposed to only 3969ft for Inverness to Pitlochry. No wonder I was tired! It never ceases to amaze folk how hard it is to cycle in Devon. Cornwall is a hard, if not harder. Total Ascent figures to follow!

I made it to Sourton at 16:45 with Hilary waiting out on the main road to see me approach. I was sweaty and tired, we embraced, and as I rode to the car, she followed with a grin! Chopper was mounted on the rack, Trailer was shoved unceremoniously into the back of the car, and Hilary took me to the Rising Sun for beer! Home later via the chip shop, and here I am typing this lot out. I'm tired, scrubbed clean in the shower, and ready for a good night's sleep in our own bed.

Tomorrow is another day, and Saturday will see me being driven back to Sourton to start the penultimate ride.

Today's stats:
70.23 miles
8:55:00 duration
4722ft Total Ascent
5228 calories

791.95 miles from JOG.

See you soon,

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Here I am in Bridgwater. The day has flown by and with good company too.

I left Gloucester - Georgian Guest House - at about 7.50 this morning. Actually, I couldn't wait to leave. The guest house was a bit cheap and nasty, and I don't think there was one stick of furniture in there that wasn't bought from a secondhand shop. The place was clean enough, and I was made to feel welcome enough, but for £20 it wasn't the best place to stay. The bed was lumpy and I couldn't get comfortable - there were two single beds in the room and I suppose I could have tried the other, but instead I just curled up and wrapped the duvet around me. I slept like a log nonetheless!

Gloucester is a bit run down and scruffy, or should I say, the bits I saw were run down and scruffy. However, the pub along the road was very good indeed. The Linden Tree was run by a Scotsman with excellent staff, and the beer was good and plentiful, and the menu - though small - was good too and I spoke to the owner saying how good his pub was. The customers were friendly and full of banter, and I wasn't treated like a Stranger in Town. Good pub, in a poor and scruffy area.

Anyway - I left quickly after a poor but ok-ish breakfast.

Down the A38, the Wind Gods were favouring me again. Wow! Why can I have following winds all the way from Inverness? Have I been a good boy?

I sped south, and as I'd been speaking to Mike - from the CTC Forum - I was ready to find him at about 10:30 as I approached Bristol. He and his son Will, were coming into town by train and they would meet me enroute. I was ahead of schedule and flying along!

I was flying along for two reasons: one, the wind was blowing me along, and two, my bum was feeling as fine as it could be considering the punishment it's had for the past 11 days of Choppering. For some reason, my bum seems to be getting used to all this, so "flying along" sums it up ok.

At 10:30 I was in Patchway, and I phoned Mike and Will and timed my ride so they could catch me as I approached the city. They did this easily and we stopped for a chat. We stopped for a chat many times on our way south, and very enjoyable the chats were too!

Bristol city centre came and went by way of my Garmin 705, even so, I missed the way a couple of times. It's difficult following a pink line and messages when you're trying to push your way through traffic and negotiate junctions. We did it, and popped out into the south of the city ok.

Following the A38 is easy really, and eventually we spied Bristol Airport at the top of the hill. The trouble was, on the roundabout, there were blue lights flashing and a tail-back of traffic. We made our way to the head of the queue and spoke to the policeman who was turning lorries and cars around. He said that there had been a fatality, and if we wanted, we should carry on and see if the police at the scene would let us through. Diversions are not much of an option to an End-to-End cyclist! We rode on, down the long hill and hoped for the best.

The road was deserted, of course, and what seemed like miles later, we encountered the accident. It seems that it was a motorcyclist, and as everything was cleared up ready to let the traffic trough again, to our relief, the police waved us through.

After the hills south of Bristol, the road is almost totally flat - except for some small hills at Pawlett - and I powered my way towards Bridgwater. Mike and Will had an easy time of it and left me for dead even on the slightest slope. They were riding road bikes as light as a feather and geared sensibly. Me, on a hundredweight of a Chopper and trailer, were having trouble.

At the Welcome to Bridgwater sign, we stopped off for the required photographs, then carried on the mile or so into the town. I knew the way, and suggested they call in at Admiral Blake Guest House with me as I'm sure Pauline wouldn't mind them stopping in for a cuppa. Also, Pauline would know where the railway station was so they could let the train take the strain and get them back home.

Mike and Will

Mike and Me

After a cuppa, they left - just like that. Hopefully they made it home ok, then I went to my room, showered and walked out to find a pub for a couple of beers then a Chinese takeaway to scoff.

Job done, and here I am typing away.
(May pop out for another beer or two soon)

Tomorrow will see me at home in Gunnislake. I have 70 miles to ride out of Somerset and into Devon and Hilary should pick me up at Sourton (pronounced SORE-TUN, not SOWER-TUN) (Thank you Jogle2011 for your pronunciations!) just up the hill out of Okehampton. There's a service area there just off the main A30 where there's a Little Chef, and petrol station and a Travel Lodge just across the road from a big layby about 20 miles from home.

On Saturday after a day off, Hilary will drive me and Chopper back to Sourton, and I'll carry on down the Old A30 via Launceston (pronounced LAWN-STON, or if you're Cornish LANSON) and then west and south through Camelford and Wadebridge to St Colmb Major.

Stats today:
66.25 miles
8:06:20 duration
5:44:54 cycling
4119 calories

721.72 miles from JOG
only 170 miles to do!!

Thanks for reading, and only three more Choppering days to Land's End.

Regards and best wishes,