Thursday, 21 May 2009

Day 11, Melrose to Kirkintilloch Glasgow - 76 miles

Cumulative - 820 miles. Bum ratings : Miles - 7, Paul 6 (terrible Scottish roads inflicting serious undercarriage damage to English behinds - the Scot's always attack from the rear !).
This is outside the rather plush Melrose Youth Hostel where a strage German was loading up his bike with three panniers and a tent. He was wearing a suspicious pair of close-fitting Nureyev tights. He was off the cycle the Scottish Castles route which ends up at Berwisk-on-Tweed - which incidently has been called the "Poland of Britain" as it was invaded alternately by the Scots and the English - I suppose being German he would readily understand about invading unprotected countries.

This is me going along by the beautiful River Tweed. Luckily the road goes alongside the river for 40 miles before we had to climb out of the Borders and start to descend into Glasgow metropolitan area (when I use the word descend I mean it both physically and socially).

Firstly we were cheered on by the local drunk ladies in Airdrie - it was only 3 o'clock but they were out in force. They could hardly stand up but gave a stirring Scottish welcome from the pavement.
Next we had our afternoon picnic break at the salubrious A721 roundabout at Motherwell.

Finally some decent road and bike rage just outside the vast council house estates of Bellshill. Miles gets cut up and hooted by Scottish driver who knows something is wrong when he sees someone doing exercise in Glasgow. He immediately assumes rightly that this must be an alien Englishman and therefore must be repelled. Lots of hand and finfer communications ensue before Scotsman notices that this pleasant diversion for him is cutting into his drinking time at the local.

Off to climb the Trossachs tomorrow (that is not a colloquial term for sheep shagging !).

Day 10, Durham to Melrose (Scotland) - 90 miles

Cumulative - 744 miles. Bum ratings : Miles 4, Paul 4 (Paul had bad knee rating instead). Fantastic but long day taking in Hadrian's Wall, the Northumberland Moors, Kielder Water and Forest and the Scottish Borders.

Starting off at Caroline's outside Durham, both her and Ed accompanied us the first few miles - although at the first hill Caroline firmly states "I don't do hills !" - so that was that.

The above looks like a rugby front row - a hooker in between two props !
This is Paul climbing out of the valley up to Hadrian's Wall. Some bits of the wall left. The Romans did a fine job in keeping the Scots out of England - a shame we can't rebuilt it !
This is us leaving England over the rather bleak but beautiful moors.
This is us invading Scotland on our trusty steeds. Two things you notice immediately ; firstly you go from bleak moors to rolling wooded and ferned hills and secondly Scottish roads are rubbish ! Never seens so many potholes, bad repair works, worn out surface and their speciality - sunken drain covers - by at least a foot. Don't know if their government spends all the money on hospitals as it has been argued (the Scots I suppose do need more hospitals than most - we have seen so many smokers on the streets and fat products in the shops) or that the highway workers are all on Special Brew for elevenses.

Here we are at the top of the Boarders where the roads were very good, (we must have done these ones) only sheep using them. Finally the weather broke and from here on in it was glorious sunshine.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Day 9, Harrogate to Lanchester (Durham) - 77 miles

Cumulative - 654 miles. Bum ratings : Miles 3, Paul 3 (disappointingly low ratings for all you sadists out there - we've become hard Northern men).

Picturesque north Yorkshire towns today ; Knaresborough, Northallerton, Durham and Boroughbridge. No picture today on the run as 85% of it was on the one A167 which was in the flat Vale of York - so it was head down at 20 mph (wonderful 18 mph tail wind). Dodged the rain and arrived late afternoon.

Unfortunately we did not take many photos today as we were hammering through the miles.
We will be in Scotland tomorrow and promise picturesque photos from here on...

Here we are outside Caroline's house, on top of the first real hills of the day.

Below Caroline enjoying a spot of gardening on her allotment, even though she has left hardened London she still controls 'the patch'.

Day 8, Sheffield to Harrogate - 65 miles

Cumulative - 577 miles. Bum ratings : Miles 3, Paul 3 (longer day but still in good shape).

Parts two of the social horror tour of Hades. Today's "highlights of the lowlifes" were Rotherham, Featherstone and Castleford. We were getting quite experienced in navigating through disused industrial estates and derelict terraces. Even we did not have the courage to go through Paul's nemesis of Bradford - to be avoided at all costs. Picture below was coming into Featherstone and we noticed some local wildlife on the pavement.

Low and behold we find a resident of Featherstone shot for trying to escape.

We plough on through the industrial heartland (wasteland) until we finally see green around
Wetherby where suddently the humans looked human and the widlife looked wild. Below is the lovely cycle path from Wetherby to Harrogate.

Eventually arriving at Auntie Julies in Harrogate. Beware Simon and James - she wants this place as well. Thanks to Julie for putting us with us both.

Cousin John (on the right) manfully took on the mantle of feeding us the 5,000 calories needed at the evening sittings. Many thanks to John and Bruno (on the left).

Day 7, Nottingham to Sheffield - 45 miles

Cumulative 512 miles. Bum ratings : Miles 2, Paul 2 (we hardly got going today).

Today we entered the social wasteland of Britain, the economic Bermuda triangle around Mansfield, Kirby in Ashfield and Shirebrook. What a dump ! Row upon row of boarded up and unused houses and small kids (the mothers) pushing prams with armies of even smaller kids inside. Even the shops were either boarded up because it was too dangerous to show what goods were inside or they were boarded up because they were derelict.

It was like going on a forced anthropological tour of some strange primitive territory (we call it Middle England but it is more like Middle Earth) infected with primaeval tribes of creature which stand on two legs but are not as we know them - Mansfield seemed to be full to the brink of missing links !

This neatly brings us on to the other main event of the day - technological failure. Quite ironic after Paul's treatise on Day 6 blog claiming that everything thing I touch is not magic.

First off one mile outside Paul's home in Nottingham entering the badlands of Long Eaton, he says "peddle fast" because if we stop they will get us ! Following order I put my foot down and the peddle falls off. We make a quick 3 mile dash to three bike shops before we can get all new parts fitted. Three hours later off we go again now unable to go via the Peak District as we have lost the morning. Unfortuneatly we have to go via Mansfield - see above rant.

New parts £130 - see happy man in photo above.

(Just a small note from Paul: The parts that needed to be replaced were the parts that he had replaced 4 days earlier.....And more. So he has been through 2 sets of all brand new parts in just over 3 days)

Then just outside Sheffield climbing the Himalayan peaks that surround that city Paul's chain goes. Happily only takes 5 minutes to fix so that we can freewheel at 40 mph into Andy's house.

Entering Andy's we are serenaded with Ravel and Faure.

Only other event of the day was when we were passed by a lycra man coming from Derby. He stopped and chatted with us and sped off on his racer. We decided to give chase and caught him up but then really wished we hadn't been so competitive. He was wearing black lycra but with two very very important differences to normal people. Firstly he was wearing no underwear, not in itself a major issue but combined with the fact that his lycra was SEETHROUGH it became a serious crime. We were then chasing two pendulous pink slabs of jelly parked on bike. We vainly hoped that he had pink undies on, but no such luck as we spied the deep crack between the hilly jellies. Gives cyclists a bad name !

Friday, 15 May 2009

Day 6, Coventry to Nottingham - 56 miles

Cumulative 457 miles. Bum rating : Miles - 2 and Paul 2. mileage of 56 in one day is too easy to affect anyone's backside. Got first dampness of the journey with one hour's spitting and avoidance of all the thunderstorms that raged around the Midlands today. 

Below is the second breakfast of the day at Ashby-de-la-Zouch. This is quickly followed by lunch in a valiant effort to consume 4,000-5,000 calories per day. 

Below is Paul watering his bike in thew hope of it growing bigger tyres to go with his recently bigger legs ! In Paul's mum's back garden in Nottingham. 

Just a quick Mechanical note.....

Problems with the bikes that needed attention so far.

Miles...... New bearings (bottom bracket and rear cogs), chain set, back sprocket, front cog and crank.

Paul....... None, not even a puncture.

It must be the way the bikes are ridden, or the fact i look after the Cannondale as shown above. 

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Day 5, Woodcote to Coventry - 83

Cumulative - 401 miles. Bum ratings : Miles - 6 Paul - 2 (Paul's new lycra shorts doing the business with their KY jelly inserts !). 

Easy day as the Midlands is boringly flat. In fact we only have the above photo with Lesley at the start of today and the photo below at the end of the day at Paul's friend Dan and his mum Dawn. 

There is nothing of any note between Reading and Coventry.

We scraped the barrel below to get something worthwhile about the Midlands - this is Kenilworth Castle where Robert Dudley allegedly consorted with Elizabeth I before his head was taken off and was previously owned by Simon De Montfort, the Earl of Leicester, who led a civil rebellion against Henry I before being killed in battle and dismembered.  End of history lesson. 
More dull Midlands tomorrow on the way to Nottingham.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


Here is a map of the UK with the route we are taking as some people are finding it hard to grasp where we are going/what we are doing.

Day 4, Bournemouth to Reading - 93 miles

Cumulative - 318 miles. Bum ratings Miles - 3 Paul - 7.5 (Paul has since discovered that Calvin Klein does not offer as much protection as Ted Baker - personally I prefer the lycra with the tampon inserts). Above one of the New Forest ponies relieving itself on two legs.

Lovely sunny day - again. Horrible cycling day with a constant 30mph NE wind which is not much fun when you are heading NE all day.

Typical long climb over the Hampshire downs out of Overton - the home of the famours "Gay deli".

Day 3, Sidmouth to Bournemouth - 85 miles

Cumulative 225 miles. Bum rating Miles - 3 Paul - 4 (Paul going in the right direction).

Great sunny day. above photo is steepest hill so far into Abbotsbury in Dorset. We were both very happy to leave Devon and it's succession of long, steep hills.

Above Paul taking the views in over the Dorset cliffs with Portland Bill in the background.

Dave "the Horse" joins us outside Weymouth for the last 40 miles - we have to say the easiest 40 miles ! To be fair to him he acted, as the French call it, as the "le Domestique". In other words he sat at the front and took the wind - even though to look at him the wind should just rush past him.

Us going over the Sandbanks ferry across Poole Harbour. Not my hat by the way.

Dave's 30 year old school bike last 39.5 miles and then decides, on the smoothest surface on Bournemouth prom, to get a puncture. Paul and I tempted to make him walk home but took pity on him.

Day 2, Plymouth to Sidmouth via Dartmoor - 59

Cumulative - 140 miles. Bum ratings Miles - 2 and Paul - 2 (most of the day out of the saddle ploughing up hills like the small one above).

Classic Dartmoor view apart from the lack of sheep. Interesting we went to the Bodmin gaol museum a few weeks ago and the roster of people hung in the 1800's included the usual crimes of murder, rape, infanticide etc. and two people hung for "bestiality with sheep" !

Good day with sw 10mph to counteract the 15 mile uphill start to get us on to the top of the moors.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Day 1, Lands End to Plymouth - 91 Miles

We will put a daily "BUM RATING" on the blog so that you can guage the level of pain in both our backsides. You will be able to find out how much pain you are getting for your money. This will be rated from "0" for "gently resting on two soft pillows" to "10" for "Edward III's red-hot poker" or "an active night with Michael Barrymore".

Todays Bum Rating : Miles -4 Paul - 2.

As you can see from the above it was very windy today. Perfect cycling conditions - 35mph WSW tailwind the whole way and a warm 15C. Total time on the road 9-5 or 8 hours.

Proof of departure.

St. Michael's Mount just outside Penzance.

I will not describe what happened next !

Update tomorrow evening when our stop is Sidmouth via Dartmoor.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Here I am in Devon... Just making sure I can add to the blog from the iphone

We are setting off tomorrow!!! We are going to be keeping this blog updated during the ride with how we are getting on, any major incidents and all of the photos we take along the way. Please feel free to write notes and spur us on. Paul