Land's End to John O'Groats 2012
Bristol to Leicester - Monday, 30th July
I had the best night's sleep of the entire trip at Julie & Ken's house. Porridge followed by full cooked breakfast really set me up for the day, which turned out to be a good thing given the impending climbs. I packed up and we loaded the car ready for the trip back to Aztec West, we took a back route to avoid the early morning Bristol traffic.
The van and bus were parked at the back so we drove around and waited for everyone to arrive. The bikes and gear were retrieved from the boardroom where coffee was being served. Eventually we all gathered by the vehicles and did some more general faffing, bike preparation and posed for photographs. Rob's work colleagues joined us for a big send off and we departed to cheering and warm applause.
This was our first day without guest riders so the five of us were a much smaller team. The furthest I'd cycled doing these daily distances was two days on the Bristol to Bradford ride last year. This then was day three and I was entering new endurance territory.
The route was to follow Fosse Way north east across the country but first we had a media stop at Chipping Sodbury. We set off up the A38 for a few miles before a right turn on Church Road towards Yate, and after ten miles stopped in the middle of Chipping Sodbury. We were presented with a cheque for £250 by the wonderful Sodbury Chamber of Commerce and posed for some press photographs. We said good bye to Anne and David who were leaving us after two and a bit days, this was a particularly sad moment because they'd been so kind, friendly and supportive. We saw them again a few more times as they kindly directed us out of the village to the main road.
We joined the A46 and did a few more miles on the A433 before stopping in the car park of the Hare and Hounds Hotel near Doughton. This seemed like a posh place and we were given a few donations from passing customers. I can't remember why we stopped but some amount of faffing later, we were underway again passing through Tetbury and Cirencester. The A429 took us north east uphill before a severe descent / ascent at Fossebridge into and out of the River Coln valley. We passed through Northleach before the steep descent into Bourton on the Water for our 50 mile planned stop.
photograph - Bourton on the Water
We set up on the village green beside the River Windrush and started to collect donations for torch photographs. Malcolm and Carol had prepared sandwiches for everyone together with fruit, chocolate biscuits and lots of other goodies. Haydn found time for a lie down on the grass. We stayed a long while in the sunshine and collected a good deal of money, we even received a kind offer of free tea and buns just as we were leaving.
Whilst the Romans left us with a nice straight road, the consequent switchbacks up and down valleys added to the daily ascent total with annoying frequency. The next example was the steep climb up to Stow on the Wold and the equally steep descent on the other side. As we left the Cotswolds behind, the magnitude of the hills declined but the ups and downs were still painful enough, River Dene being a case in point.
We crossed into Warwickshire, over the M40, the A45 and M6 before climbing up to High Cross where Fosse Way meets Watling Street, otherwise known as the A5. We went a bit wrong on the other side of the A5 and took a slight detour through some very lovely Leicestershire countryside before rejoining the intended route into Leicester. Coventry Road took us down through Narborough and on into the city centre, following Alex we arrived at the Travelodge.
The usual room allocation kerfuffle ensued and eventually we got checked in. I found my room at the end of a long corridor and propped up the bike by the window. I was first up for some physio, this time with Jayne, which I have to say started off promisingly but ended slightly more painfully, especially around the shoulders. I chatted to Rob's friend Wendy in reception whilst I summoned up the energy to track down my bags, Wendy kindly helped in this quest by phoning Rob. I rounded up my bags from Haydn and the van before dissolving under a nice long hot shower.
I joined David later in Pizza Express over the road for garlic bread and lasagne. Once again, back in the room I didn't remember falling asleep.