Archive for the ‘06: Days 1-3’ Category

Barnstaple to Wells – Day 3 – Stages 8 to 11

September 27, 2007

A silver lining . . .
This short clip was taken after climbing up
onto Exmoor out of Barnstaple. It was nearly noon on Day 3 and I was only 15
miles in to a total of the 120 miles target for the day. However, I still had
time to pause, catch my breath and take in this view.

My departure from Barnstaple was delayed as I had to wait for the shops to open and source a new seat post bolt and buy my own pump as the others had to go ahead and I wouldn’t have access to Luke’s pump today. I also needed a new tyre. I’d got through 3 in the first two days and I was still running the third on my front wheel! Luke and I had inserted a thick piece of rubber on the inside of the tyre to stop the tube coming out but this was only a temporary fix.

The bike shop recommended was ‘Gordon’s’. This was on the edge of the shopping precinct next to the car park in Barnstaple. It had bikes piled everywhere, inside and outside. You couldn’t get into ‘the shop’ as it was completely full of old bikes piled up one on top of the other. No racks just an enormous heap.

I asked Gordon if he had a seat post bolt and showed him the broken one. He tutted and went into ‘the shop’ and rummaged through a heap of bits just inside the door. He emerged a couple of minutes later with a bolt that fitted but was too short. He said that was all he but I was welcome to it. Thanks Gordon. He said I’d have to try elsewhere for something ‘so specialised’!

I tried the Bike Shed next. Again they struggled a bit to find a bolt but came up with the goods. They also had the perfect pump, a Topeak Road Morph which had an in-line pressure gauge. This pump was superb and became the pump of choice for everyone and served the whole team very well during the rest of the trip.

I failed on the tyre front no one had a 406 tyre.
Luckily Trish was supporting us from Bampton today and she went to buy tyres first thing so if I got to Bampton I’d be OK.

I did get to Bampton and fitted two Continental tyres. These were a much more traditional tyre and were brilliant – they took me all the way to John o’ Groats with absolutely no further problems.

A lot of today’s ride took me along canal paths which was brilliant but the NCN signage let me down badly in the area under the M5 and wasted a lot of time getting back on track.

I never did catch up with the others. And I didn’t make it all the way to Whitchurch. It was very dark by the time I got to Glastonbury but I pressed on up to the Tor and then down what felt like a rabbit hole onto a minor road and through to Wells.

Bishops_palace By the time I got to Wells I had to stop! It was late and I didn’t have the lights to be able to stay on the NCN. Trish and Carol came to pick me up (bless them) and take me to Swallet Farm on the understanding that I would get up early and be taken back to Wells to complete the stage.

The crew at Swallet Farm were absolutely marvellous. They made us so welcome and comfortable and offered to do our laundry. And there was wheat free toast for me at breakfast and a £20 donation to the cause. Thanks guys.


Bodmin to Bude – Day 2 Stage 6

September 24, 2007

On Day 2 we set off together from Ruthernbridge and cycled to Grogley Halt on the Camel Trail. There we split with James and Ian heading north west towards Padstow picking up the A39 at Wadebridge up to Bude. Luke and I stuck to the National Cycle Network, heading south east initially and then up onto Bodmin Moor. We’d cycled together over this moor before a few years back and it howled a gale. Today wasn’t so bad but still very windy considering there was virtually no wind anywhere else.

The signage up onto the moor and across it was brilliant. Bodmin is a struggle to climb onto and hilly once you are up there too. As we came off the moor we bumped into the Wisely Down pub and rewarded ourselves with an early backed potato. We then pressed on to Bude. The narrow roads which the NCN uses into Bude are extremely steep. The rule was if you’re cycling less that three miles an hour, get off and walk. You go faster and exercise a different set of muscles!

During one of rest between climbs we met up with a very friendly local farmer. It was a great conversation which I wished I’d been able to capture on camera: the problems with this governemnt; the right to roam; the death of farming; the Word War 2 operations of the coast here including sinking of a hospital ship (carrying arms!) etc etc. All in the space of about 10 minutes. This is where the conversation took place.

We met up with James and Ian in Bude and had another lunch!

After lunch we split again with James and Ian sticking to the main roads to Barnstaple while Luke and I stuck to the National Cycle Network through Holsworthy and Sheepwash. Just beyond Sheepwash we got stuck in a sort of traffic jam of Combine Harvesters and Land Rovers. We both got off our bikes and out of the way in different passing points along the road. When we set off again I thought Luke was in front of me and he thought I was in front of him.

So he pedalled like mad to catch me up and I did the same to catch him up. When I got to the start of the Tarka Trail I thought I’d better phone to find out where Luke was – no signal! So I started down the Tarka trail until I go a signal (quite a long way) and then I called. Luke had picked up the other part of the figure of 8 that the Tarka trail does and was going in the wrong direction. Anyway I waited and we were off together again towards Barnstaple and the really flat old railway. We’d done 65 miles and only had 20 to go and it wasn’t dark yet!

We were looking forward meeting up with James and Ian and Ian’s wife Emma and son William for an evening meal and then disaster struck! My seat post bolt broke with 12 miles to go. It was now getting dark and there was only one option. The saddle came off, Luke took most of my luggage and I pedalled the next 8 miles standing up. This was really hard especially on a small-wheeled bike and I was really worried about the balls of my feet. I thought I was going to get really deep blisters – they were red hot! After 8 miles Luke let me have his saddle – what a star and what a relief – Luke did the last 4 miles standing up.

We missed Ian, James, Emma and William but had a nice late Italian meal in the only restaurant still open! I was going to need to visti a bicycle shop in the morning.

A quick comment on comments

August 30, 2007

Although I can post stuff to the blog, it is difficult to respond to comments but my wife Jane is monitoring them so please keep them coming in. Thanks.

29/8/07, 10:15, Wells

August 29, 2007

I’ve got as far as here and will have to call it a day (night). I feel fine but my lights are not good enough to cope with unlit canal paths and the like. I will have to come back here tomorrow to start.

We’ve have Trish in support today which has been marvellous. She went to a bike shop that Jane had found first thing and got a pair of Continental tyres and I fitted these at Bampton they have run really well. Let’s see if they get me to JOG.

Glastonbury by night

August 29, 2007

GlastonburynightWell it’s nine o’clock and I’m as far as Glastonbury, with 30 miles to go – but that’s only the same as 6 times round Draycott Water (favourite training circuit). A late start for me fixing the saddle and putting on two new tyres (thanks Jane and Trish), so the other 3 have gone ahead, and taken a few short cuts on the main roads too. Should be in Whitchurch at the farm B and B by 11…. hope they’ve saved some dinner!

I have bolt . .

August 29, 2007


. . . and saddle and pump. Tyres waiting at Bampton. Yeah!
BUT: the bolt is a bit too long and only leaves about 3mm clearance!! If you know what I mean. And it’s already 11:30, only 15 miles done, 105 to do. Speed 10mph. No more blogging today. But please keep the comments and donations coming!

More about the picture later.

What a day (Day 2)

August 29, 2007


We made good progress today when we were in the saddle. The trouble is we were forced to stop too often due to problems with my lovely Moulton.

I ended the day on a very dodgy front tyre which needs to be replaced asap and with no saddle!

12 miles out the saddle bolt sheared and so riding out of the saddle was the only option. Luke took my luggage on to his bike. This was hard work and I was really worried that I’d get blisters on the balls of my feet which would have been a show stopper. So after 8 miles Luke gave me his saddle and he stood up for the last 4 miles with all the luggage.

My feet are a bit tender this morning but I think they will be fine.

If the saddle had broken earlier in the day we would have been snookered.

Today our start will be delayed while we visit the local bike shop. At least there is one. Hopefully, I’ll also be able to get a couple of new tyres.

Meet Louise and Chris

August 29, 2007


Luke and I had a hard but good run from the B&B, along the Camel Trail and up (and up) over Bodmin Moor. At the first sign of civilisation we stopped for a baked potato at the Wilsey Down pub. We were too early for lunch but Chris and Louise (following a request from Jan) opened the kichen especially and we ate well. Thanks guys. And thanks for the donation too!

Team splits!

August 29, 2007


The experience of day 1 made us all acutely aware of the challenge ahead of us and what can go wrong if you don’t keep pedalling. Breaks are fine but you have to keep a keen eye on the time. For the second day we decided to split with Ian and James taking the main road route to Bude and then Barnstaple and Luke and I (Simon) sticking to the NCN.
This seemed to work really well. We were able overlap our lunch stops in Bude and Ian was able to get to Barnstaple in time to have a meal with his wife and son. Luke and I arrived too late for that – see ‘What a day’.
The GPS is working really well.

Big tyre problem

August 28, 2007


I have just had my second puncture caused by a split in the side of the tyre. See picture. I am going to get through tyres pretty quickly at this rate. I am going to need a Moulton supplier! Help! FYI I am on Alexrims DA16.  I have checked the rims for burrs – there are none. But the tyre wall is worn where it hits the rim but only on one side???