Tuesday, 30 September 2008

"Different Pebbles"

The great thing about the Backpackers Club static weekends is the social element. By definition most Backpackers do most of their trips solo, so it is great to get together to exchange ideas about gear and routes etc. Meeting other people with a similar interest is another bonus of these weekends. One of the people that Peter Calcutt and I met on the Monday morning at Tom's Field was a chap by the name of Garyhat Lakritz.
Garyhat is planning an around Britain charity walk of 6ooo+ miles setting out in February next year. He is doing this as a charity walk in aid of the Histiocytosis Research Trust.
Garyhat is setting up a website which will have all the details regarding this walk such as -Route-Sponsors-etc etc. Although this site is not fully up and running yet, it does link you to another of his sites which has details about a previous walk that he has done. This should give you a flavour of what this guy is all about. Go to www.differentpebbles.com
A pleasure to meet you Garyhat.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Dorset Backpackers weekend meet.


Last night was much quieter than the previous night and this morning no mist to shroud the site in an early gloom. Alan had a call from home first thing informing him his Dad was unwell so he had to return home. Don set off early on his own walk and the rest of us set out about an hour later. We walked to Corfe and then up to the ridge overlooking the castle where we had a picnic lunch. We then carried on along the ridge and then back down into the valley and up the other side to return to the site. After mugs of tea followed by icecream most club members headed back home. Four of us are staying another night. For us the site has now reverted to an almost empty field- peace and quiet now reign. As the Buddha said. . .'Do not desire peace and peace will surround you.' The picture shows the site this evening with our tents and one or two others. PEACE!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Dorset Backpackers static weekend meet.


After a noisy night on the campsite - courtesy of a group of young climbers- we woke up to a misty morning with no sun visible. I told everyone it would burn off by 1030 and it did. We headed out on a circular walk taking in Dancing Ledge, Seacome cliff, St Aldhelms Head, Chapmans Pool and into Worth Matravers where we headed for the tea shop for various tasty items such as Dorset Apple Cake with clotted cream. We then walked back to the site by way of the Priests Way. After a doze followed by a camp meal it was another evening spent at the local hostelry. Tonight the climbers have gone and there is a hush over the site with just the sound of snoring from one or two tents.

Dorset Backpackers static weekend camp.


After finishing LEJOG a week ago today and having 4 days back at work I thought it was time i had a bit of a ride. The picture shows my Revolution tourer with panniers on arrival at Toms Field camp site for this weekends club static meet. Not a great distance as its only 22 miles from home but great to be out on a bike again?

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

LEJOG review

This picture is a view of the small harbour at John O' Groats taken just a few minutes before we set off on the long drive home on the morning of September 20th 2008.

A review of our LEJOG ride including some interesting facts and figures will appear shortly.

You can still make a donation to our charity "The Dorset Kidney Fund" by going to :-www.justgiving.com/revproteamride

Sunday, 21 September 2008

LEJOG Day 11 (The posting for 19/09/08)



This morning Dave dropped me back at Tore. My challenge today was to try and catch the rest of the team before John O Groats. I was 18 miles behind. John And Gareth were going to start out a little later to give me a chance of the catch up. The day looked as if it could be dry, we all deserve that at least. I stood there on my own and tried to focus on the task ahead. I climbed on the bike and started to spin the pedals. I still didn't feel 100% but I did feel a lot better than yesterday.I set out on the A9 and the first road sign told me that John O Groat's was 114 miles.
I powered on into a bit of a headwind that was holding my speed down as I crossed the Cromarty Firth towards Evanton and Alness. This was more like it.I was motoring along. The first stop was almost at the 20 mile mark. Before Dave said anything I knew that I was doing
well. Dave confirmed what I knew. I was gaining on the others. I was only 25 minutes behind them.I asked how they were doing and Dave told me that they were also doing well and in fine spirits. 3 minutes later and back on the bike I was off again. I was going well today. Everything seemed to be coming together. Next stop 10miles along the road and as ever there was Dave. "Your doing really well" he tells me "You are now only 15 minutes behind them." Yesterdays terrible day was going to be worth it after all. Back on the bike and away I went. The broom wagon swept pass me and out of sight. I glanced down at the Garmin, it was telling me that I was doing 23.4mph along the flat and the legs felt good. I can't remember where it was, but I rounded a bend to be faced with the scene in the first picture. It took a minute or two to take it all in. "What's happened"? I said fearing the worst. "Everything is OK" was Dave's reply. Apparently an impatient Truck driver had tried to overtake Gareth and John on the bend. When he realised traffic was coming towards him he had swung back in towards the kerb and had knocked John off his bike. John landed on the pavement sprawled on the ground very very badly shaken but thankfully not hurt. It is thought that the lorry was from a local company based at Wick so he should know the road well. Traffic on the other side of the road had been forced to a halt. The Lorry DID NOT STOP !! There is no way that he would not have seen John as John was wearing a post office high viz top as you can see. The policeman reckoned that you could see John from a mile away. After all the bad weather that we have travelled through this happened on a dry day with good visibility. All details were recorded by the Police and he radioed ahead to have the lorry stopped. At this stage I don't know the outcome of this. Before we set off on our way the policeman reminded us of two massive climbs we had still to come. Helmsdale - climbing from sea level to Ord Point at 750 ft and then a bit further on Berriedale - climbing from sea level to 560 ft. Berriedale is actually worse as it achieves it's height in a shorter distance by the use of hairpin bends. At least the team were now all back together. We all powered on - all riding well considering that we had travelled the distance we had. Yes, the two climbs were every bit as bad as we had been told that they would be, probably the worst of the whole trip. Even Perranporth in the west country was as nothing compared to these brutes. But once done they were done and we cycled on. We had calculated that we would not arrive at John O Groats until about 1930. As the rest of the day wore on we were all feeling the effects of 10 full days in the saddle. By the time we arrived at Wick we were all but done in. John had said earlier in the trip that the closer we got to the end the easier it must become. I had not dared tell him that this is very rarely the case and that it can become more difficult. About 3 miles past Wick the road takes a sharp right. The sign said JOHN O GROATS 13 MILES. For each one of us this was to become the very longest 13 miles that we had done. The road went on in a never ending kind of way. 13 miles should be done in less than an hour we had thought.We pushed on always expecting a downhill gradient that never came. This had been a huge day for each one of us. We were all riding on empty.You could tell now how difficult this had become for John who up to this event was really a non cyclist. Three pedals spins and then he would try and coast along, but you can't coast up hill. This was the sting in the tail about the last 3 miles it was uphill! How cruel can this ride be? Even the last three miles is going to be tough. "Come on John you can do it" "Keep on pedalling" Three pedal spins coast- three pedal spins coast and then just over a rise there was the ever present Dave parked at the side of the road. "You are almost there" he said. And the last few hundred yards was actually downhill -we all sailed passed the John O Groats sign together with Dave in the support vehicle rolling in just behind us. We have done it. We have all cycled from Lands End to John O Groats. We have done it for the Dorset Kidney Fund. It had been an adventure that not one of us would have missed. Tonight a nice meal - a few drinks - followed by a comfortable bed and some rest and perhaps a little pat on the back for each other at beating the challenge !!
Todays Mileage 115 (Gareth and John 97) Average speed 12.3 mph - Top speed 40 mph - Calories burned 6211.
A REVIEW OF THE RIDE TOGETHER WITH UNPUBLISHED PHOTOGRAPHS WILL BE POSTED WHEN IT HAS ALL HAD TIME TO SINK IN (PROBABLY WITHIN THE NEXT 2 WEEKS) IN THE MEANTIME A REMINDER OF THE IMPORTANT LINK TO THE JUSTGIVING PAGE : www.justgiving.com/revproteamride
IF YOU ARE ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO TOLD US THAT YOU WOULD SUPPORT US ON LINE WITH A DONATION AND YOU STILL HAVEN'T DONE SO,NOW IS YOUR CHANCE.WE KEPT OUR END OF THE DEAL ,TOUGH AS IT WAS,NOW YOU NEED TO DO YOUR BIT, JUST PUT YOUR HAND IN YOUR POCKET.IT'S EASIER THAN CYCLING FROM LAND'S END TO JOHN O GROAT'S !!

LEJOG Day 10 (The posting for 18/09/08)

APOLOGIES !! DUE TO A TECHNICAL FAULT WE WERE UNABLE TO PUBLISH BLOG FOR TWO DAYS - HOWEVER AS THEY SAY IN THE MOVIE BUSINESS "THERE IS NOTHING SO GOOD AS A CLIFF HANGER TO HOLD PEOPLES ATTENTION".

The reason I was so exhausted yesterday was due to the fact that I had picked up a stomach bug. I had little energy and it seemed to get worse throughout the day- far more than the normal tiredness that I would expect from cycling the distances we have been. Last night I could not eat my meal and had to take to my bed early. The others looked worried!

This morning I was so weak that I could not get out of bed. At 0815 John and Gareth were ready to set off and I was still in bed looking and feeling like death. The decision was made that they would go on ahead and if and when I was able to get on my bike I would try and follow behind.
Poor Dave was going to have his work cut out trying to support a team that was now split in two. I crawled on to my bike at 0916 and set off. Guess what, it was raining again! I knew I was ill but could not understand why. Maybe all the doom mongers were right-maybe at sixty I was to old for this sort of thing-Maybe I should stop now, the easiest thing today would be to stop and get into the broom wagon.

Somehow I pushed on.
At the first stop just before Fort William I tried to drink and I couldn't I tried to force down an energy bar and I couldn't do that either. I had not eaten anything for over 24 hours and I was very aware that without food and drink I was not going to achieve the distance today.
One thing that I did want was a toilet. Dave said he would go on ahead and find one. He shot off and I carried on trying to pedal my bike. There I was feeling ill, trying to ride a bike 100 miles a day in the pouring rain and wanting to go to the toilet real bad. My stomach had swollen up, the others were now well over an hour ahead and I was struggling to make 9/10 miles an hour. I must be BL**DY mad. Anne's been right all these years after all !!

Then I saw Dave ahead. "the toilet is over there" he said. I fell off my bike and crossed the road to the Loo. In the toilet I soon found out what the problem was. A major stomach bug of some kind. Serious diarrhoea. I had a problem.
Back out of the loo on to the bike and I asked Dave how John and Gareth were doing. "Going like a train" was Dave's reply. Dave did say to me that I might have to consider the possibility of stopping. My plan was to keep on going as best I could and see where I ended up at the end of the day.

My biggest worry was that I was using energy but was not replacing it as I could not take in anything. I dont remember much about the day but the things that I do remember were - The rain- The pain- stoppping at more Loos along the way (not even locking the bike up, just diving in and leaving the bike with Garmin sat nav etc all there for anyone to help themselves to) and a feeling of complete loneliness out on the road even though Dave was meeting up with me every ten miles.

The others were doing well. John (with one kidney) had exceeded his best hopes for this ride-Both Gareth and John had displayed a grit and determination that is rare.It looked like they were going to nail this challenge and I wanted to be there at the end too.
By dark I was at the village of Tore north of Inverness. Dave came and picked me up and took me on to the bunkhouse at Balintraid near Invergordon. The plan is that he drops me back at Tore tomorrow morning and I continue to play catch up. I feel slightly better this evening.

Panic when we arrived at the bunkhouse because Gareth and John had not arrived and it was now dark. Dave was very worried but while he was considering what to do next, the lads turned up. I think for Dave today was the worst day of the trip. For me it has been the worst day of my life !!! Mileage 85 miles (John and Gareth 103 miles) Average speed 11.7 mph- Top speed 31.25 mph - Calories burned 4967

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

LEJOG Day 9


Todays report will be short as I am totally exhausted! When we set out the ride felt like a tour and not a race the first time it has felt like this since day 1. However the day seemed to be mainly uphill - there were sections that were uphill for 6 to 7 miles at an elevation of 4- 7 per cent. Places we went through today were Strachur-Cairndow-Tarbet - Crianlarich - Tyndrum - Bridge of Orchy - across Rannmch Moor - down through Glen Coe to our nights stop at Balluchulish. The road surface was very bad shaking us badly. Mileage 100 - average speed 12.4 - top speed 29.8 - calories burned 5675. The picture is a view of Loch Fyne at about the 12 mile point.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

LEJOG Day 8


Our worst fears were well founded. Todays conditions were more atrocious than yesterday! More rain but heavier. More lorries but bigger. More muck more of it. More pain More pain and even more pain! Today it got to the point where we were unable to change gears because our hands were so wet and cold. Today rates as the worst conditions for cycling that I have ever known. We arrived at the ferry at Gourock for the crossing over to Dunoon with 10 minutes to spare. In those 10 minutes our bodies seemed to shut down due to the exertion and the cold and wet. We decided at that point that on landing at Dunoon we would book in at a Guest house and have an early finish. Common sense prevailed- this now means that due to the bad weather it is likely that we will arrive at JOG 24 hours late ie Friday. We have very comfortable rooms for the night which is great for our recovery and this evening we went into town for a curry to warm us up.We were made most welcome at the Bombay Indian Restaurant in Dunoon by Mr Suki Sangha who was the perfect host. At the end of the evening he handed us an envelope containing 40 pounds for our charity fund. What generosity from someone who had only met us a couple of hours earlier- a true gentleman!! Oh and the food was top notch too. Mileage today 65 miles of very hard earned mile munching - Average speed 13.9 mph - Top speed 34.5 ori- Calories burned 3676 . We dare not listen to the weather forecast ! !

Monday, 15 September 2008

LEJOG day 7


Todays picture shows Gareth and John at the border to Scotland. We crossed over at Gretna Green. The day was wet - wet - wet . All day it rained from the time we left Shap to the time we arrived here about 20 miles south of Kilmarnock. The day was horrendous with huge trucks thundering past us and chucking out gallons of spray and dirt. We were soaked to the skin and filthy with road grime. It probably rates as one of the worst days any of us have ever had at any time. However we havent lost sight of the reason we are all doing this ride- that is what is driving us all on. We are staying in a farmhouse annexe tonight with all mod cons as we really needed to dry everything out- including ourselves! We saw the weather forecast tonight and it looks like we could have to suffer today all over again- the hell of the long distance cyclist!! Todays mileage 103 - average speed 14.6 mph ( for the first 75 miles we set an average speed of 15.00 mph which in todays conditions was some achievement ) Top speed 34.7 - calories burned 6426 . Tomorrow could be GROUNDHOG DAY!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

LEJOG - day 6


Todays highlights were- Setting out at 0800hrs in thick fog - cycling through Lancaster just as a Lancaster bomber was circling overhead and giving us a fly past as we were leaving the city - John and I in some bushes at a layby with our shorts down and a large tub of Udderly sMOOth cream (you will have to ask Dave about that story) - cycling up Shap at the end of a gruelling 100 mile day in a state of near exhaustion - hearing on the phone whilst half way up Shap that Dave had booked us all in at a cosy bunkhouse for the night :what bliss! Days mileage 107 - average speed 13.7 mph - top speed 34.3 - calories burned 6468. Tomorrow we will cross the border to Scotland. Todays picture shows Gareth rubbing pain relief gel into his knee and also my finger that is totally numb due to the constant vibration on the handlebars (clever shot dont you think? )

Saturday, 13 September 2008

LEJOG day 5


A good day on the road. As predicted we clawed back most of distance lost yesterday. We are just a few miles short of Preston. John had 3 punctures today and special thanks goes to Coopers of Shrewsbury for supplying new Tyres and inner tubes and giving Johns bike the once over to get him back on the road. The picture shows some of the team doing roadside repairs. Good weather today. Mileage 106 - average speed 15.09 mph - top speed 35 mph - calories burned 6216 . Spirits of entire team are very high. Tomorrow we try and do it all over again!

LEJOG day 4


Today we had problems navigating our way around bristol and over the Avonmouth and Severn bridges. At one point we had to turn back due to an underpass being flooded. All this set us back in both time and distance so today we were short of our objective- we are now at Hereford. Total mileage today was only 76 miles - average mph 12.1- top speed 41 mph - calories burned 4776. We feel confident that we will overcome this set back because the team is working so well together. Dave as our logistics manager is a gem we could not wish for anyone better- he looks after us all so well making sure that we have nutrition and drinks- arranging where we will stay each night etc etc- tonight as a treat we are all staying in a Premier Inn. A little bit of comfort on what is a very tough challenge. As I have said the team is really working well I think we could teach a lot of bigger organizations a thing or two about teamwork! Tomorrow we push on up the A49

Thursday, 11 September 2008

LEJOG day 3


Last night was a wet and windy night the worst kind of night for camping- none of us got much sleep. Today weather was great till 2 hours before end of ride when the heavens opened on us. Dave and Mark two work colleagues came up from Bournemouth and met us on the road and then tonight we all went for a meal together- that was just the greatest morale boost - thanks guys! Todays figures- mileage 91 miles - average speed 14 mph - top speed attained 42.1 mph - calories burned 5743 - we are still on route target!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

LEJOG day 2


We have now reached Okehampton as planned. A very tough day as we thought it would be- not helped by massive hills and rain at the end for last hour. Spirits still very high and team is working well together. Todays figures are- mileage 80 - average speed 12.9 mph - top speed attained 46 mph we burned about 4666 calories. It was the right idea to do part of the first stage yesterday- we would not have made it to here otherwise. Picture shows Dave struggling to pack up a tent.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

LEJOG day 1


A good first day- distance covered 50 miles- average speed 11.5 mph top speed attained 41.8 mph . We are now camping at St AGNES. We had no rain whilst riding today. We are all in good spirits even though some of the hills today were total killers. We heard just as we started today that we had broken through are fundraising target-great news and it gave us all a big boost to start the ride.

Monday, 8 September 2008

LEJOG-Last minute thoughts.

Tomorrow morning we travel down to Land's End. Assuming we get there at around midday we hope to set off at about 1300hrs and cover the 40 miles to St Agnes. We feel that by doing this it will break us in to the ride in easy stages and give us a shorter day on Wednesday. The Devon and Cornwall stage is known to be hard so hopefully this plan will make it a little easier.
On the weather front the forecast is not brilliant but bad weather is something that you just have to deal with. I have had my fair share of bad weather whilst backpacking and in a funny kind of way it can make the event a bit more of an adventure. When Gareth and I had our training day on the Isle of Wight we had a day of torrential rain plus a crash and a puncture so we know what to expect.
Our fundraising has been going really well with about £400 being raised over the weekend.We are now less than £100 short of our target figure with more donations still to come in. Everyone has been great with their support and the DORSET KIDNEY FUND and the REV PRO LEJOG TEAM would like to say thanks for the support you have shown.
We will give this our very best and I will be posting to this blog each night with details of our progress. If I cannot get mobile phone service in the evening I will make the posting at the next opportunity. Well- here we go !!

Friday, 5 September 2008

LEJOG- Fundraising passes £2000.

As we approach the last weekend before we set off on the ride I see that our fundraising efforts have now broken the £2000 mark. This leaves us with just under £500 to go in order to meet the target that I set us when we planned the ride over nine months ago. All the team are hoping that over the next few days we have a last minute flurry of donations that takes us up to the £2500 figure. It would be great if when we set off from Land's End next week our target had already been achieved. Please help us get there by going to www.justgiving.com/revproteamride and making a donation online.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

ASDA Sponsors LEJOG !

John Donoghue informed me today that he has managed to arrange sponsorship from the ASDA branch at Castle Point in Bournemouth for our LEJOG. ASDA have agreed to supply our nutrition requirements for the entire ride. Items such as Energy Bars - Carbo Gels - Malt Loaves etc will all be supplied by them, which will be a tremendous boost for the team.
A big thankyou must go to Nikki at ASDA for her help in organising this for us. It's great for all in the team that these nutrition requirements are being supplied for us, as it could make all the difference with our long term endurance and recovery each day. Thanks for the support ASDA !!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Last Team Training Session

Yesterday the LEJOG cycling team had their last group training session before they start cycling away from Lands End in one weeks time.
We set off from Totton at 0650hrs and cycled back to Bournemouth via Lyndhurst and the New Forest. All the way we were dodging the rain clouds and luck must have been on our side as we did not get wet. Gareth used his Scott CR1 and I used my Felt Z80 for this ride. John used the bike that he will be using on the End to End - a Scott Sub 20 with 700c wheels. For those of you interested in the facts and figures John's bike has 27 speed Shimano Deore gearing- 48/36/26T chainrings with 175mm cranks. At the rear the Sub 20 has a Shimano HG50 9x 11-32T cassette. All this gives John too much choice in the gears department as it is the one area that gives him a few problems. Still, by the time he has got to John O'Groats I am sure he will have sorted it all out. All the bikes have been to the local bike shop for last minute checks and adjustments which included new chains-brake blocks and lubrication. For the next week I will NOT be riding my Lejog bike and my solo training will consist of between 10 to 20 miles each day (weather permitting) on either the Felt or my Revolution. The reason for this is because the Dahon is all prepared and ready to go and I won't have any spare time available between now and the off to spend cleaning it up if I get caught out in the rain. Obviously on LEJOG we would be very lucky not to get any rain at all but I do at least want to leave Land's End with a clean and well prepared machine. The picture shows the three of us at Bournemouth Railway Station after we had finished our ride yesterday.
On the fund raising front we are only about £600 short of our target. It would be really great if we could reach the £2500 before we set off. If you would like to assist us in achieving this target figure please go to www.justgiving.com/revproteamride and thanks to everyone for your help so far.

Cabin Fever .......

 Sorry for this week's posting being three days late but like the rest of the UK last weekend saw the arrival of storm Ciara and our in...