Monday, 18 July 2011

LEJOG Day 2 - Liskeard to Tiverton

Distance - 72.62 Miles
Cycle Time - 6 Hours 2 Minutes
Total Time - 8 Hours 30 Minutes
Average Speed - 11.9mph
Top Speed - 47.6mph

Day 2 had been billed as the most difficult day of the entire LEJOG tour and after the first 25 miles it looked like it may break at least one of the group.

The day started badly with Joe's fry up arriving 30 minutes late, putting our departure time of 8 O'Clock in jeopardy. This minor delay was soon put into perspective when we departed at 5 past 8. I took 3 pedal strokes and snap, crackle and pop went my chain. I look down where my chain is meant to be and theres nothing there, I look over my shoulder and there on the road lies my broken chain. Gutted! Joe also discovered that his bike still didn't change up or down from big ring to small and so he joined me at Liskeard Cycles when it opened at 9am.

Russell turned up just before 9 to open up and he was great, sorting out Joe's bike for nothing and only charging me 20 quid for a new chain, a new cable and even chucked in some gone off energy gels to boot.

Joe and I returned to the B&B on our now smooth working machines. The five riders then set off for a second time from the Nebula Hotel at just before 10 having lost nearly two hours. But far better the problems had happened so close to a cycle shop, and not in the middle of Dartmoor National Park.

The day started with a hill and this continued all the way to Tavistock. The riders were rewarded for their climbing with some flowing descents before Dartmoor reared it's beautiful but hilly head 20 miles into our day. Within minutes of entering Dartmoor we tackled our first serious climb of the day. A steep ascent, no twists or turns to hide it's brutality just a big drive to the top. On the lead up to the climb, Dad slowed and I was worried something was up. I got 2 3rds of the way up with Joe and saw Dad, Pete and Luke part way up on the verge. I decided to head back down to see what the problem was. No fall, no puncture, just Dad boinking in a big way! The boys were force feeding Dad food and energy drink. 5 minutes later we were on our way and I got my second go at the beast.

The lack of real food, meant that Dad was weak and needing some proper sustance, we struggled through the next five long miles of hills, mist and Rain. Dad sometimes needing 3 bites at the steep hills. But he held it together brilliantly. It was a feat of will power which got him to the food stop after 25 miles. The mantre of mind over matter didn't apply, no matter how strong Dad's will power his body didn't want to play.

The support crew met us with pasties of all descriptions, Ice Buns and Thornton's Toffee and a warm car. It was a godsend after 3 tough hours, the toughest so far. We all ate plenty. but those not in the car soon got cold on the exposed moor and so reluctantly we were on our way again.

The uphills continued after the break but we then had a golden period of boomerang hills, where we soared down the hills at 40mph and were then catapulted back up the other side and crested the hill with little effort required on our part.

After the boomerang hills came the most incredible 3 miles of descent under the tree canopy. It was breath taking after the arduous morning, it had me smiling in a big way. Devon not wanting to be out down by Cornwall unleashed a slow 2 mile grind of a hill just before the 40 mile point and our 2nd meet up with the support team.

After the dark times in Dartmoor the team's morale was now high and there were just 10 miles to go to Exeter and Mike's (Pete's brother) student house where baguettes and refreshments were waiting. We made it through Exeter City Centre via the beautiful Cathedral.

I don't imagine Joe will be visiting again anytime soon. In the space of two miles he managed to shoulder barge a pedestrian who made a point of walking out in front of him then strolling down the middle of the road. This was soon followed by an enormous couple who couldn't wait for the green man on the way to the pie shop and so again blocked Joe's path, cue a volley of expletives at the rotund couple. I agreed with Joe on principal on both occasions if not quite approving of his attempts at diplomacy.

The five of us arrive at Mike's intact and without angry locals chasing us. We were given the run of the very impressive student digs, the riders struggled to get much food inside them with this stop so close to the previous one. After a quick turnaround the boys were back on the bikes and a crowd gathered to cheer us off on the 15 miles to Tiverton Travel Lodge.

15 Miles is ample time for a LEJOG tale or two to be created. Joe was feeling the effects of another tough day and so to numb the pain he went to his happy place. Unfortunately for the owner of a pretty red run around his happy place did not include the road ahead. Dad and I watched on helplessly as our crys of "Joe!Car!" came too late, and so unfolded a slow motion meeting of man and machine. Fortunately Joe was just shaken and his helmet had taken a little bump, no harm done and we were away again before any passers by could kick up a stink.

As we were approaching the hotel there was some confusion over exactly where the hotel was. Not fancying the idea of heading straight for the motorway. Pete and I scouted it out with the others following a little way behind. Our fears were unfounded and the hotel was easy enough to find. But tiredness and frustrations boiled over and bust up number two occurred over us not completing the day together as a fivesome. Apologies and Burger Kings later, we were big happy group again. Relived the day was done.

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