Friday, 22 July 2011

LEJOG - Day 5 - Ludlow to Chester

Miles - 77.32
Cycle Time - 5hrs 46mins
Total Time - 7hrs 53mins
Average Speed - 13.41mph

The five riders headed out of Ludlow on a grey overcast morning, buoyed by a swift day yesterday and with stomachs full after taking advantage of last night's 2 main meals for a tenner deal. There had been at least one problem each day for the team to deal with thus far, be it rain, hills, mechanical problems or fatigue. The one problem they were yet to encounter in any major way was the wind, but they were faced with a headwind leaving Ludlow and this continued for most of the day.

Joe took it upon himself to take the first stint into the wind to act as a windblocker for the rest of the riders. I took full advantage of the shelter at the back of the line, my body aching and my legs heavy from the first four days cycling. Joe was also struggling a little, soon regretting the 3 beers and 2.5 dinners he had the night before.

The sun poked out from behind the clouds and we were soon cooking under our rain jackets, which appeared necessary when we set off under grey skies. We were relaxing on one of our breaks in a layby when a military police car pulled up. All of us being good law abiding citizens we were a little concerned, I was going a little fast down that hill but the military police seemed a tad excessive. Our fears were put to rest when it's driver hoped out and lit up a fag, a ciggie break, nothing more sinister. He quizzed us on what we were upto and we told him about our trip and Saint Anthony's before we headed off, keen to get to the Oldersma's our home for the evening.

After taking on plenty of food, lucozade and gels on at the stops I felt stronger, and on one of our fast descents Pete cycled past me in his trademark aero position. I decided to pass him back and so started the first race of LEJOG. Travelling down the hill at speeds in excess of 40mph we were shot back up the other side fast. I was in the big ring when gravity started to take effect on the upslope and it was then that Pete made his move. I tried in vain to respond but less than halfway up the hill he had a gap and I never recovered. As he eased off approaching the top of the hill I had a second wind and tried a stealth attack but was soon detected and on went the gas again. A resounding victory for Pete 1-0.

I was spent after my unsuccessful attack and so decided to spin away at the back of the group to recover. Our quick pace had outwitted the support car, and so our resupply was delayed a little but we all met up in a carpark on the outskirts of Shrewsbury. The sun was out, and there were some rocks perfect for an improvised pillow, and I was ready for a cat nap. But the guys were keen to make tracks and we were soon on the move again. Shrewsburys one way system nearly outfoxed us, but after seing the statue twice we knew something wasn't quite right. A quick U-turn and we were back on track and still roaring along even with the headwind.

Aside from Shrewsbury today was a more straight forward navigating day than previously, aiding our quick progress. Impromptu races up hills also kept the average speed well above 13mph. Dad was staying well clear of the young ones games, knowing full well the trip was only complete when we reached John O'Groats and so was keen to conserve his energy.

At the final meet up with the support team Joe, Dad and Luke were dished out with some swanky new lightweight windbreakers. Probably not capable of withstanding heavy showers, but they offered some protection from the elements and were small enough to stuff in the back of their jerseys when it got too hot.

We set off from the final stop with the Oldersma's residence not far away. Just enough time for us to pop back into Wales before enjoying some quiet and picturesque country lanes on the run into Amber's. We arrived just after 4pm and just 7hrs and 53mins after leaving Ludlow another record early finish for the team. Karin greeted us warmly into their beautiful home and immediately offered us beer, an offer I couldn't bring myself to refuse. Amber's Dad Meinie then came home from the office early, especially for his guests. We enjoyed drinks in the Garden in the sun whilst the dinner simmered.

Showered, changed and looking more human we sat down for a fantastic meal of chilli and beef stew followed by Cheesecake or Rolly Polly which had been made specially for Luke. With it being a buffet the cyclists enjoyed second helpings of the delicious fare. The night ended with a video show of some clips Pete had taken thus far, Karin, Meinie and Zoe were very patient and said all the right things as Luke scrolled through the footage. It was then time to hit the hay, another day done and by tommorow night we'll be in the Yorkshire Dales with Jan.

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