Here we are day 10!!!Before sharing the trials and tribulations of the day, some reflection
is in order.
The loss of our Chloe and Gracie has left a gap in our hearts
that will never be filled.All we can
hope is that by raising awareness through events like our trip may avoid other
parents, families and friends experiencing the utter agony of such a loss.
It is extremely difficult to put into words the
friendship that developed throughout this trip.Some of the team had known each other for quite some time, but others
were perfect strangers and had met for the first time up in John O’Groats. We
all struck it off so well and the banter was priceless.
I make no apologies for being a little indulgent and
talking about my son Tom and his wife Rachel.I am constantly in amazement in the strength and courage these 2 lovely
people have shown over these last couple of years.With the love of their family they have
fought everything that has been thrown at them.
Now to the blog!!
We stayed overnight in Bodmin; The Westberry Hotel.The hotel itself was not too bad but the
owners were dead ringers for Basil Fawlty.They were rude, impolite and made you feel that your presence was a
major inconvenience to them, couldn’t wait to leave.
The team started the day with mixed feeling; still knackered
from yesterday’s torture but knowing that it was only 58 miles to go.
Colin had some companionship in the form of Ash on the
final leg of the trip, Col I know you have the touch of an angel but this was definitely
a step up my mate.
This was the day that the lads had decided we would stay as
one group throughout the leg, Team C had other ideas.We had a taste of success with the yellow
jersey of yesterday and started to like it.Anybody seen team C, they do exist (honest) – a bit like the apparent beast
of Bodmin, pictures of them are scarce.
Anyway the Team C led the peloton out of the Hotel with
now a degree of confidence that promotion was on the cards to start competing
with the A & B teams however this was short lived, 400 metres down the road
when Team C hit the first minor incline of the “flat road to Land’s End” and quickly
slipped off the back of the group.
With united encouragement it was still the goal for all
teams to ride the last stage together but the pressure this was placing on the
C team was too great, their pace is very deceptive they are slower than they
look….which was acknowledged as the postman cycled past…
So we agreed all teams would re unite a couple miles from
the end and would cross the line together. The A & B teams started to
disappear into the distance and the C team were now relaxed setting their own
pace although still trying to catch postman Pat who was well ahead and
delivering letters at the same time.
A few miles out of Bodmin and with 50 miles to go all the
teams joined the A30 “race track”, Lewis Hamilton would struggle to keep up
with some of the traffic on this road.
The shock of the day was then experienced by the A &
B team, who while riding in true team formation, were caught and straight away
passed at some speed by the C Team led by Tommy Senior with Dayo trying to keep
on Tommy Senior’s wheel and maintain the C team momentum. The initial laughs
from the A & B teams could be heard as the C team flew past but then sheer
screams and panic from Wiggo as the dawning realisation was the C team had gone
past and were now a distant speck on the horizon and still pulling away, and
Hamish and CJ were not going to be taking this lying down and that the A &
B would have to try and bridge this, now impossible, gap at speeds of 25 to 30
Where the f***** have they gone?
Wiggo feeling the strain: “H” you said it was all
downhill to Land’s End!!!!!
Nothing was now going to stop the C team from asserting
their true authority, well that is until they rounded a bend on the A30 and saw
Mount Kilimanjaro ahead, apologies to any small children travelling in passing
cars at this time as the C team expressed their colourful views of what was
again in front, another ****** hill/mountain!!
This latest undulation quickly tamed the C team who
either in a very magnanimous gesture, or they were just knackered, surrendered
the lead back to the A & B teams.
Our new co-pilot and Colin's assisant was having a few teething problems with her new role. "I know it supposed to be a form of English, but has
anybody got a Geordie phrase book, I can’t understand a word Colin is saying."
debate the lads had decided not to turn around and now go Land’s End to John O’Groats.These lads were distraught.
All the teams
then very carefully counted down these last few miles, Penzance was 12 miles
away and then it would be a short 10 miler down to Land’s End. All through the
ride it has been clear to some of the riders that either genuine mistakes, untruths
or pure lies have been told when it came to the profile of the roads ahead,
which culminated to the extent that nobody believed anything anyone was saying.
“down hill to the end” statement was quickly proved to be another falsehood as
we exited Penzance and starting to hit another uncharted mountain range. (Who
has completed the cartography of the UK and why have they been unable to
identify and accurately mark all these mountains??)
with colourful language the teams persevered, 9, 8, 7, 6 miles to go still
couldn’t see the sea but believed we were getting close as an abundance of
tourist coaches passed us, assuming they were wanting to see Team JOGLE 13
finish or they were just going to Land’s End…
5 miles to Land’s End, we saw this marker twice in the
space of a mile, is somebody playing a cruel joke on us at this stage…..anyway
a mile or so outside of Land’s End all teams reunited, we regrouped, ensured
teams kits were all zipped up and we as one glided onto Land’s End. Songs
started to be sung, Tommy senior shouting to the team not to get too excited as
were not there yet but with 200 metres to go and the Land’s End sign and
buildings in sight, Tommy was still dubious and expecting to be hit by one
final mountain – but not this time.
We had done it…..
We crossed the line with a ribbon in place held up by
Barbara and Sheleen and a group of German tourists taking our pictures and
congratulating us as we crossed the line. Clearly the tourist coaches had after
all come to see Team Chloe and Gracie JOGLE 13 FINISH!!!
We got off our bikes congratulating and thanking each and
every one of the team, we had all lived through an incredible experience. Then
ringing our family and friends very quickly wanting to share the moment with
them, they had been on this trip with us in our hearts and supporting us.
Tom junior then adorned medals on each of the team, which
had been specially organised by Rachel. Thanks Rachel.
We then spent some time organising the final team
pictures at the “post” and organised the official stamping that we had
completed the John O’Groats to Land’s End.
We had a bit of lunch at the Land’s End restaurant, a
cake was delivered to the team which Sheleen had very kindly arranged which had
a picture of the team on the front of the cake and the final award was given by
Colin. His speech was something along the lines (but not written in Geordie)
“You are all champions and have achieved an incredible thing but there should
be one award for the Champion of Champions, which goes to the eldest member of
our team, 57 years young Tommy Senior, who was awarded “Champion of Champions”
tee shirt, what a star”. A round of applause then followed.
The sheer relief, joy and immense pride we all felt cannot
be expressed, the support we have received from many many people, some who knew
about what we were doing and why and the many people who we met along our
journey and we explained the reasons we were doing this and then who generously
supported us and wished us well, and wanting to follow our progress. The true
spirit of human nature certainly came to the fore over these 10 days and has
left lifelong memories for us all. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS BEEN PART OF
THIS JOURNEY WITH US.
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
This was day 9. This was a day that firsts were made; a day that most thought would never (ever) end. This was to be the heavy end of 110 miles. Regardless of route selection, this was going to ask some serious questions - questions that I am pretty sure that none of us fancied answering.
Yet it all started so nicely...
Teams A and B continued their drive towards solidarity. Building on the first 40 miles of day 8, they decided that a unified force was the way forward. The Routemasters (H and CJ) had plotted a course for champions - though I'm not sure that the lads felt that we were packing quite that sort of quality. Indeed Dartmoor had been highlighted as "possibly the hardest leg of cycling you could ever wish for in England" and all on our second to last day after circa 780 miles. Wiggo (in true Wiggo style) made his feelings quite apparent and I feared for H as he suggested that Wiggo man up by necking a Cherry/Beetroot gel "because we're gonna need plenty of these today". YOURS.
Sadly for the Wiggmeister, any sense of....erm...sense, was ignored as Froomedog left him swinging in the breeze as he joined the chorus of "it's all about the experience and the scenery".
So off we peddled as the cool and calm partnership of Team C weighed up 10 hours of playing "chicken" on the A30...
The united teams of A & B (which I would like to refer to as AB's given our svelt disposition) slid rather quietly along the first few sections. Hereford to Taunton had taken it's toll, allied to a sense of foreboding about what was to lie ahead. Soon though, we found our rhythm, and we were motoring through Wellington and on towards Tiverton.
Tiverton provided the first of many stunning scenic backdrops - and none better than the famous boozer 'The Fisherman's Cot. Famed of course for the rumour that it was the inspiration for Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water". It was 11am when the AB's tanks rolled in. Little did we know just how troubled all our waters would be as we pulled out and over said bridge en route to Exeter and beyond.
As we turned to cross the bridge, the exocet partnership of Team C tore past us in the opposite direction. Focused and utterly determined, they had little time for a wave...though they did spare a rather despairing glance at our choice of direction.
The university city of Exeter was our next target 15 miles down the road.
It was here that focus began to shift towards the sort of climbs that would become such a fixture of our ride. It was also the first sign of the strain that the AB's would be under - and the mental decline allied to such a predicament. This decline manifested itself in various ways - including frequent outbreaks of song from the whole team - ranging from "Sit Down" by James (how apt) through to the rather cleverly re-worded and re-mixed "Snoop Doggy Dogg" - which was to roll as "Walt Doggy Dogg". Anyone familiar with the 'track' can see how this would be a natural fit - however, the real beauty (read temporary insanity) was in the way that 6 grown men would then bark in harmony in various tones and styles after the chorus. They say timing is everything...well we certainly delivered on that score. Having ripped through the first ball busting rendition, we were happily barking our chops off when we were suddenly joined by a chorus of over 20 real life pooches that were hanging out at the Sunny Mead Boarding Kennels over the road!
Laughing our gnashers off, we trundled towards Dartmoor.
Smiles indeed. We were around 40 miles in. The sun was shining. Lunch was calling. Other than the odd short, sharp, steep one, the hills were alive with the happy sounds of 6 portly chaps gunning their way towards Bodmin.
As we consulted our team Garmins for signs of progress, we felt rather chuffed. We entered the stunning market town of Moretonhampstead safe in the knowledge that "we had completed around 20% of the 'green bit'" (i.e. man speak for looking at the map thinking we could see we had taken a large slice off of Dartmoor). What we had no idea of at that point, was that Moretonhampstead is actually known as "The Gateway to the High Moor" - something not lost on our support driver Colin. On checking in with him over the phone, our spirits were dented somewhat when telling him where we were. I rather confidently said that we were over half way across Dartmoor. This was met by a hearty Geordie laugh and the following words - "YOU WOT!? HAF WEE ACROSS THA MAWAAS LEEK???! DORNT MEEK ME LAFF LAD. YAV NOTT EEEVEN SCRATCHED THA SORFASS OF THE MAWAAS MAN!!!!".
As the lads chuckled away at Colin's hearfelt words of motivation, we were then stunned to find that we were being served by SUBO2! (For the unversed, that is Susan Boyle Mk II - complete with fetching chin stubble). She was a great girl though and did a fine job of introducing the pub's pussy - Poppy. After a few strokes, we left Poppy basking in the sunshine as we made off for the 'High Moors'.
The following 4 hours will live long in the memory for many reasons. Bursting quads, never ending climbs, false (downhill) dawns, Groundhog Hour. It was the same thing over and over again. Glass half full had rapidly become rather more empty. Nice downhills meant only one thing.......more (OBSCENE) uphills. The lads were suffering as one victory....................
Was followed by another....................
.............and a little more..........
Thinking about it. Is 16% ever any good?! Has it ever represented anything good?! Not in my book...and not in the eyes of my team mates either - especially when 16% swiftly becomes 20%.
As the time approached 6pm we had to face up to the fact that we were still 50 miles from the end. This was a bitter blow. The lads were almost out of supplies - Wiggo almost out of expletives. Dartmoor Prison was no more than a few hundred yards away - and we figured a serious crime or two would have us banged up with food, water and Sky telly. It was the other type of getting banged up that quickly moved our minds away from that outcome, along with the arrival of our gaurdian angel. Saint Colin of Tyneside swept into our lives once more as choirs of angels greeted the Transit.
Hamish was straight onto rallying the troops and doing his moonlighting work for ZipVit by pushing the Cherry / Beetroot gels ONCE A-FECKING-GAIN. I made a duck to the otherside of the van to neck a cheeky Mars, whilst Froomedog ran away from Colin, Benji calmly filled up on water, Hamish force fed CJ and Wiggo collapsed in a heap............
As the dust settled on what was ahead, I enquired to Colin as to how Team C were getting on. Given our earlier exchange, I should have learned my lesson. "DORNT WORREE ABOOT THEM LADS. THEY'RE DOOIN JOOOST AS SHYTE AS YOU BOYZ. YUZ LOT REEEELIEE ARE MAD AS BASTADS. YUZ WANNA SEE WHATZ CUMMIN UP OVER THEM HILLS LEEEK!!!"
Thanks Col. You are a gent of unparalleled proportions - and our saviour. But a career in motivational speaking really isn't for you buddy.
Needless to say, Colin's prognosis was bang on the money. This shot came at around mile 80. Seemingly we were at the top of the world, with no hill in sight.........
Yep...you guessed it. There was no 25-30 mile downhill into Bodmin. Hopes were dashed after 2 miles of downhill at circa 50mph - including a full bunny hop of a cattle grid from CJ and H - and something resembling a patriot missile from Yorkshire.
The climb from Tamar Bridge was like nothing any of us have ever seen. What should have been a seminal moment (crossing into Cornwall) actually became the defining moment of the entire ride. To put it into perspective it was so vertical, that Froomedog actually fell backwards off his machine and into a bed of stinging nettles - where he lay wilfully for the next 10 minutes as the pain was so much less than what he was having to endure.
Fast forward to Wiggo emerging in the distance pushing his wheels up said hill. I could hear the rumble from around 400 yards and went something along the lines of (feel free to fill in the blanks): "WHAT UTTER......DECIDED TO PUT THIS........ROUTE IN ON THIS......STUPID.......LEG OF THIS.......MAD......RIDE?!?!?!? HONESTLY, WHAT A............ .............!!! AM...........IF I AM GETTING ON THIS............BIKE AGAIN UNTIL THIS STUPID...........HILL IS............DONE!!!"
Rather amusingly, Wiggo then managed to push his bike for three quarters of a mile faster than anyone peddling. He was to be found further up the road licking his wounds and polishing his profanisaurus.
The balance of the ride became such a haze that I can't actually remember much at all about it! By this time were were dizzy and running on fumes - mainly coming from CJ's backside I might add. Before we finally rolled into Bodmin at around 9pm. It really had taken its toll, but we had overcome against the odds and made it. Around 12 hours in th great outdoors on a journey of madness and mayhem and we were in.
To our great relief, Team C - who had ridden the a vast portion of Cornwall's very own Autobahn (the A30) were in safe and sound. Not only that, but snagging the yellow jersey in the process. A truly titanic effort that put the AB's in the shade. The decision to ride direct was vindicated and the boys looked very contented on the patio in the beer garden - well, until someone opened their purse (mentioing no names)...
The night will ultimately be remembered for an addition to our ranks. A co-support driver for Colin and cheerleader extraordinaire Ashley Anne. The boys were very glad to welcome her on board and we all thank her for making the effort to join the team. Cheers Smashings!
Thankfully CJ made a remarkable recovery from suffering every possible symptom of sun-stroke to go from looking like this...........
............to necking 2 pizzas, a garlic bread and half a portion of chips. Well in lad.
Good night to all. On to day 10. Let's get this puppy wrapped up.
This is Tom and this is my first time as blog writer (maybe my last ;-) ) and im
more nervous than I was about the whole ride. Ill start by telling you that next
week is a year since Gracie was born and as you know she died 19 days later; so
a 100 mile ride was great time for reflection on the year; I know Gracie and
Chloe were looking down on their daddy today and were very proud. Its this same
enchanted pride I have for these wonderful people I am sharing this amazing
adventure; each on shares lots of love form every corner of my heart and I
thank you all for being yourselves. Truly amazing.
So now for the days events.. well after Team B (mainly just
me) winding up Team A at dinner last night the gauntlet was set; and team A had
tiger eye form the get go. Team C looked usually relaxed and with our new team
member for the day Gavin White team B set off… well after wed picked up Daws
aka Wiggo from the bacon butty stand in Sainsbury’s… After we had left some
kind people had heard Daws chatting with his mum and dad (the Lovely Liz and
Tony) about the GBSS charity and were kind enough to throw in some cash for the
cause, so thank you to Mr Jim Deboick and Mr and Mrs King.
Ok so we hit the road.. on this occasion team B were being
navigated by Gavin’s Garmin which had us lost after 200 yards so we were caught
by the A team, who not only kindly fixed the garmin but then carried us on
their backs for the next 30 miles.. this my friends is what friendship is all
about…I was beaming with pride watching our seven man peloton flow past Monmouth
and through the Shropshire hills alongside the river Wyss (for me one of the most
beautiful places I have seen on the trip)
30 miles in and a pit stop was in
order as Team B were showing the pains of 700 miles over the last 7 days.. so where
better than Tintern Abbey to stop ... wow . a true little gem that frankly most
of us had never heard off.
30 minutes later fuelled by cheese butties, coffee and multiple cakes we were off… only to find we had new race leaders.. Team C had side swiped the seven man peloton showboaters and were driving on to Chepstow with the wind at their back.
By the seven bridge the seven man peloton had used their advantage and snook ahead… but then ….NOOOOO .. a Problem and two men fell of the back Wiggo and Froom Dog were now out of the peloton and realised they had no garmin or map and the road signs were written in Welsh… disaster hit and the Team B headed back to Wales while team A rode like demons to Bristol.
The three pelotons after a map purchase from Team B were back on track and headed through the picturesque Avonmouth Industrial estate dodging trucks and busses before traversing Bristol in a range of styles.
As the A team set down in nice country pub for lunch Team C marched through Posrtihead and for the first time Team B found support in the most unlikely of places….. Our Support Driver Colin who for the first time on the trip set us on the correct road.. the A38 to Somerset.
As the sun beat down on our now blistered skin and mucky head bands. It became clear with a bit of insight from Colin (Support God) that everyone was on the A38… obviously he didn’t know where .. so we didn’t know who was leading but we did know we were in a 50 mile sprint finish to Taunton…bring it on my mind said… behave yourself boy my legs said..thankfully daws as usual dragged me through the later part of the ride.. as we all glided through Winscombe and Highbridge in search of Bridgewater… another town that never seems to get any closer when youre 90 miles into a ride.. oh I should have said.. for anyone that thinks Somerset is flat.. its not.. and neither is any other place on the west side of Britain!!! Bridgewater done and as the B team crossed North Pettherton the Whatsapp messages were flying in thick and fast it could only mean one thing.. The A team had won the day and the Yellow jersey.. today they showed a pace and consistency which defines them as the A team..
shortly after the B team rolled in .. well actually we couldn’t be bother to go around the estate to the hotel so climbed a wall with the bikes… the C team rolled in.. quite frankly the C team today showed courage and strength between the ears that makes us all tip our hats and smile.
Well that’s it for today .. we have a nice dinner planed with friends and family and then we set off tomorrow on another bike ride.
Thank you; got to Gavin White for getting us through the morning and making the effort, Tony And Liz for fundraising, Clin for patience of a Saint…and all of our partners and children for letting u ride down the country like a gang of boys on a school trip.
Awards of the day:
Yellow jersey: Team A by Country miles
Determination: Team C.. great performance
Best Recovery:Wiggo.. second half was remnant of Istanbul 2005
Two new cyclists today, we'd sent Des home this morning after the team enjoyed another curry last night in Middlewich, that boy can eat like a horse. In his place the B Team (Wiggo and Froomey) had two fresh sets of legs as Saf and Billy saddled up for 95 miles down to Hereford with their fancy looking new bikes.
Two routes on offer today, the fast and direct A49, or the B roads and hills through Staffordshire Shropshire and Herefordshire. Tommy and David, and the A Team went for the scenery.
Wiggo and Froomedog took the fresh legs and headed for Market Drayton and Shrewsbury.
The A Team going cross country and sponsored again by Garmin for the day, went through the beautiful village of Audlum, where the union flags were flying.
Wiggo ad Froomey were testing Colin's map reading skills today as the four man peleton sythed its way through the country side, the van only managing to catch up with them once, thankfully all of his patience was rewarded as they shipped in half a cow's worth of roast beef sandwiches for lunch in Shrewsbury, followed closely behing by David and Big Tommy.
The A Team were enjoying the backroads emmensley, some 40mph plus downhills and a monster climb up towards Iron Bridge for lunch at Much Wenlock.
Big Tommy and David were making swift progress once they turned the Garmin off. The B Team were zipping down the A49, the ATeam had an afternoon of B Roads to navigate through Shipton and into Ludlow.
The final 30 miles from Ludlow into Hereford were lovely apart from the climb out of Leominster, that had Big Tommy and David cursing. On the home stretch now the group continued down the A49 to Hereford and Wiggo and Frommey were thanking the stars for their fresh legs, the extra power paying dividends as they took the Yellow Jersey (although they had covered 10 miles less then the others, it was a win nonetheless - well done boys)
The A Team followed them in for second, and nobody looked happier to cross the line than David and Big Tommy, who'd ridden their socks off, top werk fella's.