It's Done. 1100 Miles Cycled in 14 Days!
The full story of all 14 days.......
The full story of all 14 days.......
Well, not quite 1100. Due to an injury and an enforced day off it was 985 cycled in 13 days, but read on for the details!
Firstly an apology is required, I had always planned to blog daily about the ride, but the days in the saddle were long, a lot of rest was needed and someting had to give.
Day 1, Monday 11th - Graz to Trieben.
After a lovely evening spent with Emma, James and Dad's cousin Elke and a good night's sleep it was time to set off. 30 degrees and sunshine at 9am meant shorts and sun cream, but it wasn't to last. As would become the norm I rode off ahead and Emma and James set off later in the car to meet for lunch. During lunch the clouds were buillding in the mountains, then came the air raid siren and the warning that you really shouldn't be heading out there unless it was absolutely necessary. Well, for me it was absolutely necessary, so off I went with my showerproof jacket. The warning was true, 3 hours of torrential rain, strong winds and thunder storms. I arrived in trieben very wet and very cold, but day 1 was done and I was 75 miles in. Could I get my stuff to dry before tomorrow? Each night of this first week Emma, James and I will be staying in hotels.
Day 2, Tuesday 12th - Trieben to Unterach am Attersee.
I needn't have worried about dryiing my kit, heavy rain again this morning meant it didn't stay dry for long! The rain eased though and as I started to dry out I came accross some beautiful sights in the mountains of Austria. The fresh water lakes surrounded by towering mountains were spectacular. a dry afternoon made for easier cycling. Another 82 miles done. 157 done in total.
Day 3, Wednesday 13th - Unterach am Attersee to Ebersberg.
A long day today, 96 miles and almost 9 hours in the saddle. Soaking wet again and crippliing stomach cramps. Too many gels and bars I think. I'll try and get through tomorrow without any and just use them for emergencies. I am missing my wife Hannah and the kids so much, but they and Mum start their journey tomorrow. I can't wait to see them all on Saturday night! I'm glad I bought my winter gloves and overshoes! We're now out of Austria and into Germany. 253 milles done in total.
Day 4, Thursday 14th - Ebersberg to Zusmarshausen.
No rain today! The sun even came out this afternoon. Off came the winter gloves, the overshoes and the rain jacket, happy days!........until two punctures 15 miles from the end. Lucky I was carrying 2 inner tubes. New front tyre needed though, off to the bike shop first thing before heading for Stuttgart. 76 miles today means 329 miles in total.
The motorhome team set out from Crewkerne today and are now sleeping in Calais. I'll see you all in 2 days time! It'll be goodbye to the car team who have been fantastic so far, I wouldn't have gotten this far without you.
Day 5, Friday 15th - Zusmarshausen to Stuttgart.
Feeling a little tired this morning, but I've just got to get to lunch and then it's almost 40 miles of downhill to Stuttgart. Dry again this morning, let's hope it stays that way.....
A few wrong turns meant that a 90 mile ride turned into 100! Oh well, at least I got another Strava badge this month! I only got wet 3 times today! 3 monsoon like showers this morning, but a dry afternoon. Who knows what lies in wait for me tomorrow? Thanks to Emma and James for getting me some tyres today! 430 miles in total now.
Day 6, Saturday 16th - Stuttgart to Vordeweidenthal.
Not good. A little niggle in my left leg that started on day 4 exploded into agony after about 5 miles. I carried on for another 25 before the pain and the tears forced me to stop. I've been driven the rest of the way so a rested afternoon, a massage and some ibuprofen gel and onto day 7. I'll take this opportunity to thank Emma and James for all of their help on ride days 1-6. You were awesome guys and there isn't enough room here to list all the things you did for me. Thanks for everything. Hannah, Mum and the kids are here now and it's wonderful to see them all. It's motorhome living for the next 8 days. 32 miles today, 462 in total.
Day 7, Sunday 17th - Vordeweidenthal to Lebach.
Not good. This time 20 miles before the pain explosion. Carried on for another 15 before I've had to stop. This might sound silly but other than that pain my legs feel really strong and with the low intensity of the rides I thought I could ride forever. At the time of writing I'm sat with my immediate family trying to work out what to do next. I'll keep you all updated but right now I am in a dark place. 37 miles today. 499 in total.
Day 8. Monday 18th - Lebach to Virton.
We decided a day of rest was required to help the leg injury so 0 miles today. a chance to spend some time with Hannah, Mum and the kids and to give the bike a once over. Hopefully I can ride again tomorrow.
Day 9, Tuesday 19th - Virton to Guignicourt.
The left leg (inner quad) is just in pieces. I'm now effectively riding one legged which in turn is putting real strain on my right knee, but I'll keep going until I can't ride fast enough to stay upright.
Today was a really tough day. All 86 miles into a pretty tasty headwind that along with only one useful leg meant I was really slow. I'm now using the granny gear on almost every hill, and show me anything that's over a few percent gradient and I'm off the bike and walking, but at least I'm still going.
I'll strap the leg up tomorrow, thanks to Hannah for finding me a compression bandage, and go again, but I'm long past the point of enjoying the rides. It's great finishing and starting with the kids though, seeing them waiting and shouting 'Daddy' and grinning with joy as I get to the end makes it all worth it. Total now 585 miles.
Day 10, Wednesday 20th - Guignicourt to Cambrai.
With the leg well strapped it was 79 miles before I felt any pain and what a difference it made being able to use both legs again! With 4 days left to go I'm starting to think I might actually be able to do this!
A more hilly ride today and i much preferred it, although only because I had 2 usable legs! A good climb is usually followed by a good descent and it's on those long descents that I can stop pedalling, get out of the saddle, rest my sore arse for a bit and stretch my legs to avoid cramp.
I meant it last night when I said I wasn't enjoying the rides anymore, but today was different. I stayed dry too which helps! 90 miles done, total now 675 miles.
Day 11, Thursday 21st - Cambrais to Bethune.
So day 11 is done and it was a hilly afternoon. Still going well, but starting to creak in a few places. The body in general is starting to feel tired and the legs are getting pretty heavy. The strapping is still helping the left leg, but my right knee is really getting upset now. The back of my left leg just above the knee has a nasty sore developing from the rubbing of the compression bandage and I'm spending as much time as possible out of the saddle to rest my poor backside. And on top of that only 2 fingers and a thumb are just about usable on each hand! 91 miles today so 766 in total. Through the tunnel to Folkestone tomorrow then back on the bike.
Day 12, Friday 22nd - Folkestone to Littlehampton.
92 miles done. That's 858 in total so far. Just two more days to go.
It was such a pleasure to be back on England's overcrowded, poorly maintained, weather scarred and pot hole covered roads today. The ignorant drivers just add to the fun! Not all drivers of course, but we do seem to have a bigger share of them over here!
After well over 750 miles riding on the wrong side of the road it really took some getting used to going the other way around roundabouts again!
I've been riding in to a headwind almost every day, but I knew that when I planned to be travelling from east to west, but I didn't give it any thought when I planned today's ride along the south coast. I got absolutely battered by the wind out there today, it was pretty strong all day!
The body is still just about holding itself together with the help of some strapping and pain killers, but only 70 odd miles to do tomorrow so a nice short day. Then just a little 50 mile tiddler on Sunday, just a little recovery spin really!
I see my awesome sisters are arranging a little get together on Sunday
Day 13, Saturday 23rd - Littlehampton to Holmsley.
Just 74 miles today and apart from Southampton it was a beautiful ride. The morning was spent on my favourite type of roads. Narrow, winding country lanes with loads of short, sharp climbs and a few long steady ones too. The afternoon in the new forest. Beautiful scenery and the sun on my back all day. Without doubt it was my favorite ride of all 13 days so far.
I can hardly believe that tomorrow is the last day, but my body is glad it is! I have almost nothing left in my legs, but with only 50 miles to do tomorrow what is left should be enough! 932 miles in total.
Day 14, Sunday 24th - Holmsley to Melbury Osmond.
It was wonderful coming over the crest of the hill and down to the pub to see so many of you there waiting for me. It was really something that you had made the effort to see me home.
After the pub it was a short ride up to the church to see Dad. I love you big man. It's been tough at times, but I enjoyed the ride and raising so much money has made it worth it.
I've got some thanking to do.....
First and foremost Hannah, for all the support throughout week 2 and for every one of the last 10 months whilst I've been training and planning. You are an incredible woman.
To the kids, for putting up with Daddy always being on the bike, it's playtime again now!
Mum, for all the support of week 2 and more importantly the last 33 years or so. You couldn't wish for a better Mum.
Emma and James for week 1, for the continued support once you got home and helping set up today.
Lily and Andy for your messages throughout, for helping set up today and for the cakes!
To everyone of you who was at the pub today and made it a really special last day, I'm just sorry I didn't get to see and speak to you all properly.
To all those people who sent messages throughout the ride however you sent them. Each one was helpful, particularly when the going got tough in the middle.
To everyone who has donated and helped get us almost over the £5k target, there's still a few hundred I know of to come so I think we'll get there.
To Andrew and Emma for having the kids for a sleepover so that I can get a lie in tomorrow!
To anyone else I haven't mentioned, thanks. 51 miles today. a total of 983.