Day 2. What an awful day! I’m not going to dwell on it – partly because it’s done now, and partly because I’m pretty tired and need some sleep. I was up just before dawn – the hostel in Okehampton was pretty empty and I had the dorm to myself so was able to spread out. I was on my way just before 7, on what was looking like a pleasant morning. For about 5 minutes.
Out of nowhere the clouds descended, then started emptying. And they followed me all day, along with their close friend, the wind. Right into my face. When you’re cycling the kinds of distances I need to hammer out each day, it’s hard to say which is more frustrating.
Things got worse soon after. Heading along the A30, the road surface wasn’t great and visibility was appalling. Lorries were storming past me and started throwing up loose stones and rocks. One hit me – I veered left, hit a brick on the roadside and fought to get back under control. Just as I started winning the battle a grid appeared and there was no escape – in the wet there is no grip, and the only thing I could do was make sure I loaded as much weight onto my left as possible so I’d fall into the reservation not the truck. I hit the barrier and tumbled over. Thankfully pretty much unscathed, but my hip is still feeling it.
Most of the day is a blur. Or rather, I big miserable rain cloud. I was just battling all day. All day. Physically it was draining, but mentally it was an immense challenge. You have to draw on everything – all the reasons you’re riding, the people who are cheering you on, and plenty of anger at nature making it as hard as possible for you. But also the positive aspiration that if you can rise to this challenge and overcome it, you’re in good shape for what’s to come.
Then I got lost. Do not, under any circumstances, trust road signs around Bristol. I was on the A38, where I needed to be, then suddenly it was the A4 and the A38 was nowhere to be seen. After a while of riding beside the Avon, I resorted to do the only thing a lad can do in that situation – phoned home. Mum and Dad were immense. The guided me back to the A38 in about 40 mins, and it took about a further hour to get to my hotel in Dursley. It’s worth saying that they did it all from Google Maps, so I’m not sure who had the bigger challenge that day – but we all overcame it. Thank God.
Worth saying that the locals in the Old Bell in Dursley, where I was staying, were brilliant. Reminded me of my local pub back in Salford.
Best Moment – realising that I hadn’t broken anything of myself or my bike after the crash, and riding under the incredible Clifton Suspension Bridge. Fair play Brunel.
Soundtrack Highlights – only one: Idiot Wind, Bob Dylan. Summed it all up.
Worse moment – everything other than the best moments.