We had a great day cycling today. Fewer hills meant we could cover the miles much quicker. Despite an early start and a fast paced 30 miles, we still felt under time pressure throughout the day as we had 80 miles to cover before arriving back in Gloucestershire. A number of things hampered our speed and the day was not without it’s challenges.
A few minutes after starting our journey today, the barrier of a level crossing came down with only half our group getting through. A five minute delay separates the group significantly and it took much of the morning for us to regroup.
We encountered two road closures on roads we had planned to cycle on. Stuck at the side of an extremely busy road with articulated lorries hurtling past was scary to say the least. We did however find a route around this closure but this delayed group by at least 15 minutes.
The second road closure was a bigger hurdle but with some safety checks, bike carrying and team work we managed to get around the problem. Another delay of 20 minutes or so.
Rush Hour Traffic
We arrived in Gloucestershire during rush hour. Many drivers were considerate and left lots of room for us, but more than a few flew past us much too closely and much too fast. Add to this the trauma of navigating busy roundabouts and roadworks and you might realise why we didn’t find this element of the cycle much fun.
We cycled on a busy ‘A’ road during rush hour which had not yet been finished. Rough, thick gravel was our road surface, making the cycling treacherous. Flying pieces of gravel were nothing compared to the challenge of keeping upright on such an unpredictable, slippy surface.
At 5.30pm in rush hour traffic having a puncture is no fun. Add to the stress of cycling in rush hour with the fact that we have already cycled 65 miles and had another 15 miles still to cycle. Having just repaired my puncture, Mark couldn’t resist helping another cyclist to repair his puncture.
We are spending 10 hours a day in the saddle. The term ‘saddle sore’ has taken on a whole new meaning! No combination of padded cycle shorts, ‘bottom butter’ or tailor made saddles can mitigate the pain of cycling for so many hours, day after day. Legs, bottoms, shoulders and various other body parts seem to ache continually.
Our bikes are suffering the consequences of constant use too. Despite being serviced and looked after, broken chains, punctures, gear problems, damaged tyres are daily occurrences and take time to repair. Thankfully, we have a fantastic support team and late last night Chris sent this message of hope. “Your bike will be delivered, ready to cycle at 7am if it takes me all night!’
Despite having the latest technology, poor GPS signals and a multitude of other problems mean we can frequently be seen ‘doing a u-turn’. Our efforts to leave Tiverton yesterday are a prime example of this!
However, despite the long hours in the saddle, we are loving the challenges that each day brings. Another 80 miles covered and another 80 to do tomorrow.