Day 4 – Shawbury to Preston 81– an unusually short day

Darren was woken rudely by the wood pigeons which I slept like a log through but I woke after another solid nights kip to find another glorious day. We were meeting another of Darrens work colleagues Simon Paul Williams from Wigan who would cycle with us over the shorter distance today. We called in at the very plush nafi and had a full english – big, big mistake!!! (because of the salt in it)

Then we were soon on our way with Simon on his yellow and black mean machine heading North on the A49. We weren’t expecting any big hills and it worked out that way – it seemed like a very relaxed training ride and our average speed was the highest of the adventure. We past through Whitchurch then there was a sign saying road closed in 3 miles – that can’t include us!!! Well when we got to the security in the 3 miles the security guard (who Simon said looked like a Somali pirate – good call) said it did include us and suggest we retraced 3 miles then took the detour. Darren whipped out his ipad to try and find an alternative until the security guard buckled and let us through – no workers on site and a suitable alternative (temporary bridge) over the obstacle, we were through. We found a nice cafe called the lock (or should that be loch?) gate (next to a canal) so we had quick refreshments before I went to take some photos of a boat being lifted.

Then it was on our way only to be met by another road block but this time the water authority had dug a trench right across the middle of the road – so we lifted our bikes and stepped over the channel. Darren was involved with a bully lorry driver who had come right up behind Simon and blasted his horn which led to a war of words and Darren making a polite call to the drivers manager – Darren later received an apology from the company. Then it was onward to the highways agency station near Wigan where we stopped for a while – in the meantime we experienced our first rain which continued for 10 miles. Simon peeled off at his hometown of Wigan leaving Darren and I the last 20 miles to Preston. Our finish was at the station on the motorway where Darren works and one of his chosen charities was represented by little Charlie who is only 1 but had a liver transplant when he was a baby – he’s adorable.

We were then picked up by Darrens wife, Elke and driven back to their home to stop for the night – that was a great meal thanks and I promise Darren – I will stop following you tomorrow ha ha

Well it should be an early night because it’s 115 miles for me tomorrow including the 14 mile climb of Shap and ending at Ecclefechen (the Fech) where I’ll eventually be reunited, briefly with my family 🙂 Looking forward to that!!

Distance: 81.10 mi
Time: 5:48:56
Avg Speed: 13.9 mph
Elevation Gain: 3,376 ft
Calories: 2,161 C
Avg Temperature: 63.8 °F
Time: 5:48:56
Moving Time: 5:43:56
Elapsed Time: 8:30:26


Avg Speed: 13.9 mph
Avg Moving Speed: 14.1 mph
Max Speed: 33.3 mph
Avg HR: 118 bpm
Max HR: 150 bpm

Day 4 route

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Day 3 Bristol to (RAF)Shawbury 114 – could be longest day

First things first a quick breakfast at my Bristol hosts Chris and Sue – thanks for your company – it was good remembering the good ol’ days.

Weather was fine and nothing like the forecast thankfully 🙂

Well, today was the first time I had arranged some riding company so off I set for a 18 mile ride to meet at the Severn Bridge at 8-30 . I would be joined by Darren Leen who had started a day earlier than me but we’d arranged to ride together from Bristol up to Carlisle. He’d also brought along his Boss Simon and his friend Peter Ryan with their ‘support’ driver Jason Lunn. Simon and Peter were on their lightweight racing steeds and Darren had offloaded his luggage for the day into the car but I refused for the 3rd time in 2 days to have anyone carry my stuff (Mrs B says I’m stubborn).

Anyway off we set on what would be a 114 mile day for me – across the Severn bridge then we wound our way up the Monmouth Valley (which I was very impressed with) following the river with some climbs but nothing too severe. Simon (Bianchi Green) was definitely a class act and always seemed to be on top of his game – I struggled all the way until lunch which we had on the grass outside the cathedral in Hereford in the baking sun. Then I got my second wind and there was no stopping me, Darren was struggling with ‘bottom problems’ on the saddle. We stopped once more at an idyllic  riverside pub which had a lot of riders from south east tandem club outside. Then we were off again heading for Shrewsbury where we met in the motorway services and had a final coffee before saying farewell to Jason, Peter and Simon – thanks for your company .

Darren and I then setoff on our 10 mile trip to find RAF Shawbury where he’d arranged our free accommodation for the night – looks like there was a mix up and we were booked for following day. Anyway got sorted and shown to our rooms which were basic (to say the least) but good enough for 1 night. Quick shower in the ‘Ablutions’ and changed and walk down to the village for some really tasty food in the local pub.

Tomorrow is going to be our shortest, easiest day and will be joined by another rider (another of Darren’s colleagues).

Distance: 113.76 mi
Time: 8:49:25
Avg Speed: 12.9 mph
Elevation Gain: 6,385 ft
Calories: 3,782 C
Avg Temperature: 66.4 °F
Time: 8:49:25
Moving Time: 8:20:50
Elapsed Time: 11:48:18


Avg Speed: 12.9 mph
Avg Moving Speed: 13.6 mph
Max Speed: 42.9 mph
Avg HR: 131 bpm
Max HR: 251 bpm

Route day 3

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Day Two – Okehampton to Bristol 108 miles – it was nearly my last

After a good nights kip I went down for pre arranged porridge – I even had Cornish clotted cream in it hmmm.

The weather looked nice and sunny so spirits were high as I set off for Bristol on what was supposed to be an easier (longer but less hilly) than yesterday. Soon after I left the fog came down really bad and took a good 15 miles to clear which is where I bumped into a cyclist looking bemused at maps in Crediton – I asked him where he was going and he replied, “Scotland” – so this is Nick from west London (who doesn’t wear a helmet) who was doing Lejog over 14 days on his racing bike with his wife, brother being navigators/ baggage carriers, and his 9 year old daughter playing on her Nintendo dog game in the back of the car. I explained I wasn’t going over Cadbury Hills although my route was 5 miles longer – turns out he took the hillier option as he popped out behind me where our paths crossed again so he asked if he could get a tow, I didn’t mind, so towed him along for 15 miles or so until we parted as I was stopping for lunch – he was finishing in Taunton so only had another 5 miles to go whereas I had 55. If you read this Nick I hope you’ve been successful.

Just after Taunton I noticed a knock which I soon diagnosed as a bottom bracket problem – THIS WAS VERY SERIOUS and could easily spell the end to my attempt – I was gutted that the bike had let me down 😦 I was seriously considering my options: buy a new bike and get my Galaxy posted home/ struggle on to next biggest town (Weston) to find a bike shop and pray they had a bottom bracket in (and could fit it for me), go to the nearest train station and head home with my tail well and truly between my legs.

Anyway I made it to Weston where I asked a girl cyclist (which had a shopping basket on the front) where any LBS’s were she first said Halfrauds (ermmmm no thanks)  then where they kindly agreed to look at it (despite it being after 4-30 and in half an hour they had replaced the failed part. I owe them a huge thank you. So on I went to eventually reach Bristol (later than planned and in the dark) to be hosted by Chris and Sue Harvey – we could’ve reminisced all night and nearly did 🙂

Thanks for your hospitality guys, when Chris does Lejog he’s more than welcome to stop with us – ha ha – he was knackered cycling 1 mile to the station to meet me as I cycled in (and even then he missed me).

Tomorrow I’m meeting Darren Leen from Blackburn and I have a 113 mile trip as I have to cycle 18 miles to reach him and the weather forecast isn’t good.

Tonight isn’t an early night eeeeek

Distance: 107.90 mi
Time: 8:40:48
Avg Speed: 12.4 mph
Elevation Gain: 5,171 ft
Calories: 3,275 C
Avg Temperature: 69.0 °F
Time: 8:40:48
Moving Time: 8:16:43
Elapsed Time: 11:14:52
Avg Speed: 12.4 mph
Avg Moving Speed: 13.0 mph
Max Speed: 42.9 mph
Avg HR: 123 bpm
Max HR: 172 bpm

Route day 2

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Day One – Lands End to Okehampton 106 tough miles

I always knew this day and the first half of the second were going to be the hardest of the trip.

So it was an early start to give me a fighting chance of finishing at a decent time, 6am rise and quick breakfast in a basket then head down to the tacky Lands End complex for a 7am start. I got down so early there wasn’t a soul around so I cheekily self timed a photo of myself in front of the sign 🙂

Just before I left I bumped into 2 others who were about to start but they were supported and they were heading straight up the dangerous A30 which I wouldn’t advise anyone to use. So it was a 7-15 start and conditions a little cool to start but windless (hoorah) and the sun was to come out later. My route would take me along quiet alternatives to the A30 which makes the distance slightly longer but definitely safer. I was making good progress and had managed 60 miles by 11am so decided to take lunch in Wadebridge sitting in the grounds of pub – very nice it was too. I was under no illusion that the afternoon wasn’t going to be hilly and difficult. And so it turned out to be with hill after hill (starting with a right beast of a climb of just under 1,000ft out of Wadebridge which really tested my cooled down legs) but leaving the sting in the tail until 95 miles when I didn’t have much left in the legs. But I pushed on knowing I only had 11 miles to complete. Eventually reaching my destination Upcott House on Upcott Hill – great a 13% climb to end the day 😦

The B&B is well worth the climb set in it’s own grounds with great views (not surprising) and a bonus of being upgraded to a family room which includes a 4 poster and a balcony. The hostess, Kay Bickley was very accommodating letting me leave my bike in their glass porch and also washing/drying my kit overnight

Dinner would be taken at the White Hart hotel (a quick walk down the hill into the town) which consisted Beef Lasagne followed by Apple Struddle and ice cream mmmm

Tomorrow will be a role reversal with all the hills in the first half – let’s hope the legs are fresh. In the second half I’m avoiding the climbs of Cadbury Hills (although I wouldn’t mind their chocolate) and then heading to Weston-super-Mare – wouldn’t it be great to have time to grab an ice cream (Eddie Izzards training technique) before heading east to Bristol to meet up and stay with an ex-colleague from Vaux days, Chris Harvey and his wife Sue. I guess we’ll have plenty of catching up to do.

So it’s off to bed for and early night.

Distance: 105.29 mi
Time: 9:04:51
Avg Speed: 11.6 mph
Elevation Gain: 8,799 ft
Calories: 3,739 C
Avg Temperature: 66.6 °F
Time: 9:04:51
Moving Time: 8:53:00
Elapsed Time: 11:03:21
Avg Speed: 11.6 mph
Avg Moving Speed: 11.9 mph
Max Speed: 38.3 mph
Avg HR: 129 bpm
Max HR: 175 bpm

Day one route


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Day zero – getting to Lands End

Well the adventure started when I bid farewell to my family and I headed over to Newcastle Central Station to catch my first class travel with Cross Country trains at 10:44am leaving spot on time. Once I got past the jobsworth ticket inspector on the train who insisted I shouldn’t have been able to upgrade to 1st class. Oh well, it’ll not happen again. I could then settle down for the rest of journey bound for Penzanze with an eta of 19-30 to be followed by a 10 mile ride down to Lands’ End to check-in ( and hopefully find somewhere to eat. My first travelling companion was a recently titled great aunt who was very excited to see her new relation as he had had a traumatic birth almost not making it but luckily he did and she was off to Hereford (via Birmingham New St) to see him – fingers crossed everything goes ok for the little fella. Next lady joined me Birmingham to Bristol, English teacher based in Switzerland but raving about our countryside – I think I talked AT HER for long enough. From there it was a trip down to Taunton then onto Exeter where we joined the coastline though Dawlish. I really think I’ve had enough of the complimentary coffee and biscuits(pictured). Last person I get chatting too was somebody who works for the railway and was travelling around the uk by train in 4 days – taking photos through the train windows – guess he must’ve liked to take photos of his reflection?? The 10 mile ride down to Sennen turned out to be much hillier than I thought and the one and only pub, the First and Last Inn stopped selling food early on a Saturday so fish and chips and bottle of diet Coke(other types of refreshments are available) it is then!! Then it was quickly back to the digs to meet Susie the perfect host who quickly showed me around before settling down for my ‘supper’ whilst chatting to/at some very interesting people including and Indian family who live in London and specialise in really boring train journeys. BTW – gutted as there was no sunset at Lands’ End . Early to bed as I have an early start today.

Day Zero route

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Last day before my BIG adventure, some final thoughts…

I keep saying to my wife “it’s a long way you know?” and she looks at me as if it to say … YES!!! I recently realised that this is the biggest adventure I’ll have ever undertaken by a long way!!  I still look at the distances and climbs (combined with my luggage) of the first 2 days and part of me will be relieved when they are over. I am looking forward to meeting and cycling with Darren from Blackburn (also doing LeJog) for a few days (from day 3)  and day heading into Scotland with colleague Jed Woodhouse and cousin Keith Bradley (they’d better wait for me).

This week has been all about final preparations of kit etc I’ve tapered the training right back  (only 1 x 40 miler all week) and yes, I’ve been ‘carbing up’ 🙂

I did say I’d be putting a feature live so if you are interested in where I’ve been between 10 mins ago and for the last 24hrs then you’ll be able to check my progress up the country checkout the ‘Live Progress (within 10 minutes) ‘ tab at top of page TIP: bookmark it

Before I leave there are certain people I must thank for me to have progressed this far:

My wife and children – all those training hours. Friends, family and colleagues who always ask how it’s going. KB Cycles for their support, expertise, help and bike prep along the way. Total strangers on CTC and Bikeradar forums. Likeminded Lejoggers/Joglers – good luck to you all. John, for the loan of some lightweight outdoor kit. I have also been inspired by bro in law Barry  who,  after breaking his back a number of years ago recently did a 2 way Windermere swim (21 miles) overnight in his Speedos.

I’m taking my netbook so, depending on signal I’ll hopefully blog each day (or as often as possible) so again bookmark this page to see my latest posts.

“Every worthwhile accomplishment has a price tag attached to it. The question is always whether you are willing to pay the price to attain it – in hard work, sacrifice, patience, faith, and endurance.” ~John C. Maxwell~

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Less than one week to go…

Well, that’s it, the hard training is now over, I can only hope I’ve done enough – I certainly think I have although I still have a nagging doubt that my daily schedule might be a tad ambitious although I can always tweak it on the way as I haven’t booked my accommodation or return train in advance.

I’ve chatted to Darren from Blackburn who is doing it the same time as me and we’ve agreed to meet and travel from Bristol to Carlisle – it was a relief when he told me he too is a ‘plodder’ 🙂  so things are looking good as long as I can make it up to Bristol by my second night.

The bike – had it’s major service at KB Cycles and required a new headset, chain, rear cassette and bottom bracket – so nothing major then!! I’ve just had a puncture on my way top work today which the slime failed to seal so I’ll replace the tube – better this week than next. New front wheel arrived so that’s fitted.

Did my final 67 hilly miler up to the cyclists cafe at Elsdon which is hosted by Marion and Alan Graham. If you are a cyclist in the area you really should pop in and see them (closed Thursdays) and try the home made Gibbet cake which apparently helps you climb up the Winter’s Gibbet. Had a slight twinge in right knee – applied the Ibuleve gel as soon as I’d had my recovery drink (chocolate milkshake).

So, this week will be tapering down the miles and carbohydrate loading (at least I have an excuse this week) and doing final kit checks before the adventure starts from Newcastle Central Station on Saturday.

I will be adding a new page (live progress tab) just prior to my departure to the blog which will show every 10 mins how far/little I have progressed during the trip – feel free to bookmark it when it goes live.

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The ups and downs of LeJog preparation…

Well, it had to happen, things were going swimmingly in training … until last week 😦

I’ve suffered with asthma all my life and it’s always just once a year with either dry air or hay fever triggering it off.

It’s time was last week so very little training last week boooo

Sorted with a anew inhaler I now seem to be over it (hopefully) and have been pushing the hilly training mileages again this week.

On the positive side I had my bike into KB Cycles for a full, final service prior to my ride and they replaced the head set, chain and cassette as well as tweaking everything else – rides like a dream now with no creaks or groans. Just need to replace the front wheel as the rim is quite worn – new wheel on order!!

I’ve asked for any volunteers to accompany me on any days as I always think it’s the head that gives way before the body which makes the task much more difficult going solo the full way. Through one of the forums I post to one such rider is doing LeJog the same time as me and offered to ride together from Bristol up to Carlisle, checkout Darren’s site at . He’s then heading more west than myself but it’ll be good to have company. I also have a colleague coming across to Carlisle to cycle Carlisle to Glasgow.

A few rides recently:


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How did this happen???

It doesn’t seem like 5 mins ago that I was thinking, 4 months to go, time for some serious training and time to lose some of this weight (so I don’t have to lug any more than necessary over the hills). and now it’s one month to go – yikes!!!!!

Well, I can confirm yes, I have been training hard but sadly the weight hasn’t gone 😦 boooo. I seem to get the munchies all night after a long ride. So, I guess I’ll have to just continue counting the equipment in grams and cutting down where possible but I won’t be cutting labels out of clothes to save weight like I’ve seen on some forums.

And finally (for now) a question I often get asked “which charity are you doing it for so I can sponsor you?” – the answer this time is I’m not as I’m not convinced I can do the mileage day on day so, if I have a mechanical with the bike or with me then I can jump on the train and come home and will only be letting myself down.

If I had been doing it for charity then it would’ve been for my cousin as he battles against Motor Neurons disease at 26. So if you want to make any donation you could visit

I’ll update recent rides soon…

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An app, a helmet, paper map and more hilly miles

Well, I’ve been looking for an app for my iphone that could update in a live’ish way but without absolutely hammering the battery life. Hopefully anyone that’s interested in my progress will be able to keep check once I publish the url.

I’ll be using my Garmin 800 to do all* my navigating having now gained the confidence with the unit.

The app that has answered my prayers is called followmee (£1.79 from the itunes store) I have it running all the time and it uploads my co-ords every 10 minutes onto a web based map and doesn’t drain the battery at all 🙂

I’ve also just taken delivery of the lightest (yes I’m still counting grams) helmet in the world – Limar, Pro 104 – Italian origin and difficult to locate a supplier so ended up buying over the net and taking the chance – impressed with it so far.

Finally some recent ride updates:

Elsdon loop in afternoon after work


100 miles, 8000ft climbing including back to back monster climbs

48 miles, 3,600ft climbing after work


More to be added soon

*I’ve just bought a road atlas which I’ve marked with the route highlighted just in case all else fails!!! Ill then cut out the bits of pages I need … thinking of those grams again 😉

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