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Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Halfway Stage

Sorry we've been missing - Cornish & Devon Hills in way of good communication.

This momentous journey where we've lost count of the huge hills we've climbed, how many seaside villages we've visited, how many wet day starts, how many lovely people we've met along the way, how many amazing coastal landscapes, has slightly dimmed this evening by the cycling incident on the A379 into Shaldon when Jake came off his bike and damaged his handlebars and brakes.

Thanks to Bob from Braking Wind Cycles, Dawlish the bike was repaired and we missed the ferry over the Exe and are camping West of the river at Leadstone Campsite, courtesy of Andrew, the proprietor.

Jake was also involved in a showering incident when he managed to lose his pyjamas & towel because he went off to play.
Highlights: It's been a fantastic journey of discovery - lanes of surprising beauty with ferns on the banks along the roadside, an amazing array of wild flowers, rolling hills (and those very steep ones too). Encouragement from so many people, Sid & Mike 2 campsite owners who boosted the kitty by £50 between them, cafe owners and walkers in the middle of nowhere who have been touched by Jake's extraordinary journey. People have been flabbergasted by the distance covered and the terrain that's been tackled. Their enthusiasm and encouragement has been touching and motivating.
Halfway, same to go again. We are coping surprisingly well. Micro camping cookbook soon be released - grab cornish pasties when you can and top up on cream teas!
We would dearly love to see friends and other folk along the way and thank all texters. Thanks to Mac for his training over the last 6 months - it's paying off.
Will try to keep this updated subject to connections and power.
Better weather would be great and an opportunity to actually enjoy one of these beaches would be fab too.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

It's wet, we must be in Cornwall

Just a really quick note to say IT’S RAINING!
12 hours of persistent wetting drizzle meant a cancelled trip to the beach and an unscheduled trip to the campsite laundry tumble driers.
A few hitches; rain, Jake’s publicity t-shirts are still at home, the National Cycle Route to Land’s End is very sandy (not good for gears and brakes), the A30 is amazingly busy being as it’s next stop – water.
Aiming to pack our wet tents early and hit the road tomorrow – some daunting hills to get us to Penzance.
Philip complaining of ailments, Jake taken up residence in someone else's tent - last minute nerves or is Nic driving the boys nuts?
P.S. trial ride should be on Endomondo

Saturday, 31 July 2010

This is REAL!

Well all is safely gathered in and down at Lower Treave Campsite near Land's End - not without a few toys being throw out of the pram in last minute nerves.
Nic had misplaced a couple of important bits of kit and that meant a midnight end to the last night in a bed. Philip had a paddy and all was eventually resolved with the discovery of said bits of kit.
Jake started out very nervous - agitated & grumpy - to be expected, however we ended up being 7.5 hours on the road, 256 miles so what a relief to arrive at Land's End.
Glorious weather, fabulous panoramic views of sunlight glinting off the sea and a realisation that this is REAL!
Thanks go out to everyone for their support especially Jake's grandparents, Barrie & Angela who have done the jaunt down to the end of country to deliver people and their bikes.
Tents put up in light drizzle, barely warm enough this evening and absolutely no room in panniers for extra clothing or extra anything.
Quick zoom round and beach time tomorrow together with photo opportunities - spirits restored although Philip's spirits would be even better with the spirit of Jameson's Whisky!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Are We Nearly There Yet?

The answer, rather scarily, is YES!
A week today we will have set up camp at Lower Treave near Land's End and will be trying to get Jake to go to sleep.
It's been a quiet week on the blog because it's been a hectic week everywhere else.
Tearful; as Jake left his tiny village school to head for Middle School in September. The last day was the extraordinary roller-coaster of Leavers' Service for Jake and farewells for Philip & I as we said goodbye to our Year 5 pupils and also our Headmaster.
Excitement; with the arrival of a package for Jake.... cycle clothing from Just Juniors
Cyclewear, who have kindly sponsored some of his kit.
Jake was beside himself when he saw his bright yellow Polaris jumper and Just Junior windproof jacket but then he saw the bib-shorts! Given half a chance he would have worn them to bed.
Bemusement; how on earth are we going to cope with all this technology? Philip has a new mobile phone - can't see it lasting the journey if he doesn't quickly master the whole touch screen phenomenon. We are trying out a Mobile phone 'App' (would you believe) called Endomondo to allow one and all to track our moves on a daily basis, it must be easier than we're making it! And then there's the camera, hmmm how does it take clear shots of moving cyclists & how can it be easily got at on the bike?
Self-conscious; Jake & Nic were interviewed on BBC Hereford & Worcester at 7.30 on Friday morning. Nic does NOT like the sound of her own voice (contrary to the opinions of Jake and Philip) and as for Jake - what's the audio equivalent of a rabbit caught in headlights?
Tired; End-of-termitis, was joined by a heavy cold for Jake - low activity levels therefore the order of the day. Wednesday saw our final session at Elite Fitness and Health. Thanks Mac!! Muscle overload on quads, abs and glutes meant negotiating stairs or even sitting down was very tricky on Thursday evening, nigh on impossible on Friday and only eased by a pedal on
Nervous; It's a week to go. People have been very generous and we've raised another £130 this week - that's a lot of people willing us to complete the task. We want to do ourselves and everyone else proud.
Enthusiastic; Aren't we lucky? This will be a fantastic opportunity to see our coastline, meet people and raise funds for a great cause.... Counting the days

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

so much to do !

tuesday 20th July and we are looking into solar powered packs to keep our phones etc charged up! School stuff is impacting on training with leavers service and the like requiring lots of input. I wish more people would intereract with us via the blog or our phones and raise our sponsorship total and our spirits! ! Philip

Sunday, 11 July 2010

A Rude Awakening!

We are now the proud owners of 2 lightweight tents. Just a note to say we have had fantastic support and service from the Camping Equipment Retailers, Oswald Bailey, and in particular, their staff at Bromsgrove. They close at 5.30pm , we were still there pouring cups of water over our prospective tent way beyond 6.00pm - many, many thanks to them!

The acquisition of our Coleman Avior X3 meant that Philip and Nic had no excuse - get out there and pitch that tent and sleep on that skinny roll mat. Jake can sleep anywhere -
what a useful attribute that is.

We drew the line at cooking outside (secret: We can't work out how to organise our stove and cookware - it's a solid fuel stove and we are being very dim). Suffice to say if we don't crack it
soon, Philip is likely to build a big fire and melt it down for scrap.

Friday night was survived - actually quite a balmy night, even Nic who wears jumpers at the slightest provocation managed to sleep in her ultralight, Snugpak sleeping bag. It's a rather groovy cherry red, not necessarily the most important attribute to a piece of camping equipment but it's a girl thing!

Well breakfasted (in the house) we packed our panniers, Jake's were pretty much up to weight and there were just a few items of clothing and the bike spares missing from the rest of the team. We decided not to overface ourselves and headed out round Bredon Hill for the 17 mile jaunt. They make a difference, whilst not unduly concerned by the hills, Jake certainly found it a challenge and he travelled 2 or more gears easier up the hills.

We then transferred our kit to another garden and set up camp again. We needed to be near the TV to watch Armstrong, Wiggins & Contador tackle the first big hill. Nic also took the opportunity to set up a new 'App' for her mobile phone - get her! They were going to try out the Endomondo sports tracking system.

A good sleep and early rise augured well with a ETD set at 9.00am. "Hmmm, Jake where are your cleats?" 2 hours later after a mercy dash across the countryside we set off in an attempt to have a day's cycling that would feel something like Cornwall. Just a couple of panniers with provisions, repair kit and long-sleeved jerseys (x3), we needed to experience success and not be disheartened by the need to walk everywhere. Where better than the Cotswolds?

Bourton on the Water is on the Windrush River, it is also in the Cotswolds - leave Bourton and resign yourself to a climb, however you choose to leave. Having previously headed out from Lower Swell heading either East or West, we thought we should try out Southerly routes. It was a glorious day, breezy and sunny. Wheat, barley and oat crops are turning yellow, there is an abundance of wild flowers everywhere although grassland is already looking parched.

The roads we pedalled down were quiet and took us through delightful Cotswold villages, Farmington, Northleach, Coln St. Dennis, Compton Abdale, Hazleton, Turkdean, Notgrove and Cold
Aston. Some of this route was National Cycle Network 48. There were hills, in fact, over 1100 feet of climbing in our 37 miles - a good comparison for our early Cornwall days. Some of the hills were tricky, like the climb leading from Chedworth towards Compton Abdale

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


Just a quick note to say Nic had one of those special biking moments on the way back from work yesterday. A family of four stoats scuttled across the road just in front of her - no more than a couple of yards away at most.
Ah, the benefits of pedalling!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Busy, busy, busy!

That's the weekend over and done with - off to work for the rest (if only).

We've had a blast but we must be incredibly wicked the amount of rest we have missed out on. After a late night on Friday, sadly no details except to say the food is great at The King's Arms, Mickleton, Saturday started with a list of chores. Heading the list - put in 2 decent cycle rides we had our eyes set on a climb out of Winchcombe.

We also needed to get our campsites organised - August looms and we need to know we can pitch up and pitch! What fantastic support and help we have had from all our 17 campsites along the South Coast, it would be fair to say that some have been fairly surprised when we've told them the 'Bike with Jake' team members. We've even got a possible offer from Lee at Tremorvu, Ashton, Cornwall to cycle some of the Day 2 stage with us.

Hmmm, Saturday's ride could be called, "Who's in charge of the repair kit?" Jake hit a pothole hard about 3 miles into our ride, dappled shade plays havoc with distinguishing what is road and what is hole. Thank goodness for cyclo-cross and the training they do at Halesowen, a real wobble meant Jake clipped Philip's rear wheel and went into a bigger wobble. Everyone remained intact and on we went. 2 miles later Jake's rear tyre was remarkably flat at the bottom. The inner tube, the tyre levers were..... 5 miles back down the road. Lesson learned. I don't know if there's a technical term for it but we basically we pumped and pedalled along the route home.

Nic would really love to know how come she gets to use the tyre levers on those hideously tight road tyres on the Isla bike. Sore knuckles and finally repaired puncture, pumped tyre and - all you cyclists out there groan in sympathy, the presta valve broke. If anyone can explain why this is deemed a sensible system we'd be delighted to hear from them. More lumps out of knuckles and job done.

No time for a bike ride now, it was off to friends for their fundraising party in aid of Oxfam and the Gurkha Welfare Trust. Fred and Geraldine are walking 60 miles in 24 hours across the South Downs - here's hoping that Geraldine's sprained ankle is sufficiently repaired by 17 July.
Whilst we were there we had our first offer of a friend riding a section with us - Thanks Judy!

Sunday, we could put it off no longer, the ride out of Winchcombe was upon us and it was windy,very windy. Having negotiated yesterday's pothole, we continued on and passed through Beckford, Alderton, Gretton Fields and Gretton. There was a real ale festival being held this weekend in Gretton, thank goodness we went through too early for opening time. Winchcombe was reached in good time and we searched out the public conveniences before the climb - time wasting? Anyway, why have you never got 20p when you need it - note to team, "Take 20p pieces to cover all eventualities."

A choice of 3 hills, Cleeve Hill (busy road and not a very scenic route home), the hill towards Belas Knap (the Long Barrow) or Sudeley Hill. We knew the road towards Belas Knap was steep and Fred (as in Fred and Geraldine, above) had cycled it the previous day - we couldn't risk being out-done. So Sudeley Hill it was, with the promise of a drink and a munch at The Farmer's Arms in Guiting Power. It's quite steep in places with a couple of those chevron things marking the worst section on the map. Jake and Nic were travelling unladen, leaving Philip to bring provisions and repair kit. Nic matched Jake to the chevrons having passed Philip walking, having to acknowledge frustratedly that missing 2 weeks training does make a difference. Nic then capitulated as Jake ground it out onwards and upwards.

All that could be done was to walk for a while and shout encouragement at Jake. As the adults remounted their bike, out of the steepest section, fellow cyclists bowled down the hill shouting gleefully, "He's miles ahead!" Jake made it. He climbed 680ft in just under 2 miles (courtesy of Earth Tools) and held his arms aloft. Well, apparently he did because the adults were still pedalling up long after he began his descent. Fantastic effort Jake!!

The Farmer's Arms was a very welcome stop and the sheltered garden meant we were out of the wind for half an hour. From Guiting Power we went through Temple Guiting, Taddington, Snowshill and back down into the Vale through Broadway, Childswickham and home. We stopped at Pauline's Veg Stall in
Taddington ("This stall is based on trust. Please pay for produce)
and paid £1 for the most fantastic looking bunch of carrots -
thanks Pauline.

In all it was 36 miles, including 1 big hill. Our average daily mileage for the trip and similar terrain for some of the ride. Who's idea was the panniers? The feeble adults returned to a cup of tea and arm-chair viewing of the Men's Final at Wimbledon. Not Jake, 3 hours of 'Wet and Wild' birthday party for him courtesy of a classmate. No wonder he crashed and burned at 7.00pm.

Back on track this week hopefully let's see if we can get those lungs working.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

One team member is doing some exercise!

Jake's School Sports Day is over and heralds the last few weeks of Jake as a First School pupil. Jake has his head full of school stuff at the moment with lots going on, end of term trips, transition days, transition sports festival and a new Year 6 walk on the hill.

Add this into the mix of hot weather, a looming marathon cycle journey and 3 parties on the horizon and that's a very tired and emotional 10 year old.
The good news is that his school team, 'Saturn' won the team trophy today and Jake was thrilled. Fantastic to celebrate a team victory in his last year at the school.

The weekend beckons - the weather will probably break because we will be back on our bikes.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Alternative fitness regimes

It's been a while but Jake and Nic got on their bikes and whizzed round Bredon Hill (16.5 miles). As we went anti-clockwise a whole host (collective noun?) of cyclists passed us on the clockwise circumnavigation of the Hill. It was plenty hot enough but there was enough of a breeze to stop the complete melt-down and we averaged 12.4 mph (happy with that), despite a few mardy moments as Nic managed to out-pedal Jake on a couple of the hills.

The week, however, has not been a catalogue of back-to-back cycle rides - far from it. Jake has had other calls on his fitness (as ever). A schools' country dancing festival on Friday - sweltering, followed by fund-raising at Nic & Philip's school which meant how far can you pedal on a static bike? Jake managed 0.72 miles in 2 minutes and was comfortably ahead of all other children (quite a relief, the training works!)

On Saturday, Nic and Jake spent a day by the River Avon. Idyllic, peaceful, calming -that would certainly be true if it wasn't for the fact that it was a bell-boating festival with 50 teams, adults and children,
competing throughout a very long day of cheering and shouting.
What a fantastic event!

Competing parishes were ultra-competitive, a theme not particularly replicated by the parents' event later on but there was an awful lot of water in the boats if that is an indicator of effort!

Jake had a row in the 'A' team for Year 5 and they won their first heat which was a thrill and set the level for the day. Eventually, with Jake returned to boat 'B,' they placed second twice and qualified for the 'C' final.

It is tremendous fun and highlights superbly the total lack of rhythm and timing some people possess. Whilst the occasional clash of oars and lifting of volumes of river water into the boats would be understandable in 9 and 10 year olds, this did not prove to be the case.

It was, in fact, the adults who paddled their boats as if bailing in water was a pre-requisite and who managed two spectacular crashes in the heats of the parents races. Boats with
experienced helms were propelled across 3 or 4 lanes 'taking out' fellow competitors and opening up free -water to others. Nic's team profited from one such incident and by some bizarre timing fluke found themselves in the 'A' final. Nic was required to row again having just dried out from the first race - thank goodness for the bikes because she and Jake had cycled down and a change into dry lycra, even in the heat was a relief.

If you ever get an opportunity to go bell-boating - GO! Great fun, excellent team spirit and a really recommended way to spend some time - just remember a towel & a change of clothes.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Training - paying benefits?

Jake and 31 other cubs and scouts from his group, boys and girls, made it to the top of Snowdon. A testament to the efforts of the whole group; children, accompanying parents and leaders. We have been given to understand that the guide was a little reticent about the prospect of leading 32 children from 8 years old upwards to the top of Wales' highest peak. The weather was hot and blowy but after a 5 hour journey there on Friday evening and bed no earlier than 11.00 p.m. they had enough reserves to rise on Saturday ready to make it up and back before bolting an evening meal and crashing into bed.

Not to be out done, which of course they were, Nic & Philip decided to put their Wednesday 'Boot Camp' training into practice and head for some hill (repetitions) reps on their unladen bikes. A 6 mile warm-up brought them to the foot of a mile long climb, a stiffish bit at the beginning, gentle slopes and areas of short effort. Probably rates as a 6/10 hill - they all count. Up and down the other side, back up (a quite nasty start on the return) and down to the start point, avoiding some really lethal pot holes that lept out at them through the dappled light under the trees lining the descent. Next a half rep up and straight back down - important to remember to fuel up well before setting out! About turn for the final up, down the far side and a return journey.

It was felt necessary to stop and chat to a couple who had been quietly enjoying the view and the spectacle of up to a dozen gliders floating eerily above. In the course of an hour and 10 miles we had pedalled past them 5 times - that's getting lost spectacularly! Five successful reps completed, time for Nic to collect Jake from his stroll up Snowdon - no prizes for guessing whose legs ached the most.

Looks like we might get some warm weather training in this week. Summer is here, let's hope it stays with us through August.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

It's been a long week

We've reached another Sunday, but it's been a trial. This is not least because Nic & Philip went for a training session on Wednesday and have spent the subsequent few days moving around rather slowly.

The technical term, we were informed, is muscle overload. On occasion this is supposed to be a good thing - when exactly?! After a standard warm-up, our 'hard-work' antennae were immediately twitching as we left the gym for the car-park. Walking lunges should be carried out in the privacy of your own home unless you are an olympic athlete - this is something we learned very quickly. We have spent more than enough time balancing on two feet and walking, we thought we had it down to a fine art. It's very embarassing when moving forward without a drunken wobble seems to come at a premium. FIVE sets!

We moved on to sundry strengthening exercises that involved the kerb in the car park and holding onto a bit of fencing. Then came the next trial, Mac has a wall outside the gym, on consideration, it's about 3 bricks too high. Step-ups, three sets, followed by jogging and sprinting. Nic has never had a fast-twitch muscle fibre in her body and age is also now against her. The 'sprint' took place on legs of blancmange, even arms pumping failed to get much above a stagger. Philip seemed to be able to do this exercise - maybe he'd been cheating on the step-ups. We finished the session with a 1000 metre row. It's a good job Mac has gone on holiday, given the level of difficulty a set of stairs became on Thursday and Friday. Oh, don't worry we cycled on Thursday just to keep the stiffness at bay -Ha!

The proof is in the doing, whilst Jake wends his way back from a hopefully successful attempt at walking up Snowdon with the cubs, Nic and Philip are planning some cycling reps up a local hill.

The benefits of training - let's see.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Pubs - great for getting donations?

Jake awoke refreshed from his camping experience and had not been too cold - very good result!

Having not been on a bike for a week we decided to head off into the Cotswolds and get some miles on our saddles. Jake was loaded with his new tent, sleeping bag and some snacks and bits and pieces in one pannier - gently does it.

What a lovely 27 mile ride we had. From our start point in Lower Swell across to Bourton on the Water, Little Rissington, Church Westcote, Nether Westcote, Foscot, Bledington (The King's Head), Churchill, Kingham, Daylesford, Broadwell, Donnington, finally back to Lower Swell.

The hill out of Bourton on the Water runs parallel to 'The Drainpipe' out of Wick Rissington (see earlier blog) but is longer and not quite such a climb - 50ft. less. It was amazing how much easier it seemed and Jake kept grinding until he got to the top despite the added weight. It must be said, the gearing on his Isla Bike is great, although we know he wants desperately to grow enough to be out of his 26" wheels and competing with us like-for-like, he gets there.

The weather was deceptive; sunshine, with a stiff breeze blowing, the sort of day you need to remember your Factor 30. Everywhere looked very lush, a myriad shades of green rolled out in front of us as we looked across from Nether Westcote. It was also a day for fabulous wafting perfumes from the fields of beans and cloaks of honeysuckle draped over garden walls and hedges.

Being so close to Bledington, we took a slight detour in order to fuel up on the King's Head cheesy chips (probably not the image they want to conjure, but very welcome). A much busier lunchtime than our previous visit, we were still able to grab a table outside and enjoy the warmth. Philip was sent in to fetch the provisions and came back armed with a £10.00 donation for Action for Children! Thank you very much Will Cairns from Pedal England, we have added it to our offline donations tally on the http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/bikewithjake fundraising page.

We were keen to return home from Bledington without any mechanical disasters this time so we opted for our gentle return via Kingham and Churchill. Churchill was hosting its Classic & Vintage Car Show, sadly we'd left it a little late to pay a visit but what a great setting!

A day that proved an excellent anti-dote to workday pressures and heavy training sessions. We ambled, achieved our targets on distance and weight carrying, enjoyed stunning views, scents and generosity - just what was needed to give us a lift as we hit 50 days to go and counting!

Our First Sponsors

Saturday, 12 June

Jake's School Fete - thanks to the PTA for allowing us to have a stand in exchange for a small donation to PTA funds. We decided to set up the stand so that Jake's schoolmates could see his bike all fully laden with his kit.

It looked an awful lot of stuff which was quite a sobering thought. However, the object of the exercise was to encourage people to part with their money. Of course, they were already giving to the school so they hadn't necessarily come prepared for another charity request.

There was quite a lot of interest and many people seemed impressed at the idea of a 10 year old tackling such a challenge. From a village
school fete we attracted 11 sponsors and a number of people who have taken the information away to hopefully make a donation online. A special mention must go to Andrew, Lucy, Alfie and Lily all from the same family who all pledged money!

With Nic manning the stand, Jake was free to enjoy the fete and join the others in a quick re-run of dancing round the Maypole.

The other school tradition was the egg-throwing competition - as you can see from the photo, experience has taught Jake not to wear a shirt! This year, though it was his throwing partner Jessica who got covered.

Fundraising complete for the day, the next most obvious occupation was Jake pitching his tent and trying out his Vango Banshee and lightweight sleeping bag. Jake pitched in the garden and retired for the night in the middle of the first half of the England football match (he must have known something!)

Would he wake refreshed and feeling like a pedal in the morning?

Friday, 11 June 2010

Raising our Profile

Tomorrow is Jake's school fete and we are on a mission. We are looking for sponsors.

After a sudden rush of blood to the head, we came up with the idea of showing Jake's schoolmates exactly what Jake will be carrying and how it will all pack onto the bike.

At gone 10.00pm last night we e-mailed a plea to a local branch of Oswald Bailey Ltd. asking if they had the tent Jake wants to take. A 9.30am telephone call confirmed that they had and they also offered us some discount. An incredibly quick turn-round and very generous offer which means we will be pitching the Vango Banshee for all to see. Have no fear, the pitching exercise will take place well before the general public come in, unless we feel we could charge for the amusement.

Let's hope his friends are impressed and press-gang their parents into sponsoring us.

Exercise was side-lined in the greater scheme of fundraising but the weekend is upon us and we will be out there, despite England's first match in South Africa.

Just a footnote to say that there are days when the importance of 'Action for Children' and what they do for vulnerable children is really brought home to us. Sometimes, in our daily life we become aware of the difficulties faced by young children who are overwhelmed by the circumstances they find themselves in - it's tough to witness, difficult for us to support them, and an incredible motivator.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

A day of technology

No, we haven't been cycling although, pleased to report very little in the way of discomfort following our training session last night.

We are posting this blog despite none of us being computer literate - a testament to the straight-forward approach we have found setting up this site. Today we have launched our virginmoneygiving site:


It is true that some of the photos may be a little scary but that is no excuse for failing to show a full slideshow. Jake looks lovely at Warwick road-race but we want to see more - we want us all to be there looking..... lovely?

On to better news - we are fundraising at Jake's school fete on Saturday - let's hope the weather is good, the school raises lots of money and people feel inclined to sponsor us.

Sorry, must sign off - more internet frustration beckons.

Please don't let this put you off visiting our wonderful page (with countdown calendar showing 53 days to go). If you're feeling generous you may even like to donate?

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

More wimping adults

Jake has finally had his down-time day - Cubs beckoned, so he probably used as much energy hurtling around with his mates as he does pedalling or running.

Tonight it was the adults' turn - in a gym, being put through their paces. What started out as a fitness session ended in a lot of pained groaning as Nic and Philip made the mistake of mentioning the various troubled parts of their body.

So, Philip has been complaining of aching upper arms and shoulders and has been gently swinging his arms in a rather unstable way, searching for relief, during our leisurely pedals through the Cotswolds. Never identify a specific area of aches in the company of a trainer, an anticipatory glint appears in their eye and suddenly, you are being asked for the pain level on a scale of 0 - 10 whilst you breath deeply and try to answer, "Eight", hoping this will mean the pain will stop. The discomfort, and there was some, was actually followed by pain relief. We left the gym laden with specific exercises for all the weird aches we have accumulated and even more stretches to follow after our cycling exertions. It was time well spent.

Who knows what beckons tomorrow or indeed, whether we will be moving smoothly - it must be progress!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Adults are wimps

Nic & Philip have wimped out of exercising today. I don't think you can count 3 lots of 30 seconds doing the dreaded 'plank' as a full exercise programme Nic - no, honestly I don't!

Jake was out there though doing his bit. Tonight it was running with his cousin, Harry. Harry is 14 and a very fit young chap. A bit of cross-country running up hill and down dale works wonders. Jake discovered that you need different muscles for running but he persevered and came back flushed with success and covered in nettle stings on his knees.

Adults just don't cut it !

Training with Mac tomorrow.

Monday, 7 June 2010

On your feet

Quiet day today, there was enough hassle getting off to school/work after a week off. And, anyway, our poor old cat had obviously misjudged a moving vehicle and so we've spent a lot of time talking to him, providing food and generally being in attendance. He is only mobile in a very hunched way but he eats, washes himself and sleeps lots so we'll have to see what the next few days bring. Trevor (the cat) is a lean, mean, hunting machine and hopefully this will help him pull through.

So, Nic opted for a day off cycling and Jake gently pedalled the mile to school in school uniform rather than full cycling kit.

However, this newly invigorated Jake returned from school and fuelled by a slice of coffee sponge cake, donned his walking boots and stated his intention to begin breaking them in. Snowdon beckons in just a couple of weeks these boots need to be used or the Cubs' Leader will be treated to a low moaning and groaning up and down the mountain. Off, up the hill we strode. Well, actually it was more - off, up the hill we meandered and it was good to be out, even if the wildlife were keeping a low profile in the drizzle.

We saw a great thistle, towering above it's surrounding counterparts - can you get a king thistle?

Jake put his boots through a few paces without any ill-effects to Jake or the boots and we came across a calf heading for an identity crisis.
It was a great way to spend an hour and we got back just before drizzle turned to rain.
Hope to cycle tomorrow.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Up The Drainpipe!

So, a new chain meant that Jake wanted to try it out, put it under pressure, give it a stern test.

Where better than The Drainpipe, the hill leading out of Wick Rissington. Nic 'volunteered' to accompany him and Philip definitely volunteered to be in the support vehicle, i.e drive up.

Despite having completed just over 110 miles in the week, Jake was bouncing off the walls after lunch. Far from wishing for a quiet afternoon, his newly found fitness levels seem to have given him a shot of boisterous energy, oh, the benefits of youth!

After a shot sharp, thundery shower of rain we set out on a mission. Not distance, not pedalling with weighty panniers but could we make it up the 350ft climb.

With no weight to lug, Jake seemed to fly the couple of miles to Wick Rissington - what a picturesque village, lovely to see the long grass and meadow flowers on their green however, can't stop!

Nic had failed to make it up from Broadway to Snowshill a couple of weeks earlier but there were a couple of gentle slopes in between the stiffish climbs today - perhaps more achievable?

Philip 'coached' from the car and Nic puffed encouragement to Jake about rhythm, small achievable targets, get to the trees, the cow parsley, the lay-by. "Philip, SHUT UP!", was a sure sign that things were getting tough towards the top but bizarrely a downward heading vehicle was all the motivation needed to make that last effort. Just as Nic's fluorescent pink jersey was beginning to lag further and further behind Jake's straining purple, the car (which necessarily contained a driver at the very least) could not be witness to a foot out of the pedal or a slump over the handlebars.

Once past the vehicle, the lay-by, the big tree, the signpost at the T-junction was clearly visible ahead, signalling the end of the climb. Jake pushed his bike into higher gears and sprinted to the end. Nic chugged along just happy to be at the top and feeling quite incredibly hot.

A gentle, quick spin for half a mile and bikes onto the roof of the car and back home. Just 6 miles today but a goal achieved.

Work tomorrow - work, training, life balance to adjust to.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

The Weakest Link

We were so close!

We left at 9.00a.m. just 30 minutes later than planned; clothes still drying, panniers being packed, that last cup of tea being downed.

Morning sunshine speeding up the drying process.

What a fantastic morning! We got a full 2 miles down the road before having to stop for the herd of milking cows lazily wandering from farmyard to field. As we rolled past, gate shut, we could hear the cattle, demeanour transformed by lush Spring grass, galloping alongside us.

The ride was improved by Nic managing to get her gearing sorted and make it up the hill that had yesterday caused much muttering and resulted in Nic walking.

The junction that heralded 'Nic's' hill.

We decided on an early stop because we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see a dinosaur footprint (photo below). We saw some fabulous carp cresting the water at the site much to the amusement of the cackling moorhens on the lake's central island.

We pedalled happily through villages that give the Cotswolds it's well-earned reputation; Donnington, Broadwell (our first stop), Churchill, Bledington. What a choice for a lunch-time stop - The King's Head, Bledington. Superbly peaceful surrounding, shattered a little by a slightly hyperactive, hungry Jake who was soon quietened by the plateful of cheesy chips and a go on the see-saw.

Not all of us had the energy for swinging on the playground equipment but this pose was more fitting to the tranquil atmosphere.

Refuelled, we headed home for the last 10 miles of our ride, planning to revisit Broadwell via Upper and Lower Oddington. It was not to be, almost at the junction for Upper Oddington Jake's chain, the weakest link, pinged - again. Twice in three rides but this time not 100 yards from our door but 3.5 miles of walking and coasting.

Jake, there's something missing! You are the weakest link.
So, our average speed got hammered, our target 40 miles was cut short by 5 miles but we have a result. Matt at Bourton Cycles was great, a quick check showed that our 10 year old's legs had stretched the chain to
a length no self-respecting chain should reach.
Together with the new chain we got a scary tip-off about the Cornish hills and have been pointed in the direction of the local 'training' hill know as 'The Drainpipe'.
Let's do it!

Friday, 4 June 2010

Things that conspire ...

You know that long bike ride? The one we mentioned yesterday, taking place today - yep, that one. I don't think 14.77 miles quite qualifies, not even with the .77.

So, we collected Jake's bike with duly mended chain and we should have just sped off into the Cotswolds to start our 40 miler. However, I was reminded that Jake is off to climb Snowdon with his cub troop (pack, whatever) in a couple of weeks raising money for charity. No walking boots - they were last seen in a dormitory on the school residential trip - oh the hectic life of a 10 year old. Anyway, this meant a quick trip to acquire new boots so that he can break them in before the climb.

A delayed start to our ride was put back even further by a frantic internet search for a suitable vehicle to replace Philip's beloved Peugeot that has had enough after 260,000 miles - NO LUCK!

Off we go then. No! A promise made a couple of weeks ago came back to haunt us - we found ourselves lopping, chopping and digging up shrubs in Philip's daughter's garden. Berberis and Cotoneaster, what great shrubs for hacking into when wearing shorts and t-shirts.

So, finally at 5.00p.m we left for our tiny pedal. Nothing too strenuous but 3 miles in Nic stopped, complaining of sore, running eyes, "It's like having peeled 12 onions." The joys of being a wearer of glasses and cycling never having been fully explained - oh, for a cheap, effective solution.

Then, Nic again delayed progress by bottling out of one hill having messed up her gear changes and wimping out of getting started on a hill. The spedometer said 2.9mph - what a bonus to our average speed.

It was though, the most glorious evening, warm, clear with lots of fabulous scenery as we bowled along through the Cotswolds; fields of just mown grass, hedgerows of flowering hawthorn, a huge heron flying overhead and contented flocks of sheep with fast-maturing lambs at foot.

Tomorrow's the day - target ETD 8.30 a.m. - watch this space.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Up and Cycling!

60 days to go and counting...

It seemed such a good idea when the snow was on the ground in January - a bit of a challenge in the sunshine. Jake was busy pedalling in the West Midlands Under 10s Cyclo-Cross League and Philip and I ......were watching from the side-lines!

August, summer-time, let's do the south coast, Land's End to Dover. It didn't look nearly as far as the better known end-to-end challenge - and near the sea must surely mean sea level? The moral of this story being, pay attention in your geography lessons!

So, now it's getting serious and we're enlisting help - we've got bikes, always a good start. Slight problem that Philip & I have matching his and hers in red. However, we were professionally measured and have ended up with one of the names in touring bikes, Dawes, courtesy of the Cycle to Work Scheme and Vale Cycles, Evesham. Jake is riding his Isla Bike and it is out of racing trim and into pannier racks, panniers and sundry other weighty kit.

We are making an effort on the fitness front as well. Poor Mac, David McKinnon of Elite Fitness, Cirencester, has his work cut out with a couple of middle-aged gigglers who have well-developed exercise avoidance skills. No, I really do get motion sickness and start to hyperventilate on a treadmill and yes, Philip does have the co-ordination of Mr. Bean doing Step Aerobics.

We will be keeping you posted over the next 8 and a bit weeks as we acquire our camping gear and attempt to cycle it up various unforgiving hills in the Cotswolds. A last ditch attempt at conditioning our leg, back and heart muscles.

Jake? Jake will be fine, he'll motivate from the crest of the hill or possibly from the crest of the next one and demand cheesy chips for his carbohydrate loading as we pass every pub.

Big ride tomorrow - keep up!