Normal service is resumed

by Mark on May 26, 2013 · 0 comments




Learning to walk again

by Mark on May 25, 2013 · 0 comments

It feels strange now the cycling is done.

Not just mentally, physically too.

Walking uses a different set of muscles and is accompanied by a sense of dizziness.

I just don’t feel at home on 2 legs yet.

I’m spending a few days in St Ives before returning to London. The sun is shining, and there’s a good selection of Cornish ales to try before I get back to work.

The ales aren’t exactly helping me walk straight, but I am getting plenty of practice hiking up and down the big hill my B&B is at the top of.

Hills. You just can’t get away from them in Cornwall.

This journey has been so much more challenging than cycling the Rhine.

On the Rhine trip the relationship between time and distance was straightforward and predictable.

This trip introduced hills, headwind and even hailstorms into the equation.

They make a big difference.

Not just to average speed it is possible to maintain, but to the physical effort required to overcome them.

The cumulative effect has been exhausting, and while the soreness in my legs has passed quite quickly, I’m still a few sleeps away from fully recovering my energy levels.

The first 6 days in particular really pushed me (even harder than I had known it would), as have the last 4 days through Devon and Cornwall.

In contrast I’ll remember the 5 day stretch from Windermere to Bath as the easy bit, although even the easiest of those days would normally be classed as a heavy dose of exercise.

I will post more details on the trip, it’s planning and logistics in the next week or two.

In the meantime people keep asking me how I feel now I’ve done it.

I can sum it up in one word.


Bike computer stats:

Ride time: 104h 2m
Distance: 1,061.11 miles
Ave distance per day: 70.74 miles
Ave speed: 10.2 mph
Max speed: 42.5 mph



The weather forecast for today on the chalkboard in my hotel reception looked none too rosy.

11 degrees, showers, and a strong cold wind

It didn’t fill me with much enthusiasm.

Still, it looked fairly bright so I made an early start and rolled out of Penzance at 9.15am.

I passed on the direct road route, instead following my trusty NCN3 around the bay through Newyn, and on to the fishing village of Mousehole.

A brilliant name for a cute little fishing village with its own harbour.

Had I known about it I would have stopped there last night for sure.

From Mousehole the road rose steeply, and a very sweaty 15 minutes later I was cruising along country lanes on between cliff-top fields.

It felt like I was going to drop off the end of the country at any moment, but it was just an illusion as I knew there was still more than 10 miles of the route to go.

A couple of miles later the steepest downhill yet dropped into a secluded valley and a little village full of houses and artists studios. The sunlight was streaming through the treetops and the woodlands were filled with bluebells and other wild flowers.

It was like a secret valley.

If I have learnt anything in the last few days it is that what goes down must always come up again, and sure enough it wasn’t long before another thigh burning uphill took me back up to the open fields.

The road sign said 5 miles to Lands End, but once again the little blue cycle route signs had other ideas, taking me on a zig zag route along deserted lanes and through tiny villages.

I also noted that the ‘cold wind’ was coming from the opposite direction. It was nice to feel the wind at my back for a change, but did it really have to happen on the one day I was planning to do a u-turn and head North?

Eventually I reached the sharp descent into Sennen Cove.


But Cornwall hadn’t finished with me quite yet.

The little blue signs delivered a last steep pull through the upper slopes of the village to take me one last mile along the cliff top path to the tourist trap that is Lands End.


Beyond the columns it is like a crap miniaturised Alton Towers, so I stopped just long enough to get the obligatory photo.


And of course an ice-cream.

I was outraged.

They didn’t sell Magnum’s.

Instead I had to settle for a Thornton’s equivalent (£2 and quite nice).

If a premium ice-cream can retail for two quid in a remote captive market then I can only conclude there has been some failure of market forces in Bath.

I suggest the good people of Bath rise up against the over-priced icy treats. Or failing that at least get over to Asda for their 6-for-£3 multi-buy (thanks for the recommendation Dad).

Or is the real problem that they only do Waitrose in Bath?

I was planning to ride North to St Ives, but with the headwind I opted for the more direct road route back to Penzance and hopped on the train.

I’d nothing left to prove now.

While the rest of the country is enjoying miserable weather, there is at least one corner where it’s sunny enough to enjoy a cold beer on the beach.


And thankfully I am in it.

If you’d like to sponsor, just click the link to donate to Cancer Research.

Massive thanks if you already have, since last year you’ve helped raise over £6k including tax relief and corporate cheques.

Big clap.

Bike computer stats:

Ride time: 2h 58m
Distance: 28.32 miles
Ave speed: 9.7 mph
Max speed: 22.8 mph



Lostwithiel to Penzance, and the mining trail

May 22, 2013

I had a lazy start to the day, which meant I didn’t get cycling until almost midday. I was glad I stopped when I did last night, because the enormity of the hill I was confronted with as I left town would surely have reduced me to tears. It took a fair while to ascend, […]

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Tiverton to Lostwithiel, and fatigue causes forgetfulness

May 22, 2013

I ripped up the plan and decided it was time to take a more direct route today. I was knackered before I even started, which may go some way towards explaining what happened next. I spent the first couple of miles fighting a sense of having forgotten something, and mentally running through a list of […]

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Bath to Tiverton and the breakfast hostage

May 20, 2013

After a lovely weekend at a nice hotel in Bath it was time to get back on the road. To aid an early start I ordered an early breakfast from room service, to be delivered between 7.30-7.45. I was showered, packed and ready to go. But where was breakfast? At 7.50 I rang reception and […]

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Dogs in shop windows

May 17, 2013

No. You aren’t coming in. There is something inherently fascinating about dogs in shop windows. Here’s another one from a few months ago, this time on Marylebone High Street in London.

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Bristol to Bath, a day of disused railway lines

May 17, 2013

I only had a few miles in order to reach Bath, just 12 miles by road according to Google maps. I’d spotted a sign for the Bristol-Bath cycle route near the docks the previous afternoon, and thought it would be easy to pick up this morning. It wasn’t. I ended up on the Whitchurch Way, […]

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Gloucester to Bristol and I spoke too soon

May 16, 2013

I got up to a beautiful sunny day. Hotel reception had no idea whether I’d paid or not, but seemed happy to take it on trust that I had. It seemed about par for the course as far as this hotel is concerned. Weirdly protective over potted plants too. I set off following the NCN […]

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Shrewsbury to Gloucester with sun, showers and an injured armadillo

May 15, 2013

It hadn’t stopped raining from the moment I arrived in Shrewsbury, and it was still pouring when I left this morning. Even the cycle path was flooded. I didn’t try to ride that one out. I made pretty good progress down the A49 and things started brightening up when I was about 10 miles from […]

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