Newquay to Glastonbury – SW Day 5

I knew that today needed to be a big riding day…

 So, I’m pleased to have clocked up 140 miles and get out of Cornwall, across Devon and up to Glastonbury in Somerset. Ooh arr!

I set off from Newquay at 8.50am and decided on a route that would take in some main roads. It’s not fun cycling on big roads but they really do eat the miles up. They tend to be flatter, smoother and more direct. It’s easy to average over 20 miles an hour. Sometimes it’s just the only way to get it done. 

So, I took a deep breath and hit the A30. I was flying until Bodmin where there are signs saying cyclists are permitted no further. So, I had to turn off and take the A38 to Liskeard where I’d been yesterday! 

   
   
I had decided that I DEFINITELY wasn’t going back over Dartmoor. It was a great experience but twice in 3 days is too much in my opinion!

So, I took the B3254 towards Launceston which took me further north towards Wells. It was a nice road, hilly of course but with more gentle gradients and some lovely views…

   
 

I did have a bit of a drama just after I took the above picture…

It was at the top of a descent and after taking the pic, I waited for a van to pass and then followed on down the hill.
When I got to the bottom and turned into a little village called Middlewood the van had stopped because there was an oncoming car and the road was narrow. 

Now I’m cautious on descents – especially on roads I don’t know and when they’re twisty – so I didn’t exit the bend very quickly and was able to brake and stop comfortably. But because the van was so close to the bend, I stopped about 2 feet behind it…

As soon as I released the brakes, the van’s reverse lights lit up and it started moving towards me, to let the other car through. Not good! I was still clipped in on one side and did my best to shuffle backwards whilst shouting expletives!

Fortunately the driver heard me, because the bike was already down and I was about hit the deck too when it thankfully stopped. 

I’m totally fine but for those of you on Strava, you’ll see that my peak heart rate was 195bpm, and mine rarely goes over 178bpm. It was scary…

The lady driver apologised profusely. She just couldn’t see me in her mirrors because I was too close. 

I was shaken but fortunately a couple called Pam and Tony Mills overheard and offered me into the garden of their B & B called Hillview for a coffee. They were lovely people and I’m so grateful to them for making sure I was ok. If you need accommodation in that area, stay there!

   
   
Once I hit Launceston I got back on the A30 to eat some more miles and then turned off through Okehampton and headed through Crediton (not that nice but cool church) and then the A3072 to Tiverton. 

If you want to cycle in that area then I highly recommend this road. The scenery was amazing, plus some lovely Devon cows/bulls and Tiverton is nice too!

   
    
   
Again, I hadn’t decide where to stay but really fancied getting to Glastonbury. The road from Taunton to Glastonbury is basically flat, so I was able to push on and make it! 

Glastonbury doesn’t have a cathedral but does have an abbey. So I took a pic there anyways….

   
    
 
Cathedrals tomorrow! Lots of ’em….

Thanks for reading!
 

Made it to Truro – SW Day 4

Well I made it to Truro. It’s the farthest cathedral on my list from my home in Oakham and it feels like it!

I left from Tavistock just after 10am. It was raining quite heavily and pretty grim. By the time I descended down to the River Tamar I was soaked but it was beautiful there…

   

 

 
The route was still very hilly early on with 20% climbs. The miles were clocking up very slowly and I was only averaging about 11-12mph! 
After 10 miles and a long climb out of Frogwell (I think) I was already starving, so rolled up to a strategically placed pasty kiosk and had a sausage roll and a coffee…

   

Soon I hit Liskeard which was nice enough but I didn’t hang about…

   
Damn I was hungry today!!! 

So after some quality red/yellow food I headed past St Austell and via a rare section of FLAT road onto Truro…
   
    
 
Truro Cathedral is only just over 100 years old but a stunning building to rival some of the older buildings. It’s set right in the centre of of town and was full of folk sat around chilling. 

After taking a few photos, I popped inside where I received a warm welcome and then I went outside for an obligatory pasty!

   
    
 
I hadn’t set a final destination for today and as the weather was so nice, really wanted to push on for another 30-40 miles. But after a 40 minute phone conversation with my wife Belinda on the computer, we worked out that Cornwall was full!

So, I looked local and found a room in Newquay. Worked out a nice cross country route and headed over…

   
    

   
  
Newquay is definitely a cool place with a hippy vibe and plenty of dreadlocks and beardy dudes but outwardly it does have a bit of a tacky feel…

I struggled to find a nice homely pub to curl up in with a pint of local ale. Most of the bars had neon signs with ‘Costa del Sol-type’ terraces…  but I finally settled on a music venue called ‘Whiskers’ that had an open mic night. I felt at home here and had a nice chat to a chap called Danny whilst drinking a couple of bottles (!) of Tribute. 

   
   
It’s 1.43am as I’m writing this and I’ve just seen the weather forescast which is saying sunny for Tues/Weds – awesome! – but very stormy for Bristol/Hereford area on Thursday.  Not good!

I need to crack on tomorrow! Thanks for reading! 

Zzzzzzzz

A Tougher Day – SW Day 3

Well things got a bit more serious today…

I’d researched the route and I know the South West is notoriously hilly but knowledge never quite prepares you for the reality!

I set off from Bridport just after 9.30am and the big climbs started immediately. Now then, I’m not going to make excuses (or maybe I am!) but I’m fairly good at climbing hills. I like it. But the 3kg of luggage really makes a difference….

Basically, on steep gradients I have no option other than to hit the lowest gears and stand up. It’s HARD work. I mean really hard. But hey… I knew it was going to be hard!

One of the early beasts of a hill was the climb up the A3052 towards Lyme Regis after I turned off the A35. It was long and very steep at the end before finally descending down to the sea…

   
 
I recently discovered that two old friends, Jo and Jacqui had just relocated to Devon. So, I headed back up and out of Lyme Regis to Seaton Tower and along the A3052 towards them in Sidmouth on the coast. 

After a nail-biting descent down to the River Col in Colyford; a big climb out called Harepath Hill; and passing a place that sounds like it would suit me called ‘Beer’, I rolled into Sidmouth where Jo and Jackie were enjoying a Sunday lunchtime sherry. As you do….

   

      
 
Having been gratefully replenished I headed out towards Exeter. After a few wrong turns in town, I finally rolled up to the cathedral; an impressive building sat in Cathedral Yard with open areas and shops around. I stepped inside for a quiet moment (as I always do) and then chilled out for a bit on the green….

   
   
I chilled out because I knew what was coming next…. Dartmoor!

I’d chosen to take the route via the B3212 which goes right through the middle of Dartmoor National Park. It just seemed the right thing to do!

It started off fine with a ‘European-type’ climb which was long but consistent and never that steep. I was enjoying it. But then it changed. The climbs started to get much steeper and by the time I hit what I thought was the top, I had to stop for a rest, both there and in the small town of Moretonhampstead….

   
    
   
As you can see from the photos, today was a more overcast day but with some sunny breaks. Once I got on top of the moor proper though the weather changed quite dramatically. It got colder, rainy and soon I was basically riding through clouds!

Visibility got so bad that I put all my lights on and to be honest wished I’d had my winter ones with me. I felt a bit like one of those naive tourists who on seeing the sun shining in Fort William decides to stroll up Ben Nevis in a pair of flip flops, Bermuda shorts and a vest only to discover that it’s blowing a blizzard at the summit! Luckily I had my arm warmers…

   
    
 
I hadn’t decided on a final destination for today other than that I had to get over Dartmoor. I’d had notions of pushing on as far as Liskeard but I have to admit that after nearly 7500ft of climbing (with my luggage! Yes it is an excuse and I’m using it!), I was pooped. So, I decided to stay in Tavistock which is where I’m sat now writing this and enjoying a well earned pint of Proper Job from St Austell Brewery. I like beer….

Truro tomorrow!!! Thanks for reading!

   
   

Salisbury and the Seaside – SW Day 2

Today was probably the best bike ride I’ve been on.

Woke up in Hungerford to one of those slightly hazy bright skies that you know is going to be a scorcher… and it was!

After a hearty cooked breakfast, I left at 9.20am and headed south through the Wessex Downs. It wasn’t long before a bumped into Pewsey Velo on their Saturday club run. The scenery was rolling and open…

   
   
30 miles later I dropped into Salisbury. Spent a bit of time on the ring road before finding my way up to the cathedral. 

I hooked up with my old mate Tony Rimmer who had trained it up from Dorchester to ride with me in the afternoon. 

We were then met by Canon Ian Woodward for a photo outside the cathedral which is easily one of my favourites so far. It is simply stunning and I couldn’t stop taking photos. I think it’s the setting too… the cathedral close is just idyllic…

   
    
     

 
We then headed off for a healthy lunch at the Museum Cafe via a quick look at Ted Heath’s house. Nice lunch but hot and too many wasps!

  
   
The afternoon route took as across Cranbourne Chase which was beautiful and a bit like the land that time forgot. Quiet villages with quaint pubs and a maze of tree lines country lanes. I can honestly say that this section of the ride was some of the most enjoyable biking I’ve ever riden…

   
    
 
The high point (literally!) and hardest section was the climb out of Bulbarrow. This was a tough climb by any standards and I was straining out of the saddle in bottom gear for most of it, but it was worth it for the amazing views west…

   
 
We then headed downhill to Milton Abbas and finally to Dorchester where Tony lives…

   

   
After a quick bite, I decided to push on and do some more miles. I took the A35 towards Bridport, a rolling road with some sharp climbs but lovely descents. 

I decided to ride down to the coast at West Bay (Broadchurch!) to end the ride and so glad I did! It was a glorious evening. 

After that, I headed into Bridport for a well earned pint of the local ale, Palmer’s, at The George. 

   

    
  

 
Seems crazy to say this but I know that the first two days have been easy in comparison to what’s coming! Tomorrow I head towards Exeter via Dartmoor and then Cornwall with its endless hills……

Oxford Cathedral – SW Day 1

Had a great 120 mile ride today on first stage of my SW route!

Weather was lovely and warm and sunny a lot of the time, but not so much that I melted. 

Was pretty pleased with the route I picked which took me out from Oakham towards Market Harborough and then veered off through Foxton…

  
I then headed south to the west of Northampton via Naseby (and the various battle views) and Creaton with some lovely views of Hollowell Reservoir…

 
I had a quick rest on the green – with a bench aptly engraved with the words ‘Travellers Rest’ – of a quaint village called Gayton. A friendly cyclist called Rob Bedford rode up and then joined me for a few miles into Towcester…
   
    
 
After a spot of lunch I headed off taking in some gorgeous countryside, especially south of Silverstone around the Stowe area and then eventually over the M40 into Oxford….

   
   
 
Oxford is a beautiful city and it was uber busy with tourists, but I have to say that my visit to the cathedral was the most disappointing so far. 

Oxford Cathedral, or rather Christ Church is nestled within the grounds of Christ Church College. What I didn’t realise until I rolled up after 90 miles of cycling is that they close to the public between 4pm and 6pm and don’t allow you to enter the college, where the cathedral is…!

I can understand this, as the gates were awash with tourists wanting to see the ‘Harry Potter bits’ (as I overheard someone saying!). I guess it’s my fault for not checking properly, but usually you can stand in front of a cathedral without issue, so I hadn’t foreseen a problem.  

Anyway…… I settled for a pic from the Botanical Gardens with the cathedral in the background, kindly taken by a very enthusiastic Chinese photographer, and then headed for a coffee at Cafe Loco across the street….

   

   
It was about 5.30pm, so I decided to push on for another 30 miles across the Wessex Downs into Hungerford for the night….

 
 
I’m heading to Salisbury Cathedral in the morning where I’m meeting an old mate who is going to join me on a ride to Dorchester where he’s kindly putting me up for the night. 

The weather forecast is mega, so I’m really looking forward to the riding tomoz!

:-))))

Off to South West!

Right then folks, I’m off shortly to complete the South West route of my Cathedral Cycle Tour which will take me all the way to Truro and back.

Here is a rough map of my intended 720 mile route….

south-west-route-map

On this leg I will be visiting….

Oxford Cathedral (Christ Church)
Salisbury Cathedral
Exeter Cathedral
Truro Cathedral
Wells Cathedral
Bristol Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral
Hereford Cathedral
Birmingham Cathedral
Coventry Cathedral

I hope to average about 100 miles per day, but it may be less than that when I get into the Devon and Cornwall due to the amount of hills! So, I’m hoping that the trip will take 8-9 days in total.

I will be experimenting with a tracking app on this trip, so that people can get an idea of where I am in real time. Here is the link….

https://www.followmee.com/mapx.aspx?token=e9633324-b6a1-4b81-a2a2-052965797385

I will do my best to update with pictures as I travel round! If anyone wants to join me for a few miles on my way round then you would be more than welcome.

Off to the seaside!

OK folks, I’m off tomorrow, Thursday 28th of May to ride my South East route, where I will visit 10 of the cathedrals on my list including….

Chelmsford
Rochester
Canterbury
Chichester
Portsmouth
Winchester
Guildford
Southwark
St Paul’s
St Albans

Total distance is about 520 miles and I intend to do this over five days with stops in Rochester, Brighton, Portsmouth and London. Here is a map of my rough route (not exact!)…

South East Route

Many of the Deans have already agreed to meet me including the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral. I will of course be taking in the Daddy of the cathedrals on this ride – Canterbury. I did write to the Archbishop of Canterbury to ask for a photo, but he’s going to be in China when I visit. Doh! I suppose that’s a fairly good excuse!

Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral

As always, I’m happy for cycling support along the way. So, if you know anyone that wants to join me for a few miles then let me know.

Click here for a list of the cathedrals I’ve visited so far, and the ones I still need to do…

Wish me luck!

Back in the Saddle

Right folks the knee is feeling a bit better, so I’ve decided it’s time to crack on with my cathedral challenge!

I will be setting off this Thursday on a 3 day tour of East Anglia to visit Norwich, St Edmundsbury and Ely Cathedrals. It’s a 250 mile trip which I had originally intended to ride over two days but in an effort to be sensible (!) I’m splitting it over three.

I had originally planned to undertake my 670 mile Northern Route this week and my good friend Gavin Scott had taken the time off work in order to accompany me on that journey. So, rather than let good plans go to waste, we thought we’d undertake a shorter route whilst my knee is still in recovery. Fingers crossed there!

I’ll be posting and tweeting along the way, so make sure you’re following me on Twitter or Follow this Blog and I’ll be sure to let you know how we get on!

If you haven’t got round to donating yet then please visit my Donate page.

Norwich Cathedral
Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral By Diliff (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Featured Image of St Edmundsbury Cathedral is by Martin Pettitt and licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Moving forward!

Hey folks, some of you may be wondering where I’ve been for the last few weeks?

Well… the truth is that whilst training for my Cathedral Cycle Tour, out of the blue I started getting a pain in my right knee. DOH…!

I think they call it “Sod’s Law” but despite cycling 4000 miles in roughly 6 months since last June without ANY issues, a week or so before the first big Cathedral ride my knee pain kicked in…

By that time, I had already heavily publicised the ‘Southwell-Derby-Leicester Route’ and lots of other cycling supporters had generously agreed to come along and also raised lots of money for the charity. So the show had to go on! So, my knee was strapped up and I did the 125 miles anyway!

Afterwards, I eased off on the riding but every time I went out on a long ride it came back. So, I sought professional advice, took heed, and as a result have been resting for a number of weeks to get it sorted!

Let me get one thing straight…

I am 100% dedicated to my Cathedral Cycle Tour and I WILL complete the challenge this year as promised, even if I have to cycle it one-legged!

Moving forward… as of this week I am now officially allowed back on the bike but am under instruction to increase mileages back up gradually. So, maximum of 35 miles in one ride this week, increasing by 10 miles a week each week, with 3 days off in between rides. That’s my osteopathic deal!

The good news is that I rode out this evening on the Oakham Cycle Centre weekly ride and was able to ride 30 miles with no issues! So……. I think I’m on the mend!

Firstly, I want to thank my close family and friends for putting up with me whilst I’ve been in such a foul mood, sitting around NOT doing my planned cathedral rides.

Secondly, I’d like to thank all of you for your continued support and urge you to keep a close eye on the Cathedral Cycle Tour because I can guarantee that there will be a few interesting surprises on the way!

Southwell, Derby and Leicester done!

On Saturday 7th of March, I set out with 10 other cycling supporters on a 125m (200km) ride to Southwell Minster, Derby Cathedral and Leicester Cathedral and pushed the current fundraising total to over £2100!

First to Southwell

We we’re blessed with amazing weather, one of the nicest days of the year so far, albeit with a strong south westerly wind. We set off at 7.40am and after 40 miles and just the one puncture, we arrived at the magnificent Southwell Minster at around 10.00am.

Acting Dean, Nigel Coates, kindly came out to meet us and pose for photo. He handed me a copy of their visitor’s guide as a keepsake. The view from the outside is imposing and the inside of the cathedral was no less impressive. Unusually the chairs had been cleared away giving a real sense of the enormity of the space (see pic below).

The struggle to Derby

The 30 mile ride from Southwell to Derby was the toughest section of the ride for me. We were riding into a 20 mile an hour headwind and it wasn’t without hills! I’d spent ages trying to plan a good route but couldn’t seem to avoid main roads (including sections of dual carriage way!) and a number of towns including Eastwood, which we hit at 12.00pm and was of course chocka with Saturday traffic. Not ideal but we managed.

We finally rolled into Derby at 1.00pm and cycled up the appropriately named ‘Amen Alley’, which runs up by the side of the cathedral and leads you to the front where you are met by the impressive spire. We received a very warm welcome from Canon Missioner, Dr Elizabeth Thomson who led us to the cathedral cafe where much needed soup, panninis, coffee and cake (!) were served up. They’d even reserved a table for us downstairs and Elizabeth offered to keep an eye on the bikes, and sweetly sat on the wall by them the entire time we were in the cafe. 🙂

I ventured inside where a school band was in full swing of a rehearsal for their evening concert in the cathedral. They sounded great! The interior had a very different feel to Southwell, less grand perhaps, but much lighter and airier as the sunlight streamed through the large stained glass windows onto the white-painted columns. I liked it.

Cathedral fit for a king!

We pushed on from Derby just after 2pm and headed out on the A514 towards Leicester. One of the low points of our ride was the amount of verbal abuse we received from car windows and pedestrians on this stretch of the journey, the most memorable of which was a man amongst a group of lads standing outside a public house in Ansty at 4pm in the afternoon shouting, “Get a life!”. The irony….

On the plus side, the weather at this point was glorious and the views through places such as Melbourne, Wilson, Bradgate Park and Cropston Water were beautiful. In fact, apart from perhaps the long climb up to Beacon Hill at 90 miles in (!) this was my favourite part of the ride.

Arriving at Leicester Cathedral felt a bit like coming home. They were so welcoming! The Dean, The Very Revd David Monteith immediately stepped out to greet us and pose for a photo. I was very grateful to him for this given the fact that the cathedral staff are currently so busy organising the reinterment of King Richard III on March 22nd. In fact, the BBC film crews were just leaving as we arrived.

We were invited to park our bikes up inside and were served up tea/coffee and large slab of cake. Perfect. We were also able to see the area where Richard III will be situated – although it was of course screened off (see pic).

The grind home…

The last 25 miles were always going to be tough! Everyone’s knees started giving out and every hill was a struggle as we headed back via Keyham, Hungarton and Marefield. We finally rolled down Cold Overton Hill and back to Oakham by 7.00pm and then regrouped in the Lord Nelson for a few well deserved ales.

The fundraising total at the time of writing is £2151.73 and rising! Not donated yet? Then just click here to go to the Donate page!

Next up is East Anglia (dates TBC). Four cathedrals over 250 miles in two days including Peterborough, Norwich, Bury St Edmunds and Ely. Looking forward to that one!