This coast to coast was somewhat different to last year’s Trans Pennine Trail coast to coast in as much as it was all on road with just a few hills, more about later.
The gang of nine, Mick , Dick, Ian, Peter S, Gwen, Keith (cycling) and the support trio of Julia, Barbara and Sue, otherwise known as BER catering on Wheels gather on Saturday morning June 10th for a six and half day cycling challenge from and to the widest points of the Uk that run in a more or less horizontal line as the ‘crow flies’, namely St Davids to Lowestoft. Once all loaded Peter drove us all to the start location in the hired minibus, for a Sunday morning start.
Day 1 St Davids to Llanbydder, planned 55 miles eventually developing into a 77 miles ride and a 20.50pm finish due to some rain, a missed planned lunch stop (eventually in a different location), no phone signal, a head wind most of the time, Welsh lanes with very few signposts at the respective junctions, like being a lane maze, two punctures and a tyre switch over on the bike being ridden by Keith. We eventually found our way out and a deserved arrival but no evening meal, only snacks from a local Londis store.
Total distance 77 miles
Day 2 Llanbydder to Llandrindod Wells, estimated 47 miles turning into 51 miles but a more reasonable finish time. The start of the day was flat until we got to Tregaron after which we embarked on a narrow lane called ‘Mountain road’ which gave a clue to what we were about to encounter. Thirteen miles of up and down with some 25% downs and 25% ups which tested some nerves and brakes. I think I heard Gwen’s voice at various points but far enough away to not quite make out the point being made!!! After this our prepared picnic was waiting for us by a shady river. The ride then began to become less undulating until our destination. A dry and humid day with wind not in our favour.
Accumulated distance 128 miles
Day 3 Llanbydder to Droitwich Spa, estimated 58 miles but 69 miles in reality. This part of the ride began to ease in terrain until we arrived at a point where three of us sat on the LEJOG in 2016. Two of us remembered what lie ahead as we rode along a stretch ridden last year, eventually reaching an area called the ‘Goggin’ at which point I made a point of riding/walking at the front whilst Gwen no doubt muttered a few words as she walked the ascent along with the others. Again another prepared picnic lunch was very much appreciated and prepared by the catering team at Burford house garden centre. Another dry day. The last part of the ride required us ridding along the A38 until we arrived at our accommodation.
Accumulated distance 197 miles
Day 4 Droitwich Spa to Dunchurch, estimated 47 miles but 51 miles ridden. The ride now started to level out with mid-morning and mid-afternoon stops for hydration purposes, although Dick idea of hydration was have four pints of beer each evening, no wonder the pedals were spinning in low gears each day!!! Our mid -day picnic was at Charlcotte House, near Stratford on Avon, under a chosen shady tree. The post lunch ride was on the A433 which is a road directly into Worchester with lots of ups and downs, twists and turns, fast moving traffic and some larger vehicles which we won’t mention. We survived though. About an hour after our arrival I had a knock on the door from Peter to say that due to a received phone call from home they would have to reluctantly return to Braintree immediately. Peter was doing so well after having cycled 248 miles, well done Peter.
Accumulated distance 248 miles
Day 5 Dunchurch to Huntingdon, estimated 60 miles, but 65 miles cycled. Departing without Peter having done the harder leg’s we now rode along a mostly flat cycling route today with a westerly wind assisting us with on a modified route to the one planned, stopping for lunch at Pitsworth Reservoir and a second meet with the support team at Grafham Water. In hindsight this was not a good idea for Julia driving the minibus, as it resulted in her having to drive into Huntingdon town centre in rush hour and find the hotel. The temperature during the day has now begun to rise with everybody keeping well hydrated and fuelled as advised. We were entertained in the evening at the hotel by a karaoke evening and a rehearsal for a Shakespere evening, after which we complained about the noise stopping tired cyclists from sleeping after 10.30. We had our evening meals on the house as compensation.
Accumulated distance 313 miles
Day 6 Huntingdon to Gt Moulton (north of Diss), estimated distance 63 miles, 73 miles pedalled. Today’s ride took us across the Fen’s, with a tail wind assisting thankfully, as there is no protection from any wind that is not to your advantage, with a picnic lunch stop at Brandon Country Park. After lunch we proceeded again on flat roads to East Harling where we stumbled upon a newly opened tea room (within the past three days) in the garden of the owner’s house, a very pleasant surprise. We then proceeded into small lanes and the meandered into Great Moulton.
Accumulated distance 386 miles
Day 7 Gt Moulton to Lowestoft Ness, estimated distance 30 miles, 34 pedalled. A half day today as we proceeded into Bungay, Beccles and Lowestoft with no wind but a hot humid day to our minibus where we loaded our bikes, after a round of photographs and congratulations to each other , for our drive back to Braintree.
Accumulated distance 420 miles
Well done every cyclist that made it to the end for a fantastic achievement, to Peter for getting to Dunchurch after 248 miles, for Julia, Sue and Barbara for going shopping each day and then preparing the picnic for our consumption, which I am sure drew us to our mid-day stop. For some riders there were personal bests (PB’s) on the very first day with Gwen, Keith and Peter completing the 77 miles.
There were no medical/first aid issues other than the need to ‘slip, slop, slap’ the sun cream. Everybody kept well hydrated and fuelled without ‘bonking’ or ‘hitting the wall’. Dick, Keith and Ian had legs with insect bites visible which resembled a dot to dot page and Mick and Ian developing the sandal tattoo.
Mick, Ian and Dick have now ridden at least 1432 miles on Specialized Armadilo’s, Swalbe Marathon and Marathon Plus tyres respectively without any punctures. The only punctures encountered on this trip were with Keith’s bike where he had two punctures in the same back wheel with a cheap quality tyre.