Arrival

My arrival in Lands End is planned for Thursday 20th around lunchtime.

I do appreciate that you are all too far away to comr and meet me, but if you have any family or friends locally, who can spare the time,it would be great.

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Lots of pushing

I left around 8:30, but stopped again after 5 minutes, as I had attached one of my panniers too far forward and kept kicking it with my heel. I get a little flustered, when someone is watching and/or waiting, but it was quickly rectified. I took the opportunity to clean between the gears and put some oil on.

There were a couple of small hills, then I found myself on the Great Western Canal and Devon. I hadn’t realised that I was so close to the county border. I had again chosen one of Teasi’s own routes, but this time not the suggested one with over 1500 m. climb, but the „easy“ one with 800+. (my original route would have been 700+). He led me 7 kilometres along this not too bumpy towpath. The only thing that slowed me down was having to dismount to go under the low bridges. On this stretch, there were even signs asking cyclists to do so, but I had been doing anyway to avoid banging my head or toppling into the water. It is not always easy to dismount with all my luggage, when the path is narrow and/ot sloping towards the canal, so sometimes I just straddled Bonnie and pushed, which caused a couple of painful encounters between the pedal and my ancle.

Soon the expected climbs, or „steepies “, as I called them, appeared and I mastered them bravorously (well, I did push a bit). I had been warned, that Devon was the hardest part and was pleasantly surprised, only seeing a few smaller climbs on the elevation profile, towards the end.

It was nearly all on country lanes and through sleepy villages, where often no car at all passed me and all I could hear were the birds, or the occasional „baa“ of a sheep. On one occasion I passed a house and heard a dog barking and the definite „ee-aa“ of a donkey. It was absolutely beautiful and I felt totally at peace.

By my usual picnic-time of 1:30 I had already covered over 55 kilometres and had lesss than 30 Head of me. Wonderful! I could arrive at my destination by 4 p.m.!

That was where the fun started. What had appeared on the elevation profile as a couple of little hills, proved to be a series of steep climbs. I don’t feel ashamed to have pushed most of them and enjoyed the most exhilerating descents. Unfortunately I did have to brake quite often, as there were a lot of bends. When the route took a turn onto a wider A-road, which wasn’t busy either, I thought there would be no more hills, but I was very mistaken. These however were long drawn-out uphill grinds with barely noticable descents, rather than the short, steep climbs of the lanes.

I still managed to arrive at my destination, an old English pub,(not the one on the picture) before 5, one of my earliest arrivals yet, and had time to soak my aching muscles in a long, hot bath before going down to dinner.

Tourstats day 17 Greenham to Brandis Corner:

85,7 km., 829 m. ascent, 6:43 bike-time, 7:34 total

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Side wind, head-on wind, tail wind

The day started with eggs, lovingly cooked by my wonderful hostess, Claire.

I left just after 9 and again let Teasi do his own thing. The route started quite hilly, but this is always fine ib the morning. It soon flattened out onto the Somerset levels, which are indescribably beautiful – wide expanses of green, as far as the eye can see. The only thing that spoilt my enjoyment was the wind. It was coming from the west, so strong and cold, that my right ear started to hurt and I had to stop and put a headband on. It being a windy road meant I sometimes had to cycle into the wind and on rarer occasions, I was lucky to have it behind me. By the time i got to Taunton, where the route took me along another towpath, which was fortunately smoothly surfaced, I was cycling due west, which was really a struggle. Teasi took me around in a few circles in Taunton, when i failed to comprehend his unstructions, then because he wasn’t on a set route, I just used my intuition, which he followed with very little complaint and soon ee were in harmony once more.

I knew the last part would be hilly, but this turned out to be tougher than expected. It’s always harder at the end of the day and i must admit to pushing a couple of times.

As promised i phoned my hosts a little while before arrival and a few inutes later, i was surprised when a cyclist came towards me and said, “hello I’m Paul”. He had come to meet me and guide me to his house. His wofe, Anne, cooked us a lovely meal and we had an entertaining evening, whilst enjoying the food and a bottle of wine.

I’m about to start the last fifth of my tour, which many people say is the hardest and while I have a little respect, I’m looking forward to Devon and Cornwall. I’m also starting to feel a bit sad, that this will soon be over.

Torstats day 16 – Kingston Seymour to Greenham 104 km., 690 m. ascent, approx 8 hrs. bike-time, 9 hrs. total

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3/4 geschafft

Nach 15 Tagen bin ich 1308 km. und 11455 hm. gefahren. Lt. Plan waren es 1214 km. Gewesen (79% der geplanten Gesamtentfernung).

Mir geht es nach wie vor gut und ich freue mich auf die letzten 5 Tage.

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Another (T)easy day

After a good breakfast, Janice took me back to Quedgley, where she had picked me up the day before. I shopped for lunch, my usual cheese, grapes and walnuts, which last me 3-4 days. By the time we had we reassembled my bike, loaded the luggage and said our fairwells, it was 10 a.m., the latest I’ve set out yet.

However it was so easy going, that I made even better time than ever. A short section of bumpy towpath slowed me down somewhat, but I really enjoyed going up and down the gently rolling hills, in full knowledge that I had harder ones to come, not only today, but within the final few days.

On two occasions I met other cyclists, who adjusted their speed to cycle alongside me on.these quiet roads and ask me about my trip.

I managed the final hills and arrived in Clevedon by 5. I had let Teasi do his own thing again and just put in the post code. With only one digit wrong, I found I was at the wrong adress and still had another 7 kilometres to do. This was flat and I soon arrived at my warmshowers hosts’ to be greeted with a nice coup of tea. While I had a shower, the man of the house cooked us a delicious meal.

Tourstats for day 15 Quedgeley – Kingston Seymour: 97 km., 599 hm., 6:50 bike-time, 7:45 total

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An easy day

This morning i had a message from my sister, Janice, that she wanted to visit me, so we agreed that I should cycle to my planned destination near Gloucester and she would pick me up ib her car and take me somewhere to stay. So it was with renewed energy that I set off. My warmshowes host had kindly offered to clean Bonnie’s gears as they weren’t working properly, a thing I was planning to so myself. I obviously couldn’t refuse!

Again I let Teasi choose the route and it went really well

On the first part of the journey there were some fairly steep hills, mostly on country lanes, but it then flattened out, leading me once more on canal towpaths to Worcester. I found a loovrly spot for a picnic, by a fishing lake.The final part was again hilly, but the downhill stretches were exhilerating. On one occasion I even found myself sayind “ah, another hill to go down the other side of!

Janice met me in Quesgely and packed Bonnie, the luggage and me into her car to take us to a nice hotel we had a lovely meal of fish and chips with a good bottle off wine.

Tourstats for day 14 Blakedown to Quedgely

91,4 km. 576 m. ascent 6:40 bike-time, 7:42 total

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What a difference a day makes

I think Teasi and i have arranged a cease-fire.

This morning my host said the bike path behind his house led to the canal, so I set out to go that way. As it reached a fork and I switched Teasi on, he protested. After cycling around for about 20 minutes, I gave up trying to use “my” route and just put in “Blakedown” to get me going in the right direction, intending to switch back later. This proved to be such a good decision, that I didn’t change back, just put in the exact address when I was getting closer.

Teasi sent me on quiet roads, bike paths and canal towpaths. Only very occasionally did he send me short stretches on busy roads, where there was usually a bike lane. But the most important thing was, he didn’t keep „screaming“ at me, when I went wrong, just rerouted me. Sometimes I noticed this when it was showing a further distance to my destination and could turn around and see what turning I’d missed. I realised that he had always been trying to get back onto the present route. Anothe advantage was, that he now seemed to accept that i was cycling on the left. In the meantime, I had noticed that he always seemed to send me the wrong way around the roundabouts, which obviously I didn’t do on the roads, but stopping to cross over each road in turn. (There is usually a zebra crossing with traffic-lights).

So it wad a good day, giving me time to appreciate the scenery and, of course, this was the closest I would Bu to „home“, the midlands, where I spent the first 19 years of my life. The canals were busy today and I stopped to watch people operating the locks. This is fascinating to watch.

But what would a day be without a challenge! Teasi sent me on a stretch of towpath that was very narrow, fortunately quite smooth, so I felt fairly safe. Then I was told to turn off, but there were only steps. I didn’t even try to push or carry Bonnie up there with all her luggage, but what was the alternative? I hadn’t passed any walkers and there didn’t expect any cyclists, so I lay Bonnie down (there wad nowhere to prop her up, without the risk of her falling ovet inq the canal) and walked up the steps onto the bridge. It wad a quiet country lane with no pedestrians in sight. If I’d waited long enough, maybe a cyclist would have come along… I stood there looking helpless while two cars passed, then I flagged a huge tractor with an enormous trailer down. He opened the foot and I politely asked, if it wad possible for him to help me. He parked on a slightly wider stretch of the lane, climbed down and er carried the bike up together. People are just so helpful here.

As I stopped to connect Teasi to a power bank, a passing cycling couple asked if i needed help. I got the impression they were disappointed when I said „no, thank you“. They asked where I was going etc and I told them I grew up near there. When I told them Hinckley, he said I once won a bike ride there!

There were several hills shortly before the end and by this time i didn’t even try to cycle up them. It was still a longish day, as I didn’t arrive until 7, but a much less stressful one.

Your stats for day 13 Bradely to Blakedown:

102 km. 613 m. ascent, 7:48 bike-time, 9:55 total.

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