Monday, 29 October 2007

Done and dusted (well savloned1)


It's complete the whole sheebang! I did the final 230 miles Manchester to Edinburgh over 4 days - see extracts from my diary below. So my mileage total for the whole trip is 762+22+230 = 1014 miles. It would have been a bit less if I hadn't got lost regularly!

Thanks to all my supporters especially my sponsors and my back up team of Grace and Sheila. This site has had over a 1,000 hits which has been especially encouraging.
My trip went like this:
1) Lands End to Knutsford near Manchester
2) Edinburgh to John O'Groats
3) Knutsford to Manchester
4) Manchester to Edinburgh

I feel tired, a bit sore, but delighted. I have faced some demons and fears and potential failure and come through.

Thursday 25th October Manchester to High Bentham 60 miles

It was a real treat to get out of Manchester on a cycle track mostly off road on canal paths and in woods. After Whalley the route got more hilly and I got slower but I managed 40 mph down hill my fastest speed on the whole LEJOG trip.

It was great to stay with old friends Peter and Mary and reminisce a bit about old times and catch up on the new. My gears have been less than perfect but I managed. I feel remarkably well tonight. I saw some stunning views today and would love to re-visit.

Friday 26th October to Kirkoswald (just north of Lazonby) 58 miles

I made good time today and arrived by 4pm. The simple delights of a hot shower, a drink of tea and a warm room after cycling. It was cooler today but no rain as yet. I found a tea room in Orton on route and had hot chocolate and a bacon sandwich - bliss.

My friend Pete rode 5 miles with me from Bentham which was a real treat. He was my one and only travelling companion on the whole trip as it turned out. He told me how he read that men need a mission which makes sense of some of my musings about this trip.

This bit of my trip is now half complete I hope the rest goes as well!

Saturday 27th October to Bush of Ewes (5 miles north of Longholm) 43 miles

Shorter route today as I could not find a B and B further up. So I arrived in very good time just ahead of the rain although I passed through one shower. I could not finish my full English breakfast this morning (after steak and ale pie in the pub the night before) so my pit stops were mostly for hot drinks.

I am glad to be in the dry and hope for good weather tomorrow.

Sunday 28th To Edinburgh 69 miles

The wind and the rain woke me up in the night and when I woke up at 6am winter time it was misty and wet outside but it was clearer when I left at 8am.

I made such good time and reached Edinburgh railway station at about 3.45pm. The journey was wonderful with sunshine most of the way and such lovely views, with crisp cool air.

I was unable to catch an earlier train as all the bike spaces were booked up on it and they were turning people away (4 bike slots per train is not enough!) So I hung out in a cafe near the station feeling a bit spaced out and tired but so so pleased. Grace missed me and I missed her and Sheila but I needed to see this trip off and now I have done so.

I so much like cycling in Scotland and want to return soon. I am no speedy cyclist, never was and never will be. I plod on and get there in the end. Today I averaged over 9 miles per hour - the earlier part of my trip would have been so much easier at that pace but with those Dorset and Devon hills it would not have been possible for me at my current level of fitness.

Maybe one day I will do this again with travelling companions and all in one go. Or maybe the alternative Dover to the North of Scotland? Or a trip in Africa? Who knows? For now I am glad to be home and have no immediate desire to make another bike trip!

Looks like I have raised over £1000. I gather the remaining money and count it all up soon and let you know.

Best to all,

Bill on Bike.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

24 hours to go


24 hours ago as I cycle into work on a cooler, crisper morning with a clear blue sky. Apparently it is going to be cloudy, cooler and the odd shower over the next few days.

Last minute panic - separation anxiety? - when I am about to make a trip of any kind I always feel I am not ready but I am. Doing yoga the last 5 weeks at my local Ananda Marga centre has been great. It has exercised those bits of me that don't get worked on on the bike and as ever it has chilled me out nicely.

I am excited and daunted by the 4 days ahead. Things could wrong with the bike, with me, I could get lost - I probably will from time to time but hopefully not excessively. The weather could be mean but I have faced that previously and as long as it is not all day and not too windy I can survive. If for some reason I don't complete now then I will complete later Deus volens.

There must be a cyclist's prayer somewhere? I have a vague memory of a Celtic travellers prayer something about the road meeting you. How about 'May the road be smooth for me and the people I meet friendly, and the weather good and may God guide me home.

That will do me nicely.

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

48 hours to go and bananas

So, 48 hours to go and a crisp ride to work through misty slightly frosty scenery. Another world seems very close, turn round a bend and be somewhere absolutely elsewhere, or not. I feel really ready, it is forecast to be cloudy later this week I hope that does not mean rain and I hope there is no rain in the next two days so that I can easily ride out of Manchester off road. It will be slower but so much better.

My friend Christa who used to write cycling books has stories about cyclists and bananas and just emailed me: "Sorry but I can't put my hands on which LEJOG record-breakers it was who enthused to me about their teams' resourcefulness/generosity beyond the call of duty in handing to them as they cycled 'impossible' war-time bananas on their record attempt (though I think it was the really funny tandem-trike blokes I interviewed yonks ago). Well, I suppose at a pinch you could paste that into your blog. Oh, and do enjoy the Southern Uplands - if your route through there is anything like such an uncluttered yet lullingly curvaceous landscape as mine was, what a brilliant stretch for mulling."

More anon,

best to all,

Bill on bike

Friday, 19 October 2007

Chomping at the bit


Raring to go, very excited about the prospect of cycling from Manchester to Edinburgh. Apart from the odd shower the weather has been wonderful and Autumnal which I really like. There was a marvelous sunrise this morning and the sunsets and clear blue skies in recent days have been inspiring. So I hope to see more on the final bit of my LEJOG journey.

I met Dawn E recently and she asked about what when on for me on the ride in August. It is hard to articulate it and I hope when I return to the trip next Thursday that I will find more words to describe it.

I mused on some things that troubled me, some things that troubled me I thought I would muse on I didn't, some things I didn't know troubled me I mused on. Not all my musing was on troubles. There were also times when I felt lonely and wondered why I was not with Grace and Sheila. Mostly I was travelling in the moment sometimes empty sometimes full of the experience. A kind of extended meditation or Quaker worship.

Once in a while I was bored but mostly not. This cycling thing feeds and satisfies a need for solitude in me. Things come to me in solitude - solutions to problems or at least the next steps, bits of writing, other bits if inspiration. I also get this from people in conversation. People give me so much. So I move between people and solitude. Hmm that will do - thanks Dawn.

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Wednesday, 17 October 2007



The next 5 days are meant to be good although the 'isolated showers' decided to visit me on route to wortk from Grace's school. This weather has been cycling friendly mostly this week and I hope it stays this way for Thursday next.

I'm raring to go and have just bought some panniers to replace Sheila's which I borrowed for the first part of the trip. The new one are waterproof and will serve me well for years to come.

Check these two amazing clips from recent CTC weekly emails. In the first you see a US invention involving putting a treadmill on to wheels!

In the second you see a mad cyclist breaking the world record and cycling at 130 miles an hour!

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Tales of the canal bank


I cycled to my regular meeting in Altrincham a round trip from my home of 13 miles and then onto to walk on to Dee's back to Grace's school to pick her up - all in about 20 miles or so. Most of the route to Altrincham was along the canal side in lovely Autumnal weather - I hope it is like this Thursday next week.

At one point on the path in front of me was fox not at all bothered by my approach. He or she took a good look at me before slowly moving off into the undergrowth. Quite an encounter species to species.

I am more or less ready for the next and hopefully final bit of my LEJOG trip daunted as ever which feels realistic.

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Friday, 12 October 2007

Getting ready


The bike is back from Cyclelogic with 2 new tyres, new chain and transmission, new gear changer, and new brake blocks. It feels so different to ride it especially after a few days on Sheila's bike. I almost feel a song coming on based on the Sheila's wheels car advert but let's not go there!

There was a mix up with Cyclelogic over my tyres in that I wanted a new front tyre but they noticed the back needed replacing and felt the front one could last a bit longer. Anyway they threw in a new front tyre which was grand of them.

I have also fixed my route and places to stay. it goes:

Thursday 25th October Manchester to High Bentham to stay with friends. Leaving Manchester on mostly off road cycle route.
Friday 26th on to a couple miles beyond Lazonby getting close to Hadrian's Wall
Saturday 27th on to 5 miles north of Langholm in the Borders
Sunday to Edinburgh and a late train home for me and the bike!

All I need is good enough weather, no bike problems and no health problems! Talking of which I am back with Ananda Marga Yoga classes with a new teacher who is not the same as my old one Prem but who has something of the same attitude so it suits me. Walking home at 8pm after 90 minutes of the class is blissful.

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Friday, 5 October 2007

On the road aagin


Just back from a 45 mile (re)training trip as I intend to complete my LEJOG journey over Thursday 25th-Sunday 28th October. Part of this trip today was from 5 miles South of Knutsford to my home in Manchester - a total of 22 miles, probably not the shortest but the most interesting route. This means I now have my home to Edinburgh train station to complete something over 200 miles. I am aiming at 60 miles a day to allow for me to get lost or hit any other snags as my back-up team will be with granny in Norfolk.

However, I have just signed up to the ETA cycle rescue service which means that if my bike breaks down - apart from a puncture - the will come and rescue me, and fix me or take me to the nearest bike shop or even home.

Meanwhile the bike-with-too-many-names is now at Cyclelogic having its gear changer fixed, a new front tyre, new break blocks and a general looking over ready for the trip. I am excited and apprehensive. The distances I travelled on the trip are awesome (80 miles one day!) and it is only doing 45 miles today that gives me confidence.

I have fantasied about cycling in Kenya but after my last trip seeing the state of the roads etc I think it is probably beyond me or would need a very careful choice of route. There are organised trips in other parts of Africa so who knows...

Doing my online diary for Quakers was great fun last week apparently I had over 600 hits in the week though there was no facility to post people's responses. You can still visit it if you like -

Best to all,

Bill on bike

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Here we go again


Another wet ride into work.

After an interesting week of online blogging for Quakers - including a ghastly video clip of me that put on You Tube well it's my 5 minutes of fame - I am now gearing up (get it?) for the last bit of my LEJOG.

This is the 200 odd miles I missed out before between 3 miles south of Knutsford ('Knutsford remember me' etc) to Edinburgh. I hope to do the Knutsford to Manchester bit on Friday leaving me with 3 further days cycling planned Thursday 25th October - Sunday 28th.

This time I wont have my back up crew but I will have the new CTC service. This is a bit like the AA they come out to you and fix you or take you to the nearest bike shop etc. They wont do for a puncture but will do it for anything else.

Best to all,

Bill on bike