Posts Tagged With: cycling

Day 19: Dornoch to Tongue

Miles travelled: 65

Metres climbed: 714

Midge attacks: only one, but it lasted all afternoon!

Today was our latest start, but we were so stuffed from last nights dinner and porridge for breakfast that we made speedy progress. (Actually Alice was especially well fueled after eating more than 20 dried apricots and a few prunes… I’m not quite sure what she was thinking, but she quite quickly regretted it!)

The morning up to Crask was the wildest place we’d been so far. Actually it felt like a bit of a wasteland,  which became a steady incline for the last fifteen or so miles which felt like hard work… 

 But we made good time and reached the legendary Crask Inn before 2pm… Where we had a yummy lentil soup (great for Alice’s tummy – it was a perfect complement to the bucket of dried fruit she had for breakfast!)

Mummy decided (having heard that Tongue was beautiful) that we should push on so that we could spend the night there instead… It was only about a 30 mile detour, but as midges had descended in Crask we were all happy to get going! We sped away into Strathnaver and through some of the most stunning scenery, (with a couple of big climbs…) but sadly there were too many midges for us to fully appreciate it…

We eventually reached Tongue at dusk and luckily found somewhere to stay. We felt like we’d almost made it as we are now on the northern coast of Scotland! It actually seems a little hard to believe!! Especially as Alice seems to think “it’s all down hill to John O’Groats”!!

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Day 12: Moffat to East Kilbride

Miles travelled: 57

Metres climbed: 760

exploding tyres: one!

I was sad to leave Moffat – it was the quirkiest place we’ve visited, with lots of cute shops and yummy looking bakeries…

I was even more sad when I realised that the road we were following all day was so bumpy we felt like we were cycling uphill on a power plate!!! The scenery was awesome, but we were concentrating so hard on staying on our bikes that we hardly had a chance to see it…

We eventually made it to Lesmahagow and found the most amazing tea place… Abbeys on the Green felt like an oasis in a desert!! Spotless, yummy and friendly…

While we were recharging our batteries we met another trio of girls cycling end to end the other way! They raved about Scotland and re-assured us that the roads improved 🙂 yay! They did mention something about having to tighten their bikes all the time… Can’t say I knew what they were talking about!! Hope it’s not too important! image

We are, however, getting quicker at replacing inner tubes… Luckily! Mummy had a blow out shortly after lunch 😦 it was a bit scary – sounded like a gunshot, but fortunately she was fine and the bike was repaired pretty quickly!!

We pushed quickly in to East Kilbride and after a minor detour to avoid a closed road we made it to the farm where we were staying, which had a very cool swing, so Alice was happy! 🙂

image

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Land’s End to Cubert… Hello Hills!!

Miles travelled: 54 (we’d mapped 47, so not quite sure what happened there!)
Metres climbed: 1174
Nak’d bars eaten: 1 Strawberry Crunch 🙂image

We are so happy to have made it to Cubert 🙂

Not realising quite what we were in for we decided to take the coastal route from Lands End. The scenery was more stunning than we could possibly have imagined, but the hills were… RELENTLESS! IMG_3082

The Hells Mouth Café was a life saver!!

The sea was almost always in sight 🙂

Here’s hoping tomorrow is flatter!!

 

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All Clipped-In and ready to Go :)

It was a day of firsts… Our first clipped-in cycle, our first mechanical issue, and our first cycle through a thunderstorm!

Having heard that they increase your efficiency by as much as 30%, last weekend Alice and I finally decided to ‘upgrade’ to clipless pedals. It has taken us several months to muster the courage for this. For someone who isn’t all that stable on their bike, the thought of being literally clipped into it was rather terrifying!

So it was with some fear and trepidation we set off on our first ‘clipped’in’ cycle heading for the beautiful cotswold countryside.

It turned out to be rather an eventful 70 miles…

The clipless pedals  were actually much easier than we had expected, although neither of us escaped the inevitable “slow-car-crash” type fall where we forgot to ‘un-clip’ in time at a junction. Fortunately falling in slow-motion was actually painless and we were happy that we had survived the traditional initiation into clip-in pedals and hopefully won’t need to repeat the experience!

About 25 miles in Mummy’s chain came off (ironically as they had been serviced the day before). This was a very minor deal and within minutes Alice had sorted the problem and we were off again.

We had set out knowing that Thunder storms were forecast, but felt it would be good practice as who knows what weather we’ll get in Scotland. We were amazingly lucky with out timings. The storms hit hard while we were having lunch, and we certainly took the opportunity to stock up on calories which seemed more and more necessary as the rain pelted down… This was our second cycle to the Feathered Nest and the food just gets better every time 🙂

We are so happy that they have donated a stay at the wonderful establishment for our Charity Auction in November as their food is amongst the best we’ve ever had and know that Daddy would be so touched! Whenever we are planning a cycle we are always pulled in their direction partly because the food is so yummy, but also because we have such happy memories of meals there with Daddy. He raved about their delicious tomato tart for years! The owners were so sweet and seemed very concerned that we were seriously intending to cycle over thirty miles home through the storm, they were so concerned the kept producing more and more free chocolates to sustain us through the rain:)

but miraculously the clouds parted just as we set off again…

We even encountered some Morris Dancers on the way home. It felt rather surreal; “surreal but nice” as Hugh Grant so famously said in Notting Hill and Daddy would often quote 😉

The rain only returned in force when we were less than a mile from home. Alice was thrilled that we had the experience of riding in a storm and I was very happy that the experience only had to last a few minutes.

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Another weekend… Another 83 miles :)

This weekend Mummy and I decided we needed to do a more realistic distance… so on Saturday we picked a favourite restaurant about 32 miles away to cycle to for Lunch and arranged to meet our Grandparents there – we knew we’d need an incentive to go that far 😉 and  we were very happy to know that they’d bring us clean clothes AND provide the option of a personal taxi-ride home if we were too exhausted to continue… Thankfully we needn’t have worried!

We couldn’t have been luckier with the weather, and it couldn’t have been a more beautiful ride! We managed to find a sneaky back route using our new bike Sat Nav (it’s like a miracle in a box!)

The Feathered Nest Inn in Nether Westcote is completely surreal… with panoramic views over the cotswolds, beautifully quirky decor and food that is out of this world! This might have something to do with the fact that the chef trained at Le Manoir aux Quatre Saisons… as might the fact that the portions aren’t always exactly what you want after a 3 hour bike ride 😉

The Feathered Nest

Despite not being enormous, my first ever experience of Courgette Flowers will certainly be a memorable one… and probably hard to beat! Thank heavens for giant puddings and Pettit Fours… we certainly made sure we got a good supply of calories! We felt VERY spoilt!!

 

Even our Grandparents looked pretty pleased when their chocolate cherry soufflé’s arrived and were almost the size of their heads!!

The Feathered Nest (2)

Its probably rather fortunate that they can’t really use the internet… or i’m sure they’d be rather embarrassed by this photo!

It was also special to visit somewhere we had been with Daddy, both before and during his illness. He had absolutely loved the whole experience and was always coming up with “special occasions” that could merit a trip to Nether Westcote for another delicious meal. He would be so SO touched to know that Tony and Amanda (the owners) are donating a night at their Inn as a prize at our Charity Auction in November!

It was the best weekend we’ve had in ages! Croatia is going to have a lot to live up to!!

The only thing missing was Alice, but as she was visiting her boyfriend in Fontainbleu in France we forgave her 😉

It was such a relief for Mummy to cover a big chunk of our daily mileage without too many ill-effects – although I don’t know why she’s worried – she goes so fast I could hardly keep up. Amazingly the only thing we noticed was being slightly saddle sore when we went out for our shorter loop on Sunday, which is pretty amazing when I look back on how my body used to feel after a long run!

I’m beginning to see why the world has taken to cycling!

 

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And then there were Three…

And then there were three...

Mummy is now officially part of the team! 🙂

After cycling thirty miles (for the first time ever) with us this morning Mummy has decided that she will join us on the cycling part of our challenge. Now we are even more excited… although it looks like camping might have just gone out the window (sorry Alice ;)) Daddy would certainly love to know that we are all doing this together. I hope he is looking down on us with a smile…

And happily it seems that everything (even lake swimming!) is better when Alice is around!

Our thirty mile cycle this morning was via Queensford lake – a beautiful open water swimming lake near Oxford where Alice and I duly attempted our first ever 750m lap. And although I still didn’t love the cold feeling around my neck – having Alice there certainly made it all seems so much easier. We are thinking this will have to become a weekly activity… (Alice wants to include a wake-boarding session after the swim. Obviously.)

Thankfully the water was cleaner and warmer than the lake last weekend and having Alice meant it just felt like a bit of fun! Clearly I needn’t bother attempting to train without her!!

Queensford

Although I think I will probably have to do one more session before I feel prepared to cope with the swimming leg of Blenheim Triathlon next weekend 😉

I think maybe Alice thought we all needed cheering-up as her post-cycle yoga outfit was pretty entertaining…

Thanks Alice! You certainly made me smile…

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Feeling more motivated than ever as we start our training in earnest…

It’s been a tough weekend with Daddy seeming to take quite a turn for the worse, but he’s still every bit as much a hero as ever!

The NHS have miraculously provided us with Celine – a “live-in” carer, who couldn’t be kinder – we feel so lucky to have her. But even she has said that she cannot understand how he can still be so alert and considerate despite all he’s going through – always apologising and thanking us all. Despite her 8 years as a carer she assured me that she has never encountered anyone with, “such a strong heart”, as she puts it.

His courage, patience and bravery are an inspiration to us all! And we couldn’t feel more keenly the desperate needs to raise funds to find new treatments for this all too common and all too barbaric disease.

At his insistence Alice and I went ahead with our first ever 20 mile bike ride into the centre of Oxford and back… aside from the hills it felt surprisingly easy – we had arranged to meet some friends for moral support and re-fuelling at the Isis Farmhouse, a really unusual Oxford tavern by the river. We were impressed by the Isis’s Chocolate Beetroot Cake and their scones weren’t too bad either 😉

 

It was good to get some fresh air, a quick endorphin fix and a sugar top-up…  Judging by Alice’s smile it certainly seemed to work for her!

it is magical down by the river and we even saw a few ducklings which plopped into the water one after the other before I got a chance to take a proper picture…

Isis Farmhouse (4)

Tikkun Olam – Our lovely cousin was with us today and he mentioned the Jewish theory of “Tikkun Olam” or the sense of responsibility that we all have to ‘heal the world’  and it just made me think that, while he may not have been religious, throughout his life and still even now Daddy has honoured this principle.

If only the world could heal him back.

 

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Bikes chosen, ordered and on their way: Thanks to Cycles UK!

We haven’t posted much for a while as sadly our Dad’s condition has deteriorated somewhat recently so our energies have been focused on being with him…

He is currently receiving excellent care at the Michael Sobell Hospice, but we are hoping that we will be able to bring him home in the next few days (so long as we can get adequate care at home to ensure that he is always comfortable). He continues to be as brave and wonderful as ever. Always an inspiration.

We feel more motivated than ever to complete our challenge, although training may take a back seat for the next little while as we just enjoy spending time with him.

In the mean time we wanted to share our progress on the bike front – probably quite an important element! After weeks of deliberating, learning and testing we have finally ordered our bikes 🙂 Having tried a LOT of bikes and receiving more advice than we knew what to do with we have finally settled on the Cannondale Synapse Tiagra

Thanks in large part to Danny at Cycles UK who has patiently helped us through the decision making progress and arranged for a fantastic partnership with Cycles UK meaning that we should be able to get all the gear we need without breaking the bank!

We are so grateful that Cycles UK are generously supporting the cycling part of our challenge! Thank you Danny and Thank You…

Cycles-UK

We should have the bikes within the next couple of weeks – so soon I will have no excuse not to cycle to work (10 miles each way should get me reasonably fit in no time!) but I’m sure the first few weeks will be a challenge… the first of many no doubt!

As Daddy says we will just have to Improvise, Adapt and Overcome.

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Richmond Park, Sunshine and Deer: Outside at Last!

Yesterday we decided to rent bikes in Richmond Park from Park Cycle at Roehampton Gate (Postcode: SW15 5JR)… This was our first proper attempt at cycling outside for real! Getting bikes of our own is massively to of our “to do list”! But renting them was a good start… I didn’t even know that this was an option until a great friend suggested the idea. Thank you Laura!!

After a hesitant start we had an absolutely fantastic time. We initially rented road bikes, but pretty quickly (after about 200m!) realised that this was a massive mistake – not only did it mean we couldn’t get away from the traffic and into the park proper, but they were also rather difficult to get the hang of. After swapping to mountain bikes we had so much fun cycling on the off road tracks and grass in glorious sunshine through the beautiful scenery:

We even saw some Deer:

The eight mile circumference of the park whizzed past us in no time!

There is a cafe right next to the bike-hire shop which looked like it served pretty good food (albeit rather pricey!) We now can’t wait to go back… hopefully next time we will get there before the traffic builds up so we can give the road bikes a proper chance!

If you’ve never been to Richmond Park and you live anywhere near London it is definitely worth a visit!

The morning’s cycle left us feeling inspired and excited about our challenge – we are now in the process of planning our route and searching in earnest for the right bike. We still aren’t 100% sure whether we need a road bike, a touring bike, a cyclocross bike or a hybrid bike – it is all quite foreign to me – so any advice would be very much appreciated!

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The London BikeShow, Anonymous Flowers and Random Acts of Kindness

So I know this isn’t directly related to our challenge, but we have been on the receiving end of so many kind gestures that Alice felt inspired to write one more thing about kindness…

Our parents received the most lovely anonymous gift yesterday, which really brightened their day 🙂

Whoever sent it – you are so right and Thank You!

We also visited the London Bike Show at the Excel Centre on Thursday night. Getting there after work was a bit of a rush, but it was fantastic – so much so that I am hoping to go back for a longer visit tomorrow! There was a fantastic display of road and mountain bikes (sadly not too many hybrid bikes), but Chris the owner of TRIUK was really helpful and we might just have to make a visit to their showroom in Yeovil where he assured us he had plenty of hybrid and touring bikes! We were even almost persuaded to sign up for the Nevis Triathlon… It looks SO fun… very tempting, but we are trying to remain focussed on the talk in hand!

What struck us most was how kind everyone was and how keen to help us. In particular we were touched by our encounter with Tom at the nuun stand… (their electrolyte drinks are yummy by the way and almost calorie free!).

He asked why I was taking so many notes (i’m sad like that!) … I explained about our challenge and he immediately offered to help. He also told us about his wetsuit company BlueSeventy – which looks great!  Actually really great. Especially as I kind of have Reynauds syndrome, which means I have really poor resistance to the cold – so for me to survive the swim Lake Windermere I will need the warmest wetsuit known to man!

Oli at Natural Balance Foods was also really kind and I am literally addicted to their Nak’d bars and the Nak’d crunch bars are even better!  I’ve also just introduced our Dad to their high protein trek bars and now he is almost living on them… (well – those and Alice’s beetroot brownies!) I could tell he really needed protein when he said “they’d go well with a bit of cheese”! Maybe not exactly the Nak’d philosophy, but it is just good to see him eating. I now have quite a stash…

What is amazing to me is that this seems to be happening to us more and more – people just offering their support without us even asking. It feels amazing and we are so grateful! 

As Amelia Earhart said: “No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.” 

Here is Alice’s philosophy on kindness (please click to enlarge):

Alice's philosophy on Kindness

Continuing on this theme… Last night we saw Brendan Cole from strictly come dancing at the New Theatre – and I have to say it was pretty fantastic and amazingly it was bond themed – we had no idea, but it was a happy coincidence for our Dad who is a major Bond enthusiast! And they even did the last dance from Dirty Dancing, which made Alice’s night! The sweetest thing was when Brendan danced with two children from the audience at the request of their mother during the Q&A. It took 2 minutes of his time, but i’m sure is something they will remember for a long time!

In the words of the Dalai Lama: “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

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