The Monday “Plan”

So Monday. I had a plan, a good lie in. Did that. A good breakfast did that. A bit of maintenance Monday to keep everything bike related nice and happy, done that. All nice and good… Well right up to I told the Garmin to take me to Brighton, it was spinning and spinning and eventually found Brighton Hill, ah close enough, so off I went. Slight snag, Brighton Hill isn’t anywhere near

Slight snag, Brighton Hill isn’t anywhere near Brighton and 18 miles in the wrong direction. By mid afternoon I was a tad ticked off with myself. The Garmin had a route to the ferry at 86 miles, Google had it at 48 miles. Like, come on, what’s going on?! Here began a massive learning experience if the differences. The Garmin didn’t really bother about cycle paths or bridleways, Google threw in any way possible. So this was 48 miles off road verses 86 on. With this load out I’m slow enough on the road so why not! Time to see if any of Lancet’s cyclocross design make up actually worked.
Today we did something resembling the Monster Miles, we had deep mud, gravel, flint, roots, slabs, steps, broken paths, but even fully loaded it actually became great fun throwing through corners and climbs. The background mountain bike elements came to the fore with the Hope Technology Ltd RX4’s and the incredible 20 Fives, with the razor saw sound effect of the Pro 4 hubs cutting up the trails. The XTR rear end and the awesome 10-42 cassette made easy work of everything. Makes me really want to see how she handles off road without these bags on and some proper CX tyres. Can’t wait to try some Sammy Slicks on and a bit of ragging it around Whinlatter. Anyhow, I was panicking, I’m seriously late, can’t stop, no more

Anyhow, I was panicking, I’m seriously late, can’t stop, no more sightseeing, need to get to a ferry… The good news is I did. Now sitting past security waiting to board. Next stop Dieppe then onto Paris!

Hills, Horses, and Garmin Gremlins.

Early morning ride to make up for yesterday. In the Keswick Bikes green jersey this morning, not quite the sprinters jersey but hoping that it will help make up plenty of time!

With the disastrous start yesterday I needed to make up some ground so set off at early hours on the back roads of Cheshire which felt very much like home which was a huge bonus. Even paid a quick visit to Jodrell Bank which is HUUUGE! I would say WOW but might get that’s probably really playing with words 😛 Sadly I couldn’t stay long to get a proper nose around as it was early hours, and I needed to get some miles in.

Eventually reached the town I was meant to stay in last night, Mow Cap. I’m pretty glad I didn’t get here last night as it would have killed me. A real swine of a climb right from home with a heart and lungs busting killer 25% summit. As some of the mHealth folks know I tend to have two modes with climbs, the grind and mutter, or the full on Jensie mode calling the hill every insult in the book! Will let you guess which this one was 😛 Total agony but at the top was an amazing tower ruin. On a clear day, the view is fantastic.

The descent gave my brakes a good workout with the load but still feel they could easily do far more. Starting zapping through towns and also taking a few pics of the various churches and old buildings. Reached Stoke in no time and a silly 6 lane A-road in the middle of town really wound up. So, in the end, thought sod it and took off down a cycle path which upset the Garmin no end. The path was great, right through the centre and I just kept on it. The Garmin kept attempting to correct me and go back to weaving though no end of back roads and traffic jams! Pfft to that!

Soon after the Garmin decides the route we are on is incorrect, so it attempts to divert me to Derby! OK, it might be fine to drop in and see my Aunt but not by adding an 80-mile diversion! So after losing a few miles to it besides figuring it out it was very annoying. Seems good old turning it off and on again fixed it though. Solution to all tech problems!

Passed the JCB factory, exactly at 12.30 as lines of cars, bikes, and everything exited the place filling the road. They had a huge toy sandpit, as in 6+ football pitch sized filled with people playing with all of JCB’s toy collection. Very impressive!

The day progressed along nicely. Found a nice lil Pinarello shop for a quick nosey. Later on, a group from it went flying past which I couldn’t stick with at all with me at my pedestrian pace. I did meet up with them down the road, and they have a shop ride out in middle of a Friday afternoon and the company van comes out to a pub they’ve ridden to and gives them the lift back to the shop. An interesting concept it seems.

Soon after met another group out, felt sorry for the poor guys at the back getting passed by someone with panniers on though. Was a bit of a shame the rest turned off as I was really looking forward to introducing them to the 10 cog on the next descent 😀

Eventually neared Nuneaton. Uttoxeter was great, very bike friendly to get through so was expecting similar. But sheesh no. Not even a handy pavement to hop on when trying to navigate the A5. The road has a 50 cap, not like anyone used it! Scared me witless and I had to get off the road almost instantly. Daft thing was I needed to get preferably 5 miles down it, but couldn’t see that happening without getting killed! Jam packed with traffic all going 70+. Terrifying! In the end though I had no option, it was the only way. Considered sitting or out till like 10pm and hope it got quiet. In the end found by dayglo’s, fitted my amazing Bontrager Flare RT to the rear, charged the radar, and dived into the maelstrom. Dove down the first exit road I could much too the annoyance of the Garmin but I didn’t care, I was off that road! Tomorrow wise I’m looking for another early start to get well away from the traffic chaos of Nuneaton and to give me plenty of time to deal with Milton Keynes and hopefully get a chance to visit Bletchley Park.

Tomorrow wise I’m looking for another early start to get well away from the traffic chaos of Nuneaton and to give me plenty of time to deal with Milton Keynes and hopefully get a chance to visit Bletchley Park.

When Great Ideas End Up In Utter Failure!

It’s going to be a very memorable birthday (and yes it was a big one) is probably the best way to describe it. The plan, midnight to midnight, Big Ben to Eiffel Tower in under 24hours. 313.3km in total, 1 diabetic, 1 bike, 1 day (I like the use of one’s you might of noticed last time). It all started well enough, rode to the station, train down no real problems. Thinking back though it was probably my first error as lunch was my last proper meal and only snaked for dinner and before the ride. Got to Euston and got utterly lost trying to get to Big Ben. Was having a few issue with the GPS trying to “help” by using alternative routes not the one it was meant to use. In the end I did get there with half an hour spare. Ended up getting bothered by Romanian beggars though which is difficult to cope with.

Once going in central London with even at that time of night a lot of traffic the GPS continued to be a pain until good ol’ turn it off and on again and all sorted. Then made good time escaping the city. It was quiet surprising seeing so many foxes. Counted 9 of them which is so odd when up here I’ve only seen 1 in the last couple of years. The first 50km or so was foggy out of the city, and it proved a very sticky kind of damp and was also quiet hard to cope with the reduced visibility down to under 5m or so.

By the time I reached Lowes I was feeling quiet sickly and ended up vomiting beside the road. I blamed the very rich mix I had chosen to use on my drinks to try and cover the lack of having anywhere to get food stops really and also the strange salted and herb flapjack I had been nibbling. Possibly more the early stages of dehydration as I had only drunk about a litre. I make it into Newhaven just after 5am which wasn’t bad going, at just under 20km/h which is the kind of speed I would need come France so that was good and I was keeping it pretty gentle also.

Stopped at the McDonald’s near the ferry port and got plenty of protein in for breakfast and a couple of water bottles and a nice warm cuppa. Raised a few eyebrows this loony cyclist wondering in at that kind of time. Sat there till about 7am after having a couple more bottles of water before venturing down to the ferry port to see it all closed up and having nothing but two huts for passport checking and not even a waiting room. So utterly pointless that was I went back up to McDonald’s and got another couple bottles of water. Think my dehydration levels were starting to come back I hope although the lack of salt was probably still a problem but salt on the food helped I hope. Eventually left and bought a couple more bottles of water (yes that was 8 bottles!) and pootled down to the ferry port. And waited 2nd in line for them to open. In the process met a nice couple, Andrew and Jill on a tandem going to Paris also but doing it over 4 days. We had a good chat and discussed all kinds of things, D, bikes, and tours.

The ferry seemed to travel faster than I was expecting of it, yet also took a long time to get across the Channel. It was nice though and I got a decent lunch on board, although again in hide sight could of probably done with a lot more food really. I think I managed about an hours sleep and got the GPS and phone recharged which both were very nearly out of juice.

Once in Dieppe it was sunny as I got off the ferry but just as I reached the leaving gates it started to drizzle it down. Left my legs out but put my waterproof jacket back on and continued to try and get out of Dieppe. The roads were heavy at coming up to rush hour and it was hard with tailbacks everywhere but cutting through most of it well at a reasonable pace. Once on the quieter roads managed to turn things up a bit and got some distance it. It was nice seeing the signs for Paris though 170, 150, 130, 110km to go nicely coming down and also beginning to recognise the names of places from the mHealth Tour. I’m sure we didn’t go through many of them but I think we we’re in the same region again which was a nice feeling. The weather was getting much worse and I was getting pretty soaked and miserable at this stage so ended up hiding in a telephone box to get changed into more waterproof kit and also make up more energy drink using my two two of the bottles of water I had brought from McDonald’s that morning. Pressing on the distance was coming down nicely and I was still on schedule just about to make the tower in under 24 hours. Even setting off the slow down signs in towns which always gives me a nice grin when they flash “50 Rappel” at me.

I had just left the town of Gisors and was pressing on to Paris. In the middle of nowhere, pitch black, the full moon covered in clouds as the rain hammered it down my rear tyre goes. I get into a side road, which was nothing but a muddle track to avoid the main road and trucks on it which were the majority of transport at this time of night (9pm ish). I can barely see anything and eventually get my helmet light from my rucksack to help see. Couldn’t find anything in the tyre but with so much mud it wasn’t made easy. This was the first time I had changed these tyres which I got from the Tour and were originally fitted by the mechanics on that tour. Wired tyres argh a total fight, changed the tube, inflate it and BOOM, something must be in there still arrrgh!. Had to do it again and then couldn’t get the tyre back on at all! Spent 90mins getting more and more frustrated with it, getting more and more soaked. Getting more and more utterly ticked off at the time this was costing me. Eventually thought sod it and walked me and myself back to Gisors about 2km back now.

Cold, soaked, the only good thing going was my bloods! Walking into town I see a police car so wonder over to have a chat in very broken French. Was there anywhere to find a hotel still open now, no. Is there any 24hr restaurant or anything, no. Would you mind if I come hide and dry out at the station please? No chance! Bloody wonderful! I eventually find a bus shelter with a small plastic canopy roof and a bench in it from where I was able to change my rear tyre again. Seemed to be keeping inflated. I pondered for ages do I press on, don’t I, what do I do! Do I phone a taxi to take me to my hotel in Paris, how much would that cost after midnight?! Would they still be open considering how nowhere in France seems to do 24hr opening. In the end I pulled my legs up next to my chest and wrapped my arms around them and made a small ball of myself to attempt to keep warm as the rain pounded down. I did get a couple hours sleep but woke up frozen. I don’t think I’ve ever been that cold. Shaking violently, teeth chattering, bloods good though! I check the back tyre and it was still inflated. The rain was still pouring down though! Feeling ill again I ran to the local bushed and threw up yet again. Not sure if it was dehydration still or a chill or something with the cold effecting me. Hid back under the shelter for a while but I wasn’t heating that much up and when the rain relented a little thought to hell with it and got back on the bike and pressed onwards!

It started to dry out which helped a little and I was back to setting off speed warnings on the road signs which always made me feel like I was progressing again. The 24hours was well gone now. But I can still get to my train on time though to get home! And then thud thud thud the back tyre again ARGGHHHH!!! Not again. My feeling of let’s get this over with and getting on with things soon becoming utter frustration and annoyance. Luckily it wasn’t a full flat and more a slow puncture so managed to get me to this roadside 24hr pizzeria place (only place I had seen open 24hrs in France!). It was actually a room with a pizza vending machine in it. But it had lights, and it was a dry room if a little chilly. I had half a pizza for breakfast, half as the other half was frozen cold by the time I got to it, and it’s actually pretty difficult to eat a pizza not cut into slices as one giant disc. Sulking and wringing out my clothes weren’t helping. Next door a patisserie was opening up and an hour later I was in a lovely warm place with a mountain of fresh warm bread and croissants (creme croissants mmm NOM) and a good warm brew.

I received a message off Caroline from the mHealth Tour after posting a picture from the muddle side road with bike in bits. She offered to come pick me up and get me a nice warm shower. Once picked up we drove over the hill from where I was hiding and could see the Eiffel Tower in the distance. I was less than 2 hours from the finish. Dejected, defeated, utterly annoyed at wrong choices and mistakes. It was a hard lesson but learned lots. I never made it to the Tower but did see it. The Tower as a completion I knew that would have to be next time when I do this correctly with the correct equipment. So close :frowning:

Getting home also proved to be “fun” though. I wasn’t going to meet my train home so tried the website to change the ticket time and it was timing out. So ended up calling them, but the office wasn’t open for another hours arrgh. Eventually get through and ticket changed. Good! I get a nice warm drink, showered and cleaned up at Caroline’s before she gave me a lift to the station before she went to work. I owe her so much for helping me out, a total star! Unfortunately the bike wouldn’t of been able to make the train so I had to get the ticket changed again (thankfully they’ve didn’t charge a fortune for it like last time). The bike nicely get’s scheduled in to be back in London on the same train as me, great!

Back in London and no bike. They had decided to move to the following train! Which then became the train after that one. Now, I had originally planned that I had space for things like this between getting into London and my train home. Unfortunately with the bike delays my tickets home were now also useless. Eventually getting the bike and me to Euston I had this feeling of disaster waiting to happen as it takes usually a days notice to book a bike onto a train. Thankfully though the girl at the station was able to get me and a bike on a train home (ish), but couldn’t refund the ticket. Thus another massive charge! The ish in this being the train only went to either Preston or Glasgow. So Preston it was! My feet were cut to shreds by this time, blisters from the walking in wet cycling shoes I’m sure wasn’t good. I had picked up some blister plasters in the station to try and patch things together as best I can which gave something to do while waiting for the train home. These train fixes ended up costing over twice as much as the original ride was to of cost. Not good at all but getting home was more important really now.

Making it to the home station and getting the bike off I go to lock the bike up and I’ve gone and left my rucksack with helmet attached to it on the train. I get worse! I have a good chat to the folk in the station and they call around and retrieve it in Lockerbie. So a nice warm station and a good chat with the station staff as we watched the delays roll up on the schedules (seems someone was threatening to jump off a bridge so they had to turn the power lines and stop trains in Crewe) which was delaying trains up to 3 hours, or cancelling them out right (guess some people were coming off worse than me). 90mins later though I was reunited with my bag and kit and on my way home to a nice warm comfy bed. I’ve learned loads, and I will complete this next time!

mHealth Grant Tour – Brussels to Paris to Geneva

On Thursday 20th August, I received a telephone call from the JDRF enquiring if I would like to do a ride for them. Answering yes without thinking about it, they went on to explain they needed a Type 1 who rode a bicycle for a research project….to ride from Brussels, to Paris and then on to Geneva. A 1500km journey taking in over 22,000m of ascent. Oh and by the way it would be starting in two weeks to the day!

The Tour started at the Triumphal Arch of the Cinquantenaire in Brussels with the riders being escorted by police through the busy city before heading south to Cambrai in France. There was something of military theme to the day as it passed through the 1815 Waterloo battle field before heading to the ‘Western Front’ at Mons, the location of the last fighting on the Western front on 11th November 1918. The day finished with three sections of the famous Paris-Roubaix pavé of Northern France which made it all the more “fun” as it had started lashing down rain which made it feel very much like home! Riding the pavé in the wet bit though, giving me blisters on my hands, and also getting a couple of punctures, rattling off a CO2 can, and braking my drinks holders, and also rattling off my rear light (a very expensive experience), Not an ideal start to a tour really!

Come the following morning my rear tyre was flat again, and after a lot of poking around a small bit of flint was found. In far too much a hurry which resulted in me pinching the tube which promptly exploded waking up a load of the other riders, it didn’t make for a good following morning. After the mornings medical tests and questionnaires (research project remember!) It was off to Reims, the heart of the champagne region of France. Continuing the military theme as the route roughly followed the line of the Western Front past St Quentin and the River Aisne and pausing at the American Somme Graveyard. It is actually one of those places which is hard to put into words due to the sheer scale and numbers (over 50,000 graves), and this was just one of such graveyards in the area. The numbers of graves can’t really be put into words without seeing such memorials. The tour moved on along mainly quite rural roads and open ‘rolling’ countryside. Wind turbines blowing in the wind highlighted the windy conditions as the tour headed into the champagne vineyards! Sadly though no free samples much to the disappointment of all the riders.

From Reims it was on to Paris. Or would have been if not for waking to yet another puncture. This time on the front though! Riding once more through the region’s vineyards roughly following La Marne River which meets La Seine in Paris. There wasn’t any really significant climbs but the day was far from flat as it made it’s way to Paris following more quiet country roads and then into the city using a combination of quiet country roads and cycle paths along the canal which had a rather pungent aroma to it although is very beautiful to look at (definitely not to smell though). The hotel in Paris was nice, although just to add a bit more fun they had forgotten to book me a room. Lots of room shuffling later I was sharing with the Dexcom representative who was a really nice guy.

The next day was the only rest day of the Tour. A nice day in Paris to see the sights. Visiting the Eiffel Tower, ride around the Arc d’Triumph and down the Champs-Élysées. To watch it on the television doesn’t do just how cobbled and bumpy the road is! But it was one of those places which has to be ridden when in Paris. The Arc d’Triumph was total craziness with cars everywhere. and once on the centre it is best described as some weird velodrome crossed with a spinning top. Round and round you ride trapped in by the layers of cars around you until you find a gap and off you go flying off down one of the side roads.

Heading east from Paris along the Marne River using quiet roads and cycle paths again, and once past the Bastille, these allowed us to avoid the worst of the traffic from the Monday morning rush hour. Clear of Paris it was on to Coulommiers the home of Brie cheese, before going onto Provins which is a beautiful fortified medieval town and a world heritage site. Then heading onto Troyes which is described in the Lonely Planet guide as “one of the finest ensembles of half-timbered houses and Gothic churches in France”, or very much like parts of Cheshire in my book :stuck_out_tongue: The amazing old forts and Roman fortifications where quite staggering.

Troyes to Langres was possibly the quietest days riding in France! The area was very pretty with a mix of lakes, forests, open countryside and sleepy villages. Charles de Galle came from the area and the Viaduct at Chaumont is an impressive three story railway bridge with over 50 arches and spanning 600 metres. And then yet again it happened, another puncture! This time right in the middle of Chaumont and right after avoiding an anti-mayor protest by the localsn (protests in France? who would of thought it!). There wasn’t many of them but they had a good group of instruments playing as they protested the town hall. The locals were very interested in what was going on with the ride and in my very broken French was able to get across most of what they were doing with the ride to Geneva before getting underway again. Most though just loved the chance to get close to NF (all my bikes have named btw) and asked lots of questions about her. Langres is an old fortified hill top town which made for a grinding 650m at 15% into the castle at the top of the hill an epic finish for the day. And a great place for the town inside the walls on the top of the hill. Amazing place and very beautiful!

With the Tour occupied every hotel and guest house inside the town, the following morning ate the town dry. A thing to note about cycling like this is that we are burning over 6000 calories a day, and we eat like crazy things. A bare minimum of 150g+ for breakfast with most on around 200g with a mix of cereal, breads, eggs, meats, cheeses, and fruits. The first sitting cleaned out the lunch room so much so the chef almost had a stroke and went off on a rant about how much we were eating. Was a scene right out of fawlty towers it was so funny as he sent the staff off around town to raid the bakers as fast as possible to get more supplies. As Langres is a hill fort the day started with a lovely downhill. But this was going into also the longest day of the tour at over 190km and also had the first big climbs involved. Starting with the Col De Croix and then onto the Col du Ballon d’Alsace which was also first official climb of the Tour de France in 1905 and has been included in the Tour de France no less than 20 times. To climb something this large after you’ve already ridden over 100 miles was something which reminded your legs of what you were doing in the Tour. A amazing climb and one where I paired up with my climbing partner for the majority of the rides to come meeting up with Annemarie from Team Novo Nordisk. It was an incredible experience to ride something so relentless and unforgiving, or so I thought until the next day! The 30km long descent into Belfort made a great end to the very long day and also made for some frozen solid knees and feet. Any footage from that speed camera of someone in JDRF colours on a black and white bike is just coincidental though even if they were 18km over the speed limit whistles innocently.

Heading south from Belfort, and crossing the Jura mountains and into Switzerland for the first time. This had quite a fair amount of climbing for the day, although the highest peak was only just over 1100m or ascent. The town of La Chaux-de-Fonds is another World Heritage site and also a center of the Swiss watch making industry. The town is referred to by Karl Marx in Das Kapital and was birthplace of the architect Le Corbusier, who is to blame for dreaming up the tower block which is probably why the town is one of the ugliest Swiss towns ridden through on the Tour (yes, it is full of nothing but concrete blocks). From here the Tour headed down into the spa town of Yverdon-Les-Bains. or so was the plan. With less than 30km to go and arriving at the final food stop of the day my blood sugars were getting high (cooked my insulin off). Taking plenty of water and having a discussion about it I pressed on up the final climb before the long descent to the hotel. 6km in I started vomiting due to my high levels which continued to raise out of control so decided the best action would be to ride back to the food stop for a change of insulin. Unfortunately the insulin had already been moved on to the hotel which resulted in my retirement from that days ride much to my utter annoyance and immense frustration (even the jokers of the group the physio’s saw how big a mood I was in at losing to D and kept out of my way). Once back at the hotel with insulin changed things were soon back to normal I was not a happy bunny all night. I almost went out and rode the final climb again but got a telling off for even contemplating it from the organisers. While it did feel like losing I was going to get revenge on something!

The following day we rode on through Montreaux and into the Alps. There was two options for the day, an ‘easy’ option to ride directly to the hotel in Morzine, or for the climbers there was the opportunity to add the Avoriaz climb (big ski slope) onto the route when we arrived in Morzine. This added a further 30 km (14km long climb) to the day. This climb had also been a stage finish of the Tour de France with a record set by Bernard Hinault of 33 minutes to the top! After the disaster at the end of the previous day, Avoriaz was something which was like a huge flashing beacon that had to be done if only to make sure the annoyance of diabetes could be put firmly back into it’s box for the problems it had caused the day before! It was something which had to be defeated and after getting back to the hotel in pretty good time with Annemarie again it was one of those things they both had plans to do, and with just enough time to spare to get back to the hotel for the evenings medical tests before dinner!

The next day started off with the famous Col De Jeux Plane. Moving on to the Col De La Ramaz (quiet a famous TdF mountain involving he who can’t be named) with some incredible views looking onto Mount Blanc with it’s fantastic glacier. Next after that was the Col de la Croisette and finally Le Saleve. And just to add a bit more fun it was against the clock as the riders had to meet the Swiss police for the escort which was waiting for them at the border outpost. The final descent which had 48, 28% corner ramps on it which was made even more treacherous thanks to a thunderstorm which started. The nature of the descent and the weather resulted in four minor falls with grazes, another resulting in a dislocated shoulder blade, and one where they ran into the back of the peloton and caused massive damage to one of the bikes. Quiet a messy final descent really!

Eventually making it to the escort and riding through the storm to meet the Mayor beside the Lake. It was a shame the weather decided to become as nasty as it did but even the storm couldn’t damped the spirits of the riders after the Tour. The support provided by all the sponsors and staff along the Tour was truly a fantastic experience, and hopefully the research done over the Tour will prove beneficial in years to come. Lead sponsor Orange Healthcare who along with the other sponsors Dexcom, Samsung, GSMA, Intel, and TapCheck where brilliant throughout and thanks for their support.

A little ride around Yorkshire! (Tour de France Stage 1)

Been a little quiet, but thought I would bring everyone up to date with the infamous Tour ride.

Well, the night before I have no idea what was going on with me, sky high levels all night. I had acquired a CGM for the ride off my DSN (CDE) and the alarm was driving me up the wall every hour waking me up. Ran corrections all night long and even changed my infusion set. Took till 5am to get them down to 162 (in US money)…but for most the night was over 280, very annoyed but all I could guess was it was nerves. Just what I didn’t need!

Only went for a light small breakfast and did a full bolus for it, not the normal reduction due to the bus to the start taking an hour and a half. Didn’t help though, by the time I reached the start was over 300 in the bloods. Wonderful way to begin (and yes before anyone states I know doing any kind of exercise at this kind of level is dangerous, but there was no way in hell I was going to be delayed) and the doctor accompanying the team wasn’t happy at all about my levels, but she kind of just grinned and muttered and left me too it thankfully.

Start of the ride we kept a nice steady pace in the low 20’s mph and we kept nailing in the miles. We began losing a few from the group and were soon left with just four of us. Bloods kept on coming down over the first 65miles nicely and got to a bit more respectable 160 by the time we got to the first major hill. You have to wonder about our bodies at times like this, surely a lovely big hill would send me lower, but nope. Got to love our random diabetic bodies when the liver decides to kick in and sends be back up to 250 grr. Not a happy bunny about it at all.

Temperature was getting up now and we broke 30C (86f) in the sun and I decided it was best to let the two leading riders go and focus more on getting my levels to play better. I began riding with the doc again after a break at a feed station and she was still muttering her concerns about my bloods, and I did a half correction dose to see what that would do. We kept on riding together until the next climb where I and left her in the hopes of catching the lead two riders. But to no real avail and as such I pretty much carried on for the next 20 or so miles on my own with the only minor entertainment coming from me riding to close to the edge of the roadside and getting a nettle sting across my fingers.

Approaching what was said to be the big climb of the day ” Côte de Buttertubs” I came across other JDRF riders who I kept with until the foot of the climb. We had been warned the bottom part was meant to be the hardest up to the first cattle grid, then a steady climb to the second and a small dip and steep rise again to the third and the summit. Climbing rapidly the others dropped off and I saw others in front approaching the first cattle grid and some even walking. Think I must of seriously annoyed them how fast they got dispatched, one after another over the climb, mid way up slipping into the big ring and disappearing up to the summit and catching many other groups, and dispatching them equally as fast. Discovered at this point that I seemed oddly good at hill climbs, much to the surprise of everyone else on the road and they pushed their bikes up, or painfully ground on up collapsed over the handlebars as some lunatic diabetic took off past them like he had an engine attached (later GPS logs showed I passed the steepest part with the majority of the walkers at 11mph and took the summit at 22mph).

The descent had a few sharp corners, and high hedges so tried to be cagey on it as I didn’t know the road at all so only got to 42mph on the downhill. Chatting to one of the local riders he had seen people clock nearly 60 on the downhill. At the foot of the hill we got our lunch stop finally, and my bloods were finally playing ball as well (might also of explained why the climb went so well) reading in at 110. As I started my lunch the leaders were leaving, so got a little annoyed and it was a good 15-20mins till I was back on the road after them. And again on my own.

The next 15 or so miles was just beautiful rolling hills, the occasional waterfall, and beautiful little villages. Soon I was on the final hill of the day, the “Côte de Grinton Moor”. This was a much more challenging climb I found. Nothing really where I could build up a lot of speed but more one just to keep on piling in the power over the climb. It was a very open area over the moorland with only the sheep for company and seeing a rider in the distance to give a goal to chase down. Eventually I caught him at what appeared to be the summit. Looking down at the road it said 1km to summit. I guess there’s more. And sure enough, around enough corner more hill came into view. This hide and seek of where more hill is hiding became quite the constant with this climb.

Approaching the top I see a small group of JDRF riders. The leaders and a few from shorter distance groups. Finally! I pulled up just as they set off and waved hi. Grabbed a quick drink and dropped my visor on my helmet for the first time that day. Went flat on the bars and pointed downhill.

Soon catching the group and fly past the first half of them and am fast approaching the front of them when BANG. My front inner tube explodes and blows my front tyre off my wheel. Not a good thing to occur at any speed, let alone on a downhill section when some lunatic was really on one at the time.

As the group disappeared I sat there changing my inner tube and checking the bike over for damage. Luckily none, but still annoying though. I cruised down from the Moor wearing my destroyed inner tube as a trophy wrapped around me, and rode quiet gingerly trying to avoid anything which could burst my tyres now. I latched onto a couple of other riders and rode with them till the final food stop. My bloods where now down to 63 so time to hit the supplies at the stop. The group I arrived with hung on a bit at the stop so I followed out another rider for the final 25 miles to the end.

I met the fourth member of the starting breakaway from the beginning of the ride and rode in with him to Harrogate. It surprised me the way many of the cars waved us through on the roundabouts on the major roads as we came in. Really was great! Coming into the town centre and nearing the finish I stop at a red light and wait. Setting off again I don’t clip in, crank spins around and whack…a huge swollen lump on my leg, bruise and blood to match. A great ending! I ride over the finish line and feel oddly good. Bloods are now on 80 so overall not to bad a ride.

There was a large group of riders at the finish, as well as the JDRF reps and dignitaries, family and the likes. Really did enjoy meeting everyone. A little bit of a shame that our of all the riders only five where actually diabetics, and there was only one crazy one who did the entire Stage 1 course. But everyone had a connection though. Really enjoyed meeting everyone, all are total stars!

So stats for the ride: 131 miles ride, 2470m climbed, max heart 198bpm, max bg 18.4, min 3.5, 23 finger blood tests, 3470 calories burnt, 398g carbs consumed, on 4.03u Novorapid.

Appointments

I woke and my bloods are a nice 5.3, a good bowl of Alpen and I was ready for the off. Slight snag being it was 5.30 and I had an appointment at the Royal Lancaster at 9 to get a new CGM (Constant Glucose Monitor) sensor fitted. I really needed to be out at 4 to make that.

The road was great, lovely and wish. My legs were ok, but I couldn’t climb at all. Caldbeck yesterday obviously really did them in sadly. But needs must and all that. By the time I had reached Ambleside side I was already through a bottle of my sports mix drink and a chocolate bar, and I was still going down. It seems my body was still recharging from yesterday’s silliness.

By the time I reached Kendal it was already turning 9. This want going to plan. I contacted the hospital and said I would be there as soon as possible.

It wasn’t that soon. My legs were having none of it. To try and save time, and hassle of the main A roads to Lancaster I decided to go didn’t the cycle track… Big mistake. Hills and my weak legs and more miles. Exactly what I didn’t need. The good thing though was my bloods were stable again.

Looking at the map I decided to cut out the lovely cycle route along the canal and nail it down the main road. And while on the flat, with the right blood levels, I really did nail it. Finally getting to the hospital at 11.54 which was just a little late. Thankfully the diabetic specialist nurse who was with a trainee was there to get me ready for the next half of this ride.

While in Lancaster I used the opportunity to pick up a security cable to secure the panniers as I’ve been worried about those. And also got some lunch. While passing Greenhalghs bakers, there was a lady outside giving away test samples of pie. Beautiful. Soon as I got a bit, it seemed the street descended on her hehe. But as we got talking, she kindly donated lunch to my ride. I’ve put the value of the lunch into the JDRF as it’s not really possible to donate food to a charity but love her kindness.

While eating my dinner in the central square paved area, not sure actually is name, will have to ask. I lady with a pram asked if I had a pump she could borrow as the pram had a flat. Sadly my pump is Presta only so wasn’t any use. Then I had a brain wave. The emergency inflater CO2 bottles. I have a few on me so I could spare one for a good cause. I screwed on the valve, attached it and poof, sorted. Leaving a ice chunk on the rim. She was delighted, and said she’ll have to pick one up as it was so handy.

Back on the cycle track I was just asking directions off a local lady when this old gentleman on a bike pulls up and we get chatting as the lady left. It all turns out he’s the SusTrans Ranger for this part of the route. He gave me some nice directions and route tweaks and also donated £10 which was fantastic. A really nice guy.

I got going again and was aiming to get into Preston. But my knees started aching and thought best not to push them hard today after yesterday. Phoned around a few places to stay, included what the Yellow Pages said was a Hostel, which was actually a retirement home. Anyhow, long story short phoned around, and got a room at the Best Western. A little more expensive than the b&b’s in Scotland by overall not bad at all for a place with an en suite golf course. And best of all, a very comfy legs.

There be a Lack of Electricity

Walking up I had next to no power. For any of my kit. Less than 2% and I was still in the middle of nowhere. Using what I had I checked and basically route 74 went all the way to Carlisle. That’s good enough for me. I cut power to everything, had a bowl of Alpen and hit the road not long after sun raise.

It was just after 9 and I was already approaching Lockerbie. I considered stopping for breakfast and looking for a mobile phone shop for a free charge, but decided my legs were on form and I want going to stop them.

By just before 12 I was entering Gretna and was famished. So a stopped and got a great deal on dinner. The sausage roll I got was great, so good I went back and got a bag of them for later before dropping into yet another local Spar. Between them and local garages I think they’ve fuelled my trip so far.

Road signs were saying Carlisle and Longtown, and I had had enough of Scotland by this point and wanted out. I gave up on the cycle routes and went right for Longtown and soon saw the welcome to England sign. And that just drove me on. Home soil again! And I was in Carlisle before 2 and sitting outside The Lanes getting my phone charged and having a large milkshake in the sun.

The phone had 20% power now. Surely that would be enough? After the flood of messages and calls it was less than 2% by the time I reached Dalston. So if down the cycle route I went heading for Penrith, or so was the plan. In the end it turned out to be back in Carlisle add I ride 5 miles down the route in the wrong direction due to lack of a map again beige finally heading in the right direction by about 4.30. One good thing about going the wrong way was that I did get a chance to chat to a guy in Carlisle about the ride. Nice guy and really interested in the ride and the JDRF.

There was a plan for a pitstop in Penrith to load up on more kit as necessary. Unfortunately my brother was now busy doing “other things” so that was totally scuppered by the time I was heading there. So my pitstop plan was now shot down, and I still needed to find somewhere to stay.

Then there it was, the sun said Keswick 22mile…that’s not far thought my brain. So of I went sleep in my own bed, sorry it the kit, all sorted. There was just one tiny little snag to this plan. Caldbeck and Uldale. The climbs were merciless. Actually by far the hardest climbs I’ve faced this entire trip so far. Dragging all my bags I made it home for a refuel, restock, sleep and a night out catching up with friends in town.

As you can tell from how far this is on the map, I just broke my all time distance personal best. 142 mile. Think it’ll be done time till I try to beat that again.

Then there be hills

OK, more correctly the Cairngorms. But that was after the Caledonian Way.

The place I stayed at was great, actually oddly enough the guy who runs it with his girlfriend is from Carlisle. They spotted me saying la’al. I never knew a breakfast could me made that artistic.

Blood wise I started perfect, then dropped like a stone. Under injected for my breakfast then went sky high. Once I got moving levels behaved brilliantly keeping me at good levels all day.

The Caledonian Way was empty, and I honestly didn’t exceed the 10mph speed limit… Honest, it must of been a great back wind which have me good time. The climb through the woods was nasty, all loose gravel on sand. A couple of the climbs I could barely push up them. Riding just wheel spun and sank in. The locks were impressive to watch move. I watched a boat descend Neptune’s Staircase in Fort William which was great to watch. While entering Fort William there was a huge clang and thud, which brought me two a stop. Thankfully I want going fast at the time, but my tent had decided it didn’t want to come anymore and it’s bungee have up and snapped going right into my chain and wheel. Didn’t seem to cause damage luckily.

The climb from Glencoe was a slog though. For the first time this ride my knees started to complain. Not as much as LM’s gears though. She was being by this time with the new gear cable seems to of stretched. I’ll play at correcting that in the morning.

And now I’m in Crianlarich for the night. Having the hardest time so far too find a net connection. Only outside in the pub garden it seems. Anyhow, it’s a nice night for a diet coke. Catch you all tomorrow.

Fear and predictions

Today was a completely different kind of day. A beautiful sunny morning, even if I was expected to get hit by some rain later according to the radar. The b&b I found in Alness was brilliant. A lovely friendly couple, and a nice large room. And breakfast was great, a nice choice of cereals, main courses, fry ups, drinks. Just what you wanted. Meet a nice trio of walkers on their way up from Lands End. Comical bunch but seem to be enjoying their trip.

Waving each other off I venture off up Route 1. When it leaves the main roads it actually can if you do choose avoid the minor back roads and actually take it into the forests and fields. Ohh what fun, it was just single track, but very much like the first part of Whinlatter’s blue trail. Great fun, even got a little air over one yump. Think I scared the daylights out of the guy with the GoPro on his helmet coming the other way. Sadly though it didn’t last and I was soon back on the road grinding my way up hills towards Inverness.

It rained, it stopped. It went cold, it went scorching. It did it over and over. I think I changed my kit about 7 times before giving up and just going with what I had on. Sadly though LM want in the happiest of moods. It may of been the single track action, but all she did on the grind up to Inverness was groan, rattle, clank, and generally lots of not usually very good sounds from a trusty steed. A pitstop for a good check over, oil everything, tighten a few things up. And we were back in track and running along smoothly and silently.

Inverness was a mess. Bike track after bike track was closed for maintenance. Went round and round looking for alternatives which made slow head way… And then there it was. The Kessock bridge. And Mr Vertigo here want having any of it. Was chatting to some local bikers who helped me through the mess of the local bike tracks, but the flew over the bridge. The low side, and riding along it was too much for me. In the end I got off and walked the thing against the inside barrier looking over the road at the cars. Took forever but made it eventually. Over the bridge, the bike track again was closed, so had to take more random routes though some oil depots before rejoining and getting on again, only to have yet another rule closed, thus needing a trip into the centre of the city on a busy Sunday just to get around the closed area. Eventually I manned to escape though. But the slow downs by this point where already hurting my progress.

My blood levels weren’t playing ball either. The morning they were great, almost perfect but come lunchtime, although the fear and panic over the bridge might of played a part, they are sky rocketing. Never feel good when high so not helping making up time either.

Loch Ness was well… Hidden. For the most part anyhow behind trees. I enjoyed the trip, but it was sadly barely visible for most of the afternoon. A couple of fire engines, coast guard and mountain rescue all flew part down the road at one point. Which turned out to be a young girl had got talked down the Foyers Falls. She was alright though.

Leaving the Loch I continued on,  but by Whitebridge my levels had gone though the floor. I parked up, raided my chocolate stash, and took some snaps of the amazing bridge. Read the history board. And the village notice board. You know, they have a roadside egg drop off. Someone (I couldn’t tell who) puts fresh free range eggs in this old ammo box for anyone to take off they leave the cash in the box. Amazing trust just leaving the box of eggs/cash on the roadside.

And then came the hill. Talk about a climb, mile after mile of slog. And then the descent down into Fort Augustus. The shimmering Lochs as I came down. They looked fantastic.

Fort Augustus was probably the most touristy place I’ve seen so far. Bag pipes being played. Lots of shops and people everywhere. Every nationality going, getting pics with the piper. And then this ship came, and the lock slowly flex with water and the main road spun around. Made a great sight as I got a proper meal finally from a nearby cafe. The bread pudding was so thick, I originally mistook it for flapjack. But wow was it awesome.

Time was skipping on, and after looking for rooms in Fort William, then trying all the towns closer, in the end I gave up and settled for a place in Fort Augustus. Not the range I wanted to get in today. But with the hills I am quite pleased. Tomorrow I do the Caledonian way, and head south again. Legs are still feeling great and want to put in the miles which is good. But I need to smooth my levels a bit more really and up my speed and cut out all the slow down stops. But that’s for tomorrow.

Always an Adventure Part 2

Well…dinner was delayed. Seems I couldn’t order any dinner till 5.30pm, which OK was a 45mins wait which was the best solution since I felt I needed it.

The long delay in Ambleside of 90mins and the wind was still as nasty as it was beforehand. The long slog climb up Dunmail was nasty with the headwind in my face all the way, so much so by the time I reached Thirlmere I decided to duck behind it and hide from the wind for a bit even if it did mean I was adding an extra couple of miles.

It was nice, very quiet without a single car. That made up for the added distance in itself just about! But best of all the wind was much more pleasant being sheltered by the trees until I reached the dam wall. The wind was seriously blasting while crossing, and continued to do so all the way home.

On a nice day, that ride would of been brilliant I think. The canal, the lakes and the views. But with the headwind sapping all the way it sadly really did pull on my all the way. But these are learning experiences so that’s all good!