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JOGLE Day 1: Headwind!

Without a doubt the most difficult ride I have ever completed, despite the first half going extremely well. But first things first: let me start at the beginning…

I woke up early, and a little apprehensive that the day had finally arrived. Breakfast was ok, but the scrambled eggs didn’t go down too well – I should have stuck with just cereal and toast. The nice B&B lady commented on the stiff wind outside, which got me worried (and with good reason, as you will see). We paid up and drove to John O’Groats, where the slightly bizaire sign post fiasco began. The sign post is just, erm, a post. No directions or words on it at all. In fact it is owned by a photographer, who you have to ring up and persuade to drive over and put the thing up, for the princely sum of £10. Well that’s a jolly old scam really isn’t it? Still, fair enough, and I wasn’t going to do this whole challenge without the evidence, so we rang him and waited. The start time of 9am drifted to around 9.45 when the rather rotund fellow arrived. He spent a while setting up his queuing ropes and stand (after all, the two of us waiting might have stampeded the place) and then we paid out dues and got him to put ‘REUBENs JOGLE’ and the date on the sign for us. Although I was tempted to let it pass, I decided to tell him that ‘Setpember’ was spelt incorrectly, to the amusement of all the motorbikers who were now gathering around us too. At last it was all set and the obligatory photos were taken.

One thing was for sure. It was windy. But by this time I had figured out that the wind was going to push me along the morning stretch, as it was blowing from the East. My legs were freezing by the time I cycled out of the car park but they soon warmed up and the JOGLE had begun!!

The miles passed quickly, and for me very clearly as I had taken delivery of my prescription inserts just in time on the Friday before we left. It was fascinating to actually read the sign posts at last and enjoy the distance scenery! With highland cattle wondering what I was doing, I flew through the first 30 or so miles and the scenery was fantastic. The sun was out, and the wind was pushing me along, perfect. I managed to find a spot to do my little piece to camera, although soon realise there was something very odd going on just a little way down a track, for a number of dogs were squealing constantly. No idea. And I wasn’t going to investigate! The time had come to bring out my little mascots – check the video for more.

From there it was another enjoyable stretch to Bettyhill and before I reached the hamlet I passed another couple of End to Enders up a hill. Then I was passed by a very familiar grey Audi with roofbox and Tasha pulled into a lay-by at the top. It was a good impromptu meeting and the other End to Enders also pulled in and we got talking. A very friendly and delightful couple – I took a photo of them you can see on the route at the bottom. Bettyhill was just one very fast downhill away and we stopped just after there for lunch. Whilst eating lunch in the car, a sound was beginning to bother me: the howling of the wind outside was getting stronger and stronger…

The whole day had been shifted back by the photographer at the start, so I had to leave our lunch spot probably before my fill had settled. I headed West towards Tongue, where I would turn due South for the last 45 miles of the ride. All this time the wind was picking up and I was only too aware that it was coming from the left, meaning that upon turning South I would be heading directly into the gale. After Tongue, and a brief deviation from the route, I headed South. And there the trouble began. The headwind was relentless. In 15 years I have never cycled into a headwind as bad as this was to become. It was the combination of the wide oven spaces, the stiff wind and the poor quality road surface that just began to add up to a cyclist’s worst nightmare. Before long I was struggling to cycle along the flat in some of my lowest gears, and the even cycling downhill was difficult. With 40 miles to go I took refuge in a quaint circular wall, and made another small piece to camera. You REALLY need sounds for this one!

I decided to put the jacket on, for despite it being wonderfully sunny, the wind was freezing my arms and this was beginning to really get on my nerves. It really was around this point where the nightmare began to unfold. It was clear that due to this wind I was making around half the progress I was normally used to, and because I wasn’t used to being held back so much in this way I found it tricky to budget for it in terms of effort. Anyway, I pushed on, and on, and on. Many times I had to resort to almost my lowest gear on the flats just to keep moving forwards. To compound the problems, my stomach was rebelling against something or other – perhaps just not having enough time to digest lunch before leaving for the second part of the ride, but it wasn’t a great feeling. I knew I needed to take on energy, but I wasn’t sure I would be able to eat anything, so had to just keep on and on. It’s wonderful how your body handles these situations however, and as has happened once or twice before, it got to the point where my body just said STOP. And you have no choice, you have to stop and take on fuel. In went fig rolls, and a load of fastics, which really are a life saver. After 10 minutes or so the energy was back up and although the headwind was still relentless, progress was being made. I went past a sign saying 21 miles to Lairg, and normally I would have been pleased as that’s just around 1.5 hours, but I knew in these conditions it would be around a hour more. Another couple of times I stopped and rested the legs, which were beginning to object to being pushed so hard, but bit by bit I reeled in the miles and finally, eventually I entered the village. I rolled into the B&B and collapsed with a pint of my recovery drink and slowly let the legs recover. Had there been a bath in the ensuite, I would have certainly taking Ians advice on the ice bath as I have no doubt that my legs will be rough tomorrow, but this wasn’t an option. We headed out for some food and I’m now here writing this blog, resisting the urge to fall asleep!

So that first day, and probably the hardest, is complete. A total of 103 miles, which felt much more like 130 – 140. Tomorrow should be a breeze in comparison at only 80 miles! I just hope the wind has died down. The scenery, I must say, was fantastic, and it was a real pleasure to be cycling though it, just a shame about the wind. Still, I like a challenge, and the challenge was completed! Here is the route and all the route pictures:

Reubens JOGLE: Day 1

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The JOGLE starts in 12 hours!

We set off from our M6 travelodge after a quick breakfast in the service station. A blueberry muffin in case you were wondering (all in the name of carb loading!!). Then it was a good long drive in the direction of Perth shortly after which we stopped for lunch, again I felt it necessary to endulge in a tasty scone as well as the chicken and bacon sandwich…

A small detour to Cromarty took us to a friends house where we admired the view and chatted for a while over a nice cup of tea. The weather has been excellent so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow!

Finally arrived in Wick, which is about half an hour from JOG and our stop for the night. The lady running the B&B is very kind but pointed out that 100 miles a day was nothing more than a ‘mere training ride’ for ze German pro cyclists that were staying here a few days before! It’s enough for me, that’s for sure!

So this is it then, all the training and planning up to this point and in 12 hours it all begins! Of course, I’ll let you know how it goes by posting my first ride blog tomorrow evening.

Oh and by the way, Tasha has her day planned as well – I believe a world famous chocolatier visit it high on the list!

I leave you with a photo of what will, I’m sure, be a common sight for me in the evenings: a huge plate of fish and chips!

Stopover in the Lake District

Staying in the Lake District probably sounds like we must be in some tranquil lake side hotel with perfect views, starry skies and nothing but the sound of distant crickets. Wrong. We are in a Travelodge at some M6 services where the only view is the motorway and all we can hear is lorries driving towards their early morning drop offs. Still, it’s a perfectly functional room and early tomorrow morning we will be back on the road again after skipping the breakfast that the receptionist kindly recommended we avoided!

Packed up and ready to head North!

Today has been a pretty hectic day! The route maps are finished (a backup if the iPhone fails) and I managed to get all the bits and pieces together ready to head up North in the car. Laying out all the cycling gear and spares on the kitchen floor made me realise just how much stuff I had! We’ll be staying in the Lake District tonight and then hitting the road again tomorrow to take us all the way to Wick, ready for me to start the cycle Sunday morning. So thats it then: Reuben’s JOGLE is a GO!!

Thanks for all the donations!

I finally got the time this morning to send hundreds of emails to friends, colleagues and family and the response has been amazing! So many people have been so generous, it’s really quite amazing, and humbling, in fact. So I just wanted to say a huge thanks to everyone for their support and I can’t wait to set off on Sunday and begin the epic journey!

As for the last minute preparations, well there is still lots to do but I managed to get the bike cleaned and serviced and fit the improved lugs that Azzurri kindly sent me. I also fixed up my MTB which I will be taking as a spare. I started going over the route again and downloading the parts to my iPhone, and printing small day by day maps I can take as a backup. Just need to finish that off tomorrow and get everything together before we hit the road!

Thanks again for the support – it means a lot!!

So little time, so much to do!

I’m not quite sure how it came around that quickly, but tomorrow we are starting the long journey up to John O’Groats so I can start my epic challenge on Sunday! There is still so much to do! I have to go over the route again, create printed maps incase the iphone dies, get all the kit ready, sort the bikes out! If you havnt already donated then it would be great to see some more sponsorship – just click the ‘Sonsor me now’ Virgin Money Giving link on the right.

Four fig rolls and a fist full of fastics

There are two things in life which should never be a compromise: your choice of wife, and your choice of Haribo. Having recently been forced (due poor garage stock levels) to purchase the ‘starmix’ and ‘sour monsters’ Haribo I have come to realise there is only room for one sub-type in my life: Tangfastics.

Anyway, enough nonsense. It was another wet and windy ride, but strangely relaxing, and the plan was for the usual 60 mile long route down to Castle Cary, Somerton, Glastonbury, Meare, Wedmore, Cheddar, Shipham, Home. This was to be my last long ride before the JOGLE starts, and I’m now tapering down my training. Just a couple of 20-30mile rides next week and then into the beast itself!

Talking of beasts – which to choose: a badger or a car? Its not a choice you ever want to have to make really but I found myself in that situation as a badger ran out of the bank right at me whist a car was flying towards me in the other direction. Luckily I managed to slip through the gap between both, but it was a little hairy. Saw another badger later on and a couple of foxes.

A good route, reasonably speed, very quick up Burrington Combe:

Badgers and fastics


I just reached one of my long term training goals: to achieve an average speed of 20mph on the 21 mile route to Blagdon and back! All the way there the wind was in my face but I pushed through it knowing that the way back would be massively quick! And it was!! 21.2 miles in 63 minutes = 20 mph! Big grins 🙂

Twenty miles an hour!!!

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Cream teas

The rain isn’t stopping around here but that’s no excuse not to train! I had a short break from work and cycled off to Blagdon where Natasha was helping at a cream tea event. Unfortunately I was too late for a freebie but had the opportunity to beat all the cars from the lake back up the hill to the village. Quick cup of tea at the in-laws and back on the bike along the Mendip motorway home. Not a long ride, but good to keep the legs moving:

Cream teas

99% in the mind

That voice in my head
Its patient all day
But secretly plotting
It WILL make me pay
Its 8 in the evening
And raining outside
But here comes that feeling
I just HAVE to ride
A simple excuse
A positive ‘NO’
Either would suffice
But I just have to go
Then a strange thing happens
As I climb on the bike
Push one pedal down
And start on my hike
And suddenly its clear
There’s meaning to this
Its my perfect escape
My ultimate bliss
So if you’re tired and stressed
And sitting inside
Just get on your bike
And go for a ride!

All in the mind