I was hoping that the three portions (or was it four) of pasta last night would see me confidently through the day, but sadly that wasn’t going to be the case. I had another 100 miles scheduled which would make three centuries back to back but starting out from Shrewsbury I quickly noticed how sluggish I was. Perhaps I had been lured into a false sense of security from the last two days, which were undeniably flat. I had checked the elevation profile last night and it didn’t seem that bad, but on inspection there were a lot of smaller hills along the road and the morning quickly turned into a similar affair to the morning out of Glasgow. To compound the general feeling of lethargy, my behind was really beginning to complain from so many days in the saddle. I wont go into details (even I have limits!) save to say that I had to cycle for miles at a time out of the saddle as this was preferable to the painful alternative. All part of the journey I suppose, just as long as it recovers at the end!!
The ups and downs just went on and on and on, sapping my energy and making progress very slow. Ironbridge was a nice little village, but the weather was turning – short showers and a blustery wind didn’t do anything to help the situation. I passed a power station with huge chimneys and then some hunting hounds being taken along the road in a large group. Photo opportunities were few and far between and on days where the going in tough you just have to focus on the task in hand and try to make the meeting point in a reasonable time. The chain slipped off the smaller ring a couple of times so I stopped to adjust the stops. I also adjusted the saddle, to try and improve the literal pain in the backside and it helped a little. All the riding out of the saddle had slightly pulled something on the inside of my right leg and there was a bad feeling in my right foot. I decided to start freewheeling with my left foot down instead of my right and that seemed to help:
Finally, after what seemed like an age I rolled into Worcester past some lads who make a ‘vroom’ sound as I passed them. Honestly, what kind of an insult is that? Gangs of youths are so unimaginative these days – they should take a note or two from the Paint for a proper lesson in insults! I ate and ate and ate in an effort to try and solve the pathetic progress I had made in the morning. Baguette, two bags of crisps, fig rolls, three pieces of flapjack, a twix bar then some chocolate tiffin from Costa. If it did help I dread to think how slow I would have been without it!
I set off again towards Gloucester and the flatter straighter roads helped progress a lot. The weather was dull and dreary with occasional rain and there wasn’t much to see so I just pressed on as quickly as I could. Reaching Gloucester the roads started to become extremely busy, and the situation got worse as I got nearer the dreaded A38. As I stopped to put on the high viz jacket a cyclist zoomed past. Help I thought, will this turn on the RacePace? Am I in any state to turn on the RacePace? I set off in hot pursuit and the cyclist turned off before I reached him. Phew, I wasn’t sure I had it in me today to be honest. Then a mile later he popped out again onto a cycle path on the other side of the road. Excellent. It was ON. I pushed hard and with the advantage of being on a proper road I pulled away fairly easily, not that it did anything for the still dodgy right leg.
Later on another RacePace moment arose. I was cycling along and I heard a click click … click click… behind me – a clear indication of a cyclist on my tail. Well I wasn’t having that, no sireee, so I stepped up a gear. Before long I was going full pelt, really dipping into the reserves to pull this one off and yet this guy was still behind me, click click … click click. As the lorry overtook me I realised I had been racing against a loose tie down catch for the last couple of miles. Good one.
Then I hit the A38. Or more accurately the A38 hit me. Poor weather, terrible head wind, the busiest A road in the county and it was rush hour. Excellent planning as usual. It really was NOT an enjoyable experience, and the only way I could keep focussed was remembering parts of Bravo Two Zero and yelling SAS style commands to myself through the rain. Must have looked a bit of a muppet, but it worked. Coming off the A38 towards Dursley I felt the draw of my home village, Kingswood, where we would stop for the night. However, there was a very small detour to be made in order for the Lego men to have an outing on Wotton hill, as this featured heavily whilst I grew up in the area. The one downside was that to get there I had to go up, quite a long way up. So at around my 100th mile of the day I made an ascent of around 800 feet and then travelled along the dirt track to the hill.
I rolled down to Kingswood to a great welcome at my parents’ house and a hearty meal. Tomorrow one of the Shipham lot, Tasker, will be joining me on the first leg, so it should be a good one. No more centuries after today! Distance travelled: 102 miles, total so far 841 miles. Here is the route and photos: