Category Archives: JOGLE…


JOGLE Day 11: Off-piste

Breakfast consisted of croissants, fresh bread, cereal and toast with a strange selection of jam flavours made by the owner. Don’t get me wrong, kiwi marmalade is a delicacy not to be missed but then so is a sausage, bacon and eggs. No cooked breakfast today then. Despite the excellent planning of accommodation by Mrs W for the entire route, neither of us had really given thought to where we were staying when the JOGLE was over so a frantic hour was spent on the computer trying to find somewhere in St Ives for tomorrow night.

I made a late start setting out from Watchet and the weather could not have been different from when I had arrived the night before. The beautiful warm sun more than made up for a stiff wind but I was taking no chances and went for leggings and the extra top. A text from Peter confirmed that I should have no rain the whole day and he turned out to be right! Amazing. I had always known that today would have more elevation that any other, and I had been building up to this. Preparing the mind well in advance paid dividends as I started taking the hills at a very relaxed pace, to ensure I didn’t burn out my energy for later.

Great scenery, great weather and knowledge that this was the penultimate day all added up to a strong feeling of happiness and the hills made little dent in my resolve. The elevation was truly impressive, bringing me and my trusty steed up to 1500 – 1600 feet. The quiet, more inland road was a great choice and avoided the crazy climb out of Porlock that I heard so bad things about from bingo Tony (and when bingo Tony says its bad, it is). After a two mile race with a tractor (I won) I was up on Exmoor and looking for a setting for one of the last Lego Men adventures. A suitable location found, I set them free and almost lost them forever. I had a bit of a mishap myself just after saving them – you may notice me almost fall over.

Progress was slow but it didn’t bother me since I was enjoying the experience knowing that soon it would all come to an end. Cycling down to Ilfracombe I found the car park where Mrs W had parked up and we headed to the town to have some lunch. After a suitable feed we headed back to the car only to spend the next half hour looking for the little cloth that I clean my glasses with, to no avail. It must have gone to bike-kit heaven like one of my fingerless gloves. By the time I left it was 3.40pm, which was a very late start indeed for the second leg and not very well planned at all. The climb out of Ilfracombe went on for a while but was by no means arduous, yet what followed was just insane. Like a real life Eschers staircase the downhill that resulted went on for over 30 minutes! I kid you not: half an hour of downhill! I didn’t believe what was happening at the time but looking at the elevation map it is there in black and blue – a perfectly straight downward gradient for around 10 miles. Not steep, but enough to maintain a fast speed, and boy if you had a big ring and wanted to you could cover those 10 miles in no time at all! I took it easy remembering my accident of the day before (the bruise has developed impressively).

Cycling through Barnstable I realised that I had been spoilt with the roads so far – they had been quiet and interesting – perfect for travelling on two wheels. The A39, a major road in Devon was looming and I didn’t fancy it at all. When I finally did pull on to the dual carriageway it reminded me of those other nasty A roads I had been unfortunate enough to experience recently and I decided enough was enough. Despite the cars actually being very reasonable, I started scrolling around the area map on the iPhone to see if there was an alternative route I could take. I soon located a small road from Roundswell that followed the A39 closely so I came off and joined this all the way to Bideford where I skirted back on the A39. Once more, fed up of these large intimidating roads I looked for another route. I figured that I may be able to cut the corner from Woodtown to Bush, removing the need for the A39 altogether and made an immediate decision to give it a go. This was going far off-piste and would require a lot of on-the-fly navigation around what turned out to be tiny and bumpy roads. However, it was a great decision – me on a bike, on a quiet road making my way to the end – just what this whole challenge was supposed to be about. Despite far more hills and poorer roads the mileage was a little shorter. It was great riding, with the sun setting and just a few horses and sheep in the fields that I passed. The stomach was feeling a little unsettled – it appears there is a limit to how many fastics it can take, and the last few miles were pretty uncomfortable as a result. I finally rolled into Bude at around 7.45pm – the latest arrival so far and ready for my fish and chips.

I cannot believe that tomorrow is the end of my trip. I’ll miss writing these blogs. I’ll miss the Lego Men and I’ll miss just having to worry about cycling from A to B each day rather than all those other things that work and life throw at us. It’s amazing to think that a wandering thought back in March has led me to this point – having covered more than one thousand miles in 11 days and with only one left before I reach the end of the road. The support everyone has given me has been truly fantastic and please watch out for tomorrows final blog for a big thank-you! I keep thinking how great it would be if by the time I cross the line the online donations have exceeded my goal of £2000 so if you havnt supported the cause yet, then nows the time! So, for the penultimate time: distance travelled: 86 miles, total so far 1011 miles. Here is the route and photos:

Reubens JOGLE: Day 11

JOGLE Day 10: Slippery when wet

What a day! Tasker rocked up at our stopover in Kingswood on his lovely looking carbon framed Cube and in his Welsh dragon shirt. Apparently this was to offset the fact I was bypassing Wales on my trip, but for whatever reason an extra layer would help him later when the heavens opened. We set off in the direction of Hawkesbury Upton, winching ourselves up the winding hill and it was soon clear to me that Tasker’s recent foray into the world of road riding had come with a good slice of RacePace – he wasn’t giving an inch. We quickly reached the A46 and a new level of hell. The rain had set in, the visibility was poor and it was rushhour. I may have forgotten to mention yesterday that Gloucestershire drivers were the worst for passing wide, but this was something else. The cars were just plain ignorant of the fact we were on the road at all – at one point a large lorry practically ran me off the road. For the uninitiated, when a lorry passes you at 60 – 70 mph two things happen. First the air they are pushing in front hits you, pushing you away from the vehicle, then the vacuum following them pulls you in. Depending on the proximity and speed, this effect can be quite profound and we were experiencing it regularly.

Wet through to the skin, with our sealskin socks filling with water, we were being honked at for no reason and truly having to fight to stay on the road. The weather was making this whole experience worse and I felt bad that Ian had chosen such an awful day to join me. We stopped in a lay-by for a regroup and Ian’s observation was a classic: “Blimey, this rain is bloody wet, innit?”. Off we set once more, into the heavy wet traffic. Then some fat idiot on a motorbike that barely supported him pulled over to Ian and gave him some abuse, then caught up with me and did the same. In a way I respected his genuine commitment to the task – when it was my turn he took the time to slow down, and actually lift up his helmet visor so I would hear him shout obscenities about being slow. Now, that’s how you give insults properly. I figured that he was jealous of our obvious good looks and muscular figures, so I bare him no malice – really, who could blame him? The other possibility was that it was Davenport or Paint on a dirty tricks campaign…

Finally we headed into Bath, it had been RacePace all the way and Ian was having no trouble keeping up. Bath was again a traffic nightmare, but when we were out the other side the car situation started to calm down. The weather was still shocking however – the rain was just relentless and there was a headwind to make it even more fun. As we made our way towards Chew Lake the roads became even better and quieter and we were both pleased to be doing the sort of riding we enjoyed. A long steep climb out of West Harptree (around 800 feet) tested us well, and soon we were heading towards Cheddar Gorge, which had been one of the landmarks I shaped the route around. As we neared the top I rotated the iPhone to attempt to take a video of the descent. It’s a long video but gives a good idea of the speed and overtakes, despite the lens being blurry and full of water.

Reaching the bottom of the Gorge I was looking for the roof box to locate Mrs W and lunch and that’s where it ALL went wrong. Badly wrong. I turned left into the carpark and BAM! I was lying on the floor wondering why I wasn’t on the bike any more, noticing that an iPhone was sliding at speed across the tarmac and feeling a pain in my left leg. Amazing. Really Reuben, you cycle for over 800 miles and then you have an accident turning into a car park at 4 miles an hour. Good one. I glanced up to the bemused onlookers and pulled myself off the floor, quickly fetching the iPhone and wondering how I had got there. Mrs W had heard the crash from within the car and had got out to see what was going on, not realising it was me. I guess I just hit a slippery patch and lost the front wheel, either that or it was Mr Paint dressed as a goat trying to sabotage the whole thing, I’ll never know. Checking the bike over it seemed mostly ok apart from some scratches and a twisted shifter which was quickly moved back into position. The iPhone had survived fine in the Dahon case, but the case had broken from the mount. After some investigation I managed to click it back together and it was all as good as new. Unfortunately my left leg had suffered a minor graze and I had a few small grazes elsewhere. I got off very lightly all in all!

Ian left for his home – he had truly put in a great effort and I reckon we are pretty well matched on the roads. I ate lunch and tried to dress the cuts. Later I headed off once more, at slightly slower pace. The rain never subsided and it was a long miserable 40 miles to Watchet, through busy Bridgwater. The damaged leg became a bit more painful but I’m hoping it will have settled tomorrow. I stopped for a small break under a large tree and the Lego Men did some collecting.

Hitting the road again the rain got worse and worse and it was getting truly miserable. Tangfastics were taking on mass to try and increase the spirits and Mrs W was soon seen passing with a friendly honk. Finally I made it to our B&B for the night and changed into some dry clothes. Only two days left!

Distance travelled: 84 miles, total so far 925 miles. Here is the route and photos:

Reubens JOGLE: Day 10

JOGLE Day 9: The last century

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:

Reubens JOGLE: Day 9

JOGLE Day 8: Mrs W and Mr Darcy

Have you heard of TayBarn? Neither had we. Well, if you see one, my advice is stay clear! We were staying in a Premier Inn last night, which was excellent, and it had one of these TayBarns next door, which seemed a sensible place to eat. Well let me tell you, the clue is in the name Tay*BARN* – it really was like a livestock feeding frenzy. You pay your money, you get a plate and the rest is up to you – and we are talking a LOT of food selections here: pizza, roast dinners, fish and chips, pasta, salads, grilled, Chinese, the list goes on. The customer goes up to the counter, fills their plate, sits down, eats it, goes up again, and does the same ad infinitum. I have never seen a higher density of skinheads and extremely overweight people (no disrespect you understand) in one place, eating so much. The food, as it happened, was very good, and I guess for me it was a perfect scenario, but it just seemed wrong in so many ways. The desserts were the same format – 10 or more to choose from, and some people were literally just taking one of each. Shocker. And there were children running around everywhere at great speed, high on the unlimited coke refills and ice cream. Anyway, this blog is supposed to be about cycling, so I’ll move swiftly on.

After a hearty breakfast I headed out once more – my life is turning into a cycling groundhog day: eat, cycle, eat, cycle, eat, sleep and the day starts again. However, there was one very distinct difference on this particular day, as my legs actually felt a little *better* than the day before, instead of worse. This was particularly surprising given how hard I had pushed it whilst cycling with Thorpe yesterday. Despite a wet start, I seemed to float along with very little effort (perhaps my TayBarn experience was paying off). This was the life – the sun had come out, the route was completely flat and the world seemed like a better place. Stopping to text Mrs W with my ETA I realised that I was much nearer to Congleton than I had expected. Knowing that Mrs W was on her way to a hot date with Mr Darcy at his house (well mansion in fact), I felt it would be unfair to cut her trip short, so I stuck with the time we had previously planned.

Being a Sunday, there were plenty of people out on their Sunday rides, and this presented many opportunities to engage RacePace. However, I must confess, for the first time in 8 days I was convincingly overtaken by another cyclist! Well, only for a minute – I passed him again as he was putting on his jacket, and kept him at bay for around 5 miles. Then he overtook me once more by running a red light. Now, frankly, if you are not going to play by the rules then it doesn’t count, so I let that one go. Later on the approach to Congleton another cyclist passed me on his Ultegra equipped Trek as I was taking it easy. I stepped up a gear and drafted behind him for a while (luckily he didn’t notice). We slowly caught up another two cyclists who were in full team colours and sponsored to the max. As he overtook them I raced past him and kept up the pace for another few miles until they faded into the distance. I would apologise for describing my RacePace actions in such detail, but sometimes on a journey as long as this these moments are genuinely the most interesting!

I arrived at Congleton two hours earlier than planned and what happened next has convinced Mrs W that I finally have gone completely mad. I decided, since it was a fine day, that I would go for a little cycle. After all, what else was I going to do for a couple of hours with a bike? I figured that if I did a loop of around 10 – 15 miles then the whole day’s length should top a century and I guess that’s how I rationalised it in my mind. I set off in pursuit of another two racing cyclists and after passing them just kept going. Despite the entire first part of the day being extremely flat, I somehow managed to find the biggest hills in Cheshire – perversely it was a nice change and took me to some great viewpoints over the levels. I wound through the small roads back to Congleton and Tasha arrived shortly after. On the way I passed Smiths Tackle (!) shop which was next to Reuben’s Bistro! Impressive coincidence!

After the usual goodies, I set off again, striking a relaxed pace over the flat roads of Cheshire. Again passing over the M6 (this has happened a lot over the last few days) the road headed to Crewe. Cheshire soon turned into Shropshire but the roads stayed flat and fast. My legs were tiring and soon a ‘body STOP’ moment occurred. I sat at the side of an A road eating a selection of fastics and fig rolls. Slowly continuing on my way, I rolled towards Shrewsbury where we were staying with friends for the night. Finally completing the journey, I was met at the door by Pete and Nina and the day was complete. A huge meal of pasta and a great dessert later I handed over the Lego men to my hosts for them to take over the show. This was the result:

And thus ends another stream of consciousness from ReubiMax. Distance today: 103 miles, total so far 739 miles. Here is the route and photos:

Reubens JOGLE: Day 8

JOGLE Day 7: Thorpe and a century

Is it normal to keep waking up during the night despite your whole body needing rest? Who knows, perhaps that’s what this kind of routine does to you. Our host, Ronnie, was excellent and the cooked breakfast was well received. This morning was going to be very different ride – I was going to be joined by Chris (Thorpe) for the first leg of the journey from Keswick to Morecambe. He arrived just as we were leaving our B&B and before you ask, yes it was raining. I got the bike together, put on the jacket and rest of the gear and we set off on the 50mile first leg through the Lake District and beyond. The scenery was excellent, probably some of the best so far so there were plenty of opportunities for photos. Having a riding partner was a great change from having to put up with my own company all the time, so I was pleased Chris had offered to join me. There was a certain amount of racepace, as you would expect, but try as I might I couldn’t shake Thorpe from my rear wheel. You can enjoy an additional selection of photos today, scattered throughout this blog and these courtesy of Thorpe’s camera.

One particularly amusing moment was when the first serious downhill arrived – I went straight for full effort assuming that Thorpe would be left in the dust. As I reached the bottom of the hill I pulled into a lay-by to wait for him to catch up, and began to take the iPhone out to snap a picture whilst looking over my right shoulder for his arrival. I couldn’t see him – surely he wasn’t that slow? Then I heard someone beckon me from my left and it turned out he had been in my slip stream the whole way and pulled in just as I did! Well, that made it clear – to shake the Thorpe it would take a whole new level of RacePace…

We stopped to say hi to Chris’ sister in the street in Keswick then continued on our way. Despite putting in the effort, still Thorpe wasn’t budging from my back tyre – I had to go for the long haul strategy and just wait it out. Some of you may question my level of competiveness, but rest assured this is par for the course on Thursday Shipham rides and I have no doubt that Thorpe expected as much. We stopped in Windermere as a possible Lego Man outing but there were too many tourists around (I later regretted the poor Lego Man action that was had today). Thorpe had his camera and took some shots as we cycled side by side – this was a novelty as until now I’ve not really had many of me on the bike, as there is never anyone there when I ride to take them! The Lego Men finally made an outing on an upturned bathtub in a Field somewhere south of Windermere. As Thorpe pointed out, this didn’t exactly sum up the area particularly well, but when the Lego Men want an outing, there isn’t much I can do to stop them. And let’s face it; the whole series of Lego Men videos isn’t exactly sane or predictable, so at least they are consistent. What was a little worrying was that a guy came out of a house a couple of 100 meters away to watch us when I started putting it together – we didnt spot a shotgun but you can never be too sure, so there was some time pressure on this one…

As Thorpe took a picture of me next to a signpost, a dodgy looking guy turned up in a 4×4 and asked if he wanted a picture of both of us together. As temporary custodian of the iPhone, which is the crux of the navigation for this whole trip, I was glad Thorpe didn’t hand over the device, which would have surely ended up as a BIN on ebay before the day was out.

The miles went by and before long we were on the A6 heading towards Lancaster. The road wasn’t the best, a little boring perhaps, but the progress was excellent. EveryTrail was playing up again but seemed to just about function, and the weather was better by this point. Unfortunately, however, it wasn’t going to hold and the wind started to pick up as we approached Morecambe and as we headed down the seafront it began to rain heavily. Always the best of timings, the British weather! I spotted the roof box from a few 100 meters away and it was lunch time at last. It had been an excellent ride and Chris held his own the whole way. Once again Mrs W had done us proud with sandwiches, crisps, drinks, flapjack, brownies and other goodies but there was one problem – the car had only one spare seat, and it was wet, very wet. So naturally I climbed into the boot and ate mine from there.

Chris set off shortly afterwards, heading back to the Lakes, and hopefully will have completed his century in doing so. I realised at the point he left, that EveryTrail had been merrily tracking us eating our lunch for 30 minutes or so, so that was the average rendered meaningless again! I waited a little longer for the food to go down then headed off myself. It was certainly a more laid back ride than the morning, and the weather soon improved leading to a relaxed and enjoyable second half of the day. Lancaster centre was typical traffic nightmare as was Preston, and despite getting used to it I’m still not a fan of city riding, especially as I always seem to end up in the middle lane of a dual carriageway with cars both sides! The riding improved and the A6 was followed for many miles – the Lego Man decided to hog my brake cables again for a while.

A small detour here and there and a change of destination due to no room at the (Premier) Inn meant the whole ride ended up being 103 miles. My second century of the JOGLE, and it looks like there will be one tomorrow and the next day as well! Fingers crossed the legs will hold out. Distance today: 103 miles, total so far 636 miles. I’m sure Thorpe will post a comment with his alternative version of the morning – so watch out for that! Route and photos:

Reubens JOGLE: Day 7

JOGLE Day 6: England!

[Apologies in advance: its long!]

Several times in the night I awoke to the sound of rain hammering down on the velux window above our heads. Each and every time I groaned at the thought of having to cycle through such misery in the morning and when it finally arrived the wet weather had not subsided. However, I was pleased to find out that the dark overcast skies I had been staring at all night and into the early hours of the morning, were in fact a discoloured blind that Mrs W had pulled down the night before!

I had somehow put myself down for a full cooked breakfast; the lady had asked me my choice just as I arrived the evening before and all I could manage to murmer was the answer ‘yes’ to every question she posed. As it happened the cooked option went down well, along with cereal, multiple pieces of toast and plenty of orange juice. I wasn’t going to repeat the empty fuel tank of the day before, at any cost, although I did pass on the ‘sausage slice’ which looked as bad as it sounds. After deliberating for a good ten minutes about whether to wear one or two extra layers (on account of the rain) I went for just the one. This turned out to be a great choice, as the day brightened up later. Tasha was about to drive off when I noticed the roof box was still ajar. Oops (sorry Mike!). Had this not been noticed then when all the contents had inevitably been spilled onto a suitable A-road later in the day, Tasha would have also noticed that all our clothes were still sat in the main piece of luggage in the B&B hallway. So yes, a doubly lucky spot that one!

I set off with my legs feeling like lead again and before long noticed that EveryTrail was playing up. It’s been a little temperamental recently, and often crashes. I had to restart the tracking a mile down the road, but at the end of the day discovered that the track it had completed was corrupted and there was no way I could upload it to the website. This is a real shame, but I have put together the route and added the photos I took manually instead. All its missing is the statistics – elevation, speed etc…

The morning passed quickly – after around 30 mins of my legs warming up the ride turned very much into RacePace once again. The weather and uneventful scenery meant there was little point in stopping apart from photographing the occasional fine looking cow or comedy place name. Some guy in a white van in Dumfries yelled something along the lines of ‘You got a sail there son’ at me through his open window. No idea. You get some special people along the way, you really do. Reaching Gretna early, I was able to take a short look around and found the inevitable One Stop Wedding Parlour: Phil and Tina – we could have saved some money there eh? I also found the Gretna Outlet Village and was in two minds about whether to mention its existence to Mrs W when she arrived, but my conscience got the better of me and we headed over to take a look. Luckily there were no shops that really passed her approval, and from my point of view a Ralph Lauren shirt at £60 is still an expensive shirt, even if it has £99 crossed out above it, so we came away empty handed.

Heading off again after lunch I crossed the border – it was certainly a photo moment and quite a threshold psychologically. I had left Scotland and with every hour and day was getting closer to the end goal. An amazing road running right next to the M6 took me along for a good fast 5 or so miles. And when I say right next to the motorway I mean it was actually an additional two lanes OF the motorway, separated only by a concrete barrier. Smooth, flat and fast. Awesome. And then came Carlisle, which was scary and super busy, and I found myself numerous times in the middle of two dual carriageway lanes in gridlock traffic on the run up to a junction or roundabout. Definitely had to keep my wits about me there and I swapped a layer for the high viz jacket to prevent any mishaps. At one point I cut up a car at a junction, pulling in front of it to get into the cycle only section at the front (the lights were red). Looking back I saw a policeman starting at my through the windshield. Clever boy Reuben. I must have got away with it or he was too interested in whatever it was he was eating as the blue and twos stayed firmly off.

Out of Carlisle I took the A595 which was a nightmare, but I’m not sure there was any other option. The cars were passing fast and close and it wasn’t a happy time. I’ll gloss over the details for the benefit of my mother! Finally I took the A591 towards Keswick, a road which was quieter and well surfaced. This was the scene of a slightly more exposed lego man adventure. I hope no one thought I was attempting some kind of vandalism, as it must have looked odd from the viewpoint of passers by:

So I reached Keswick and met up with my good wife. It had been a very fast day – I would hazard a guess that I was approaching RacePace for around 80% of the distance, which is a surprise given how tired my legs are these days. I would have been fascinated by the average speed but as I mentioned, EveryTrail failed me on this occasion so I can only guess at around 16 – 17 mph. I wanted to spend a moment (sigh – it continues?!?) to detail the state of my body and mind, for I know there are some who are interested in the toll this kind of adventure takes on a person:

MIND: well let’s face it, this always has been compromised to a degree, but joking aside I have to confirm that the cliché really is true – it really IS all in the mind. It is your mind that starts to think that your body is too tired and you should stop or that you cannot make it to the end, yet it is the same mind that can spur you on and convince you anything is possible. Whenever I have a tough spot, and there have been a few, I give myself a good talking to – for example ‘well, Reuben, this is a perfect example of heavy rain, a headwind, an uphill poorly surfaced road and a bad stomach, but if you can conquer this, you can conquer anything’ and, miraculously, it works. My two cents is that in our highly developed everyday lives we never experience anything close to the kind of physical endurance we may be capable of, and so our thresholds of what we believe we can achieve are set far below their real extents. Is this true, who knows. Only one way to find out!

BODY: well really its just fairly predictable – I cannot express strongly enough how much the tops of my legs ache. And it gets worse with every day that has passed – to the extent that walking down stairs is difficult. I’ve lost my balance a few times because of the pains – normally looking like some kind of drunk as a result. My tendons and ligaments are on a bit of a tightrope but I treat them with great respect – stretching properly before and after every day. My arms ache just as much as my legs, mainly because of the poor road surfaces and 60 psi tyres. My hands are developing hard callused areas where the handlebar pressure is greatest. Saddle sore hasn’t been too much of an issue but liberal application of Vaseline may have helped there (I’ll go no further on that one). The more I think about it the more I realise I’m beginning to look like a bit of a tramp, and when I walk with Tasha down the street then people must think she is taking care of me on day release! I decided, in the spirit of adventure, not to shave for the duration of the challenge (Mrs W doesn’t approve), and the freckles on my face, especially nose, are beginning to join up. Bags have appeared under my eyes and I can only think that may be due to constantly looking upwards whilst cycling. Who knows. Anyway, you get the idea. I don’t look pretty.

Clearly I have ranted for long enough  – apologies – blame Bulmers pear cider. Distance today: 90 miles, total so far 533 miles.  Here is the route for today.

Reubens JOGLE: Day 6

JOGLE Day 5: No pain, no gain

Without a doubt, a day of two distinct halves. It started badly, on reflection, as I had a poor nights sleep in the Travelodge. This was in part due to a strange low frequency noise similar to the sound made by a Harley Davidson idling at a stop sign. Without getting too techy, an audible standing wave pattern had been created in our little room such that there were certain points where the noise could not be heard at all, and other points where it was loud and annoying. In order to have any chance of sleep I decided to pull the bed away from the wall and position it so that the pillows were at the quiet points (to Mrs W’s bemusement!). The hotel didn’t have breakfast and there was nowhere nearby that seemed to offer anything breakfasty so I opted for some flapjack and a cereal bar – I would soon regret not fuelling up to the usual levels.

The first 40 minutes of cycling took me through Glasgow and the surrounding suburbs. Rush hour always brings out the worse in drivers and I was very grateful for the fluorescent jacket. Again, the iPhone navigation was superb and faithfully took me out of the city. I had checked the weather reports earlier to decide what to wear, and the BBC were hedging their bets with a symbol that combined rain, cloud and sun. I went for the sun/cloud option, ignoring the rain part, and as a result was wearing short leggings and only one top (plus the usual montaine jacket just in case). As I was climbing out of Glasgow the dark clouds turned darker and the rain started. I passed the headquarters of ‘Tarmac’ whilst dodging the potholes, the irony of which made me chuckle. The chuckles were soon gone, however, as I got wetter and wetter and all the climbing was beginning to use up my low energy supplies, not to mention a headwind was stirring.

My choice of route for the morning was very poor. The road turned out to be a real rollercoaster –up then down then up then down then up then down and all on extremely poor surfaces. In fact the little hillocks reminded me of a Postman Pat landscape and he always had issues going over those hills so I guess I didn’t have a chance. The rain stopped for a while, and unfortunately I had to stop and make some phone calls about a shipment, then wait around for UPS to get back to me. The damage had been done, the next 25 miles just became worse and worse, with the up and downs sapping my energy and the headwind adding to the misery. Certainly this was the worse half day I had had since that first Sunday afternoon. Even a handful of fastics didn’t help. I eventually rolled in to Dalmellington feeling like I wanted to collapse and quickly scoffed my way through various lunchtime delights Mrs W had obtained.

Again it was difficult to summon the energy to even consider getting back on the bike, but I had a hunch this half would be much easier, so I put the gear back on and set off once more.

Wow. What a different journey this was! Long well surfaced roads, with a slightly downward gradient and a slight tailwind. Perfect. That coupled with the massive intake of sugar loaded delicacies meant one thing and one thing only. I realise, it may sound crazy, but honestly when the conditions permit there is nothing you can do but make the most of them. RACEPACE. I have no idea how I could have switched from the slowest most arduous and depressing 50 miles of the challenge so far to head down, highest gear racing for the next 35 or so miles, but I give up trying to fathom the wonders of the human body. The progress was rapid to say the least, and it felt like one long high on that superb road to Castle Douglas towards our stay for the night. Even the lego man had a go at the downhills, and it looks like he enjoyed it too:

I arrived at our stopover in no time and Tasha wasn’t even there yet, so I kept on going, making the most of this new lease of life in my legs. After a couple of miles past the B&B I got a text saying she had arrived, so I turned back. Worried about the state of my legs (especially after the last racepace experience) I decided to follow Taskers advice: the ICE bath. I hadn’t tried this yet and even thought that perhaps it was just Ian’s way of having a practical joke, but according to the internet (that wealth of accurate knowledge), top athletes often take ice baths after heavy training so the toxins in their legs are forced back into the body (as the arteries and veins contract). With no ice to hand I had to make do with ice cold water, straight from the cold Scottish tap. I almost had a heart attack as I got in the freezing water – this is definitely not normal – but then Tasker is usually right so I stuck with it. After a few minutes it didn’t seem so bad so I stayed in there for a while, then got out for a hot shower. Well, the legs seemed better already, although I suspect that had more to do with the general numbness, nothing short of an anaesthetic effect I guess, preventing me from registering the normal pain. We shall see, tomorrow, whether this was a useful endeavour!

Later we headed to the town center and found a great little hotel restaurant where I consumed a perfect burger and chips. Distance today: 85 miles, total so far 443 miles. Here is the route and photos:

Reubens JOGLE: Day 5

JOGLE Day 4: Sun, rivers and castles

There is nothing better than a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, last night I wasn’t able to enjoy the aforementioned pleasure for a reason that can summed up in two words: ‘Race Pace’. I pushed myself super hard yesterday and despite enjoying the race pace very much indeed, I should have kept in mind the 800 or so miles I had left to cover before proper recuperation could be had. And so restlessness was upon me all night as I woke up with legs feeling like solid blocks of lead. The morning finally came, and my lack of leg function was confirmed with a backwards topple over our clothes bag as I tried to put on the long lycra leggings. This was to Mrs W’s great amusement, and she fell about laughing as I pulled myself off the floor.

With breakfast out of the way (I’m favouring bacon and a boiled egg at the moment) I got my kit together and set on my way. Definitely no race pace today, or indeed any other days of this trip. It was pretty hard going and the legs were certainly objecting to the relentless regime I have been submitting them to. But then things look up. The sun came out, the wind was slight, and I was happily doddering along at my own pace enjoying the scenery.

The combination of vast mountains, lochs, quaint villages and woodland made today a real joy. I can honestly say that it was the best days cycling so far – perhaps partly due to the relaxed pace, perhaps the scenery, or maybe it was just because I was finally settling into this thing, but for whatever reason, everything just clicked. Don’t get me wrong, the stunning mountains of the far north were impressive, and the vast lochs we had already travelled past were stunning, but today there was just the perfect combination of all elements which drew everything together that I have begun to love about Scotland.

Progress was slow, mainly because of the countless photo stops, and in many cases the about turns to go back to a little waterfall or viewpoint I had just whizzed by. I came across a wonderful little river, and took some time out, relaxing in the sun. It was warm and serene, and for a while I forgot that my legs were slowly ceasing to work.

Legs are amazing. The fact you have two, in particular. That sounds stupid I know but let me explain. Obviously having two is useful to walk and run, but there is an added benefit to the cyclist (apart from the basic functionality). Countless times I have had twinges and pains in one leg, especially at the start of a ride, but because of the genius of having two of the things I’ve been able to just cycle with one leg for a while (keeping the other clipped in) and this nearly always sorts the problem. Ok that sounds odd. I’ll leave it there (but if you are a roadie you may understand?).

I passed more and more wonderful scenery at my slow pace, and stopped on a small bridge to take a photo of the most picturesque castle I have ever seen. The sun was still out, there was a slight headwind and I only had around 15 miles to the lunch stop. Passing a sign saying ‘Britain’s tallest tree’ I felt I had to take a look and doubled back to take the turn. I would have expected this tree to be, well, tall, and I guess I expected it to stick out like a very, well, tall tree. Anyway, if there was ever a tall tree down that track I didn’t see it. It transpires that Mrs W also saw the sign, also took the turn, and also didn’t find the tree.

And then the climb began. The road loomed ahead and the incline was clear to see. This was going to be a long one. It seemed as though I was cycling up a mountain, just very slowly, and I reckon this probably was the case. I’ve not looked at the elevation plot yet but I suspect a constant upwards gradient will be clear. About half way up a familiar grey A4 with roof box passed and pulled into a lay-by. I chatted to Tasha for a while, took some photos and continued up the pass. As I rounded the corner at the top I realised there was a benefit to be gained from the hard work – an immense downhill. And immense it was – I guess around 1 mile of super fast good quality road. Even the logging lorries didn’t put me off and I only touched the brakes a little when the speed wobbles started. This hill took me all the way to our lunch spot where I once again ate all the bad things your dentist would hate under the guise of taking on calories.

Setting off again the scenery was about to dramatically change. First there was some kind of MOD center with barbed wire everywhere and a navy ship in a harbour. Then there was Helensborough where civilisation really began to sprawl along the route. Before long I was heading into Glasgow and the traffic was getting heavy. Center of Glasgow during rush hour – good planning? I decided to don the high viz jacket instead of just the fluorescent vest, as I was happy to trade overheating for safety. I switched to a zoomed in scrolling google map on the iphone and it worked a treat. I was navigating this city with no problems at all – when the technology works its just great. I was making good progress when a courier on a carbon Trek overtook me. Well, clearly, I wasn’t having that. No sirrree. I didn’t care about the lead legs any more, ReubiMax just took over, the water was taken, the tucked position adopted and the gears shifted up. Now this poor chap had made the mistake I had outlined in a previous blog of going hell for leather to overtake me. I tailed him for a half mile and he began to flag, at which point I sailed past, trying to make the manoeuvre look as nonchalant as possible. Oh dear, I hear you say. Well, you have to have a bit of fun after 80-90 miles riding. Reaching the Travelodge on time I spotted the Audi at the crossroads opposite, waiting, I presumed, to turn like I was. As I turned into the car park, Mrs W sailed past in the wrong direction. Oops. Of course she blamed it on Jane (the TomTom).

I should say though, that I am immensely proud and thankful to my wonderful wife Tasha for the help and support she has been giving me on this trip. I’m probably not the best chap to be with after a long ride by which time I’m covered in dust and stink like a wet dog. So even more reason to thank my lucky stars that I have such an understanding other half!

Distance today: 89 miles, total so far 358 miles. Here is the route and photos (by the way the videos for Day 3 are now up as well):

Reubens JOGLE: Day 4

JOGLE Day 3: Fast and wet

Checking the altitude profile last night I realised that today had the potential to be a fast run down to Fort William and beyond. The weather reports gave no illusions that there would be anything but rain today and sure enough the rain was falling as I headed out of the B&B. It was a fast road and my legs were feeling good so I was soon picking up the speed. Although in places the surface was rough, the slight tail wind (yes I said TAIL wind) helped me along at an increasing pace and it felt good to be making the sort of progress I was used to. The views across the loch were a fantastic backdrop and took my mind away from the 100s of cars and lorries passing me by. I must say that so far the majority of cars and lorries have been excellent in passing very wide which is a great help. Of course you always get one or two idiots but on the whole the main road riding has been good.

In retrospect I think that Davenports mention mention of the word ‘racepace’ in an email this morning may have been a secret key word to unleash ReubiMax and realising the run down to Glen Coe for lunch could be really speedy I pressed on even harder. As the turning east approached it started to rain. The further up the Glen Coe road I travelled the harder it rained and the change in direction meant that I was now cycling into the wind that had helped me earlier. By the time I got to the visitors centre car park I was completely soaked and beginning to get pretty cold. Of course the good progress was my downfall as Tasha wasn’t due for a while. Luckily for me my wonderful wife turned up early and before long I was out of my cold wet clothes and we headed to the cafe for lunch ( I put some dry clothes on first). It was a fast morning – almost exactly 50 miles at 17mph.

After eating pretty much anything I could find with sugar and carbohydrates in it I pulled a few more layers on and got ready to head back out into the rain, which was still thundering down outside. I set off once more, this time with the wind in my favour, and made the turning south towards my final destination. Before long the rain died down and the sun came out and again it was superb riding. As I was travelling down a hill I noticed a rather attractive lady crossing the road. On closer inspection I realised it was Tasha, who had just parked up to take some photos of a wonderful little castle. As we were about to part a car came quickly to a halt in the lay-by and a guy got out and asked to take my picture with the backdrop of the castle for a cycling guidebook he was doing. I didn’t buy the story at all but I can’t blame people for wanting to take photos of me so I gave him the shot ;-). We chatted for a while (he actually WAS making a guidebook) and I set off once more. Many more fast miles later I stopped for a short while in a little village, before noticing the rain clouds rolling in again.

I headed to Taynuilt where I checked into the hotel. A great days cycling, with great views and no major issues to report. Distance today: 89 miles, total so far: 269 miles:

Reubens JOGLE: Day 3

JOGLE Day 2: Restoring Normality

Having gone to bed unable to bend my right leg past a certain point I was relieved to find this issue had been resolved by a good nights sleep. Over breakfast we met another couple of ex-joglers, and spent some time chatting about routes, kit and sponsorship. Everyone has so far been very impressed with the iPhone EveryTrail solution coupled with the DIY extension battery – perhaps a new product! They kindly parted with a donation, which was very kind.

I set off, with legs feeling heavy but just about ok, and after the first corner the wind was back up again! Smiling to myself I figured it was just someone up above having fun with me, seeing how far they could push me, and I was determined to win the battle, so just soldiered on and on.

The hill out of Ardcronie was a brute with the head wind, but the sun was shining and it was manageable, unlike yesterday! I climbed for a reasonable amount of time until right on top of the flats, where it was pretty exposed and progress was slow. Again I was down to around half my usual speed. There is nothing more depressing than knowing you are riding so much slower than usual, but you just have to accept it and realise that its getting to the end point that’s important.

On to Alness and Dingwall for lunch, which Tasha had already acquired from the local Tesco. Salty crisps seem to go down well – probably my body wanting to replace the sodium lost through sweat? I felt pretty rough at this point – the legs were really suffering and it was warm and cosy in the car – I almost fell asleep once or twice. I really didn’t fancy getting back in the saddle – a low point for sure.

A short while later I headed off again, and the going was better. After 15 miles of more wind it started becoming less of an issue and the cycling was slowly getting better. Around half way through the second leg I heard sirens being switched on behind me. My mind went back to the first few weeks I had the Merc (!) but luckily it wasn’t for me. My energy slowly being used up, I once more had the ‘body STOP’ moment and took on some food and fastics. As the route took me towards the top of loch Ness things really started to improve. The wind finally became a non issue and I was restored back to the usual progressive kind of riding that I am so used to. The miles flew by and the rise and fall of the road next to the loch just encouraged more and more speed.

Now, I should say that I have been trying hard to stop ReubiMax raising his ugly head, but sometimes there is little I can do, especially when another group of End to Enders comes in sight. A swig of water, the hands shift to the drops, the head goes down and the gears shift up. There is something in me that just has to overtake anyone in front (I realise this is not always a good thing!). I have learnt over time there is a technique to the ‘casual fellow-rider overtake’ for there are pitfalls you should avoid, such as gunning it past them then as the adrenalin wears off lagging back again only to be overtaken very smugly by the same riders. So the solution, I have found, is to accept that if you have just seen them on the horizon then you will catch them up at your existing speed, as clearly you are travelling faster, then when you are right behind you hold back a little, saving up a bit of energy for a convincing overtake manoeuvre and a few minutes of good progress to avoid embarrassment. Trust me, you think about these things when on such long rides. I know, I am an unusual chap!

So I rolled into the B&B feeling great, and the leg worries had mostly evaporated. Definitely pleased I had a shorter day today and with a good rest I’ll be on good form tomorrow. Distance today: 77 miles, total so far 180 miles.

Here is the route and photos:

Reubens JOGLE: Day 2