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

5 thoughts on “JOGLE Day 11: Off-piste

  1. DaveD

    Sounds great Max,

    Bingo is spot on with Exmoor. Its my favourite area and I was fortunate enough, when it was nice and dry to spend a day riding the area with him. I have this feeling that we have not heard the end of your roadie exploits just yet, even if tomorrow is your final day of this challenge 🙂


  2. julian jones

    R, well done, you’re almost home so to speak. I can agree with your comment about missing writing the blog, I’ll miss reading up on it. Trying to convince my other chunky weekend warriors to take on a JOGLE in 2011. good luck tomorrow, forecast in Hants is 24 deg, pure sunshine and no rain. Yu can’t be too careful in the West country.

  3. ReubiMax Post author

    Thanks Julian, I’ve appreciated your comments! And my advice is DO IT, even if it’s on your own! It will be an experience and achievement that no one can take away from you!

  4. Chris

    I’ll just offer a final piece of advice for today…

    When you get to Land’s End…

    For the love of God…



  5. Ian Tasker

    Enjoy the last day and having just checked the forcast you should be finishing in glorious sunshine which will be a fitting end to an extremely hard journey. Congrats on the money you have raised and the detailed account you have given us along the way. Your journey is beyond the ability of normal people and I think that you have demonstrated “slightly not normal” behaviour with your stange lego men stuff and the weird stuff going through your head whilst mashing the pedals!

    I think Tasha deserves a round of applause for looking after you for the last 12 days…So well done Tasha!

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