Wednesday 11 April 2012

LEJOG (End to End) Day 1 - Cornwall into Devon

LEJOG Leg 1 - Land's End to Sourton Cross (Okehampton)

We arose on the Wednesday morning eager to get going, the weather was cool (not cold) and it looked like there had been quite a bit of rain in the night, but things were drying out.  There looked to be a fair breeze, but thankfully whilst not the Westerly we'd been hoping for it seemed to be North Westerly.  This mean we'd have it on our tails and left shoulders.

The Famous LAND END Sign

Our night (before) in St Just had consisted of the most expensive fish and chip dinner ever, followed by a couple of beers in the pub attached to our accommodation (The Commercial Hotel -  The Hotel was good and we just psyched ourselves up for the (very) long ride ahead.  We also got connected on Facebook, as we planned to use our Social Media accounts to keep friends, colleagues and loved ones up to date about our journey.  It had been somewhat of an afterthought, but we both had set up sponsorship web pages so that we could hopefully raise a little bit of money, for our respective charities, along the way.

The Bikes (mine on the left) Looked Ready to go Too

We’d both slept OK and had been suitably fed (with full cooked breakfast) prior to leaving The Commercial.  We packed everything we’d needed for the previous evening into our pannier bags, checked the tyre pressures etc. and embarked on the first short leg to the official start line.  The journey was about 6 miles from St Just to Land’s End and surprisingly the bike with luggage seemed much more responsive and manageable to me compared with the night before.  Hopefully this meant that it was going to be easier than I’d been slightly worrying about the previous evening.

It was pretty quiet in the area and the tourist attraction side of Land's End hadn't really got going at that time in the morning.  There were a few locals around, who appeared to be working on a roof and that was about it.  On the downside there was nobody around to help us with the photography (thankfully modern digital cameras have timers on them for self portraits), but on the plus side there wasn’t anybody around to charge us for anything related to our visit.

Ash Ready to Leave Land's End - Only 874 Miles to go

Paul and His Trusty Steed Before the Off

A Quick Self Portrait on The Timer with Camera on the Rocks
We rode away from the sign and into the main tourist area of Land’s End had a quick look around and another brief stop for picture taking and then we were on our way properly.  The sun was shining and we were feeling pretty optimistic about the journey ahead.  We got on our way properly at 09:23 am on Wednesday 11/04/2012.

The Tourist Stuff at Land's End (Penn-An-Wlas)

Ash Posing Before Leaving Lands End

Our plan for the first day’s riding was to stay to the main routes in Cornwall.  Whilst there was an opportunity to take in some nice scenery by moving off the beaten track we were worried about potentially dragging the journey out by traversing heavy and undulating roads whilst we were just feeling our way with the heavy bikes with luggage.  This meant that we’d mainly be on the A30 for most of the day.  The A30 turned out to be a pretty well maintained, smoothed surfaced road.  However, on the downside, it became progressively busier as we travelled further East.  Whilst there wasn’t a cycle path there was an area on the outside of the white line marking the edge of the road that could be ridden on.  I avoided doing this most of the time for fear of the debris on this part on this part of the tarmac, whilst Paul used it more often than not.  I was a bit wary as, whilst we were both using decent Winter tyres, neither of us had anything wider or heavier duty than we’d have normally been sporting at that time of year.

Views of the Cornish Countryside from the A30
Paul Pulling into the Lay-by to Meet Me 
As far as the riding was concerned, we’d come to an agreement that we’d ride at our own pace and ensure that we had regular meet ups.  We’d done a similar thing on a Sportive ride we did the previous Autumn and this seemed to work out OK.  Sometimes it is very hard work riding at somebody else’s pace (either slower or faster than you’d want to be going) even it is only 1 mph different.  It also meant that whilst we rode together quite often, we were very rarely drafting (i.e. riding in each other’s slipstream to save some energy).  I think we both felt that this was cheating a bit and that it would meant that we weren’t riding under ‘our own steam’.

Pleasant Skies above the A30

The riding in the gutter approach proved to be a problem on the first leg for Paul.  He punctured within the early part of the ride.  However, he was convinced that he’s hit a reflector embedded in the tarmac when moving from the road to the edge of the tarmac rather than hitting a stone or any other debris.  We had spare tubes a plenty, so doing a quick change (even on the rear wheel) wasn’t a problem.  What was a problem was the fact that both our bike pumps couldn’t deliver enough pressure.  This was especially worrying when we had the extra weight of the back end.  We tried with both Paul’s and my pump and got as much air into the tyre as we could, but it couldn’t have been much more than 60 psi (our tyres would normally be inflated to circa 100psi).  We soldiered on and aimed for Bodmin to take a lunch stop and see if we could acquire a new pump, or at least borrow one to get Paul’s tyre back up to pressure.  The frustrating thing was that one of Paul’s stolen bikes had a pump on it than was more than up to the job.

Saint Petroc Parish Church - Bodmin

We rode into Bodmin past the Saint Petroc Parish Church and had a look around for a bike shop.  We found a mountain bike sales and hire place (Bodmin Bikes - and the guy there was very helpful, but unfortunately he‘d nothing to attain the pressures we needed.  We found a little cafĂ© on a pedestrianised street and had another fairly substantial meal, even though a very large breakfast had been consumed not too many hours earlier.  We were conscious that we were going to be burning a lot of calories pedalling all that distance with the extra weight and we were sure we didn’t want our bodies to run out of fuel.

Substantial Lunch - Even After a Big Breakfast!

Paul Leaving Bodmin Heading for Halfords

We had a relatively leisurely meal and pondered our options for the journey to the nights accommodation and a likely place to get more air into Paul’s rear tyre.  We got on our way and headed to a Halfords at the edge of the town.  Paul also seemed to experiencing some trouble with the screws on his cleats at this point and as he was using the two screw SPD cleats (as opposed to the three I had on my Look ones), so loosing a screw was going to pose a problem.  Neither of us had thought to bring any spare screws, something that I would always ensure I had on any future long distance bike rides I embark on.  Whilst the man at Halfords didn’t sell SPD pedals, he was more accommodating and he managed to fix Paul up with a new screw and some more air in the tyre.

Windswept Trees by the A30 in Cornwall

We continued our journey onwards towards Devon.  The roads were still very good and noticeably better than those of Lancashire and the North West of England.  After many miles of riding already, we hadn’t seen a single pothole.  The rest of the days riding was pleasant, but relatively uneventful.  The weather stayed fair and we saw quite a bit of sunshine.

Paul Updating Our Followers on Facebook

On arrival at the signs denoting the border between the two counties (Cornwall and Devon) we started a ritual that would remain for the rest of the journey, or at least when passing into new counties that weren’t too near home and overly familiar.  The novelty also wore off a bit when we got into the second week!  We would stop for a small break, take a few snapshots, Tweet them and/or upload them to Facebook.  Again, for those interested back at home they could see were we had travelled to in real-time.  I pondered that this was something that only riders making the journey in recent years would have been able to do.  We got a few ’Likes’ & ’Retweets’ and then we were bake on the road again.

Ash at the Devon Border Control
We got to the end of the day’s journey well before nightfall, we’d been on the road for about nine hours in total and had been riding for just over six hours.  We had a brief stop on the run in to Sourton Cross, the location of the Travelodge we were aiming for, which was just South of Oakhampton.  The approach was very straight forward, it was a motel just off the A30, so there weren’t any problems finding it.  A had a bit of a wander round after we’d checked in and freshened up.  There wasn’t to much around a I was trying to figure out where we could eat later that evening that would be within reasonable walking distance.

Views from the Travelodge Car Park

We’d travelled about ninety five miles on the first leg of our LEJOG, but taking into consideration the six we’d done in the morning before the start, this was our first hundred mile ride with luggage and we’d got through it!  We made a few phone calls to people back at home and eventually headed across the A30 to a pub for an evening meal.  It was a crisp clear night and we ended up refuelling at the Prewley Moor Arms (  The pub and meal were both pleasant, but perhaps a little expensive for a couple of low-budget travellers like ourselves!  I can recommend the Isotonic Sport drinks on offer there.  I partook in the consumption of a couple of pints of the ‘Jail Ale’.  It was just the tonic after a long day in the saddle.

Sunset Seen from the Motel

Maybe not quite Lucozade but the Local Beer 'Jail Ale' is Recommended

One day down with a few minor worries but no major concerns and we both seemed to be feeling fit.  Paul had felt a few twinges from his back, but nothing to feel too bothered about.  Our legs felt OK, bbut how they would be the following morning was another question altogether.  The next leg of the journey was going to be a very long one.  Relatively speaking we were going well out of our way to go and visit my cousin and it was going to be not only the longest ride we'd done with the extra weight, it was going to be the longest distance either of us had ridden in one day before.

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