The First Leg
18th-20th July - Naas to Bristol the outbound leg
I left Naas at 10am ish on Saturday the 18th and although it wasn’t raining, the air was moist to say the least. I was very intimidated by the scale of what I had to do over the next few days, but equally feeling the encouragement of how much had been raised for Breakthrough Cancer Research.
Just after about 20km from Naas and I was heading onto new rides in terms of my cycling experience, lots of loose stones and gravel. I heard a ping and assumed that one of the stones had picked up, then the bike start making funny noises. After several stops and investigations I realised that one of the spokes on the rear wheel had gone. At this point I started stressing, thinking that maybe the trip was over before it had really begun. I managed to make it as far as Baltinglass (40km) at which point I realised the rear was very buckled.
I’m so grateful to Bikeology in Naas for reserving me a replacement wheel and the necessary tools to remove the gear cassette. This was the last wheel they had in stock given the recent increase in cycling. In particular I’m grateful to Sarah for driving to Bikeology and then sitting patiently with me while I changed a rear wheel for the first time.
After a 2 hour pitstop, I was back on the road an en route to Rosslare, just a little bit worried about whether I’d make the on time. However, all seemed to go well. I left some of the extra food with Sarah, thinking that I could do with shedding some of the weight to take the pressure off the wheel. Luckily I made it with no further hiccups. 138km in one day, by a distance my longest ride. I was both thoroughly delighted and exhausted. The ferry was very quiet and social distancing was very closely observed.
I then managed to roll into bed (quite literally as they let me take my bike to my bedroom), in the Pembroke Travelodge before embarking on a wonderful day’s cycling to Sennybridge. Some impressive hills, both climbs and descents and a beautiful stretch in paricular from Llandovery to Sennybridge. It was a climb all the way, but was stunning and reminded me of summer weekend trips into the Brecon beacons with Mum, Dad, Mark, Jo and Bran (our dog).
I spent the night in a Shepherd’s Hut with a stunning view and set off on Monday morning with the best weather yet, blue skies, green trees, hills, and the grey tarmac ahead of me. Unfortunately after an hour and a half I realised that I hadn’t shed enough weight and that next time I really need to concentrate on the right wheels beforehand, I managed to buckle another wheel. Thank goodness, I was only 1.5 miles from Abergavenny, so a short walk to a very well stocked bike shop. They fitted a stronger wheel and it automatically felt better.
From then on I had about 70 more km’s to go and one big climb between Usk & Chepstow to struggle up. The feeling at the top of the hill was fantastic. I could see the Severn Bridge, the River Severn and the Gloucestershire England coast on the other side. One last photo stop on the bridge, then it was all very familiar roads to get me to Mum & Dads’ house in Coalpit Heath. They had been tracking my location on Garmin Livetrack, so were waiting on the side of the road for me. It was very emotional for all of us.
Since then I’ve had a great few days with them, cherishing every second and every minute. I’m now preparing for return leg, which starts tomorrow (Friday 24th). The route is planned; I’ve ditched more weight from the back and the weather doesn’t look quite so promising. As I type this the donations stand at just under €5,900, which with the €1,000 I’ll be match brings to an incredible total of €6,900. I was originally targetting a grand total of €3,000. I’d now love to raise €10,000 or more by the time I get home in 4 days time.
I’m not sure if anyone is reading this, other than myself, and possibly Mum & Dad, but if you are reading it, thank you very much. Thank you for your support, for your donations and for your time.