Day 7 – Sun, smiles, and satisfaction

Day 7 – Thursday 25th July. Snowden Summitted (2 down, 1 to go). 

I’m having a proud mum moment – Tess (age 7) got to the top of Snowden. We all had a great, memory making day. Naturally, there were plenty of stops, random games, quizzes and story telling. Matt excels himself at such times making up stories starring guinea pigs (Tess has one!).

I biked to Pen y Pass to meet them, but sometimes I have ‘foresight failure’ as i didn’t really check the route before. It was pretty much 12 miles of uphill on tired legs at 7.30am. I had to play the ‘Araf’ game on my own – never the same! Next time you are in Wales, check the road marking and give it a go.

Writing this now, I feel quite relaxed and good easily slip into chilled family camping holiday mode, but with 100 miles back to the Fishwick’s sanctuary tomorrow, I can. Liverpool alone – will i make it out again at the other side? The challenge of this adventure is on!

P.S. Here’s a little video from the summit.

Snowden Summit

We are going up Scafell Pike on Monday (29th), leaving Wasdale campsite at 9am, aiming to be at the top by 12. It would be great to have folk join us or see you along the way. Right where’s my map and ‘post- its’??? …….

The long road to a Welsh campsite (Day 6 from another perspective)

Day 6 – Wednesday 24/07. An alternative perspective from Rachel Slattery. 100.72 miles.

Despite a lack of sleep due to the barrage of thunderous detonations and the periodic electric discharges, which scared both Tess (in the campervan) and Darren’s dog (in his bed) we all started the day looking surprisingly fresh – Jane looking the freshest of us all.  We bid farewell to Darren and Alison who had been fantastic hosts leaving Coppull in a blur.

Richard was on a mission, he had spent the previous evening memorising the route from Darren’s house to Liverpool and we made good time.  The roads were definitely busier than my morning commute, so with Richard’s memory and Jane’s ‘post-its’ I had little to do but try and pick up Jane’s system for warning me of upcoming man hole covers, drains and pot holes.  This consisted of a lot of wrist action and exaggerated pointing which was very difficult to keep on top of as there were so many hazardous faults.  Jane had become so proficient at this she continued to gesticulate to other road users when at the back of the peloton.  Later in the day Richard informed us that if you go past 3 manhole covers in a row you have to shout ‘toast’ for no other reason than his daughter said so.

Having reached the sign for Liverpool the post-its and directions ran out, we knew we were heading for the ferry but quite how we would get there was a different matter.  Having first perfected our gesticulations for broken glass and speed humps – or as Jane quite loudly exclaimed ‘boobies’, Richard haphazardly navigated us through the centre of Liverpool. On reflection we should have perhaps followed the signs for waterfront which would have probably saved Jane a few extra grey hairs.

Eventually the Liver Birds came into sight and Jane could breathe again.  Making it just in time for the commuter ferry which ran before 10 and looking forward to the free coffee we were promised at the other side we had 5 minutes to take some quick pictures of The Beatles.  

We did not factor the very friendly Liverpudlian bloke who was very keen to point out the acorns in John’s hand and the L8 under Ringo’s shoe which he insisted I took a picture of having to position myself upside down to do so.  As a result, we missed the commute ferry and ended up paying 3 times as much for the tourist ferry which took us to the same place.  On the plus side we did get to see the Stanley Dock Tobacco Warehouse (at the time of it’s construction in 1901 claimed to be the worlds largest building); the Victoria Tower (a grade 2 listed Gothic revival clock tower famous for its 6 sides), where they used to store gunpowder on the other side of the river for safety purposes and learn that The Beatles performed aboard the Iris during river cruises in the 1960’s.

Upon alighting from the ferry in Birkenhead we discovered that signposts had not been reinstalled following World War 2 and therefore the post-it method of navigation failed us.  We resorted to phone technology with Jane leading us quite competently to Neston.  From here we were able to locate the Sustran’s Route 56 signposting us to Connah’s Quay which proved to be a lovely surfaced track leading us across the Dee Marshes on tarmac and board-walks with some speed humps providing us with the opportunity for a few bunny hops.  

We were not worried as we approached the MoD at Sealand upon hearing gun fire as we knew Richard’s rucksack would provide ample cover from stray bullets.  

Jane knew we had to cross a metal bridge to get round to Flint and sighting what we later discovered to be the Queensferry Crossing could not work out why we were going away from it.  Slightly disappointed by the rail bridge we eventually crossed, we joined the A548.  

 

At this point Jane could sense Tess who was waiting for us in Prestatyn with Matt and was in need of a parent fix, so it was heads-down and full speed ahead.  As we neared, and thinking that Tess and Matt might be cycling/running out to meet us, attempted to join the signposted cycle route. This proved to be a disaster as the track was very overgrown causing multiple nettle stings and thistle scratches to be then met by a couple of frisky bullocks.  We decided to re-join the A548.  It was on this section we had our only near miss of the day when a black Fiesta driver decided to make a left turn right in front of Richard, who was not.

A welcome break ensued where Matt waited on us with tea and sandwiches and Jane spent some parent time on the beach doing cartwheels, round offs and butterfly catching.  Richard, Matt and I admired the striking population of seaside tourists comprising of a lot of white legs, kids who drink far too much Fanta and elderly men with their tops off.  Matt had very cleverly parked the camper in a prime location where the sand had covered over the double yellow lines, he was in no danger of being moved on.

The surreal leg from Prestatyn to Abergele took us through a world of half-naked, flip flopped clad communities housed in holiday camps.  Particular points to note in this section; we saw 5 police cars (not having seen any prior or indeed post this section), you get heckled by the local youth and the road kill is different, not a rabbit, badger or hedgehog in sight, the place was littered with the carcasses of dead seagulls.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE IF ANYONE CAN CYCLE WITH JANE ON THIS RETURN LEG ON FRIDAY SHE IS CURRENTLY RIDING IT SOLO AND I FEAR FOR HER REVERSE SYSTEM OF ‘POST ITS’ TAKING A WRONG LEFT TURN IN THIS AREA WILL UNDOUBTEDLY MEAN THAT SHE WILL NOT GET TO CLIMB SCAFELL. 

At Abergele we noticed a sign to Llanrwst which would cut the corner not taking us towards Conwy as the ‘post its’ dictated.  Having ridden an entirely flat route until this point we ventured into more agreeable territory with a 3 mile uphill to start and then an undulating road through Llanfair and the Elwy Valley.  This route also provided us with more opportunity to add to our individual tally in the Araf game.  You play this by shouting out Araf when you see it written on the road, you can only shout out the Araf’s on your side of the road and not those in the opposite direction.  At the end of the day Richard reckoned he had about 8, I had lost count but think that Jane won as she was particularly enthusiastic, despite continually reminding us she was not wearing her proper glasses. Snowdon was in view as Jane led us down into Llanrwst and then along the final stretch to the campsite.

Our final point of note was the large collection of marquees erected below the campsite, these were to house The National Eisteddfod of Wales a travelling annual festival embracing all that is new and youthful in Welsh culture.  Attracting around 150, 000 people, this weekend is set to get busy. Not being an ideal base to get a good nights sleep on your Pedal to the Peaks challenge it is just as well that Jane will not be camping here again.

On arrival, Tess led us through a detailed and extended yoga cool down, performed her gymnastics routines and allowed us to mark her out of ten on her cartwheels, round-offs and handstands.  We then filled ourselves up with delicious spaghetti (thank you Matt) and left Jane looking as fresh as she did at the start of the day.

Day 6 – Chorley to Llanrwst – A biggy.

Day 6 – Wednesday 24th July. Chorley, Lancashire to Llanrwst, Wales. 

Well the day began by waking up at 2am to a ferocious thunderstorm. Tess then joined us to hold hands on the ‘shelf’ bed in Paul and Lou’s campervan, whilst we slept, parked on Darren Fishwick’s driveway. Quite lovely but maybe not the best start to a 100 mile day. I can’t see Tour de France riders doing that!

Darren & Alison Fishwick's house.

Staying at the Fishwick’s was brilliant and reminded me what an amazing fell running community we are part of. This ‘journey’ is about so many people.

It has been another great day of riding with excellent support of Rachel Slattery (whose daughter I taught about 12 years ago!) and Richard. in between the fear of cycling through Liverpool, ferries, cities and standing with the Beatles we have enjoyed the simple things:

 

  • Cartwheels on the sand
  • Cartwheels on the grass
  • Playing the ‘Araf’ game
  • Doing funny roadie signs at roads hazards eg pot holes
  • A beer
  • Dinner with friends
  • A goodnight snuggle with a 7 year old
  • A team yoga session.

Once again there might be another blog post from today from one of the ‘crew’, so more to follow (perhaps in the morning).

 

Day 5 An alternative view

Day 5 Glenridding – Coppull (Chorley, Lancashire).

75 miles. But I apply the Swedish Rounding System; 80 miles

There comes a time when you decide to do something epic; a physical, sporting challenge far greater than you have done before. Something that you know isn’t going to be easy, but one you want to see if you’re physically and mentally capable of putting your mind and body on the line for. I knew that this was my time… as I got up at 5am to ride with Jane to Chorley.

Of course, I’m not talking about me, but Jane. I said I’d write a piece for the blog and I promised to give her a mention. She just got her mention.

But Seriously…

What Jane has taken on is not only ambitious but involves a tremendous amount of effort. Climbing those three summits is almost a side-show to the hundreds of miles she’s undertaking to get between them. On at least three days she’ll tip the odometer over 100 miles. Today we’ll ride for less than seven hours, and in glorious sunshine. She described riding in the heaviest rain she’s ever ridden in, just two days earlier.

We stop throughout our ride for little snacks; it’s all Jane can manage, and she struggles to get the calories in that she needs for the day. It’s not something any of us can really appreciate how hard it is to fuel the body when you have restricted capabilities to eat.

Jane doesn’t want sympathy, she’s just happy to ride and enjoy her days on the bike with a smile and a laugh. She’s great company and a wonderful demonstration of putting self-belief and the determination to succeed into positive action. Chapeau!

Glenridding: Why leave?

 Dave Banks, one of the few remaining of the Kendal AC species, picks me up in his campervan from Windermere. Dave was due to ride, but he’s torn his calf muscle at the weekend. Instead he’ll be hanging out at every layby, kindly offering us three riders cups of teas and food. Having picked me up Dave drives to Glencoyne Bay on the shores of Ullswater where we find a very relaxed Reedy family getting ready to set Jane off for the day.

Jane’s planning style is to be admired; she rips pages out of a road atlas which are very approximately marked up in pink highlighter.

Jane, myself and Richard (Hazel Robinson’s brother-in-law and third member of the pedalling team) add our own thoughts and adjustments to the route and the schedule. My main concern is how frequently we’ll stop to feed and how far away in Dave’s support vehicle will my chocolate brownies and chilli sandwich wraps be, at any given point in time.

Tess and Matt join us on the tandem for the first section and it’s all smiles and laughter as they plug away on their bike, taking the challenge of Kirkstone Pass full-on with Tess providing much amusement, joking around with no hands on the handlebar. They reach the top not far behind us and I’m glad I don’t have to watch their terrifying decent back into Glenridding as we continue our way towards Kendal (where Jane lives).

Heading home: Kendal

 I test for chinks in Jane’s armour: “We could stop at More? bakery for a quick coffee in Staveley…” It’s not happening. Jane even avoids cycling past the end of their road, just to put the temptation out of her way.

Our first stop is in Natland where I thought Dave Banks said that there was ice-cream. Turns out he said a ‘nice green’; as in, a grassy area on which to stop. Anyway, I stop for a pee before Natland and nearly miss the turn off. Not funny as I’m already quite tired and didn’t appreciate having to do a lap of the green.

We scoot along through Carnforth and on towards Lancaster, waving at Miss Milnthorpe, aka Wendy Dodds, who’s in traffic going t’other way. By the way, for anyone with a liking for 50 tonnes of campervan and motorhomes parked on display forecourts, look no further than a holiday along this stretch of the A6. You can smell the lavender and granny talc.

Garstang: nice town, weird person

 We ask Dave to find us a bucolic little spot in Garstang, similar to the one in Natland, for our lunch stop. He’s pulled onto a garage forecourt on a busy junction of the A6, but he’s got mugs of tea and ice-cold cans of Coke ready, so the location is quickly forgotten about.

We’re approached by the battiest person we’ll meet this week. She’s in her 60s and just goes straight into a ramble about what we’d advise her husband, of a similar age, who’s got a bike he doesn’t ride, but wants to cycle from Morecambe to Bridlington? She doesn’t really want to hear our thoughts, as she quickly heads onto her concerns about him dropping dead, and not leaving much in the will as there’s also an issue with his pension. Her advice, because of course she thinks we’ve asked her for it, is that he should walk the ups and walk the downs as they’re dangerous. I suggest he walks the flats too, leaves the bike at home, and calls it a ‘walk’. My actual question really is who wants to go to Bridlington?

 Before we leave Garstang behind, I should tell you that it is proud to announce it is the world’s first Fairtrade town. All three of us spotted that sign. Any questions?

Preston: So attractive with all those green, yellow and red colours

 From Garstang to Preston there was little of note, save me getting left behind on the M6 roundabout at Preston because I got through the lights, went for a pee in the bush and didn’t see Rich and Jane go past. I’ll never learn. Richard should get a mention here because he did nearly an hour on the front of the peloton going into a bit of a head-wind. I did thank him afterwards and explain that I wasn’t sure of the way or I would, of course, have led. He pointed out we’d be on the same road, the A6, for about three hours and it wasn’t going to change. I mumbled something about the cross-winds.

 I read that Preston wasn’t much bombed in the war. Draw your own conclusions as to what that means about the central area of Preston. Suffice to say Jane’s anecdote was fitting: “A friend dropped me at the hospital in Preston and said she’d go do a nice bit of shopping whilst I was in treatment. She came back pretty quickly and reported there weren’t any nice shops.”

As we pulled up at the 34th set off traffic lights which were on red I realised that Preston didn’t have a Latin motto, so I came up with one: sicut negotioationis luminaria faciemusi, which roughly translates to, “Ooh, we do like a traffic light or two, and we’re ever so proud of them.” Preston isn’t the only culprit, Beetham to Lancaster is littered with them. Rich genuinely thought there was a statistic about Preston’s traffic lights. I imagine it’s that there are more per km2 than anywhere else in the northern hemisphere.

Talking of red lights, and call me a snitch, but Jane jumped a red light on her bike as we cycled through Kendal. It was only a small red light, but I felt obliged to let Dave Banks know. He’s a retired policeman after all and might need to press charges.

Charnock Richard: Is it as posh as it sounds?

 Rich deserves another mention for his enthusiasm and optimistic friendliness. It was he who engaged in warm conversation the batty woman in Garstang when I’d have wound up the window and driven off. And then he goes one better: we three pull up at another red light just outside Bamber Bridge on the A49 and are precariously positioned on the front line with a massive articulated lorry on our inside lane. I suddenly realise Richard is chatting to the driver in his cab, some four or five feet above our heads, asking the lorry driver how his day’s going, where he’s off to and so on. Funny guy. I like him.

Cuppell: Just the tonic

We arrive at the Cuppell home of Alison & Darren Fishwick, a kinder and more generous couple you’ll be hard pushed to find. I’ve barely collapsed onto the grass verge outside their house before Alison is bringing me a gin and tonic, made with Cuckoo Gin, a local spirit from Chorley and very nice it was too.

Postscript

So, you’ve read my blog about Jane’s ride today. I went home to sit on the couch, eat fish and chips, and watch the 16th stage of the Tour de France. Jane is going to get up tomorrow morning and cycle another 100 miles. She’d already done a 100-mile day the day before she met me and Richard. She’s putting in huge efforts each day, and more impressive given what she has gone through.

Please support her by donating to her Virgin fundraising page.

 Please support her by riding and running with her on any of her remaining days. She would be very appreciative.

 Write up – Ben Abdelnoor. Photos – Dave Banks