Thursday, 29 July 2010

Post Cycle Weigh-In

Knitwits Yarns

Today - just 4 days after the end of the epic ride - FB and I went for our weigh-in - as is our usual Thursday morning routine (sad, I know).

After 967 miles on a bike FB had.....
....... PUT ON 4.5 lbs.

After driving over 1,000 miles and knitting one sweater I had .....
. LOST 1/2 lb.

Clearly the only conclusion that can be drawn from this is that driving and knitting is either
a) far more stressful than cycling; and/or
b) is far better for you!

So - forget the manic cycling and start knitting!!

PS: FB might, just possibly, be slightly pissed off about today's results.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

72 Hours After The Event

Knitwits Yarns

We're all starting to settle down and all our "stuff" seems to have pretty much returned to its rightful home (apart from the boys' clothes, obviously, which are strewn around their rooms) and I've done 2 half days in the shop and we're all feeling absolutely knackered!! FB confessed to a little zizz this afternoon - must be his age - G went for a bike ride with his uncle!

In answer to tinebeest's comment - yes, the sweater was "to the wire" - I finished it at 11am on Saturday (having stayed up 'til midnight sewing it up) and the boys crossed the line 2 hours later. I wasn't sure about the neckline but everyone else seems to love it so I'll leave it as it is. It's currently in the window of the shop.

The pattern is going to be available as "The Help For Heroes End to End Sweater" and we'll donate £1.00 to H4H for every pattern sold. Just give me a week (or probably 2) to get the pattern written up and some better photos done. You could, of course, do it in any colour and, if you're Scottish, you could do it in blue and white with the Cornish flag as a pocket (or you could leave the flag/pocket off completely). You can just see the H4H colours on my left front and, obviously, if you were "end to ending" for any other charity you could chart out their logo/colours there.

It's quite a big knit and lots of moss stitch so I still can't really believe I finished it - it was, after all, almost entirely knitted in laybys and supermarket car parks!

So - what would we have done differently had we known?:

- don't take little strappy summer tops. If the sun comes out (and it's a big if) you can buy a cheap summer top from one of the endless supermarkets you'll be visiting;
- prepare for the worst weather you can imagine (even if you're doing it in the "summer") and, hopefully, you'll be pleasantly surprised. If you're not pleasantly surprised then at least you won't be disappointed;
- take Wellington boots with you - trainers get very wet in soggy grass;
- definitely do it by campervan - that worked really well;
- take twice as many inner tubes as you think you'll need and a couple of spare tyres for good measure;
- if you break a chain don't bother to try and repair it (unless you're an expert) - save yourself time and energy and find the nearest Halfords;
- don't bother taking a barbecue - not because the weather will be lousy but because you'll be simply too knackered at the end of each day to bother faffing around barbecuing food;
- don't bother to take chairs for sitting outside - see above re barbecuing for the reason why;
- do stay in good campsites - you won't have the energy to faff around showering in the van;
- be flexible with your planning - half of those campsites you planned to stay in will either not exist or not be in the right place at the right time;
- avoid roadkill at all costs.

Finally - do book yourselves a holiday for when you've finished - you'll need it.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Day 14 - Marazion -> Land's End

Knitwits Yarns

Obviously the day dawned grey and drizzly after the lovely sunshine of yesterday, but we're used to that by now and so are you. To be honest the boys were really anxious as the end was so close and yet so far and, being home territory, the smallest lack of concentration could have led to a crash or something equally hideous which would have ended the whole thing so badly.

As it happened, all was calm. They cycled in via Marazion for the compulsory photographs in front of St Michael's Mount:

and then, as they came into Penzance, the flower display could have been planted just for them:

As they cycled through Penzance they were greeted by bunches of various friends at different points, which was fantastic and then they hit the A30 for the final 10 mile stretch. And then Land's End was in sight and here they are:

and over the line!:

and here they are - they'd done it!:

A great bunch of friends and family had come to meet us:

and Steven and Ali produced champagne!:

and, yes, as you can see from the previous photos the End to End Sweater was done just in time. I finished the last of the sewing up at 11am!!

and then we went down to the very end and the obligatory photo at the signpost:

and then we came home (via the pub!):

I'm actually writing this on Sunday evening as we had a bit of a party last night (huge thanks to everyone in the hamlet for organising it and making it such a great night) and we're all feeling exhausted today and there may even be one or two hangovers. Took the dear, old van back to Plymouth today and bade it a fond farewell (except for the toilet, which we'll be happy never to have to use again).

We also added up all the cash and cheques we've received over the past couple of weeks and they came to a whopping £814 so thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone - the just giving target has now leaped up a whack.

Tomorrow we're going to put together a "things we would have done differently, had we known ..................." entry - don't miss it!

Mileage today - 15
Total mileage - 967 - and I can't begin to tell you how gutted the boys are that they didn't reach 1,000!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Day 13 - Lostwithiel -> A Mystery Location Somewhere Just Outside Marazion

Knitwits Yarns

The boys headed straight to St Austell this morning and straight to Halfords. FB had already lost 2 spokes - this was his "bob a job" with good old Duck Tape to keep his bike on the road:

Clearly the boys at Halfords were highly impressed by FB's DIY skills but, nonetheless, strongly recommended a new wheel as any large pothole could buckle the entire wheel and send him crashing. They didn't actually have a wheel in stock so dismantled a show bike and fitted that for him - in short, they were brilliant:

On the left we have Matt May and on the right Gavin Beresford.

We've been to 3 Halfords now on this trip and, without exception they have all been brilliant and quick and totally in tune with the challenge and utterly professional - in short, they have saved our bacon!

This is our first view of "home":

and this is when we really know we're nearly there:

a certain person was very excited:

and here we are - in Marazion:

Those of you with too much time on your hands can play "Spot Nessie" in that picture - she's in there somewhere - honest.

When we arrived at our mystery location, the End to End Sweater looked like this:

So, for the muggle non-knitters - how long do you think it'll take to put that lot together and knit the collar? The knitters reading this are weeping for me. For the knitting technicians, who are interested in the details, I am forsaking my normal, very neat, slow mattress stitch for the perfectly socially acceptable, quicker, back stitch. Tamsin has texted me tonight to say that I'll never live it down if I don't get it finished so I'm in for a late night. Send me good vibes!

So - the plan for tomorrow is - we'll be travelling through Penzance at about 11.30ish. As I said earlier, we'll be going along the front, past the station, all round the harbour and along the Prom to the bridge in Newlyn. Then turning right into Stable Hobba, up to the A30 and then along the A30 to Land's End. Estimated Time of Arrival at Land's End is 1 o'clock. It'll be really wonderful to see everyone there and, if you see them on the road, give them a wide berth and lots of toots and waves. They're all feeling very weary and sore but WE'RE NEARLY THERE!!

In answer to your comment, Ceri, G says he would be up for it except for the chaffing and FB said something really rude which I can't repeat on the blog but he'll repeat to you tomorrow if you want him to!

Miles today - 50
Total mileage - 952

If I get lost tomorrow I'll have to eat my hat.

Day 12 - Tiverton -> Lostwithiel

Knitwits Yarns

As you can see, we've reached our beloved Cornwall and what an arrival we had - it felt like the elements had saved themselves for that very moment - our first thunder and lightening and torrential rain - what a welcome!

The boys decided that discretion was the better part of valour and going right over the top of Dartmoor might be a step too far for them and, specifically, FB's knees and bike. FB has now lost 2 spokes in his back wheel so first stop this morning is Halfords in St Austell - it would be pretty tragic if the back wheel gave up between St Austell and Land's End. To that end they skirted round Dartmoor going via Crediton, Okehampton, Tavistock and Liskeard. I'm not sure there were any fewer hills but they were, possibly, slightly less steep. This is just about their first view of Dartmoor and, as you can see, before the rain got going:

We met for lunch just outside Tavistock and that's when the rain really started - you can see the clouds gathering here:

I know rain always sounds incredibly loud on a campervan roof but this was ridiculous:

and cycling in it was a nightmare:

The sides of the roads had turned to rivers with branches and rocks being washed along - it was all pretty hairy:

And then we reached The Tamar:

As you can see, they're all a teensy weensy bit wet.

And at exactly the right moment I came along. This is me, literally, crossing The Tamar and discovering that one of my headlights isn't working:

We're now camped at the lovely and very peaceful Eden Valley Holiday Park outside Lostwithiel and this is the view I took on one of my many getting lost detours. The water you can see is the River Fowey:

We were on Radio Devon yesterday - not sure if it was a friend of ours who phoned up or a traffic alert but FB was given some money by a lady who heard that people were to look out for 3 men cycling for H4H through the county and give them a wide berth, a toot and a wave. Bizarrely, our neighbours - Chris and John - passed them on the A38 outside Liskeard - to much tooting and waving. There were some pretty hideous hills and FB's knees are beginning to suffer and even T is admitting to sore quads!

We had a ridiculous incident with a man in a shop we'd stopped at to get more water. At the risk of sounding arrogant, you do get slightly used to people giving you things free or cheaper as you're very obviously cycling for charity. We were in the shop getting water and FB needed some string as the box on the front of his bike was beginning to break and needed tying on. It went a bit like this:
Chappy in the shop rang in the water: "that'll be £5.50 please".
Me (digging out my purse): "OK"
Shop chappy: "I haven't charged you for the string"
Me: "Oh - thank you very much"
Shop chappy (fiddling with his till): "That'll be £6.49".
I paid and sloped out!
Every time FB runs this conversation through his mind he starts giggling.

We're starting to get messages coming in about eta at Land's End tomorrow. The plan is to spend tonight somewhere around Marazion (seems a bit ridiculous and the temptation to go home and sleep in our own beds is very strong but we will resist) and get to Land's End for about 1pm tomorrow (Saturday). When we've set up camp tonight I'll do an update here but - barring back wheel disasters - the plan is to cycle through Marazion, through Pz by going past the station and along the Prom to Newlyn. Turn right at Newlyn Bridge and along Stable Hobba onto the A30 and then A30 all the way to Land's End. G - being sick in the head - quite fancied going up Newlyn Hill but was told, quite firmly, where he could shove Newlyn Hill and, given the state of his chaffing, he has agreed to the other plan.

It is a little known fact that, if you live locally and take your Council Tax Bill with you, you won't get charged for parking at Land's End - this is your customer service announcement for the day.

It almost feels like tempting fate but it will be really fantastic to see everyone tomorrow. As we keep saying, just because lots of people do JOG-Land's End, it doesn't mean it's easy and we know of one chap who got all the way to Pendeen and was then knocked off his bike and couldn't finish. So - it's not over until they cross the line! I'll update tonight and see you all there!

Miles today - 87
Total mileage - 902

PS: I'm still knitting. Could be a very late night tonight.
PPS: The sun is shining!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Day 11 - Chepstow -> Tiverton

Knitwits Yarns

Woke up to SUN and 2 flat tyres on G's bike!! I can't tell you how the atmosphere in the van improves when the sun is out and, OK, there were 2 flats to deal with but it was so much easier without the rain pouring down. There they go:

And of course the first excitement for the day was the Severn Bridge:

The bridge is such a physical and psychological landmark that they took a whole load of pictures:

So different to the lashing rain on the Forth Bridge!

Somebody else snuck a lift in FB's bag. She said she hadn't come all the way from the north of Scotland to miss out on the Severn Bridge:

She says she's enormously impressed by the scale of the bridge and the extraordinary engineering feat these huge structures are. She's actually quite opinionated on a number of things but doesn't like to discuss politics and, specifically, the furore between Scotland and the USA at the moment - she doesn't think it's her position to comment at this moment in time.

This sign on the bridge amused FB no end:

It basically lists all the Acts and Laws you will be breaking if you decide to climb on the bridge and/or jump off. As FB said, presumably if you're thinking of jumping off you're not particularly worried about which laws you'll be breaking.

This was the view from the bridge:

Whilst on the bridge the boys finally met up with a good friend, Jason, who had driven down from Cirencester to spend a day cycling with them. Jason actually gave FB the bike he's been riding for this trip and I don't suppose he ever imagined what it would be used for. Meeting on the bridge wasn't quite as simple as you'd imagine. The phone calls went a bit like this:
J: "I'm on the bridge, mate - where are you?"
FB: "We're half way along the bridge, taking photos"
J: "OK, I'll see you there"
Five minutes later:
J: "Mate, I've cycled all the way to Chepstow and you're not on the bridge"
FB: "Yes, we are - we're half way along"
Five minutes later:
J: "I'm back on the Bristol side - where the *&%$£ are you?"
FB: "Jase, there's a cycle path on each side of the bridge - we're on the left hand one as you come from Chepstow. Which side are you on?"
J: "*&^%*&^%$&%£@%&*(*^%$"!!!!!

This is Jason under the Clifton Suspension Bridge:

and the boys:

and, obviously, Nessie - who had started a long involved reasoning as to why she thought that Brunel chappy was a jolly clever bloke before she was unceremoniously bunged back in her box:

After Bristol the boys met up with another friend - John - who had only returned from Egypt at 2am that morning (which is, presumably, why he's looking so much browner than the rest of us). The entire group then cycled down to Tiverton together. This is the group photograph at Taunton:

From left to right: T, G, FB (breathing in), Jason and John.

Together they crossed into Somerset:

and then Devon:

It was a lovely run and the flattest cycling our boys had had for pretty much the entire trip. John then caught the train back to Bristol and Jason spent the night with his brother who lives down here.

At Tiverton Services the boys met a couple from the British Forces Broadcasting Service in Cyprus. They were, obviously, very supportive and the lads had a good chat - it really is amazing who you meet on these journeys!

We spent last night at the Minnows Touring Park at Sampford Peverall, just off the M5 and A361. It's a great site, within walking distance of a pub along the Great Western Canal but even FB was too knackered to consider walking there - which gives you a really good indicator of how tired they now are! Once again, the wonderful owner didn't charge us to stay here and he obviously gets a lot of "End to Enders" staying. The generosity of people is always overwhelming and we've been especially struck by it the further west we've come - maybe it's because there are more camps and bases down this way but H4H certainly resonates with everyone here.

The chaffing is getting very bad. Sudocrem seems to be helping - reminds me of when they were babies - except I now get them to apply it themselves!

The knitting is now getting critical. Measured the sleeves last night and I have 5" to go. To non-knitters that may not sound much but, trust me - 81 stitches per sleeve, 5" is at least 25 rows - in moss stitch - that's a heck of a lot of knitting. And then I have to sew it up and knit the collar and knit the Scottish twist which Tina so kindly gave me. A dear customer, sadly no longer with us, who was the most perfect and beautiful knitter used to say that when you've knitted the pieces you're half way there. If that's true then I'm doomed. Doomed, I say.

In view of the knitting crisis there will be no cleaning of the campervan today - I realise this is a difficult committment to make but one I'm prepared to, under these exceptional circumstances.

Mileage today - 82
Total mileage - 815

Today - barring disasters - Cornwall!

PS: It's raining