Latest News Flash: Mr Billy has been reinstated as Bed Inspector at Park House, Stratford upon Avon
We would like to say thanks to the following people who made this a bit easier:
The Cycle Studio, Stratford Upon Avon – For your advice, for supplying our kit
Richard Edward Painter – For your really helpful advice and support
Richard Popple – For being there on Snowdon and for transporting the kayaks
Tracey and Martin – For your support and your assistance in carbohydrate upload in Padstow, top drawer as usual!
Michael from Carousel Digital – for the website, for your help and great advice and producing our vehicle graphics so quickly
Sammy, Griff, Lucy and Laura – for your support at all times
Carol – For your nutritional advice before and during this challenge, for your support too
Gillian – for being with us on the 3 peaks, for a good laugh and your continued support
Fred Baker Cycles in Bristol (Donny) – what can we say, top class service, nothing too much bother
Elens Castle Hotel – Betwys y Coed – thanks to Adam and Helen and your regulars for making us feel so welcome, we will be back!
Elidir – our Snowdon guide
Stephen and Jean Heyes for their support at Llangollen, Bala and Chester
Tom Mitchell, for your support and coming to see us
The pub in Montgomery – for helping Ruth out when her mobile phone ran out
The IBIS at Preston North – Really helpful, friendly staff, nothing was too much bother
Katie, Dave, Jules and Fred, for your support all through and for joining us for the Carnforth stretch
Rob Hopkin – for your support and advice, for sorting out the kayaks, for being a mate
Ray Webb for his support and advice regarding bike shops and his very funny messages that kept us smiling
Harbour Master – Lake Windermere
Phil Kershaw our Scafell Pike guide
Hillthwaite House Hotel – to the really nice chap who works there for following our progress on Windermere on his day off
Best Western Moffat House Hotel – lovely staff, lovely hotel
Loch Lomond – Inn on Loch Lomond – wow, what can we say, we will be back
Nevis Cycles – Just brilliant, your work was first class, the most friendly bike shop North of the Watford Gap!
Ben Nevis Guide (Nathen) – for not turning back in such terrible weather
Bombay Duck Restaurant Fort William – for the scoff – superb!
The unknown boat owner on Loch Ness for the use of their boat, it was cheeky of us and we would have asked if you had of been there…
Best Western Palace Hotel in Inverness – lovely hotel, lovely staff
The Royal Marine Hotel Brora – For the most relaxing couple of nights on this challenge, your hotel is beautiful, your staff are great too
To ALL of our supporters
The many people who waved and smiled along the way
To the sad creatures that tried to mow us down with deliberately poor driving and those who shouted obscenities, thank you, maybe your place in life is to serve as proof to us that evolution can work in reverse?
Waitress to Hoppy “the soup of the day is Mental and your server today is Lairy”
Ruth to Felix when faced with 110 mile ride in bad weather “Think of this not as a really long cycle ride, but as an exercise in recapturing your youth”
Felix Schmid (Kirkstone Pass to Pooley Bridge) “I am going to write a book, called False Summit, A Celebration of British Road building”
Mr Billy when arriving home “err, Mum, this bed is too hard”
Ecclefechan Taekwon-Do – Just made Colin and Felix laugh
Anon – “No, don’t look over the side, or de little fishes will bite yer nose off, so they will”
Felix would like to personally thank the following people:
Dr. Mark Sterling, Head of the School of Engineering for allowing him unpaid leave at the start of the academic year.
Mrs Joy Grey for dealing with all office issues in my absence
Will Cooper and the team for producing the postcards.
Charles Watson for keeping troubles away from me.
Florence for pulling me up and down mountains.
Robert Stolz for completing my heavy haul bicycle at minimal notice.
Rob Hopkin, Bridget, Richard Popple and…me!
Firstly, apologies for the delay in this post.
The final day started cold, with a bitter wind chill and it was mostly overcast with huge black threatening cloud.
The boys set off from Brora at a good speed whilst Bridget packed and I did the shopping for their lunch break and refuelled the car. The weather had brightened a bit, but the wind seemed even colder to us soft Southerners so I was pleased to hear the local woman at the petrol station say it was “‘f”ing freezing”
By the time we caught them up they were at the top of a very large hill looking really pleased with themselves. They were actually enjoying these really steep inclines now, which quite frankly makes you a bit of a weirdo in my books!
Lunch was taken at a lovely village about half way to JOG, the boys were really cold and got into the car to warm through before setting off again. We travelled on to John o Groats to check out the route in to the signpost. At this point the weather changed drastically, we drove through horizontal rain and hailstones and the wind was gusting really badly. I got out the car at one point and could hardly hold the door, it was awful.
As the boys approached John o Groats they were so cold that they could not feel their hands and feet, despite having dressed for these conditions. A tired, frozen and emotional pair of cyclists arrived at the signpost at approximately 1430hrs.
We stopped briefly for photographs and quickly loaded up the bikes and started the thawing out process in the car.
Final statistics for you (TBC):
940 miles cycled
47,384 feet climbing on bikes
34,496 calories burned cycling
32 miles of kayaking
10,990 feet climbing on foot
The picture is of the boys holding up their Railway Children cycling vest, they were going to be wearing these, but it was too dangerous to strip down to put them on given how cold it was.
One final post to follow tomorrow. But I would like to say at this point, this is not the end, this is just the beginning for Ultimate Three…
Colin and Felix are both looking tired today, I think the kayaking really took its toll on their muscles. Together with the lactic build up from the Ben, they are a wee bit uncomfortable.
It is a bitterly cold day and Felix has now taken to covering his legs with ‘leg warmers’. Unfortunately it reduced him to looking like Nora Batty as the boys transited through Inverness. After some ‘adjustment’ in the trouser department, they stayed up for the rest of the day.
A good early start today though, with no mishaps whatsoever! The bikes ran well and the boys made great time. The terrain was a little kinder in terms of climbs and the roads were without too many gaping holes.
We met up around lunchtime, Colin said that a truck had narrowly missed hitting Felix with its trailer a few minutes earlier, there really is not an excuse for driving as poor as that
They have now arrived at Brora, which is a lovely village approximately 60 miles from the finish. The hotel is once again very nice and the people here are really friendly. Two policemen tooted their support today, so did two RLC soldiers who were running an army boot camp for women! That sort of thing really cheers the boys up.
Felix has taken up an offer from me to ride my road bike for the last stage of this journey. Given that we have all ribbed him somewhat about the weight of his Swiss made steel bike in comparison to ours, I think it is really nice that he wants to try out my racing bike and not just let my tyres down instead! This means that Felix’s bike will be the back up bike (which is in fact my veiled threat to Colin not to break his AGAIN)!
I can report to you all that there is snow on the mountains here, with more coming this week. Probably good that it is the final leg of the journey tomorrow . Having started out from Cornwall with temperatures of 28 degrees we are now down to about 5 degrees.
PS/ Billy has been sacked as bed inspector, this is because this hotel insists that its beds are inspected by customers and staff only, not Mr Billy. He has however, filed a case for unfair dismissal on the grounds of discrimination regarding his facial hair problem.
Colin and Felix had a good start this morning and were away promptly. Approximately one hour later Colin called to say he had broken his bike. The roads around the Loch have more than their share of potholes and Colin managed to avoid most of them, the only one he landed in was enormous. The result of which was a puncture and he sheared off the mech hanger. I arrived with the spare bike and while Colin fixed on pedals, lights etc. it was decided that to avoid getting too cold, Felix should continue cycling. Flacky was on the road 20 minutes later on a mission to catch Felix up.
The boys met up at Crianlarich Station Cafe and had a cup of tea and some cake before setting off again. I was by then en route to ‘Nevis Cycles with the ‘patient’. After the dash to Fort William I was off again to meet the boys with some hot food. They had a very long ride ahead of them so we had to keep the energy levels up. We met again on the A82 which runs through the Highlands,we stopped just short of Glen Coe.
The boys set off again for the second stage of the ride. I set off to find the launderette that Rob had sent me the details of. Whilst I did the washing I chatted with a fascinating woman who worked there (I did not ask her name), this woman had herself trekked in the Himalaya’s. Meanwhile, Colin and Felix sped on through Fort William towards Fort Augustus. Bridget met the boys on the road into Fort William, Flacky was so impressed he fell off his bike… again! He was in a giggling heap for a while before he got himself off the tarmac.
I collected Bridget and we set off to pick up the boys from Fort Augustus. We met them at about 2000 hours.
One long ride!
Stats for the day: 105 Miles cycled, 3200 calories burned, 3800 feet climbed.
It was planned that Felix would take my road bike today whilst I relayed his to the bike workshop in Dumfries as he had a problem with his brakes. Luckily Rob Hopkin had joined us again during the evening and looked at the problem with a fresh pair of eyes and after an adjustment or two, Felix was back on his trusty steed.
From Moffat they cycled towards Hamilton. Lunch was taken at a truck stop where a good friend of Felix, Tom Mitchell, turned up to show his support. He even had a short spin on Colin’s bike, which he thought was nice but should have had bigger tyres
The days cycling took in Glasgow, which to be fair has some long cycle paths around and through the centre, along the river. The Sustrans signs are not brilliant and the boys took some unusual scenic routes, adding another few miles to their already decent mileage. Their first mistake was noticed by Colin who realised that the river was flowing in the wrong direction!
The ride finished in the dark, the boys arrived at about eight o clock after having a puncture en route.
Now, the hotel, sort of made up for the long ride. What a beautiful location on the edge of the Loch, our rooms overlooked the water, and we even had a private sauna in the room, now there’s lush
The picture is the view that made it all worthwhile this morning… well it will appear soon
94 miles cycled, 2600 feet climb, 2821 calories burned
ps/ Mr Billy approves of the bed here too!
We left the lovely Lake District for Scotland today. I dropped Felix and Colin at Pooley Bridge, where they finished two days ago. Driving back over the Kirkstone Pass and looking down at ‘The Struggle’ the boys were pleased to have nailed this at the end of their last day.
I had Colin’s bike on board (he was using mine), the gears are still not right, so I was on a mission to get them fixed. This was not going to be difficult as I had already agreed to take the bike back to Keswick where they were ready to re-cable it. The trouble was I remembered it as Kendal and headed there instead
Luckily, I had a 3G signal and looked up cycle shops on Google and found that one of the largest in Europe was only up the road in Staveley. The maintenance team there were great, they decided that a re-cable might help and got on with it straight away. An hour later I was back on the M6 on to find the boys somewhere in Scotland by now.
We eventually met up between Gretna and Lockerbie, the boys were pleased to have some good solid food and cake at this stage. They said the ride was a hard grind, with one short break whilst Flacky threw himself on the floor in Carlisle, (he will do anything for attention)!
Gillian and myself pushed on to Moffat to walk the dogs and check out the hotel. Unusual perfect timing meant that we met the boys on the road as we came out of one of the beautiful river walks in Moffat.
The Hotel is the Best Western Moffat House Hotel, its really nice and the food is great too. The picture today is not the one I had planned of the boys at the Welcome to Scotland sign, this is because I am having problems getting it up the right way! So instead you have a picture of Mr Billy carrying out the ‘Bed Inspector’ role at our hotel. He likes this one, Buster has the chaise
Statistics: 66 miles cycled, 2203 ft climb, 2034 calories burned
The day started out wet and windy, which we are now getting used to. Our aiming point in the morning was Carnforth Railway Station where we met up with Dave Ellis and Katie Mason of the Railway Children, with their support team Jules and Fred. After hot drinks and some cake in the lovely ‘Brief Encounter Café’ Dave and Katie joined us for the rather undulating ride to Windermere; we were really grateful for their company as the miles sped by.
After a short break at our hotel (Hillthwaite House Hotel) we set off for one of our biggest biking climbs on the challenge, namely ‘The Struggle’ which is three miles of 1 in 5 gradient from Ambleside up to the top of the infamous Kirkstone Pass. The descent in to Patterdale was fast and well earned! It was then ‘just’ a case of following the shoreline of Ullswater along a typically undulating British road so beloved of Felix.
The weather is deteriorating, faster than we are
The picture for today is of Felix and Colin with Dave and Katie under the clock at Carnforth Station. This is the classic setting of the film ‘Close Encounter’…
Stats for the day: 75 miles cycling with a total climb of 5424 feet
We are now at the halfway point so here are the total stats so far:
Miles Cycled: 75 miles
Total Height Climbed: 25,980 feet, plus, the Snowdon total of 3349 feet = 29,329 which is higher than Mt Everest and we are only half way!
Calories Burned: 18,790
Just for you Thomas – cycling totals in Eurospeak are 872 kilometres and 7919 metres !
A good early start to the day. The trip up over the moors was punctuated only with Colin freeing a sheep that had become stuck in a fence and Felix changing his clothes. A long ascent was followed by an even longer descent down to Chester where we had a great breakfast and went shopping in Field and Trek for some warmer clothing (the temperature dropped like a stone for a while and caught us both out). After this it was a fairly fast route which took us first to Frodsham, then Widnes (traffic between the two was particularly unpleasant) and on to Preston having met up with Ruth and Bridget for a late lunch in St Helens. A day that tested our navigation skills to the full! The route covered 85 miles, had 3400ft of climbing and used up 2800 calories. Looking forward to tomorrow when we will be joined by Dave and Katie from the Railway children (along with Jules and Fred – Dave has his own support team!), and towards the end we are going to be doing a classic climb… more on that tomorrow (assuming we survive)…
I think that we were both pretty pleased with the fact that our bodies were not hurting too much when we set off today. It was always going to be a long day on the A30 and it did not help that after just 10 miles I had an emotional blow out on my back tyre… only emotional because I was doing about 30 mph when it went ahead of one of the many hills of the day. Thanks to Felix’ skills with the puncture repair kit I was back on the road after about 30 minutes. 76 miles and over 3600 ft of climbing today but it did not feel like it. As an aside, does anyone know why it is that people towing caravans seem to have a monopoly on trying to kill cyclists… I know I might be alienating a number of good mates here, but they were singularly the most tedious drivers on the A30. We were not sad to see the back of the A30, just south of Exeter when we took the back roads to get us to Tiverton (lovely last 12 miles along the Exe Valley).
It’s the end of day one and Felix and Colin have completed the first leg of 60 miles, including 3200 feet of climbing!