Tim's Bike Ride

In September 2013 my cousin Tim, his wife Jane and three friends undertook a 1050  mile bike ride from Lands end in Cornwall to John O'Groats at the tip of Scotland.

Tim decided to set himself this challenge as he reached his half century milestone.

They undertook the ride as a personal challenge but also to support two charities:

Get A-head Charitable Trust and

The Brain Tumour Charity

They raised over £5000.

A dear friend of mine Jon Fredrickson who I met on my brain tumour journey had aimed to travel to the most northerly, southerly, easterly and westerly spots of the UK.  Jon died on 18th May 2012 at the age of 26. But the team took a photo of Jon on the trip and he led the way from the front of Tim's bike..

As they rode I blogged from home....here is their story...

Tim, Jane, Lucy, Andrew and Will's Journey

Why lands end to John O' Groats and not the other way round, well at this time of year theoretically the prevailing wind should be from south to North so will help them on therm way!

The Route
31st August Lands End to Golant

The pedals are turning and pulses race as Tim, Jane, Andrew, Lucy, Will and Tony cycle away from the sea after sipping coffee in the sun overlooking St Michaels Mount in Cornwall.

I am calling them "Team Tim & 5 'O's" for ease and because they haven't given me a Team name!!

Lowered heads watch bums in front as they settle into their day one pace.

They pedalled across 49 miles of cornish hills before devouring pasties for lunch....

Arriving in Fowey to sleep after a breezy sunny ride with only one puncture between them (Jane!)

1st Sept Golant to Exeter

Aching legs start the day. The thought of Dartmoor is feared. But at least the sun is going to shine.

And the view from the yha over the Fowey Estuary is stunning.

The sky is blue and the breezes few as the Team spin their wheels over Dartmoor. Smiles, like the sun, constantly shine. 

One puncture (Tim's), sheep, ponies and cows which cross their paths on the moors, slow the pace, as do the constant flow of hills, but not one of this Team get off to walk!!! 
Down hills were a whizz!

71 miles cycled and 6900ft climbed.

Time for tea and bed zeberdee.

Route from Golant to Exeter

2nd Sept Exeter to Weston Super Mare

Jacky and I stand in front of the Brain Tumour Charity banner and wave our flags as Team Tim & the 5 O's pedal to a halt at our feet.   

Their smiles are as big as their hearts. As they pose for photographs Jacky spots the familiar grin of Jon Fredrickson her son secured to the front of Tim's bike. 

At last he is making the journey he aspired to do.

Today has been an 'easy' ride, sixty nine flat miles from Exeter to Weston Super Mare passing through the Somerset downs. They arrive in Weston at 15.30hrs earlier than planned!

Tim and Lucy are thrilled, yesterday they reached the top of Dartmoor, (a 1,300ft climb from Tavistock) sweat dripping off Tim's nose, but feet still on their pedals! Tony is nearly always in front, the route is programmed into his wheels, he has done the ride before; in four days!! The circle of life is played out as they ride; stories of cygnets, herons, foals, even a cow crossing their path on Dartmoor spill out from  the Team. Tony's best moment was cycling past a raven teasing frogs from the grass before he ate them for lunch!

Today we turned our wheels at 13 miles per hour says Will,  

Lucy tells us the overall speed of the trip so far is 12 mile mph.  Andrew's wife Julie, serves a spread of coffee and scones on the roadside from a table complete with tablecloth!; Julie drives the luggage carriage and buffet car.

Jacky and I devour dripping ice creams on the sea front while the Team rest before we meet again for dinner...

...when Sudocream is added to tomorrow's shopping list...

A generous Brummie handed The Team a tenner for their charities!! Thank you Mr Brum!

3rd Sept West Super Mare to Hereford

Route example for Weston to Hereford  

The Team start cycling amongst mist and photos on the bridge are murky but their enthusiasm brings the sun out of hiding and shines on them all day.

The road to Bristol is clustered with cars but they reach Isambard Kingdom Brunels' Suspension Bridge in Clifton intact. The bridge has seen bikes since 1864; then they cross the river Severn via the mile long Severn Bridge after welsh cakes and whiskey cake from Julie's buffet ca. They cycle along the picturesque Wye Valley to Monmouth. Lunch in a playground and bums were on swings (well so I like to think!!)

Jane's numb bum stopped calling out in pain... for an hour...as they chose the big dipper ride as they skirted the welsh border to reach Hereford after another 74 miles.

So far (my reckoning) the Team have cycled a grand total of 286 miles!!! so another 720 to go.

4th Sept Hereford to Ludlow

Route Example Hereford to Ludlow

Easier day today - a mere 25 miles -a so called day of rest mmmm

After munching breakfast in All Saints Church in Hereford! TT set off for an easy ride!!!

They pedalled into beautiful Ludlow in time for more food...

Jane and Tim caught up with the tales of their Son's travels over lunch. in the Olive Branch Bistro; yummy.

Then time for more zzzz, harder day tomorrow, and maybe the last of the golden rays for a while.

Fingers crossed they are lucky and are able to cycle around the rain

5th Sept Ludlow to Chester

Another 77.5 miles under their tyres as they ride over Wenlock Edge on empty stomachs before they reach breakfast of poached eggs in Church Stretton. Then ride amongst  fantastic, flat, quiet back roads to eat again at Wem. 

They feel as though they left summer in the Midlands and are heading straight into Autumn, with forecasts of rain and cloud to come...

Once they and their tired legs arrive in Chester, Tim and Jane socialise with Liverpool friends in Bella Pasta catching up on times gone by!!!

Tony, the route finder has tweaked a leg muscle but the pain is not affecting his ability to find some wonderful routes for the Team. Places they are all unlikely to see if they were in a warm car!!!

388 miles done and dusted

6th Sept Slaidburn YHA via Mersey Ferry

Example of route from Chester to Slaidburn

I was relieved to hear from Jane this Saturday morning as as I was worried they had been washed or blown away!!!

But another 87.5 tough miles has passed below the tyres of this amazing Team!!

So... the team survived the toughest day yet. 

In Tim and Jane's words...too tired to write my own all this virtual cycling has left me with a bad fatigue day and Tim describes it all so well...

Having seen the forecast we were not looking forward to Friday but as the day dawned in Chester the day was dry. Slow progress was made out of Chester along a very rough tow path and then it was a delightful run up the Wirral.

We then took a decision to not stop for coffee even though I was fairly desperate as it still wasn't raining.

So we hopped onto the Mersey Ferry and Jane and I could reminisce about our time in Liverpool. But it hadn't changed much and we remembered how poor certain areas were as we rode through them. Julie was waiting at Sefton. Over 30 miles before coffee..a world record for us!

Then the rains started and the next 30 miles were fairly flat, boring and thoroughly miserable.
Routemaster Tony took us to a dead end which meant an extra 5 miles and then he had a puncture.

Then it was Leyland and Preston in the rain. Progress was very slow due to the immense number of red traffic lights and we saw our second accident with a motorcyclist down (I forgot to blog about the first which was just before we met the Team in Weston) Never nice to hear the sirens and then two ambulances passed us. We did think the drivers were much less careful here.

Lunch was in the car park of a pub on the outskirts of Preston. In the rain and everyone was cold and wet. Then Tony suffered another mishap with a broken spoke so more waiting in the cold.

Finally we escaped Preston and found Jeffrey Hill. Lucy rightly thought this should be long Hill as it seemed never ending. The benefit was that by the top everyone was warm and the rain had stopped. It was then a very hilly end to the day to find Slaidburn on the edge of the Forest of Bowland.

And at 6.45 and 87.5 miles we finally arrived. Jane and I were socialising again meeting an old work colleague from our Liverpool days in the Hark to Bounty, whilst the others enjoyed Julie's Chicken Tikka Masala in the YHA.

That was a tough day.

7th Sept Slaidburn to Penrith

Again in Tims words - He writes so well you can feel it...Punctures and Bacon Butties...

Today we awoke to dry weather. Porridge was eaten, the spoke repaired and we were on our way. Now Tony had said there was a bit of a climb......and 6 miles later we reached what must have been one of the highest points in the Forest of Bowland. However the road was a quiet back route and the views were spectacular. Well worth it!

Then a beautiful decent to Higher Bentham. Then the target was the Devils Bridge where my friend Martin had advised there was a great bacon butty van. However I then suffered my first puncture of the day and the others had to wait.

But the wait was worth it as the butties were delicious.

The route north was then reasonably flat until close to lunch where another steep climb was encountered. Some of us then all togged up and quite right too as the heavens opened and we all got drenched. I was then some way behind (as usual) when I suffered my Second puncture. And with Mechanic Andrew out of earshot I had to change it myself as no-one realised for quite some time that I had stopped!!

I then limped to lunch and the Andrew changed my Third puncture although this probably a defective inner tube. And Julie produced a box full of fabulous cakes. The best being a lemon cake that was supposed to be a local speciality.

I had now run out of spares so spent the afternoon at the front of the group as we had an easy run into Penrith.

Just (never thought I'd be saying that) 61 miles today. Maxine and Martin have now joined us and Julie is departing but what a fantastic help she's been.

So we're all feeling fitter and, dare I say it, looking forward to the second week as we passed halfway today!

Thats a total of 537 miles if my sums are correct Go Team Go...
Tomorrow Scotland here they come

8th Sept Penrith to Crawford

Whoops resonate in the hills; The Team Tim & 5 'O's are in Scotland!

The stay in Penrith in Cumbria (Lake District) made the Team smile because the B&B owner washed all their kit and dried their shoes plus the local pub served very healthy meals. Two friends from Tim and Jane's Sardinian Holiday joined them and a good catch up ensued. They too have been affected by Brain Tumours so were keen to share in this experience.

All ready to set off for Crawford and Scotland when Tim spotted Puncture 1 for today on his front tyre. Quick change and they cycled away, the wind blowing them along a flat road. They hurtled along at 15-20 miles an hour (too fast for Tim!) but before Gretna Green Puncture 2 to Tims back tyre. But once repaired they were Welcomed to Scotland after cycling for 9 days

They now knew Tim had a tyre problem so Tim limped to coffee another record ride of 32 miles and then got to work. 

After much searching he found a tiny glass fragment embedded in his tyre which must have been causing the problem. Then just as they were about to leave Puncture 3 stopped them in their tracks, caused by another fragment of glass. So hoping that was sorted they cycled away leaving friends who'd only joined them for the morning and headed north. They followed the motorway along the old A74 all day. It was beautifully quiet and it was a constant but gentle climb.

Then Puncture 4 but this time for Andrew. Easy to sort as they found the metal wire sticking through his inner tube with ease. And onwards to lunch. Another lovely spread of rolls and cakes in a lay-by with a panoramic view of the hills.

With not too far to go Tim, now getting fed up had Puncture 5. But the offending fragment was quickly found and they arrived at Crawford, after 79 miles. 

Crawford Tartan
To a Truckers Stop!!!!. Jane and Lucy resorted to a wee dram to get a few winks of sleep. More about this tomorrow. 

Tim and Jane tell me the sun has been shining again and not a drop of rain. Of course it does that on the Righteous!!!

9th Sept Crawford to Dunoon

With 616 miles under their tyres, Haggis is on the breakfast menu before the Team set off for Dunoon.

Another sunny day shines down on the Team, better weather than below the Scottish border! 

Then l 7 miles from Dunoon the rain fell in buckets but they tell me that was OK...  

The Team cycled high in the hills over bleak moorland in Dumfries and Galloway, before following the River Ayr from it's source for several miles before dropping down through the Scottish lowlands to the coast and cruising along the side of the sea - heaven! They sailed the waters on a ferry to Clyde. The ride involved an awesome change in landscape over a 50 mile cycle which Tim loved.

Only 3 punctures today (2 for Jane and 1 for Lucy) so none for Tim! 

Looking over to the Isle of Arran and Dunoon, was spectacular.

A lovely shower at their B&B but Jane says Tim has discovered the only B&B in Scotland run by a Dutch couple so not expecting haggis tomorrow morning...could have a surprise me thinks!!!

And another 90 miles achieved today wow. I make that a grand 706 miles so far...

10th Sept Dunoon to Inveraray

Shorter day cycling today 40 miles so time to enjoy bonnie Scotland.

The Team woke in Dunoon to a fabulous morning looking over the Clyde Estuary. The sun was shining and after a scrumptious breakfast cooked by a Dutch couple they set off at 10am.

They skirted Holy Loch, the home base of our nuclear submarines. Then they had a fine run along Loch Eck 

a 7 mile long Loch which is also an impounding reservoir with a concrete dam measuring 0.870 metres high. The dam was completed in 1973 and has flat rods with great tarmac!! Smooth as a baby's bum and no pot holes. Red squirrels were spotted en route

Loch Fy

Then over to Loch Fyne where they devoured coffee and cake (not really needed today!) And then a final run into Inverary. A twee Scottish village where Jane said it was just the place for ice cream and a stroll around the loch.

No punctures, no rain....a quiet day in glorious sunshine. Wonderful.

In the evening they settled down for Maxine's Chilli, in the SYHA.

Approx 746 miles

11th Sept Inveraray to Glen Coe

The Inveraray YHA was very pleasant and run by an outgoing Kiwi lady. 
The Team waited a while this morning to see if they could sit out the rain, but the rain came too late and followed them for an hour. Low cloud provided some atmospheric views over the lochs

They are now on A roads which are not quite so easy to cycle as a group and due to the weather they pressed on at good speed to coffee and lunch.

The whheeee ride to coffee was voted the TTT (top tarmac of the tour). Beautifully smooth for miles. They descended at 30mph.

After lunch they only had 28 miles to go all along Loch Fynne. So fairly flat going but they still managed a tea stop and a lovely Scone; Jane would recommend but can't imagine you all tripping up there to try one. Then it was just one fast spin to the B&B.

No punctures (again) 61 miles and averaged 14.2mph, their quickest day. But then, with such low cloud there wasn't much to see!

Three days to go and it feels like the end is in sight. But still 230 more miles!

Glen Coe

I have been dying to know how they are all actually feeling so asked Tim  to let us all know. Tim says:

We're very jolly. Really. The group's getting on very well and yesterday I was thinking that I was enjoying it much more then I thought I would (ie I set it as a challenge but it's turned into a fun adventure)

The legs are strange as they do just get stronger. So after 3 days we were aching and tired but as the days go on so the cycling seems to get easier. Today's 61 miles seemed like a short day!

Perhaps we won't feel like that tomorrow after 83 miles in the pouring rain.

So yes, very jolly all round, although we do go to bed early......like about now (9.15!!)

Safe arrival after 61 miles

Update from Tims email...
Since we've been in Scotland we've been hosted by everyone but a Scot...and no different in the heart of the Highlands where we were met with a very jolly Geordie!

Oh, and before any update on the day, we all (well not Lucy) had Haggis topped with Neeps and Tatties. Very filling. And washed down with more recovery juice. Deuchars IPA. Lovely.

12th Sept Glen Coe to Inverness
Adventures of the Bumblebee Peloton!

Another mere 83 beautiful miles today. I have to say I even though my heart has been with the Team all the way my legs are itching more than ever to be following... Today is the farthest north I have ever been in Scotland to Nairn. So Jon and the Team are going further than I have ever set foot

Enjoy Jon, Jacky Roy and I are with you xxx 
I caught up with Tim today on the phone and joy rang out from his uplifting voice. He said Jon has remained well and truly stuck at the front of his ride so far! The ride which started as a challenge has now become a joy. 

He woke with a flutter of sadness today in the knowledge that he his bike and the Team only have three (now two) days left on the road. Tim said as they cycle their legs have strengthened and moans of aching muscles are no more...incredible!

Forecast was wet so with waterproofs at the ready the team set off from Glen Coe expecting the worst.

So they skirted around Ben Nevis with one fleeting glimpse of the cloud ridden summit at 4,406 ft, still no rain. And with Martin (now renamed Bumble) in yellow, lucy in black and me in yellow, they were the bumble bee peloton.

Coffee sipped at the Commandos Memorial and they were still dry. Then a run into Fort augustus, past Loch Oich (what a name) and lunch overlooking Loch Ness, with the sun trying to come out. So reasons to be cheerful
1 They're in the Highlands and not at work
2 55 miles in the dry
3 forecast excellent for the final two days.

After lunch they took the back road with a little climb......which turned out to be puffing 1,300ft over 4 miles. But the views were spectacular. Worth the climb I reckon and they earned yet more treats. Tim is worried they might be putting on weight!!

So at 55 miles the rain finally arrived, but as they only had 28 miles RESULT!!.

Tim says:
Then Lucy made a bad decision not to stop at the Foyes Watewfall Cafe as that was the last sign of civilisation until we hit Inverness. Oh well, at least we arrived early.
And Jane spotted a red squirrel on the way down.

The large modern YHA  fed them an athletes tea (chicken and pasta) they decided to pop to the local bell ringing practice at the Cathedral. AS if they haven't had enough exercise!!!

The only mechanical issue was that Tony broke another spoke. But that's no issue to him.

So 83 miles and we don't feel too bad (in fact quite good) so looking forward to even more remote parts tomorrow.....and the forecast is good......so it will probably rain then!!

Tim, Jane, Lucy, Andrew and Wills Page
Discover why they are doing this ride of a lifetime...just click the link

13th Sept Inverness to Altnarharah

Some snippets about Altnarharah
is a small hamlet in Sutherland in the Highland region of northern Scotland. The nearest villages are Lairg and TongueLochs in the area include Loch Naver and Loch Eriboll.
The name Altnaharra is derived from the Scottish Gaelic Allt na h-Eirbhe, meaning Stream at the boundary wall. This is named after a stream that flows through the hamlet.
Altnaharra is famous for the Altnaharra Hotel, which opened in 1820 and quickly became a popular place for anglers to stay while visiting nearby lochs. The hotel was also popular with mountain climbers. Ben Hope and Ben Klibreck are two mountains in the immediate area of the hamlet.

Tim thinks I will be smiling because both  he and Lucy felt tired this morning. But he is wrong I think they  are incredible. He says their legs first thing did not want to turn the pedals although that may have been the cold first thing.

last night the ten bells of Inverness church sang their song because Tony Jane and Tim pulled the ropes and the locals were delighted to welcome 3 guests. And as with one of the locals was more like an older Stephen Fry it was a evening of delight.

The cycle today included another group who overlapped Team Tim & the 5 'O' s all day. One of their group holds the record for Canada to Mexico, cycling past Tims Team as if they weren't pedalling!

They left Leaving on a cycle route for about 20 miles, which was great as the roads were very busy.

Then they took the north turn....for the last but one leg.

Morning coffee was yummy as usual and then at lunch Jane awarded 'Will' a gown (bin bags) cap (beret) and scroll as it was his Graduation today!! Congratulations Will!!! He will never forget that I am sure.

After lunch it was a steady climb which Lucy and Tim found a bit of a slog. Luckily, the Craisk Inn, appeared out of the mist where the barman took a slow 20 minutes to pour 4 pints. A welcome stop knowing that there was only a nice 8 mile down hill run along the quietest and smallest single track A road in the UK.

The Team syated at the famous and beautiful Altnaharrah Hotel (see notes above). Tim says there was no comparison with the Crawford Inn!!!. Look forward to hearing why??

Tim says
So, one day to go! And with a lovely dry day today and a great forecast tomorrow, I think we're feeling fairly lucky!!!

So my sums are out as I calculate 1047 so far mmm

Eaxct miles according to their plan is 932 but I know they have done a few more due to one or two dead ends so we will hear the total at the end of tomorrow

Final up date (tears) tomorrow folks...

14th Sept Altnarharah to John O Groats

74 miles today (I think)
Emotions must be high - well mine are and I am sure some of yours are too...

Well I have had a text to say arrived in John O Groats at 4pm. 
Totally marvellous lost for more words I am sooooo thrilled that they made it without hiccup or problem...

I tried to call but haven't yet got through. I am sure it is because the reception in the Pubs at the top of the UK are poor!!!!

Be back with pics....

Well the day has arrived. The team hit the top of the UK 

As Tim says:

Well after a delightful stay at our poshest accomodation yet (a fishing and shooting hotel in the middle of the lochs and moors of northern Scotland) we set off in good spirits for our last journey on our trusty bikes.

It was a lovely quiet run following a river down to the sea. 20 miles or so of gentle downhill. Perfect except for the odd light shower.

Coffee and cake awaited as usual and then we were on our way again.

Next stop Thurso. Now being on the coast you might think it would be flat but the next 30 miles were a series of long climbs followed by great runs back to the sea. And so remote with stunning views over to Orkmey.

Lunch in Thurso and then a basically flat 20 miles to the end at a pretty rapid speed.

Jane and asked for sunshine and that's what we got together with the wind on our backs. We couldn't have asked for more!!

So at around 4pm and we think about 1050 miles the end was reached

Jon made it all the way!!

Now to relax!