2heads Blog

Our Chairman Pepe Parra cycles 1000 miles for charity …

... Teaming up with YELO and ELEVEN other intrepid cyclists on a ten day challenge from lands End to john O'Groats

Read Pepe's Blog Below 

9th May 2019 - Day Seven - Carlisle to Glasgow (158km)

I think today might have been my best ride. It was a long ride, but I didn’t feel that I had to push myself. Instead, I found a great rhythm and stuck to it. I was a little behind the other out of Carlisle, mainly because I just didn’t sleep the night before, but I caught up with the others around Lockerbie for breakfast at Café 91 after about 40km.

The next stretch was long and the road was broken in places so there was a fair amount of shuddering and bouncing about. The countryside was lovely, the hills just rolled past, green and verdant and the fact we were on cycle tracks really helped take the stress out of navigation. Lunch stop after a further 50km was at the Heathergyll Transport Café which did a great soup and omelette before another 39km to Larkhall and coffee.

The last leg into Glasgow was actually quite fast for me, and I am definitely feeling my legs are getting stronger. The national cycle path made all the difference into the City as well as we didn’t have to negotiate the trucks and could just let ourselves go. A total of 150km down and we were now firmly in Scotland.

8th May 2019 - Day Six - Preston to Carlisle (146km)

The big black clouds in the weather forecast sent a sinking feeling to my stomach Tues evening, so I decided to get up early and crack on ahead of the group. There wasn’t much to see between Preston and Lancaster and I just wanted to get the first 40km under my belt before the heavens opened. Later the rest of the group said they wished they had done the same!

Stopping at The Lodge for a great Eggs Benedict on the A6 just north of Lancaster, I then got my head down and covered the next fifty kilometres relatively quickly. Then I got a puncture … and my inner tube did not have a long enough valve. Panic was about to set in when a very helpful guy stopped and offered me help. We hid my bike behind a hedge, took the front wheel to the nearest bike shop and then he drove me back to fit it to the bike ... certainly reinforced my belief in mankind again.

The others caught up with me on the 34km to lunch at the Olive Café in the very pretty town of Kendal. The drizzle was tough going, it froze my face and made the roads sloppy but my brakes did brilliant, as did the wet weather gear and there was nothing a hot mug of soup couldn’t fix.

We all regrouped for the Le Shap Pass climb out of the Lakes and Cumbria towards Carlisle, an incline of 1500m over a 9 mile stint. It’s grueling physically; I much prefer a sharp quick incline and it really burned our legs out. Luckily the Beehive Inn at Penrith was just as quaint as Kendal, and with a few protein bars, we powered home to The County Hotel in Carlisle, a total of 149km done for the day.

7th May 2019 - Day Five - Shrewsbury to Preston (140.8km)

There has been a lot of looking down today. The A49 is very busy today and we had to be very focused on the road just in case we hit a pothole and threw ourselves in front of a lorry. We headed up to Preston from Shrewsbury, all the way through the middle of the UK from the Midlands to the North. We stopped a few times, at Wem for a quick breakfast and again in Whitchurch before heading for lunch in Warrington.

The Partridge in Warrington was a great stop just before town and after a total of 59 miles, we all needed to refuel before the last 39 miles. Legs have been pretty good this morning, a bit stiff but feeling strong. The rest of me is tiring but I’m sure once I've eaten, I’ll feel right as rain. I have been eating well on this trip, the guys can’t believe I can eat a Lasagne and chips and still power up a 19% incline. Then still find room for pie or fish and chips in the evening. At this rate, I’ll come back heavier than I came! Right, back to the saddle and the last stint to Preston.

6th May 2019 - Day Four - Chepstow to Shrewsbury (144km)

Ok, so day four looked like it was going to be another killer day with other 150km to conquer across southern wales before reaching our target town of Shrewsbury. 7.30am was bit of a bleary start for all of us I think, yet my legs were definitely toughening up and I did not feel half as bad as they did on day two. The massage the night before seemed to have done the trick and once I got going on, our first 30km ride to breakfast seemed easy in comparison to previous days.

The weather was a little grey though and rain threatened. Thank goodness for my new boot covers which kept my feet toasty warm until the breakfast stop at Coffee#1 in Monmouth and our second mile-breaker in Hereford. The south welsh landscape was stunning and it was a joy to cycle through. The Wye Valley was even more breath-taking though we got lost a little bit. After 63km, I needed the rest before the next 25km to Leominster. This section seemed fairly easy, and I was surprised to see our lunch stop so quickly.

Tiredness seems to be the theme of today, everyone is feeling fatigued and a little worried that we aren’t halfway yet, though our legs feel bruised. Luckily, the afternoon was a easier 60km, broken with a stop The Green Dragon in Church Streeton and ending at the Travelodge in Shrewsbury. Time for a early night, and a quick prayer to the storm clouds that they go away by morning!

5th May 2019 - Day Three - Exeter to Chepstow (154km)

Day three and we were all up early, ready to leave Exeter Travelodge behind us and head for Somerset. I really enjoyed the first 20km to our breakfast stop in Cullhampton. The sun was shining, it was bright if a bit chilly and there were no hills! I can’t tell you what a relief it was to get onto a flat and find my rhythm. Almost as good as the baked beans on toast in the café!

I needed the energy, the next trip was over 69km to Axminister and the Lamb pub at Weare for Sunday lunch. We arrived in pretty good spirits and my legs still felt ok, however the pub landlord wasn’t all that impressed that we were a little late and we got demoted to a side room. Some got fed quickly, others he made wait for an hour in punishment! The next stretch was again fairly flat with one hill of c500 meters which, after the 1500m inclines of the day before, didn’t seem to bother anybody.

Our last stop of the day was in Nailsea, a pub called Sawyers, which was rough and ready yet did a fab cup of tea.  We needed something, the first hill out of Nailsea was the steepest incline we’ve done to date with 19% gradient for almost a km. It’s not for the faint-hearted. Neither was the last little kick up to our hotel; the Severn View Travelodge, a nasty little hill about three miles out. We all sighed with relief as we pulled up. I couldn’t quite believe we had covered over 143km.

Overall, I found today a lot easier than yesterday with some great speedy flats and mile-eating stretches where I really got to test the bike. Just ready for my reward; a nice leg massage arranged by our leader and a pint of Guinness down the Boars Head pub.

4th May 2019 - Day Two - Liskeard to Exeter (89 km)

Day two and I think the trepidation was even higher than yesterday. Memories of aching legs and shin cramps crept in. Everyone was talking about the climbs, the brutal wind of Dartmoor ... all scary stuff. I had done a bit of damage limitation the night before by propping my legs up against the wall and taking some ibuprofen. Flexseq is pretty good for the knees too.

Leaving from Liskeard, our first 24km took us to Tamar Trails café just before Tavistock. A nice route and great for warming up the legs. We did notice however that every stop was just before a incline today! Things got tougher from then on as we entered Devon and took on the beautiful if rugged Dartmoor. It was only 22.8km to lunch but every one took it out of me. Dartmoor has the most amazing scenery but it’s very windy and you have to keep you head down so you miss a lot. I would suggest stopping every now and again for photos to make the most of the moment.

Lunch was at the Two Bridges Hotel, a lovely stop right in the middle of Dartmoor, which does a great fish and chips. Then back off for the 21.7km to Morehampton. I didn’t find it quite as tough as yesterday, but some hills in Dartmoor are just plain brutal. There are some fabulous downhill rides and if you have the right bike, you can fly around some of the bends – very exhilarating even with the wind. We had to have a cream tea at our afternoon stop, as we couldn’t leave Devon without some clotted cream.

The last 30km took their toll. The hills just kept on coming. We were staying at the Exeter Travelodge and it seemed to take forever to get there. But we did, and day two came to an end. 1895m of ascent and 93.31km of hills. These are the two hardest days and I’m glad to see the back of them. However, I wouldn’t change anything. Dartmoor was simply a revelation and it’s been amazing to see just how beautiful the Uk is firsthand.

3rd May 2019 - Day One - Lands End - Liskeard (121.3km)

 

First day started with a lot of nervous anticipation and a few bags under the eyes after bit of a restless night’s sleep. Legs were feeling good, but I was definitely worried about the lack of training. Especially when comparing notes with some of the other riders; ironmen and women, pro-riders and cyclists who had completed 800 miles in the prior month before tapering their training. I tapered my training too, but I capped out at 60km and the last time I cycled over 100kms was 8 years ago. Todays ride was 142 km.

Turns out the ride was also an ascent of 1908m with a few extra kms added to the journey from getting a bit lost; (Garmin’s are wonderful things if you know exactly how to use them) though our group fared better than another group who ended up down a bridleway.

Starting out in Penzance, we had a 10 miler to Lands End and our official start; it doesn’t sound much but the first hill was fierce and woke us all up. Then back to Penzance for a coffee stop at Costa, 18.1km in and the big hike to Truro beckoned. We got to Truro and the Chaos Café in good time, a further 45.8km done. I was feeling good, feeling strong. Then it all went a little wrong. The hill in Cornwall are brutal and there is just no avoiding them. We stopped in St Austell after a further 27.7km and my legs were burning. I was looking at the support van longingly! We powered on though, through the last 27km or so and up the hill into Liskeard. First day done!