The JOGLErs got off to a slightly later than usual start today due to the distance from our accommodation in Taunton (RM Norton Manor, home of 40 Cdo) to the start point (yesterday's end point) in Tiverton, some 25 miles away. We perhaps should have been thankfull of the extra rest given the steepest climb of the entire journey was right at the beginning - 15%!! Luckily, this monster climb dropped to about 10% after 500m and from there it was 'simply' another 1000m of climbing. But that wasn't it for the day, oh no. As predicted, this was to be the hardest day but not with the amount of climbing that we expected. With a total of 'only' 6,600 feet, it was eclipsed by the 8,950feet that we scaled a few days ago. However, today's headwind made it feel far harder. Each summit was a false summit, each downhill just not down enough - the climbing went on and on. Fortunately for us, the weather prevailed today and while there were a few welcome respites due to sparse cloud cover, the sun blazened down throughout.
We stopped for lunch approximately 10 miles east of Bodmin, at the end of a fantastic downhill stretch. Of course, what goes down must go back up again and throughout lunch the glances were all UP, towards the next 800m. We were lucky enough to meet some very generous passers-by today who all donated to the charity - thank you, if you are reading this. After a bountiful lunch of spaghetti bolognese, jaffa cakes, crisps and lucozade, we were off again. The 800m uphill stint proved to be 8 entire miles of uphill, culminating at the Jamaica Inn Museums (Smuggling and the like!) on the crest of Bodmin Moor. On and on this hill went, taunting us at each turn. The break was entirely welcome even though it was a mere 8 miles from the lunch stop.
From here the course 'levelled out'. That is to say that the downhills equalled the uphills and the average height remained the same - it does not mean that the hills disappeared, oh no! Up and Down we continued for the final 27 miles, the only 'break' coming when the downhills did actually start to drop lower than the next hill raised. Technically, we were heading downhill towards Newquay but still the hills abused us. It was actually fortuitous that Mark Blenkinsop (we always get him in here somewhere, just to please his mum ;o) ) had a puncture 5 miles from the end. The final break meant that we could spend the final 20 minutes racing all the way to the end. It would have been beautiful had John not overshot the final turning and ended up in the village of Indian Queens, resulting in an about-turn and an extra mile!
Amongst the many lessons that we will all have learned about ourselves and others over the last 10 days, one will stick with this callsign for many years to come...I will be a much better driver. So many drivers out there seem to believe that if a cyclist is across the white-line and close to the kerb then they are somehow protected by a forcefield, entitling them to race by only inches from the cyclist. What they don't realise is that while this is bloody frightening in itself, the draft that they create (especially you, Devon & Cornwall Binmen!) can actually suck you from your path and in to the lane behind it.
And so we have but 47 miles to do in order to complete the Royal Marines End to End Challenge 2009. We arrive at Land's End at 1300hrs approximately and it would be great to see as many people there as possible. Until then, however, Newquay tonight!!