73 miles, 4,600 ft climbing
Day one done! Having arrived in Cornwall on Saturday to stay at the Dlaboha-Morrison’s lovely place in Padstow and spent a couple of hours on bike maintenance and packing (and re-packing), it wasn’t long until we were lulled into a very false sense of holiday mode. With our mums and Jo Gerrans having kindly brought us down with mountains of kit, the later arrival of James from Jonny’s stag in Cardiff and news of the remaining Gerrans a few miles away in Newquay, the pull of a team dinner overlooking the sunset on Fistral beach was too much to resist. After a glorious evening we tore ourselves away for an early night back at The Old Barn – we weren’t, after all, on holiday.
At 5am this morning we sprung out of bed as if we’d been waiting for the moment for a year and a half (oh… wait…). Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t quite playing ball. After spending most of the 1.5 hour journey to Lands End waiting to emerge from the thick mist we’d left Padstow in, it just seemed to get worse and worse. We are pretty sure we started at Lands End because of the sign-post and general Lands End paraphernalia in the area, but the Siberian themed weather set-up meant that we were not able to actually see the end of any land, the start of any sea, etc.
After the obligatory photo shoot and well wishes from our brilliant and LEJOG t-shirt clad support crew we were on our way. The first highlight of the day was cruising along the cycle path next to Penzance, bordering the dramatic coastline. We even spotted the youth hostel we stayed at with Fi, Ness and Larry for a week after GCSE results day (but resisted the urge to do some impromptu karaoke as per 2003). Reaching the end of the coastal path we spotted some public loos and Sal, never one to miss a loo stop, popped straight in. Two minutes later she returned to find Abbie surrounded by male cyclists, apparently the Penzance Wheelers, ready to meet their latest recruits for a Sunday ride. Disappointing them with our marginally different ride plans, we soon got on our way, but loved the extra good luck and support a mere 15 miles in.
The day then became a blur of steep ascents, descents and dodgy road surfaces. If anyone was wondering – Cornwall is essentially a mountain range. Never before have we achieved quite depressingly low average speeds. Not helped by some of the interesting terrain we encountered.
Now, as most of you know, Roy the Routemaster is our hero. The “safer” end to end he has come up with and turned into a handy set of gpx files is invaluable to our trip and we can’t thank him enough. However, today the “Really, Roy?” moment was born. 15% gravel incline. Really, Roy? Muddy bridlepath. Really, Roy? Essentially a building site masquerading as a cycle path but not cyclable by anything other than an extreme mountain bike. REALLY, Roy? We do still love Roy, though. We barely saw a car for the whole day on marvellously quiet country lanes and made it through the whole day very safely, which is definitely the main thing.
None of this dampened our spirits however (that’s what the constant rain was for….LOL) although it was a low point when we couldn’t find a pasty anywhere for lunch. Salt and vinegar crisps and a glass of lime lemonade in the village of Zelah did the job and eventually (after three thousand more hills) we found the flat Camel Trail to end the day in a more relaxed manner. The sight of our fabulous support crew with warm pasties at the end of day one was truly heavenly, and after tending to all or LEJOG needs so far they’ve gone even further tonight and are putting together dinner as we speak. How lucky we are.
Onwards and – as far as the rest of Cornwall and Devon are concerned – most definitely upwards!
Abs and Sal xxx