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March 13, 2006

Le Grande Voyage

Start: Earlsdon, Coventry
End: Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset
Distance: 116.21 miles / 187.02 km
Mode of Transport: Bike

The Missile

Firstly this trip would not have been possible without the awesomeness of my bike, a Specialized Sequoia Elite '05,

The Missile

This bike gets me to and from Uni each and every day, a few longer trips and its always a pleasure to ride. Now its done an insanely long ride and proved to be flawless. The ride is so smooth, the rolling resistance so small that its an absolute privilege to ride. 'The Missile' took everything I threw at it, and the only problem was that I snapped the end of the cable for the front mech, not sure if I'll replace yet, I'll get advice on that one. I road over so much crap, stones, glass, mud, animals and the tyres just didn't care, i used to get punctures all the time on my old bike. My posture on the bike needs some work, and I need to develop the muscles in my lower back, because that area hurt after a while, but other than that no problems.

The Equipment

As ever, I was well kitted out:
Base Layer: Berghaus Tech-T, Berghaus Tech Pant
Mid Layer: Berghaus Micro Fleece
Outer Layer: Black Jeans (Berghaus Gore outers on their way!), Berghaus Baltoro
Rucsac: Berghaus Freeflow III 30+6 sporting the Camelbak UnBottle
Gloves: Berghaus Windy Gripper

Comments: all amazing and all worked very well indeed. I was never cold, never hot (though I removed the mid layer for a good chunk of the trip) never sweaty (well, that I noticed) all the layers performed perfectly. Buying the hydration pack for the rucsac was a masterstroke, its so easy to take fluids on board with these things, the rucsac was designed to carry these things and I had the tube looped though the webbing on my shoulder strap so I could reach up and put the tube in my mouth easily. I've done the whole bottle on bike thing before and it just makes drinking a chore, which on a trip of this length I really didn't need.
I should probably mention that I of course wore a helmet and luminescent jacket for the entire duration of the trip.

The Route

Le Grande Voyage

Was a killer, I did the first thirty miles easily, and at an average speed of about 18mph. But the the bastard Fosse way appeared, it goes up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down. And up and down, up and down, up and down, flat, flat, and up and down, up and down. It just takes all the energy out of your legs its silly.
That was 26 miles of road torture.

My halfway point was Cirencester, where I spent an hour for rest, and worked out my next move etc. It was quite a nice town really, but I didn't have time to explore much, shame really.

The roads after went up and down, slightly, but they were mostly flat, which was great, but by this time I could only manage about 16mph on the flat as my legs had run out of steam. It was at this point that I hit what is commonly referred to as 'the wall' my legs thought they'd had enough, and decided to stop working, and make ten miles very, very painful. I fought on, and kept going, now knowing that every turn of the crank was a turn closer to home.

As I reached the M4 it was starting to get dark, so front light went on (rear light was on the entire trip), and glasses switched to persimmon lenses (switched to clear about an hour later). I had about thirty miles to go, and I was seriously considering giving up and calling my parents, but decided that I could keep going for a while yet. I made my way slowly into Bristol, having to stop and walk up one hill as my legs really had gone completely at this point. I then dropped down into Bristol city centre and suddenly everything was really familiar and everything was great, with a huge smile on my face and I was averaging about 22mph. Then I saw it, the first sign I had seen that said 'Weston-super-Mare'. At that point I knew I was going to do this.

I had two large climbs ahead of me, and as I was going up the first, making good progress I looked at my cycle computer and there it was, 99.50 miles, I waited, kept looking, kept cycling and then 100 miles! yey, I pulled over, had a final chocolate bar and called my parents to say "I'm almost home!"

After the last climb I rode into Congresbury and then there were just six short miles left, and they were all flat! By this time I was averaging only 14mph and I was dead tired, but so excited.

Home, I rode into Weston and let out the biggest scream of my life, I had made it.

116 miles, 9 hours, done.


Because I've never done anything quite like this before, but I want to do more stuff like this. My summer holiday plan currently involves a 850km ride around southern England spread over nine days, I need to get into shape so I can do this sort of trip without too many problems. Yes, I'm mad, and yes all sorts of bad things could have happened, but they didn't and they were never going to happen, because I always knew I could do this.

What's Next?

Recover, my knees took a battering, and they hurt to walk on, so some strengthening exercises required there, also wrists hurt. Legs are tired but they'll be okay. Next in terms of bike rides, I'm probably going to do a few other, shorter rides these holidays, like 40~50 miles in a day. Hopefully this'll carry on next term, and through into the summer, rebuilding my legs into the powerhouses they once were.


I had planned to take lots of photos as I went along, but unfortunately my phone decided to only have 15% battery power, and I didn't want to risk ending up without a phone that couldn't make calls, so I only took a few photos, which I may choose to add at a later date. Let down eh?


I'm slightly nuts, abuse my body to the extreme and take huge unnecessary risks. Thus I have tons and tons of fun!

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