Open eyes, open curtains….car park, Beefeater Pub across road, no clues. Get iPhone, GPS tracker, ah, we’re in Gloucester. Bark loudly for a few minutes and get released from my kennel, er sorry, room.

We have a spectacular route today and are joined by the Boyz (Terry and Simon), the tandem (complete with Roland sound system) and Paul McManus, Chief Executive for the MIA and Music for All. Honoured company indeed.

The Boyz started training last week and Paul had a quick zip round the car park last night. Today, we have 96 miles to do and not exactly flat – this is going to be tough. In addition, Myke from Bonners stayed on for another day and we’re joined by Peter’s brother-in-law, Peter James.

As usual we set off at 8:30, the music blaring lifted our spirits – great choice of music too. The first 30 miles took us to Chepstow: undulating would be an understatement. Very pretty, but some tough climbs, especially for the Tandem. Paul impressed everyone immediately, as he flew his slender 10 stone up the hills. No problems there then. Anyone who’d put money on him not completing today was about to lose it.
The road from Gloucester to Chepstow runs alongside the River Severn – beautiful. Just as we got to Broadoak the sun come out, there was blue sky, and I’m not making this up, we had Mr Blue Sky by ELO blaring on the tandem. It was surreal and hugely motivational, all at the same time.

Costa Coffee at Chepstow was a welcome treat for all core riders, but we didn’t have too long to hang around as dark clouds were threatening.

Next up was crossing the Old Severn Bridge on the cycle path running alongside the M48. Although a little breezy and the rain had started it was an incredible experience. ‘On a sunny day’ it would have been better. Here you can see our group cycling away into the distance.

And this was our view of the second Severn Crossing.

The bridge negotiated we celebrated with the ‘I just did that photo’.

Through Avonmouth docks and then up over the Avonmouth bridge on another cycle path and we’re finally back into more rural territory.

Lunch today was a stop at Roland DG, conveniently situated at the 50 mile mark. We were aiming to get there for 1.30pm and up until a few minutes before, we were right on track. Less than a mile away, the tandem’s rear tyre finally gave up and we spent 20 minutes trying to fix it. Unfortunately Terry and Simon did not have a spare tube on them and we struggled to find a pump that would fit their valve, it was a different fitting to a road bike. Jules sprang into action and masterminded a very temporary fix but it did require all seven of us to have a go at pumping the tyre up.

Limping along we arrived at DG, our welcoming committee had by now gone back to work, having waited outside for ages.

The DG guys had done a special banner for us and laid on a superb buffet lunch. Thank you Jerry and your team, you have no idea just how much of a tonic this was for us. While we all tucked into lunch, Terry fixed the tandem and it wasn’t long before we were due to leave. Here we all are with Jerry and friends.

A short debate ensued as Jerry Davies insisted on joining us for the ride.

As the rain started to get heavier, he suddenly had to take an urgent call in the office. Simon and Terry seized their chance, leapt on the tandem and we were off again.

Just outside Weston-Super-Mare a pretty tough hill awaited us. Just before we attempted it we stopped off for a short prayer, to give us strength.

Weston next with the wind and rain getting up. Here is the stunning view from the back road into Weston. You see a view like this for at least two miles.

Weston was deserted, not surprising considering the wind and rain, and we were able to easily cycle along the front. After a brief stop, we faced the small matter of the last 25 to do and the rain wasn’t giving up.

The last 25 normally feels more like 50 but today, it felt like 75. We were on the A38 all the way and the traffic and rain were not a great combination.

With two miles to go, the tandem developed another puncture, but no one, least of all the Boyz, wanted to stop. They cycled in to the finish line riding on the rear rims and seconds after crossing, the whole of the rear gears collapsed, good timing or what!

Huge thanks to all of the additional riders today for their support. I hope that their weekends are not too painful! For us, we are approaching the finish line with just two days to go. Unfortunately our greatest challenge awaits us tomorrow on the ride from Taunton to Bodmin. 107 miles and by far the biggest climbing of the whole ride, yes, worse than Scotland. Devon is not famous for its flat roads, as we’re about to find out. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, Fish-Griffiths says it’s chucking it down. If there was ever a day to donate to spur us on, Saturday is it – thank you for your support!

ROADSIDE NEWS

  • Dramatic Comedy Falls (Fall on the Move) – Paul / Tim (separate incidents)
  • Puncture – tandem x 2
  • Crashes into tandem – Paul x 1
  • Long unprintable list of wild life that haven’t made it to the weekend
  • Chain incidents x 5 Jules
  • Comedy fall – Neil and Peter J, together
  • Buckled wheel – Neil