Race Reports

Le Jog Days 5 - 7

Day 5

Runcorn to Kendal 82.61 m. 5h49m14s. Average speed 14.15mph 

Total so far 447.16m 

It was great last night meeting up with Fiona B. who has been working here for the last 2 months. She was happy to show us the giant chimney stack where she works, on our way to Frodsham for an excellent meal. This morning's breakfast however was not so good because the hotel did not get their milk delivery. That didn't affect Churchill or the Saint who missed breakfast altogether but the others had to make do with what they could get. 

Everybody was a bit jaded today. The aches and pains were beginning to catch up with us. Both Brace and the Wobbler now have sore knees, whereas for Churchill and Cling On it is easier to list what doesn't hurt!! It was not hilly today but the wind had turned. The majority of the day was spent riding into a headwind. It was much colder than usual and intermittently there was driving rain. It was much safer getting out of Runcorn than getting in and we soon crossed the Mersey and on through the very busy areas of Widnes, St. Helen's and Ormskirk before heading towards Preston. We cycled through Preston in torrential rain but our Landlady this evening says it is not much better in bright sunshine. 

Churchill was so tired today that when he was cycling along a cycle lane he was totally unaware of his surroundings, and had a near miss with a cyclist coming the other way. They had been approaching each other for at least half a mile but he failed to notice him at all. They missed each other by inches! Did he get away with it - Oh Yes!! 

It was a good to see Lancaster which seems a really nice city, before we crossed into Cumbria and headed towards the lake district. We were still generally at a low ebb, partly because we had been told we had much further to ride than we really did - they just do not put mile markers around here. In desperation Cling On asked at a petrol station and found out that we only had 12 miles to go (about 10 less than we thought) - as we left Brace shouted to the attendant 'I think I love you'  but received a very bemused response. 

We then saw the River Kent and followed it as it gently wound it's way into Kendal. Churchill led them directly to their B&B where we were met by Yvonne, a bubbly German lady who insisted she would have been called Brunhilda except for a quirk of fate!! 

Kendal is a delightful town, and we have just had steaks all round with 3 bottles of wine and desserts for about £60 - astonishing prices once you start getting further north. 

Tomorrow we are looking forward to getting into Scotland but there is the small matter of the Lake District hills to contend with first. 

We are now about half way!!!


Day 6.

Kendal to Thornhill 96.72m 6h50m44s  14.13mph average 

Total so far 543.88m 

The Wobbler has been room sharing with Brace and today he let us all know what it was like having a Sikorsky helicopter in his room - not that Brace's snoring was affecting anyone else. Ox's snoring however has been described by Cling On as like an epileptic hippo. 

One thing we cannot generally complain about so far is the weather - and today has been no exception. We awoke to bright sunshine and although it didn't last all day it did least stay fine until we were out of the Lake District. We had one of the monster climbs over Shap Fell and Ox had a mechanical problem halfway. The others had to wait for 10 minutes at the top and got very cold in spite of the sunshine. 

At the bottom on the other side we stopped in Penrith at a Sainsbury's cafe. Brace hobbled across the store which was huge. When he arrived back his knee was quite swollen from his effort. He had walked across the store to find a toilet and came back to find it was in the cafe all the time!! 

The next town was Carlisle which took forever to traverse because we got caught by just about every traffic light. We had a plan to get to Gretna by back roads but it was difficult to find so the Wobbler stopped at a motel to ask. After some trouble we worked out where to go and the receptionist's face lit up when the Wobbler said we had been staying in their motels along the route - travelodge. Unfortunately we were standing in the reception of a Premier Inn!! 

We crossed into Scotland and then headed West to Dumfries - into a howling cold head wind until we finally reached our destination of Thornhill and a welcoming coaching Inn. 

Were we pleased to see it - Oh Yes!!


Day 7

Thornhill to Dumbarton 83.9m 6h2m37s 13.89mph average

Total so far 627.78m

WET, WET, WET!!!  is the only way to describe today. Torrential rain all day - until it got really wet! I have been drier swimming in my wetsuit!!

It all started quite positively with the Wobbler getting everybody going with his deadlines to departure then a photo shoot with the Saint (with us sheltering under the tailgate of the van).

The first 20 miles followed the Nith valley which is beautiful even in the rain. It didn't take long to reach our lunch stop in Kilmarnock, but we were already getting a bit cold. We had to cross some verges to get onto the road after checking some directions. I have never seen anyone bunny hop over a foot high railing before. I still haven't!! Ox McQueen tried and failed and ended up in a heap on the grass!! At least he wasn't badly hurt.

We piled into Asda for a bite to eat and basically just dripped everywhere. At least we warmed up a bit after fish and chips all round, and at that moment the Saint appeared with the offer of dry clothes. Cling On and Ox had been riding with shorts and at least Cling On took the chance to dress more warmly and more dry layers were added by several of us. Yet again generous members of the public gave us spontaneous donations to our charity (Help for Heroes).

The afternoon was tricky for lots of reasons - not only was it wet, windy and cold but we were heading for the Erskine Bridge to cross the Clyde. We wanted to avoid going too far into Glasgow itself so we went a scenic route which was harder to find as many junctions were not signposted. This slowed us down so we became wetter and colder still. We finally reached the Bridge when we realised that Lord 'Cling On' Lucan had disappeared. Wobbler and Brace went back to look for him and we had just got the Saint out to help look for him (while Churchill and Ox were sheltering from the rain in a garden centre) when he finally appeared. He had 2 punctures, but with the rain and traffic noise, nobody heard his shout and only realised a little way down the road.

Once we were back together we were freezing cold and shivering and our combined brains had completely turned to mush with the result that we tried to cross the bridge on the main carriageway to the great annoyance of all the drivers. Once the tailback was about a mile (Half way across) we had to carry our bikes over the crash barriers and onto the cycle path (which was officially closed - hence our mistake). It was a lot safer on the path.

With light failing we finally reached our B&B, to find they had a problem with the hot water. Churchill and Cling On ended up with cold showers but at least we were out of the rain. Luckily the limpers (Brace and the Wobbler) managed to sort out their water and later it was available for all!! 

Were we happy to finish today? Oh Yes!!


Cast List

Ian Anderson - now known as 'the Ox' - for his formidable power over any terrain and in any circumstances.

David Ricketts - after tenaciously sticking to the back end all day yesterday - now known as 'Cling On' Cling On clung on as only a cling on can!

Brad Williams - needs no introduction as he is the legendary 'Wobbler' and has already lived up to his reputation.

Mark Jordan - now known as 'The Brace' after hobbling everywhere the day before the ride with a purpose made knee brace pretending to be injured before wiping the floor with us on his bike. Whilst riding if you hear the command 'Brace! Brace! ' it means that Mark has another puncture!

Emma Alden - now known as 'The Saint' for her amazing efforts behind the scenes, driving the van, making sure everyone has a proper breakfast, loading and unloading and generally being completely fantastic!

Steve Alden - now known as 'Churchill' - because of his natural leadership and organisational skills. NO - it is because he nods his head when he rides - just like the dog on the insurance advert - Oh Yes

 Photos here

LEJOG Sunday Lunch

"We'll be at the Severn Crossing for coffee and cakes at 11am" they said - I foolishly thought they were still working on BST.


12:10pm they finally rolled across the bridge claiming strong winds and steep hills, by which time I was already heading towards the lunch rendezvous thinking I had missed them. A quick scout of the pubs in Monmouth brought me to the conclusion that Google recommendations are rubbish, and I quickly changed the venue. If you are contemplating doing LEJOG yourself - I can now highly recommend stopping for lunch at the Robin Hood Pub in Monmouth.


The boys rolled into town at 1:45pm with Emma arriving simultaneously in the support wagon, and with the bikes stowed safely in the beer garden, there were instant demands for full fat coke; crisps; and directions to the nearest little boys room.


An almost universal vote for steak and ale pie was followed by more coke and sticky toffee pudding (albeit with a loud request for a spotted dick from Steve). All this fuel was washed down with stories of near misses with taxi cabs and high speed tours around the car park in order to take yesterdays daily mileage from 99.6miles to 100. New nicknames have now been endowed on each of them, with Emma being regarded by all as "the Saint".


The goal of John'o'Groats draws them ever onwards, and discussion was had as to whether it would be acceptable to fill the very last water bottles with beer so the party could start early on the final day. Once they were suitably fuelled, photographed, and restocked with Snickers bars, we sent them on the way for the final 40miles of the day. It was great to meet up with them all. 


Three days in and they are doing well, demonstrating once again that there is nothing a well trained club member cannot do, providing there is a promise of alcoholic oblivion at the end of the journey.


Andy Lennox

Le Jog Days 1 - 4

LeJog Day 1 

Land's End to Okehampton 100.04 miles 6h28m58s average speed 15.51mph.

We started just after 8.30 after the obligatory photos at Land's End. Ian had bought a new bike at 12 days notice when his original Ribble bike (actually hewn from solid rock) had finally died and was deemed beyond repair. He was therefore making adjustments right to the last second. As we started he realised the saddle wasn't right and he had left his glasses behind, so our first pitstop was after less than a mile to get him sorted. The other problem was that he has always used Campag group sets, and the new bike was Shimano which is sufficiently different to cause trouble until he got used to it. So the very first significant hill after 6 miles required a gear that he just couldn't find, the chain came off and jammed and we had another lengthy pit stop!! Remarkably another lad (also riding LeJog) had a chain problem at exactly the same place at the same time so a large group of cyclists were hanging around the roadside.

The only rule we had made before setting off was that everyone should get new tyres to reduce the risk of unnecessary punctures. So guess what? Yes - the only old tyre in the whole group had the only puncture of the day. Mark got it changed quite quickly but it happened on the most exposed part of Bodmin Moor with a howling crosswind so by the time we got going we absolutely freezing.

In spite of taking the most direct route along the A30 it was still a very hilly ride. The 4 mile long hill as we approached Okehampton was expected but still tough. The steepest climb of the day was a mini Cobb Lane in the final half mile to our night stop at the Youth Hostel. At the top we realised we had done 99.6 miles so we cycled round the car park several times to make it 100 miles before we stopped.
Sad - or what?


LeJog  Day 2

Okehampton to Burnham on sea 77.50m 5h7m44s average 15.11mph

Total so far 177.53m

There is a cast list at the end of this report so you know who I am talking about.

Day 2 started much brighter than yesterday. The sun was shining and everyone was up in time for an early breakfast sorted for us by the Saint. It turned out that the Tour of Britain was finishing in Okehampton today so there were many cyclists at the Youth Hostel, but there were also road closures in place which fortunately didn't affect us.

Today we kept off the major roads and were rewarded with generally low traffic levels. There was one kamikaze tractor driver who managed a 90 degree left turn into a field at speed while the Ox was trying to draft him on the way to Crediton. Minor roads does of course mean monster hills, and today's special was Cadbury Hill on the way to Tiverton - 3 miles long with a similar incline to Kidds Hill made it quite special, but having a vintage car tour going the opposite way was quite spectacular. There were about 30 or so pre war motors, and most of the drivers gave us a cheery wave. I distinctly heard a young passenger in an old car shout something about old gits on new bikes though.

We stopped in Tiverton town centre for a bite to eat, and received our 3rd spontaneous public donation to the charity ( that is £12 so far). We then took a detour to visit Churchill's sister to find the Saint already there. We were treated to another tea break as well as a delightful ride along the narrow Devon back roads which also included encouragement from the local youngsters. Single track roads with steep descents and climbs to match were about as far away from yesterday's riding as it was possible to get. Only Cling On struggled and came down the hills with his brakes glowing red hot!

We then had a faster ride on into Taunton then Bridgewater where we planned another break. Before we got there though, Brace had another puncture, and we then had the comical scenario of 5 men changing an inner tube. Unfortunately Brace's pump was not suited to the type of valve he had, and after fully pumping it up, twice it released the valve insert and lost all the air. Luckily we had spare pumps and we eventually got it fixed.

After our tea break in Bridgewater, The Wobbler confidently shot off in completely the wrong direction, eventually realising he was heading for Minehead and not Bristol. Once on the correct route though we managed to reach Burnham on Sea for our next stop.

Cast List

Ian Anderson - now known as 'the Ox' - for his formidable power over any terrain and in any circumstances.

David Ricketts - after tenaciously sticking to the back end all day yesterday - now known as 'Cling On' Cling On clung on as only a cling on can!

Brad Williams - needs no introduction as he is the legendary 'Wobbler' and has already lived up to his reputation.

Mark Jordan - now known as 'The Brace' after hobbling everywhere the day before the ride with a purpose made knee brace pretending to be injured before wiping the floor with us on his bike. Whilst riding if you hear the command 'Brace! Brace! ' it means that Mark has another puncture!

Emma Alden - now known as 'The Saint' for her amazing efforts behind the scenes, driving the van, making sure everyone has a proper breakfast, loading and unloading and generally being completely fantastic!

Steve Alden - now known as 'Churchill' - because of his natural leadership and organisational skills. NO - it is because he nods his head when he rides - just like the dog on the insurance advert - Oh Yes


Le Jog Day 3
Burnham  on Sea to Leominster  100.55 miles 6h22m57s 15.75mph average.

Total so far 278.08m

We stayed at a great B&B which meant a late start as we had to have the full breakfast but it was well worth it. We headed off via Bristol at quite a good pace - only slowed down by 2 huge hills which seemed to go on forever. The first view in Bristol was the magnificent sight of the Clifton suspension bridge over the gorge. We eventually cycled underneath it before heading around the city to the old Severn Bridge which had a cycle path to cross the Severn. Unfortunately we came across literally hundreds of people who were also crossing by the same path. However they appeared to be dressed as dalmation dogs. On closer inspection it turned out they were actually meant to be cows. They were all on a sponsored walk for a local hospice but the connection to cows was never explained!! Because they were going the same way we had to slowly weave our way through dozens of small groups whilst also contending with the powerful cross winds. Cling on clung on to one of the groups by mistake and there was an anxious wait at the other end before he finally emerged unscathed!

We had now crossed our first international border successfully. Only the Wobbler was concerned about the visa requirements for entry to Wales but luckily there was nobody in customs to check and we got in safely.

The Welsh had been warned that we were coming and had resurfaced the entire road network which made a very pleasant change from what we were used to. The road from Chepstow to our lunch stop in Monmouth was delightful following the Wye valley and passing Tintern Abbey.

We met Andy Lennox and his charming wife Helen in Monmouth and put away huge numbers of calories. Of course Churchill could not resist commenting on seeing his desert 'Look at my Spotted Dick'

The final run via Hereford and Leominster was all up and down with the Ox leading the charge up most of the hills including one monster hill. Brace worked hard to keep Cling On going until we finally neared our destination when he started riding like a Cling On posessed.

They all asked Churchill 'Have we done 100 miles'

Oh Yes!!


Day 4

Ludlow to Runcorn 86.47m 5h21m27s 16.14mph average 

Total so far 364.55m 

We had a really good meal in plush surroundings last night in Ludlow and also sampled the delights of Butty Back beer, a Wye Valley speciality! It certainly got the Ox thinking so he turned out this morning with his Ann Summer's bib shorts that were completely see through. It was like following a bike rack! I have heard stories about the Ox and the Ass, but not the Ox's ass, and none of us will be able to sample 'Oxtail' soup without remembering! Having a crack at the front has taken on a whole new meaning and in the interests of transparency the story has been told in full! 

Brace really struggled with his knee all morning today and was in a lot of pain, being forced to virtually 'one legged pedal' to get by. Fortunately it settled later in the day but it has been quite worrying. By contrast Cling On shot off like a scalded Cling On and almost had to be restrained until he ran out of steam before lunch by which time he was clinging on!! 

It is always good to see some great views as you cycle. As we approached Shrewsbury the Ox pointed out the hill range named after him The 'Quantox' ( Quantocks). The Wobbler had a near miss when he was so dazzled by the appearance of the Ox in front of him that he almost didn't react to a pothole in the road. However it was he who had to shout Brace! Brace! to announce the only puncture of the day, which he changed in record time.

The team spent a happy few miles counting Churchill's 'bob count' and the record was 141 in a minute. They were all very pleased though, with his route today as it was gently rolling for the most part, and some great views in the Delamere Forest. All was well until we approached Runcorn, which appears to be a series of major roads joined  together by other big roads, and we really felt we were taking our lives in our hands as we switched from one dual carriageway to another. We got there in the end, to a fine hotel under the flight path, next to a railway station in the middle of a motorway network, to be greeted by the Saint, who yet again had checked us all in, organised food, got everyone's bags out and has been completely saintly. 

Have we had a good crack today? 

Oh Yes!!!


Photos are uploaded daily here

LEJOG - 2012


Land's End to John o' Groats is the traversal of the whole length of the island of Great Britain between two extremities; in the southwest and northeast. The traditional distance by road is approx 900 miles.

The five - Brad Williams, Dave Ricketts, Ian Anderson, Steve Alden and Mark Jordan are going to try to complete the journey in 9 days - indeed they have to because Dave Ricketts is booked to perform surgery on the 10th day and has his flight booked from Wick to Gatwick.

LEJOG might be a common and well trodden path but it will be  real challenge to the five.  

The planned route is to pedal just under 100 miles each day. Amazingly, Emma Alden is driving the support wagon for the entire journey; what a star!!!!  

They are raising money for Help for Heroes andy have set up a website for sponsorship/donations click here

There will be a daily post on this club website to keep you informed.


I should have the route up here soon so you could pop out and join in for a day.

Southern Counties 100 mile time trial


The most recent long distance BAR event was the Southern Counties 100 mile time trial. As is customary the event was held at a time on a Sunday morning when most normal people would be in a restful state of slumber and dreaming of a slow transition to partial wakefulness, Sunday papers and a fry up. Instead 4 foolhardy MSTC athletes coaxed their aged and reluctant minds and bodies into a daring challenge of endurance and bike handling. David Jones, Jim Graham, Rupert Robinson and I were these brave cyclists. 

The course is rather peculiar in the number of roundabouts you encounter with 52 roundabout junctions in the first 56 miles. It is also unusual in having a major intersection with traffic lights at 60 miles. If you get stopped by the lights you have to stop (obviously) or be dq'ed or run over. If you are unlucky enough (and I was) to just get the lights going red you can wait for up to 2 minutes 40 seconds (I am sad enough to go back and time it). The course continues to be a typical in that it then does 2½ laps of a circuit that incorporates some very rolling and poorly surfaced single carriageway. This makes for a proper test of man and bike (I say this as no women entered the event because they have a good deal more sense).

Jim's story..

The 100 mile TT was a reality check for me. I plodded along for 50 miles at 20mph (quite decent by my standards) but got overtaken by dozens of riders doing 25mph. I overtook nobody. I then took a wrong turn and did 25 miles of the previous section of the course. When I eventually started the second half of the course I appeared to be right at the back of the pack and felt rather fed up so I retired. At about half-way the finish was sign-posted and I thought it best to attend to domestic commitments rather than get home a couple of hours later than promised.

Cycling on busy A-roads was a bit scary but it was a good training session. I hadn't appreciated how many great amateur cyclists there are out there. Shame I'm not one of them.

If I did it again, I would taper training properly to have fresh legs and use my best bike with a disc. I would also have the route properly mapped out on my garmin as route is a bit complicated and easy to take a wrong turn.

May I add that Jim was going quite well and underestimates his athletic prowess? However, he also underestimates his navigational abilities and puts himself as a frontrunner in theForestGump prize category for end of season awards. Had he not attended to "domestic duties" he would have completed 137 miles!


Rupert's story.

For me I was aiming for Sub 4.10, wanting to beat my time from last year. I uploaded the ghost rider from last year to race my Garmin. I was seven minutes from the scratch man (for those not familiar with this term it refers to the fastest rider on previous performances not someone who provides a rough post race massage) & I wondered how long I would keep him off  my back.

The first two laps of the usual Crawley 25 mile course went well with my average speed staying around 25 mph despite the headwind.

As I was approaching the Shell Garage towards the 52 mile mark  the heavens opened - it was like being on a boat, making riding up the hill increasingly difficult.

I was pleased to pass the 56 mile mark at Southwater feeling like I was at the half way point. It was just after this that Rob caught me for 7 mins. I tried to hang on & we both got stopped at the traffic lights. I was off like a bullet out of a gun only to be passed by Rob again on that long drag up towards Washington.

This was when I had my first signs of cramp. Going too hard from the traffic lights suddenly made me pay, when will I learn! The two laps through Ashington and Patridge green were lumpy but the tailwind helped the miles pass by.

My average speed had dropped to 24.1 in the remaining two laps but I knew I was on for a PB especially when I saw Dave Jones ahead.

Dave had started 19 minutes in front of me and this spurred me on so that I could finish in the time I wanted.

9th - a PB- 5th year on the bounce- 4.09.43!

Man my undercarriage was sore!

 Dave's story..

I spoke to the Mr Stealth (after all he is near silent and deadly fast) about his ride. He was as enigmatic as ever and looking as fresh as if he had just gone for a Sunday morning amble.

Dave told me that he enjoyed the last 40 miles as he was tucking into the ample post race refreshments. Clearly he had been riding a different race - I suspect that he was using this race as training for something much more substantial. It would not surprise me if we saw our training guru going for something ironlike in the near future and that will be very interesting.

 Loz's story

I really was using this race as training in my build up for the night time Half Ironman I will be doing in glamorous Dartford. As usual I had decided to rebuild my bike late the evening before the race and was pleased with the loan from Jon Webster of his speedfill drinking system. This ingenious device is a large flat triangle shaped bottle that fits on the downtube of the bike with a long straw that you zip tie so that it dangles from the tribars near your face meaning you are reminded to drink regularly and can remain aero whilst doing so. 

I was riding without any support (Rupert and Dave were getting drinks handed up by Doug) and was testing my theory that 1.25 litres of High 10 (twice as strong as High 5) would be enough to rehydrate and fuel me. I had read an interesting article on taking the minimum amount of liquid you need in long distance events to prevent gastrointestinal shutdown (and consequently bonk) when entering the run of a long distance triathlon. 

My prerace routine (no warm up, visit loo, accidentally let air out of tyres with track pump, visit loo, pour sticky energy drink over my bike and legs, visit loo) had gone seamlessly. As I rushed to the start I was aware of an unpleasant feeling between my legs. I ignored it as I headed to the start keeper with 20 seconds to spare. 

5,4,3,2,1, go.

It did not take me long to work out this annoying pain. The filler cap of the speedfil was catching my knee on every revolution. I spent the next couple of miles working out that if I averaged 80 rpm and was going to be cycling for about 250 minutes I would be slowly eroding my knee 20,000 times. I really should try these things before a race. 

Still the rough road surface at 5 miles meant I could refocus on the job of keeping my disintegrating tribars (didn't quite tighten the bolts properly) from falling into my front wheel. 

The next 95 miles were a case of ignoring which bits hurt most - my undercarriage, my knee, my legs or my head.

Rupert was going like a train and ahead of me at 50 miles and I was pleased that my legs didn't fail me on the last circuit to finish just over a minute in front of him. It was probably my increasing power to weight ratio as I decreased my weight through skin erosion and dehydration. 

There was then a pleasant tailwind for the 4 mile ride back to the HQ where I quickly donned my trainers to see if I could run for an hour after the bike. I could - with the thoughts of post race cake delights urging me on. 

So I have learnt that: 

  • I should build and test my bike and hydration kit before race day.
  • You can do 5 hours of exercise on 1.25 litres of drink but preferably if there is a very well catered tea and cake venue where you finish.
  • Riding on a dual carriageway in the rain is no sensible way to spend Sunday morning.
  • It's great when it is over.