20th August 2021
Days 4 and 5 from the South West to mid Wales – and then a well-earned rest day
– Follow Alison’s stories of what it’s like to be the back-up and support here, as she reports back with a daily MAMILgram (that’s Middle-Aged-Men-In-Lycra):
Day Six – the first rest day!
Today is a rest day, although to be frank Neil and Derek don’t seem to need it. I have been amazed at how perky they both seem, with no apparent evidence of tiredness or problematic muscles.
The person who really needs a day off is the back-up support team, me. A day of eating and driving less, and some physical exercise, is very welcome. It might be a day off the bike for Neil and Derek but there’s no rest for those legs. We climbed the Wrekin and viewed Ironbridge, both memories from my childhood in the Shropshire borders.
In part the lack of fatigue (after 322 miles and 20,000 calories burned so far) can be put down to good preparation, and in search of quality information for others considering long-distance bike-rides, here are some top tips, unselfishly researched over a bottle of wine last night. You’re welcome.
What to wear?
Cycling shops have a range of good stuff.
A ‘string’ vest made of fabric with a high wiki count takes sweat away from the body. A light shirt of similar stuff (but without the holes) can be worn on top. It’s apparently particularly important to have pockets in the back of the shirt (costs more but worth it). Three pockets are best, one with a zip. These sit across the lower back and are uppermost when cycling. Neil likes to have easy access to the Cicerone guidebook, a means of paying, snack bars and a banana.
Derek has some useful arm covers, which he calls his Audrey Hepburns, which can be put on to cover the space between wrist and tee-shirt sleeve, if the weather gets cold.
When it comes to cycling shorts, padding is really, really important. Some cyclists like the shorts to sit next to the skin, others don a set of padded pants underneath. The vital thing is not to have any additional layers with seams in them. Seams rub away at this most tender area and can become very uncomfortable.
Finally, for all cycling gear, colour is very important. Driving along behind them for a stretch yesterday it struck me how vital it is to be seen. Not all road-users are pro-cyclist.
To support Neil and Derek and donate to their causes please visit their fundraising page:
Day Five – Monmouth to Bishop’s Castle (61 miles)
Started off with a vicious climb out of Monmouth but then was largely rolling terrain. Two very steep climbs at Pente Hodre after mile 50.
Day Four – Glastonbury to Monmouth (66 miles)
A much flatter route than previous days, via Bristol, crossing the (original) Severn Road Bridge into Wales and then a lovely stretch from Chepstow alongside the River Wye to the atmospheric town of Monmouth;
Find out more about Neil and Derek’s cycling challenge from Land’s End to John o’Groats on our dedicated web page HERE.