150 + 11 = 100!

Some of you may have remembered reading that on Day 7 of LEJOG we attempted to ride from my Aunt’s back to Bristol in one hit, bagging R’s first 150km Brevet Populaire and another badge.

Well we just fell short as the prelude had been hills through Cornwall & Devon on preceding days and not to mention the 2hr jumpathon on the trampoline before our depart. At about 140km R said he was really tired (it was close to midnight) so I called it a day, we rode 3km more to the main road and waited for Mummy to pick us up. During the wait R had a second wind and I believe could have easily finished.

Since then R has regularly asked me when he could try again. So last weekend with the amazing (scary if you think about it) weather we’ve been having I checked the weather guesscast and it was more of the same this weekend; the end of March. So…

I said “how about next?”

R said “ok.”

I dropped in “if we do another 11km it’ll make it 100 miles!”

He said “ok then.”

It was on!!

Saturday 30th March

I’m round to pick R up from Mummy’s at 08:00. R is still gobbling food and tucks into one of his brunch sandwiches. I have a coffee and pick and pack a few items of clothing for the day. There was a morning mist and it was chilly but you could see it would burn off pretty quickly.

30 minutes later we are out the door.

In the run up R had talked about a ride finishing off with pizza at the White Hart in Cheddar then back up The Gorge. This would have given us a lot of time on the flat which I don’t think is conducive for an easy first longer ride. Instead I sorted a route with about the same amount of climbing that went straight into The Cotswolds then enjoyed the rolling flattish countryside of the top of the Thames Valley before dropping down to The Severn for the final stint; much more opportunity for freewheeling and the wind would be behind us on the first and final leg as it was forecast to swing in the afternoon.

First leg: Bristol to Blunsdon

So first things first we head out of the city on the Bristol to Bath Railway Path, fork left and head north west to Pucklechurch and on. R knows this route and was easily up Coxgrove Hill and Hinton Hill. The cloudy mist dissipates and in a few moments we’re in the sun, still a little chilly though.

1/5th of the way and we’re on The Fosse Way

Sandwiches devoured as we approach Malmesbury. I know of a surprise so we stop briefly much to R’s delight.

Little & Large!

We spot another teeny 🔺 shortly after, I’ve never seen that one it must have been buried under the road surface which has recently been redone. We grab some more sandwiches from a shop; R devours those as well, I have my breakfast. Then onwards. Layers removed we enjoy the sun and flash our club colours. Another hour and a bit and we’re at Swindon & Cricklade Railway’s Blunsdon Station and the Whistlestop Cafe. I take the opportunity to chat with Anne the manager about my upcoming events; I have 3 that’ll be using the cafe as a control.

As we eat our grub a steam train trundles by being driven by a member of the public as they do experience days.

2/5ths of the way, train driving experience day.

R leaves his chips for me, he wants the cake; Victoria Sponge one of his favourites.

Second leg: Blunsdon to Black Shed

Back west we head. A gentle headwind and a slow ascent back to the edge of The Cotswolds. Through Minety. R logs this village for later exploration having spotted a teeny triangle of teeny 🔺s!

It’s glorious. R keeps telling me he’s loving it. A friend recently asked me if I was pushy. I don’t think I am. I egg R on but would never force him to do something he didn’t want to do or something I didn’t think he was capable of. The pushiest bit is getting him out the door, soon as he is everything changes no matter what the weather; though he did say on the ride he prefers the sunshine. Who doesn’t?

Serious selfie.

I turn round and R has stopped and is half on the verge. I hear a “Grrrr!” Uh oh. But no, R begins, catches up and starts laughing. He’d just ridden into a drainage gully. His own anger at himself was quickly replaced with amusement; another small achievement.

3/5ths done nearing the setting sun.

Soon, in the late afternoon we’re approaching what is colloquially known as “The valley that time forgot” (see header photo). A hidden gem before a short climb up to Kingscote.

Leaving the valley that time forgot.

Then we are descending Frocester Hill. R rode up this on our Forest of Dean & Cotswolds cycle camping trip a year and a half ago (I’ll write that up too when I get the chance). Going down is a lot easier. A tanker is behind us patiently waiting, but then again we leave it behind on the corners!

Into the Severn Valley. R is constantly recognising places from other rides, one being Paul’s recent Jack and Grace which we did in January, the other Pete’s Skirting the Cotswolds back in September shortly after LEJOG; both 100km Brevet Populaires by Audax Club Bristol organisers.

Final stop is The Black Shed. This cafe was recently refurbed (rebuilt I think) and stays open late on a Saturday as a bar. Curry for me. Sausages & chips for R; only they did chicken nuggets, realised the mistake as they served and then brought out some sausages too, extra fuel for the tank!

Chicken in a basket, ready for the last bit.

Final Leg: Black Shed to Bed

Just after 19:00 we set off on the last 40km. The sun has set quick and the chill is back in the air. Layers are back on as are lights.

The wind is gentle on our backs again and R is flying. Then we hit the edge of Thornbury. 143km passed, a new biggest bike ride from R. He turns to me, has a little wobble and says “I should be in bed.”

It’s 20:30, not the latest or longest R has been out cycling, but he rightly points out last time it was summer and the days were longer and the clocks forward (which happens tonight). I hadn’t factored that in, the circadian rhythm. The street lights of Thornbury pick him up, I ask if he wants to carry on or we try and get a lift. “No, I’m going to finish it!”

We chat away as I keep his mind occupied, something to focus on other than the letterbox of light just ahead of us as we leave the lights of Thornbury behind to pick up The Old Gloucester Road (not A38).

He asks “can we go for a ride next Saturday?”

“I’ve got my event on.”

“Awww 🙁 how about Sunday?”

“OK.”

“A normal ride though Daddy, about 60-80km.”

😀 – I’m not the one doing the pushing!

After a little climb there is another wobble. “Are you all right R?” “Sleepy Daddy, my arm feels all weak.” I tell R that I think of Maths things to help me stay alert. He says “that’s funny Daddy I was thinking of my Maths homework.”

We’ve just passed 150km, the main goal for the day. It isn’t far now, the glow of Bristol is nearing and R says the street lights will help. Sucking my wheel is out so I put my hand on his shoulder, steady him, and provide a little extra motive force. We move like ice skaters gliding around the potholes and rough surfaces. 5km to go to the beginning of the street lights.

A car waits behind us even though it has ample chance to pass on the straights. R is chatting away to me as I keep an eye on him. Lots of blinking. I ask if he can still see okay or if his eyes have begun to wander. He says he’s fine. The car behind turns off and gives a little toot.

A few minutes later and we’re at the first edge of Bristol. Street lights, R picks up the pace. Almost there. No street lights again but R doesn’t need my hand any more and is flying off the front.

Knowing we were near has given him a boost. Street lights again now till the end. We cross the ring road, easily sailing along and mainly downhill. A quick stop at Tesco for Mother’s Day provisions then a 5 minute hop to home.

All done having ridden a Ton!

100 miles, the Imperial Century, in 13h40m. A 150km Brevet Populaire badge in the waiting. What a star, I tell R I didn’t do my first 100 miles till in my 30s, he smiles!

Bikes away and we’re up stairs. We have a Rock & Limpet cuddle. Changed and teeth done I tuck him up. He’s asleep in 5, me in 10…

…love him!