Having completed our first challenge on 10 July 2011, Jamie and Neil have decided to continue fundraising for Help for Heroes & Starlight charities, by static cycling in various shops across Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset. Jamie is also training to cycle stage 19 of the 2011 Tour de France (Modane to Alpe d'Huez) in the future. We hope to raise £20,000

All donations no matter what the size, will be graciously received and further add to our enthusiasm to raise even more money for our chosen charities. Donations can be made securely by following the links below. Thank you for your interest in our challenge, please pop back from time to time, to see our progress.

2 August 2013


It has been a while since BrokenBikers blogged their thoughts so I thought a brief update would be a good idea.

I continue to cycle, not as much as I should but still enjoy a quick stomp around Eastleigh area.
Jamie has sold all of his cycling kit, this was due to his injuries playing up when riding. He has taken up photography see his work here 'Jamie Ferguson Photography'.
Alex is now a civilian and sometimes pops into Middle Wallop, not cycling anymore.
Pete is like a ghost and has dropped off the BB radar.
Chris is doing well and is perusing photography as a career. See his work here 'Chris Carroll Photography'
Mark is still working at Wallop with the dogs, he is considering buying a bike.

We thank you for your support and interest in our challenges, see 'LEGOG the story' for a full running commentary of our challenge. If you are researching doing this challenge and would like our advice please feel free to contact me via email @brokenbikers.

BrokenBikers signing off (for now).......


2 September 2012

Retul Bike Fitting

Having finished a night duty and grabbing a few hours sleep, I jumped into my car and drove to Charminster in Bournemouth to see Alex and the crew at Primera Sport. After the usual chit-chat, I then started setting up my bike on a turbo for a Retul bike fit. Paul is the resident expert.

Basically, after placing motion sensors on the right hand side of your body, from toe to shoulder, a series of measurements are taken after cycling for 30 seconds. These measurements are then analyzed on a laptop and read outs are produced. These read outs provide information (various angles) which in turn can be converted to correct rider positioning on the bike, to maximise performance and comfort.

Given that I am still only about 80% (back injury) fit for Modane to Alpe d`Huez in 19 Days time, this is quite important to me. I`m hoping that this will help, coupled with the addition of a 12-30 rear cassette. Now I`m only nervous,  as opposed to petrified.

Thank you Paul. I would highly recommend the professional warm service provided by the guys at Primera Sport.

17 August 2012

It`s a percentage thing.

Yesterday after finishing a night duty, Mark, Chris & I departed from Wiltshire, to head down to Devon. Exmoor to be precise. The idea being to get some more hill training in, prior to riding Modane-Alpe d` Huez next month. We started at Minehead riding out on the A39 to Porlock (notorious for more than `Kubla Khan`). Once we arrived at the foot of Porlock Hill, like all others that have travelled, cycled, ridden horse back or walked that route before us, we were given the option of using either the toll road (£2.50) or the main A39. My car is old, so in order to squeeze a few more miles out of her yet, Mark & Chris decided to take the wise option of taking the toll road........I did not.

Oh how I wish I had !

It started like most other climbs, difficult, but manageable, but then came the first of four 25% hair-pin bends. Having read other blogs some refute this information, I would recommend updating their information. They ARE 25%. I manged to get up two, then had to stop, my heart rate monitor was reading 189 Beats per minute (BPM). Now if you are young, fit with no long term injuries, this wouldn`t be cause for concern, but given that I am close to 53 (smoke, I know) and have a less than perfect knee, combined with the fact that I`m recovering from a back injury, this caused me great concern. Stop, it`s a `no-brainer`. After a short pause, to lower my heart rate (HR), I gathered my thoughts, and then attempted to clip in to my peddles to resume my efforts, on such a steep incline this was funny. I somehow achieved it and continued to climb, round the third, once again my HR soared, once again I stopped. I thought to myself ` enough is enough` re-clipped in (yet again funny) and continued up to the crest without any more stops. I continued to ride over the summit to a resting area where Mark & Chris were waiting for me. (fortunately my car was in better `nick` than me).

After a short pause (for pause read fag), I then continued along the A39 towards Lynmouth (Waters meet), at this point the heavens opened & it poured down with rain.

I last visited Waters Meet many years ago with my parents & siblings, I remembered it with great fondness,.... truly happy days.
As I was peddling along a reasonable pace, I also rembered Shit, there`s a really steep decent into Lynmouth. As I started to decend into Lynmouth, my previous thoughts were confirmed, it was steep, torrents of rain running down the road, braking,. braking, not much response. I was seriously considering the escape lanes, wondering if cyclists have ever needed to pile into the shale that form these useful (sometimes lifesaving road features). Somehow I got to the bottom, saw Mark & Chris parked up, so I pulled in to have a quick chat and a warm cuppa.

I then started to cycle again, this time heading towards along the A39 to Barnstaple. That was fine except for one thing, it was the wrong way. ordinarily that wouldn`t have been a problem, but in this case there was a price to pay. The bloody road ramped up in excess of 25%, I kept cycling for as far as I could. I had to stop, this time for different reasons......

The rain was pouring down, causing torrents of water to run down the camber of the road, exactly where I was trying to peddle up. There were cars behind me testing their clutches to the limit.There were oncoming cars trying to decend as slowly and as controlled as possible, testing their brakes to the limit.

Oh yes......The reason I had to stop, my back wheel was slipping in the rain, might as well have been on a turbo trainer. Never experienced that before. I rested against a wall, had a think, realised that this was potentially dangerous, so once again tried to continue up. Still no joy, still spinning. Mark & Chris pulled up behind me. Chris got out and tried to give a push (much like the team mechanics do on the Tour du France). Saldy this didn`t quite work and I fell off, embarrasing, as those in the cars behind witnessed the whole thing!

At this point Mark chirped in with something that made me smile " errrr ummm, Jamie mate, we`ve gone the wrong way, turn round & we`ll meet you at the bottom"!

No I didn`t swear.....Honestly!

We then set off (on the right road) the B3223 to Simonsbath. This was one of the main reasons for travelling down to Exmoor. The climb out of Lynmouth to Simonsbath is close to 5 miles of constant climbing up onto the moor, in cycling terms a category 2 climb, nowhere near as tough, but similar to the ones I will be doing in France. A constant `grind`.

The scenery was stunning, it had even stopped raining. The climb was easier than I had imagined and I gently cycled up to the top. Heart rate fine. Spirits fine, mood fine. As I turned left onto the moor, things changed, I was cycling into a very strong head wind, it became a real toil.

Remember I mentioned previously that my back had been quite bad recently, well it was getting no better. At each stop, I had been taking pain killers, Mark & Chris saw this and were a little concerned. At the last stop, we all decided, better to stop now and hopefully be in better shape for France, especially given that the Alping challenge is only five weeks away and to continue could jeopardize that.

We packed the bike into the car and headed to Minehead for some food.

We travelled back to Wiltshire in good spirits.

I`ll write again soon and post some pics that Chris took, (he is a good photgrapher).
Thank you Mark & Chris for your constant support, as well as being hilarious, you are `nice guys`.

30 July 2012

Trials and Tribulations

After the 24 hours non stop endurance fundraiser at Tescos Salisbury, came the Trial.
In what form you may wonder?...., Well being older, with previous injuries, I (Jamie) had underestimated the toll such a task would take on my ageing body. Within a matter of days, my back completely locked up, rendering me pretty much useless. I still attended work, consulted a doctor and begun a slow process of physiotherapy. That was all well and good, but with age comes penalties....., Time. I could no longer heal as quick as was once possible. To that end, our planned Alpine challenge for 30th June 2012 had to be postponed (not a decision taken lightly)! To say I was feeling low, would be something of an understatement, it was very hard to deal with, especially seeing as for me `The glass is most definately `half-full`.

At the time of going to press, I am now back on the bike, riding reasonably well, trying my best to get back to the previous level of fitness (most of which was lost during my rehabilitation).

A new date has been set for the challenge of riding from Modane to Alpe d` Huez, Friday 21st September 2012. Although not allowing that much time to get full fitness back, I consider this to be just enough time to prepare for the Alpes. This coupled with the fact that a support team of Chris Carroll and Mark Crew (our team from LEJOG July 11) are now fully `on board`, leads to Tribulation.

The logistics are pretty much taken care of. At this point I would like to thank Mr John Avery (the Station Manager) of Europcar Salisbury. He listened to our story, especially the disappointments of previous let downs (You know who you are)!, We chatted briefly about Le Tour, and the successes of Team SKY, not forgetting Tommy Vockler and Pierre Rollande of Team Europcar (not sure about spelling, I`m sure the French won`t mind). He then put something together to assist our challenge, once again Thank you John.

We will be filming the whole ride in HD from different angles on the bike and from the support vehicle, so those of you who read this, or stumble across this blog (as many do), then please feel free to comment, once we have edited and posted.

Although not attending due to family comittments, Neil is 100% part of this, supportive and the best friend a man could ever wish for.

I will do my best to continue to update the blog more regularly, especially now that I`m in a better frame of mind.

It`s funny how cycling can really get you!

As a foot note, anyone who has the slightest knowledge of cycling will know just how immense the task was for Team GB in the Olympic road race. Sincere congratulations go out to Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, David Millar, Ian Stannard and last but not least Mark Cavendish, for the sterling effort. You are still the best. Victims of your own success.....Chin up lads, you are not made of chocolate!

Tara for now

13 May 2012

The Bacon Butty

You know when you have a story to tell or an event to recall ? Well as any of you who follow this blog will know, that sometimes you forget one or two details. (That is why I am not a journalist). Well I forgot to add something key to the story.

Between 8 & 9 am Fri 11th May, Ben and Pete (friends from Middle Wallop) arrived at Tescos to give me a little support. Ben had visited early the previous evening. So I was suprised to see him again. Pete asked me if I would like a coffee and anything to eat, I thought what the hell I had burned of more than enough calories, so I asked him for a bacon butty from the cafe upstairs. Pete returned with said coffee and butty. Now I have to confess, this was definately not `The Finest` butty, but it was probably the best bacon butty I have ever eaten. I have no idea why, but I thought it important that I add this foot note.

Also Ben, Pete, thank you.

Back on the bike tomorrow, then some more hills and then some more hills.

Stephen Magers doing his bit
Me (Jamie) looking tired.

12 May 2012

24 hour turbo endurance 10-11 May

At exactly 12 O`clock Thursday 10th May I climbed onto my bike which was mounted on a turbo trainer. I was in the foyer at Tesco superstore Salisbury. Table, boards, banners, buckets & promotional information all laid out and set up (nothing new there, we have been here before). This time I was doing it alone, my fellow Broken Biker Neil was on duty and unable to ride with me.

I started to peddle, the aim being to cycle non stop for 24 hours (with the exception of necessary breaks). Initially I was comfortable, being distracted by interaction with the general public as they stopped, chatted and in many cases donated. Mid afternoon Stephen Magers (Tesco community champion) arrived and climbed onto a spare bike also mounted on a turbo. Stephen wanted to ride with me for a while, he has done this before with Neil and I when we have fundraised in Salisbury. Stephen cycled with me for several hours. A few friends popped in to see how I was doing and wish me luck. Spire FM were regularly announcing my challenge, people were chatting and saying they had heard about it on the local radio station (Thank you Faye, Martin & all the staff at Spire FM). The hours started to pass, I was maintaining an average of 20mph, the plan being to leave enough in the tank (Legs) to last the duration.

People who are following us on Twitter started to tweet messages of good luck, some referred to my effort as insanity, I have to agree. Before I knew it, I had passed 8 hours peddling, the longest I had previously done on a turbo. I was started to feel discomfort, but more people chatting eased that. Early evening, my partner Donna arrived to keep me company. Shortly after Neil and Angelina arrived. This lifted my spirit. Other friends visited and to them I send my thanks. As midnight approached, loved ones and friends departed, the lonliness of the night emerged. I was really starting to hurt. Friends tweeted, that certainly kept me going (you were all inspirational, you know who you are) !

It`s funny, because when you least expect it something happens that can make you feel much better. In my case, it was the night security guard Chris. I think my partner had said something to him before she left. Chris then kept me company for much of the evening and early hours of the morning. I was starting to feel really tired and was even beginning to fall asleep. Chris was keeping an eye on me, I think to make sure that I didn`t fall off my bike. After 14 hours had elapsed I had to change my Garmin (the battery was dying). I replaced it with one borrowed from Neil. I was in bits at this point and desperatley needed a boost. I succumbed to an addiction, I got off my bike and had a cigarette given to me by Chris (I know)!
I am no saint, nor a professional cyclist., I`m just a bloke trying to raise money for two great causes.

Dawn started to break which made me feel better. The night shift at Tescos were finishing work, the day shift starting work. Some of them were amazed that I was still there and still cycling. Chris and Mark, two good friends who were part of our LEJOG team  came to visit me, which was another boost just when I needed it.
I was now at the point of hanging on, but still managing to maintain 20mph. It had been in the most part, a long and lonely night, Tesco Chris was an Angel.

Spire FM were being brilliant and shouting out for me on the hour. At about 11:30 Jack and Neil arrived to see me across the line. At 12:01 Friday 11th May I stopped peddling. I gingerly climbed off my bike. Jack and Neil supervising (we had read a blog from someone who had done the same thing, that due to cramp, he couldn`t get off his bike).


How did I feel?

Tired, sore and very uncomfortable.
I then shook myself and had a re-think. How did I feel?


Jack and Neil started to break down my bike and pack up. They then brought out a small bottle of Jack Daniels and poured me a JD & coke into a used coffee cup. It did taste good, as did knowing that I had taken on and completed a huge personal challenge for our chosen charities.


Time spent cycling : 23 hours 10 minutes
Miles completed : 475
Pee stops 9 (I am an old man)
Fags smoked 2 (BAD BOY) !!!!

Money raised £1,178.00.

Our combined total now stands at £19,024.47.

I would like to thank every one who helped make this happen, in particular Stephen Magers.
I would like to thank the fabulous general public for their interest & benevolence.
I would like to thank everyone who supported me, either in person or over the airways/internet.
I would like to thank Help for Heroes and The Starlight Magic Children`s Foundation for the Stellar work they do for others.
Lastly I would like to thank my partner Donna for her endless support.

What next ?


7 May 2012


Have just finished last hard turbo session, climbing the Galibier (It`s a ball breaker, even on a turbo), prior to taking on the 24 hour endurance fundraiser for HelpforHeroes & Starlight Magic Children`s Foundation. Have been running around posting flyers and trying to arrange some media coverage to boost interest. Hopefully it will come together on the day(s) !
Less than 7 weeks to go until we take on our Alpine challenge, I`m not too sure which one scares me the most, it`s 50-50 at the moment.
More later...."Tarra"

27 April 2012

What`s Happening

So here`s the thing, yesterday I went to Wales to train, riding up some challenging climbs ( a huge thank you to Chis Carroll and Mark Crew) for driving me there. I lost my bloody phone, which as most of you know, in this day & age is such a huge inconvenience. Especially seeing as in 2 weeks time I am going to attempt to cycle for 24 hours straight through at Tescos Southampton Road Salisbury. Thank you to Stephen Magers & Tescos for your continued support. The 24 hour endurance ride will take place in the foyer at Tescos, starting at noon Thursday 10 May until noon Friday 11 May 2012. Hopefully Spire FM will be shouting out for us & inviting people to come along and see an old fool suffering. We`ll keep you posted and even tweet when I get a replacement phone (hoping my insurers aren`t too slow). We are hoping that we may be able to boost our fundraising total over that 24 hour period. TTFN.

12 April 2012

Haven`t said much for sometime, there hasn`t been much to say. Since then, things have moved forward. On 10th April we had great pleasure in banking £1,158.16, taking the total we have raised to £17,846.56. If anyone would have told us that, when we were sat down planning all of this, we probably wouldn`t have believed them. Now due to the amazing public, even in these times of austerity WE believe it. So a MASSIVE (one for kneel) thanks to everyone who has shown interest, support or donated whatever the amount. Jamie has invested in a Tacx i-magic turbo that simulates rides in real life video. He has a route called Alpine classic, this is basically 90% of the route that we are riding on 30th June. It`s bloody savage & that`s putting it mildly. With close to 10 weeks before we ride Modane to Alpe d`Huez, we are trying to get as much training in as possible (quite difficult when you work shifts that overlap). On that note, now would be a very opportune moment to thank my long suffering partner, so on behalf of myself (Jamie) "Donna" I can never thank you enough for your support & words of wisdom. We have some more promotional cycles planned, dates & venues to follow. We are also hoping to get across to Wales to cycle over some CAT 1 mountains, to better prepare us for the lumps in France. Well that`s about it for now, so be well & "Ta-ta for now", I think that should be abbrieviated?

13 March 2012

Neil breaks his Scott CR1

On his way home on 11 March 2012, Neil's chain snagged pulling the dérailleur over the cassette and into the spokes.  Not thinking he grabbed  the dérailleur and pulled it out of his spokes, it snapped off the hanger and the dérailleur was just hanging on the road. (Cries of obscenity from the side of the road).  The dérailleur hanger on Neil's 2009 Scott CR1 is part of the frame and not a addition that can be replaced.

Initial research on the internet, looked like the frame would have to be written off (Disaster for BrokenBikers).  Neil decided to take the bike to his favourite Scott dealership Pedals Cycle Centre, Ferndown, Dorset.  At first Roger (the mechanic) agreed the frame was indeed a write off, then he said "let me just phone Scott Uk".  Then the news Neil had been waiting for, YES-YES it can be repaired, the repair is not cheap all in £275, but Neil gets his beloved bicycle back on the road.  (Cries of delight on the way home).

John from Andover wheelers has kindly loaned Neil a bike to keep him on the road.  All is well again, disaster averted, now Neil just has to wait 3 weeks for his Scott CR1 to come home.

14 February 2012

Influencing others

Popped into ATS today to get my tyres checked. Chris the manager recognised me from last year, normal to form it was because I was giving him an ear bashing about BrokenBikers and our charity work.  I was so happy for him, as he has started to raise money for "Cycle Vietnam to Cambodia 2012" an event organised by Parkinson's UK.  Good luck Chris

Follow this link "pedalpowerchris" to find out more about Chris and his event.

11 January 2012

The diary is taking shape

2012 is here and the BrokenBikers diary is already taking shape, having confirmed the date of this years challenge 30 June 2012, it was a simple case of fill our days off with charity static pedals to raise money for our two favourite charities Help for Heroes and the Starlight Foundation, also getting in some training as well.

As a foot note: After devouring 5 profiteroles at the same time I felt quite ill.  My advice is to eat 4 at a time...

7 January 2012

Eating myself fit

Jamie "How many profiteroles can you fit in your mouth"
Neil "Never tried to put more than one in"
Jamie "I estimate you could fit five"
Neil "Lets see".........

13 October 2011


Jamie and Neil's ongoing fundraising. We are delighted to announce that after several promotional peddles at Tescos & Waitrose stores, we have broken the £15,000 barrier raised for Help for Heroes & the Starlight Childrens Foundation. The grand total raised for these two amazing charities stands at £15,131.63. The people at these stores have been generous, sincere, fun & in some cases witty. Conversation of the day yesterday at Tesco`s Salisbury went something like this; little elderly woman asked Jamie & Neil what we were doing. When this was explained to her, she asked "What do you do when you are not fundraising". Jamie then replied " my misses". The dear little old lady could be heard giggling at the end of the car park.

On a completely different note. Stephen Magers ( Tescos Salisbury Community Champion) cycled with us yesterday. We brought in an extra bike & turbo trainer. Stephen then cycled for 3 hours. Given that he has not cycled for some time, this was a phenomenal achievement. Well done Stephen and once again, we`d like to thank you & Tescos for you invaluable support. 

11 July 2011


Well here we all are safely back at Middle Wallop after a 16 hour return journey from John O'Groats in the van. Lands End to John O'Groats in 9 days done. All four completed all 900+ miles without a windge or moan and now have plenty of tales to tell. From an initial idea thought of back in May 2010 by Jamie and Neil, Alex coming on board in Nov 2010, the involvement of the two charities in Jan 2011, and Pete becoming involved in Mar 2011, the total amount raised has to be confirmed but expected to be about £13K. We also had a great time fulfilling a dream for Finn Cutting for Starlight. It has certainly been an experience that we will all remember for many years to come. Our only recommendation is that for those of you who are considering such an adventure, choose your team carefully, and train together beforehand. We were very lucky as that we bonded as a team from day one, and worked through any problems together. But there will be days when tiredness and bad weather or terrain are against you. Be prepared. We had a terrific team.
Many thanks go out to all those that have supported our fund raising efforts before the bike ride, and those we met and supported us during the ride itself. It could have been a simple honking of the car horn as encouragement, contributions to the charities, or the support given with accommodation on route, all were most welcome. Living and working 'behind the wire' in a military establishment, we sometimes forget the generosity and friendship of the general public. From the four cyclists our final and biggest thanks go to our support team of Mark and Chris from the MGS. They took paid leave to support our every need, and every time we needed help, they were there to help, no matter how ridiculous the request.
What now for the four of us. Jamie and Neil have completed a dream once only imagined. I suspect it will be the first of many. Pete has now found a new sport to become involved in (as cheaply as possible), and Alex can go back to his beloved girlfriend and eat all the pies.
Many thanks again for all your help and support.

10 July 2011

D+9 10 July 2011 Inverness to John O'Groats

Thanks again to the QM, LCpl Simpson, and all the Guard room staff at 3 Scots, The Black Watch, Fort George. A great night sleep after a torrid days ride at Loch Ness. The plan had been for Christove to set up his camera equipment next to the loch, get the world exclusive on Nessy, and sell the pictures to the News of the World, so they go out in a blaze of glory, and we raise lots of money for the charities. Unfortunately a no-show by the Monster in all that rain.  Fort George is an impressive building, but must have cost a fortune when it was built in the 18th Century by George II.  Apparently it was paid for by taxing the Scots. No wonder they hate the English.  Before bed The Major left his electric toothbrush on charge in the toilets of the Guardroom – at risk. What’s the betting it visited the inside of a Scottish soldiers pants before morning.  Top tip from LCpl Simpson if camping in Scotland and dealing with the Midges – they are everywhere. Light a disposable barbecue, and place sea weed over it. They hate the smell. Top tip if a cyclist. Don’t ride with your mouth open, or stop for more than two minutes.
Up at 0500hrs, and after a muesli breakfast and cup of tea from the back of the van, out of the Fort and back to our start position by 0700hrs. Driving passed the Golf course for the Scottish Open, the die hard golf fans were just showing up. Let’s hope they have better weather today. As we set off on the bikes the weather was overcast, but dry, with little wind. Starting today at Inverness we took off up the A9 to our first stop at Alness. Whilst the road surface was good, flat and straight, the scenery reminded us of middle America, dull and lacking in imagination. We did pick up our first road sign for John O’Groats – 108 miles!!
 Having caught a chill from the rain yesterday Dad started to feel ill. We call ourselves Broken Bikers because three of the bikers have medical conditions. Dad has more problems than most, and after a few more miles, aggravated by the chill, he started having problems retaining any food or drink, from both ends. Whilst the scenery started to improve at Tain, Dad’s condition didn’t. It also started to rain, and the wind picked up, straight in our faces. After one of the few steep hills on the last leg at Berridale we stopped outside the home of Jimmy and Marina Rosie. Obviously seeing Dad in some distress they very kindly gave him some Imodium tablets, which helped a little. A lovely couple, thanks very much Jimmy and Marina. We are now moving much slower, with the support van with us constantly, and the stops short but often. On one such stop Tango Man pulled up in a car, returning from John O’Groats where he had finished at 1000hrs today (Tango Man is one of the many solo riders we have met on route). As the afternoon progressed the rain eased, but the wind increased, also cooling the temperature. Now running on empty, but with guts and determination Dad continued, and the pace actually started to increase. The scenery is now best described as rugged but desolate, with plenty of run down farm houses ‘With potential to the right buyer’. You have to be hardy to live up here. However, Tonto then required an eyewash after getting grit in his eye, and just South of Wick, The Major had his third puncture. With a change of inner tube but poor tyres, he then proceeded to pump it up too quickly, nearly destroying both inner tube and tyre. Quick thinking by Kneel, AKA Mario, AKA Vanessa, saved the day, and The Major rode the rest of the day with his front tyre only half inflated.
In to Wick we are actually quite glad to see some degree of civilisation again. Houses, shops, pubs, street lights, normal stuff we take for granted, but not up here. Through Wick and with only 16 miles remaining pure adrenalin had now taken over, and the speed again increased. 7 miles to go, and Dad is still being sick. 1 mile to go, and we met the van outside the Post office, removed our wet weather clothing, and rode the last mile in our Help for Heroes/Starlight Cycling shirts, crossing the line together at 1900hrs, Christove taking pictures, Maximus following on in the van. 12 hours to complete 115 miles.

To be perfectly honest John O’Groats was a little disappointing. We did arrive late, so no reception committee, and the place quite bland, with a disgusting paint job on the building at the finish line – even the locals don’t like it. But plenty of celebration and photos amongst the team. We’ve made it; over 900 miles.  We met up again up with the 3 chaps we had met in North Devon on D+2 who also finished today 2 hours behind us (well done lads).  After a re-pack of the van and burger and chips from the local chippy we are now starting the long journey back to Middle Wallop.
Summary to follow.

9 July 2011

D+8 Sat 09 Jul 2011 Glen Coe to Inverness

Another eventful night with broken sleep.  Accommodated at the Adventure Training hut at Kinlochleven, the fire alarm went off three times, at 0120hrs, 0210hrs, and at 0530hrs.  First to be blamed the first time it happened were the three smokers in the team. Which one of them has used that fire door we were specifically told not to use for a quick smoke? Not guilty was the cry.  On questioning Spike, the resident RM the following morning, it was a malfunction with the system, the first time it has ever happened! Thanks for your help again Spike.
Out of Kinlochleven for 0715hrs, and back to the final position for yesterday in the van, Glen Coe. Bikes on the road for 0745hrs and on our way to Fort William on the A82. Another beautiful morning with stunning views as we crossed the bridge at Ballachulish. Ironically we could find no Fort in Fort William, but a lot of dodgy geezers. On arrival at our first stop in Morrisons car park, The Major was given a thorough debriefing by a local lady with dental hygiene problems on the fact that “ In Scotland slower transport normally  gives way to faster traffic”. “Thank you my dear, I’ll bear it in mind”. Two transit vans pulled up next to ours, and out climbed five men. With Dad and Christove visiting the toilets, and The Major looking at Harry Potters train, it only left three at the van. One of the men started talking to the lads, whilst the other four drifted to the other side of the van. Only quick thinking by Tonto in moving around to the other side of the vehicle averted the theft of all the attractive cameras, GPS and IT equipment. Blxxdy Pikies. Tonto saves the day! Three young University  students rather proudly announced they were to climb Ben Nevis. However they looked quickly deflated by The Major who announced five years ago that he took his 69 year old Mother-in- Law up there, and that they would see families taking their kids up there in shorts and flip-flops, it’s a footpath.  Despite all this the general public were like all Scots, generous in their donations to the charities. Thank you.
Continuing along the A82, we hit the steep hill and then the Commando Monument at Spean Bridge.  Another photo opportunity and a chance to meet some lovely people who donated heavily. Special mention must be made of the coach load of Senior Ladies and Gentlemen from Yorkshire. Ladies, the lads will be available for modelling opportunities on appointment. Donations to the two charities please.  Moving further along the A82, the scene then resembled a scene from the film ‘Wild Hogs’. Four middle aged men all caught short at the side of the road. The road then follows the coast of Loch Lochy (not a very original name Scotland). A lovely road, recommended for cycling. Stopping at at a Service Station in Invergarry for lunch we were joined by about 20 German Motor Bikers.  What is the fascination that the German bikers have with Scotland? They are everywhere. Do they know something about Scotland that the English don’t?  Should we let them have independence? Then on to the locks at Fort Augustus. Thanks to the lady who allowed us to park the van right outside her shop and restaurant next to the lock. A prime spot. Then it started to rain, and rain, and rain. Infact it rained for the entire length of our cycle up the side of Loch Ness. To make matters worse Dad and Kneel rubbed wheels at Invermoriston, and Kneel fell, breaking his pedal. With Tonto having spare pedals, Kneel and The Major sped forward to the next stopping point at Urquhart Castle, to meet with the van so as to not hold up the team any more than we had to. Tonto saves the day, again! Pedals changed, the team drove on through the rain, that became worse and worse, so much so the Scottish Open Golf competition was cancelled. Dad made the decision that instead of climbing over the Cat 3 hill on the A833, we should stay on the A82 and head for Inverness. Unfortunately nobody told the support crew, and with The Major shouting at the Gods ‘Is that the best you can do’ the weather got even worse with thunder and lighting.  We were so wet it didn’t seem to matter that Tonto relieved himself in his shorts to keep warm, twice.  Eventually we had to stop and try and contact the support crew. Ironically, having had no telephone signal since arriving at Kinlochleven last night, the only phone with a signal was The Major’s Pikey Pay as you Go Phone!  At this point Kneel produced his bright yellow waterproof cycling helmet cover. Resembling a fried egg, he looked every inch the double for ‘Super Mario’. His name for tomorrow – Mario for short.  Arranging to rendezvous in Inverness the team pressed onward in to the rain, and then crossed the A9 bridge at Inverness heading for Wick. At this point the van caught up with team. We are now sat on a very busy dual carriageway and it is still raining heavily. With tiredness and the cold starting to take effect, the decision was made to cut short the journey for today and telephone the 3 Scots, The Black Watch at Fort George.  GPS position set for tomorrows start, we set off for Fort George in the van.  As we drove past the Scottish Open Golf car park, cars were being rescued from the bog by tractors. A huge thank you to the QM, Maj Gary Tait and the boys in the Guardroom for accommodating us at such short notice. A warning to Cam Hastie back at Middle Wallop. Gary told me about your exploits in NI in 1987! A good shower, compo meal, and a bed in the guardroom easily beats a night camping in this weather.
So 85 miles, and the most testing, but oddly one of the more enjoyable days.  Southern Ponces meet and stand up to Northern weather. We have left ourselves with 115 miles to do on the last day; not as planned, but adrenalin will take us to the end. Up at 5 tomorrow.
We may have our very own Fred West follower. Every so often today we have come across a man on his own in a remote parking spot, parked in his camper, wearing dark glasses, no matter what the weather. Does he have a fetish for men wearing Lycra?

8 July 2011

D+7 Fri 08 Jul 2011 Prestwick to Glencoe

Thanks again to HMS Gannet for their outstanding hospitality. The best nights sleep for all of us yet. Each with our own room, someone had even folded back the corner of the quilt.  All it needed was a chocolate on the pillow before bed time and we could have been in a posh hotel. Perhaps the support crew will take inspiration from it! Being Army, we are also used to a sink in each room, to be used in the middle of the night as only Squaddies know. Without one, we had to use the 'Heads' down the corridor.
Up at 0600hrs to yet another beautiful morning. Unlike England, Scotland spent most of the day bathed in sunshine.  After a muesli and boiled egg breakfast from the back of the van we left HMS Gannet at 0715hrs and proceeded to our finish point yesterday, the A77/A71 junction at Kilmarnock. By 0745hrs all four bikers are on the road, heading north on the A77 towards Glasgow. This stretch of the A77 before it turns in to the M77 is the worse we have experienced. The weather had changed direction overnight, and for the first time its coming from the North, straight at us. The drivers also had no consideration for cyclists, and all in a hurry to get to work. Just leave a few minutes earlier! Luckily we were only on this for 20 minutes before it turned into two separate roads, the M77, and the much quieter A77. At this point the A77 has a separate cycle lane, which lasted for 18 miles and took us all the way to Glasgow. Undulating, and  even against the wind, with the sun shining it was still a great ride, and recommended. Making good time at speed, we arrived at our first stop at a row of shops at 0915hrs. 10 shops - 3 hairdressers, 3 estate agents, and 4 restaurants. How do they make any money against all the competition.
Once in South Glasgow we picked up the A726 which kept us out of the city centre, and took us towards the airport and Erskine Bridge. Point to note. Glaswegians don't greet you with 'Good Morning', but 'Arite'. They are also the most generous yet, digging deep to support both charities. Many thanks. Thanks also to Pat Collins, who lives in Suffolk but originates from Edinburgh, and having one a golf competition with friends, contributed his winnings, £20 to each charity.
Once around the airport, we met Richard, a fellow biker who cycled with us for some miles. Thanks for showing us the short cut over the bridge, and good luck with your own charity, BraveheartFund, which encourages children in Scotland into cycling. Once across the bridge we picked up the A82 which was to take us all the way to Glencoe.  Stopping for a quick food stop at the edge of Lock Lomond, it proved to be a great photo opportunity, with the sun glistening on the water. Moving on, The Major suffered his second puncture, but slick pit lane skills by Dad, meant a tyre change in two minutes and back on the road.
The A82 has its own foot/cycle path that runs between the road and the Lock.  However the road is so good that we recommend you remain on the road. The cycle path also diverts in many places.
Stopping for lunch at Tarbet the rain finally caught up with us.  Thanks to the children and teachers from Lymington, Hampshire returning from a week in Mull for their support and encouragement as we left.
Having relied on Kneel and his GPS for 7 days to get us successfully on the right road, he had a blond moment (despite having no hair) and set off on the wrong road. Quickly corrected we continued North on the A82.  Despite having much resurfacing work completed, the road North of Tarbet follows the Lock, twisting and turning with the shore line, is very narrow, and the road surface poor in many places. Sharing the road with trucks and coaches, much care was required.
Once the road leaves Lock Lomond there is a long winding climb. Raining, and with the wind in our faces, conditions became testing, and the support crew were a welcome site at Crainlarich. With a lull in the weather we moved on to the Bridge of Orchy, and then on to Rannoch Moor. Again a testing ride, torrential rain against the wind, with a testing hill mid way through. Stopping at the Kings House Hotel we were approached by semi-tame deer, who fed from the hand. Another photo opportunity, then the most dramatic views yet down Glen Coe, with mountain ranges either side of the road, finally finishing today at Glen Coe village after 110 miles.  Setting the GPS point for our start position tomorrow, we loaded the bikes on to the van and proceeded to the Royal Marines Adventure Training Hut at Kinlochleven. Many thanks to Sgt Spike Woods RM for accepting us at short notice. A hot shower, and fish and chips later we are off to bed.
A long day tomorrow, 120 miles.

7 July 2011

D+6 Thu 07 Jul 2011 Carlisle to Prestwick

Carlisle Railway Station has huge posters advertising the tourist opportunities of the city.  A word of warning to the would be tourist.  After the birthday celebrations in the Travelodge for Kneel last night (Burger and chips) all were in bed for 2130hrs, less Tonto. As he could not get a signal on his Orange mobile phone he roamed the streets of Carlisle looking for a phone box. Before 2200hrs both men and women were rolling around drunk, asleep on the street.  A real shock for the youngish (31) Southern Ponce.
Up at 0600hrs for a 0700hrs breakfast. For those that have never stayed in a Travelodge, if you have booked and paid for breakfast, they issue you a cup, plates and cutlery from reception once they have confirmed payment. Dad collected our utensils and was waiting for the rest of us to arrive and have breakfast together, when an Irish chap took one of his plates.  Dad politely told him the Travelodge system, and if he has ordered breakfast he has to collect his own utensils.  The Irish chap then started a torrent of abuse at Dad.  Obviously after a free breakfast. Luckily we all stayed calm, the receptionist booked him out, and he left.
After such an emotional start, we could not wait to leave Carlisle. The weather was fine at breakfast, but as we walked out of the hotel at 0730hrs, it started to rain, and continued to rain for 3 hours. Leaving Carlisle we headed North on the A7 and were very quickly in Scotland at Gretna Green where we picked up the A75 to Dumfries. Then on to the A76 to Kilmarnock, the best road we have travelled on in the last 6 days, and thank goodness we started at Lands End, the wind behind us the whole day. Although geographically not possible, it really felt as if the wind was pushing us down hill all day.  Solar Panel Energy will never take off in Scotland, there isn't enough sun.  However wind turbines are a different matter. When they gain independence the Scottish can earn a lot of income selling water to drought ridden Gods Country. It never stops raining.
The weather forecast for the next few days does not look good.  After a quick phone call back to Mike Stanley back in Middle Wallop Motor Transport Department, Mike found us a unit to call in Prestwick, rather than the campsite. Many thanks Mike. A phone call later and we are booked in to HMS Gannet, based at Prestwick Airport, a Search and Rescue Unit.
By mid-day the weather had cleared, and with the sun out we had excellent views over the Scottish Lowlands. We stopped at Thornhill for lunch.  Thanks again to all those who placed money in the charity boxes. On again up the excellent A76, stopping once more at Sanquhar. Thanks to Sally at the Castle View Service Station who not only let us stop, but contributed to the charities.  Many pictures taken of the 12th Century castle in the village. Kilmarnock was reached by 1700hrs, and Kneel set the GPS coordinates that we start at the same place tomorrow.  A total of 93 miles today. We packed the bikes on to the van, and set off down the A77 to Prestwick and HMS Gannet.
When we arrived the personnel at Gannet could not have been more accommodating. We were all given our own room with bedding. Great showers, they even let us use their crewroom to cook our compo tea, and watch the Tour de France. Infact I'm sat here in their crewroom typing this.  A huge thank you to Lt Cdr Debdash Bhattacharya and his Staff.  At 2115hrs they were crashed out to go and save somebody from either drowning or being stranded on a mountain. 5 minutes from drinking tea and chatting with us in the crewroom to airborne. Impressive.
Up at 0600hrs tomorrow for a muesli breakfast and cup of tea, and then a long day, approx 110 miles.