We awoke in Exeter Regional Training Centre and with the lessons learnt from yesterday we were up and out by 0700 hrs. Accommodation cleaned and bike prepped we cycled off from Wyburn Barracks Guard Room at 0730 hrs. The early morning weather was gorgeous, sunny and bright it was going to be a beautiful day. Today was going to be one of the longest days 83 miles to
By 0910 hrs we pulled into to Honiton for breakfast. The breakfast was unbelievable pure filthy food but my goodness it was enjoyed. 4 meals were inhaled…keeping to strict time we limited ourselves to 40 mins to keep the pressure on. With lunch collected we pressed on next target Ilminster..come on bring it on. The roads were quite ‘cheeky’ with some naughty hills. The sweat poured off us as we dug into some very very long inclines. They felt they would never end… the boys started to get fed up with Jonathan’s words of encouragement of ‘keep going fellas – dig in- not far to go now!’ Breaks were short but needed, bike was happy and moral high, we pressed on.
1215 hrs bike was not feeling well as we realised we had a split inner tube at the valve. Ray is unbelievable; he seems to have this second sense when we need assistance and as we pull in he will appear moments later. It seems unthinkable that we considered not having a support team, we couldn’t have done it.
As we joined the A303 we were making superb speed with an average of 20 mph on the flat. Illchester formed the start of the Mendip Hills. This was to become the toughest test of them all. A37 and heading to Shepton Mallet we had to walk up several hills, they were monsters.
The only good thing about the hill is that pain is rewarded with PLEASURE. 1440 hrs the bike picked up speed and then reaching over 30 mph the distinctive sound similar to a very loud champagne cork being popped was heard. The front tyre exploded, the bike bucked to the right and left, Ali held strong. An emergency stop brought us to an abrupt halt. Ali was congratulated – top effort. Ray and Tony shot forward to Shepton Mallet to source more bike spares. This is fast becoming the most expensive bike journey in history. Ali enjoyed the afternoon sun as the 3 Cunningham brothers waited for the support team return. The bike was fixed – Ruth and John of JD Cycles were phoned to extract more technical advice. We pressed on.
1530 hrs second blow out on another major descent. The Big G must have been watching over his lads. This blow out was more violent than before but once again the Ali held strong. We all unbelievably remained on the bike – we were all safe but our luck had run out. The Rayster reappeared and once again the bike was rebuilt. Tony has is the most incredible bike mechanic. There is nothing he cant do with his fancy fold up bike tools. He is bikemaster.
1630 hrs we pressed on. Suddenly Ali shouts – ‘fellas I have no brakes!’ Amusing you may think but we were now travelling at 30 mph down another hill…we pulled in before blow out 3 was upon us. Morale had now hit absolute rock bottom, we were 16 miles from
On this trip we have come across so many genuinely nice people on such person was Mary who pulled up in her car and asked if we were all ok? She then offered us accommodation for the whole team. What a lovely lady…and restored faith in people.