Lucky 7’s Charity Challenge officially started on Sunday 1st July. I left Bridged at 2pm on Saturday heading towards Meriden, it was raining very hard so it not bode well. Mikey arrived and Twinkletoes was all ready to go. We headed off stopping only briefly at the services to pick up Maria on her TDM. We arrived at Meriden at 7pm and met the other ladies and our support riders. That night we sat in a local pub for supper then headed off to bed for an early night – we had a 4 am start to get out on the road by 5pm. In total there were 9 of us Marion, Lynne, Georgia, GillyB, Maria and myself as the women, Mikey (my dad), Colin (Georgia’s hubbie) and Ian (Lynne’s hubbie)
We were all ready by 5am, tired but excited at the start of our challenge. Even though the challenge was for 7 women we were down to 6 because of very unfortunate accidents and illness in 2 of the riders. Maria had stood in last minute and she was a real star all week. The weather was dull and wet, but that did not dampen our spirits as we headed out.
The first of our points was only a short ride away in the town square at Meriden – the first sentinal point as the centre of England.
We rode in groups of 2 women with one support rider, I rode with Maria and Mikey. We headed out to the M40 and then ponto the M3 westbound stopping at the services for one of many refuels then down towards the M5 and into Plymouth. The M5 was horrible with heavy rain and winds, poor Twinkletoes started to feel a bit like a boat.
We arrived at Plymouth for our second point and first port.
From Plymouth we headed over to the Tamar Bridge (our first bridge), I didn’t get a photo because at this stage the weather was so foul I was reluctant to get the camera out. I think that Mikey had a camera so he can fill in the details.
We rode over the bridge in high winds, although compared to the rest of the week it seemed almost tame, and headed onto the A38 towards Bodmin, Helston and onto the Lizard for our second sentinal point at the most southerly point in the country. The rain had eased off for a little while which was a bit of a relief. We all had problems with our GPS at this point, there are roadworks on the A30 and much of the road has been rebuilt which means the GPS thought we were going cross country. A few of the groups rode round in circles for a while before giving up on the GPS and going to maps to find our way to our first overnight stop in Shirwell just outside Barnstable. We parked up our bikes in a comfortable B and B and sat down to a full cooked breakfast for tea.
All exhausted after the early start we had an early night knowing that we had another really early day the next.
DAY 2 – Wales
Again we got up at 4 for a 5am start, it was a very wet and dreary morning and we knew this section was going to be very taxing, we were all still tired and aching from the previous days ride, we packed up quickly and quietly and headed straight out to the M4. The motorway was disgusting and the riding really difficult and by the time we got to the severn bridge the winds and rain were torrential. Our point was the old bridge at the services, I didn’t get my camera out because the rain was horrible. From there we headed all the way down the M4 to Camarthen, we then followed the A48 then A40 down to Haverford west. The rain had eased up a little so this part wasn’t so bad, I did feel homesick as I passed Bridgend and though how easy it would be just to turn off, Maria and Mikey obviously knew because they both passed me and wagged their fingers making sure I knew that wouldn’t be allowed.
Our next stop in Wales was at Pembroke castle, we all arrived at the same time because Maria was a local and knew the best route into the Castle car park, the rain had held off for a while so we were in good spirits by the time we got there.
From Pembroke we headed over to Fishguard port for our next photo. It had started to rain a little again but we were still all fairly cheerful.
The next section was a bit more technical as we headed into Mid Wales towards the next sential point – the Middle of Wales at Cwymystwyth. We followed the A485 to Tregaron then onto the smaller lanes and towards Cwmystwyth which is where we started to have a few Technical problems. Gilly B’s V-Strom developed a problem with a tyre valve causeing her to have a flat tyre at Cwymystwyth and Marions GS (Greg) had become waterlogged was misfiring so she was unable to make it to the meeting point, luckily there was a helpful garage that gave her some WD40 which helped. We planned to meet at Devils Bridge but because of the technical problems Gilly and Ian needed to arrange a recovery and Marion was busy fixing her bike. Mikey headed down to meet up with Marion so she wasn’t on her own and Colin and Missed all of us at the meet point so headed up towards Liverpool. That left 4 girls, Georgia, Maria, Lynne and myself, we had a chat and decided to go for Ceredigian castle anyway.
A very pleased Maria who made it through the welsh countryside without any problems. We then headed over to Liverpool on the a55 and then towards the Mersey Tunnel. I felt fine up until we hit Liverpool, we were very late and didn’t get to the Youth Hostel until 9am – I was exhausted and felt really crappy, it had been a busy long day with little time to stop and eat or drink. We walked to the Macdonalds for tea, it was the quietest meal of the week we were all completely exhausted and I was very grumpy just wanting to go home. Without a doubt this was the lowest point of the week I even set me GPS to take me home ready for the morning. I had a terrible nights sleep and in the morning my mood had not improved, BUT I refused to give up and packed up Twinkletoes ready for Scotland with dread.
DAY 3 SCOTLAND
We were joined in Liverpool by Kate who made up our 7th Lady - she was very bright and cheerful on monday morning. Our trip up the M6 did nothing to improve my mood the weather was appalling with crap visability and torrential rain and at one stage we were even faced with hail in july. It was exhausting we kept going North until Carlisle where we 165ned the A74 and continued into Dumfries, we turned up the A712 and A713 and the weather improved, the roads were absolutely fabulous and really improved my mood. There was a twitchy moment for the three of us as the road was having repairs which consisted of throwing gravel down on the corners, kept us awake and alert. We stopped to take off waterproofs – mine had broken anyway and were letting in more water than keeping out. We headed then up into Ayr and towards the Erskine Bridge. We stopped about 40 minutes away from the bridge for a rest
At this point because of time and how unwell I was feeling we phoned ahead to the other riders and I decided that I would not be able to go to Ardnamurchan Lighthouse, we decided to head straight for the bunkhouse at Ben Nevis. We rode into the most glorious countryside through Glencoe, because we were no longer time pressured we were able to take our time and take in the scenery. I wasn’t the only one who was suffering, Mikey pulled into a layby and could bearly speak due to tiredness. We had a drink and a rest and then continued to fort William.
We arrived at the bunkhouse at the foot of Ben Nevis in glorious sunshine at about 4pm. It gave us the opportunity to have some rest and relaxation. The other riders did the ride to the lighthouse and found the roads very challenging. They didn’t arrive at the bunkhouse until after 8pm.
OK, here are my first 3 days to start, I will post the rest of the report later
To be continued……………………………………………………………………….