Lejog Day 7: The kindness of strangers (and friends)
Updated: Jan 6, 2020
13th September 2018
The day started off so well. The predicted rain did not arrive and the sun was shining. We set off early so that we could meet up with our friends, John and Valerie, for lunch. The back roads into Clevedon were quiet (and flat) and from Clevedon we stayed on lovely quiet roads and cycleways. It was probably the loveliest ride to date.
We then had to navigate through the industrial heartlands of Bristol, but once again really lovely cycle tracks all the way. We got lost! Very lost! An elderly cyclist stopped to offer help and ended up leading us to where we needed to be to cross the river Avon. He was well into his 70s and as fit as a fluke. Without him we would have been still riding around in circles through the huge imported car compounds.
Cycling over the Avonmouth Bridge (also known as the M5 bridge) was thrilling. The cycle lane goes contra to the traffic flow so there we were on top of the bridge with the traffic screaming alongside, coming towards us. The whole bridge was vibrating. We loved it.
We continued to follow our route and hit the first obstacle... road works. Our cycle path was closed. A diversion along a massively busy 'A' road for a mile or so until we rediscovered the path. There is nothing quite like the sensation that you are going to be sucked under the wheels of the passing lorries as they overtake at 70mph. The air suction pulls you in and then blows you out again, it is vile.
Back on track now, we are cycling our little legs off in order to meet up with our friends for lunch. We still have over 20 miles to go and we know we are going to be late. Nevertheless the roads and cycle paths were great, but the stop/start every mile or so to get through the calming barriers really does slow down progress. Then we meet our second obstacle.. guess what... road works!!
These road works were unusual in that there was a barrier across the road. Always before we have found that the road gangs will let cyclists through but this gang were of the 'jobsworth' mentality and refused to let us through, even though there was plenty of room and they could have easily let us pass. No amount of pleading would sway them. It meant we had to ride back the five miles we had just covered, but more importantly took us far away from our intended route. If any of you reading this have ever tried to navigate using a cycling GPS it is difficult. No way could we see a way to get to our destination from where we were without hitting a motorway.
I phoned John and explained our predicament. They were by now waiting in the pub we had agreed to meet in, still about 20 miles away! He suggested that we find the nearest pub and that they would find their way to us.
So, sad and forlorn (did I mentioned stressed-out?) we were bent over the GPS trying to figure out where to go when two cyclists stopped and asked if we needed help. They offered to lead us to Thornbury where there was a pub. It was about ten miles away. The stayed with us all the while and led the way, criss-crossing the motorway. We came to a small hamlet en route and there was a pub, so we thanked them and told them that we would be OK now. Our friends would meet us there. Their kindness was extraordinary. Off they cycled. We parked up the bikes, only to discover that the pub was permanantly closed!!
We did eventually find our way to Thornbury - with some steep ups and downs. Thanks to 'Find a Friend' we met up with John and Valerie at a Premier Inn. It was a joy to see them. They used to own the Oxygen Bicycle Company, and their kindness to us over the last year has been exceptional. They were on their way down to France and had made a massive detour from Rotherham to meet up with us on their way to Portsmouth. It was a joy to have lunch with them and catch up.
We spent a good couple of hours and by the time we waved them on their way it was gone 3.00pm. We are miles off our route and could not face trying to find it and then cycle onto to Gloucester, our intended destination for tonight. We booked in at The Premier Inn. We are half a day outside our schedule.. but what the hell? We are on holiday!
Day’s Mileage: 32.09m Total mileage to date: 276.32m
Day’s climbing: 712ft Total climbing to date 15,901ft
We are just over 1/4 of the way there!!! Yippee
Annette & Bob