Regular updates added below.
My Journey! I'm pretty much your typical 15 year old, lying around, listening to music, "floorganising" my clothes, and prety much allergic to exercise! But all that changed when my dad started taking me moutainbiking on a regualr basis. At first it was bad. I mean terrible. Going downhill was scary, going uphill was agony, my legs burned, my lungs felt like they were coming out, and then I started leaking water from my skin.............I was sweating!!
But i stuck with it. We kept going, up hill.... puff & pant; downhill.......cringe and crash! it didn't seem like the sort of thing that i would be doing once if dad ever made these rides optional! But then something really weird happened.......its just unbelievable.....
I PASSED SOMEONE! Yes, little me, who was dying on those uphills, struggling to fightback the tears sometimes overtook someone! And then another. And another. And I started to enjoy it an look forward to those rides, and even began night riding, but thats a whole other story!
One day we went for a ride out along the old railway line towards Newport, and carried on, and rode up the Wrekin. When I'd go tmy breath back at the top, we looked west to the welsh borders, and dad talked about his idea to carry on one day and ride all to through wales to the beach at Barmouth. Yeah, right, good luck ith that i thought, seemed crazy, but something abouth the idea must have taken root, because i deceided a few weeks later to go for it as my summer fundraiser activity. It was only then tha dad told me it was 110 miles from home to the beach!!!!!!!!!
Long story short, after a brief layoff due to exams this spring, I am trying to cram in the training miles to do this in July. it#ll be a toughie, the absolute furhtest i have ridden before is 40 miles, and that was a killer, but I am now starting to ride 30 miles regularly, on my own no less. Solo girl!
So how can you help? Well, its easy really. I'll do all the sweating and pedalling for 110 miles, through all those lovely welsh hills ( darn, forgot about those!) to Barmouth, in one day. And I'll do it for those wonderful people at the Donna Louise Trust, whose hospice helps Life Limited Children and their families, to get through one of the most awful terrible experiences any family could ever have to go through, the loss of a child. All you have to i dclick the button and donate a few pounds. Even 50p. Come on. Please. Help Me! My journey has been, and on the day will be, hard, but it just pales into insignifcance by comparison.
Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.
So please dig deep and donate now.
Update : 18/7/13
Update: Training's going well, no more dog incidnets after my alsatian bite a few weeks ago while riding through a farmyard on a bridlepath. Did over 100 quality off road miles last week and after a few days off for my birthday, I set a new PB of 45 minutes on the Follow the Dog Trail on Cannock Chase in the middle of a 23 mile ride, even though I was only going at what I felt was a steady pace. all this training mst be paying off. And it has been very hot! I mean REALLY hot. Thanks so much for all the support and messages of encouragement.
New video added below, please take a look if you have a moment
Did my first 70 mile ride today, which is two thirds off the way there and the good news is that I wasn't completely exhausted when we got back! Hurrah! It was an overall success, I wasn't too tired, I didn't do anything stupid on the road, and we were having such a good ride with a tail wind it was a very reluctant pair of bikers who turned around about 8 miles out of shrewsbury, agreeing that today wasn't really the day to go to Wales. However, my bike did fall apart.
The left crank fell off, the first time we were on a quiet back road and before I knew what was happening it had detacthed itself from my bike with my foot still slipped into the pedal. The second time, we were less than a mile from home, which was good but what was less good was that we were about 1/3 of the way up Weston Bank, the great big massive hill that we have to go up to get back home. Oh joy of joys. Thats 150 miles done this week.
Update 8/8/13 WE MADE IT - Dads Report
110 Exhilarating, Exhausting & Emotional miles!
So Saturday the 3of Augustarrived after several months of training for Ellies epic ride from Weston to Barmouth on her mountain bike to raise funds for the Donna Louise Trust. The weather forecast was good with warm clear skies all the way to the finish and a wind, that whilst not exactly the tailwind we had been hoping for, was at least not a headwind.
After listening to Ellies radio interview on BBC Radio Stoke we set off at 8 am with a mixture of excitement and eagerness on legs that had been intentionally rested for a week beforehand.
Through Stafford and out along the old railway line to Gnosall, and from there to Newport and on to Wellington, where we had a food stop in the shadow of The Wrekin. With 25 miles done it was becoming obvious even by this point that the weathermen were lightly off in their prediction of the wind direction: we were pretty much head on in any unsheltered areas. So we had to accept that we weren’t going to make the progress that we had hoped and our original slightly optimistic schedule went out of the window, and a “lets crack on without burning ourselves out and take it as it comes” approach was adopted.
The next leg saw us snacking by the riverside in Shrewsbury, a detour and a trip through the old town, then out en route for the border, which we crossed soon after noon near Crewgreen. This pretty much marked the halfway point at 56 miles. We were feeling pretty good and a phone call to Ellies mum, Tania, confirmed she had just arrived at the first planned rendezvous point for food and drink resupply just 10 miles down the road. As usual, just when things seem to be going well, that’s when fate jumps up to get you!
Our route had been planned intentionally using minor roads wherever possible, planned via google maps and BikeRouteToaster.com, and we found ourselves on a road SO minor it was actually just a farm track, with deep ruts, that had some pretty big puddles to avoid. Sadly, there was no avoiding the final puddle and it fell to Ellie to go through first. At this point its probably worth pointing out that whilst we didn’t exactly have road tyres we had fitted the slickest tread mtb tyres we possessed for this little adventure in order to reduce rolling friction and help with the distance. This proved to be Ellies undoing, and perhaps along with the 6 hours already in our legs, the deep submerged deep ruts got the better of her and in she went. Welcome to Wales indeed! It had to be the most evil smelling stagnant pool of water in area, and she went nearly full length in it. She emerged looking a little like “the creature from the black lagoon” dripping slimy mud and foul water, as did her bike. Shorts, top, everything wet. Thankfully we were only two miles from our meeting point, and it was a very much less than chuffed Ellie that rolled into the petrol station at Groes Lwyd, north of Welshpool. However, it’s amazing what a wash, ( actually a couple…it was that smelly) baguette, fresh shorts & socks and a bike wash can achieve and after some more fettling we were on our way again in a better frame of mind. Which was a good job, because the famous Welsh hills were just beginning in earnest. 66 miles done.
Pretty much straight away the road started to rise up, and of course, those Welsh minor roads don’t wind their way do they….oh no! They seem to pick the shortest way up any given hill, i.e. straight up it. So the legs had to warm up again pretty darn quickly. The climbs on this section were well worth it though as the scenery was typical welsh borders; green and tranquil with beautiful hidden hamlets coming in to view around every corner, along with other unusual features such as the treestump spotted by Ellie that had been carved into the shape of a 4 foot tall hawk.
It was hard going though, with the inclines and what seemed to a rash of recently resurfaced roads that had yet to have the loose chippings removed making climbing arduous and descending precarious on the sinuous lanes. On a better stretch we tried Ellie in the front, but it as fairly pointless as although she kept a good rhythm and held our target pace well, the tiny little hole she made in the air was useless for me, so we soon swapped her back into the trail position so that at least one of us was getting some respite from the headwind. It was actually a relief when we got off the back lanes and onto the A458 and some nice smooth tarmac in spite of a return to the busier traffic. Two miles later we met Tania again and with 81 miles under our belts we were feeling pretty good about having three quarters distance literally just around the corner. But the climbs so far had been just warm ups, and after divesting ourselves of any unnecessary extra kit and fitting lights, it was a good pull from there up to the next summit before a well deserved full bore descent for a couple of miles into Mallwyd. The legs were holding up well and with only 18 miles to go we would have been celebrating except for one little thing: The climb from Dinas Mawddy to Dolgellau, 1200 feet of thigh & calf burning ascent.
We set off on this leg with the falling sun already starting to hide behind the towering mountains on either side of us, on occasions creating long shadows of these giants barring our way ahead. The thing about this climb is the gradient, 20%, with short stretches steeper still, with the steepest bit left until last. No stranger to climbs now Ellie was not phased by what we had ahead, that is until she got her first glimpse of the final pitch, which literally looks as though the hand of a mighty deity has reached down and bent the road upwards, just to dare travellers to venture upwards. We mentally moved into “winch mode” and settled in for the of battle to come. As the tarmac pitched upwards properly Ellie pointed out that “it would be a shame to get off and walk now” so the die was cast, neither of us was going to yield first. We ground our way up the truly relentless incline, and on approaching the summit and the final steepening corner, our old friend for the day “the headwind” returned after a brief respite in the valley, all the fresher for the extra altitude. But we made it! Truly elated and relieved we pulled into the small layby at the summit and surveyed that which we had conquered, nestled between two mighty welsh peaks.
We zoomed down the other side at warp speed into Cross Foxes with only 12 miles to go, with no more climbing: Hallelujah! A last top up with food and we set off on the last 12 mile leg, with victory in our sights, finishing the descent down into Dolgellau and thence onto the the Mawddach trail, a disused railway line that is now a bridlepath that skirts the Mawddach Estuary. With the sun rapidly heading towards the horizon we were back in the teeth of a strengthening headwind, on a trail surface that really didn’t roll well, with the motuth of the estuary visible in the distance but never seeing to grow any closer, and about 3 miles out of Barmouth we got a text requesting an ETA from mum who had gone on ahead to the finish as the chipshop shut at 9pm! There was no way we were going to be there for 9 so it was starting to look like the fish and chip supper we had been thinking about all afternoon was now off. Then, with just three miles to go, and the finish within grasp, Ellie “hit the wall”. You kind of had to be there, but for a minute she was about to crumple completely. Ellie, who had conquered Dinas Mawddy in a single pitch, floored by a disused railway trail! Thankfully some rapid use of carb gels, a quick hug and a few kind words and we were on our way again. Almost immediately we seemed to be on the Railway bridge that spans the estuary from Arthog to Barmouth, which with its pedestrian route would carry us over to the north side and our final destination.
We rolled across and with new energy in our bodies born of seeing the finish for real we finally zipped into Barmouth, 111 miles and 13 and a quarter hours after we set off to find Mum waiting for us at the finish. And better still she had persuaded the Barmouth Fish Bar to say open an extra 15 minutes just for us when she told them our story. And even better still they gave us £20 n cash for our charity! What stars!
It’s true to say that we had had grand plans for the finish, with photographs on the beach, but as dusk had already fallen, that was pretty much out, so a few photos munching chips in Barmouth harbour are our main momentos of the finish! And some of the best fish and chips I’ve ever tasted, whilst texting friends and family to confirm our successful arrival.
It was a proper adventure: I can honestly say there was no man prouder of his daughter that day, and that it was a privilege to have been able to share it with someone so special as Ellie.
In total so far, thanks to the generosity of our donors, the amount raised by Ellie is £1,350.00 .
Thanks for all your support, Ellie & Dad.
110 Miles, One day and absolutely No Flapjack!
So we were up bright and early on Saturday morning. All our gear was packed and ready to go. After listening to my radio interview whilst having an odd breakfast of weetabix and toast whilst watching some Sherlock, we shammied up, took a few photos and set off at about 8. I was feeling positive but with a strong sense of foreboding. The first 20 or so miles were pretty uneventful so I’ll spare you the lengthy descriptions.
After we reached Wellington we went along the back roads to Shrewsbury which was very boring. The headwind was getting stronger and the road was an infuriating mix of up and down, but not up enough to make you work or down enough for you to really pick up some momentum. And after a while, you’re used to the pretty views and it all seems to blur into one.
Anyway, after a quick food and loo break on the banks of the beautiful Severn, we set off again through Shrewsbury. Our spirits were high despite the fact that we still had over 60 miles to go and the headwind was showing no signs of changing. So off we went again, crossing the Severn, again, and back on those quiet, mind numbingly dull country roads. That is until at 51 miles we stopped and put our iPods on. Let me tell you something, nothing livens up sleepy back roads like a bit of Muse!
We were nearly half way as we crossed the border into Wales. I was very excited as I realized that the hill to my left was one I had seen in the distance the first time we had climbed the Wrekin, the day when this mad idea was first suggested. I was even more pleased as I saw it shrinking into the distance. (It also made me smile because I thought it looked like a sleeping Labrador, but hey ho, you know what they say- simple things please simple minds)
This brings us to… The Puddle… Y’know when you’re riding along and you happen to go through a dirty great puddle and you think to yourself ‘Wow, I hope I don’t fall in, that’d be horrible.’ But you never actually do fall in because, well, people just don’t fall into puddles. It’s simply not done. Except in this case, I did fall in. It soaked my top, my shorts, my shoes- everything. And it wasn’t like I chose a small clear puddle to have a little dab in, I had to chose the deepest, smelliest, siltiest, greyest puddle in all of Wales. And Dad has it all on film. The only thing that could be construed as ‘lucky’ about the whole thing was that Mum was only two miles away with food (but no flapjack, hence the title), a change of shorts, water and a bowl. I was so close to tears I’m counting it as my first break down. But after some Pringles, a sponge down, a change of shorts and a sit down in the sun we were off again, 66 miles done, 44 to go.
In hindsight starting on cold legs straight up the first of the massive Welsh hills wasn’t the best idea. It was definitely the scenic route through Wales, the views were incredible! The sun was shining, the wind had died down a bit (although as Dad pointed out, that was because there was a big hill in the way) and my good mood returned! Nothing of note for next stretch really, apart from the great road descent into Mallwyd through some beautiful forest that made me think of home (which was about 90 miles away.) Another check in with Mum, couple more bars and then off for the final hill- the mountain pass , Dinas Mawddy, or as we called it ‘Dinas Mordor’. After a bit of a drag up the valley towards the very daunting hill, a quick photo and some emergency sports mixture, we began the climb.
It was steep. Imagine the steepest road you’ve ridden. Thought of it? Good. Now forget it, because it probably isn’t even comparable to how steep Dinas Mordor is, or at least feels after some what gruelling 100 miles. It’s a hill worthy of Froome or Wiggo. Not only is it oh-so-steep with little to no respite it’s very very long. Every time you think you see a flat(ter) bit, you get closer to it and realise it’s not flat after all, it’s still just as dammed steep! Oh, and I forgot to mention we were doing all this accompanied by our old friend, The Headwind. Let me say, Drillski had some choice words about this. Ironically, I couldn’t hear half of his rant over the wind! And after one final steep sting where the wind hit us with everything it had got we had made it to the top without stopping or walking, a pretty impressive feat if I say so myself. I was running on pure adrenaline on the way down the other side, I had never felt so good and true to myself, I’ll tell you that.
After one final check in with Mum with only 10 miles to go along the river estuary into Barmouth I was on such a high! I remember saying something like ‘I want to do something like this again! You’ve got me hooked!’ I thought it was going to be a nice easy last 10 miles, along a flat/downhill riverside trail, rolling into Barmouth on a high.
Well, they do say ignorance is bliss.
With 3 miles to go I hit the wall. I was exhausted, we had been out for coming up to 13 hours, we still had a really blustery head wind rolling in from the sea, it was taking a lot of effort to keep going on the horrible fine chippings that just slow you down. I just started crying and well, let’s just say, the phrase ‘I haven’t got any gels left’ is becoming a famous phrase in our house and I think it’ll become a running joke on the same level as ‘I can’t see, I can’t see!’ or ‘SLAM SLAM SQUEAK SQUEAK SQUEAK’ :oops:(if you ask me nicely, I may tell you). Dad gave me lots of gels and after the nausea had worn off, we set off again, taking it nice and slow as we went over the railway bridge.
We rolled into Barmouth at quarter past nine and I can’t speak for Dad but I was utterly exhausted and verging on hysteria. It wasn’t the big finish I had envisioned, but then I don’t think I would’ve had it any other way. We sat done on a bench on the promenade, eating some delicious fish and chips (if anyone’s in Barmouth, I would definitely recommend the Harbour Fish Bar, they’re quality!) having a bit of a cry and babbling hysterically down the phone. I’d love to be able to tell you how I felt at the end but I have absolutely no idea! I’d say I was numb with exhaustion but it was more of an emotional overload to be honest, I was feeling everything at once; exhaustion; disbelief; excitement; hunger; happiness. It’s a bit of a shame really that I never really got to have the ‘Oh my god I rode 110 miles to Barmouth that’s amazing!’ moment but I’m sure it’ll creep up on me one day. Probably in the middle of an AS Biology lesson or something.
I would like to say a thank you to everyone at Swinnerton Cycles in Birches Valley for providing gear and words of encouragement whenever we dropped in, especially to Veronica and everyone on her Ladies Rides who are oh-so-supportive, lovely company, excellent riders and just a great little support network. Also thank you to everyone here on Singletrack for being supportive and hilarious at times and for donating so generously to this cause, you’ve honestly blown me away with your compassion and willingness to help! Thank you to everyone else who has donated and offered support, it really helped me through the day knowing that we had already been given so much. Thank you to my friends who have been very supportive and understanding when I’ve cancelled or missed things when I’ve been out training. Thank you to my brother Ben for doing the updates while we were doing the ride. Thank you for my mum for washing riding clothes at least three times a week, being there to pick us up if we needed it, make us flapjack, be emotional support, and follow us around on the day with food, a bowl to wash in and kind words. But most of all thank you to my dad, who is the best dad in the world in my eyes. I have so much to thank him for, mainly for making me start biking in the first place. It’s honestly changed my life and I can’t imagine what I would be without it. So thank you for believing in me, pushing me to do more and picking me up when I fell off- literally! You’ve were there all the way so thank you Dad, so much, more than I can ever say.
This was the best thing I’ve ever done, as well as the hardest. Everyone keeps saying how amazing what we’ve done is and it was “I s’pose” but at the end of the day, it was just a thing I did. It was hard and long and exhausting and absolutely brain tinglingly phenomenal, but it was just a thing. What is more extraordinary for me is that the world is still as kind and generous as you think it is as a kid, if you know were to look. I can’t explain how the ride has made me feel but however happy and amazed I am by what I've done, I’m infinitely more amazed by what you've done, what people are still doing, which is being compassionate and just taking the time to offer advice or a few words of encouragement, and especially give your hard earned money to a complete stranger it really does mean the world to me. So thank you for everything you've done.