The Ups and Downs of Cornish Hills

Trip Start Feb 28, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Sunday, March 25, 2012

I wiped out today. I have to take full credit. I veered left into a huge hedge, the type that lines most of the country roads here in Cornwall. Not sure if it was the huge wind turbines or the map on my handlebar bag that distracted me, but before I knew it I had a face full of hedge! Luckily i had my bandana on so my face wasn't cut up by all the thorns. My leg got it pretty good though ...and Goldie didn't fair so good either. She developed another annoying squeak ...possibly an issue with the bottom bracket.

This was my first day cycling after two days off. And before that three days on. On as in biking ...though I wasn't 'on'! Okay for two days I was. I was flying! I was on fire! I did huge miles both days. I got down to Land's End... the most South Westerly point in England. And then made huge mileage up to New Quay. And that day was mostly in the rain!! And I liked it! I even wild camped in a grove of trees on a hill overlooking the ocean outside of New Quay on Cornwall's North coast. Beautiful listening to the waves crash in the distance.

I had made it to Land's End because I heard about this little jaunt that people do from one end of the UK to the other. It's called End to End or more commonly reffered to as Land's End(in Cornwall) to John O'Groats(IN Scotland). The oft used acronym is LEJOG. I hadn't really decided if I wanted to do this is like 900 miles, but I thought I would go there and see how I felt at that point. Besides, it was near where Jessica lived!! And so far I'm all about visiting friends!! Needing that to give me some reason to go somewhere! My visit with Jessica, and her roommates was awesome! I enjoyed their hospitality immensely and the Sunday before I left, Jessica and I cooked everyone a Sunday roast. Apparently it is a tradition in England. It turned out really well. Though I can only take credit for chopping! That's my limit of expertise in the kitchen.

Where was I? Oh yeah, so yeah ...Land's End. It wasn't until I was in Land's End ...and I caught wind of the officialness they have set up around a LEJOG attempt that hooked me! They give you a form to fill out on the way and when you make it to John O'Groats get your form signed and if you pay 15 Pounds become a member of the End to End club!! I thought "I am so in!" I'm going to Scotland baby!!

This gave me some much needed focus. I must confess that up until then, I've been doddling! Kind of directionless and more into visiting than actually biking. I knew I needed some bike focus but I didn't know where I should put that bike focus!! It was either a bit more of UK or head into France or up to Germany to see my friends Ina and Miguel. I was all over the place! And Doddling along. Deciding on the LEJOG has given me the focus I needed. And the realization that I'm not too fussed about being a tourist while I'm on my own. I've missed seeeing a lot of cool things in Cornwall ...but it's all good because now it becomes more about the biking. Oh ...I'm seeing a lot of cool things too! If I wanted to see all the cool things a place has to offer ....forget about it!! I'd be travelling forever!! Wait...?

I left Land's End with a new sense of purpose and ripped up to just outside of Penzance where I had a great sleep and then got up the next morning and even in the rain, I was able to blast up to just outside of New Quay where I wild camped and had another good nights sleep.

This was great!! Oops ..the next day just went all wrong!! From wet clothes, and wet tent to poor mileage, sore knees, sore thighs and one too many hills that actually had me in tears. Not very manly, I know. But it happened. I hit a wall. I didn't mind biking in the rain the previous day and even camping in the rain the previous night. I DID mind not showering, biking in wet clothes and didn't much enjoy packing away my wet tent and other wet clothing. Yechhh!! I already had a 'mildew' incident with my tent and didn't want another.

The hill in question was a particularly steep one and I didn't even make it up that far when the whiny sucky baby in me came to the surface and took over: "Forget this! This is ridiculous! These hills are too steep, and I have too much stuff, and my knees hurt and my thighs are like jelly and Goldie's chain is screwed!!I'm too old for this crap!!" And then the tears. Done in by some stupid hills. For the second time in the almost month since I started on my world bike quest ...I quit!

Yet this time I couldn't even quit with grace! There was not a bed and breakfast in sight to quit at! Nor were there any campsites ...which God forbid, I would have to resort to if I couldn't find a BnB. I rode into St. Columb and found the only BnB in town ...though she was renovating and had no space. She sent me to a dot on the map called Talskiddy. What? Great ...whatever, I'm done! Just show me where it is! I followed here directions up a steep #%^$ing hill only to find that the one she mentioned was full. Are you kidding me?!

If I wasn't broken before this. This did it!! The universe was making quitting very difficult! I went back to the main part of Talskiddy and came across a couple sitting outside their home. I stopped to ask if they knew of a BnB and ended up having a great chat with Bruce and his wife over coffee while they helped me locate a place to sleep for the night. "I believe Elizabeth up the road has room!" Bruce and I went up the road in his car (Thank God!!!) to where Elizabeth and her family were watching workmen install a Canandian made wind turbine. Sure enough Elizabeth had room and within half an hour I was in the BnB drying out my clothes, my tent and nurturing my wounded pride with a hot cup of tea and scones with clotted cream and jam - a Cornish delicacy! (Yum!! by the way!!) I even got to the point where I was able to kinda laughing at myself for my mini meltdown!

I had a GREAT night sleep and spent the next day in the town of Wadebridge buying a new chain for Goldie and sending 14 lbs of stuff up ahead to Bristol!! The night before, I resolved to not let these Cornish hills get the best of me decided to lighten up my load and see if that helped. I also was starting to feel a little self conscious about the amount of stuff I was carrying! Feeling a bit like a rolling rummage sale! Trimming down was practical and asthetic to the eye. It's important to look good while you know!

After two glorious nights at Elizabeth and Micheal's farm in Talskiddy Cornwall - where I indulged in TV (Britain's Got Talent), great English breakfasts(Yum!!), a long, hot bath, and repair work on Goldie - I took to the road feeling refreshed and once again willing to take on the world with my bike!!

My spill less than two kilometers later, did not for a second dampen my spirits!! In fact I think it bolstered them. I dusted myself off feeling more alive than ever. Perhaps just feeling greatful that I didn't break anything. On me or Goldie!!

It is now actually the next day from the spill, and I am luxuriating in my tent, writing and enjoying the sunshine. I spent much of yesterday on the 'Camel Trail' An 18 mile trail that goes along the Camel river and is prairie FLAT!!! Woohoo!! There were enough hills in there though to confirm that my lightened load is indeed easier to haul up hills. Yipee! I'm blasting up hills and looking good doing it!!

Life is really simple sometimes!

Next stop ...I'm going to be a bit of a tourist and visit Tintagel Castle, where legend says King Arthur was born. I'm a bit of a freak for English history actually so I couldn't resist this one! Besides, it is quite close.

I just a week ago figured how to upload pictures to Facebook so will get on that soon. I haven't yet figured how to sort pictures on this blog site so sorry that they are out of order!! I am using an Android computer and it doesn't quite work the same as a Windows laptop. Please be patient as I figure it out!!
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Scott Mitchell on

Morning Darren,

It is 5 am and I did not sleep that great. I decided to get up and begin doing some homework, as my studies at Royal Roads University are coming to a close. I was pleasantly surprised to see your blog entry and feel for you with the serious hills, lack of bed and breakfasts as well as the bike crash, thanks for the video. Do you have polysporin or equivalent to keep infection out of the cuts? I find that shit magic...

I went out kayaking yesterday up river from Rayleigh, past Dairy Road, where our family used to live. It was a 3 hour journey in the current and I had the most amazing experience passing by what I thought might be a Golden Eagle. It was an older wise bird. It did not even flinch when I passed it on a piling and it felt like it was inviting me to be within 5 feet of it, just to have a morning chat... It was amazing. I found a nice bend in the river, and yes, even passed Riverbend Orchard and it brought back the memories of you, Holly and the crew.

I have completed alot of work. I am certain I will pass the accreditation and yet now, the bravest and most challening part is to make a living as an executive coach. Perhaps in someways, it is like recognizing I am too old for this shit, and succumbing at the base of some of the motivational steep pitches of the grade I encounter. I know I must pace myself as I continue to be ever present and available to learn, grow and transform. I do not know what the fruit of my labor will yield, only that my success hinges on giving full effort (resting when needed), being as capable as I can be and from this having the self satisfaction that I gave my all.. From this emerges a peace of mind that all is well.

I can only hope that some of these words give you a sense of assurrance that you are doing exactly what you need to be doing, in spite of the harsh realizations, the hills and lack of rest spots with vacancy's. I wish I could import myself with my bike and ride up the steep roads shoulder to shoulder...

Keep up the great work my friend and assuredly look forward to the next post. Scott, peace out...

Sam on

Ahh Darren, love reading about your adventures, the places you go, people that help you along the way, and how you are faring as the terrain, climate, and mishaps change.
I couldn't help but laugh out loud when you described your 'mini-meltdown', although; certainly you were not a happy camper at that time..
Take care buddy, rest, live, and as you said: simple
P.s. I took a spill on my bike once (yup only once)...I was more concerned if anyone saw bike didn't come out of it ok either...
OOXX love the pics ! and vid!

Gord Moore on

Crashed into a thorny hedge and all you want to talk about is YOUR scratched up leg...... WHAT ABOUT WILSON??? Hope you didn't squish the little monkey :0)
We're all waiting to hear that Wilson is OK. (can't wait to se more pics)

A. Traviss Corry on

I love the video entry! Get that squeaky bottom bracket fixed... that will drive you crazy. It seems like you have all the right gear. I am FASCINATED as always. I can't wait for your next post.

Rick on

I crashed in a hedge row too. I was not used to my clip in shoes and could not get my feet out of the pedals in time to avoid falling head over heals into the hedge.

Glad to hear you have a directional focus for end to end. You can do it, Remember the Argentina saying "if it doesn't Quilmes, it'll make me stronger". Tanya and me and the kids are taking a week off ay my folks place in Colorado. Sunny spring days and relaxing.

Bottom bracket noise sucks. I'd suggest just that you take the BB out and put it back in. Maybe it is loose. If it is slightly loose it can make noise. Didn't we put a new one in before you left. Also check your seat post clamp. Sometimes a loose seat clamp will make a terrible frame bending sound and it is just your seat rails.

Oh the tricks you will learn! Stay strong my friend and smile often at the simple things.

Rick and Tanya

Casey on

Oh the joys of being young and carefree. Perhaps you should get a horse.
I will pass this along to MOM.
Love to you

Monica Corry on

Gord asked the question -- What about Wilson? I don't see him anywhere!!
And, of course, Traviss is right, too. It is another fascinating entry. Keep 'em coming!

techhdarre on

Oh ...everyone will be happy to know that Wilson survived the crash with only a few scratches and is currently swinging around in his loft bed in the tent. He is such a pain sometimes. I'll post a picture on this blog entry.

And the bottom bracket sound turned out to be my pedal thwacking a zip tie that is securing one of my bottle holders! Oops! I feel a little silly about that one!

Sohail on

Dude - sweet skars - the chicks will love them :)
F%%^*&%*%*% Hills - will make the most manly of us weel up in tears - I share your pain. Just think you get to go down some ofthem and coast - now and again.
Feels like you could allow yourself a warm B&B every now and again - especially when your gear and clothes are wet - you can only put up with that misery for so long - and this is supposed to be fun. So, if it matters - you have my permission to rest up and get cosy every time you feel a need or want.
Thanks for the sharing - especially what you are learning through the adventure. Keep it up :)

Cindy on

Boy I hope your wounds healed by now. You must be careful. Soooo enjoy your stories. Take Care.

Ivy Williams on

Hey Darren, great story. Nevermind the mini meltdown, we are allowed those and you sure were; just keep on having your adventure. I remember Lands End, scopnes with clotted cream and jam (yum is right) I wish I had one now...drool, and Tintagle. the legend of Kind Aurthors home, Enjoy that, its fun walking through the ruins and imagining his story. Happy travels Road Dog.
Ivy xo

Ivy on

oops,shit I should edit....Tintagel Castle, King Arthur.

Andrea von Schoening on

Hey Darren, I finally read all 3 of your blog entries today ... and I am appreciating your writing and the sharing of your journey as ever! It is so great to hear what you are doing and how it is affecting you along the way ... you have undertaken such a GRAND ADVENTURE! Loved the video ... would like more of them and more pics ... you know, whenever you have time! I am still working on saying TOT-LAY the way you were teaching me ... and now you can try it out in Scotland!
I am teaming Kelly's Wed eve tomorrow ... on community ... while he is in Winnipeg. I'm also teaming his next weekend workshop in May, and have been putting out the brochures around town.
Kalen is still doing his 'thing' - work and computer games ... I hope he is going to make school a priority sometime soon! His latest upgrade was a third monitor for his computer as well as getting a tablet. Now his computer set up looks like you are sitting in the cockpit of a plane (well, almost!).
I feel blessed to know you, Darren, and I admire you so much! Be well! Keep on bloggin' and ridin' and feelin' and campin' and BnBin'!

normflach on

Very cool, Darren, cruising down to Land'sEnd and thru Penzance - I was hoping you would see pirates in Penzance but apparently when Gilbert and Sullivan wrote Pirates of Penzance in 1879, Penzance was already a quiet resort town with no pirates. And Tintagel! How cool is that? There is a very real possibility that Merlin is stalking you. English myth and fantasy is even more interesting than English history. Your end to end quest is wonderful! I am enjoying googling places you pass thru on your journey. You can call me Vic for vicarious.

Sandy on

Hi Darren: We are sitting in about 5" of snow - better to ride in the rain, I think. I am really enjoying your blogs,what wonderful hings you have seen and done, and will continue to do. Enjoy, enjoy -this is the adventure of your life!

Jo-Anne on

Hey Buddy. I'm happy u & Wilson survived the crash. That which doesn't kill us, makes us stronger. I admire ur strength, courage, & determination. May the beauty that surrounds u bring great joy & love to ur heart. Love u. Hugs. <3

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