When you have been planning for an event and building to it for weeks, months or in this case, years it is unsurprising that it is a great sense of excitement when it actually arrives. The night before is a little bit like Christmas Eve as you struggle to get to sleep , you think about what tomorrow may bring and more importantly did you pack everything you need.
The number of people who turned up at 7-30 this morning to see us off was amazing and it brings it back that it not just the ten of us who are part of this trip but all the family and friends who have supported us in training and throughout the course of today with messages of support.
Rolling through the cheers this morning was just an amazing start to the whole trip and w headed off down roads that are very familiar to most of us and to Ellesmere where we had the first meeting with the support van that will be vital to us.
From there we went to Shrewsbury where we would have our first slight detour as one of the group went straight over at a set of lights contrary to the rest of the team who correctly when right. There will be more. Normally uphill.
After the brief stop at Dobbies where the team pondered how much more 20 was than 18 when compared to 15. If you are now screaming 2 then that was a familiar refrain but actually in terms of effort to achieve those MPH it is far more effort :-).
A large part of today was spent on the A49 which is a high speed and traffic A road so to try and be helpful to traffic we split into two groups of 4. This split was to prove eventful as it ended up holding for the next 60 miles. Not entirely by design
We had arranged for lunch at a cyclist cafe near Leominster but nobody actually knew where it was. Whilst one team received the message with the location another did not. The realisation coming at the point they thought the cafe was at the next roundabout only for it to quickly dawn there was not one.
Still, we can heartily recommend the chicken pasta that the Esso garage near Leominster serves. :-). Finally reunited with the van 10 miles later four of us stocked up whilst the remaining four followed on after their three course banquet.
Heading off with another plan to meet in 15 miles where we could reunite the entire team for the final trip into Gloucester. Historically, we have had a simple rule to follow the Garmin. This is the little device a few of us have on our bikes that track our speed but some now have sat navs on where we have stored the route.
In our fit of organisation we had both of these one group of four and none in the second group. Which has been fine until the Garmin said “turn left” and the road sign to Gloucester said “straight on”. Now we had a decision and we got it almost 50% right. This is only funny as when we did the ride to Monte Carlo we had exactly the same discussion at exactly the same junction.
When we reached the next roundabout we realised that we had to wait because we had told the van to turn left. Sure enough a few minutes later the group was completely reunited and we followed the route we thought the van had taken. 10 miles later, and way past the agreed meeting point, we realised it had not. One quick phone call confirmed that the van was at the hotel! Luckily stumbling across a kebab van in a lay-by three miles outside of Gloucester we took on one last water bottle and headed in to complete the first day at Gloucester.
All of the first days we have been involved in have had moments like this and for sure they make good dinner conversation.