I left home at 9.30am to make my way to Rogers house. It was the first time I'd sat on a bicycle since being towed into Thailand by Daniel Marshall, four months ago & all of the broken parts had recently been replaced. I had a rare, fully working bicycle. Roger's house is around 5km away, including two big hills. I struggled a lot. By the time I got to Rogers, I felt a little sick, my fitness levels were rock bottom again. After a 10 minute rest and a last minute check that we both had everything, we were off. Roger is by no means fast, which is perfect for me and cycle touring in general, in my opinion. Bumbling along, in a nice relaxed manner, is the way for me.
Our plan was to cycle along the south coast to St Austell, camp in Roger's brother's field, then cycle to Padstow on the north coast of Cornwall the following day, camp there, and cycle back to Looe the day after. All was going good for the first hour, until we encountered our first problem. Strangely, it was my bicycle. My right pedal had managed to unscrew itself, but it was coming out at a strange angle, not on the thread, and was now stuck like it. I couldn't ride, my foot was now getting caught on the chain because of the funny angle that the pedal was pointing. We needed a big spanner to unscrew it, which we didn't have. Also, the worry was, even if we did get a spanner and unscrew it, the thread might be worn and we wouldn't be able to screw it back in. We had two options ...
1. Roll down the long hill that we were at the top of, that leads to the ferry that would take us across the river to the next town - Fowey, and go on the hunt for a spanner.
2. Roger to cycle home, get the car and drive back with the bike rack and we would have to start the trip again, another day.
We chose option one. Hopefully it could be fixed though, because if it couldn't, then Rog would have to cycle back up the long hill and home, which would be a long wait for me.
We flew down the hill (Roger is faster than the average cyclist downhill for some reason), and then rolled onto the little ferry. As we paid the fare, we asked if they had a spanner we could borrow, luckily they did. The ferry takes about two minutes to get to the other side and in that time, we had fixed the pedal, the thread was not worn. Roger then wanted to pretend it was him who'd fixed the bike...
Watching Rog get on his bicycle was a lot of fun. At the start of the day, his leg easily cleared his seat and rear panniers as he swung it around and over, but as the day went on he got more tired. Which meant that each attempt looked more and more difficult. Getting that leg over the saddle was becoming a task in itself.
The next hour was spent getting lost, on the hunt for his brother's field. We were close, but Rog had forgotten how to get there. He described to two people the tiny village/hamlet that the field is near and the second person gave us some good directions and we were soon there. His brother was just about to leave and lock the gate, so we made it just in time.
We chatted to the brother for a while, a very nice guy, and then asked where the nearest shop was. It turned out we were in the middle of nowhere - the little hamlet place near us, had nothing at all and the nearest shop was miles away. It was nearly dark and we were both a little tired, dinner might not be an option it seemed. We were then showed to where we could camp, which had an old caravan close by. There was no water, plumbing or electricity in it, but he said we could use it if we wanted. We said goodbye to Rogers brother and it immediately began raining...so we dived into the caravan.
By 4.30pm we were in darkness, with nothing to do and nothing for dinner. Roger wasn't a happy bunny. For starters we had a packet of crisps, main course was some ginger biscuits and dessert was some cookies. After our 3 course meal, both at opposite ends of the dark & cold caravan in our sleeping bags, Roger began saying we should cycle home in the morning. He'd just read that the weather was due to get worse and he was already cold. When he was out of his sleeping bag I quickly swapped them, so he had my big warm one. That still wasn't enough though, he wasn't looking forward to the next day at all.
It's a long night when you are in your sleeping bag by 5pm. I woke up to hear Roger snoring a few times though, so he must have been warm enough to sleep. The next time I awoke was to the sound of Roger having a secret little conversation to his wife on his phone. I was very tired, but had a big grin on my face when I heard him whispering "No Ann, I'm coming home, definitely, the weather is too bad". The wind sounded a bit crazy outside, but either way, it was unlike Rog. When it comes to half marathons and marathons, he is known for never giving up, even when he's had injuries he would just plod on slowly. When I fully awoke, there was no changing his mind. We were going to get something that both of us have tried so hard over the years to avoid...a 'DNF'; Did Not Finish.
We got ready to leave, Rog put his rain jacket on that he'd told me about. It turned out to be a light poncho raincoat. Once it was on, I pointed out there was no holes for his arms to go through, so how could he hold his handlebars. He soon took it off again...
When we were back in familiar territory, it didn't take long before we were nearly home. I asked Rog if our cycling days were over until it got warm again. He wasn't sure, but what he was sure about, was this definitely wasn't the end, there still would be more and longer trips, this was merely a little blip. That's the Roger I knew.
We said goodbye as we got to the turning for his road and he proceeded to slowly cycle through the red light that was there for road works. A few of the road workers shouted out to him to watch out. They'd just turned all the lights red while they manouvered their vehicles. Rog just continued on, totally unaware, until he realised a lorry was blocking his way and then a JCB couldn't get past because of Rog. Eventually, after lots of people shouting at him, he had to drag his bike up on to the grass bank and out of the way. I just stood next to the red light laughing at him, like I'd been doing for most of the day. One of the workers turned around to me after shouting at Rog, and said "Your mate's a f@*king rhino". Not really sure what it meant, but it made me chuckle.
All that was left now, was for me to cycle the 5km back home...easy. Not easy though if you have the most problem prone bicycle, in the history of bicycles. Yep, it broke again. Half way up Looe hill, my left pedal (not the one with the problem the previous day)...fell off. The whole arm of it came off and the teeth that holds it in place were rounded off, there was no fixing it. Of all the cycling I'd done in the last year I'd never had a pedal problem. Now I'd had two different problems, on separate pedals, in the space of two days. I finished the day by pushing my bicycle home, nothing changes...