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Morning’s cycle with the LEJOG girls

Written by Fiona June 02 2010

The LEJOG Five, including Sue and Ali on the left, and a local friend. At Clydebank Shopping Centre on the Forth and Clyde Canal.

The LEJOG (Land’s End to John O’Groats) sisters, Sue and Ali (along with three friends) have been cycling for 10 days now. They arrived in Glasgow last night and so I decided to join them for a wee pedal en route to Loch Lomond. Sue and Ali have so far raised £4,000 in aid of MacMillan Cancer. You can sponsor them here

So in all the 10 days not one of the five girls, nor any of the other friends who have joined them for sections of the route, have suffered a puncture. Not one! But today there were three! The first came  just a few minutes out of Clydebank on the Forth and Clyde Canal – and also just a few minutes after I’d met the girls.

As a seasoned cyclist I’ve sorted way more than my fair share of punctures so I offer some technical support and set to changing the punctured inner tube. The girls seemed thrilled to have someone to do this for them and I was more than happy to help. They gave lots of praise and sweets in return!

For the next hour or so we continued along the canal, heading towards Balloch. This is in fact part of Sustrans Route 7 and it’s a delightful place to cycle (hmm, so long as you have spare inner tubes). The going is very easy and the cycle path is mainly smooth-ish and fine for all kinds of bikes. It would be a great place to go with children as it’s almost entirely traffic-free.

Sue, Ali and myself at Dumbarton, on Sustrans Route 7 from Glasgow to Balloch

And so I chatted and cycled alongside Sue. They LEJOG Five have enjoyed mostly good weather, great scenery, fab chat and fine days of cycling. Their easiest day has been 40 miles, their toughest was 102 miles (this came on the back of 90-odd miles the day before and during the worst rain and wind they have encountered so far). They have met friends, enjoyed a 40th birthday celebration, seen parts of the UK they had never visited before and generally had a ball. Over all, as Sue put it: “We have had a fabulous time.” From here they have another four days of cycling as they head north to John O’Groats.

I would have loved to spend more time cycling with them but I had to get back to my desk to do a bit of work. I was actually looking forward to the return leg along the canal knowing that there would be a slight tailwind. The sun had also come out and so I knew I would make good time. That was until the next puncture of the day. Just a few miles after leaving the girls I felt the ominous bump, bump of my back tyre. I tried pumping it up a couple of times but there was no getting away from the puncture. And so I did my second back tyre change of the day (by this time my legs and hands were covered in bike grime!).

Back on course again I began to enjoy the cycling once more – before I again felt the ominous bump, bump. The chances are I must have nipped the inner tube while trying to get the (very tight) back tyre back on. But, suffice to say, my tyre had deflated for a second time.

This was a disaster as I only had one spare inner tube. And so my cycle ended with a call to a friend to come to my rescue in their car.

Hopefully the LEJOG girls will be by now enjoying a nice lunch on Loch Lomondside before making their way to Bridge of Orchy for the night. I said to call me anytime if they need another puncture sorted… I’ve had enough practice afterall!

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