Today's mileage: 46
Distance climbed today: 2,968 feet

LEJOG mileage to date: 138

Map view:

Google Earth view:

And the ride to date:

This was a tough day. Not a massive mileage, and less elevation than yesterday (2968 feet), but absolutely miserable weather for most of it.

We woke to grey skies and rain.

The site may have been pretty, but it was also very, very soggy.


The showers had cold water only, so I boiled a kettle and gave myself the motorhome version of a bed-bath.

LEJOG legend Mick from the CycleChat forum came over to join us for part of today's ride. Mick has done LEJOGs several times, on one occasion getting to John O'Groats and promptly turning round to ride back to Lands End.

We set off, with Mick showing us the route.

Mick found that my uphill speed was rather slower than his.

He mostly sat politely behind, but couldn't resist nipping ahead every now and then.

At the top of this hill, he turned round, cycled back down to us and gave us a quick 'Mush, mush!'.

It wasn't long before we ticked off our first county! We had finally finished cycling through Cornwall.

Unfortunately, Devon rain proved far less friendly than Cornish rain. Not only was it really hammering down, but it was also freezing cold. Even Mick looked less than impressed.

At one point, the freezing part became literal as the rain turned into hail. It has been many years since I have been so wet, cold and miserable.

The wet part was my own fault. I'd grown complacent with the warm-ish rain of the previous days, so had been fairly casual in doing up my waterproofs. I had cold rain running down the back of my neck, up the cuffs of my sleeves and into the bottom of my trousers. Once I did everything up firmly later, I stayed dry.

But the cold and miserable was largely outside my control as my face was bitterly cold, and I could barely see on the downhills. I remember a TT motorcycle racer answering a question about how he could even see where he was going, given the speed and vibration. His reply was that he saw green blur and grey blur, and he tried to stay on the grey blur. One 35mph downhill felt very much like that, the rain driving straight into my face. I could barely see the road, let alone potholes and other hazards.

It was getting silly, and I suggested diverting to a cafe or pub. Mick knew a pub up a very unlikely-looking road.

Mick's phone had drowned, so he used mine to call his wife with an update.

In any other circumstances, I'd have waited out the rain in the pub, spending the afternoon there if required, but a LEJOG means you have to get the miles in, come what may. After a cuppa and a brief hover by the rather pathetic fire, we struggled back into our soggy waterproofs to continue on.

We'd planned lunch in Oakhampton, 20 miles into the day, where Mick would join us before heading home. But conditions were so miserable, he decided to turn back five miles early. He pulled into a petrol station, intending to get under shelter to give us directions for the rest of the ride before heading off.

We then spotted two things almost simultaneously: Erica filling up the motorhome with diesel, and a Little Chef behind the petrol station.

This was clearly god's way of telling us to get the hell out of the rain and have an early lunch.

As an indication of just how hard it was raining, even the Little Chef roof was leaking.

My phone had also drowned, and not even a reset would ressurect it.

I nipped into the motorhome and changed out of my cold wet clothes into some dry ones. With a cup of Earl Grey inside me, I was a much happier man.

The photo, incidentally, was taken by another LEJOGger we met in the Little Chef.

This was one time when I could eat the Olympic breakfast without guilt!

The rain stopped while we were eating - and then promptly started again just as we set off! Mick for home, Donald and I following his excellent directions on towards Exeter.

I'd asked Erica to look for a campsite this side of Exeter, as I wasn't planning on spending any more time in this weather than I absolutely had to. If we could get within a few miles of Exeter, I was prepared to call it a day.

The next three miles were abject misery. Horizontal, bitterly-cold driving rain, and forced to continually brake down the hills because we just couldn't see where we were going.

But finally, eventually, the rain stopped. Neither of us were going to tempt the rain-gods by removing our waterproofs, so I settled for removing my fleece.

A few miles further on, the skies turned blue and the sun appeared! We left our waterproofs on ...

We were mostly following the old A30, and it was - once we had warmed up - an absolutely fantastic road. From total misery to cycling niverna in 30 minutes.

The old A30 mostly parallels the current A30, occasionally crossing it.

The tailwinds put in another appearance, and we were now effortlessly cruising along the flats at 18-20mph.

Mick had given us a list of placenames to aim for, so rather than attempt to programme a full route, I just did a goto each of the names in turn.

The Exeter signs directed traffic back onto the new A30.

While we stuck with the old A30.

We were now less than 10 miles from Exeter, with good weather and a tailwind. All was well with our world. I texted Erica to say that we would definitely make Exeter, and she could go a few miles beyond for a campsite if desired.

Erica was still searching for campsites, and we reached a junction in Exeter town centre where we might need to turn left, right or go straight across, depending on which site had space. We waited for her call.

Erica called to say she wasn't having much luck. As she was about a mile away, she came to meet us and we then

The one we had originally planned to stay in wasn't answering the phone, and a second one was full, which left us heading four miles in the wrong direction to one with a couple of pitches free.

I was pleased to get there.

I was slowly learning the art of the long-distance cyclist. One of the things I'd found was that you want all the encouragement you can get in the way of progress markers, so I reprogrammed my GPS to display eight data fields on one screen and another two on a different one.

As can be seen, it wasn't an impressive day, with a moving average of 9.7mph and an overall average of a snails-pace 5.9mph. The moving average was as a result of being forced to brake down hills, and the overall average due to the time spent sheltering from the rain.

It was less hilly than day two, but still had some long grinds.

But 46 miles got us to roughly where we'd hoped to be (albeit four miles further south than we wanted to be), and our LEJOG mileage to date put us on track.

At the campsite, we did the laundry - not because we'd run out of clothes, but simply because so many clothes were now soggy, my fleece and both pairs of cycling gloves among them.

So, a tough day, but great to meet up with Mr LEJOG himself, and some lovely cycling once the rain abated.

We plotted a planned route for the following day, paralleling the M5 on small roads, with two different end-points, one at 52 miles, the other at 60. With flatter terrain ahead, we hoped we might manage a longer day. Erica would seek out campsites for both options.

And that was day three. 138 miles down, approximately 890 miles to go.

Onto day 4 ...