At eight o'clock, Audrey said "Go", and I was off. After picking my way through the obstructions and cobbles, I was finally clear of the hotel, and on the open road. When riding out though the way in, I remembered to start my computer. So much for precision.
Looking back, I think the first 10 miles were the twistiest of the ride. I seemed to be constantly freewheeling around sharp bends. After a few miles, we saw the landlady from Tredinney Farm out with her camera. I waved.
Penzance, as I had predicted, was a formality, despite being probably at its busiest. The wind was now starting to become noticeable, and was definitely helpful. Progress was routine past Redruth, through Indian Queens, and on to Bodmin. After Launceston, the A30 becomes single carriageway and the terrain becomes more awkward. However, the dual carriageway returns at Okehampton, and 100 miles was passed in 4hr 45mins (30 minutes up on schedule).
I visited Exeter at lunchtime, but got through without delay. The stretch to Cullompton was on poor roads, but conditions seemed to improve as the road swung around towards Taunton, and I joined the A38. There were then some fabulous miles past Bridgwater, where the wind seemed to be directly behind me.
Unfortunately, the terrain starts to get tough as Bristol is approached. Once over the Mendips at Churchill, there are several more vicious ascents before the final freewheel towards Bedminster.
A profusion of marshalls guided me off the A38, and along the Avon Gorge. Once under the suspension bridge, I then climbed onto the downs, (near to where I had lived as a student) to then descend to Filton and the A38 again. There was an anxious moment when a motorist decided I was holding him up (on an empty road). He overtook, cut in, then jammed his brakes on for a pedestrian crossing. I only just managed to avoid him.
200 miles elapsed after just less than 10 hours. I was still 30 minutes ahead of schedule. There now followed another terrific section of tailwind.
The road to Gloucester was also memorable for the number of excited onlookers. Over the 25 mile stretch, I guess there were people every mile. Pauline handed up a bag of seedless grapes - which were very refreshing when I eventually managed to get them out of the bag. It's a pity I can't ride the trike "no hands".
Several miles later, I spotted a crowd ahead. Seven of my work colleagues had travelled across from High Wycombe to give me a shout and a cheer.
It was great to see familiar, excited faces - they had produced some banners, and even developed a cheer-leading routine. They bypassed me several times using the M5, so I saw them on a number of occasions as far as Stafford.
Meanwhile, I negotiated Gloucester, and reached Tewkesbury at 8pm (240 miles in 12 hours). My brother Tim joined the attempt here, with a supply of complimentary hot food from the Tewkesbury 'chippy' (a pleasant surprise, as he was obviously expecting to pay for it!).