Day 3 – Another eventful day, 46 °C and a seriously ill Charlie

Day three was upon us and it was looking like a really good route with lots to see and undulating terrain past the 30 miles mark, then a big climb and then downhill to Compiegne.

First thing was to get my new pedals tighten by the mechanic. I found Stuart, a quick tweak with an 8 mm allen key and all was good to go. it was already hot and touching 26 degrees at 7 am, by the time I got to my first water stop at 20 miles, I had already managed to drink the full 2 litres of water I was carrying. I refilled and had salty snack and off I went again.

I felt pretty good to be fair and the first 20 miles although a little hilly were fine. We all passsed some war cemetries and I stopped a few times to taek a look.

I continued from the stop and around 5 miles in to the next section my knee started giving me some grief. I continued but it got a little more problematic and it brought back painful memories of problems I had previously, and the reason I started cycling. Also, as I changed my cleats and pedals I did wonder if I had not got them aligned very well and putting undue pressure on my joint.

I just approached a football war memorial (more later), and I decided to stop to take a look and see what the problem was. I just came to a standstill, tried to unclip and the pedal stopped on my shoe and I realised the pedal had broken free from crank arm. Real disaster. I had a closure look and found my new pedal had stripped the internal thread on the crank arm, it was all over, I just knew it.

Back to the football memorial for now. you will see the image below and you can magnify to read the actual script. But in essence this was to recognise he men that took part in the advice on Contalmaison on the 1st of July 1916. Some of these men were made from Scottish football clubs where were fierce rivals, they put this to one side and fought together.


I knew it was all over, I have spent many years in engineering this was not a road side fix. I called Jo my wife to give her the news and she could tell I was devastated and that I had been plagued by constant issues along this challenge and was truing into a challenge of the mind, more than physical. I was close to tears and felt finished to be honest. All the hard work I had put in and a simple screw and thread had let me down….. To make it worse the temperature was in the mid 30’s by now and I had to find some shade.

I made a call to the rescue rangers and in around 15 minutes Alex arrived and he told me what I already knew that it was the end of the road. he took me a few miles on to the lunch stop and told me he may have a spare bike I could ride. They looked at the possibility of swapping out the crank arms etc but as they were all differing sizes it just was not going to work.

I got to lunch and they revealed Betty to me, also sometimes she is known as the top gear bike. For those that don’t watch top gear when the three guys decide to do a challenge like crossing Africa in three separate inappropriate cars they always have a reserve which is something they would not want to travel in. So here is betty

I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but this is. Betty looked ok from a distance, she had two wheels, a frame and dropped handlebars. However, I quickly discovered she was massively overweight (heavy) 2 sizes two small and only held a single litre of water and the time it was climbing to the late 30’s by now. The guys fitted my pedals and off I went.

To be continued….

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