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The Gold Post Box Cycle Blog

Golden Post Boxes

T-1 day  

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Si was up bright and breezy and cooked us breakfast, provided courtesy of Sainsburys in Warwick. Lucas did some press releases and we set off at 8am.  Many thanks to Carole & Phil Challis for allow us to stay at their home whilst they were away and top their temporary lodger, Sarah, for her help.

We headed off for Telford, via Walsall and some wrong turns and a diversion causing some confusion before we reached Brewood for a break.  As ever, various passersby were curious seeing the car magnets and t-shirts etc - encouraging more donations and awareness. We finally made Telford, after a long tedious slog along the very straight A5. Telford's Gold post box is in Arleston and commemorates Mickey Bushall's Paralympic Gold in the 100m T53. A cup of tea and then on to Wrexham, with a break in Wem.  It was during this that we lost even more time as Lucas had finally peaked energy wise and was running on zero, dozing at the handle bars!  Si and Chris kept as eye on him.  

Chris eats a banana as we cross North Wales

Nelow: In Telford

Day 15 - Great Barr to Douglas (Shropshire, North Wales & Isle of Man)

Having made it through Ellesmere, where Chris almost headed off the wrong way as he was leading for a bit, Lucas finally came back to life and normal pace was resumed to Wrexham and one of Tom James gold boxes for his Rowing Team Four gold at the Olympics as well as lunch, provided courtesy of Sainsbury's Wrexham.  It was here that discussions took place over how we would ensure we still made the ferry that evening.  Plan's in place, we headed on to Coedpoeth where Tom James second box is located - once you have climbed a huge hill to the village.  A brief stop for picture and tweet and then on to Flint, via a huge climb over the edge of the Cambrian mountains. Spectacular views greeted us as we then dropped down to Mold and further to the coast and Flint, where we were greeted by Robin Fox (friend of Lucas) and another Games Maker, Shirley.  We were also given tea and cakes/sandwiches by the local Methodist church.  Flint's box is for Jade Jones gold in Taekwondo 57kg class.

It was 5pm at Flint and with 1.25 hours to do 24 miles to get the ferry cross the Mersey for IoM, it was deemed we would have to load the bikes onto the car and be driven to the ferry as we couldn't afford to miss it.  Lucas' fatigue had impacted on the final leg of the day, but we had made it to all the boxes by bike. Si drove us to Liverpool where we unloaded and boarded the ferry for Douglas, compliments of the Isle of Man Stream Packet Company.  We said farewell to Si, who was returning south after doing  brilliant job with the support.

On the ferry Lucas blogged whilst Chris caught up on some football - the Costa Rica vs Uruguay game.  Lucas dozed and was woken every time Costa Rica scored!  We docked at Douglas bang on 10pm and were greeted by our Isle of Man hosts, Ben & Laura Ketteridge, who then conveyed us to the box in Onchan to avoid us getting lost. A few quick pictures and then to their home for food, shower etc before bed.

Above: Wrexham

Below: Si rerassembles the bike rack

Day 16 - Douglas to Draperstown (Belfast and South and west of Lough Neagh)

Day 21 - Stonehaven to Edinburgh (Angus coast, Fife & Firth of Forth)

Alarm went off at 5:15am and breakfast around 5:30 before leaving at 6am and cycling down to the ferry port in Douglas and checking in.  We thanked our hosts, Laura & Ben - who did a great job in the swift 9 hour visit we had made!  At 7am we departed and headed for Belfast thanks to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.  Chris and I slept most the way. On arrival in Northern Ireland, we met Alex McDonald, our support for the next two days. The car loaded, it was up to Glengormly on the Antrim Road - a road Lucas knows from the Belfast marathon in 2006.  It was a long slow climb andf the box was at the further end of the road.  It commemorates Ireland's Paralympic double gold champion, Michael McKillop T37 800 and 1,500m golds.  We were also ,met by Julian, Carol and Josh Coffey - friends of Lucas who popped up.  

It was then back down the Antrim Road and the Falls Road, and to the Sainsburys store in West Belfast,  They showed their support, allowed us to get snacks and more as we had a supermarket sweep momenmt before the store opened - felt like celebrities with a shop to ourselves! Many thanks to Keith Berry and staff at the store.  We then headed down the route for Seaforde and Bethany Firth's box  - a Paralympic gold in swimming  Women's 100m backstroke S14.  Had we been later in the day Bethany would have been able to meet us.  From here we headed north and had lunch overlooking the Mourn Mountains.  It was then north west for the rest of the day, which became harder as it wore on as we were cycling directly into the wind.  Dromore to Maghery was very tough with a long straight road of 4+ miles from Portadown that seemed to go on forever.  We also had the odometer stop working for a bit - and reverted to the Lucas's garmin for distance.

Maghery was a lovely spot to stop, right on the south west edge of Lough Neagh and from here the wind was less hard work - a bit more shelter seemed to help as we progressed to Cookstown and then on up through Sperrin Mountains - a long climb up but fabulous scenery.  Unfortunately, as it was getting later it wasn't as easy to see and Lucas wasn't feeling he was in the best frame to appreciate it. Given the dwindling light, we stopped at Draperstown, Alex having sourced accommodation in lieu of the provisional booking in Derry-Londonderry. The later was never on route just a preferred choice having never been there.  Whilst we have extra miles on day 17, an early start with the rest of the climbing to do should work better.

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

Day 15

Day 16

Day 17

Day 18

Day 19

Day 20

Day 21

Clockwise from above:

Mersey as we set sail

The top of the steep climb to Coedporth

IoM Steam Packet ferry

Inside the ferry deck with the bikes

At Onchan’s gold post box

Lucas blogs as Chris chills

At Onchan box with Lura & Ben Ketteridge - our IoM support

Above: Ciedporth Post Box

Below: Shirley (Games Maker) and Robin Fox join us at Flint

In answer to some questions - yes we have great tan lines from the fabulous weather - Lucas resembles a panda.  Not much chaffing, but  Lucas knees beginning to hurt.  

We left Draperstown just after 8am and headed back into the Sperrin Mountains.  Having missed the last 18 miles last night had worked as we got amazing views over the mountains - Chris was snap happy. After we had climbed up and dropped down, we took a final turn into the headwind to reach Eglinton and our furthest west post box - Jason Smyth's paralympic double gold medal box for his  Athletics – Men's 100 metres T13 and Men's 200 metres T13.  Jason wasn't able to join us but wished us well via twitter.

With  our only box of the day done, we headed back east across Northern Ireland, picking up some pace and progressing through Limavady and Kilrea.  With a ferry at 4:15pm from Larne and 90 miles to cover, the pace needed to be quick.  Whilst we hammered through it to Ballymena, we only had 1 hour to do 20 miles. Given the time, Chris headed off to Larne whilst Lucas decided he'd be unable to maintain that pace with the known climb involved.  Chris has been stating he's to much energy to burn so this gave him a chance! Instead, he sorted items in the car for the trip on the ferry and loaded his bike and joined Alex.  It wasn't such a bad idea as it turned out the support driver (Alan) from Troon to Glasgow was delayed on a return flight so Lucas sorted for his brother Pete to meet them.

Chris made Larne in 1 hour 5 minutes - just in time.  Lucas had checked them in so onto the ferry we headed and bid Alex farewell.   We left Larne on time and  Lucas did more blog stuff on the laptop whilst Chris watched some football and dozed off! On arrival in Troon, Pete met us and we transferred the support items over and Chris sorted out some issues with Lucas' bike caused by it's transportation, before then heading north for Glasgow.  All went well until we realised we were in Stewartstown and hadn't planned to be - but in fact ended up on a better route which took us up over the mountains south of Glasgow, although the road surfaces left your bum very sore! We also passed through Crosshouse which is awarded random sign of the trip - “Birthplace of Andrew Fisher, Prime Minsiter of Australia” (He was the fifth prime minister of I have discovered). A brief stop on the top and then dropped into the city and accommodation with Chrissy and Michael Jenkins.  On route, Chris actually stated he'd had enough of cycling for the day!

Day 17 - Draperstown  to Glasgow  (North of Lough Neagh, East Ayrshire & East Renfrewshire)

Day 18 - Glasgow to Pitlochry (Central Scotland)

Chris did some quick checks on the bikes and Lucas uploaded the blog before departing Chrissy & Michael, with thanks for their hospitality.  It was another glorious day - the 14th without rain but very humid at times.  We only had barely 3 miles to our first stop - our 26th venue at Hampden Park - home to Olympic Football and soon to be host to the Commonwealth Games athletics and Lucas' volunteer post on transport.  However, in the three miles there Chris has his second puncture and then Pete, support driver for the next 5 days, was parked the opposite side of the stadium.  By the time all was sorted it was 10:30am!

We then cycled through Glasgow and Lennoxtown to cross the Campsie Fells, but took a wrong turn and did a long route round to get there.  (Now over 40 wrong turns since we began).  Chris was even feeling tired and the climb up from Lennoxtown was a tough one. Pete had also done the same, but we met at a viewing point affording awesome views to the west and south.  This was just a taster as we had more amazing views as we dropped down and headed for Dunblane and our only Gold post box of the day - on the High street opposite the cathedral - to mark Andy Murray's Gold in the Men's Tennis singles.   We had a good reception with lots of locals asking what we were doing and the nearby hairdressers provided us tea and biscuits!

It was then onwards to head for Pitlochry, our overnight point.  On route we had the joy of climbing through the Grampian Mountains between Crieff and Dunkeld, taking our mind off the climb and, in fact, resulting in a much faster climb than normal!  Ironically, going down was harder as we had a head wind and had to pedal downhill!  A tea stop in Dunkeld before the final section to Pitlochry - which had the hazard of a downhill minor road with hairpin bends and the glare of the sun making it near impossible to see anything!  In fact we had had fun with downhills all day as the roads in Scotland have not rated well for cycling on with some horrendous surfaces resulting in very numb bums and a few near accidents racing downhill and trying to dodge pot holes etc and make it round corners.

We arrived in Pitlochry at 8:30pm - early for us!  Showered and then food out in the town as we stayed at the Atholl Centre in the centre of the town, with thanks for their hospitality.

Clockwise from left:

Views over Siffrin Mountains as we cycle

Lucas & Chris at Jason SmYth’s box in Eglinton

Chris cycling through on the road to Larne

Pete & Chris fix Lucas’ bike at Troon after it got dmaaged in the car!

Above: Climbing up to the plateau on the Siffrin Mountains

Below: Tea break with Alex at Claudy and the amazing backdrop

From top left clockwise:

Sitting alongside the River Bann into Lough Neagh at Maghery

Heading onto the ferry from the Isle of Man

Chris finds his bottle of Coca Cola in Sainsburys West Belfast

Keith, the contact for West Belfast Sainsburys

Our goods arrive on the conveyer belt at Belfast port

Chris checks in the support and food boxes at Douglas ferry terminal at 6am

Lucas doing a supermarkleet sweep in Sainsburys West Belfast

With Alex at the gold post box in Seaforde

Above: With Carol, Josh & Julian at Michael McKillop’s box in Glengormley

Below:Overlooking the Mourn mountains for lunch

Clockwise from top left:

At Hampden Park

Cycling through Glasgow

Coming up over the Campsie Fells

In Dunblane at lunchtime

Box 69 - Andy Murray’s

Cycling up through the Grampian Mountains

The view from the bikes between Crieff and Dunkeld

Coming up through the Grampian’s

With hosts for the night, Chrissy & Michael Jenkins

Below: Chris shorts his puncture in Glasgow

Day 19 - Pitlochry to Duffus (Grampains, Cairngorms and Spey Valley)

Whilst we've not had many boxes for the last few days, the time in between has been well spent enjoying the awesome landscapes and scenery the UK offers.  Day 19 carried on that theme as we travelled up through the Grampian & Cairngorm Mountains and Spey valley.  

The overnight accommodation at the Atholl Centre was great - we had the place to ourselves!  Pete and Chris cooked breakfast whilst Lucas sorted PR and blogging and we ten thanked the owners before heading off north - with 60 miles to cover to our next box in Aviemore.  We followed B roads etc as much as possible but from Pitagowrie we had to join the A9 for about 18 miles.  There was a cycle track but as it was gravel in places Chris didn't wish to risk his tyres.  As it happened, the A9 was not too busy for large chunks due to traffic lights meaning we had 5 minute intervals with no vehicles passing. We climbed up to the 452metre summit at Drumochter and then picked up speed as we headed down to Dalwhinnie - having a few hairy moments with large wide lorries passing.  A bit of adrenalin always picks up the pace!!

We had a tea stop in Dalwhinnie - today Chris was happy as we had ample supplies of biscuits for him to dunk in his tea.  Chris gets very traumatised if he has no biscuits to dunk, as had been the case a couple of times on the trip!  Pete had topped up custard cream supplies in readiness! We then carried on through Newtonmore and Kingussie, after which Chris passed the 2,000 mile mark by Loch Insh and we made it to Aviemore in good time for lunch and to the Gold Post box commemorating David Smith's Paralympic rowing gold as part of the Mixed Coxed Four (LTAMix4+).  We then had a message from David wishing us well and saying had he been about he would have joined us for some of the route.  

After lunch we headed on to Grantown on Spey and the next box, Lucas hitting his 2,000 miles near Nethey Bridge.  We had a very positive reception from the locals.  The box is for another Paralympic gold medallist, Craig MacLean, Men's tack individual sprint B cycling. Craig was not in the area but we hope he may be about in Wilmslow on day 24.  From here we then headed for our overnight stop in Duffus near the Moray coast, following the Spey valley for much of it.  On route we found a trafiic cone astray and wondered if it was the one John (support day 5) had been using!  We also hit a head wind on this route with more climbing involved, knackering us both out in the process. We finally joined the main A941 to Elgin and a blustery B road to the Adams family, who were kindly hosting us for the night.  It did include some confusion in Elgin when signs randomly stopped directing the route we needed!

On arrival, we were fed and watered, Chris got to watch some World Cup football and Lucas catch up on some emails related to the next 8 days as well as blog!

Above: No, it’s not a tandem as we cycle through the Spey Valley

Left, top, middle & bottom: views from the A9 nearing the summit and climbing to the summit

Clockwise from top left:

Pete taking photo’s;

At David Smith’s box in Aviemore;

Climbing the A9;

In the forests;

Pete’s artists action shot;

At the box in Grantown-on-Spey;

Chris with a traffic cone impersonating Lucas’ eldest brother;

(Bottom right two): turning the corner just before our accommodation;

With Trina the postie in Grantown on Spey

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Day 20 - Duffus to Stonehaven (North East Scotland)

These are typed at around midnight each night after food with our fantastic hosts whilst Chris sorts bike mechanics in the morning and we all drink tea!  Currently, football is on in the background (Japan 0-0 Greece).  Lucas is still in his contact lenses as his glasses are (he hopes as not yet confirmed) sat in Glasgow! I should firstly clarify that Chris and his dunking biscuits is about when we are on the road.  Despite there being many packets in transit, he couldn't find them.   They have now been located and further stocks added!

We left Duffus after reclaiming our washing, kindly done by Jenny, and bidding her farewell - the rest of the family having left before us. It was an easy first cycle to Lossiemouth, 6 miles down the road, although we cycled straight past the box, where Pete (on his third day as support) was set up and getting donations!  The box, which commemorates Heather Stanning's Women's rowing pairs Olympic Gold (with Helen Glover) is looking out to sea - which kept Chris very happy as he loves to be by the sea as much as he loves to dunk biscuits in tea! The box was the first one painted for a medallist and is the most northern box.  

It was then south east with a nice backwind for once helping to make the cycle easier as we crossed the Cairngorms through more spectacular scenery.  The day was all the more impressive for scenery as none of us had ever visited this part of the UK before.  Pete got more great photo's as we climbed and dropped through the mountains before lunch at Alford (pronounced aford) and then a fast stretch to Westhill where Westhill Drive is unusual in having two gold boxes on the same road. Both are for Tim Baillie's Olympic gold in Canoe slalom doubles (with Etienne Stott).  On the way here Pete had been confused by the route and thought he'd get a picture of us passing the Aberdeenshire sign, only to find we turned right just before it and disappeared down a B road!  One of the other observations here was the litter.  Two polystyrene fish and chip type boxes were strewn aside the road and McDoanld's wrappers have been seen in scenic spots.  These have been well travelled to reach such locations and it's sad to see litter. On day 14 Lucas told a lady off who dropped her ice cream out her window in Alcester stating "There's no bin there".  She did actually then pick it up! This is one of four people to have been informed of littering abuse!

From Westhill we joined the Aberdeen rush hour as we headed for the city centre and Neil Fachie's Paralympic Gold Box for Cycling: Track, Men’s Individual B Sprint.  Neil and Tim Baillie retweeted and Neil wished us well.  Neil's box is in Golden Square whilst half a mile up the road, Katherine Grainger (who Lucas has met!) has her box for the Women's Double skulls gold (with Kat Copeland).  75 boxes now sighted, but still over 30 to go and in between cycling and tea breaks Lucas tries to keep on top of press interest and other enquires.  It is anticipated there will be welcomes in a few towns over the next week as the tour carries on south.

Before heading to our overnight stop, we called into Sainsburys Garthdee who kindly stocked up our food supplies before the final few miles to Stonehaven.  As ever, we were fighting midges and most days have had various insects trapping themselves in our helmets or committing suicide on us somewhere!   Midges fought, we arrived in Stonehaven and diverted to the beach so Chris could have a further sea fix.  Sea air obtained, it was up the hill to the home of Dick & Susan Jenkins, who gave a warm welcome and fabulous tea whilst the football wasn't so positive.  (England losing).  But we had made great time over the day in terms of distance and time taken and now only a week to go!

Above: With Jenny Adams, host in Duffus

Below: At the box in Lossiemouth and Chris showing the sea view from the box

Clockwise from top left:

The view from the bike cycling through the Cairngorms;

The beach at Stonehaven:

Cycling down the A944;

At Tim Baillie’s box on Westhill Drive (South)

Westhill Drive box (Nortth);

In Aberdeen at Katherine Grainger’s box - a sense of where it is located;

The end of day 20;

Cycling through the Cairngorms x 2;

At Neil Fachie’s box in Golden Square, Aberdeen;

Box 75 - Katherine Grainger’s;

A sign summing up nicely how this feels!;

With the weather remaining warm, we started out from Stonehaven after breakfast and another nights great hospitality, thanks to Susan and Dick Jenkins.  Lucas had lost his sunglasses somehow overnight so the first stop was at the foot of the hill to get new shades. (Lucas cycles in them whatever the weather to minimise items getting into his eyes)  At £2.99 a pair Lucas got two pairs!  It was then off up the hill and onto the coast road (A92) heading south with 60 miles of coast to follow to the Tay bridge and Dundee.  Chris was in his element, being a fan of the sea. We stopped at St Cyrus (as recommended by Dick) and had spectacular views of the coastline.  With no Gold post boxes to see before Edinburgh, our motivation was the scenery and random signs.  For instance, Stonehaven has now had the best random sign on arrival stating it's the birthplace of Robert Thomson the original inventor of the pneumatictyre. We also seemed to have the best variety of amusing names of places to travel through - including Windygates, Mill of Uras, Drunkendub, Bush and Kinghorn all featuring today.

We carried on to Arbroath, with the headwind picking up making it a more challenging ride.  In Arbroath, Lucas picked up a voicemail from the Police - someone had reported his car as being parked in the same place for 3 weeks and was concerned about it.  (It's been left near a friend's house so it's not obviously sat at home for 4 weeks) Having followed up the police situ, we carried on to Dundee and over the Tay Bridge.  This was a challenge to get onto it as we went round the bottom on the bikes trying to work out how to access the path - eventually realising we had to go up in a lift!  Once on the path, Lucas then alarmed a runner who was in the middle of the path with headphones and was oblivious to the bell and then jumped when Lucas shouted "bike" and stated that we should cycle on the side - oblivious clearly he was causing an obstruction! (Hence not to run with headphones!)

Lucas on the banks of the Tay - we mentioned biscuits two days ago, we missed yesterday that Lucas had Battenberg withdrawals after we'd had no joy getting any until the end of the day at Sainsburys in Aberdeen.  Lunch, including Battenbergs, enjoyed, we carried on across Fife. Undulating, but steady we finally reached the Forth Road bridge with great views of the Forth Rail bridge which happened to have a ship pass under as we crossed - and we got to experience how much the bridge vibrates.  On over the bridge and one last stop before Edinburgh.  At this point we decided to go direct to our accommodation as going to the boxes first meant double backing on ourselves and also triple backing as we'd go past them in the morning on route to Sainsburys at Meadowbank.  Therefore we arrived at our accommodation with Russell and Alexa Armstrong having had a Gold Post Box free day of the Gold Post Box cycle despite cycling 111 miles!

A warm welcome awaited us and Alexa had even got Chris some custard creams - so his day of sea, sea and more sea was complete with ever more biscuits to dunk!

Above: With Susan Jenkins in Stonehaven

Below: Lucas & Chris heasd off on day 21

Clockwise from top left:

Lucas speaks to the Police re his car

At St Cyrus overlooking the beach;

Chris rides over the Tay Bridge;

Inside the lift on the Tay Bridge;

Pete runs back over the Forth Road Bridge;

Cycling over the Forth Road Bridge;

A ship passes under the Forth Rail Bridge as we cycle over the Road Bridge;

A field of lavender near Lunan Bay

Pete/Mophed Landscapes - supporting through Scotland;

Chris gets a sea fix at St Cyrus

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Day 22

Day 23

Day 24

Day 25

Day 26

Day 27


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The blog was written by Lucas each night and any errors may reflect how tired he was!