Day three - 80km: Yunmeng Mountain to Jinshanling Great Wall
By Shep Sheppard (Aged 49 11/12ths)
Our enthusiam to get an early start caused a problem as we arrived before breakfast was ready and were sent away!
The morning included talk of our packing turmoil, with comments from Penny Wemyss and Donna Melrose: "We started off being really tidy, but now..." I actually thought my room had been burgled, it was in such a mess!
Breakfast talk was all about international relations with Mo Rasool losing 21-0 against the Chinese at table tennis.
What followed was the shock of an 8.15am 'Bristol-style' warm up from Ria Bedford, complete with Wurzle accompaniment.
I decided to try and speak to as many of the team as possible to get a sense of how everyone was feeling. Day three is notorious for the cracks appearing and people 'hitting the wall' but the team has bonded superbly and we were in fine spirits.
To the cycling
We travelled out through the Chinese 'Grand Canyon'. The terrain was described as "undulating" - but to most it felt like hills, with us having to drop into our bottom gear.
Ramon Puig had a bad day, with his chain coming off and a puncture, but maybe he just needed a rest. Andy 'Chilli' Carlisle was also helping some of the team who were struggling today. Perhaps this was Andy making amends for yesterday. Ashley Brown spotted a snake in the road, which soon became a photo opportunity. There was also an amount of upset caused as the 'Two girl time trial' team (Donna and Penny) clocked up the miles, passing fellow cyclists, at speed, all the while still talking.
Lunch was hosted in a disused KwikFit unit, but we didn't really get time to enjoy it as there was a polite queue for the luxury toilet across the road (four pieces of corrugated metal sheets above which you could see the person's upper torso). The girls all decided wisely to give it a miss.
After lunch, we just pedalled and pedalled and pedalled and pedalled. Everything was feeling sore but we were on a mission to get to the Wall early enough to visit.
We regrouped at the gate to the 'park' and, as the tired cyclists drifted in, Martin Taphouse arrived in spectacular fashion, skidding and landing in a heap! No damage was done just a little embarrassed boy racer.
And then the Wall - it was amazing!
So, we started off on Sunday with the Great Wall as our target, and we had made it - thank you for letting me be a part of this!
Editor's comment to today's author: The challenge does actually continue, Shep. We will cycle to other areas of the Wall over the next three days. It's a big wall you know!
Our Achievement Award goes to Dave Ridley, our cheerful Geordie, who has been in the front pack for many sections but who has today had to pull on his determination and sheer mindedness to get him through. A small dose of medicine will see him right and banish the pain.
Our Kung Fu Panda Award goes to Martin Taphouse for his display of how to stop on a bike and for losing his water bottle along the national highway!
Ted was handed on to David Ridley as Ashley has come to dote on the Big Man...is this a new 'bromance?'