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Cycling the UK: days two, three and four

Paul was happy to see the back of Cornwall. Credit: ITV Border

"Cornwall I never want to see you again," Paul cheers, as we spin into Devon.

We're leaving the Cornish steep up, steep downs for Devon's rolling hills and are venturing onto interesting back roads instead of scary A roads.

What Paul doesn't realise is that the longest hill yet awaits us. Each bend toys will the prospect of a finish line only to grow further, like a rainbow, the end changing with your viewpoint, always unattainable.

For a moment when the alarm sprang to life this morning I thought 'oh God, I've got to do that again' but it was quickly followed by the surprising realisation that my body is fine.

I should hurt more than I do but a night stretching on the pub floor while chatting to the locals has been worth looking like a wholly.

Day two. Credit: ITV Border

Stretching, hydration and nutrition are important now. We must sort out those little niggles before the miles exacerbate them to crippling problems.

Eating is not enjoyable. I force down dry energy bars while pedalling uphill and peruse the lunch options for the combination of sugars (glucose or fructose) which provides fast-releasing energy with complex carbohydrates (such as pasta) for their slow-releasing energy.

This ensures there's energy kicking in as the first lot runs out. Eating regularly, before you get hungry, ensures you always have energy to burn. Once your body has to start breaking down fat it's too late because it takes more effort to break down fat.

But really all this 'science' is about one thing: confidence.

If you believe you can do it, you can.

And it's working: we've cycled 100 miles to Somerset and convinced another kind B&B owner to let us use the washing machine.

So far, so good.

Day 3: Burnham-on-Sea to Craven Arms

Cycling selfie. Credit: ITV Border

"Wahoo!" I yell as I click up the gears on a downhill. We've just gone onto the Avon Cycleway to avoid Bristol and the thatched roofs of Devon and Somerset have become red tiles on quintessentially English countryside cottages. My mojo, which ran away kicking and screaming on the A38, seems to have decided life with me isn't all that bad after all.

The weather warning hasn't kicked in but the headwind is sapping my energy.

I'm worried. It's approaching the middle of the day but I know we're not half way through the miles. By the time we get to the Severn Bridge we've done 45miles. I stare incredulous at the phone as it tells me we have 85 more to go. My shoulders sink as I realise it's 130 miles not 100 and it'll take us 12hours. We'll have to ride hard to get there before dark.

I've had heart burn for a day and it's getting worse. I never get heart burn. I should have bought tablets earlier but we're racing the sun.

We flirt with the Welsh border, one moment in Gloucestershire, turning a corner into the deep tree-lined Monmouthshire valleys, into Hereford then Shropshire.

I'm on a downhill and I'm tanking it as hard as I can, chomping up miles. I see the 50mph sign and wonder if I'm getting close. Suddenly hot air swirls around me, pulling me left and right. My body responds on automatic, working hard to keep me upright as my eyes flail wildly to comprehend the situation. A wagon is a foot away from my face. The air displaced by its huge mass rushes under it's thunderous wheels, searching for peace around me, sucking me towards the wagon. I realise the shouts of "woah woah woah!" came from me. As it passes there's an even stronger force pulling me into the vacuum created behind it. I'm thankful the road is smooth because I'm trapped and any imperfection in the road would alter my course... to under the wheels.

Shocked, I watch the wagon drive off. I break. I release the tension in my arms as I realise I've cheated the heat of hell from grabbing me.

Paul is silent behind me. I wonder if he was sucked in too. He tells me the wagon overtook no more than 2 feet away from me. "It looked like you were going to be sucked under the wheels".

Over the next few miles I mentally search for why. If a few seconds could have ended our lives, did the driver not realise the effect on the cyclist? Were they trying to get their own back on the cyclist being on the road? Worse, did they even see us?

I have to say that on the whole HGV drivers are usually the most courteous and give us the most room but too many Land's End to John O'Groats riders have died. 20 lost their lives to one stretch of the A30 alone.

Day 4: Craven Arms to Liverpool

Day four. Credit: ITV Border

Four pieces of atlas are jigsawed on the carpet. I lean with pen and paper. I'm a lot further down this path than last night when, exhausted after an unexpected 130 miles, the shapes stared back at me as the message stopped short of converting it into information.

That morning I'd woken groggy, wishing for another 4 hours' sleep but drawing the curtains on brilliant sunshine lifted my spirits. 90 sunny, mainly flat miles await.

My list of instructions saves us time. We munch through the miles. An easier day gives us the recovery we need.

I lift my arm and nod my head thanks to a lorry driver who's waited patiently for a good overtaking gap. The word 'Araf' reappears on the road under 'slow'. The buildings become red brick and Victorian. Manicured fields give way to deep valleys then flat roads. We're making our way from Shropshire and Wales to the northern industrial heartlands.

We wonder if it's cheating to get the ferry from Birkenhead to Liverpool then blitz the last 4 miles before Paul calls me. I'm stopped at traffic lights. He's no more than 200yards behind. This call is unlikely to be good news. "I've got a flat". I circle back and we spend the next half hour fighting with tyre levers and inner tubes.

Ged's white smile breaks in a white beard as he opens the door. Our former Border Life producer offers us home comforts and life is good.

More on this story

  • Cycling the UK: day five

    Follow ITV Border reporter Fiona Marley Paterson, and cameraman Paul Robinson, as they cycle the length of the UK.

  • Cycling the UK: day one

    Follow ITV Border reporter Fiona Marley Paterson, and cameraman Paul Robinson, as they cycle the length of the UK.