We don’t talk about Wales.
I’ve not done my blog for a quite a while, don’t know why, maybe after last years big ride I got a serious case of post adventure blues and just didn’t do anything for months, maybe just got bored of it but I’m going to try and keep it going now.
Here’s what’s been happening,
Last year I did my biggest big ride to date, started in Brighton and rode around the south east coast to Boston then inland to Derby, and it was the best ride yet! No hills and no rain! I did 630 miles in twelve days.
I rode the Peddars Way in Norfolk which is an old Roman road from the coast at Hunstanton to Thetford, the weather was a bit crap on this one but it was great fun living the history of the road.
But the main thing I’ve done is get another new bike!
I’ve become stagnant on my bike in recent months and not done anything apart from the commute and ride to the pub. Time to do something even if it’s just a 30 mile cobweb blower as I’ve signed myself up to ride the coast of Wales in August.
It’s 6am on a Sunday morning and my alarm is shouting at me. As I roll over thinking 5 more minutes another voice shouts at me telling me to get up because 5 minutes will turn into 5 hours and you won’t go anywhere.
8am and I’m still sat in the kitchen, still not dressed and still not motivated to do anything apart from drink more coffee.
Forcing myself into gear, I’m up and out within about half an hour but with no idea when to go. Riding along the old Derby Canal cycle track, my head is down and I’m feeling slow and lethargic, I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be one of those days. Swarkestone lock, just 3 miles in and I’m thinking of turning around and going back home. No, carry on to Melbourne and see what happens there.
Onto the Trent and Mersey canal and the old railway line, I love this stretch of tracks with this bike, so fluid and fast. First smile of the day. So feeling a little better with myself I’m straight though Melbourne and Ticknall and Repton and Willington and into Etwall. But…it’s starting to go very dark over Bills mothers with storm clouds looking like it’s going to hammer down with rain very soon. Stood on the track that could take me straight back into Derby for about 10 minutes trying to decide what to do. Go home and beat the rain or carry on to Ashbourne.
Sustrans route 62 out from Derby to Ashbourne is great. Quite country lanes with views over open fields, the odd small village every few miles and hardly any traffic, I’m starting to enjoy myself. But on arrival into Ashbourne there’s a few spots of rain and my knees are starting hurt, time for second breakfast.
Sat at the café at the start of the Tissington trail with a bacon butty and a mug of tea (pubs not open yet) properly debating whether to go home or carry on and risk the weather and my knees because after here there isn’t a easy cut off point without turning around and going the same way as I’ve already come. As I’m pondering this I get talking to 3 blokes on bikes with panniers and all the kit and it turns out they’re training to do John O’Groats to Lands End (downhill). This gets me thinking of Wales and why I’m out doing this ride today and they inspire me to carry on to at least Parsley Hay anyway.
The Tissington trail from Ashbourne to Parsley Hay is a 13 mile stretch of old railway line that joins onto the High Peak trail and the Pennine Bridleway at the top and a bit further north on the road take you into Buxton.
It seems flat all the way to Parsley Hay but it’s on slight almost un-noticeable incline, so by the time I get to the cycle hire and café at Parsley Hay my right knee and calf muscle is agony and it’s hacking it down with rain. Decision time again. Onward to Buxton or down the High Peak trail to Cromford. 15 miles with no shelter to Cromford or just 10 miles to Buxton with no shelter but a very good pub?
On the main road into Buxton, rain hammering down, wind blowing me around, cars and trucks flying past me, legs hurting I’m starting to think this was a bad idea. I want to be at home in front of the fire with a beer, but I’ve got no choice now, there’s no easy way out, so to Buxton.
As I pull up at Buxton Tap House it’s still raining but this pub is worth being wet for and I’ve done 55 miles without a pint so I’m ready for it!
Talking to the bar staff about past and future adventures this pint is going down too easy, so lets have another! Sat outside with the second pint, watching the world go by, saying hello to people going in and out the pub, the sun trying to peek through the clouds and I’m finally happy. This is why I ride, to see this country of ours. My legs are still hurting a bit though but I’ve got to push on before I set.
Onto the A6 for a quick couple of miles, then onto the glorious Monsal trail, another old railway line but this one is slightly downhill and it’s fantastic when the weather is rubbish and there’s no one about. I’m soon zipping along at speed through the tunnels and dodging the odd dog walker. And I’m grinning! Even though it’s started raining again.
All too soon I’m off the trail and in Bakewell and back on the A6 fighting traffic again. Time to shelter from the rain and have another pint? No! Carry on you’re already wet, what’s the point of getting dry to get wet again?
Staying on the A6 I get my head down and go for it, passing Haddon Hall, Matlock Bath, Cromford and Belper. It’s at this point I start to get stomach cramps (to go with the sore legs) and I realise I’ve not been for a wee since before Buxton. Luckily I’m just around the corner from the Holly Bush so dive in there and use the plumbing facilities and have a pint while we’re there.
Back on the road and to my local for one last drink as I’m really starting to hurt. I’ve really done too much today. Stood at the bar, with knees creaking every time I move I glance at the distance on my GPS…94 miles! Bugger me! I’ve never been this far in a day before!
I’ve got just under 5 miles to get home, it’s going to be the scenic route, I will hit the 100 mile mark! As I ride down the river on the last couple of miles, shouting and whooping to myself for being an awesome rider, I realise I can’t see in front of me ( it’s nearly 9pm). Bugger. Front lights gone so the normal way home. I can’t see my GPS either so I’ve got no idea of the mileage. It’s got to be close to it or have past it? As I hobble though the door at home, I can hardly bend my knees at this point, I’m frantically rolling my sleeve up and pressing stop on my GPS. Waiting with bated breath while it does its gubbings….99.1 MILES! BASTARD! Not happy, grumpy at being so close but so far away from the magic 100 miles. Still not bad for saying this morning I had no enthusiasm to ride my bike and wanted to turn around after 3 miles. But so close to 100 miles! I will come back and try and get it but not for a while as my legs are agony and spending that long in Lycra shorts has made my goolies shrivel up.
Where was we?
Ah…I remember, we’d just done C2C and a bit more. That was 2 years ago! I here you say, so here’s a brief catch up before starting afresh.
The main important thing that’s happened is…new bike!
She’s a Charge Plug 3, her name is Butt and she’s lovely. My first proper tourer adventure bike. She was a lot to get used to at first as I’ve never had skinny wheels and drop handle bars, I even had to Google Presta valves and the flappy gear shift brakes are just strange. But I’ve still got the old girl who I still get dirty with, so all is good there.
Where have I been in the past couple of years?
Last year I did the Pennine Way again. It rained. A lot.
9 days riding and it rained for the first 6. I was a mess, feet were battered, I think I got trench foot, visibility was almost zero at times, but I made it 😃
I got a hammock for my 40th birthday in January and used it wild camping in January, bloody freezing!
The following photos are from then and other times since.
Also, I’ve done The Peddar’s Way in Norfolk. It’s an old Roman road that runs along the coast and inland to Thetford. I did it with my friend Jason who lives down that way.
We started in King’s Lynn (nothing but chavs and mobility scooters) out through Sandringham to the coast at Hunstanton before turning onto the actual route. It was great weather and the going was good with country lanes and fun off road bits. We ended up in Great Massingham and spent the night in a church yard facing the village pub. In the morning we got woke up by the church warden with coffee and cake!
After riding a few miles on the Sunday morning, the weather turned. It was like being back in the Lakes a couple of years ago. Very strong winds and heavy rain all the way to Thetford, but we made it be it slightly damp.
I think that’s the important bits covered, but watch this space, something is coming…
Spent the night in my local pub in the peak district and I woken up with a hangover and cuts to my legs after falling out of the pub looking for shooting stars. Twat.
Home today, I don’t want to go. It’s the end of bloody hard and demanding but fantastic ride and I feel kinda sad that it’s going to be over in a few hours. But at least I know where I’m going today, done this route loads of times, nothing can go wrong….
I was going back to Sheffield and ride the bit I missed out from yesterday, but with tired legs and a hangover I’ve just not got it in me So I’m going to carry on from here, come on girl, time to go home!
Down the road into Castleton, off road over to the High Peak Trail down hill all the way to Cromford then along the A6 to home and meet up with Christine from The Legion for a chat and a brew somewhere along the way. Easy.
Only a few metres up Cave Dale and we come to a stop! I’ve got no power in my legs! Shit. Now what? I’m not binning the ride and getting the train home from here. I’m too close to quit.
Plan B. Tideswell. Monsal Trail. Bakewell. A6 and only 1 major hill.
Hitting the hill going up into Tideswell I grind to a stop again. Much shouting and swearing and pushing later and we’re through Tideswell batting down hill into Millers Dale and on to the Monsal Trail, another old railway line. That big down hill and the super flat bit did wonders for my legs because they’re feeling a lot looser after that and according to Strava I hit 42mph somewhere along the last few miles. Bugger me…I must’ve had my eyes shut when I did that.
Time for a pint or 2 in Bakewell and give Christine s call to say I’ll be in Cromford in about half hour. I should’ve checked Google maps before I said that, because its a tad further than I thought. But I’m a speed demon! I’m at the top of my game! I’ll do it or I guess she’ll wait.
The A6 from Bakewell is a fantastic road ( I can’t believe I just said that) It’s a long smooth slope and we’re soon flying along into Matlock, we have to slow it down a bit here because the traffic is busy and the road get s a bit narrow but as soon as we’re out of town we speed up again.
Just before Matlock Bath I glance at the time and I’m confident we’ll make in the time I said, grins all round.
BOOOOM! What the fuck was that!? Looking around for what the noise was I realised my back wheel wasn’t going round. In fact I’m fishtailing all over the place and there’s a bus behind me with the driver leaning on the horn. Panic! Fuck! What’s happening? Stop Stop Stop!
Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! It’s over! A 6 inch rusty nail has gone through the back tyre, in the side and out the top! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!!
I’m in bits, there’s nothing I can apart from sit at the side of the road and cry. Phoning Christine to tell her what had happened and that I couldn’t make it to meet her was one of the hardest calls I’ve ever had to make, but she offered to pick me up and give me a lift home.
When she got there I was in tears again and I couldn’t stop apologising for failing to complete the ride, she told me to shut up because I’ve done a fantastic job and not failed anything. Sniff sob…whatever.
Home now with a beer and feeling sorry for myself but, I shall return…
First thought of the day, home tomorrow!
Second thought of the day, breakfast! A lovely couple around the corner from the pub offered to cook me breakfast today, people are amazing, I’ve cycled the length and breadth of England and I’ve never met a bad person. I love you all! But more importantly they’ve got a Tassimo coffee machine and after 10 days of crap coffee its the pure nectar!
Back at the pub, tent and stuff packed down and the old girl loaded up and we’re mooching along the Trans Pennine Way again which is great until we get on the New Junction Canal, the towpath is closed. Time to go off piste, no map so making it up as I go along, just heading in the general direction…as the saying goes, miles and smiles.
Back on track after what seems like a 10 mile detour we’re soon on the edge of Doncaster and scooting along the river Don. It’s getting harder to push the pedals round, check the brakes, they’re ok, legs feel fine, hmmmmm something’s not right. It takes me a few miles to realise that we’re going up hill for the first time for what seems like a hundred miles. Time for a pint.
Still climbing and really starting to feel my legs, I would’ve thought I’d be fit by now but I’ve got to get off and push. 200 feet in 5 miles doesn’t sound like much but I’m really suffering, even walking. Head down, onwards and upwards, moaning out loud to myself until I realise there’s people around me. Don’t care, been told a few times I’m mad.
Top of the hill and I can see down into Sheffield and looks bloody miles away! The lights fading I’m knackered, maps out of date, don’t where I’m going but at least its downhill.
After a few too many wrong turns into dead ends and missed turnings we’re down amongst the old steel works of Sheffield and in the half light it’s a bit creepy. Lets get out of here onto a main road.
I was planning on riding on to my second home of Hope today but after that last hill I’ve not got it in me plus it’s getting on for 8pm. I’m gong to get the train out and come back in the morning and do the last bit.
I’m not looking forward to today, I had bad dreams last night to the point where I woke up in a hot sweat and feeling really nervous that something bad is going to happen…
Anyway, today’s plan is head for York, turn left and ride south until I stop…Bingo!
Bingo apart from the 2 big bloody hills within the first couple of miles, but at least the sun is shining, there’s no sign of yesterdays storms.
Apart from the hills there’s clear difference in the roads compared to over the moors they’re dead straight and we’re soon flying along and loving it, so much so that I miss a turning and get put out by a few miles, but I don’t care, I’m loving the ride today and all thoughts of last nights bad dreams are gone and forgotten.
About 25 miles in and we hit York, I usually love this place but not today, far too many people and tourists wandering all over the shop not paying attention to the the roads so we decide to walk. It’s safer.
|New map time!|
New map out and it’s the last one! It’ll take me all the way home! Backwards.
Through York, along the river Ouse a bit and around the race course and we’re on the Trans Pennine Way. This is an old railway line so that means flat and fast. But first it’s time for tea and cake and confusing sign posts.
Fueled up and we’re rolling again, more like flying! Someone’s pinched the hills! It’s fantastic! Smashed it through Selby (looked a bit of shit hole anyway).
Still going at a fair whack, I start to think of where I’m sleeping tonight because at this pace I’m going to end up in Doncaster or somewhere even worse like Rotherham!
Riding through a little village I spot caravans over a hedge and behind a pub, looks promising…time for a beer? Question asked in the pub about camping and its £2 a night! Bargain! But since I’m flying the flag for The British Legion the let me have it for free! Bonus! And £2.50 a pint!
I feel terrible. Going drinking with locals was a bad idea. Can’t face breakfast, I’ll find a cafe or something later.
Tent packed away and we’re back on the same disused railway line as we was yesterday heading to Scarborough before turning in land and York. It’s slow going on these cinders that the track is covered with and up hill, lots of pushing and nearly throwing up. Who’s idea was it to get plastered last night? But the sea view are fantastic and kind of make things easier.
About 8 miles in a finally a cafe and breakfast of a ham salad sandwich and a coffee. After being fed and watered I’m feeling a little more human and soon flying along into Scarborough and onto hard pack which makes the going good. Another pitstop at a little village shop and I’m alive proper and ready for the day ahead. While stood out side the shop having a can of coke and a twix I have a look at the notices in the window and spot the most Yorkshire thing ever, this really made me giggle and put me a good mood for the day.
Turning inland the sky starts to darken but I don’t care, I’ve probably had worse this week and soon I can’t see the sky because I’m riding though a forest and the trees are forming a canopy. All too soon though we’re on a very busy A road and we have to remember that we’re no longer on the quiet country lanes and pay more attention to what’s going on around us, but at least it’s brightening up into what looks like a nice day.
Time for lunch and a pint, sat outside a village pub watching 2 old bi planes flying about and chatting to Xizang about the past week and stuff we’ve seen and done when a couple come out and say something about thunder storms, you can bugger off with that, I’ve still got 40 miles to do to get to York.
Rolling along in blazing sunshine, not a cloud in the sky, what thunder storms? Ha! The only rumbles I can hear are from the distant road. But then there’s something else, a rapid hammering, what the hell is that? Looking behind me, there’s sheets of rain coming towards us! Shit! Shit! Shit! Coat out quick! By the time I’ve got my coat on I’m wet through, cold and miserable, but got to push on as we’re in the middle of nowhere.
Riding along the side of the A64 and the rain is coming down that hard I can hardly see and not feeling safe so decision is made to stop short and call it quits for the day and head for York tomorrow. Before looking for tonights bed I need to have a break and get out of the rain for a bit so it’s time for a pint and funny looks from the bar staff and other people in there because there’s a rather large puddle forming around my feet, I’ve not wet myself…honest.
Another couple of miles and we’re in Malton, absolutely gopping and miserable, no more today, that’s it I’ve had enough. Stopping in a pub tonight and not getting drunk…
Heading for Robin Hood’s Bay today and the halfway point of the ride, it’s been hard and it’s took longer than I thought but it’s been worth it and I’m still in one piece.
Now which way to go because I’m off the route again, I could drop down to Glaisdale and get on the right plotted track or just stick to the road over the moors straight to the coast. Something to think about over breakfast, and what a breakfast it is! It’s huge! The best one so far and it beats me I don’t finish it and it helps me decide which way to go, I don’t want to be carrying this and my bike up hills on the off road route so we set off along the road.
Out through a couple of villages and back up on to the moors, my legs are starting to hurt after a few miles,I don’t know if it’s a case of I’m getting knackered or last nights bed was too comfy. Once on top there’s fantastic views of the surrounding countryside and I can see the sea! We’re going to the seaside! I feel rather emotional, like I’ve finished the ride even though I’m only halfway.
Riding along at a steady pace in the glorious sunshine grinning to myself thinking the hard bit is nearly done, things are fantastic! But soon there’s a reality check…a Big Mac wrapper at the side of the road, hmmmm this means people, a lot of people.
On the outskirts of Whitby and I start to feel uncomfortable I’ve not seen this many buildings and people all week. In the centre of Whitby it’s packed, I have to get off and push my bike it’s that crowed. Forget the fish and chips that everyone has been telling me to get, get me out of here! Far too many people I feel claustrophobic!
Quick look at the map to see the fastest way out of here and it tells me that I’ve come under the track I need, fighting through the masses and back through the houses and we’re on an old railway line heading south along the coast. About half way to Robin Hood’s Bay and thought’s start to turn to where we’re sleeping tonight and if the amount of people in Whitby is anything to go by it might be a tad busy, so time for a pint and phone ahead to book somewhere.
Robin Hood’s Bay! We made it! Halfway, but it’s been bloody hard going, the toughest ride I’ve ever done and only halfway but at least it’s all down hill from now on.
We’re camping tonight, I thought I’d better use my tent at some point since I’ve carried it all this way and not used it. So with the tent up and the Old Girl secure it’s time to go a celebration drink.
We’re taking things back off road today across the moors and looking at the map there’s going to be some fantastic single and double tracks along the Cleveland way. And the sun is still shining! It’s going to be a good day, I can feel it my waters.
Up early for breakfast and repack kit, make sure nothing is lose and the straps are tight to stop wobble because it’s going to be bumpy and we’re away for about 9.30am, no rush because now I don’t care about the time frame, just ride and and enjoy myself.
Starting off up the road out of Osmotherley looking for a track to our right which I miss, much grumbling from Xizang “going to be a good day, is it?” “Shut up”
We get back on the right route again a few miles up the road after stocking up on Jelly Babies in Swainby After a few hours of road and bridleway and someone asking me directions (really?) we arrive in Chop Gate for lunch, as this will be the last chance before heading over the moors proper.
Out the back of the village we start to climb up onto Urra Moor, push the bike up I get talking to a bloke who praises me for doing this ride alone with no support, he say not many would do it, you’ve got to be brave. Or stupid I think to myself. Turns out this bloke used to live in Derby, in fact just around the corner from where I live, his locals are my locals, it’s a small world.
Reaching the top I have to turn around and pretend I’m admiring the view while a group of women have a wee. With their business done we’re rolling along a bumpy track in between fell runners doing a race, silly people. It’s nice and flat on the top and a bit sandy and it feels like we’re flying along with the sun beating down (arms are starting peel) lovely purple heather all around and views that go on forever, this is turning into the best day so far, I’m really enjoying myself, this is what it’s all about, time for a song!
But before long I realise I’ve missed another turning by about half a mile, no worries the track loops round and takes me back to where I need to be. Stopping for a rest at an old stone footbridge, I hit a snag, across the bridge there is four paths, but the map, guide book and the GPS says there’s only one! Hmmmm, time to explore, leaving my bike at the bridge I take a walk up one, following a series of numbered cairns, this is looking promising but the all of a sudden the path stops, about turn. Back at the bike and walking along another path until I hit a fence, back to the beginning then. It’s getting on for about 5.30pm now and I’m getting tired and hungry and thinking it’s going to be a case of get the bivvy bag out, sleep in the heather with jelly babies and jaffa cakes for tea, but looking at the map there’s a road about 2 miles over the other side of the moor so I decide to just pick up the bike and go for it. Bingo!
After bumping down a rocky track we hit a farm road with the village of Westerdale not far away, with thoughts of finding somewhere to sleep tonight we head for the village but there’s not a lot there, just few houses and a church, map time again. A few miles away there’s another village called Castleton (sounds familiar) on the map it looks bigger and there’s pubs and a train station so there’s got to be something.
2 miles on and we’re in Castleton and I jump in the first pub I see and it’s packed with a wedding party and there’s an ashtray on fire on the wall in the carpark, do I want to stay here? I’ll ask anyway, I was stood at the bar for ages, the staff just looked at me and walked off and served someone else, I don’t look that rough do I? Eventually they got to me but they we’re full (thankfully) so I pootled off into the village itself to try somewhere else and found a cracking pub, friendly staff, great beer and good food, I also got the room cheap because the tv wasn’t working, no great loss, I’ve not seen anything on the box all week and I wasn’t interested, I was living the dream!