Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cycling - Histon to Cambridge to London

Day 10 of cycling ~ 61 mile day, 569 miles total.

Today we started in Histon and cycled into Cambridge.  I included the Cambridge pictures/details in my previous post.  From Cambridge we set out to London.  The area around Cambridge basically became rolling hills which increased in size as we got closer to London.

As we approached London from the North/North-east traffic became increasingly faster and the roads seemed to become less navigable (by bike).  There was one point where we needed to backtrack about 1/2 mile (which then increased the total distance by 3-4 miles) because we came across a dual carriageway which we didn't feel was safe to cycle on (and it's also not legal in the UK).  Only serious backtracking we needed to do the whole trip and so it really wasn't that bad.  The new route took us through a nice little village where we took a break for lunch (cheese, tuna, tomato sandwiches), which we were getting in need of anyway, so it worked out.   

This trip as a whole has been amazing.  We've really seen quite a bit of the UK including what I think are some of the best bits (Lake District and Yorkshire Dales).  While it was unfortunate that I had an accident at the beginning, it really didn't hamper my trip and will just be a good story in the years to come.  I've also really enjoyed being able to reconnect with my cousin, Isaac.  I'll look forward to hearing about his adventures as he ventures across Europe (mostly by bike).  I learnt a lot about basic bike maintenance and touring from him, which I'll be appreciate in future years.

I did around 569 miles total, but Isaac has done a bit more in the UK because of his Ireland adventures.  I've been left me with a greater understanding of what it takes to "go touring" and the feeling that I'd like to do it again sometime in the future.  Perhaps someday I'll cycle across the US (preferably the northern route) or get over cycle some of  Europe (though not in the immediate future).

I think my highlights of the trip (not in any particular order) were:

  • The Lake District
  • The Yorkshire Dales
  • Minsters/Cathedrals we saw along the way - probably rank the York Minster at the top
  • Getting in better cycle shape
  • Reconnecting with Isaac
  • Connecting with various individuals whom we stayed with along the way
  • Having my cut/bruise not stop me from cycling
  • Getting close to London and being capable of going up hills faster than I could before (and also not feeling like they were any work) e.g. starting to get in cycling shape
Low points of the trip were:
  • Continuous rain
  • Cut/bruise being felt every time I hit a bump
  • Carrying extra items that I never used
  • 3 Spokes breaking
All in all - a great trip.  Something I'd recommend to anyone who is willing to push themselves farther than they've been pushed before (on a bike) and see the countryside.

Beautiful fields on the way to London

Which turned into rolling fields

Thatch roof through one of the small villages we ventured through

We have arrived at my new home in London!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cycling - Peterborough to Ely to Histon

Day 9 of cycling ~ 60 mile day, 506 total.

We left Peterborough in good time because our hosts needed to be heading out by 8:30 or so and headed due east for Ely.  Most of the morning was easy riding, but it started raining on us when we took our first peanut butter/nutella and mellon break.  The mellon we picked up when we were leaving Lincoln...oh it was soooo tasty.

We spent much of our afternoon in Ely in a coffee shop where we got some hot chocolate and cheesecake.  It rained most of the afternoon anyways, so it was a good place to rest.  We couldn't get into our next host's house until later in the evening, so since we didn't have that far to go to Histon (near Cambridge) we elected to catch up on email.

Rain starting to fall

Bridge we found while it was raining

Ely Cathedral

Traveller the dog

The next morning we visited Cambridge on our way out to London.  For such a bike friendly city we seemed to be able to find the areas where you weren't suppose to ride your bike.  No apparent signs, so when some older chaps yelled at us we were a bit surprised.  A watchman we found didn't seem to be as bothered, but we then walked our way out of whichever college grounds we had invaded.  

Streets of Cambridge

Cambridge canals

King's College

Cycling - Lincoln to Peterborough

Day 8 of cycling ~ 65 mile day, 446 total.

Today started nicely by visiting the Lincoln Minster.  Not nearly as well kept as York Minster as parts of it seemed quite worn.  Lovely cobblestone streets and a nice pastry shop on the way out of town too.   Unfortunately, those cobblestones led to the braking of yet another spoke... this time Isaac was able to get my cassette off and rode back to town to get some spokes.  So I spent some time hanging out with some metal cows, patched my tube that still had a hole in it from the thorn, and took some notes.  Fortunately it was sunny.

Attack of the blackberries!!!

Some cows I stopped at when I realised I had another broken spoke....

 Isaac fixing my broken spoke...fortunately he was able to get my cassette off the wheel this time, so I didn't have to walk my bike back to a bike shop to remove it.

Peterborough Cathedral

We stayed with a couple through couchsurfers again and were their first clients!  A 85 mile day followed by a 65 mile day for me (and 75 for Isaac) meant we were bushed when we arrived.  Still had a nice dinner of pasta, meatballs, a salad, and roasted plumbs with ice cream for dessert.  They also had a daughter who was out, but must have come back late because we were asleep when she came in.  The next morning we heard some squeals from downstairs as she got her acceptance letter to University.  Took off after a breakfast of toast with peanut butter and juice.  Ended up riding through town and popped out at the Peterborough Cathedral.  Onward to Ely/Cambridge!!

Cycling - York to Lincoln

Day 7 of cycling ~ 85 mile day, 384 total.

So today started out really slowly.  The previous night while cleaning our bikes up I discovered that I had not one, but two broken spokes.  I probably had one brake and then didn't realise it was broken, hence the 2nd one going.  No repair shops open once we realised it and Isaac couldn't get my rear cassette off (yup the broken spokes were on the back wheel), so we needed a bike shop to do the repair.  A nice guy from York Cycleworks not only removed the cassette, but also fixed the spokes as well!  Swell guy.  He'd done a lot of travelling around the US and had a lot of interesting stories to share while they fixed up my bike.  If ever in York and needing work on your bike, go there.  They're awesome.

This morning I struggled coming out of York.  Just couldn't seem to get going.  Well...turns out I had a puncture flat that was just slowly slowly going down, hence why I was struggling so much.  This picture was sometime before I got my first puncture flat tire.  I yelled ahead for Isaac, but he was too far down the trail.  This old man turned around and was looking bewildered when I rode by asking what I wanted.  Turns out his name was Isaac, so he was trying to figure out why I was yelling for him.  Eventually Isaac came back to find me working on my tire..again it was the rear one.  Later I got another flat from the same tire.  Missed the thorn in the wheel when I was checking it.  I had thought the flat was from the valve area because after I took the tube out it was ripped there...well it was, but there was also a thorn in the tire...found it the 2nd time through.

Revenge for a picture he took of me.

 Cemetery we ate at.

 As the sun was going down...

Factory in the distance 

We stayed with a Frenchman named Felix through couchsurfers again.  Worked out well.  We rolled into town, just after the only downpour of the day soon after he arrived home.  Turns out his job is what most teenage boys dream about having...being a video game tester!!  Not only that, but for a good game company too - Rockstar games.  He said while he loved his job, it really wasn't as glamorous as everyone thinks it might be.  He basically tries to find and exploit glitches in games that are being developed.  He doesn't do the coding, so he's just playing the same game over and over and over again until it's just right.  Said he'd like to get into development (storyline, etc..) someday, but for now this works.   

 As we left the next morning we visited the Lincoln Minster 

Sausage rolls, scones, and pastry for breakfast (and snack later)

Cycling - visiting York

Day 6 - no miles cycled  ~ 6-10 miles walked?

Today was our "rest day" as we didn't do any cycling.  However, we did walk around York A LOT.  So it wasn't really restful.  More touristy, but that was still fine.  York was a really pretty city with a stone wall surrounding it along with the York Minister (basically a Cathedral).  Had some lovely sausage rolls and iced fingers for breakfast from a local bakery which wasn't too far from Alvaro's place.  We went there again later in the day for some scones as well.  Also had some fat rascals from Little Betty's, which is apparently a must while visiting York.

Internet cafe we used throughout the two days we were in York

One of the gates into York
The Wall surrounding York.  It was much more impressive on the other side and really made York a pain in the butt to try and capture.

River the runs through York as well... lots of natural defences.

York Minster

One of the reasons Christianity is so widespread today... Constantine.

Sandwich place where we had lunch...
Lunch...again yum

From this point on I've got a smudge on all my pictures :-(  At least they're still mostly good.