A record of my cycling trips in Britain and abroad


Friday: The Alps beckon

Ok, I’m going to pause in the write-up of my Scotland trip so I can write about my trip to the alps as it happens - but I will finish off the Three Peaks story as soon as I’m back from the Alps, I promise!

bikes_on_the_roof_at_Dover.jpgI arrived in Oxford late last night, and met up with Si, Oli and Vince (Pete is going to join us out there). Packing the car and loading the bikes on took loner than expected - as always! - then it was dinner and off to bed. We awoke early this morning and drove to Dover to catch the 10.30 ferry. It was lovely and sunny, and we sat outside on the small deck; Oli’s late breakfast/brunch sandwich was rudely interrupted by an attacking seagull. We rolled off the ferry at Calais and the rest of the day was a fairly uneventful drive down the autoroute to near Dijon; highlights included Urban Hymns, Thriller and me spending about 4 hours trying to solve a rubik’s cube. We arrived, tired and somewhat hungry, to our planned campsite near Dijon, only to find it was already full. This, however, turned out to be a blessing - the few miles drive to the campsite in the next village took us through some of the prettiest countryside I’ve seen in france. The road climbed up, away from the autoroute, through a forest, and the flat wheat fields gave way to vineyards cladding the southern slopes. The campsite we found was situateed at the top of a village up a steep track, with views out over the village and the surroundings.

Tomorrow, some cycling!


Climbing Scafell Pike

Day 5
Cycling distance: 32 km / 20 mi
Walking distance: 18 km / 11 mi

day5cycle.pngWe arrived at the campsite in Kendal late at night, having resolved to go into town in the morning to repair the bikes and stock up on supplies. The campsite was a ‘Caravan Club approved’ site: rather twee (and expensive!), but it did have washing machines, which we could use in the morning while we went into town. Once we’d put up our tents, we turned in, as it was already rather late. Sleep, however, eluded me for a while: the noise of a family squabble, a dictator-in-miniature lording it over his children, from the caravan on the next pitch kept me awake for some time.
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Into the Lakes

Day 4
Distance: 110 km / 68 mi

dscf2350.jpgWe woke early, and after hot showers we were refreshed and ready to go. We rolled out onto the main road, the three of us now making a little convoy as we left the campsite. Simon joined us late last night, having taken the train as far as Southport and then joined us at the campsite after tea. We set out along the road to Preston in single file, along a road with some traffic, but not so much that it was unpleasant. After half an hour or so we were into the outskirts of Preston, and - spotting a parade of shops with a cafe - we stopped for a proper breakfast (our first was only cereal bars this morning, as we wanted to get on the road quickly). The large, fresh sandwich I had was washed down with a similarly large and fresh milkshake; if there was one thing I would take to a desert island I think it would be milkshake!
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Through Liverpool

Day 3
Distance: 134 km / 83 mi

2342.jpgWell, what a day! We awoke refreshed and ready to go, after our night camping out in the woods. It really is the best way to sleep, except possibly bivouacking on a warm night. I would say it feels ‘at one with the forest’ or some such nonsense but I’d sound like a hippy. Anyway, I slept well (Polly, I think, less so: a sleeping mat really makes a difference!). We had a downhill start to the day, back towards the sea to pick up the coastal route again, after cutting off the north-easternmost corner of Wales. However, we’d not been going five minutes when Polly’s bike suffered a puncture. Swiftly repaired, we were back on the road again. Being a Monday morning, the traffic was a lot heavier than yesterday, and we were making our way closer to Chester. After an hour or so, we stopped to replenish our food supplies and have a second breakfast. I’ve already lost track of how many cereal bars I’ve eaten! We also stopped by a bike shop in Flint to top up the tyre pressure and pick up a spare inner tube in case of further punctures (it’s difficult to get a high pressure with the small pump I’m carrying); they were very friendly, and we also cleaned and oiled our chains and tightened up a couple of loose bolts.
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From Snowdon to the sea

Day 2, part 2

Today’s cycling: 90 km / 56 mi

We had a good early start to the first proper day of the trip, so we were back down from the summit of Snowdon before lunchtime. Once reunited with our bikes, we headed back the way we had come, back towards Capel Curig - but this time we were heading down Pen y Pas, and we had the road stretching before us, down into the forest. We decided to eat before we left the mountains proper, so we stopped for lunch by the side of a small lake It was only a brief stop, and I felt rushed; we could see the clouds behind us with the rain chasing us down the valley, and the air felt cold and ominous. It was as if the grey sky was reflecting the grey slate, and hiding a malevolent spirit brewing a storm like we were brewing our tea. A flying descent put us back among the trees and following our route north, to the coast. We were following a river down to the sea, but somehow - surely defying logic - the road seemed to wind up and up, even while the river was flowing along the valley floor in the same direction.
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