A record of my cycling trips in Britain and abroad


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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Yr Wydffa

Yr Wydffa, or Snowdon

Distance: 90 km / 56 mi cycling, ~10km walking

Cycling route
Approximate route up Snowdon

I woke up early this morning, with the sound of light drizzle pattering on the tent above me. At least, I think it was early - I haven’t brought a watch, and my only clock is on my camera, in the bottom of my bag. I like the sense of freedom not having a watch brings; one less link with civilisation, one less distraction. I listened carefully to see if Polly was awake; after a few minutes a yawn told me she was.
“Is that rain?” Polly asked.
“Yeah, think so,” I replied.
“Let’s give it 5 minutes, then I want a quick shower.”
“Sounds like it’s easing off, let’s go.”
We headed down to the shower block, next to the old barn where we made dinner last night. Ah, the joy of camping showers - never knowing what you’re going to get is part of the fun! At least these ones were hot, but they were on coin-operated timers - conveniently placed outside each shower. Anyway.
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The adventure begins…

114 km / 71 mi

So, this is the first entry about my three peaks trip; this blog’s raison d’etre. I’m writing it somewhat retrospectively, but if you can imagine me writing it at the end of each day’s travel, from now on I’ll pretend I’m writing it at the time; it makes it feel more real…

This morning I woke up early, excited that the day was finally here. I’ve been planning the trip for a while now; it’s the longest bike trip I’ve yet undertaken and by far the most ambitious. Ten days is the target, to cycle across the hilliest parts of Britain and climb the highest mountains in Wales, England and Scotland: Snowdon (1085m), Scafell Pike (978m) and Ben Nevis (1344m). My companions will be Polly and Simon, although due to work commitments Simon can only join us after we climb Snowdon.
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Boat Race part 2: Greenwich to Cambridge

157th Varsity Boat Race
Part 2: Greenwich to Cambridge

Distance: 96 km / 60 mi

Sunday morning. I woke up, and it seemed like only a couple of hours since I went to bed. It was. I was not the best prepared I’ve ever been for a bike ride; I think it was a consequence of the pointless farce by which the clocks go forwards, which meant I lost an hour of sleep. It certainly had nothing to do with the late bedtime, loud music, and the sofa that was comfy but ever so slightly too short, and it had nothing whatsoever to do with the wine and coke. Oh no.
However, it was a lovely day, and a 2 minute roll along the edge of Greenwich Park jolted me fully awake, and brought me to the foot tunnel. Again, it’d be nicer without steps, but we can’t have everything in life. Carrying my bike up and down those steps was probably the most strenuous part of the journey! This time, I knew where I was headed, so it was a short ride from leaving the tunnel to the canal.
Travelling to London always shakes my faith in humanity a little, and this time was no exception: the glittering towers of Canary Wharf, the prisons of the wealthy, nestle around and among the run-down tenement blocks of Tower Hamlets like some sort of dystopia, a real-life Huxley novel. I cycled past a young dad, playing with his five kids and teaching them to ride a minimoto on the scrap of sand at the edge of an old slipway; past a Muslim family, looking somewhat incongruous with the man in jeans, a fleece and new trainers, while his wife walked beside him clad head-to-toe in a black burqa, anonymous and invisible in the morning sunshine.
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Cambridge to Greenwich for the 157th Varsity Boat Race - part 1

Distance: 96 km / 60 mi

I’ve cycled to London quite a few times now; what made this trip special, and why am I writing about this one? Well, apart from getting lost in the Isle of Dogs, this was one of the best trips I’ve made: the weather was great, I think I’ve found what must be the nicest route between Cambridge and London, and most of all - unlike the previous year! - I made it to London in time to see the boat race.

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