A record of my cycling trips in Britain and abroad


Yellow Tops…

… are a speciality in Redcar. If you don’t know what one is - you’ll have to go there to find out! I found out what they were on a stop in Redcar, on the way from Cullercoats to Saltburn. The ride took us along the NCN route 1 for much of the way, with a few detours to make the route more interesting. We saw quite a few sights on the way; we set off through territory that’s very familiar to me, along Cullercoats sea front and past Tynemouth Priory, the Spanish Battery, and the fish quays. However, we very quickly took a route that was completely new to me - over the Shields Ferry. There’s something about ferries that makes them so much more exciting than crossing a river via a bridge; perhaps it’s partly that I’ve always associated ferries with holidays, whether that’s ferries to the Scottish isles, or the channel ferries across to France. Either way, the Shields Ferry was a good start to our trip, although my poor timing meant we had about 15 mins to wait. Fortunately there’s a waiting room on the pontoon for the ferry - fortunate, since it was very windy! (And we’d picked to do the route into a headwind - not the best choice perhaps!) Whilst waiting in the we had a surprise - along with our fellow passengers-to-be - when the ‘help kiosk’ in the waiting room suddenly crackled into life: not, however, with a message of assistance, but an offer to ‘press 9 now to claim your free PPI compensation package’. We surmised that the help kiosk was simply a telephone, and it had ended up on the cold-calling list for a scam PPI claims company. [Read More…]


Robin Hood

Robin Hood, or The Outlaw
About 65 miles

Called the Outlaw, I imagine, because it takes place in the area of the old Sherwood Forest, the Outlaw triathlon is one of the most popular long-distance triathlon races in the UK. Perhaps the fact that it’s half the price of the Ironman-brand races has something to do with its popularity. At any rate, I was down in Nottingham for the weekend to watch the club relays at Holme Pierrepont; this is an entertaining affair, where teams of 4 compete in (approximately) a 500m swim, 15km cycle and 5km run, with the whole team completing the swim in turn, then the cycle, then the run - so unlike a normal triathlon, each competitor has a rest between each leg. The following day, we had decided on a bike ride, and for the route we picked one based on the course of the Outlaw triathlon’s bike leg. This was the first time I used my fancy new phone for navigation, trying out three different programs, with varying degrees of success.
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Route Number One

Hello dear reader,

Having recently returned from a trip to Ethiopia, which occasioned a long absence from cycling (over three months; longer, indeed, than any that I can remember), I decided to renew my acquaintance with the two-wheeled mode of transport. I settled on a trip north to visit my brother, with a destination but no more than a vague plan. For some time, I’ve been meaning to investigate the recent advances in electronic navigation for bikes, and in fact, one of the first things I did on returning home was to order a new phone, one that has GPS and mapping capabilities. The phone arrived, but within five seconds of plugging it into the wall, it exploded. So much for electronic navigation.

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A ride in the Dales

Distance: 80 km

I’ve been on a few short rides around and about near my house over the past few weeks, but yesterday, I took advantage of nicer weather to go for a slightly longer ride. The day was lovely - bright and sunny, with not a breath of wind. The air was cold, but it felt fairly dry and it made for perfect riding conditions; even the heavy frost which was still present at 11 when I set off didn’t spoil the ride (although it would have done if I’d fallen!). It added to the scenery, especially in the hollows and valleys where it was lying heavily. I rode up to Almscliffe Crag, as I have done a fair few times now, but instead of turning back there I continued north into the dales. My only mistake I think was not to take any food with me - by the time I was climbing up onto Ilkley Moor three hours later I was definitely feeling the lack of energy!

Oh - and have a look at the attached elevation pic. The climbs aren’t as long as anything in the Alps, obviously, but there are plenty of places where the gradient’s above 10%. 16% I think is the highest on this ride; it’s pretty much top gear or bottom gear all the way!