Days 15 to 17 of the trip in brief, Pechiera del Garda to Florence and the baptism of the bike following my break in North Italy.

So…. following my last chronological blog regarding days of cycling, here are the remaining days to Florence. The last day I posted was Day 14 where I deviated from my route to head North-East to Bergamo.

Day 15: Lake Garda – Modena (Italy)
69 Miles (111 Km)
Head down and put the miles away today, not much to see .. couple of food stops and a tub of ice cream but other than that solid cycling. Penultimate ride before Florence tomorrow 🙂 .
Photos to follow.
https://www.strava.com/…/115809…/shareable_images/map_based…


Day 16: Modena to Florence
93.9 Miles (151 Km)
The hills between Bologna and Florence are brutal! One of the hardest rides I’ve ever done to finish the trip. Worth it though! 🙂 🇮🇹🚴🏻🎉
https://www.strava.com/…/115993…/shareable_images/map_based…


IN FLORENCE!, After 1,129.8 Miles since I set off from London on Monday 7th August, I’m here… thank you to everyone who has supported me, wished me well and kept me going with comments, it means more than you know.. now to celebrate!


Day 17: ARRIVEDERCI! 😘 And so… the bike is officially Italian. I’ve just returned from the the bike shop ‘Florence By Bike’ where I have donated it, the lady who served me was very grateful and said that they have a very deserving boy to give it to called Giuseppe, a boy that loves bikes and helps them a lot at the shop. She made the process feel like a very appropriate ending and I am happy that it will now be rode around the beautiful city of Florence for the rest of its days


Thank you to Florence by bike for my bag of goodies, very grateful


Thanks for reading 

craig 

Please comment , share , contact 🙂 

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The Gotthard Pass, The Alps and Things learned along the way. 

I had never travelled alone before, I had never travelled in Europe before and certainly didn’t know anything about the Alps, let alone gone over them. It all started when I decided to cycle to Italy from London and in the early days looking loosely over routes I could take. It immediately became apparant that this unstoppable force was going to inevitably  meet an immovable object. Not only an immovable one, but also one that wasn’t for going around and in my mind a tunnel route was unspeakable, so the Alps had to be part of the route.. but I knew nothing about the place and certainly didn’t know any of the passes. A pass for the people reading who don’t know is just an identified place to go over a mountain range, a lower section used for going from one side to the other, historically used for travelling and the transportation of goods. 

   Once I had the Alps in mind, I came across a book called ‘Crossing Europe on A Bike Called Reggie’ by Andrew Sykes in which he chronicled a very similar trip to mine, but instead he travelled from Reading to the south of Italy. Anyway it was as simple as reading the book, liking the sound of his route over Gotthard Pass and putting that as part of my plan, no more research done. And so I set off, cycling into the unknown and quite enjoying the feeling that I would learn as I went along instead of having everything planned to the letter. 

My photo of The famous ancient cobbled road from the south. 

Due to the Alps being a very significant part of my journey, I had many conversations about it along the way with random people that I met and people who put me up at their houses. A fellow cyclist who was particularly knowledgable about them was Magdalena, a software developer who hosted me for two nights in Zurich. Luckily for me this font of knowledge came the day before I was to make my journey Andermatt in the mountain region and was a conversation that as well as providing a lot of information put me more at ease with the task ahead. Firstly she spoke to me about how, from living in Switzerland had become a massive fan of hill cycling and had done all of the passes in that region over the Alps and assured me that the Gotthard Pass was very manageable and that considering the journey I had already completed, I would be fine (I think she could read the anxiety on my face). 

My arrival at the summit. 

We then went on to speak about the geography of the area and the significance the mountains had in Europe. She told me how they were the peak of the water sources in Europe and a splitting point. For example, If you were on the top and got rid of your excess water (for want of a better phrase) towards Zurich, the Rhine  would take it to the North Sea, but if you turned and did it towards Italy it would be taken to the Mediterranean. The Alps between Switzerland and Italy are also a major separating point for language and culture, which was immediately noticeable in my short 17 mile trip over the top from Andermatt to Airolo and even more so as I went a further 30 miles or so to Bellinzona. On the north side of the ridge it is German speaking territory which the names of the towns reflect such as Andermatt and a few miles to the south we are in Italian Switzerland with the town names being a lot softer to the ear. The way of life and the food also followed suit with having my first Italian pizza in Ballinzona while still in Switzerland. This separation comes about with the south side of Switzerland belonging to Italy in the past. 

The view i got into Ariolo from the top. 

So the actual Gotthard Pass. The pass rises to an elevation of 2,106 m (6,909 ft) going from Andermatt to Ariolo after numerous switchback turns and falls into the list of Europes highest paved roads. As well as the tarmaced surface there is also a more historic cobbled road with follows the same pass which winds up to it slightly differently. This pass is the traditional one used from the 13th century to pass from the south to north and back again. This also, as I learned through speaking to other travellers who were walking also forms part of the pilgrimage route that is often followed from Northern Europe to Italy. 

Another piece of trivia about this particular pass is that it has a rail tunnel going through the mountain and a road tunnel, both of which were the longest of their type in the world at construction. There are many other passes around that area which are all also worth looking into, this was just my little summing up of my experience of the pass in August 2017. 

Camping in Andermatt. 

Cycling it was one of the best experiences of my life, it repaid the effort it took to cycle a thousand times. The views going up and on the top were breathtaking and the decent into Ariolo was something that cyclists dream of. Also if you are planning to cycle it, there is a brilliant campsite in Andermatt in an amazing location of an Alps valley, pictured above. 

Thanks for reading 🚵🏼

Craig. 

Update. Days 11 to 14 of the trip, over the Alps and into Italy. London to Florence :)

Day 11. 

Axenstrasse (Switzerland)

Zurich to Andermatt (Switzerland) 70 Miles (112 Km) Where do I start with today, where do you start when it’s one of the best days of your life. Started this morning in Zurich with breakfast of marmalade on brown bread from my host. Then to co op for supplies of bananas and snickers and then off. As left Zurich the scenery was amazing, as I neared the Alps and went along the Axenstrasse it just got better and better. I literally at times opened my mouth and said WTF. It was that good. Beautiful lakes and fountains that pictures could just never do justice. And to top it off .. I was cycling it! . Amazing . So lucky to have this opportunity. Then the climb to Andermatt in the Alps, which if I’m honest I wasn’t sure if I was capable of. Took a breather in Altdorf and then dug in. I cannot describe the views or the feeling at the top. Got goosebumps when it levelled out.. and the best view from a camp-site I’ve ever seen. Anyway enough rambling. Thanks for all the support, it’s got me where I am . 

https://www.strava.com/activities/1138285016/shareable_images/map_based?hl=en-US&v=1502981722


Day 12. Andermatt to Bellinzona (Switzerland) 52 Miles (83 Km) 

Summit of my Alps section. 
Woke up to a view of The Alps that was out of this world, had breakfast and set off for a morning of cycling which without being dramatic was life changing and added even more to this life changing trip. With all things that are going to massively test us there is always an element of doubt. Reaching the summit of the Gotthard Pass when I left London on Monday 7th seemed like a pipe dream and a series of events that I hoped would happen but could only achieve by taking one day at a time. Anyway today, after nearly 800 miles, I hit my highest point of 2106 metres, and highest speed of 46 MPH … and proved to myself what I was capable of if I set my mind to it. Now onto completing the ride to Italy. Thankyou for reading. I’m now experiencing a mental thunderstorm and am hidden in my tent ⛺️⚡️🌧. Thanks for all the support. Craig 

https://www.strava.com/activities/1139744228/shareable_images/map_based?hl=en-US&v=1503064823


Day 13. Bellinzona (Switzerland) to Milan (Italy) 73 Miles (117 Km) 

Arrival on Italy 🇮🇹 

Long day today, due to EVERY traffic light, EVERY 100 metres for ten miles into Milan being red. Brilliant campsite last night and a nice breakfast of Apricot croissant and apple juice :). Nice riding to the Italian border and beautiful at Lake Como. Then city cycling into Milan which wasn’t so nice. Anyway il keep it short … I made it to Italy 🇮🇹 and feeling the love from everyone .. cheers …. Thanks for all the support. Craig 

https://www.strava.com/activities/1141803326/shareable_images/map_based?hl=en-US&v=1503170035


Day 14. A little update. So.. I got to Milan yesterday on Day 13 of my trip. As I wasn’t sure what the trip held along the way, as I was literally cycling into the unknown, I set aside a good amount of time to do the whole thing. I have done nearly 900 miles in 14 days as of today and got to Italy very early. I cycled to Bergamo today which is no longer going straight south on my journey, it is north east of Milan. I am not going to Florence until the 30th and flying back on the 1st, so am going to have a bit of a holiday / recreational cycling break in north Italy until Sarah meets me next Sunday in Lake Garda. I will be posting any riding I do in between and will also be still doing daily blogs about one thing or another. but just wanted you to know that as I have made it from London to Italy, I am chilling for a week or so. Thank you for all the support it has really humbled me and has helped me along more than you will ever know. This trip was always about getting to a better place and it has been amazing, I’ve seen and done things, I never thought possible… Thankyou 🙂

https://www.strava.com/activities/1142733228/shareable_images/map_based?hl=en-US&v=1503227078

Thanks for reading 

Craig 

A further update with no computer… days 5 to 10 cycling posts. London to Florence :) 

Day 5. Rest day in Luxembourg 🇱🇺. 



Day 6. 


Day 6. Luxembourg City – saarbrücken (Germany) 68 Miles (109Km) Woke up to rain this morning, not ideal when camping. Wet all day so I put the miles away pretty sharpish. Did first 45 miles without really stopping, just a toilet stop and a pop into Lidl ha. And Crossed the border into Germany for the first time. Camping here tonight for an early start to Strasbourg tomorrow. Photos to follow.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1129841010/shareable_images/map_based?hl=en-US&v=1502550249


Day 7. 


Day 7. Saarbrücken (Germany) to Strasbourg (France) 78 Miles (124km) Amazing day.. Woke up to rain again but was made better by the fact that my bike was still there. Not a comfortable campsite to say the least. Think everyone else on the campsite lived there and didn’t like visitors. Anyway was quite happy to leave early. Nice ride through one of Frances national forests 🌳. And then …. arrival in Strasbourg – WOW. love it here! I’d have to say here and Luxembourg City are places I will definitely come back to. The city here is full of busy squares and amazing architecture- check the pics to follow.. and got a host from the cycling equivalent of couch surfing – warm showers. First time I’ve had an actual bed and not only that but the trust to come and go as I please while they are out and a four course meal made be Anke and her partner. Today I also got to virtually 500 miles in a week, which is about half way 👌Photos to follow.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1131537556/shareable_images/map_based?hl=en-US&v=1502632334


Day 8. 


Day 8. Strasbourg (France) to Basel (Switzerland) 85 Miles (136km) Amazing day… again.. although my knee has been giving me problems today and the cycling even though along the Rhine was very repetitive. Two great hosts, last night and tonight have made it an experience I won’t forget. First proper bed last night staying with an art professor in Strasbourg who had an amazing flat in the centre and trusted me to let myself out after only meeting me the night before. Then as I say .. one loooong straight road down the Rhine and the arrival in Basel. Another brilliant host Andreas. Cooked me dinner and then Took me swimming in the Rhine.. one of the best experiences of my life ! Sunset and a couple of beers 🙂 cheers Photos to follow.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1133378106/shareable_images/map_based?hl=en-US&v=1502727936


Day 9.

First view of the Alps 🙂 

Day 9. Basel to Zurich (Switzerland) 53 Miles (85 Km) A relatively short day.. but the hills have started, I am defiantly in Switzerland. muscle just above my knee playing up again so good job I finished for 2pm today and don’t cycle again till Thursday. Then a small matter of two days to go to andermatt and over the Gotthard Pass. I got my first view of the Alps today which was unbelievable . Can’t believe il be lucky Enlight enough to cycle there this week 🙂 . Also my bike fell over with the panniers on and decided to send the cog deep into my ankle that needed disinfecting, which knocked the life out of it.. Was quite relieved to get here as the last day of four is always a tough one. Rest up now with snooker and a pint. And full day with the feet up tomorrow. Photos to follow.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1134678863/shareable_images/map_based?hl=en-US&v=1502798412


Day 10. Rest day in Zurich before the Alps 🙂 


Thanks for reading 👌

For the people not on Facebook :). A quick update with no computer… first 4 days cycling posts. 

Day 1. 


Day 1 . London to Arneke (France). 110 Miles (177 Km). Amazing day. One of the best I’ve ever had cycling. I’d recommend cycling around this area of France to anyone. Been put up tonight by a French couple who are also cyclists. Photos of the day to follow.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1122252973/shareable_images/map_based?hl=en-US&v=1502132571


Day 2. 

Day 2 . Arneke (France) to Bernissart (Belgium) . 76 Miles (122 Km) rained as I left Arneke , stopped raining for pasta 🍝 in the centre of Lille, rained as I arrived to set my tent up, And stopped for a couple of beers 🍻. Not too bad ha. 

https://www.strava.com/activities/1123526281/shareable_images/map_based?hl=en-US&v=1502208738


Day 3. 


Day 3. Bernissart (Belgium) – charleville-Mezieres (France) 66.8 Miles (107 Km), Strava screwed up my additional 17 miles on the start of this ride, so it was really 83 Miles. Road closure plagued my first few miles in Belgium but after that it was head down and put the miles away . Saw the beautiful centres of Mons, Beaumont, Rocroi and Charleville. Riding was also much more enjoyable back in France. Photos to follow. 

https://www.strava.com/activities/1125519218/shareable_images/map_based?hl=en-US&v=1502305292


Day 4. 


Day 4. charleville-Mezieres (France) – Luxembourg City 87 Miles (140 Km) beautiful early morning along the river out of Charleville. Misty and no-one around. Hard miles when I realised I’d turned 75 miles into 90.. but nice end with good camp site, day off tomorrow and playing Uno and drinking wine with new German friends .. Photos to follow.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1126856350/shareable_images/map_based?hl=en-US&v=1502382668



Now in Luxembourg.. 

il update properly when I get to a computer 🙂 

Thanks for reading 👌

Camping and Climbing in the Yorkshire Dales. Gaining Experience for The Big One.

So.. In preparation for cycling from London to Florence which obviously takes in the Alps I realised I would need to get in some experience of big climbs coupled with living from my bike and camping along the way. We are very lucky, in Yorkshire, to live so close to one of the best place to cycle in Europe in regards to beautiful countryside and amazing cycle roués, The Yorkshire Dales. I have for the past few months, been studying the  Cycling Uphill website, in particular the large amount of local routes that appear there (http://cyclinguphill.com/100-climbs/). I decided I would find a couple that were close to each other and try to build a long cycling day around them and sandwich it between a couple of nights of camping. I settled on doing Malham (Cove) road and Fleet Moss and to stay in Buckden which would give me a nice lengthy 60 mile circular ride with a LOT of climbing and on my three day trip I cycled to Buckden, did that ride and rode home. Oh and learned a few more things through trial and error as I went on.

image1(Heber Farm Campsite, Buckden, Yorkshire Dales)

Day 1 – Halifax to Buckden – 40 Miles. On arriving in Buckden, I was greeted by some very unpleasant fine, tuesday afternoon rain in which to set-up my tent, all the while repeating in my head ‘It will rain on the way to Italy so you will have to get used to this!’. I was to soon learn that although I was relatively close to home and not too far from civilisation, while camping I should always have some emergency food. When I had set up my ‘One Man Tunnel Tent'(OEX Phoxx 1 – £59.99), I sheltered inside it reading my book and soon to be guide to Italy ‘Crossing Europe On A Bike Called Reggie’ by A.P.Sykes (more about him in another blog) and waited for the rain to pass. While the rain was passing SO WAS TIME. The rain subsided around 7 and I decided to walk to the nearest pub to get some food, which in an ideal world sounds very straight forward, it didn’t turn out that way. Firstly (count the misfortune) the pub that I had been tipped off to visit while in Buckden, The Buck Inn, closed in December and I was forced seek advice on the next nearest establishment. I was pointed towards Starbotton and The Fox and Hounds, a nice, gentle, 2 mile walk. It was still daylight so I walked with my book and very relaxed, read a few more pages on the way. CLOSED. My heart sank a little as I asked a passing walker his knowledge of why it was closed and further suggestions. He informed me that the landlord had opened the day before on bank holiday monday to accommodate the rush for the local duck race and couldn’t possibly do without his day off so took it today of all days instead. Hunger and slight panic kicking in. He proposed that I go back to Buckden and a further couple of miles to Hubberholme and The George pub as it would be closer to get back once I had finished eating. So I set off, still slightly enjoying the walk yet decreasing in enjoyment as I walked past my own Campsite just to go away from it again. I arrived at The George, happy I was to eventually get some food after five and a half miles strolling around looking for it. Quick quiz…. guess which day of the week that particular pub shuts on???….. TUESDAY. Now I am panicking a lot, considering my options, which were minimal and both involving the mile and a half walk back to the campsite. I could go to the campsite and get my bike and cycle the 4 miles to Kettlewell where I knew at least one of the three pubs there would be open or I could go around the campsite cap-in-hand. I decided to complete my 7 mile walking journey and get on the bike. I got to the Racehorses Hotel at 21:10 and was so glad it was open, went in to be told by the chef that they stopped serving at 21:00, I think the heartbreak on my face when he said this told him that he would be making me some food regardless of that small detail. He said ‘ok, choose something from the menu, and I will make it for you’, to which I said ‘name something on the menu’ he said ‘ham sandwich?’, I was already nodding before he had even started saying it. supper had, 4 mile ride back to Buckden, BED.

Day 2 – Buckden/Malham/Hawes/Buckden Circular – 60 Miles. Up early for the main event, the start of my chipping away at the list of UK 100 climbs which I have just decided while writing this that I wouldnt mind one day saying I had done all of. I set off out and decided I would get a few miles under my belt before breakfast (as if I had learned nothing from the night before) and set of south towards Hetton and the made my way North-East towards Malham. Before I knew it I had done 18 miles and was stopping for breakfast at The Town End Tea Room just outside Airton, which is a great tea rooms coupled with a farm shop, always a good mix. I filled up on Beans on Toast and loads of rocky road, washed it down with a jug of tea, took in another 20 pages of my book and set out on the final 3 miles to my first climb on the list, Cove Road in Malham. Although Malham is a famous place that is relatively close to where I live, I had never been. When I arrived I was quite surprised by the amount of people in the area and had to take my time manoeuvring through them all going towards the cove and the start of the climb…

Cove Road, Malham : 100 UK Climbs #14 : Length 2.1 Miles : Av Gradient 6% : Max Gradient 10% : Height Gain 201 Metres.

image3(Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales)

I will not spend a long time explaining these climbs, although I will say that I think the heat on this day contributed to how difficult I felt they were at the time. I was going up the cove road at a nice pace with my Pannier bags on, in order to replicate what I would be cycling through Europe with, until I got to the 10% section. There was a blind corner in front of me and I heard the car in front of me drop a gear and increase the revs as it went around it, which was bad news for me. I then got to the corner and realised why, I shifted in to my easiest gear and gradually dug in until I was at the top, where I had to take a long rest. The climb, as is the case with all climbs in the dales, is well worth it from the views over Malham Moor and even more worth it for the long winding descent into Langcliffe.

I was then on the B road, all the way to The Ribblehead viaduct 11 miles away in the blazing sunshine, where I stopped for the obligatory photograph. At this point the sun was killing me and being of the red headed variety it was burning my arms to the point of pain. I had to make a decision as I began the further 10 miles to Hawes, I either continued to burn and pay for it later, or take the only other option of putting my black rain coat on and to boil inside it, losing hydration by the second. I took this option as I had a lot of water with me. Every mile seemed like 5 and I was noticing my Calves were also turning a bright shade of red at which point I saw a row of bushes around a house were I could get some temporary shade. As the sun was at its highest point in the sky, I literally had to lie horizontal under the bush in order to be shaded, which must have looked very strange to the passing vehicles. All this said, cycling through this beautiful countryside was amazing and made me feel liberated and lucky to be able to do such a thing. I secretly love the feeling of being out on my own, away from home, feeling like I am on an expedition and challenging myself. I arrived in Hawes feeling like a stranger passing through an unfamiliar town until I heard ‘Hi Craig’, I turned around to see one of the teachers that used to work at the school that I currently work at Mr Calderbank. It was a pleasant surprise, as he is one of the good guys and we spoke about how he does a lot of walking up there and I was reminded that I was only about 50 miles from home and NOT on the otherside of the world. We discussed Fleet Moss and Buttertubs Pass, as at that point, I was still considering getting both in that day, Buttertubs being North from Hawes and Fleet Moss being South. I was thinking of going up Buttertubs, coming back down it the same way and then going over Fleet Moss back to my campsite but after discussing this we agreed that it may be too much to do, especially if I wanted to get back and have enough time to relax and get some good food.

We said goodbye and I went through Gayle, past the Wensleydale  factory and began to creep up Fleet Moss.

Fleet Moss : 100 UK Climbs #50 : Length 3.4 Miles : Av Gradient 6% : Max Gradient 20% : Height Gain : 320 Metres.

image4(Fleet Moss, Yorkshire Dales)

This climb started off relatively easily and gradually increased at a bearable rate, the first section is blind to the real deal that lies in the latter sections. It is another climb that doesn’t unveil what it is actually going to do to you until you are well into it, by then there is no return. The image above is obviously from the top, but looking from the bottom plays tricks on your eyes and you cannot really tell whether the last section is part of the road or actually a road coloured vertical wall that has been put in as some kind of sick joke by the locals. As I got towards the two massively intense climbs, I looked down at my panniers, asked myself why and put my head down to look directly at the road. I thought if I didn’t look at it, it may feel shallower, this did not work. It took me to the point of vocalising my pain, and as my bike went side to side, I felt like I was getting nowhere. Finally I got over the crest at the top, with my last bit of energy and fell onto the banking with my bike, at which point a following car stopped and offered their respect at what they had just watched from below. I was done. During my break, I realised that the road did climb a little further and that I had probably done the dreaded act of stopping during a Strava segment, but the way I was feeling at the time, I really couldn’t care. I then decended the following 8 miles or so back to Buckden, got a shower, changed and headed back out for some food and a couple of well deserved pints at The George, Hubberholme.

Day 3 – Buckden to Halifax – 40 Miles.

Waking up on day 3 after my second night of camping, I felt a nice sense of achievement, not only for my cycling but also for my two night spent solo camping for the first time. I was feeling more and more like I may actually be capable of completing that massive goal that I had set myself for summer, although there is a long way between 1300 miles over 3 weeks and what I had just done. Although before this little trip it was not the miles that I was worried about, as I will do them regardless, It was knowing whether I could camp alone and to be honest, I really enjoyed it. Another beautiful thing about cycle touring, is being able to pack up the tent and everything you own and within a few minutes have it all neatly packaged onto the bike, ready to move on. A feeling that I doubt you get when you have been camping and you throw the tent and all your home comforts into the back of a 4×4 (not that there is anything wrong with that), its just not the feeling I am looking for. So back on the bike, I went for beans on toast again in Kettlewell and completed the 40 miles back to Halifax. It deserves saying that we are so lucky to have this near where I live and The experience I had in the Yorkshire Dales is one I will never forget, it was a challenge and an education!

Thanks again for reading.

Craig

 

 

Cycling The Way of The Roses – Coast To Coast from Morecambe to Bridlington. First and second bite at the cherry.

image1-3

On New Years day this year, I set out to complete a solo bike ride that I had thought about for a while but not necassarily planned or prepared properly for. I thought that because I had cycled 100 miles (of FLAT countryside) around Cheshire in a day in September, that I could complete any ride that involved that less daily milage than that very easily. VERY WRONG. I encountered a series of issues that I had not accounted for, that led to a days cycling that I would prefer to forget and a return home two days early, the following morning. I developed a problem in my knee which all of these problems seemed to contribute to. Firstly I set off from Halifax on the train at 8am and when I arrived in Morecambe decided that charging my phone was more important that setting straight off, which, coupled with the fact that we were still in the months of darkness kicking in at about 5pm led to me being massively against time before I had even set off. I left around 12pm with panniers that were packed like someone going on a holiday as opposed to an endurance exercise and left myself limited time for breaks in order to get to my first destination of Wharf View Guest house, Burnsall, before the sun went down. I went full throttle at the first 25 or so miles, and realised when i got to the Yorkshire Dales that my bike was far too overpacked for the hills I was required to climb, although I completed them, I had asked a lot more of my body. This manifested itself in excruciating pain in the outside of my right knee, Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS), also knows as ‘runners knee’ which is a condition arising from overworking. Basically a there is a band of tissue than runs from your thigh to your knee and connects to your knee at the knee cap. If enough training is not done, this band is not as flexible as it needs to be and instead of moving appropriately, it just rubs on the outside of the joint, until it becomes enflamed and horrendously painful, to the point of stopping you from bending it. This was also not helped by me being naive enough to try complete this with normal pedals, which led to my foot being angled and exacerbating this issue. Due to how slowly this led to me riding  I arrived at the guest house long after dark, which was horrible to ride in on the lonely roads through the Dales. It was £45 for a twin room for the night and came with a good cooked breakfast. The following day, I cycled down to the bridge next to the Red Lion in Burnsall, realised I could not pedal on my right leg and a close friend came to get me and took me home, very upset annoyed!

Between then and good friday, I acquired more appropriate equipment (cleats mainly, which maximise effort by using the power you put into lifting the pedal as well as pushing down on it), I have trained very regularly doing the 22 mile round trip to work on top of my long rides and researched essential equipment in order to trim down my baggage.

Ready to begin again.

DAY 1: Friday 14th April : 80 miles : 5,604 feet of climbing : Lancaster – Morecambe – Lancaster – Hornby – Clapham – Settle – Airton – Cracoe – Burnsall – Pateley Bridge – Watergate – Ripon.

image1(Morecambe Sea Front, The Irish Sea)

I set out on my journey by getting the train from Halifax to Morecambe £23.40 changing Preston and Lancaster. When I arrived in Lancaster, I had an hour wait for a train to take me the 3 or 4 miles to Morecambe, so I decided to cycle there in order to get set off a little earlier. I got a quick pic at the sign in Morecambe and then followed the route I had just come down, back to Lancaster, once back in Lancaster I felt like I had begun. The first leg from Morecambe is beautiful tarmac surfaces following the river to just past Lancaster. My first stop was just into the top of The Forest of Bowland at Hornby, where I found a little village shop on the right going through the centre, where you can get a home cooked range of hot pastries and pizza (sausage roll and rocky road for me ). I was served to me by a lovely woman named Moira who gave me free cup of tea and a place to charge my phone, which I was very grateful for, stop there if you can, it was some kind of one-stop shop. Following this it was through to Settle, I decided to stop here and get a sandwich for dinner as I had been reliably informed by my friend Craig McGowan that the hills out of settle were not to be sniffed at. Following a break at Ye Olde Naked Man cafe, I set off, if I had not realised that I was in the middle of a physical test by this point, Settle to Airton certainly sorbed me up. The hill coming out of Settle got me to the point where many of you may have been, where even though you are alone, you vocalise the difficulty and the pain in the legs (if you know you know). Following this I carried on at a good rate until I came to Burnsall around 3pm. I had been in contact with Catgill Camp Site at Bolton Abbey who said I could turn up and get a pitch, but with it only being earl and the sun not scheduled to go down until 8pm, I sat outside the Red Lion and made the big decision to turn my trip into a two day trip and aim for Ripon, around another 25 mile. This was head down and make sure you get there territory now based on decision. I had a SIS energy bar, dug in and made it to the Harefield Hall pub in Pateley bride, who were very friendly and again allowed me to charge for phone to keep my route and Strava (cycling app that records distance and climbing in order to monitor performance) up to date. After a bag of nuts and half a pint of Landlord I followed a ‘Tour de Yorkshire route’ to Ripon.

image2(St Mary’s Church at Studley Royal Park, Ripon, North Yorkshire)

On arrival in Ripon centre, I headed straight for a conversation with a taxi driver (i need someone with ‘The Knowledge’) who informed I would be lucky to find a site that took campers. He said that I may be best looking at the local pub for Bed and Breakfast. I stopped at The White Horse who had no rooms, but informed me that Riverside Meadows Country Caravan Park, would accommodate my tent. I cycled a mile or so up the road and spoke to the manager (i think) at the bar, which had a Butlins vibe and was in the middle of preparations for the friday night disco. I looked and felt very out of place. I told him my situation and asked for somewhere to camp with my small, one-man tent as the sun was about to go down. He informed me that he had stopped taking tents due to the ‘large groups’ that had been going there and causing trouble, being loud and littering with beer cans. Due to my circumstances I asked again and said I was alone, would be no trouble and need somewhere quite badly, he declined and said ‘I can’t go back on my decision’ to which I said ‘ok, thanks’ and made my way out, trying to look as helpless as possible, expecting him to change his mind and call me back (didn’t happen) ha. I headed back into Ripon and came upon the Fountain Guest House, knocked on the door and secured myself a twin room with wifi, SHOWER, Full English breakfast and a garage for my bike. I dined on a Pasta pot and samosa from the Co-OP and fell straight to sleep.

DAY 2: Saturday 15th April : 90 miles : 1,614 feet of climbing : Ripon – Boroughbridge – Newton-on-Ouse – York – Dunnington – Stamford Bridge – Pocklington – Huggate – Hutton Cranswick – Drifield – Burton Agnes – Bridlington.

On the morning of day two I awoke to a knock on my room door after a deep sleep telling me that breakfast was ready. I went down and took advantage of all I could to set me up for the day as well as some Bananas that I would need along the way. I spoke at length to the man who ran the guest house about my journey, others he had accomodated and the fact that my second day looked a lot easier than the first. We also spoke about how his brother coincidentally lived in Queensbury (about 5 mile from my home) and did the obligatory ‘you know where the traffic lights are and that pub is ….etc’ because we just had to pin point exactly in Queensbury it was although I would never be going. I set off from the guest house with a full stomach and a wish of good luck. The roads between Ripon and York are extremely flat and very well surfaced, this coupled with the fact that every corner from Morecambe to Bridlington has the two roses and an arrow for directions meant that I could get my head down and put some miles away.

image1-2River Ouse through York.

The riding was so good at this point, I did 31 miles without stopping and arrived in York feeling brilliant about the days riding. Following a short break and a quick watch of a brilliant old busker (doing the covers that Johnny Cash did on his final albums) I set off out of York in the wrong direction. I can’t tell you how many times I set off on a road thinking it was the right way, only to come back to the centre moments later. I stopped and asked a couple on the side of the road who pointed me in the right direction of the canal cycle path out of the city, I was annoyed by the delay, so I got my head down again and did not stop until Pocklington. I stopped at the Fresh Food Deli to get my head together, thankfully they let me charge my phone as I enjoyed a toasted teacake and a large slab of Bakewell Tart, I filled up my water bottles, dropped in an Electrolyte tablet and set off. I wish I could say more about the remaining miles to Bridlington, but really it was quite a lonely slog, not seeing anyone for miles at a time although the cycleway and scenery was perfect. I stopped in Hutton Cranswick at TJ’s Coffee Shop for a tea and the photo at the start of this blog along the way before the last leg.

On arrival into Bridlington I was constantly looking for the horizon and a glimpse of the sea which was not forthcoming, I expected the sea to be over the next hill, which went on for about 5 miles. Eventually cycling north along an un-assuming urban street, I saw the last sign that pointed me to the right, I looked down and saw what felt like the best view Ive ever seen, below. I was there!

Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 12.35.44(First view of the North Sea, Limekiln Lane, Bridlington)

I made my way slowly down the street to the sea front, celebrating to myself along the way. I had accomplished what had took me two attempts and a lot of finding out about myself, it was an amazing feeling. I think that if your going to do the coast to coast in a group, it may be a more sociable experience to do it in three days (as seems to be the most common time) yet if you are doing it alone, with second day being so flat, I don’t see why its not very achievable to do it in two. Get in contact if you have any specific questions.

image2-3(Bridlington Sea Front, The North Sea)

I arrived at 6:20 pm and in what had become my fashion, had to get a quick pic and set off straight for the last train that would get me back to Halifax the same day at 6:41 pm. I did this very reluctantly as the smell of fish and chips was physically pulling me in.

The train journey back seemed more difficult than the whole ride put together. It is brilliant that Northern Rail allow bike’s on all trains but it really puts a spanner in the works when they put on a bus replacement, which do not allow bike’s on and leave you stranded in Selby at 8:30pm with no suggestion of an alternative to get home. The train was £35 (to Halifax) and took me from Bridlington to Hull, Hull to Selby and then left me to fend for myself. Luckily at short notice my good friend Ben Miller, who was having a quiet night in before a stag do came and took me to Leeds station, without which I would probably still be cycling back now (whenever you are reading this). Thanks Ben.

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