We have just completed our first bit of “training” since we agreed to the adventure last month. I say training; it’s not really, it’s just to see if we can actually do more than two straight days of cycling in a row without too many complaints. Last year we weren’t able to make it up to Bedforshire 50 miles away and back the next day. I had a knee complaint, so we jumped on a train from Hemel Hemsptead back to London. Rubbish.
On our excurisions over the past year or so we have come to realise that over-indulging after a hard day’s cycle doesn’t pay off if you intend to get back on the bike the next day. No more beer, no more 3-course meals and no more late nights.
With this in mind, we set off on a four-day coast-to-coast ride from Morecambe to Bridlington via Yorkshire Dales. We planned to wild-camp as much as possible, avoid the pub as much as possible and avoid our wallets as much as possible.
An early wakeup call saw us packing our panniers at 6am before realising we hadn’t pumped up our tyres which were drastically low on air. Rubbish. After a hectic race around north London to find a pump and picking up my gear that kept splattering all over the roads, we just about made the 07:25 train from Euston in the nick of time. No time for our cheap-Sainsbury’s grab-a-breakfast. So instead we treated our hungry stomachs to a wonderfully expensive pile of crap courtesy of Virgin Trains. Rubbish. I also had to splash out on a new pair of sunglasses after smashing them whilst rushing to the train platform. Rubbish.
Set off from Morecambe: 11am. Target: wilderness.
A pleasant, moderately-hilly 40-mile ascend into the Yorkshire Dales via some beautiful scenery, in 25c of heat. There was one very sharp 2-mile climb from Settle to the top of a hill. It was here that we reviewed our motives to get through the Austrian Alps. So what if the Alpine altitude sits at least 3 times higher than this hill? So what if no other cycle-adventurer seems to have gone through there before? We’re adamant on going through Slovenia but to do that requires a pass through the Austrian Alps. Just a bit more research needed that’s all. In any case, we can’t just follow tried-and-tested routes. We need to try and test for ourselves: we are adventurers after all.
I had been fantasising all afternoon about finding a stream to camp next to so that we could cool down and wash off. Around 6pm we duly found a nice secluded spot with a stream which we jumped straight into before pitching up and cooking dinner: Haricots au four avec sauce tomates oignons et cumin (baked beans with onions and cumin, in English). Result. We had a wild-poo, did some yoga as sun set and went for a 2 mile stroll in order to keep warm.
We camped up by the hut that can be seen in the distance:
Set off from camp: 8am. Target: York, 65 miles away
We breakfasted on some cake and hot chocolate and then took the stunning descent into Burnsall where we breakfasted again on a bacon and egg roll whilst chatting to a local family. We do find that after two hours of cycling we’re ready for more breakfast.
We went through some marvellous spots of beauty that no photo would do justice. Some awe-inspiring descents at scary speeds (I reached 43mph before freaking out and appying my brakes, which did little to slow me down!)
We arrived at York around 6pm, exhausted. We then did the last 5 miles to the campsite and treated ourselves by venturing to the village and indulging in a lamb roast and a pint of shandy each. We had after all just completed a 75 mile-day, forty of which were hills. We had pitched up next to the Noisy Family from Noishire and had a crap night of sleep. Campsites, we realised, weren’t for us. Or their people.
We had given ourselves four days to complete the journey: more than enough, as most people do it in three. We are not overly competitive people and the spirit of our adventure is to be enjoyment over speed. We had a late start by having a couple of breakfasts in the sun by the river on the campsite and drying off our gear from the previous night’s storm.
We ventured into York for a wander; it was her first time there so I was excited for her to see it. We hit the road again with a stressful fight through the city and being told to “fuck off” by one its tourists who was also negotiating her way through it. We were suddenly, and thankfully, back out into the flat landscape. Cities, we realised, weren’t for us. Or their people.
How would we deal with Chinese Megacities when even quaint York posed a threat?
We cycled for 15 miles and stopped off at Stamford Bridge for lunch and a long kip, still suffering from the lack of sleep. Things picked up thereafter when we were treated to hills. This is where we realised that flat non-descript terrain is not for us. The hills actually energised us and we felt more alive, positive and happy.
One of the best parts of the trip was coming down from Millington into a peacful haven of nature. After the previous night’s rubbishness, we were keen on wild-camping again and eventually found a secluded spot behind a small wood: an unkept grassy part of a farmer’s field. We ventured into the village pub and indulged in a pint of shandy before returning to our camp and cooking something that resembled food.
Miles completed: 30
With only 35 miles to the coast, we took an easy pace and stopped off at friend of hers in Lund. Here we were kindly offered a second breakfast and chatted for some 2 hours before setting off for the last 25 miles. We duly arrived in Bridlington and treated ourselves by indulging in fish and chips. We had managed to literally dodge any rain throughout the whole trip. We often saw rain clouds ahead of us but they would always disappear upon approach
What did we learn?
-We can cycle more than two days in a row.
-Yorkshire’s bloody brilliant.
-Throughout the trip actually we felt alone and unharassed by cars; the Way of The Roses is a well planned-out route indeed.