Daily updates

 

Day 6  Pocklington-York-Pocklington

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle I no longer despair for the future of the human race.” ~ H.G. Wells

Up early and good to go, however my team were showing signs of lagging well behind in the “up and at em” stakes so a “team” decision takes us off the bike and into the city of York.

It’s also a chance to get the knee pain from yesterday’s car buzzing looked at. In fact it was a good thing I done so as a tear/tweak/sprain/spasm to the (insert very long latin sounding medical term) gets due attention and some well tidy kinesiology tape is applied to make me look far more pro than I did this morning. I also find myself saying the most cycling specific thing I have ever said as I wonder out loud how the tape will affect my tan lines by the time I hit France! If anything the knee feels stronger as I end the day with a 15 mile loop into town for some errands. Great success.

York is beautiful and welcoming as we manage to only collect 7 flyers for ghost walks during an afternoon stroll. High level competition amongst the guides seeking to tell us the tales of Yorks “belligerent ghouls”. I grew up with a knowledge of the Glasgow “ice cream wars” so top hats off to the far camper battle in this city. Fake pistols drawn from dark capes at 8pm seems to be the agreement.

We spend an extra night in South-Lee caravan site where we are offered a warm welcome. Much of the time is spent people watching as I realise that Caravan folk have a whole set of rituals known only to them and probably passed down from person to person in the recesses of places which sell chemical toilets, barbecues that fold down to the size of postage stamps and awnings ( the big the better)

I’m looked at with scorn by a (visitor/tourist/weirdy beardy/ member of the socks and sandals Union – delete as appropriate) as I inquire about wi-fi as this is apparently some kind of insult to the concept of “getting away from it”. Strikes me as a wee bit of a contradiction as our petit van (Toyota Granvia) is surrounded by caravans double the size of the green room at a Rolling Stones show only with more mod cons.

All jibes aside I do see the attraction of a weekend locked up in a mobile storage unit with your family or mates. It struck me that watching one family disassemble a massive pile of kit looked like the part of the Edinburgh Military tattoo where the soldiers take apart canons and transport them further up the filed to put them back together to sound the winning salute. Is bunch were obviously premiership caravaners as not a cross word was shared. Assembling an IKEA footstool to bring with us had our house at loggerheads triggering a 3 day state of non talking only resolved by intensive peace negotiations.

0 miles towards total 15 dead miles

Total- 255 miles towards total and 92 dead miles – 347

Song for the day

Day 5-Thirsk to Pocklington

Phil Nic’s quote of the day;

“Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring” – Desmond Tutu

Warm day with a headwind though nothing compared to the Flanders like conditions that seem to dog Fife cyclists all year round.

I leave Thirsk in possession of a pot of chamois cream which is the key thing I left at home. For non cyclists it’s like nappy rash cream for adults. I have been birdwatching on the road and the wee brown warbler the Chiff-chaff would have to be the bird I had most in common with as I reached the end of day 4.

An observation on Thirsk, decent in fact very decent with an outbreak of something called guerrilla knitting making sure that bollards, shop fronts, post boxes etc are covered in kind of tea cosy items which I am told are put out overnight. I assume this is to avoid the “Haberdashery police”

A few tricky and indeed treacherous turning points include a crossing of a dual carriageway which takes 15 minutes and some cyclocross skills as I decide to shoulder the bike and get across in instalments. The route profile is in stark contrast to what I’m told to expect in the York area…”flat lands” is what I’m told to expect and Lumpy Bumpy is what I get!

Today’s route defines the description of “England’s green and pleasant land” it’s stunning as I roll from village to village skating round York which I already know is a gem in the Nations crown. A thought strikes me that rather than confront other nations with football threats England’s travelling fans might be better served taunting the opposition with postcards of the quite stunning topography of their land.

It’s not all playing sailing as I struggle to get in the swing and follow a guy on a mountain bike for 4 miles lacking in the guile, energy or motivation to get by him. Once I do I am followed hard by the guy who seems intent on proving some kind of point by getting by me again. He hadn’t taken account of the fact that I am a cantankerous little git and wasn’t going to allow that to happen. Head down backside in the air and I’m off at the first descent. I recall a comment from keen cyclist Billy Connolly who states he was great passing bus stops at high speed before turning the corner and using his pump to give himself the kiss of life!! (Check out “Wreck on Tour” on you tube for more of the big yins cycling story’s. Funny but not for the kids!)

I then hit a low point as a car tries the most irksome and dangerous manoeuvre a cyclist can experience. Being passed at high speed by someone who must get through before an oncoming vehicle closes the gap is scary. I take second position (near as possible to the kerb) as I hear him coming. I’m then passed by a first then a second car which clips me before a motorbike completes the triad. So tight is the pass that the car on the other side screeches to a halt Sweeney style. The car which pulls up is driven by a ranting loon who starts screaming at me for somehow being culpable. If I had been in primary then the car in theory wouldn’t have got passed but in reality might well have wiped me out. The irony is that ranty man has a “help the heroes” car sticker visible. I think about explaining why I find myself so far from home but the thing is wearing the kit and representing MBT means I need to show more decorum than may well have been merited.

The rest of the ride is cool with cricket on the village green and seemingly every farmstead doing a roaring trade in duck eggs. I see many cyclists en route today and it appears this is because it’s Saturday rather than Friday as I had thought. My main observation is that English cyclists love a bit of cold weather kit. To a man, woman and Kid they all have long sleeve tops, many have 3/4 shorts and I spot a lad in a jersey I have at home which I reserve for days where the temp is below 5 degrees. I guess today I must have looked like Marvin Andrews in reverse as I rock the minimal amount of clothing that decency allows in what is the first day of double digit temps since I set off.

I decide to call it quits at Pocklington to gather my thoughts and restock confidence. Well and truly in the game in terms of mileage an early evening will do no harm especially as I can take the time to wash kit which may well have such “character” that Derek Acorah may well have been able to channel a conversation with it!

Photos and strava data to follow when I reach a wi fi point, England must have a campsite with one somewhere …..

42 miles towards total 9 dead miles

Total- 255 miles towards total and 77 dead miles – 332

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Pics to follow

 

Day 4-Alston to Thirsk

Phil Nic’s quote of the day;

“To me, it doesn’t matter whether it’s raining or the sun is shining or whatever: as long as I’m riding a bike I know I’m the luckiest guy in the world” – Mark Cavendish

We start the day with a morning walk where we try to achieve the impossible as I am told a creature called a red squirrel exists but I am sceptical. I live in what is supposed to be a hotspot for the tufty club and have seen nada. Alston has a boast that it is a refuge for the native squirrel. The campsite owners tells us where we are guaranteed to see them yet nothing.

The ride profile features a sharp incline to start with as Yad Moss extends over 10 miles, all of which are uphill. I see it featured as a King of the Mountain section in last years Tour of Britain and it has a place in one of the 100 toughest cycling climbs books. The reality is a bit underwhelming as its long and steady but lacks the lung busting qualities of Fife’s Brae’s. Up top its bleak and a little unnerving as there is a real sense of being isolated from habitated lodgings.

Once over the top its a breeze as I head to Barnard castle enjoying some long descents through a host of villages all of whom seem to have a fate planned in the next few weeks.
Barnard castle is a place I know having registered for the Etape Pennines in its ornate gardens a few years back. It’s a beautiful place and offers a hospitable stopping point as I load up on sports friendly carbs (Stuff my face with all manner of junk)

With 31 miles covered I am making good time so decide to push through to the next large town which is Thirsk. It’s an extra 41 miles but sometimes the legs just have miles in them and this was the case today though to be fair they with the exception of the first climb I am assisted by a flatter profile that any other day so far.

Some real pro action on route today as a bike mechanical allows my team to break out the spare bike Formula one style to get me on the road again. Pit stop time check around 5 minutes 45 seconds!!

The weather, well it’s getting boring harping on about it so let’s just say it’s been consistent…..

As a footnote let me own up to being a total gonk, of all the things to leave out the kit bag for a 1000+ km ride Chamois cream is not the ideal choice.

 

Pics will follow

Day 3-Langholm to Alston

Phil Nic’s quote if the day;

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”― Albert Einstein

The first day that I have my support crew with me and as we leave Fife it is wet or to be more accurate very wet. The progress made so far strikes me as it takes nearly 3 hours to reach my start point, a point I have reached by pedal power in 2 days.

Good news greets us at Langholm as the wet weather makes way for a deliciously grey, overcast, gloomy sky. Small steps of progress must be acknowledged as I gamble on leaving behind my salopets, Mac, wellies, umbrella and water wings. I hope this will enable better progress as the lilo I have carried for 2 days is anything but aerodynamic.

On the road its hilly, very hilly in fact and at the end of the day I see from the route profile that I will cover the most challenging terrain today and tomorrow.

A glut of signage to capture for the blog today as I jump from county to county and indeed from one country to another as England awaits.

A sign stating “caution cobbles” gives me a wee taste of Roubaix as I traverse Alston high street en route to the stop for the night. Thoughts of Boonen, Cancellara, Hinault and Museuww are quickly put in place as I realise 1 solitary high street has me chewing my handlebars.

The streets are empty for most of the journey through the more populated areas as Wales v England dominates public attention. I find out the score later that night when heading to the van with supplies. My accent catches the attention of the village idiot, well one of the village idiot convention which seems to be in town as I am berated for Scotland’s non participation in the Euro finals. I consider pointing out that I wasn’t actually part of the qualification squad but opt for a comment which points out the SFA were just assisting The Scottish Government to meet emissions targets by keeping the air routes free from the tartan army. It doesn’t hit the mark as I make the mistake of using some words with as many as 3 syllables !

I swear one of them exploded with confusion in a manner best suited to a spinal tap drummer as my kid shouted me over resplendent in her Northern Ireland top. The cross country affection is clearly too much :0)

41 hilly miles towards total 8 dead miles

Total- 141 miles towards total and 68 dead miles – 209

Pics to follow

 

Song for the day

Day 2-Innerleithen to Langholm

Phil Nic’s quote if the day;

“When my legs hurt, I say: “Shut up legs! Do what I tell you to do!” – Jens Voigt

The most testing of days as nothing falls in to place, I am due to be dropped at the place I ended yesterday for a 10am start. Delay number 1 as the transport doesn’t arrive and I make my own way for start 2 hours late.

The ride itself takes in some incredible scenery and a particular riverside passage en route to the Tibetan centre (Samye-Ling) which will remain with me when I reflect on the trip. Weather again plays its part as I seem to be followed by wet rain..you know what I mean the type that’s wet and gets your kit wet.

The bike is flawless, the route is stunning and nature seems to like cyclists. A roe deer shoots of the road as I take a bend, a stoat plays at the side of the road as I exit Traquair, and I spot hares in the fields as I stop to stretch. I’m also struck by the maternal instincts of Ewes who dart across the road to protect their lambs from the weirdly coloured thing riding some kind of horned vehicle (Me)

The meet at 3.30 in order that I can get back to my car as I have a school prize giving I am committed to attend doesn’t appear on time in fact it doesn’t appear at all. So after 45 miles of riding I trudge back in the opposite direction to get back to my transport home. No prize giving, totally shattered and with the camper (which arrived today) needing to be packed it’s a 3am bed stop!!

45 miles towards total 45 dead miles

Total- 100 miles towards total and 60 dead miles – 160

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Pics will follow 

Song for the day

 

Day 1-Starks Park to Innerleithen

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Phil Nic’s quote if the day;

“Ride as much or as little, as long or as short as you feel. But ride” – Eddy Merckx

A morning filming in the company of Ali Gibson of the Armed forces TV service set the tone for my day of media activity. We set our watches for an early afternoon meet at Starks park and along with Ali, the courier sent its finest and Raith TV were on hand to capture the departure for posterity. A huge thanks to Raith Rovers who had a crowd on hand to wish me well with the office staff, directors and club manager and assistant all in attendance. It meant a lot.

In the company of my super domestique AJ Latto we head over the forth road bridge on the wettest, windiest and foggiest day for the past 3 months. The prologue ends at Gilmerton HS with a

kind handshake and a reassurance that my buddy wasn’t going to see me depart solo from the home of football we go our separate ways.

It’s another big moment as I cross my fingers and trigger the first GPX file of the Edinburgh-London audax route. It loads and it works-relief aplenty. Another 30 miles and I call it a day at Innerleithen this is where I start to seriously consider my sanity. I count 15 people on the high street all brandishing brollies, wellies and a warehouse full of Tiso wet weather kit. Not quite finished though as I turn round and start to head back towards Edinburgh to meet my lift back to Fife who is held up at work.

55 miles on from Kirkcaldy then 20 in the wrong direction, a decent days work which would have been easier if I had webbed feet!

Pics  will follow 

Song for the day

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Daily updates

  1. Marshall Bowman

    It can only get better Davie! Seriously, I really hope the weather gods do you a big favour in the coming days and weeks. It’s the very least you deserve.
    By the way I’m still coveting that cycling jersey! 🤗

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  2. Marshall Bowman

    Day4
    As far as Thirsk now means you’re well on your way, Davie. Great stuff. Nice flat land now you’re in the Plain of York. Are you crossing over Hull/Zeebrugge or all the way down to the south coast? Whichever it is, all the best for good conditions and much progress. Planning a wee skelp round Caithness myself today now that the last three days of rain have gone. All the best to you and all the back up team.

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    1. Marshall Bowman

      I’m always receptive to cunning plans! :))
      Have a good one today. Weather turned out fine up here. Hope you’re experiencing the same. Just back in from a 45 mile jaunt round mid county and got your message.

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  3. Marshall Bowman

    Thinking of you and the back up team tomorrow Monday 20th as weather forecast is not good for anywhere south of the Humber. Very wet!
    All the best. It might well be a toughie.

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  4. Marshall Bowman

    Must have been horrendous when you describe it in these terms.
    It will get a wee bit better tomorrow by the look of things but thunderstorms could be on the Wednesday/Thursday horizon. I’m just full of admiration for what you’re putting yourself through, and indeed the back up team as well.
    All the best for some easier progress tomorrow.

    Like

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