Jun. 26th, 2012

razornet: (Default)

Originally published at reflections. You can comment here or there.

 

Awaking splendidly isolated in my palatial double room I pottered about getting my stuff together before heading down to breakfast. The breakfast was fine but ordering was complicated by also having to vote on what was to be excluded from the end-of-trip celebratory meal. Andrew managed to send a bowl of some cereal flying and there were grumblings of faff again. However we eventually managed to all get fed and outside at which point there was a lot of throwing around of newly washed and dried shirts, socks and assorted other garments, fettling of bike-mounts for cars and whatnot. The faff accusers showed their true colours relaxing in sun-drenched chairs while my Dad and brothers decided to Just Go and go we did.
 
Faff
 
(note that my recollection differs from David's from whose blog I gratefully klep this image)
 
We had been informed that today's route should be "Practically flat..." apart from "one or two hills at the end". Great! In the beginning this largely turned out to be true. We trundled along in relative idlity scoffing at the layabouts back at the Bull... and a few moments later they passed us.
 
Things got relatively back to normal then. Andrew by now is famed for his ability to get in "The Zone" so effectively he forgets that directions may have some relevance, fairly early on after a wondrous descent we made to turn of the road only to notice Andrew had decided to maintain forward momentum and chase the horizon. A fair bit of shouting got him back on track, eliciting chuckles and advice from some passing pedestrians.
 
Next up we encountered a bit of a snag. Our route had a road closure ahead. These are generally navigable to cyclists so don't usually cause a problem. If you look at the strava map below you'll see that wasn't really the case. NW or Richmond you'll see approximately what happened. A driver who'd been up to it advised us they thought we might get through so we cycled on only to find the road, grass sidinggs and all was completely fenced off. We made out way back and attempted to cross the A1 via a bridge but that only lead onto private land. So back all the way it was where we discovered some shit had turned all the signs round. With some exasperation we figured it all out and plowed on.
 
We reached Peircebridge where the nicest farm and tea shop in the world is. Well I promised I'd say that because they gave us free honey-oatmeal biccies and they had sheeps. Witness:
 
Biccies:
 
'Av a biccy!
 
Sheeps:
 
D'aaaawwww
 
Oh and Dogs:
 
 
 
We came, we ate, we eventually got going again. D, J, A and M had already bailed to make their way to Durham to pick up Malcom's wife. We took a more leisurely pace out. Once on our way again the weather started to sour we kept on going though and at some point this happened:
 
 
Do the locomotion?
 
No, I don't know either.
 
This is where it gets a bit messy... After cruising along in relative comfort for 25 or so miles we hit Co. Durham and we came across quite a large climb. Followed by another, then another. We'd had to walk up sections,  my chain decided to jump it's gears on one ascent (if you've ever experienced this while climbing you'll know how painful it can end up), we ran low on water and energy food. Frankly we were all a bit sick of it. We perched on the top of the latest bastard (as they were now know) and gazed at a bunch of houses along a road at the bottom. That has to be Lanchester. It MUST be Lanchester. Spurred on by this thought I executed operation Bangin' Tunes1 and tore off down the hill, leaving my Dad and brothers chatting, nearing my previous maximum speed. As I descended into the bottom of the valley the town was in my eyes were drawn to a sign pointing up the other side: "Lanchester" it read. I may have let my lip wobble slightly. Still needs must and we pushed and pedaled our way up and out. Arriving, wheezing at the top I muttered "If that's not the last I'm walking the rest." Thankfully it was and a pretty good roll downhill into Lanchester followed. 
 
A bloody great hill:
 
From the bottom
 
View from the top (there's actually More Hill, behind me):
 
From the top
 
 
Another bloody hill:
 
This one is actually the last
 
And another:
 
Maybe this one is...
 
We might have gone a bit out of our way...
 
Quebec? Vous ne pouvez pas être sérieux!
 
 
Once at the King's Head I suffered a bit of a sense of humour malfunction and stomped off to find cider, cigarettes and other supplies. Meanwhile arrangements were made for bicycles and whatnot. 
 
Supplies sorted I got showered, a pint in and after a while we were seated for dinner. I rather foolishly agreed to split a bottle of red with Mum. Over dinner various subjects were discussed including the likely weather for tomorrow (awful) the limitations of breakfast timings (the chef would not be in until 9am) and what we were going to do about it. There were various schools of thought on this the main ones being:
 
1) arise early eschew a cooked breakfast and try to beat the weather.
2) Sleep in a bit have a cooked breakfast and just get wet
 
Opinion was roughly divided but eventually it was settled that Do What That wilt was going to be the plan. I opted for two, the usual suspects opted for one.
 
Also there was a presentation of Belgian choccies to Mum for her hard work so far, no doubt they have been enjoyed :)
 
I spent a bit more of the evening sitting outside with Will. Enjoying a drink and the pleasant evening before turning in to try, once again, to actually write a blog post. Once again I failed spending most of the time making notes and catching up with friends wishing me well. Will made a skype call to a friend in the states which was rather fragmented by the woeful state of his Mac's wi-fi. Eventually it was time for sleep troubled by a nagging pain in my right heel...
 
 

razornet: (Default)

Originally published at reflections. You can comment here or there.

 

When I arose I realised that the nagging pain wasn't likely to go away, I recognised it as a recurring tendon problem that I've had a few times before. Best guess is between the chain jumping the gears and accelerating hard before going down the hill I'd done it a mischief. After a bit of internal debate I figured I'd trust to ibuprofen again and started to get ready for the day. We'd opted to rise late and just deal with the weather as it came so a cooked breakfast was awaiting us downstairs. Jeff and David had decided to get going early and made do with the continental sideboard that was laid on by the rooms.
 
After brekkie we took over the part of the pub where our bikes had been kept and got things together.
 
Stuff!
 
While this was being sorted Andrew who'd also opted to go late did some work on my bike, tightening up the rear brakes. After the huge, rapid descents we'd had the previous day I was a bit concerned about my bikes inability to bring itself to a full stop so I took it out for a quick spin and agreed, yes, the brakes were *much* more responsive now.
 
That done we were ready for the off. Some last minute conversation with Mum meant I lagged behind a bit and had to put some welly in to catch up, I rapidly did catch up as the rest of the party had hit another sodding 20 degree incline... We huffed and puffed our way to the top where it was necessary to wait on my Dad catching up with us and get Joanne's (Malcolm's wife) bike down from the car. A few more miles brought us over the Tyne to this charming Tea House/Village Shop/Local Brewery Supporter in Wylam. The beer looked very inviting but it was rather early so I settled on coffee and cake for myself and purchasing presentation Kendal Mint Cake for friends of mine unfamiliar with this delicacy.
 
Wylam Teashop
 
 
Once all of this was sorted out we set off again our destination: The Hadrian's wall cycle path and eventually the charmingly named village of Wark with the bizarrely named hot Battlesteads.
 
The Hadrian's wall cycle path is a few things: Picturesque, quiet, rather more used by dog walkers than cyclists, not actually next to Hadrian's wall but rather near to some nice water.
 
Riverside
 
It is also not a few things: particularly well surfaced, signposted or in possession of non-terrifying rail crossings.
 
It was a pleasant ride even with the odd encounter with non-signalled, DIY-gated rail crossing points. OK you could see for miles down the rails in each direction but as one of the generation of school children who got shown the "Don't cross the railway lest you have all your hopes and dreams destroyed. Also your legs cut off" horror eductaional film I couldn't help but treat them with trepidation.
 
By this juncture myself and Ian were chugging along nicely on our own, my tendon was warming up nicely and all was right with the world. Then it started pissing it down again. I did a quick change into my waterproofs and we pressed on, Ian started to get away from me at this point and I started to realise why, I was overheating rather seriously. Ian was waiting for me to catch up and when I did I sent him on as I had started to feel quite faint and wanted to rest and eat lots of sugar. I also stripped off my waterproofs and decided to do the rest of the route without, if I got wet there'd always be a shower and dry towels at the other end.
 
Once I'd got going again Ian was way ahead so I moved on in quite splendid isolation, the weather was far from perfect but the roads were largely clear and the going not too hard. I crossed the Tyne (again) and I got a few nice photos.
 
Views from a bridge over the Tyne.
 
Views from a bridge over the Tyne
 
Views from a bridge over the Tyne.
 
I have to say here that rolling along on my own, at my own pace, listening to music was pretty much as idyllic as this ride ever got. Company is great but ocassionally you find yourself by design or circumstance peacefully alone with few cares to bother you, no one to cajole you along and no real reason to hurry anywhere. This was one such occasion and it's a very pleasant memory.
 
Eventually I rolled down a very fun hill into Wark and the magnificent Battlesteads hotel only a few minutes behind Ian despite my lesiurely pace. Ian reported that Andrew had last been seen shooting off down the hill past the venue. We debated if he would ever be seen again. 
 
Inside Battlesteads I was met by many welcome sights. A well stocked bar with a selection hand pumps, comfortable seats on one of which Jeff was relaxing and next to him this little fellow, his name is Gilroy:
Gilroy the cat
 
I got a couple of pints in for Ian, Andrew (when he returned, he'd gone to the shop apparently) and myself while fussing the cat and generally feeling rather content. Over time the other riders came in The it was time to change and, yes, there were baths. I soaked for quite some time before being called for dinner. Battlesteads, it should be noted, produces *excellent* food. Probably the best I had the whole trip and I gather the meal is included in a bed, breakfast and dinner price which works out very reasonable indeed. After dinner I sat with Will outside smoking and slowly tempting Gilroy back from his night-time wanderings. He entertained us for a bit attempting to down a bat that was making low passes over the road before consenting to be stroked. With that it was about time for bed, so that's what we did.
 
 

 

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