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A week ago I did my first mini tour. It was a pretty successful ride that highlighted no big problems and reassured me that things were on track. I’ll get to that in a minute, but first,  news of my latest purchases.

Yesterday and today I decided to get a few more things knocked off my shopping list so I ordered…

There’ll be a gear page coming up soon that lists everything I have. Opinions will be added when I’ve used them a bit more. That leaves me with relatively little left to buy. A spare tyre, some cooking utensils, a global SIM card, insurance, some more clothing and a few small things is about all that’s not sorted on my list.

On top of that there was more success with banking related things. My Norwich + Peterborough debit card came in the post and that account just needs some money transferring in to it. I made a standing order to transfer a bit of money every month which I can easily edit in the future when I work out my monthly spending a bit more. I also got a FairFX prepaid dollar card which gives me an alternative way to spend my money in countries that use US dollars anyway (US, Ecuador, Panama and El Salvador all spring to mind.)

 

Anyway, enough of that, now on to last weeks trip. The plan before I left was to ride from here to my grandparents on the Thursday, then up to my aunts on the Friday for my cousin’s 18th before heading to Leeds to catch a train to meet a friend on the Saturday. Overall, it was basically a success!

I got up early on Thursday morning and tried to work out what I needed to take. I was going to be away for 3 days and there’d be a night out clubbing involved so I needed something more than my cycling sandals and while my merino t-shirt will have to do in most places I go out for the next few years I figured a shirt wasn’t that heavy. It gave me a good reason to put both of my rear panniers on for the first time and see how the bike felt with a bit more weight. At 11am I had downloaded routes for each day on to my GPS and decided it was time to head out and so left the house on my way.

It was a little windy heading up my street but was sure that’d stop at some stage and even if it didn’t, it’s nothing compared to what’s awaiting me when I get to Patagonia.

After getting on to the main road near me the wind died down and all was good.I rode for about 30 minutes and spinning along felt near effortless. All was going well. Which, as my recent reading of Lemony Snicket taught me, is not possible in the long term. I realised that I’d forgotten a mothers day card for my Granny, my cousin’s birthday card and present. Bugger. I got to turn around and very quickly found out why things had felt so effortless. That headwind that I thought had died down had actually been a tail wind and so the 7 miles back home took a good amount more effort than the first 7 miles.

On arriving home I nipped in to the kitchen, grabbed a glass of water and a piece of cheese and the packages I had been entrusted with. I rode up the street and after about 500m was frustrated to have to turn round again as I’d left my keys in the front door when I was locking it. Not the best start. Having got the keys I decided it was time to skip the audiobook that was playing on my iPod and turned the volume up in hope that I’d find something inspiring. Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now greeted me and I flew up the road trying to make up the hour that I’d wasted.

I stopped at a bike shop briefly to pick up some lube + grease and to get my back light attached properly. Other than that I rode without stopping for about 2 hours until my sister tried to call me. I decided I’d stop for lunch and call her back.

As you can see, I’d brought some delicious snacks with me. You can’t see the ham that I also had but it was a quite delicious lunch. I spoke to my sister, who wanted some advice about which airline to fly with, and then headed out again with lots of energy to burn and a tailwind still pushing me along.

I got about 30 minutes further along when my GPS map turned me right down a dead end road. I figured that it would lead to another road and all would be good so headed along. 500m down the road I met the farmer who assured me that while there was a footpath that way it was no way suitable for a bike and would go on for a while. I turned round and worked out an alternative on my GPS. There was an A road, which is a fairly major road, not far away that I decided to follow because my preplanned route seemed to want me to go offroad for about 10km (6 miles) which would probably have been less fun than I wanted and definitely slower.

Not much further down the road and the phone rang again, this time it was Granny. “Hi Dommy! How are you? Good? Your granddad wants to talk to you! Hello. Where are you? Do you want picking up? No? Are you sure? OK but call if you change your mind. How long are you going to be? OK. See you soon.” Such a lovely offer from them but I was enjoying the ride and while I was looking forward to seeing my grandparents I still had the hilly part of the ride to come so I just couldn’t accept it.

The road split and there was the option to take the main road left or up minor roads and go left. Left I went and was soon in my granny gear. The problem with small roads, especially when you get close to Yorkshire is that they tend to love to go up and up rather steeply and then suddenly descend again. Thankfully I got my granny gear small enough to get me over some steep climbs and so the only problem was when I was playing with my GPS and narrowly avoided getting hit by a car as I veered in front of it. The climbing continued and the road kept being very pretty.

When I was about 20-25km away from my grandparent’s I had one last choice to make. Over Holme Moss or down a busy A road with lots of lorries and impatient traffic wanting to get home combined with minimal passing space. Holme Moss it was. This was the one part of the ride where the wind caused some problems.I’ve been up much longer climbs but the wind was blowing me across the road. Thankfully there was minimal traffic and the cars that came past me gave me plenty of space. Lots of spinning of my legs and I was up.

After getting up to the top of Holme Moss it was a fairly nice  descent except for the side winds. I was starting to feel a bit parched, my water had run out and I hadn’t stopped anywhere to top it up. Even though it wasn’t that warm I was getting dehydrated and it was definitely slowing me down. The rest of the way I was on autopilot. I knew the end was close and that while I was wanting to stop that wasn’t really an option and that I just had to keep making pretty circles with my legs and I’d get there. Just before 6pm, I did. I’d arrived at the sub tropical warmth of my grandparents’ house, a high pressure shower, delicious food and my grandparent’s. Success.

 

I’ll write about the next 2 days in the next blog post as this one is getting far too long!

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