It’s been a manic last couple of weeks, hence no blog updates recently, however I’m hoping to start a more regular service from now on, depending on reception in deepest darkest Scandinavia; or should that be deepest lightest Scandinavia? It doesn’t get very dark there at this time of year.
In a nutshell I was busy with work up until the Friday before last, then had to dive headfirst and flailing into packing up my house so it’s fit to rent out. Work gave me a great send off in the form of a fried breakfast (thanks Marge and the canteen team) and many well wishes. I’ll definitely miss everyone, however not so much the actual work bit, think I prefer pedalling.
I think I’ll gloss over the packing up my house bit, which was probably one of the most stressful experiences I’ve had to undergo in recent times. How I accumulated so much stuff/crap is a little beyond me, however getting rid of a lot of it turned into quite a cathartic experience. I’ve put a fair amount into storage for the next 6 months.
My heartfelt thanks goes out to my parents, as well as Norman, Sheila and Susan, for their help in packing stuff up, or in the case of the latter for taking some of my unwanted goods to either make use of or take to charity, couldn’t have done it without all your help. With the house locked up and ready for tenants I guess I’m effectively homeless now, which is quite a liberating feeling.
Last Wednesday I got in my parents car, with my bike loaded on the back, to drive to Derby. Leaving the house I’ve been in for 8 or so years, through quite a lot of upheaval, turned into quite an emotional experience. It’s possible I won’t live in it again, depending on what I decide to do when I get back, however it definitely feels like the end of an era and the start of something new and exciting. Who knows where I’ll be in 12 months? Possibly still pedalling somewhere.
After a great meal out with my folks, Uncle, and cousins, I got on my bike on Thursday morning to cycle from Derby to Sheffield, a relatively short leg but a good warm up for the roads to come.
It was only 35 miles, with a few challenging hills thrown in for good measure, but it took me a good 6 hours due to cycling at a snail’s pace, just enjoying the freedom of the road. I felt a real mix of emotions again as I pedalled away from Duffield; anxiety and nervousness over the adventure to come, was this really such a good idea, am I woefully unprepared? This was mixed with bouts of euphoria, with the stress of the last few weeks evaporating, and a growing sense of excitement over what the immediate future holds.
Thanks to the twisted spire on the church in Chesterfield I had Prodigy and ‘Twisted Fire Starter’, or rather twisted ‘spire’ starter, going round my head for the rest of the day. Still, better than Aqua and ‘Barbie Girl’ which sometimes happens…quite loudly…on country roads…can cause embarrassment…but mostly just sheep and cows giving me curious glances.
I haven’t been to Sheffield before, my stop-over for the night staying with Tom, Ali and their kids, and have to report the roads are in somewhat of a state of disrepair. Apparently there’s a programme to resurface them all, however in the meantime it led to a number of jarring bumps and potholes as I made my way to the North West of the city. I haven’t seen Tom for at least 15 years, which is inexcusable really. We spent a very enjoyable year as students in Marseille. Needless to say a great evening was had catching up over a few glasses of red wine, just like old times really, before a good night’s sleep then pedalling off in the morning.
Happy 40th Birthday on Sunday Tom!
Friday’s ride took me through Yorkshire and Lancashire on my way to Clitheroe, through beautiful scenery, and over several challenging climbs which proved good tests for my legs. They passed for the most part, although I did have to push a bit up the hill out of Hebdon Bridge when my foot slipped and I couldn’t get going again; very fierce climb. I cycled on part of the route being used for the Tour de Yorkshire, happening on Sunday, and enjoyed waving and chatting to lots of other cyclists out for a ride.
I’m currently camping at Waddow Hall, enjoying the UK’s first cycle touring festival , and having a great time despite the weather. Already picked up loads of useful advice and tips for the road, met loads of great like-minded people, and am feeling a lot more confident about the next 6 months. I’ll write more about the festival at some other point. Tomorrow (Monday) I cycle to Manchester where I’ve booked a cheap hotel for the night, before flying out to Nordkapp (Norway) on Tuesday to start my tour proper.
After a very busy few weeks it’s fantastic to be on the road, and to leave behind all the stress, hustle and bustle that accompanied wrapping up my last tasks at work, packing up my house, and preparing for this tour.
In essence, I’m very much looking forward to getting lost.
Great to meet you at the festival James. Hope the flight goes smoothly and then you can really relax into your amazing journey. Gill and I will be with you in spirit all the way.
Thanks Tony, appreciate that. Nervous but just need to get there and start and all will be fine! Was brill to meet you and Gill at last too.
To think you got so close to our ‘home’ over the weekend and we were away in the Cotswolds on a ‘micro’ tour. I can but agree that the hills around Sowerby Bridge are brutal. We will be in Norway ourselves in two weeks time so will keep an eye out for you! Will be peddling North from Bergen to Maloy over the period 16-23rd May.
D’oh, so close and yet so far! Will look you up next time I’m in he neighbourhood! I’m only going to be in Norway a few days, heading straight down to Sweden via a bit of Finland. Then on to Denmark etc. Although got to get out of Manchester airport first!
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All the very best James. It will be a wonderful experience. Hope it all goes well. Looking forward to reading the blog updates. Best of luck.
Thanks Mark, successfully arrived in Honningsvag in Norway. Safely installed in a hostel for the night as blowing a gale outside and quite wet, supposedly better tomorrow. The adventure begins!