I have just completed my first serious tour and am pretty pleased with how it went. Its nothing compared to some of the trips on here but I thought I would share my story and pictures for you all to have a look at.
My trip was a solo ride from Leigh,Lancashire to Cromer,Norfolk and back. I did it in aid of The North West Air Ambulance. I used an ordinary Halfords 18 speed mountain bike that i have turned into a tourer; I had about 30 kg's of kit on it (tent,clothes,water,food,tool-kit,etc...). I did daily training before the trip but nothing major..
Notice the Budweiser!!!
Day 1-Leigh to Chesterfield... Went via Lymm,Knutsford,Macclesfield,Buxton,Bakewell and then Chesterfield.
Set off at 9am and within 10mins it rained!!! Only a shower though.. Flew down to Macclesfield with no problems but then it was time for the dreaded 'Snake Pass' A sign that greeted me on the hill upto it didn't do much for my confidence.
I tried not to think about it too much and carried on...Most ppl in England will know this road but for the other nationalities reading this,the 'Snake Pass' is an unforgiving road that will push you and your bike to the limit...My legs were still fresh and i was in good spirits so i continued up towards the summit knowing that at the top i could have a nice pint and top all my water bottles up. Many road racers went by me but i was the only tourer on the road!!! Only one mad enough to try it probably? So i get to the 2nd highest pub in England (The Cat and Fiddle) and OMG its shut!!!!
I checked the website before i left and it said 'open till 4pm on Mondays'... Spoke to some bikers and they said they have just started to close on Mondays. Great stuff,thanx alot guys. Well now i in a little bit of trouble because i have drank all 2 litres of water on the way up!!! walked around the pub hoping to find an outside tap but to no avail... Then some ppl turned up in a car and started to set up a picnic on a bench; I a cheeky sort of person so i asked them had they any water,pop or juice i could buy? They were American tourists and handed over two bottles of buxton water free of charge!! Nice ppl and they did me a big,big favour....
Water in my system and time to get off this mountain!!! Now for the easy bit,a massive hill all the way down to buxton. I had to be soooo careful down those hills though because of all the weight on the bike... I still clocked 34.9mph. It felt like 70mph.
. What was that flash? ha ha..
Stopped in Buxton for my long-awaited pint and to get a wash and top my water up.Then carried on through Bakewell and onto Chesterfield. At Chesterfield my friend had secure storage for my bike,a meal,hot bath and bed waiting for me. Quality.
Day 2-Chesterfield to Boston,Lincolnshire via Mansfield,Newark,Sleaford and a campsite near Boston.
It was a bloody nightmare trying to get onto the main A617 from Chesterfield; Roads closed,diversions,etc... I was having to stop every half an hour to check i wasnt being sent in the wrong direction???
Got back on track in the end and started to hammer the miles down,decided to stop at Newark though because i needed supplies and didn't want to pay Service/garage prices. A very nice town and i would love to visit again.
Back on the road and went by Sleaford and then took a road towards Boston for the campsite i had in mind. I got to a level crossing that was full of cars because a train had just gone through and i missed the sign for the campsite because of the traffic; I didn't realise my mistake until 3 miles down the road! At this point i was very tired since i had done about 80miles... There was no way i was gonna go back on myself... I figured i should keep going and just stay somewhere else,i knew there were more campsites within 8 miles and plus i was still heading in the right direction for Norfolk...
Then the sky went Black!!! It was obvious a storm was on its way; I started to pedal as fast as i could but then i felt the first raindrops and then lightening and thunder. I am in the middle of nowhere? But i did see a small path with some out-buildings in the distance. I took a chance and one of the buildings was an open barn,i rode inside and then the rain came; That was close.... It was a major storm and the tent i packed was for summer use(it was August!!!) The weather eased off enough for me to find the farmer and he said i could pitch up in the barn. Thank god for that... But it was also lucky i didn't find that campsite because everything would have got drenched....
Day 3-Near Boston to Cromer via Sutton Bridge,Kings Lynn,Fakenham and then Cromer.
Didn't sleep great because if you look at the tent photo,its not a barn full of hay... More like rocks,dust and tractor parts!!! Never mind.... its the last leg to my sisters in Cromer. First thing i did was find a truckers cafe in a lay-by and get some breakfast and a strong coffee. Now its time to hammer the miles down,went well and no problems and the Norfolk sign was good to see.
The last 20 miles were very tough; I think my legs were saying 'hey cmon wat the hell u doing?' But i made it there.
Party-Time!!!!! Yep i had done it and enjoyed about 12 days of R+R before heading back....
Heading back was much the same route and no drama's.... I stayed at that barn again because i had bought the farmer a gift as a way of a thank you for the 1st time round... When i got to his i was soaked coz it had rained all day on me!!!! It was still uncomfy but at least i could dry some kit out...He was a gent again and showed me a cubicle that had toilets,hot water and a plug for my phone charger!!!! Left next morning and it was on to Chesterfield. No probs again except a wagon that did scrape my bike and nearly ran me off the road!!! A mega-wide road and nothing coming the other way.... so my guess is he was messing with mobile or a can of pop or summat???? I lived... so who cares! Guy was an idiot though,didn't see his truck at any services coz if i had....
to his truck!!!!!
Got to my mates ok though; same treatment too; meal,bath,beer and bed....
Last day...No chance was i gonna do 'Snake Pass' again!!! so i went via Chapel-en-le-Frith...Still tough and still uphill!!!! But what goes up must come down!!! Wow....I hit the A6 for Manchester and it was all downhill.... I must have done 30 miles in 75mins!!!! Hit the Lancashire road and even though i told the GF i be home at 5.30pm. got back at 3.30pm!!!! all my friends came round at 7pm for a small party??? hmmm... i went bed at 6am... Must have been all the red-bull. Not bad for a smoker on a £100 bike who has never done it before... 470 miles in 6 days. Hope you enjoyed this as much as i did doing it....