Getting away and having an adventure doesn't always mean a complete change in culture, climate and cuisine. I usually think it does, but this weekend I have discovered something new... there is a lot of fun to be had within hours of your home!!!!
There were multiple reasons for my first lone cycle-tour adventure, but the main ones were to get out on my new bike and learn all about it, and to have some time to myself which seems to be a rare occurrence these days.
I left the house in Manchester at 06:30 which was a very special occasion for me as I only usually see that time when I'm coming home from a night out. It all started off well and I was feeling very proud of myself for being an early bird! My plan was to ride all the way to the Lake District in one day.
94 miles, thats do-able surely. And it was, but it was a long day and toward the end of 14 hours in the saddle (and at least 100 miles!) I started to make silly mistakes. I didn't feel mentally or physically tired but I was making bad decisions that I wouldn't usually. This was a good thing to learn early on and hopefully it won't happen again. The route I took is definitely one I would recommend, taking in lots of peaceful canal paths and then rolling along undulating roads through the Yorkshire moors and Lancashire. By the time I found my camp for the night I was ready for a glass of wine then bed.
After getting a good nights sleep, I woke up bright and early again, and set off on my bike for Ambleside. I attended the La Sportive Trail running day at the Climbers Shop, and even though I am not able to run, it was a great event and good chance to meet some cool people. Plus, there was free coffee and cake, and a goody bag!!
I picked the brains of Kevin at Ghyllside Cycles and he gave my bike a bit of a makeover, turning her into a solid touring machine. This shop is definitely worth a visit if you want anything touring related (they have much more than is advertised on their website). The staff will go out of their way to help you and are extremely knowledgable.
After relaxing in the Lakes I made the sensible decision to return to Manchester over two days not one, and add in a little extra distance to camp somewhere new. This was not only a more chilled and enjoyable ride but I also got to explore an area I had never been to. West Yorkshire.
I don't know why I haven't been there before, but I'll sure return as they have the best cheese shop!
The Bronte sisters were from this area and apparently the spectacular views were the inspiration for the classic novels which is clear to see when you are surrounded by the lush, rolling countryside. Of course this is not so much fun when you are cycling with a rhino for a bike. Thanks Bronte!
On my final day, I had the pleasure (in hindsight) to cycle on part of the tour de france route. The hill itself is not too bad compared to the others in the area as this one is long and gradual, all the short and steep ones are not fun with a heavy laden bike. After one short, steep bump, this is what I found...
On the road, up the long long hill, there are still messages painted on from the tour to encourage the cyclists. I would have taken a photo but I was struggling to breath and clinging on to my bike for dear life. The message I liked the best said something like 'go fatty bum at the back', fantastic! Made me giggle. When you reach the top you are greeted my this whopping elephant...
From the elephant, I then had a speedy ride down-hill all the way to Hebden Bridge. A beautiful little town full of very friendly people, and gorgeous little cafes and terraces. An artist had been commissioned in the area to create a selection of graffiti art based on local artists/writers/poets and on the Tour de France. This was the only one I saw...
I am constantly moaning about my phone battery dying every five minutes but on this occasion it was actually a blessing in disguise to not be able to charge my phone all the time. I felt like I really relaxed and unwound. I love how you can sit and stare at a beautiful view for ages and not get bored of it, or distracted by phones, computers, jobs etc. Being out in the elements, I feel is truly nurishing to your soul and should definitely be recommended by doctors at least once every two months.
Prescriptions available here!
Maps of my route... in case anyone is inspired.