Cycling North: 1

a 3900 mile journey.

The summer of 2017, I set out on a cycling expedition from my home in Yorkshire, to the Norweigan-Russian border in the far North… here is the beginning of my journey, and the first installment of this series.

A week or so before I left my home, I packed my bags onto the bike, and cycled it 1 mile down the road to show off to some family. This was the longest test run I decided to do fully packed – I had about 50/60kg of ‘stuff’ compiled in bags around the bike (much more than necessary, in hindsight). The longest bicycle ride I decided to do before setting off was about 7 or 8 miles, once, without any luggage attached. I hadn’t ridden a bicycle regularly since I was maybe 14.

A couple of nights before I left, I dismantled the bed in my bedroom (it was broken) and set up my tent in the back yard. This was the first time I had set a tent up in several years.

Feeling that all possible training had been completed successfully, I began the 3900 mile journey to the Arctic circle.

My first sub-destinstion, and actually the only point in the entire trip where I had to be in a certain place at a certain time, was Newcastle, 2 days later, to catch my ferry across to Ymuldien in the Netherlands.

The first night after traversing the North Yorkshire Moors (very hilly), I stayed at a campsite ideally located on the side of a busy 2-lane dual carriage way – accessable only by dodgey manuvears across said road and down into oncoming traffic.

Exhilarating stuff, and I had only just begun!

In these first days, I don’t think was running on strength or technique, just sheer excitement and enthusiasm for the adventure ahead – or perhaps running from whatever was behind me, either way – it was working.

This source of power was extremely useful on the second day. I had thought it had been a joke that when cycling North, I would always be going uphill (and that I should go South, so as to be always going downhill). Apparently the southern route into Newcastle does not have a sense of humour. 19 out of the 20 miles to the ferry port were just slightly uphill. Not much of a problem on a bicycle? No, but add on some overbearing luggage, and even the slightest incline becomes a struggle.

A lone touring bike…somewhere in Norway

I remember envying those on bikes going the opposite direction, how easy they had it! No bags, no slight hill, no ferry to catch. The pains my unseasoned legs went through to get me to the ferry… yet they proved able; arriving with 5 minutes to spare!

Alls well that ends well – England was conquered, onto the next. A nice shower on the ferry and jump off onto flat-as-a-pancake Holland. Perfect.

Or so it would have been except for an unscheduled meeting with the cyclists other nememis – headwinds. Hills are a challenge, but once completed, that challenge provides a grand sense of accomplishment (varying levels of satisfaction given proportional to the size of hill). However, headwinds are another beast completely. Unrelenting. Unbeatable. Invisible. Particularly the northerly winds coming from the North Sea. There is nothing stream line about a well-packed touring bicycle.

photo from somewhere in Norway

As I turned east around the coast the headwinds did not let out at all. I remember being so worn near the end of the country; each bridge crossing the small streams seemed an Olympic effort. The physical manifestation of ‘making a mountain out of a molehill’. Nevertheless, I made it. The winds stopped as I left the North Sea behind and entered Germany. Peace at last. And rest. And beer.

There are many more stories to tell. Many a strange things happens on the road. I hope you gain something from these moments that I remember fondly.

Feedback is very appreciated. Stay tuned for the next tale.

The first post

The modern age has revolutionised the appeal of the public. Opinions, images, thoughts, comments, values, how-tos and what-not-to-do.

Whilst we have the ease of accessing a platform from which we can orchestrate the flow of our voice and express our judgements, we are inundated with the beliefs of others. At this period of great freedom of ideas and voice, we are barraged with so many that it is, at times, difficult to navigate.

So why should I add my voice? What am I trying to create?

  • Mainly, I aim to found a community to connect with. Drudging through the Internet has its distractions and destructions, so I want to lay down my own ideas here, and hopefully connect with people of similar wants, from which we can bounce ideas and comments – with knowledge and enjoyment gained by all.
  • Also, through posting content of my own pursuits and hobbies, I can create my own little digital amphitheatre, to be enjoyed by future me, and hopefully others.
  • I anticapte using this platform to delve deep in the topics that I suspect this audience will be interested in – something to employ my grey matter to.
  • I pledge to only supply your eyes with high quality posts, opinions that have been measured, and facts that can be backed up. I aim not to add to the low quality hum of information which blankets the Web.

My hobbies range: running and reading, knitting and sailing, camping and baking. I like to know how things work; from fueling the human body to how past civilizations constructed harbours, how we look at stars to how best to brew tea. Such, and more, will be written about here. It is best, at times, to have fun in life. So attempts will be made to provide this, as much as is possible through such a medium. Here feats of endurance and craftful beauty will be displayed for your enjoyment and wonder.

That is the plan anyway. Plans, as Burns notes, ‘gang aft agley’.

At the time being, I am in Switzerland. I will use the time I have here to go over my recent years of life, and chronicle them within this website – expect great adventures! At the end of May, I will be racing in a 100-mile foot race. Perhaps I can claim to be an ultra – marathon-er in a month! Or, perhaps not.

Posts to come on baking sourdough bread, dog sledding in the Arctic, cycling a long way, running up mountains, camping on tree stumps, and some opinions on the books I am reading. Nothing too heavy just yet, but we have only just begun – and there is much left to say.