Saturday, 14 April 2012

14 April Stage 5 Kevelaer - Dusseldorf

Dep 0835     Arr  1330     Dist  70km     Ave ??    On Bike  ??

I slept very well again and managed to get up early but still took about an hour getting going. It had rained a lot through the night and was drizzling in the morning with no sign of stopping. The cape came out of the bag and I must have looked a sight but I didn't care. I was dry. The rain stopped after an hour or so but it was still cold. I had diligently followed cycle paths the day before and had come unstuck so I decided to ignore them when it suited me and stayed on main roads like we do over here. I got a few toots but cracked on and made good time. I reached Krefeld and was then amazed to see a sign for Dusseldorf saying 20km. It was only 1100 or so and I thought I would easily make the start of the game. The sign though was for motorway traffic which didn't apply to me. I had to follow the cycle paths and predictably went wrong when the signs disappeared but eventually got to the hostel, checked in, dumped my bags on the bunk and legged it to O'Reilly's bar. There was quite an atmosphere. Lots of reds and blues from all over. I had the company of a couple of Liverpool supporters, a local lad named Andreas and a chap from Finland named Tom. I enjoyed a few beers and got back to the hostel where I am now showered and my stuff is being washed as I blog.

I am really disappointed with the internet arrangements and the fact that the tracking isn't working. 6 quid for 5MB is ridiculously expensive and goes nowhere. I phoned, emailed and wrote to Virginmobile two months ago asking them if they could do me a deal and I have just been fobbed off by them from day one. I am trying to make other arrangements but the blog or Twitter will have to do for now.  

I think I had a rest day pencilled in for tomorrow. I'll see how I feel when I get up in the morning.

Today's Route

13 April Stage 4 Eck en Wiel - Kevelaer

Dep  1000     Arr  1605     Dist 97.1km     Ave 19.3kph     On bike 5hr 1 min

I took a while getting organised and only set off at 1000. It was cool and murky and the clouds were very low but it didn't look like it would rain although the cape was at the top of the bar bag. I had to stop a few times to check the route and I managed to find my way through a few tricky small towns which had main roads going through pedestrian areas with no signs which made it difficult to find my way out. The sun cam out in the afternoon and I considered cracking on to make a city where I could find a hostel and watch the game on Saturday. I decided to stick with the original plan and made it to the planned venue which was the Anna Fleuth campsite at Kevelaer which was a really well run place in a beautiful spot. I managed to dry out some clothes in the evening sun and had noodles again for tea with a couple of bottles of the local beer as the sun went down. Again an early night.

Today's Route

Friday, 13 April 2012

12 April Stage 3 Europort (Rotterdam) - Eck en Wiel

Dep  0920    Arr  1630     Dist  126km     Ave  18.8    On bike  6hrs49 mins

Rotterdam docks were great. The cycle path was brilliant and I made good time. I was advised not to go that way because it wasn't very pretty but I enjoyed it. Massive barges carrying huge loads, industrial plants and steam and tankers and containers and people working. I was tootling along on a cycle path with a local road alongside and a six lane motorway the other side. I then negotiated the suburbs ok but only because I had checked it out on google maps. The middle part of the day was fantastic. Again wide paths alongside main roads with endless flat fields either side. A bit boring but good for churning the kilos out. I then found some trouble. I had bought 5 Mb of internet usage from Virginmobile expecting it to be ok for the tracking but when I took a wrong turn in Leerdam and checked my location on my phone the whole lot was nearly wiped out. This depressed me because I thought I had it all arranged for the tracking but it wasn't to be. It rained for the last hour so I arived wet at the camp which was basically a small front garden. There was a room where I could sort stuff out but it was a bit cold. I had a decent shower and ate my noodles and had an early night.

Today's Route

Thursday, 12 April 2012

11 April Stage 2 - Denby Dale - Hull (via kindle)

Start 1005    Arr 1753     Dist  122km     Ave  18.7kph    6hr 32min on bike

(Note that Kindle is a small mining village in Yorkshire. Not to be confused with the town normally associated with the very large South American river.)

The second and final stage of the English leg went OK. We saw George off at 9.30 on his way back over the hills to a long weekend of great football and horse racing. Steve and I set off half an hour later minus my bags which Maggie was taking over to Hull because she was picking her mum up in the afternoon and meeting us later. I was still struggling up hills at first which depressed me a bit. I did improve later as I warmed up. We took in loads of ex-mining villages around Doncaster and Barnsley and had a nice lunch in Askern, We then had a long flat section before Scunthorpe before we headed North through some pretty little Lincolnshire villages. We were soon at the Humber Bridge which seemed to move away as we got closer. It was a great experience to ride over it though. The cycle tracks in Hull were all over the place but eventually we met up with Maggie at "The Deep", and I got the bags back on and set off on my own for the dock after more farewells. It was sad to leave my old friends but I was on my own which is what it is all about. Checking in onto the boat was easy enough and I had good company in my cabin. Lying on the bunk as I stumbled in was Paul who had cycled to Turkey a few times. Amongst other places he mentioned were South Africa, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Japan. Are you getting my drift? Basically, I felt a bit inadequate but that wasn't his intention at all. He had some good tales to tell and some good advice to pass on. I had booked a meal so went to fill my boots. Chicken and chips for starter then a boat load of lasagne, then chocolate cake with cream and cheese and crackers. I was stuffed and slept very well. So next I'm abroad.

Today's Route

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

10 April Stage 1. Wigan - Denby Dale

Dep 1052      Arr 1608      Dist 81.4 km       Ave 19.1 kph       On bike 4 hr 13 min      Beard 0.2mm

We had a fantastic send off. A big thanks to all who waved me off. Sorry I couldn't turn round and acknowledge but I would have fallen off.

George had biked it over from Ormskirk and got quite wet in the process so we were expecting more. We were all set and decided to go a bit earlier than the planned at 11.00. I was worried about internet usage so only sent beacons out every 20 mins. I shouldn't have been worried because I have plenty of Mbs available in this country. Anyway the track did work on Shareyouradventure. There should also be a more detailed track on another website named Viewranger. We made good progress to the other side of Oldham without any real rain and with a slight tailwind. Saddleworth is a lonely place and I could only manage just above walking pace for 6 km or so but I made it over the top OK. It was difficult but I felt a hand pushing me along every now and then. Steve came out to meet us near New Mill and brought us in to the real pie town. I remember being a lot more tired the first time we did this trip so the training has borne fruit. We are out for a pint soon - proper recovery drink - and then back for some scran, as they say over here. One down, only 40 odd more to go.

Today's route

Monday, 9 April 2012

Last Few Days

One more sleep, as the little ones say. I'm almost all set and ready for the start tomorrow. I went out last Thursday and did about 34 miles including that long hill over Horwich. I then did 22 miles on Saturday to complete the physical preparations. The next ride is for real. George is biking it here in the morning and we'll be on our way at arounf 11.00. We're expecting to get a bit wet according to the forecasts although the wind should be in our favour this time.

There has been a bit of publicity recently so there may be a few reading this blog for the first time. The first few pages tell the tale best of all so any newcomers should really go back to the start. The rest is mainly a log of how much training I've been doing , how I've been feeling and discussions about equipment with the odd tale thrown in. I have gained a lot by reading other blogs and maybe someone in the future may benefit from my experiences. The route page is very flexible.

I will be tweeting occasionally so I can be followed on @tomkel3184 and I hope to sort out enough mobile web access to record a track so people can check where I'm up to when they should really be doing something else.

A few donations have been received already which is very encouraging.

Can't wait.