After the most life changing adventure over the past four month I was craving to be back on the road as I missed the freedom each day brought, not knowing who you might meet and the beautiful things you encounter!




I was expected to attend my mothers licensing at Lincoln Cathedral later that month and due not receiving an income for the last few months and not being due back into work for another few weeks I decided to cycle to my home town, little old Louth. I was also missing my dear friend Helen and was due to catch up with my Uni friends (Vick, Meg and Kayleigh) so I thought I might as well make my route through London. Then I remembered I promised to go and watch Andy’s sister half marathon so I might as well take a little detour to see her too. After planning in all of my visits I was embarking on a 500mile tour over roughly ten day, though this time I would be solo! Initially I was apprehensive cycling without Andy I felt like Robin driving off in the Batmobile alone. As much as I wanted him with me I think it was good not to be reliant on his navigation and bike maintenance, I needed to learn this stuff for myself.
Portsmouth – Bournemouth

Ride Data Day 1.1 & 1.2

So for some support I roped in a group of friend to join me in the first leg of the tour. Myself, Andy, Ben, Arunas and Ingrid came along for the ride. We set of at 7am to make sure I made my CRED meeting at the church for 1pm.

This was my first attempt at using the GPS which was interesting to say the least. I managed to stick to the route until we hit Southampton here I awkwardly led us onto a pavement covered in grass and glass. I think we were totally lucky that no-one got a puncture between us.The first 20 miles to Southampton is relatively flat and pretty boring though as soon as we entered the new forest that changed. There was plenty of animal wildlife wandering in the road to keep us on our toes. These cute piglets were adorable.

The rolling fields, forest and quiet road made for a scenic and peaceful ride.

On arrival we parted ways and I headed to the church for my meeting, while the others turned around and headed home to complete their century. That afternoon I spent some time with my team Will, Chloe and Shannon preparing and planning for our upcoming Ethiopia trip.

The last leg of the day was to a Warm Showers in Verwood. The road was quite busy, but surprisingly simple to navigate even though I was alone for the first time. This ride brought both fear and empowerment all in one emotion. Though this was only a short ride and on arrival I felt truly proud of myself and my achievement (navigation) and that I managed to get there in one piece. Here I was greeted by Brian and Judith, they were a sweet couple that had a daughter doing a similar tour in Canada (Toronto-Vancouver) so they decided to repay the kindness that she had received. I had the most amazing array of food provided, even welcoming chocolates. The couple were genuine and lovely company and even as none cyclist they had a great idea of what you need at the end of a ride.

Bournemouth – Bristol
Ride Data Day 2 

After a tasty breakfast and more good conversation I headed out into the grey dull mist. I new I had a long hilly day ahead so I didn’t delay, until I noticed these inquisitive sheep that is.

There was some serious ‘off road’ action with death defying gravel runs,  making the morning interesting to say the least.

The roads were just what I was hoping for remote with outstanding beauty. It was just a shame I couldn’t see the full view through the fog.

I stopped for a pause in the lovely town of Tisbury. This is the kind of place I hope we live one day.

The weather took a turn for the worse and it started to rain, but that didn’t dampen my mood. The ride was showing me the English countryside at its best. Then I had my biggest challenge of the day, you certainly dont see these signs in the states!! Climbed it with no major issue and kept up my reputation for never walking a hill!

 

As I drew closer to Bath the road took a turn for the worst and my GPS guided me onto a major road. This did not bode well with the other drivers or my nerves so I took a detour off course. This took me to one of my favorite cycle paths in the world alongside the canal. Here autumn presented itself to me through these vibrant leaves.

On arrival into Bath I navigated myself through and back onto the route.  This path is proof that with the right infrastructure people will use there bicycles regularly. I hit it at rush hour and the path was rammed with commuters and school kids, great to see. I was averaging 16mph whilst on the cycle path which hopefully brought my daily average up after the sluggish toe paths.

Arriving in Bristol was interesting to say the least. On my slow assent up Park Street an unobservant driver didn’t see me as he was turning and screeched to a halt before nearly squishing me. I headed for the famous Bristol Crescent.

Then I had the palaver of trying to find Helens new flat in rush hour, after a 70+ miles cycle and still feeling shaken up from my near miss resulted in a very stressed ERIC.

Finally found her and had a chilled evening with heart warming homemade food and hilarious company.

Bristol – Newbury

Ride Data Day 3Due to having to go back to shops to return items that couldn’t fit in my panniers i had a delayed start. Finally set off from Old St George only to be blessed with the perfect Bristol-Bath cycle path again. Though for the first time my end destination wouldn’t be Bath. Roughly half way down an alternate path veers off to the left, a route I had yet to explore. This scenic trail had hidden treasures around each bend.

I only had 50miles to cover but due to my late start I didn’t dordle. During the ride I spotted this pub named after my dear friend Jules.

I was blessed with a beautiful sunny day and a bright sunset just before I arrived.

 

That evening I was greeted by my Warm Showers hosts Pat and Sue who were very keen and experienced cyclist. They had toured all over Europe and plenty of England. Sue was inspiring and she had organised lots of girls rides and was super fit. There house was a well maintained cozy cottage where they instantly made me feel very welcome. I highly recommended staying with these guys if the opportunity arises.
Newbury – London
Ride Data Day 4 

I enjoying a leisurely breakfast with Sue, they really are a very interesting couple I could have stayed all day and listened to their adventures, though I had to push on with the ride. Today was a little more ambitious at 70miles. The weather was perfect and the roads from Lambourn were empty with quaint English countryside views (perfect morning).

At about 30miles in I had a delicious second breakfast/lunch, I think it would actually be defined as brunch which set me up for the rest of the day.

 

Though the day took a turn for the worse when I decided to follow Mr Garmin’s navigational advice. This definitely proves that’s its worthwhile researching the route on Google street view to ensure suitability of the terrain. I ended up on a dirt track alongside a river turning briefly in to a field then back onto walking paths.

In another situation i.e. day ride on a mountain bike, this would be an enjoyable experience. Fully loaded with millage to cover and little time wasn’t ideal. Though the river was beautiful.

And I even got to witness rush hour at the locks.

 

Due to my off road adventure and travelling at 7-8mph my average had been massively reduced. This caused me to be completely off schedule and I decided to get a train in Windsor for the last leg of the day. This turned out to be a sensible decision since after some research the road into London isn’t a desirable ride therefore I didn’t miss out on anything.Jo’s race

I meet up with Andy and we watched his sister Jo run the Royal Parks half marathon for Webber Street. The course was through Hyde Park and it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day!!

Later that day we witness critical mass on roller skates!! Woop Woop you guys rock 🙂

I said my farewells and headed off to Harlow to stay with our friends the Fenwick’s. Due to enjoying everyone’s company I left it a bit late so ended up getting a train. This turned out to be a huge error as it took longer then riding would have, cost me more and was a general pain, lesson learnt, always ride.

Harlow – Cambridge
Ride Data Day 5 
After a delicious fry up prepared by Mr Fenwick I packed up and was on my way. I could feel the winter chill in the air as i rode out. The roads were rolling and the surrounding fields had a thick layer of fog. This quickly dispersed as the sun shone through the clouds. The journey was marvelous taking me through yet more quaint English villages and farm lands.

Then I had my first experience of the awesome cycle system in Cambridge.

The day was short and I arrived at Cambridge by noon. I enjoyed a leisurely lunch with Mrs Julie Fenwick then pottered around the colleges and shops. Cambridge has some outstanding architecture that I was mesmerised with. Also lots of mysterious passage’s that are enchanting.

As I wandered the street waiting to meet Julie low and behold I spotted my comedy hero Russell Howard. I was to excited for words and fortunately didn’t have the balls to go and awkwardly attempt a conversation.
I headed to my hosts house which was another Alex and was warmly welcomed into her home. She had two adorable children, one that was excited about me coming over and wanted to stay awake. Alex kindly provided some delicious food that we chatted over. It was a perfect end to a lovely day. I unfortunately was quite exhausted and forgot to get her picture.
Cambridge – Stamford

Ride Data Day 6 Today I would experience the 15mile bus road cycle path out of Cambridge and it didn’t disappoint. The wide path with a smooth surface had easy to read sign posts and bike traffic lights, again this is a perfect example of great infrastructure!

At the end of the path I was treated with a lovely little town called ‘St Ives’. I didn’t want to delay so early so pushed on.

Just before I left I sneaked some WiFi from a local bus. I cant believe they even have WiFi on public transport, how far we have come. Later that day I made some new farm yard friends.

I stopped for my lunch in a lovely public house called The Abbott’s Arms here they had the coolest homemade bike rack I have ever encountered.

 

Arriving in Stamford i felt this sudden warm feeling that I was home.

The architecture made out of sand stone had a original look that made you pause a moment and appreciate its beauty.

The town center was modest, but sufficient in its options. Here I took a pause in a coffee shop and chatted with some locals. That evening I met Stephen, another Warm Showers host, who owner a Brompton and was a legend!!

His house was phenomenal and he had given me the whole of the top floor in his Georgian beauty. This included a huge bedroom with luxury bed and en-suite, I felt like a princess in the tower!!

Both hosts were hilarious and great company they cooked me up a feast and then let me off to bed at a reasonable hour. I only hope our standard of hosting in the future will match what they provided for me.
Stamford – Lincoln

Ride Data Day 7Today was at a fast pace for the majority of the ride. I was getting closer to my roots and therefore nearer to achieving my goal. The scenery was starting to become very familiar and I kept having flash backs on areas I had previously been as a child. I did meet a lovely older lady that complemented me on my panniers. She cycled 10miles everyday for the whole of her life, what an inspiration!

I even got to ride on this perfect road.

 

I have got to say I love Lincolnshire! Everyone I met today was outstandingly friendly. Literally when you cross that border there is a new breed of gracious and courteous people. When I arrived in Lincoln it seemed so much smaller than I remembered, but i felt a huge sense of achievement when cyling down memory lane. Decided to spend the evening with my sister catching up on old times.Lincoln – Louth
Ride Data Day 8
Crazy early start this morning at 6am since I have a deadline of 10am. I must be at my doctors appointment to get my Yellow fever jab for Ethiopia next week, aahr im going to Ethiopia next week! They have run out of it on the south coast so this is my last chance to get vaccinated. I didn’t manage too take any pictures I was on a speedy mission to get home. All I can say is that I did 30miles in 2hr15min pretty god dam good loaded and even made my doctors appointment. Now lets just hope I dont get ill from the jab.

Louth – Peterborough
Ride Data Day 9
The sharp sun woke me as it beamed through my bedroom window. I have grown to love this luxurious bed (quilt). Possibly since its the first bed where I have actually slept consecutively in four months. I have missed the warmth of Andy’s body though the 24 tog quilt made up for it. I dragged myself out of bed and join mum and Alan for a healthy breakfast of yogurt, nuts and seeds.
I was extremely pleased that the sun had his hat on and was out to play, especially considering it had been torrential rain the day before. My bike was extra heavy due to all of the kind donations my friends and family had given for the Ethiopia trip, though I wouldn’t have known (your either loaded or your not).

As I left little old Louth I felt lots of eyes upon me either due to the piece in the paper or they were just looking at some crazy person loaded up on a bike. I also had the idiotic idea that now I am in Lincolnshire it would be a flat ride…then remembered the wolds.

The first 30miles was rolling hills through quaint market towns and historic villages. This is why I love Lincolnshire its still in a time warp which gives it an endearing beauty. I even captured some wildlife.

 

As the day developed the terrain became flatter and I suddenly noticed I could see for miles.

When the GPS tried to take me down a grass footpath I knew that wouldn’t be a sensible option so decided to head south on the road. This fortunately took me down a country road adjacent to a canal and made for very pleasant riding. I also got a great view of Tattlershall castle.

Due to being totally off course and only using my compass, yes that’s right I had no map, I did end up on the A17 which was an experience i didn’t ever want to duplicate during. So I stopped to get my bearings and for some lunch in a country pub where I enjoying mums pack up.

My bottom started to ache due to the lack of standing and the flat ride.

I was also losing daylight and starting to wonder if I would ever rejoin the course. Though I was confident I knew my position and where I was heading so powered on. Just before Crowland a kind gentleman stopped me in my path and asked me if I knew about warm showers. I informed him I had a place arranged for this evening, but would be glad for some directions. David was incredibly helpful and I do hope to cross paths in the future.

When I arrived at Veronicas and Tony’s I was a little flustered and exhausted, though very relived that I beat the nights shadows. The back roads were beautiful in the light of day, but would be haunting at night.
Their house was awesome with vibrant coloured wall and had a chic 70’s theme. Veronica had prepared a delicious array of wheat free foods including a crumble that has lingered in my food memory ever since (I must get that recipe). The evening was spent discussing their daughters tour and other travels. To see her interesting blog click here.

Both were keen cycling enthusiast which made for a pleasant evening conversation and I even got to put a bit of Jimmy Cliff on the juke box 🙂

 

Peterborough – Cambridge
Ride Data Day 10

Due to the unfortunate or fortunate occurrence of not setting my alarm I rose late. Enjoyed a swift breakfast, received a pack up from Veronica (left over crumble, GET IN) then rejoin the road. I wasn’t as blessed as the previous day as there was a chill in the air and wind heading right in my direction.

Today I was hoping to attempt to stick with the GPS and follow its lead, how foolish!! The terrain continued to be flat so I had to ensure I was raising my bottom off the seat at regular intervals.

The day then took a turn for the worse when I decided to put my trust in the GPS and continue down a farm road. It turned into this……

On this rocky road my pannier decided to give up the ghost and pop a screw. I carefully tried to redistribute my load into the other pannier, but I unfortunately just had to much stuff!! I managed to temporarily fix it and carefully wheeled myself to safety. I had lost a large part of the day with this detour so photos then became minimal. Though I had to stop and take some of the windmill they are incredibly mesmerizing.

I eventually made it to Rosemary and Ken’s house a little warn and wilted. Only to be lifted by there smile, hugs and tasty salmon dinner. Now one night to pack for Ethiopia and its on with my 3rd adventure of the summer!!