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Greetings from my kitchen...
Back at base.
Recuperating. Reflecting. Reciting.
This newsletter normally only comes out on a Friday. And when it does it alternates between open to all and just for the supporting subscribers who pay $5/month to get all the content.
As I am out of sync, so is this email. Expect a number of random postings to your inbox over the next week or so. I’ve got a backlog of journal entries I’ll be posting before we can get back to some sort of normality. I hope that is ok with you.
In regards to what I’ve been up to, this 9 day Twitter thread should bring you up to date on my bike ride from London to Edinburgh.
I’m still a bit achy and seem to be eating a little more than normal. Sleep is deep and I’m enjoying doing very little.
On my last day I got to ride for a few miles with a group of four cyclists heading along the same cycle route into Edinburgh. Two rode recumbents and two rode standard bikes.
I chatted for a while with this guy Jack Butler. He’s been on some mad cycling trips. He does quite a lot of international riding on solar powered electric bikes. Here is a video from his youtube channel.
And here is someone else’s journey on the Great North Road.
If you’ve visited the Choose Love support page for my journey you might have read the latest update. If not I’ve reposted a version below with a few added photos.
I made it. And you made it all worthwhile.
But how did we get here?
One pedal stroke at a time. We just kept moving.
I was meant to be motorbiking in Africa last week. When Covid put a stop to that I’d planned a motorbike ride in the UK instead. But on the morning of the 22nd of July I bumped into Pete, a fellow dog walker who told me he was reading a book about the Great North Road and that that week it will be 100 years since it was renamed the A1.
That’s where the seed was planted. But I wasn’t 100% on cycling it. Steve Silk the author of the book does it in 11 days and I only had 9 available. Plus I’d never cycled more than 32 miles in a day and this looked much harder. What I really wanted was a motorbike ride.
Later that day, I bought the book and tweeted the author asking if he’d share his route.
He responded a couple of days later and I was able to see that not all of the route was on roads. In fact a lot of it seemed to be along dirt tracks and cycle paths. I started chatting with my friend, experienced cycle tourer David Charles about the kind of kit he used for his long rides. Initially with the idea of riding to Wales. But the book was getting interesting what with all the Coaching Inns and mentions of great food and ale I wondered if it could be done in 9 days.
I’d also asked David if it was too late to set up a crowdfunding page. If I was going to do a bike ride it might make a good fundraiser. Especially for the charity that David rides for. The plight of refugees has been close to my heart since I experienced first hand the camps in Jordon, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and France.
At the end of July I still wasn’t sure what I might do. I wrote in my weekly email…
“Perhaps I’ll start in London and see how far north I can get. Or maybe I can zigzag across the community map and visit any of you who might put me up for the night. ;-)”
But come the start of August I’d decided that I’d combine amateur radio with a bike ride up the GNR and bought the url CycingHertz.com
The week before the ride I got in a massive 9km of cycling. Mostly to test that the bags i’d just bought on eBay wouldn’t fall off.
And then on the 7th of August me and my bike got on the train and traveled into Central London and the beginning of the Great North Road. The plan was to use Steve’s route up the GNR as a rough guide.
This is how it went.
Day one on the 7th of August saw me travel from Central London to Buckden. (116km)
Day two, on the 8th Buckden to Foston. (116km)
Day three, the 9th Foston to Bawtry. (70.5km)
Day four Bawtry to Wetherby. (79.9km)
Day five Wetherby to Darlington. (84.8km)
Day six Darlington to Newcastle. (58.5km)
Day seven Newcastle to Seahouses. (97.7km)
Day eight Seahouses to Dunbar. (100km)
Day nine, the 15th August, Dunbar to Edinburgh (53.2km)
You see so much on a bike. You can learn a lot as well.
Things I learned or relearned along the way. Including some cycling tips:
You can google what you like, but the advice of experienced friends is a much better resource.
Your body can do more than you think it can.
You can sing away your woes.
Take sleep seriously.
Stop complaining and focus on the positive.
Eat and drink frequently in small amounts. Even if not hungry.
No one refuses to fill a lone cyclist’s water bottle.
Smear chamois cream in your cycling shorts.
Greet everyone with a smile.
The kindness of strangers is everywhere.
In total I peddled for 777 km ascending over 5330m over 39h 44m.
Many thanks to:
Carly M, Chris W, Dogwalking Lady, Robert P, Gareth S, Daniel H, Ed OnTheTrain, Carl G, Martin H, Jonathan H, Sharon D, Paul C, Paul M, James W, Ben S, Adrian S, Craig C, Pete C, Britt W, Georgina B, Jason G, Paul Co,Sylvia C, Claire G, George C, Ralph B, Roger M, Nick T, Steve B, Stef L, Simon H, Mark N, Tim E, Jennifer D, Jem F, Adam N, Glen M, William G, Ilicco, Lionel, Jo & Scott, Caroline P, Mark G, James B, Steve B, Rob W, Ian C, Steve U, Ian G, Ross D, Sharon S, Dale I, Stephen G, James M, Fraser, Dougie S, Owen W, Amanda C, Paul Ch, Gavin T, Lou S, Alexander B, Manny C, Eric M, David S, Leanne J, Alan G4WIP, Dan H, Mike M, Bill T, John D, Dale G, Farouq T, David H, Stephan C, Giles B, Paul C, Callan B, Peter B, Alan W, Matt W, Daniel N, Emma C, Jay C, Lee M, Andrew F, Toby T, David C, V & I, Yasmin, Penny, Richard B, Carolyn J, Steve S, Chris M, Louise W, Herb K, Jim R, Marc S, Jim R, Rita G, Simon F, Bernard G and John M.
At time of writing you all helped raise £2334
I’m slowly picking through my journal and will share more stories and images via the subscribers email.
My heart is overflowing with thanks to everyone who has supported me on this journey.
If you are thinking of doing something similar, go for it! There are no downsides.
Yes, this was one of the hardest physical challenges of my life and yes my body is tired. But my mind is still being fuelled with memories of all the amazing moments and people I’ve come into contact with along the way.
On day eight, one of the hardest days of my journey, I had the brief pleasure of riding alongside a 78-year-old cyclist called Jim. He sat proud on a shiny bike in full lycra, flying past Berwick on Tweed. As he confidently wound his way around the traffic. I asked him why he didn’t slow down for anything. He told me that he needed the momentum, that if he stopped there was a chance he’d fall over.
Like him, let’s keep moving.
This newsletter is 25% funded. And for that I must thank those paying subscribers that pay $5/month to get all the content I share into this feed.
If you are able, please upgrade to become a paid supporter.
Thanks for reading, sponsoring and supporting. You are all amazing. Normal service shall resume after I type up my journals from the trip.
“The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew, and live through it.” ~ Doug Bradbury
See you out there.