It all started with too much time driving in the car back from snowy scotland.... too much time to think and plan.
I rang my mum. Tomorrow Im going to cycle a long way with all my kit and Can I possibly set up camp in your garden tomorrow... oh and tea would be great too. Now my parents being my parents and having set me on the path of who I am today... did not question the sense behind camping in january with kit meant for a summer in New Zealand and temperatures to match... instead the question I got was.. and what time will you be here for dinner??
So that was that. In fact... details of freezing temps aside... it was actually a sensible plan... to try to find out any problems with the kit in an area I knew and if necessary could be easily rescued from... should all go completely pearshaped. The camping thing was basically... if I can survive January in the UK then NZ will be fine... so went the theory.
So when I arrived home my plan was to pack ready to just leave in the morning...
Plan ruined by food and that tired sleepy feeling... probably caused by two exvellent days in the snow covered hills but herin lies... LESSON Number 1 (of many today). .. Always get stuff ready the night before... no matter how tired you are... because otherwise you find yourself waking at 5am.. scrambling around to get stuff done... only to leave later than planned... with things not done properly... but more of that later.
So I set off at 08:45 (planned for 8)
As you can see I was smiling... it wasnt raining and although chilly... wasnt ridiculously cold.
I had uploaded a route to my GPS to check it out and see how it worked... not great. Clearly I havent read the manual but it wasnt prompting me to turn at all. I can see the track i needed to follow on the map but no prompts to turn.. sound or visual. If anyone knows what i did wrong... Matt Dixon.. Mark Davies... any other cycling nuts out there... please message me!! So I spent the first 6 miles... stopping and starting... pressing buttons... and generally trying to make it work. Then I gave up and just kept checking the track on the map and following it... and that was fine. And then I started to enjoy the ride.... (see video one on my facebook page) LESSON Number 2.. dont rely on technology!
It didnt stop me seeing the deer that ran across my path though ... and that made me smile.
Shortly after the photo above I had turned off the main road onto a smaller paved track... cycling merrily along... when I encountered a puddle. No I wasnt being overly precious about my lovely new road bike... this puddle was the width of the road and looked deep. Sod it! I had overshoes right. Ankle deep water turmed into calf deep water and I struggled to keep forward momentum whilst all the time expecting to just disappear up to my neck in muddy water. It looked a bit like this...
And Im not exaggerating this time...
Fortunately neither did I fall off or plunge into an underwater chasm and emerged from the 'puddle' a bit wet .. but chuckling out loud! LESSON Number 3 - If it looks deep... it probably is!
So on I went... and here is the part you might slap me for... no breakfast... I know I know... anyway I was starting to feel a bit crap so stopped and ate a cereal bar and ingested a gel to ward off the inevitable... coming at me like a train... cycling bonk. No (you dirty minded lot) Im not being rude. Its the cycling terminology for when you hit the wall and have nothing... none... zip.. energy left. Wasnt quite there yet... so on I continued. LESSON Number 4 - Always... Always have breakfast where possible!
It was this point that my route planning was found to be very 'Lid like'. Not content (david and nic substitute road for path here) with the easy tarmac I headed off (following the GPS track) the road and instead followed the 'road' .. which in this case started off as a gravel track and quickly became a muddy... rutted... stone filled... tree banch dotted... road. I hadnt been planning a spot of cycle cross but this was a good impression of it for sure. I kept my fingers and toes firmly crossed as I bounced in and out of water filled holes.. across sharp stones... over roots amd other assorted obstacles. 2 miles later... I emerged victorious with wheels/tyres/frame and chain intact onto Dave and Nics definition of a road (if their path definition is anything to go by)
So no worries about my tyres on 'bad roads' then. I did shed a tear over the state of my once pristine bike
I reached the northmost point of my planned ride and halfway and to be fair... despite being slightly tired the cyclocross had re-energised me a bit and I stuffed another cereal bar ready for the second half. It was all downhill from here... right???
Part 2 coming shortly....