Friday, 22 June 2012


The Way of The Roses Cycle Route is 170 miles from Bridlington in Yorkshire to Morecombe.  It is a route divided into two halves.  The east section to Ripley is a fast ride with light hills but there it abruptly changes as it climbs high into the Pennines over to the west coast.

I met my buddy, Andy at Bridlington Train Station.  This must surely make a claim to be one of the most stunning stations on the whole rail network.  It had an old world charm that was supplemented by tables of local food, flowers, historic photos and friendly people. 

It was soon evident that this is a popular cycle route.  We saw cyclists on every section of the journey and, in turn, we were rewarded with interesting cafes, good pubs for stopovers and some eye catching scenery.  As usual on the National Cycle Network, we encountered few cars.  Millington, mid way between Driffield and York probably claimed the best cafe judging by numbers of cyclists who stopped there.

The cycle route made light work taking us past York and Ripon cathedrals.  It abruptly changed as we approached Brimham Rocks.  Our imaginations stirred as these ancient rock formations resembled Dartmoor's famous tors and had peculiar names such as Dancing Bear, Pink Panther and Watchdog.  We dropped down into Pateley Bridge on the River Nidd only to find the first of several challenging hills.  Andy must have done some special training as he took the hills with relish leaving me trailing behind.  "Must do better" appeared in my notebook several times. 

We peddled on to Settle passing another cyclists' cafe at Cracoe.  I find the experiences to be special when cycling among high open moorland and hills.  Cyclists kept coming in the opposite direction and we encountered riders of all ages.  Many appeared to be on long distance tours while others were challenging themselves on day rides.  At Settle, we left the route and headed north to beyond Kendal where we briefly joined the Walney to Wear Cycle Route.  Finally we turned around and cycled back to Lancaster for trains home. 

The total distance for us was 210 miles.  Where next? Croatia for Andy and Wales for me.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


I completed my 150 mile challenge on Sunday despite the rain.  It rained all day and severely tested my wet weather gear.  Journey's end was near Slimbridge in Glos where for some reason there was still some gas left in my tank.

Starting at 4am, I reached Exeter without seeing people.  Haldon Hill which I dread was passed early on.  I did not see the sun rise because of dense clouds but I did see lots of wildlife taking advantage of  the early morning with rabbits scampering everywhere, deer grazing in the fields and birds overhead.

I needed a break in Cullompton and looked for a bus shelter, always a good place for a cyclist to rest in the rain.  I joined a National Cycle Route at Taunton and this took me beside a canal to Bridgwater.  Lots of people were out walking.  This stretch was very scenic as I was now heading into the Somerset Levels.

At Portishead, I had cycled 125 miles.  It was raining hard and gravel had got into my gears making them hard to operate.  My map was soaked and falling apart.  Bristol is complicated to navigate on a bike and for some reason the council had taken down all the Cycle Route signs and substituted them with different ones that did not tie up with my new soggy wet map.  I was at my lowest ebb.  I took a break in the dry under a motorway bridge and somehow it lifted my spirits.  I set off and found the mighty Avonmouth Bridge despite the almost complete absense of signs. 

Once over the bridge, the signs were all in place and it proved to be fairly easy navigating through Avonmouth and onwards into Gloucestershire.

I have cycled the little lanes beside the River Severn north of Bristol earlier this year and they are a good ride.  My energy had unaccountably come back and it was with much enjoyment I peddled up to the 150 mile mark accompanied for the last 6 miles by my wife.  If the weather was better, I would like to have carried on until it was dark but the thought of a hot bath and dry clothes was a better option.


Sunday, 3 June 2012


It is only one week to go before I attempt my longest one day cycle challenge. The date is set at 10 June 2012.

I have done lots of cycling and been to many places on my bike but never before have I tried 150 miles in a day.  I am finding that this is a daunting but very exciting challenge that I must do.

The journey starts in Ivybridge, Devon with a 15% hill outside my house so there is no time for a gentle warm up.  The end, legs permitting, is close to Slimbridge in Gloucestershire.

Using minor roads unless major roads are unavoidable, the route will often follow the National Cycle Network (NCN).  I will cycle the southern fringes of Dartmoor through Ashburton to Exeter which includes a long climb across Haldon Hill.  At Tiverton, I join the NCN and head to Taunton.  This also looks hilly in places but after Taunton there could be a good length of easier cycling to Bridgwater, Axton and Clevedon.  Entering Bristol, there is a cycle path alongside the M5 across the Avonmouth Bridge.  This is very high and windy on a bike.  There is continuous NCN from the bridge to Slimbridge as the last section winds its way north close to the River Severn.  Apart from the industrial parts of Bristol that I will go through, I have high hopes of a delightful scenic journey............... unless my legs give out or I collapse from exhaustion thus never seeing it.

The bike is my Trek X0.  This is my trusty cyclocross converted to touring.  It is no lightweight racer but it is strong and rugged.  It has now done 15,000 miles and never let me down on important rides.  I will carry food and drink with me making stops on route to replenish.

Am I prepared?................  I am doing all my training and have taken tips on food and drink.  My bike and legs do not permit high speeds.  Like this morning when I was out and overtaken by two navy guys going twice my speed, I get frustrated when I see others who I feel are much better than me.  I just believe that it is always important to challenge yourself.

If you would like to support my challenge, please go to  .