Introduction: What we did on our holidays? Nothing. - London - Middlesbrough - Sheffield - CycleBlaze

Introduction: What we did on our holidays? Nothing.

This summer, my wife, Barbara could not be persuaded to take to the open road for more than one day at a time. So, in September, during a spell of fine weather, I set out on my own for my first ever cycle camping trip.*

I had at first thought of taking a train to Harwich, Essex,the ferry to Hook of Holland, then heading east through Germany until I'd had enough. The weather forecast for Germany was unfavourable. Not so for Eastern England. I decided to ride to my home area of Teesside, a journey which, for one reason or other and in spite of three previous attempts, I'd never completed. [eg. see last year's trip]:

In May, I bought a two-man tent and a sleeping mat from the Decathlon store at Canada Water. I stil don't know if it keeps out the rain. I was intending to do this same ride back then, but didn't. I already had a three-season down filled sleeping bag. Having partially clued myself up about camping, by reading CGOB accounts and forums, I bought a silk sleeping-bag liner and a head torch. My son has a camping-gaz stove and camping pans. I borrowed them.

I planned to aim for the Humber Bridge, near Hull, and would thereby be taking an easterly route, which, for a first time cycle-camper, would have the advantage of long flat stretches for the first three days. On leaving Tees-side, I intended to turn south for Sheffield, where I would spend a couple of nights at my son's house, taking in the Yorkshire Dales en route. I would book a train back to London from there, in time to get back to work.

I rode an 1980's purpose built touring bike, a Revell Romany, which I had been given by a client, who had no further use for it. It has a Reynolds 531 ST frame, but the rear wheel had a cracked axle, which I replaced and also a buckle in the rim, which after several attempts at straightening out, i gave up on and bought new wheels [Sputnik rims and Shimano hubs], new chain and cassette. The rear and front mechs and down tube shifters, I left alone. The bike is slightly too big for me, [23" frame] so I dropped the saddle slightly and slid it all the way forward. I wouldn't have bought a bike this size.

The bike.
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I packed it for the first time on the morning of departure. I could not believe how fucking heavy it was. Neverthess it handled very well, if more slowly. On my return it took me a while to adjust to riding an unladen macine.

*Back in the 1970s we hiked a stretch of the Offa's Dyke long distance footpath along the Anglo-Welsh border. We camped. Barbara has refused to camp ever since.

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