A Grim North

Musings from a northerner living in the deep south…

Posts Tagged ‘Falcon’

Circling the East Midlands

Posted by Alan on May 23, 2011

This weekend I headed out of London into the East Midlands for some c2c training with one of my c2c tour mates. Having trekked up to Euston earlier in the week to book tickets I later discovered that I could have done that from home – East Coast (the nationalised one) will allow you to reserve a bike space, even if you aren’t using their services! Never mind, c2c tickets had to be booked anyway and it was really easy online!

Bike on train

Secured on the train

Reservations on some routes are essential – on this train there were just 2 cycle spaces for a 5 carriage train. Guestimating at around 65 seats per car,  that means 1 bicycle for every 162.5 people. So, I guess this bicycling lark better hadn’t take off then… There was even an electronic reservation sign, just like in the passenger solution.

Electronic reservation on East Midlands Trains

Reserved!

Our route took us through Northamptonshire, Rutland and Leicestershire. Starting at Kettering station, we went east round past Corby, north towards Oakham before curling back west towards Market Harborough, finally returning to Kettering some 42 miles (68.4km) later. There are a lot of pretty villages to pass through away from the main roads, which was nice.

Out in the country - a church and ornate wall

Out in the country

The run did prove that I am not ready for c2c yet. The hills were certainly a struggle and I was flagging a bit by mile 26 where we stopped to take on some water in a nice pub.  The maximum distance on c2c isn’t much further – but it is much more hilly. On the other hand, as we’ll set off in the morning we’re bound to stop for lunch somewhere halfway – by 35 miles in I think I had run of energy and after the sugar of a can of coke I was able to amble home, which should help matters. Any new bike will also be much lighter and in better fettle which could help.

So, a lot of exercise required in the next 4 weeks then! Adding on the transfers between Liverpool St and St Pancras and the short trip to my local station, I finished on 50.8 miles (81.2km) for the day.

Advertisements

Posted in Cycling, Travelling around | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Lovely Cornwall

Posted by Alan on May 10, 2011

For the Easter bank holiday weekend I upped sticks with the masses and headed west, to Cornwall. I knew the train would be busy on Friday but I wasn’t quite expecting how busy!

Busy train!

Inside the 10.06 to Penzance

Having bagged the last unreserved bike space on the train (5 of 6 were pre-reserved – by the time I got off there were far more than 6 bikes in the compartment…) there was no way I was getting off until Bodmin. So standing it was for the 275 or so miles to Bodmin Parkway. I actually didn’t mind standing too much –  with my earphones on, some fizzy drink, fresh air from the opening windows and something to read it was bearable. Changing to a steam train here meant I could grab a cup of tea and a break for a few minutes rather than going straight into tackling the Cornish hills. From Bodmin town I could pickup the Camel Trail, one of the major Sustrans routes stretching the 20 miles down the Camel valley to Wadebridge and Padstow – a former railway, so well engineered with nice easy gradients. For the final section of journey from Wadebridge to Polzeath on the north coast I took to the road. This was harder than I imagined, with 4 fairly major climbs (for a city dweller anyway) as well as a very steep decent into Polzeath itself with the road covered in sand from the beach. (Shortly after I learned the art of configuring v-brakes). Here I spotted an unusual use of an underground roundel.

On Saturday there was more cycling, as with my extended family who I was visiting we took to the Camel Trail – this time a section I hadn’t used the day before from Wadebridge to Padstow, from where I saw the crazy idea that is paddle surfing…

Paddle surfer!

Paddle surfer! - there were loads of them!

At the end of the trail is Rick Stein’s fish & chip shop, which was pretty fabulous.

Haddock & Chips

Haddock & Chips at Rick Stein's

Following a walk round the harbour and amble around the lovely surroundings of Padstow (well worth a look), it was time to hit the trail and head home. Later that night I wandered round the coast – Cornwall is so lovely, I am very gutted I couldn’t fit my D-SLR in the panniers! The Kodak tried it’s best to capture it’s loveliness…

A lovely day for speed boating!

A lovely day for speed boating! - Daymler bay

Padstow / Daymler bay is the Camel estuary and used by many speedboats. Too soon, Sunday came and it was time to head home. With a train reserved at half 2 from Bodmin (no way I was standing all the way home too!) I set of reasonably early so as not to rush too much. Instead of taking the mental road route back to Wadebridge, I opted for the gentle road down to Rock (home of Sharp’s brewery and many many posh people) to take the ferry to Padstow.

It's a lovely day for boating

It's a lovely day for bike-boating

This is great facility available for cyclists to use as the Camel Trail starts just on the other side of Padstow. Just £3 for a single trip across the river. It’s a tidal estuary, but on a lovely day it isn’t at all choppy.

A lovely day for boating

A lovely day for boating (yes enough boating already)

With plenty of other traffic to avoid, the ferry nips across the water as quickly as possible.  All too soon, I was back on dry land on the quay at Padstow and almost ready to pick up the trail again. This meant easy cycling for the 12 or so miles back to Bodmin town which was really appreciated. Particularly with full panniers weighing me down somewhat… From Bodmin town to the Parkway station was more challenging. A proper new Sustrans route, this meant sudden turns, hairpin bends and a general feeling of “am I going the right way?” The early (ish) start meant I had missed the trail traffic and landed myself in the Parkway café for a pasty and brew. The UK must be the only country in the world to use a teacup/saucer to indicate a buffet!

Cornish Pasty!

Cornish Pasty!

Sadly I did not get a cream tea before I left Cornwall. Woe is me. An excellent adventure for me and particularly one where I felt I had to use the bike – I was visiting relatives who were also on holiday. North Cornwall isn’t famous for it’s public transport and whilst I did see a few dinky buses plying the slopes of the coastal towns and villages, I can’t imagine they would be much quicker or convenient. After all, my bike is powered by pasties…

Posted in Cycling, Photography | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Snow cycling

Posted by Alan on December 4, 2010

Long Load

No cycling for me during the snow!

With the recent weather, I’ve seen loads of blog posts about cycling in the snow. I did nothing of the sort – not really because of the snow but more because I was busy at Pigs Ear 2010 and the Arcade Fire gig at the O2. However, anecdotally it seems that the snow hasn’t put the borisbikers off in town. Whilst I didn’t have any gloves I wasn’t going to fight that cold wind…

Arcade Fire was quite cool. A good show with some great music but the O2 really is so impersonal and corporate I’m not sure I’d go again. Up in level 4 most people seemed to care more about getting a pint of fizzy piss mass produced lager and a hotdog that in the band. Given how steep the banking and the distance away from the stage that’s hardly surprising. I guess I need to start paying attention to new bands again and get out to the smaller venues…and it was worth setting my expectations low beforehand – having seen Arcade Fire once before I wasn’t too fussed about actually seeing the people!

Glastonbury Sunset

Entirely gratuitous - a shot from Glastonbury 2007 whilst waiting for Arcade Fire

Lastly this week the London Assembly has produced it’s first report on the cycle hire scheme and superhighways.  Called Pedal Power, there’s some serious questions for the Mayor, as well as some general observations – cycle hire works for people as it’s inexpensive and flexible, cycle superhighways doesn’t really work for people as it’s just another bit of paint on the road. Maybe some segregation might work better? Just an idea…

Posted in Cycling, General Meh, Music | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »