Cycling Britain-Day 10: Tony, Tony, and an elusive wallet
Distance: 47.1, Nearest town where I stopped, Ellesmere
I’m going to start with a story dedicated to Carrie Almaer, since she’s been making good natured yet sincere jokes about my memory for about 20 years. This story actually starts in the late evening of Day 9. After leaving the White Horse Pub, where I uploaded my previous words & pictures, I walked home with a guy from the hostel, Tony. This is a different tony than the one who manages the hostel. This Tony spent a lot of time traveling in Central America. He told me a funny story about loosing his wallet on one trip. He realized he lost it when he was at the airport, and fortunately, he found it back in his hotel, in the pillow case where he left it while sleeping. Carrie, at least it wasn’t me. We talked about some more travel stories and quickly arrived at the hostel, after watching some bats just outside the hostel. After that, we took to different tasks once we were inside the hostel. For Tony, this meant some time in the quiet lounge, reading. For me, it meant organizing all my gear, so I could leave as soon as possible the next day. As I mentioned before I have 4 panniers. One has bedroom stuff, like clothes. Another has kitchen stuff; the third has garage stuff, tools and a small can of gas/petrol for my cooking stove. The last pannier is my bathroom, and my handlebar bag is stuff I value the most or need to reach the easiest.. With that organizing in mind, I pack by finding anything that’s laying out, and I put things away until there are no things laying out, very simple. As usual, I was in a hurry, in this case so I could get some sleep.
While I was packing, Tony came up from the quiet lounge. We talked, and he laid down in his bunk. We were the only two in the room, which had about 7 bunk-beds. I was just about finished packing, when something happened that nearly ended my trip. I always double, triple, or quadruple-check that my wallet is where it belongs. In this case, it belongs in a special pouch in my handlebar bag. It wasn’t there. I checked the pockets of the trousers I was wearing. It wasn’t there either. I took everything out of my bedroom pannier. Again, it wasn’t there. I was tired and getting nervous. I wanted to run back to the pub and see if they had it, but the hostel was closed for the night. And, this hostel didn’t have a combination code on the door, like many do. That meant it if I left, I could be locked out. Reluctantly, I woke Tony, explained the situation, and told him I would knock on a nearby door when I got back from the pub. I apologized a lot for waking him, and he was very generous, just hoping I could find my wallet. I literally ran to the pub, in the wrong direction the first time. When I finally got there, I saw the other Tony who manages the hostel. The staff at the pub said no wallet was turned in. I asked them to give it to, the hostel manager, Tony if they did find it. I ran back to the hostel, the right way this time. While I ran, I tried to think of ways to continue my trip without my credit cards or ID, not easy.
Tony in the bunkroom, not the manager, continued to be helpful when I returned, even though it was now close to 11pm. He had started to go to sleep around 9.30pm. I went through every bag in every pannier. I checked my trouser pockets. I looked around the blankets of my bed, in the bathroom, in the kitchen downstairs, and other rooms downstairs. At one point, I almost screamed in frustration, “I did so much to prepare for this trip, and now, it’s over because I haven’t learned a lesson from 30 years ago!” I kept looking.
Then, I remember saying one simple word, “Tony.” The simple word came out when I felt my pillow, and there it was. I actually put my wallet exactly where it belonged for the night, which is not in my handlebar bag. It’s in my pillowcase. Tony laughed and repeated, “Did I ever tell you the story when I was in South America and lost my wallet…” Carrie, I hope you enjoyed that.
The actual cycling today was a little routine. I went through some of the hard working farming areas of Britain. A lot of big tractors went by, and I saw a lot of crops, cows, and barns. I respect the hard work, but it can make for some long hours of cycling. One change in the routine came when I reached another 1,100 foot hill. My legs must be getting stronger because I didn’t have to push much, and the view at the top was great. As I was going down the hill, I picked up a lot of speed, so I checked my sat nav to see if there were any curves coming in the road. There were no curves, and unfortunately, there weren’t any of the waypoint markers that show I’m going the right way. I haven’t scrreemed the word “Dammit” that loud in a long time. It’s bad enough being off course for a couple miles. It’s worse when you go off course on an 1,100 foot hill. A sat nav is a great device, but it really helps if you actually look at it once in a while. I looked at my sat nav to create a new course back.
On the way, I came across a couple retired guys on bikes, who turned out to be bike-riding bird-watchers. We chatted for a while when one of them said my rear tire was low. I replied that it shouldn’t be because I just put in a new tube yesterday. Sure enough, it was low. I pumped it up with the pump in my seat. The guys got a kick out of that. They said there was cycle shop just a few miles away. I replied that I had a patched tube and tools to change it. One of them offered to go with me to the cycle shop. I figured it was on my way, and I would probably enjoy the company. So, Richard and I cycled toward the shop. This was the first time I cycled with someone on this trip, so I did enjoy the company. After a while, I looked at my sat nav again. We were going away from my route, quite a ways. I mentioned this to Richard, and he replied that the best way to Scotland was actually this way. I explained that the route in my sat nav came from other cyclists. He replied that he preferred a map to a sat nav and took his map out to show me why this was the best route. Eventually, I convinced Richard that I needed to follow my sat nav. He wished me luck, and we parted.
A few miles later, my tire was very flat. This was no slow leak. That meant I had 2 flat tires in 2 days, both in the rear tire which is tricky to take off because all 24 gears on my bike are changed in rear hub. I fixed the tire in about 15 minutes but had to screw around with the gearing system for another 45.
I cycled through more farmland and decided to find a place to stay around 6pm, in the town of Ellesmere. Looking on my computer didn’t come up with any places, so I called the YHA youth hostel reservation number, nothing there either. It was getting chilly out, and I was sweaty, tired, and hungry. I thought this could be my first night in a hotel. A couple walked by, so I asked them if they knew of any nearby campgrounds. They didn’t know, since they were tourists. But, the guy suggested I asked at the chip shop around the corner, that’s a fish-and-chip shop for Americans reading this. Someone in the shop told me about a campground about 2 miles away. I double checked that I had my wallet, set up camp, made supper, and quickly fell asleep.