Miles: 42.2 but only 33 apply toward my progress, more on that later.
Nearest town: Cowan Bridge
I’ve now cycled 500 miles on “that” bike with full camping gear, although it’s tough to tell exactly where the mid-point is. That problem comes from not knowing exactly how far this little cycle ride will be as described in my previous “numbers” posting. But today, I crossed two half-way points I didn’t think about. One is the geographical centre of Britain. I learned about it when I took a break and chatted with a man working on the flowers in garden, or front yard for American readers. He told me there was a phone box marking the geographical center or Britain just 2 1/4 miles south. That was a total of 5 miles out of my way, there and back, but I couldn’t resist the Kodak moment.
So, I cycled south to the town of Dunsop Bridge. There was a nice little store and park, where a few folks were enjoying the sunny afternoon. I chatted with British Harley Davidson drivers for a while, even took their picture. I told them that I think Harley Davidson started in my home state. They thought the company was in Milwaukee, at least currently. I also had a fun little conversation with a couple of the staff in the store. I saw a display of pastries that seemed to be made from scratch, so I ordered a couple, then a couple more, and then just one more that looked tasty. The total was more money than I’ve spent on food for a while, since I’ve bought mostly fruit, vegetables, granola, and cheese at grocery stores. The pastries were a fun treat, even better lately. In the last few days, I’m always hungry. That’s not surprising because of the cycling, but I still get surprised just how strong hunger can be with a lot of exercise.
While I was in Dunsop Bridge, I also re-filled the fuel container for my stove with gas/petrol, from a small gas station. It was a fun station to see because it was an old-fashioned repair shop, old parts laying around, disorganized, and entirely cozy.
Earlier on, I mentioned two half-way points. I found the second one when I realized that my sat nav could tell me how far I am from Land’s End, where I started, to John O’Groats, where I’m going. According to the sat nav, I was still closer to Land’s End than John O’Groats, by about 8 miles. That gave me a little motivation to peddle a little faster.
A while later, the hills and scenery became amazing. In some of the pictures, you see a small line fading into the distance. Those are roads, where I spent much of my time pushing my bike. If my lousy memory recalls properly, they’re part of the Yorkshire Dales. This part was strange combination of being amazed by the scenery and the pain in my legs, all at the same time.
Around 5pm, I started looking for a place to stay. I also noticed a lot of signs saying something like “No to a wind farm in ________”, the blank being whatever county I was in. I’m still working on a good system to find a place for the night. Internet access has still been a challenge. So, when I saw a caravan park in front of me, I decided to stop by and see if they take tents. The owner, Colin, was standing outside when I peddled up. He told me that they don’t usually take tents, but I could pitch it over in that green area. We then had a friendly discussion about politics. Yes, those discussions can happen. Most of our discussion was about British politics, but he seemed interested in getting an American’s perspective about American politics. He asked me what I thought of Obama, and I told him that I really appreciate his work on health care. Colin responded, in a very graceful way, that America seemed to be a place where it’s was especially tough to be unlucky, at least compared to the UK and EU. We talked about that for a bit, but I focused on friends and family I know who don’t have health insurance. I just want them to have some kind of affordable health insurance. Then, Colin prefaced his next question quite a bit, with things like “I don’t mean to be dis-respectful” and “maybe this is just what comes across in the liberal media, whatever that is…” Then he asked his question. “Was George Bush as, well, was he, right. Was he as stupid as it looked like from over here?” My response was as careful as Colin’s question, with similar qualifications for the office of any president, and a little bite.
Finally, I had to set up my tent. I asked Colin what the cost was. He replied, “Just give me a fiver.” That’s 10 times less than a B&B, which was great. But, Colin added “We do use that space for animals, so careful where you step.” That part was not so great. There was a lot of sheep-poo scattered about, and I was close to the road, a lot of traffic noise. Lately though, my priority has been doing my best to finish this trip. This place was directly on the route, so I didn’t lose any miles coming or going to the route. It also had free wifi, nice showers, and a fun owner.
I’m going to finish this description with how the day started, which was hard to slip in with my half-way point description. On the morning of Day 13, I did something I haven’t done yet, I accepted a cup of coffee. That was back at Pat’s place, the woman who let me stay in a trailer for the night. As I’ve mentioned before, a few folks have asked me in for morning coffee. I’ve always thanked them but said no, since I need to make progress. With Pat’s generosity, I had to accept the offer. The picture here is near their place. The arrow points to the name of the road, which is unique and I suspect wonderfully authentic.
It’s very good to be past the half way point. Considering the day I took off in Clun, I cycled for 12 days to get half way. I have 27 days total for cycling, but that means I would travel home on my last day, August 15. I have to be at work on August 16, and I would like to have one or two days home before I go back to work. I’m also know that John O’Groats has limited travel service, so I don’t know if it’ll take 1 or 2 days to get back to London. Anyway, all this means I cycled 12 days in July, from July 19-31, and reached the half way point. I have a maximum of 14 days in August, but it would be great to finish the second half by 12-13 August.