Cycling Britain: Day 2

Miles: 27.4, Average speed: 8.2, Nearest town: Golant

 I’m not pleased with today’s mileage, more on that later.

 I finished my description of day 1 saying that the rain had stopped, after enjoying a half hour or so writing inside my tent. Normally, rain in England is the epitome of “If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes.” I’ve seen several downpours and drizzles quickly followed by sunshine minutes later. Sometimes, I even miss the rain in Minnesota, that lasts for hours or a day. I didn’t miss those Minnesota rains today.

 It rained harder after I finished the description of day 1, to the point where I had to pack my panniers from inside my small tent, to keep things as dry as possible. I actually enjoyed the challenge and was pretty happy with my new found skills to put everything in the right pannier. There are two small panniers in the front and two large in the back. I think of each as places in a house. One big pannier is all clothing and my sleeping bag. That’s the bedroom pannier. The other big pannier has food and cooking stuff. As you’d expect, that’s the kitchen. One of the small panniers in front contains my stove and extra fuel. I put tools and computer gadgets in there too, since the fuel won’t bother those bits like it would food or clothes. That’s the garage pannier. The last small pannier breaks the guideline of rooms in a house. It doesn’t fit into the house scheme. It contains stuff I can’t find place for or that I need in a hurry.

 So, I was able to pack my panniers inside my tent, so the rain couldn’t get inside them. Then, I needed to take down my wet tent, find a dry place to shake it out, and sometime in this process, I decided to ask the nice folks at the reception desk to charge my laptop and related gadgets. One final goal comes from my description of day 1. I wanted to leave far before 11:30 AM, didn’t happen. When I finally got underway, the drizzle was more like rain, but I peddled on determined to make progress. After realizing I turned the wrong way, I made a u-turn, until my peddles started spilling. The chain came off.

 It wouldn’t get on using the usual tricks, which meant that I needed to have a closer look at it. Unfortunately, it was well hidden by the back panniers, and a tent that sits on top of them. It was now about noon. I didn’t want to take the time to remove the panniers and tent, and I didn’t want to adjust the rear derailer, which I was sure cause the problem. It’s needed to be adjusted for a couple weeks, since I couldn’t get to some gears and others made the chain rattle. I had no choice, though, so best just to carry on. Frustration is a luxury that I’ve become less interested in, just takes up time that I could be using to solve problems.

I adjusted the derailer, test-rode the bike, readjusted it, and repeated until it was right. Finally, I peddled on. The rain continued, and sometimes, some of the trail seemed a little routine. A lot of roads in England are barely more than 1 lane with 5 or 10’ hedges on each side. I can find a lot of things interesting, but pushing my bike up another hill with hedges on both sides can get old, especially in the rain. Having said all that, there’s still a fun surprise every 1 to 5 miles. I saw an old church today in the middle of nowhere that had a view for uncountable miles, just behind where the alter would be.

I met the first other “end to ender” today, a Scotsman whose also cycle-camping. He’s carry about 1/3 the load I am.  I chose what I carry from 2 or 3 good sources online, so I suspect he’s doing without a warm shirt, extra cycling clothing, and definitely not a stove or food. Everyone makes their own choices in this strange goal. Overall, I enjoyed talking with him.

 I found a nice little café to have lunch and to get online, to post my entry for day 1. Right about the time I decided to find a campground at 6pm and stop cycling at 7pm, a simple problem came up with my sat nav. I could have fixed it in 15 minutes, by connecting my sat nav to my netbook, but the rain was back. Cycling without my sat nav is asking to get lost, and lose yet more time. I saw some signs for a youth hostel, so I decided to cycle there and ask to sit in a dayroom to solve the problem. Youth hostels will always let you sit around for a while.

The hostel was further away than I expected, more time lost. The woman at the desk said it was no problem if I stayed for a while, to work on my sat nav. While my computer was starting up, I walked to the desk to see if any beds were available, as a plan B. She said there was plenty. I looked at my watch. It was after 5pm. I grudgingly decided to stay at this hostel tonight, in Golant. I knew they’d have drying room, for my tent. I could also write about today now, instead of tomorrow morning. I still feel awkward at only cycling 25 miles. I need to cycle 50 a day, if I want to have 3 or 4 days off as well. I don’t like using one of my spare days this early in the trip, but I’m starting to like the phrase that came up earlier. Frustration is an indulgence I’ve lost interest in.

4 thoughts on “Cycling Britain: Day 2

  1. You’ll get faster as you go.. Hopefully you an have a few 60 mile days to make up for days like these. Another option is that you may be able to go faster if you lose some of the luggage. Maybe you can re-evaluate your pack after a week or so and optimize it a bit. Even if you end up a few miles short, this is going to be a fantastic experience, enjoy it!

  2. Thanks again, Jon. I’m sure I’ll get a little faster, and the hills are supposed to get a little less intense.I’m also learning what luggage I might be able to do without. I use most of it every day though, but I’m sure I’ll find some ways to get more efficient.

    • I think you’re right Barb. It really is a matter of getting the kinks worked out. One challenge I’ve faced is finding a place to stay at night, after my mobile internet connection stopped working yestertday. As you’d guess, I need net access to find hostels or campsites. When it takes a while to find a campsite, I get behind on things that evening and into the following day, which means I start cycling later.

      I found an answer about 15 minutes ago, just stop by a pub. Most of them have wi-fi. The only tough part is that I can’t have a pint. Drinking one pint is like adding 10 pounds on each leg, bummer.

      Thanks for the posts you’ve made here!

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