Well it’s just turned 6pm on the first day of my travels. I would say it has gone reasonably well. My original plan was to take things easy on the first day and just cycle the 25 miles to Dover and stay there for the night. Given that I am a day behind on my schedule having left late, I decided to push on to Folkstone. The ride to Dover was pretty good and I was feeling ok after a spot of lunch, so figured it was only another 7 or so miles to Folkstone, so what the hell. May as way chip a little of the next day’s ride. Unfortunately what I hadn’t considered was the extent of the hills between the two. They are pretty huge by Kent’s standards anyway and I think I need a little more time on the road before I attempt anything bigger than them. Cornwall could be a real challenge. The hills in Kent pale into insignificance compared to the ones down that way. So what have I learned today – these are in no particular order; (These lessons were all learned the hard way!)I am now posting this at 6am on the second day. I haven’t yet emerged from the cocoon but the legs don’t feel too bad, so today I’m planning to try and lunch in Rye, which is around 30 miles away. I will then decide whether to push on to Hastings, but the likely course of action is to take a bit of time there – its a lovely little town. The following day would then mean a slog from Rye through to Eastbourne. We will see. I don’t want to do too much ‘planning’
- There is a real camaraderie amongst cyclists. I’ve had loads of conversations today with complete random strangers – purely because we were all travelling on two wheels. It’s brilliant – one of the things I was really hoping for on this trip.
- When a novice cyclist and riding one of the National Cycle Routes, accept that there are people on the same paths who will depress you. When you are crawling out of Dover up a huge climb on the way to Folkstone and your Garmin is telling you that you’re struggling to make 4 miles per hour (basic walking pace for me) don’t get despondent when some Lycra clad superman slows down to 15 to say good afternoon on his way past you.
- When wearing a backpack to cycle, make sure you pack it evenly and that it is dead centre aligned on your back. Anything to one side leaves a sore shoulder.
- When one of your mates who’s done a bit of cycling tells you that the weight of things you are carrying is crucial, for god’s sake listen to them. If while packing you find yourself saying “I’ll take that just in case” Don’t. Stop what you are doing, take said item and put it firmly back in the cupboard. Weight is critical when you are dragging it up a hill.
- You haven’t trained nearly hard enough. However much you did, it’s not enough. I freely admit to not doing enough but I’m committed, so I will just have to get fit doing it.
- When you are riding a road bike with mudguards, you cannot trash the front wheel over like you’re used to doing on your mountain bike. It’s simple maths and a bit embarrassing;
- Size 12 foot + Mudguard +mudguard connecting with revolving wheel = wheel instant stop + bike instant stop + rider continues.
- However much water you have taken – its not enough, unless you stick to this rule. Don’t drink when you want a drink. Only drink when you need a drink.
- And finally…. The good bit about cycling in England is that there is pretty much ALWAYS a pub (normally a half decent one) within easy walking distance of the end of your day.