05/10 I had a much, much better day leaving York. The sun was shining (until 3pm and then it rained), traffic was noticeably better and I didn’t see very many people–only a few stares. 🙂 The route I took went through some crazy places. First there was a paved bicycle trail leaving the city, then there was a dirt road, then there was very muddy and hilly single track section, after that a mile ride along a muddy path through some fields followed up by a muddy stream crossing. Had it been raining much more it would have been a nightmare but it was quite manageable and I kind of loved it. Felt like I was back doing the O’Higgins crossing in Argentina/Chile.

I’m not having much luck finding actual campgrounds. I downloaded this list of CG’s from a web site called Archies Campings but a lot of the sites, as I’m finding out when I arrive, are for members only. They are also geared toward RVs so unless they have a space dedicated to tents only (maybe half do) the sites cost a fortune. This one cost me $20.48 US (White Water Park in the city of Stockton-On-Tees). Again, just a hunk of grass and a hot shower.

I found a place that shows tent sites but they don’t have anything you can download for offline use. That means I need internet to check and I have to plan for each day where I want to ride. I hate having to do that but if I get stuck on the road I have to pay for a hotel which is what I had to do the next night. Or I need to buy a cell phone so I can call first.

Similar problems with camping today. The first place allowed tent camping but the office was closed from 12pm to 4pm. I got there at 3:30pm. Of course it had been cold and raining all day and I didn’t feel like hanging around so I left for the next place a couple miles down the road. I got there only to find out that this one hasn’t allowed tent camping in 6 years. Well maybe get a new sign on the highway (right where the first place was) so people know?

In the town of South Shields I finally spotted a hotel/pub called Douglas Vaults Hotel. The room is an amazingly low $40 US. The shower is shared but everything is very clean. Free wifi even.

Lot’s more muddy off road riding today. I probably spent 90% of the day on dirt. No real bad spots and the rain kept my chain from getting too mucked up. It was pretty nice riding along the North Sea. I suppose I was in the Netherlands for a bit but this was way more how I thought it would be–cold, windy, rainy and with a lighthouse. 🙂

Not 3 minutes after leaving the campground this morning a guy says, “Looks like you got a lot of baggage there.” I’m starting to think this isn’t a hot spot for long distance bicycle touring. 🙂 He was the only person that said anything to me all day. People stopped saying hi for some reason. I think the change happened around York.

Oh, and rabbits are not as harmless as people may think. One of the little monsters must have ducked under my tent fly last night and made off with the Ortlieb bag I keep my oatmeal in. It was laying about 20 feet from my tent this morning. Fortunately it wasn’t gnawed through.

Elevation Profile
GPX track

The North Sea

The North Sea

A wery, wet wabbit.

A wery, wet wabbit.

This was a bit scary--the wood kept creaking.

This was a bit scary–the wood kept creaking.

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This was carved into the bench on a bike path

This was carved into the bench on a bike path

One foot got very wet here

One foot got very wet here

This section was pretty muddy but ridable

This section was pretty muddy but ridable

Needs a bath

Needs a bath

Had to push up here, no grip.

Had to push up here, no grip.

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This made me laugh

This made me laugh

A little closer

A little closer

A bunch of fighter planes from far away

A bunch of fighter planes from far away

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Cool truck

Cool truck

This should be the other way around!

This should be the other way around!

Mood:Good Weather:
Wind: Wind Direction:
Avg Speed: mph (0 km/h) Top Speed: mph (0 km/h)
Total Ascent: ft (0 m) Max Elevation: ft (0 m)
Distance: mi (0 km) Total Distance:26654 mi (42895.5 km)

Comments Comments Off on York, GB to South Shields, GB (65 ft)

Unlike Wallace, who never even laid eyes on York, this lowly bicycle tourist tore up the town today. 🙂 It is quite awesome here. My top 5 cites for sure includes at least 8 or 9 places now, York being one of them. The sun was shining when I woke up so I scarfed down my complementary breakfast and went picture taking.

York’s centre is enclosed by the city’s medieval walls so I went up and checked that out first. This was about 9am and hardly anyone else was there. By 10am the tourists had thawed out and things were much busier. No cars though. During the day they are not allowed in the city center. Love that idea.

I covered just about everything including Clifford’s Tower, the now-ruinous keep built originally on the orders of William I to dominate the former Viking city of York. I also walked down The Shambles, a narrow medieval street famous for…I guess just shopping. I even broke down and paid the entrance fee for York Minster, a Gothic cathedral, one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe that dates back to 627 AD. There was a “tour” of the tower that you can pay extra for ($10 US). I did that and climbed up many, many narrow, windy steps to the top. The view was worth it. On a clear day they say you can even see London.

Living large :)

Living large 🙂

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I guess he was born here

I guess he was born here

York Minster

York Minster

Good view from the top

Good view from the top

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These guys all have funny beards

These guys all have funny beards

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The Shambles

The Shambles

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Monk Bar (gate)

Monk Bar (gate)

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Comments Comments Off on York, GB I sacked York!

05/06 The foul mood I was in yesterday diminished somewhat when the sun lit up my tent in the morning. Except for a couple wandering showers that came through, the sun was out for most of the day.

The traffic was getting to be a little much on the highway so I headed off along some quieter roads not too far from York. This worked out much better and once I was in the city there was a well-developed bike trail that I followed all the way into the city center.

I went to the tourist information building to see if they could help me find accommodations but going in meant leaving my bike unattended so I left. Finding a place turned out to be very easy. There were lot’s of guesthouses and B&B’s just outside the old city walls. I stopped at the first one and got a decent room for $63 US a night. The room even has a private bath–been a while since I had that luxury. Breakfast is also included. The bed is tiny though. Update: the next morning I accidentally ripped the curtains down (this is before I had coffee). I told the lady and they ended up moving me into the next room which is double the size with a huge bathroom and a 4 poster bed. Same price. 🙂

Elevation Profile
GPX track

Yep, this is all I got today. :)

Yep, this is all I got today. 🙂

Mood:Good Weather:Sunny/Cool
Wind:Brisk Wind Direction:Side
Avg Speed:12.2 mph (19.6 km/h) Top Speed:25.5 mph (41 km/h)
Total Ascent: ft (0 m) Max Elevation: ft (0 m)
Distance:50.03 mi (80.5 km) Total Distance:26541 mi (42713.6 km)

Comments Comments Off on Thrybergh, GB to York, GB (168 ft)

05/05 Bad day today. Instead of going through Peaks National Park I’m just going north to York and then north to Edinburgh. I’m not doing any more “it just sounds nice” side trips. This explains the sudden 90 degree turn I made not long after leaving Sherwood Forest. I thought traffic would have been better up here but it seems worse. Every damn road is non-stop cars.

Now other things are starting to annoy me which is bumping up my aggravation level. This staring thing is starting to drive me crazy. It’s a freaking bicycle people! I wish I had horse blinders. Yes, I know someone (Dad) is going to say, “well then don’t look at them…” but it doesn’t work like that–when you are riding toward them it’s not like you can just stare at your handlebars.

And if one more person says something stupid like, “Looks like you got everything but the kitchen sink there!” I’m going to say, “Looks like you got a hell of a black eye there!” as I dive off my bike and start pummeling them.

Honking is also popular in these parts. All were supposed to be the friendly kind to cheer me on or something but what makes someone think I want a horn blasting in my ear from 5 feet away? Then I get some fat, doughy guy with an IQ of 60 honking because I was out a little far from the edge going down a hill. Dumbass, the road is falling apart–there are huge potholes everywhere. Does it look like I can bunny-hop over them? I gave him a gesture so he knew how I felt about the whole thing (Not the finger. I’m in Britain–I have to be civilized).

Peaks National Park is supposed to be very popular which means traffic is likely even worse. I can’t even imagine what a nightmare that would be. I’ve already been thinking about just jumping on a train and not even riding the rest of England it’s been so bad. That’s only twice in 3 years I’ve considered not riding. They have more traffic on the roads here than anywhere I’ve ever been.

I did get to ride through Sherwood Forest which was actually very enjoyable because it was quiet and there were some good dirt trails. “Major Oak” is the big attraction. This was supposedly Robin Hood’s main rest area. The branches are so heavy that they built support beams to hold the lower ones up. It weighs an estimated 23 tonnes, has a girth of 33 feet (10 meters) and is about 800–1000 years old.

Trying to find a place to camp turned out to be an adventure. The first two places turned out to be member only sites. Unfortunately I have no way of knowing this because on my GPS they all look the same. I ended up having to ride back south for a couple miles (and uphill of course) to Country Park CG near some place called Thrybergh. They wanted $21 US to camp and that’s without showers because they are being renovated. The lady was completely unhelpful. First she’s like, “That’s just how much it is. Nothing I can do about it…” after I question the price (nicely) since there’s not even a shower. Then she wasn’t even going to let me stay there because they have a policy where you have to reserve a spot seven days in advance.

Thank goodness the guy sitting there had some sense. He reassured me that I could stay and lowered the price down to a much more reasonable $9 US. In your face lady. $9 US for a patch of grass and not even a hot shower, still a joke. I thought the US was bad for over-doing the whole capitalist mentality thing. They’ve gone off the deep end here.

No rain today! Cold though–the north wind is brutal. Never saw the sun. I think I need to start drinking beer again. Usually when I’m really venting I go back and delete everything I wrote before I post it. It’s just good to get it off my chest. I think I’m keeping this one though. My psychologist can refer to it later as the straw. 🙂

Update: 7pm and the rain starts.

Elevation Profile
GPX track

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This wind turbine(?) is just massive up close.

This wind turbine(?) is just massive up close.

Lot's of big trees.

Lot’s of big trees.

Me riding in Sherwood Forest. :)

Me riding in Sherwood Forest. 🙂

Of course.

Of course.

"Major Oak"

"Major Oak"

Sherwood Forest!

Sherwood Forest!

Mood:Bad Weather:
Wind:Brisk Wind Direction:
Avg Speed:9.7 mph (15.6 km/h) Top Speed:30 mph (48.3 km/h)
Total Ascent: ft (0 m) Max Elevation:554 ft (168.9 m)
Distance:64.53 mi (103.9 km) Total Distance:26491 mi (42633.1 km)

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