The Return of Dave and Bob

I didn’t dare check the date of my last post – but I know it was quite a while ago.  Unfortunately life intervened with a combination of separation, divorce and ill-health (not unrelated to the previous two items). The result was much less cycling last year, culminating in a 4 month lay-off between October 2013 and February 2014.

During that time I’ve moved from Barnet to Bermondsey where I’m busy sorting out a new life in a Buddhist community. One of the up sides to this is that commuting to work on Bob is now a doddle at only 4 miles each way. One of my main worries was that my journey would be filled with huge amounts of traffic, fumes, HGVs, and all the other things that can be terrifying about London roads. The reality is very different.

One of my great discoveries in the last year is the Cyclestreets website. Quite simply, there’s no way that, on my own, I’d have found the back street route I’m now using.  Over the 4 miles from my home to H2 Bike Run where Bob stays while I’m at work, I spend no more than a mile of it on busy roads. In fact much of it’s more like Sunday morning riding, even in the rush hour.

So February was largely just getting used to the commuting and starting to get my cycling legs back a bit, although last weekend I did manage my first slightly longer ride since last September – a 14 mile trip over Tower Bridge and along the Thames Path to the pedestrian tunnel under the Thames and into Greenwich, before coming back along the south bank back to Tower Bridge again. A pleasant circular ride with far too many cobbles for my liking on the first part of the journey!

Flushed with the success of that ride I decided to go further afield today.  To cut a long story short, I found out what happens to legs that have had a 4 month break from cycling, and then only cycle on the flat for a month or so when I tried cycling up the hill at Crystal Palace. I think a little more conditioning may be needed before I can get all the way up without stopping at least once! Not a problem I think I’d have had before with my regular traversing of Highgate Hill and the slopes around Barnet and Hertfordshire. Still, something to aim for.



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I thought recumbents were supposed to be slow up hills?

Yesterday I was out on a ride with my local club when I overtook another member who was going uphill on her upright bike somewhat slower than I was comfortable with.  As I passed her I heard a cry along the lines of

“How come you’re going past me?  I’m supposed to have the advantage on hills!”

This was simply the latest in a series of comments I’ve had on this topic over the last year or so since getting Bob – all of which commented on the difficulties of getting a recumbent bike uphill…although, as far as I’m aware, none of the people making these comments has ever actually ridden a recumbent.

Another club member asked me yesterday how it was going uphill on a recumbent compared to an upright bike, but if truth be told, I really can’t remember.  I know it’s only 11 months since I got Bob, but in that time I’ve become so comfortable riding him that I really can’t imagine ever going back to an upright bike again. While I know I rode uprights for most of my life, the experience has receded into the past with an astonishing rapidity. All I can really say is that I don’t particularly like hills any more than the next leisure rider who isn’t a masochist, and I don’t remember finding hills particularly easy on my old upright either. Where there may be a difference is in weight.  Bob may be many things (that are good, naturally), but he’s definitely not a lightweight speed machine.  In fairness to Bob I should add that neither am I!

Having said that, I do know that over the course of our 40 odd mile ride yesterday, while not right at the front of our group most of the time, neither was I at the back. Out of the 26 riders there I had no problem holding my own on the way up any of the hills we tackled – although true to one bit of recumbent stereotyping, I was pretty damn fast on the way down the other side!  In fact as we climbed each upward slope, the one thought that consoled me was that whatever goes up… has to come down again.

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Adventures with punctures in Welham Green… and Little Berkhamstead…and at home!

I’m particularly interested in finding a decent route from Barnet to the River Lea in order to work out a decent ride which can take in Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City, Hertford, Ware then down the River Lea and back home again in a giant loop.  The only gap cycling-wise is any obvious way across from the Lea to Barnet. This Saturday, with that in mind,  Talia, who I  met at Barnet Cyclists, and I got together to go for a ride in that general direction.

Talia has considerably greater knowledge of the area than I do and she did warn me that whatever route we took, it would be hilly.  Seeing the route I’d got in mind she told me that at least one of the roads was pretty busy.  Well that slowed my enthusiasm a little.  Then she pointed out that if we went up Sustrans Route 12 up to Welham Green we could turn off east and head towards Broxbourne, rather than Enfield Lock. That way we could not only join the River Lea at a point where it was rather pretty, we could also stop off at a really good pub she knew for lunch. Well, that sealed it and shortly after 12.00 pm we set out.

We made our way towards Sustrans Route 12 which would take us under the M25, past South Mimms Service Station and out into the Hertfordshire countryside, and here’s where our problems began.   In the lead up to the underpass all the hedges had been trimmed and while it was great not having to dodge nettles, the hedge trimming had left the path strewn with sharp things which stick into rubber.  As I cycled beneath the M25 I realised that Bob didn’t sound quite right. We stopped in the open on the other side of the motorway where I found a twig sticking out to the side of the rear wheel. What was keeping it stuck there was a thorn, not particularly large or fearsome, but one which was totally embedded in the tyre.  Despite trying to manouevre it out carefully, the twig snapped off leaving just a tiny bit of the end of the thorn sticking out (NOTE – add tweezers to repair kit!!!!!).  Eventually we got it out (or so we thought).  There didn’t seem to be a problem so on we went – and a few yards around the corner found another cyclist who had exactly the same problem just completing his puncture repair. Thinking I’d got away with it, we carried on, but by the time we got to Welham Green it was plain that my tyre was, gradually, going down.  There was no denying the fact that I did have a puncture. What to do next?

Well Talia has never repaired a puncture, but luckily I have….about 25 years ago!  I knew the theory, could barely remember the practice, had never taken Bob’s rear wheel off, was unfamiliar with the mechanical arrangements with the chain tensioner, but what the hell. Could it really be that difficult?  Am I a real cyclist?  And if I can’t fix a puncture now, what the hell will I do if I get one in the middle of nowhere if I do the coast-to-coast? To cut a long story short,  I put in a new inner tube and kept the old one to patch up later.  It took about 2 hours at the end of which my hands were covered in oil (NOTE – add disposable gloves to repair kit!) but Bob was fixed and we set off in search of an overdue and very well earned lunch after all our efforts.

Talia was right about it being hilly. And while that wouldn’t normally be a problem, it was today.  The hills weren’t particularly steep or even long, but my legs definitely weren’t feeling as they normally do and I began to wonder if I was starting to go down with the cold that my daughter had passed on to my wife in the last couple of days.  In previous weeks rides of 30-40 miles – no problem – but now?  Even after a rest I’d start off OK, and then about 5 seconds into an upward slope my energy vanished like water down a plughole and my legs were screaming for a rest.  The countryside was beautiful, but I’d have enjoyed the rolling slopes much more if I was full of my usual vigour  and hadn’t just spent 2 hours fixing a puncture!

We reached the pub in a little village inhabited by 4x4s only to see the windows looking suspiciously dark and only 2 cars in the car park (not 4x4s).  Talia checked the opening hours on the door to find that it shut at 2.00 pm on Saturdays.  Oh well, onwards and upwards… unfortunately.

“Lunch” eventually came sometime after 4.00 pm when we arrived in Little Berkhamstead.  As it was still sunny, we were torn between the promise of homemade bread and butter pudding from the village shop, and the lure of the pub opposite – the pub won out!  It was one of those gastro-pubs – really good food, albeit with prices to match.  I’m hardly one for deserts normally, but having polished off a large plate of pasta I did manage a sticky toffee pudding as well.  By the time we finished it was getting on for 5.00 pm and with the sun getting decidely lower in the sky it was definitely time to be turning around and going back.  So much for the expedition to the River Lea!  As we wheeled our bikes back to the road I noticed that Bob wasn’t sounding quite right.  I leaned down to check the back wheel… flat as a pancake!  It was really strange – the tyre had stayed up for well over an hour of cycling with no sign of a problem – but after 45 minutes chained to a fence it had gone straight down!  Without lights suitable for country roads and a strong awareness of how low the sun was getting, we decided to just make for the nearest station at Brookman’s Park.

I pumped up the rear wheel on Bob and we set off, Talia behind to keep an eye on me and make sure we didn’t get separated if I started falling behind.  I had been telling myself that my lack of energy may have just been a lack of food and fuel.  Unfortunately it wasn’t any better after we’d eaten and I started going downhill fairly quickly, even as some of the roads insisted on going uphill. On top of that Bob didn’t feel quite right, and it wasn’t just the tyre pressure. On checking Bob’s rear wheel we found it wasn’t aligned properly.  It wasn’t a huge amount out, but enough to make a difference! Eventually we got to Brookmans Park Station where, after having to lug the bikes up and down a fair number of steps, we were able to get the train back.

When I got back, my first reaction regarding Bob was to take him to a shop and get somebody else to fix him.  I just couldn’t face going through all that again.  But as I lay down to sleep at 11.00 pm I had second thoughts.  If I really want to be doing things like the coast-to-coast next year I need to be able to fix something as basic as a puncture myself, and with that resolution firmly in mind I slept… until 10.25 am.  Given that I normally sleep for 7 hours and then get up pretty much like clockwork, and I was still feeling fairly grotty, something was definitely wrong.  However after a couple of hours waking up I decided to get on and do what I could to sort out Bob, starting with finding out exactly what had caused the second puncture.

I rigged Bob up on a makeshift stand in the garage and found that the rear wheel does come out without having to remove the chain tensioner – ah, the fun we had with that yesterday! I got the tyre off, the inner tube out and started by making sure it wasn’t a leaky valve that was the problem… it wasn’t!  There was another puncture – so back to looking at the tyre.  In Welham Green both Talia and I had checked it over twice… each.  Today I went over it millimetre by millimetre and eventually found the smallest little point sticking through on the inside that you could possibly imagine!  No doubt about what was causing the punctures.

Too deep in to extract from the outside and not enough sticking through that could pulled through, even with tweezers.  I was reduced to trying to break up what was left with the tweezers in my hand. Small bits came through with a certain amount of manipulation and scraping until eventually nothing sharp seemed to be coming through.  Given the lack of availability of a replacement tyre locally I decided to risk putting it back on along with my original inner tube, now repaired.  Getting the wheel aligned took a little time, and I’m not sure it’s quite right even now, but as I rode up and down the street it seemed to be OK. The real test has been in the hours following my riding the street – after a couple of hours I went and checked the rear wheel and…. it’s still inflated.  After all the hours I’ve spent on it this weekend…. phew!!!!!

So this weekend I’ve re-learned repairing a puncture, and also (on Sunday) the easy way to release V brakes when you want to remove a tire, as well as how to get Bob’s rear wheel off… and back on again!  While these aren’t the sort of lessons you particularly want to learn on a ride, better done on a local ride than on holiday and in the middle of nowhere.  As I write this I’m still feeling a bit grotty as the evening wears on, but I am somewhat more confident about my ability to handle something like that again in the futre.

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My first ride with Barnet Cyclists

A couple of weeks ago I met up with Barnet Cyclists for the first time.  So far my recreational rides have been very much on my own – exploring the countryside north of Barnet and building up my stamina for longer rides.  I’d not really thought too much about riding with a group, but then after I joined the London Cycling Campaign I started getting emails from Jo telling me about meetings and rides.  The first one I was able to make was Sunday 2nd September, one of their “Turn Up and Go” (TUAG) rides with Macdonalds in North Finchley as the meeting place.

I turned up in reasonable time, went in and asked the group sitting near the door with all their cycling gear on if they were Barnet Cyclists – like there was anybody else there at that time on a Sunday morning!  My question got the answer it deserved from somebody with a similar sense of humour to me – “No” – but said with a smile.  After introductions my next question about where we were going was met with “We haven’t decided yet – has anybody got any ideas?”  To cut a long story short, a lady called Alison took the lead on a ride which took us out to Shenley for morning coffee, St Albans for a pub lunch, and then back towards Finchley via the services at South Mimms for afternoon tea.

All this apparent obsession with food and drink is easily explained by the club’s coat of arms and Latin motto.


As we supped our tea in the afternoon I asked what the Latin motto said.  As it turned out there was a dispute over the actual translation as two Latin scholars were involved.  I offered to get them a third different opinion by running the motto past my wife.  In the end it was revealed that whatever the Latin actually said, the intention behind it was to say “No open café knowingly passed”.

Whatever the Latin motto may say, the reality is that we did a fair amount of pedalling, covering about 30 miles over the day and at a fairly gentle pace – this is decidedly not a racing club.  It certainly put my mind to rest about being able to keep up, especially on hills.

Turning up with Bob provided a real degree of interest as I was the only person on a recumbent and this was clearly a bit of a novelty.  Some members had seen them around and read about them, and there was definite interest in how I’d get on with hills given the reputation that recumbents have in this regard. As it happens I didn’t have any problem with hills, partly because the group was going at a pretty slow pace at times – slower the further uphill we went.  Making sure I stayed within the group meant that I just geared down and didn’t push as quickly or as hard as I would have done on my own.  In fact this helped provide me with one of my greatest lessons of the day – going slowly with minimal effort and regular breaks meant that I covered 30 miles and didn’t feel particularly tired at the end of a very pleasant day.  Well that’s opened my eyes to the possibilities of being able to manage touring!

With a starting group of 17 I’ll say now that I certainly don’t remember everybody’s names, but I certainly don’t mind going back and finding out again.

Upsides to cycling with a group? 

  • Going places I didn’t know about and probably wouldn’t have found – or not for a long time!
  • Meeting new people, making new friends
  • Not having to worry about where we’re going because somebody else is leading the group
  • Being able to relax and enjoy the ride
  • Having my natural enthusiasm for pedalling restrained a little by staying within the group meant I learned how much further I can go by taking my time and having regular breaks


  • Not getting to know the area quite so well because I’m not having to pay so much attention to the route – too busy socialising on the ride!
  • Taking photos on the way isn’t easy in a group. You can’t just stop off for a minute to get great photos of the scenery
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From Barnet to Welwyn Garden City…and back

As we get into September I’m becoming all too aware of how few weekends we’re likely to have left this year with the sort of sunny warm weather forecast for today so, very unusually for a Saturday, I set my alarm so I could get out in good time this morning.  Despite the best laid plans, that still only meant 8.30 am, but that’s so much better than it would have been otherwise.

After stretching my legs with Barnet Cyclists last week, and my trip to St Albans a couple of weeks before that, I’m gaining both in  confidence and desire to cycle slightly longer distances and today I decided to go beyond Hatfield towards Welwyn Garden City and possibly on to Hertford. The main constraint on me being a 2.30 pm appointment for an eye test in Barnet. My wife did ask if I thought it was a good thing to be cycling on the roads before I had my eyes tested… ha, ha, ha darling!

For the third time in recent weeks I found myself on Sustrans Route 12.  It doesn’t usually take me too long to learn a route and, while it’s generally pretty well signposted, there a couple of places where it’s easy to go astray.  Another couple of runs and I don’t think it will be a problem, even around Hatfield, even with gates like this which I found at the end of St Audreys Close.

"Bike friendly" entrance to playing field and Oxleys Wood in Hatfield

“Bike friendly” entrance to Oxleys Wood in Hatfield

Now I’m sure it’s terribly bike friendly for your standard upright, but there’s no way Bob can go through that gap. This time I just dug out the map, turned around back up to Travellers Lane where I turned right – on until I found Hare Lane, into Deerswood Avenue before rejoining Route 12 on Badger Way.

I soon came to the crucial point where Sustrans routes meet.

Which way to go

Which way to go

The last time I came to this point it was a left turn to St Albans.  Today it was the Great North Way towards Welwyn Garden City and into what for me is new territory.

Coming out of Hatfield I realised I’d shot past Hatfield House which may have been a good point for a break, but then just a little further down the road I saw a sign for Mill Green Museum.  Not being in a particular rush I crossed over into Mill Green Lane and followed the gentle slope down towards the museum.  Even before I reached it there was the pleasure of hearing the sound of water and leaning over the railings to look at the fish in the water below.

By Mill Green Museum in Hatfield

By Mill Green Museum in Hatfield

Looking forward to seeing this working mill in action I made my way to the gates to find out that… it’s closed on Saturdays.  I’ll just have to make sure I cycle out that way on a Sunday next time! Oh well, onwards and northwards.

Coming into Welwyn Garden City I faced another meeting of routes.  It was so tempting to turn right and head off towards Hertford and Ware, but I had been cycling for a while now and a break was definitely due. I was also well aware that I’d need sufficient time to get back to Barnet for my appointmet with the optician. So that decided it – all I needed to do was cycle the 3/4 of a mile to the town centre and get a cup of tea at somewhere that wasn’t Starbucks, Cafe Nero or Coffee Republic.  Easier said tha done! Luckily I did find somewhere that absolutely ideal. I think it was called Cafe Trio which is clearly run by somebody with a love of Jack Vettriano’s paintings.  Sainsbury’s was opposite with bike racks in full view of the cafe window.  Friendly service, decent food and drink – I know where I’ll be going back to next time I’m passing through!

While there are parts of the route which go through urban areas or alongside busy roads, there are other parts which are quiet and rural which is where the most nature treats occur.  Apart from the ubiquitous bunnies scuttling off at my approach, and the fish near the mill, there are other unexpected joys in the most unlikely places such as this view from a tunnel underneath the M25!

  1. The view from under the M25
  2. The view from underneath the M25
 And to cap it all, just as I was making my way up towards Dancers Lance, the most gorgeous dragonfly, all bright greens and blues. I stopped to get a better look, and after trying to keep up with his rapid, darting flight I suddenly found it hovering at chest height just a couple of feet in front of me for a few seconds.  Moments like that are definitely worth cycling 30 miles for! 
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Using Sustrans routes for the first time – Barnet to St Albans via Hatfield

It was only in the last week or so of July that I really felt as though my bike legs were beginning to really come back after my 18 month post-accident layoff.  While I’ve focused on building up my strength for commuting, there’s definitely more to life than ploughing up and down, to and from central London every weekday, and besides, I’ve always had a hankering for trying some longer distance cycling to places that I’d never see otherwise.

With the additional incentive of a couple of books of bike routes that I was given on my birthday, a small binge in the Sustrans online shop, and checking out some of the longer distance routes like the Coast to Coast, I felt ready to take on…bits of south Hertfordshire.  Well you’ve got to start somewhere!

This weekend I decided to stretch my legs somewhat by undertaking my longest ever ride going from my home in Barnet to St Albans via Hatfield and back again largely using Sustrans routes.

The plan had been to set off early on Saturday morning, but with an unexpected visitor on Friday and a consquent late night… I also wondered if I was being a little ambitious given that I’d cycled 25 miles to and from work the day before, but I still had the words of Graham Obree ringing in my ears from the Cycling Show when asked about the secret of success.

“Don’t do what you think you can do –
do more than you think you can do”

As I don’t recall ever having done a ride of more than about 25 miles, this journey which was about 38 miles was definitely more.

In the end I got away and quickly faced my first challenge – the High Road up to High Barnet. I’d never cycled up there on Bob before, not least as the first time I tried, shortly after acquiring Bob, I was exhausted just by the approach.  Also, given that this was the very beginning of my longest ever ride I decided to take it easy and just hop off and walk if I felt it was getting a bit much. What I discovered is how much a few weeks have changed things as I pedalled straight up the hill, past the station and on to the lights at Barnet Church at the top. As my starter for the ride it couldn’t really get any better!

After that it was nice and flat for a bit as I made my way out of Barnet, past the Common and into Hadley Highstone before turning left onto Kitts End Road where the  houses soon vanished to be replaced by a view of open fields stretching out northwards.  After that it was left into Dancers Hill Road and then right into Dancers Lane where I had well and truly joined Route 12 of the Sustrans National Cycle Network.

Until this point I’d only experienced Sustrans at a distance, reading about it, seeing the website, getting some stuff from the shop.  This was about using part of the National Cycle Network to get from A to B and the next couple of miles gave me a good taste of what to expect. What I found was a route which was largely traffic free – and where I was sharing the road with vehicles it was on very quiet roads.  Only a small part of the journey wasn’t on  tarmac – a section in the run up towards the services at South Mimms, and I wouldn’t care to do that bit after rain!  Of course the quality of the tarmac varied somewhat and some sections were definitely better than others, but being traffic free… It’s amazing the difference it makes being able to cycle along without having to constantly look over your shoulder to check on motor vehicles coming up behind you – so much more relaxing, and the ride consequently much more enjoyable.

The signposting of the route also made a big difference.  Most of the way it was great with the vast majority of junctions clearly signposted, so finding my way over large stretches of the route was simple. Not having to stop on a regular basis to check my map was a real pleasure.  Only a couple of times around Hatfield did I have any problems, otherwise it was pretty much straight pedalling all the way.

After my worries about how I’d find the ride after my commuting the day before I was pleased to find myself still feeling very fresh after 10 miles when I was in Hatfield. I have a suspicion that the Sustrans route took the long way through / around Hatfield, but I have to say it was quiet.  As ever I met somebody who was interested in Bob.  She was wheeling a mountain bike along which she’d just bought from a friend for £40.  Given that it looked something of a state and didn’t have a front brake, I think she may have paid too much for it!

Apart from the conversation the Highlights of Hatfield on this journey included an amazing bridge was straightforward to cycle up on one side, but then on the other it was like going down a helter skelter as the bike path spiralled round and down on what seemed to be an endless loop.  It was fun cycling back up there later on the way back too!  Old Hatfield was nice too, although unfortunately at one point the Sustrans signposting sort of vanished and I had recourse to the map – with better luch on the way out to St Albans than on my way back later when I really did go a bit awol in a couple of places. Still, the old town really was… quite old and picturesque.

The Eight Bells Pub in old Hatfield

The Eight Bells Pub in old Hatfield

However there was also a downside to the route for me.  At a couple of points there were gates designed to admit pedestrians and cyclists to a playing field / playground area.  Unfortunately the gates only admitted conventionally shaped bikes – ie, not Bob.  At the first one there was a ladygate arrangement which enabled me to get Bob through by putting him up on his back wheel and manoevering him around.  At the exit however I wasn’t so lucky and there was no option but to lift him over the fence.  If there’s one thing that can be said about Bob… he’s not  lightweight.  Nor is he designed for easy lifting – after all, why would anybody want to lift a bike, it’s got wheels on!  At least there weren’t any similar obstacles for the remainder of the journey.

Going from Hatfield to St Albans was simplicity itself once I switched onto Sustrans Route 61.  The section between the two towns is known as the Albanway and runs on the route of a disused railway line.

Old railway platform on the Albanway

Old railway platform on the Albanway

It has to be said that some parts of the route had a better surface than others, so thank goodness Bob has good suspension.  What made it particularly worthwhile however was how quiet and beautiful it was.  After all these years the trees growing up alongside have arched over the path creating almost 6 miles of a green tunnel with the occasional beautiful view coming into view.

View from the Albanway

View from the Albanway

Eventually we reached St Albans and I made my way into town to take care of the essentials – in this instance, lunch!  I found some reasonably sound looking railings to secure Bob and while he rested I went off for lunch in the Cathedral Cafe.

Bob outside the Cathedral in St Albans

Bob outside the Cathedral in St Albans

As I’d cycled so far I decided to take my time over lunch and have a look around the Cathedral before setting out back on what was becoming an increasingly hot day.  Eventually we did set off back, taking a little more time to appreciate some of the public artwork that can be found on the Albanway.

Public art on the Albanway

Public art on the Albanway

On the way back I got a little lost again – first in Hatfield, and then coming through Welham Green where the Sustrans sign was concealed by road works.  Now having the Sustrans app on my phone was great – I put it onto GPs lock and it showed me exactly where I was.  Unfortunately it didn’t seem to indicate quite what direction I was facing  and so, after leaping to the wrong conclusion I proceeded to cycle the wrong way.  After a couple of minutes I realised that this wasn’t working and recalled that I’d got my compass packed in my bag. Thank goodness for that as I soon found that I’d read the map while facing in the wrong direction. Once that was rectified we were quickly on our way.  Given that by this stage the battery on my phone was running low I have two lessons for the future.

  1. Make sure I always have a paper copy of the route I’m using
  2. and a compass to point me in the right direction

Once again my time in the orienteering club at Liverpool Polytechnic in the 1980’s proved its worth!

Eventually I got home after taking in plenty of beautiful scenery on a 38.5 mile ride – something of an improvement on my previous longest ride of about 25 miles.

Field near Water End about to be harvested

Field near Water End about to be harvested

 like something of a spreading of wings.  I’ve had the experience of two Sustrans routes, the joy of cycling, the pleasure of seeing places I’d not have done otherwise – and here I’m thinking more of the views en route rather than the destinations.  In fact that sums it up nicely in a way – the point was the journey rather than the destination.  Yes I enjoyed the cathedral in St Albans… and I enjoyed the journey and the exploration even more.

Naturally my mind is skipping onto to other, possibly longer rides in the future.  Having a target to work towards?  I’d love to to the Coast to Coast (C2C) route from Morcombe to Bridlington – next year maybe?  Let’s see.

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Are you one of those paralympians?

Is this the face of a paralympian?…..No

As Bob and I were returning home from work on Friday we paused to let two women over the zebra crossing at the junction of Benwell Road and Drayton Park. “Cool bike” said one as they crossed over.  Just as they reached the pavement and Bob and I started to move off, that comment was followed up by a question – “Are you one of those paralympians?”


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