Cycling Edinburgh to London Day 2

July 6, 2018
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Edinburgh Castle >>> Colchester Castle

An early (very early) morning start as the sleeper train pulls into Edinburgh Waverly first thing in the morning. We get the bikes unloaded and head up in to the old down to meet Louisa for breakfast at one of my old favourite cafes. I miss my days living in Edinburgh at working at the Informatics Forum.

Still, we can’t hang about too long: we have to cycle to England today. Sounds like a long way when it’s put like that doesn’t it. Eeek.

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Cycling Edinburgh to London

July 2, 2018

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Have we forgotten anything important?

I didn’t manage to get out on the bike last year (2017), and as Moz was busy with impending mini-Moz, a trip this  year was looking pretty unlikely until Micha suggested visiting from America. After looking at the map for a bit, we relucantly decided that getting to the Scottish islands from Essex would be a little tricky (and expensive) , and settled on a route along the South coast from Cornwall to my new home in Colchester. The plan was to take the overnight train from London to Penzance, as the sleeper trains give you more time to board, sort out putting the bikes somewhere secure, etc. Sadly, this plan was quickly dismissed as GWR didn’t have any tickets (and possible no actual trains), so we turned to Scotrail for plan B: cycle to London, take the Caledonian Sleeper to Edinburgh, then cycle home!

 

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A more adventurous cycling tour! – pt VIII

June 10, 2018

Ok, two years later and I never did finish writing this up! As Micha is due to arrive tomorrow morning for our 2018 trip (Edinburgh -> Colchester), I thought it might be a good idea to finally finish off this last chapter of the 2016 trip.

Friday 27th May

After climbing up a mountain on our “day off”, we took it a little easier today and made 56miles to Island Pond in Brighton, Essex (Vermont). American place names are amusing.

We were in the back half of the trip so as usual, I’m not bothering to stop and take as many photographs.

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Seems a strange place for a school bus to end up.

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A more adventurous cycling tour! – pt VII

February 5, 2017

Thursday 26th May

Today is our day off cycling. And Micha wants to climb up a mountain. Not just any mountain. Like a humble little Scottish Monroe or something. But an actual mountain. Mount Washington is considerably larger than Ben Nevis. And my legs are already tired from all that cycling. Oh well. Guess it’s time to get up and cycle to the foot of the mountain.

Sadly, we're not taking the train.

Sadly, we’re not taking the train.

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A more adventurous cycling tour! – pt VII

October 27, 2016

Wednesday 25th May

What a luxury, sleeping in a proper bed. And then having a reasonably leisurely breakfast at a cafe (the Moose Muck!) before heading off. Only 60 miles to cover today, although we are heading into the White Mountains National Forest. Mountains. Hm.

Heading towards those there mountains.

Heading towards those there mountains.

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A more adventurous cycling tour! – pt VI

October 11, 2016

Tuesday 24th May

Early morning.

Early morning.

Everything is starting to hurt. Sleeping on a wooden platform has after all that hard work yesterday means I feel pretty much like an inflexible log. I suppose getting everything back down the hill to the road will help me loosen up.


Ah yes, the path down…

The path is the stream. I had forgotten about that. All my limbs ache.

The path is the stream. I had forgotten about that. All my limbs ache.

Luckily, our bikes are were they left them. Although I suppose the chance of them getting stolen was minimal. We left them in the middle of a forest in rural Canada half way up a stream. Just before it got dark. So I guess luck had nothing to do with it.

The fox cubs look on with amusement as we cart out bags down the hill.

The fox cubs look on with amusement as we cart out bags down the hill.

Once we had carried the bags back down to the bikes, we then of course had to carry everything else down to the nearest road. Which turned out to look more like a ski piste than a road. But at least it was cycle-able on our bikes. Although I was pretty paranoid about blowing a tire.

All in all, a slower start than we would have liked given we had another 60 miles to cover today. South over the border and into the U S of A! But first, breakfast! Except, there’s no sign of any cafes in Notre-Dame-des-Bois. We sit and admire the  funky church (they all have metal roofs over here – very bling) ; unhappily ponder the uphill slog back out of the village; eat a handful of trail mix, and then get ready to set off.

Looks like it is going to be another sunny day

Looks like it is going to be another sunny day

Turns out the route wasn’t quite as bad as it looked. Once the initial uphill had been done, we had miles of reasonable flat (with some good downhills) through the forest. Felt like the road was never-ending at times. Sadly, these back roads in Canada appear to be mainly unpaved, and so skidding (given all the weight on the pannier rack) was a worry. I dread to think what our stopping distance would have been if we had gone full pelt down some of the hills!

Miles and miles of this!

Miles and miles of this!

and a photo with me in it!

and a photo with me in it!

We reached Chatierville around noon and had some lunch. I think I was treated to some authentic North American cuisine: the stodgyiest pizza I have ever eaten. I was pretty hungry though. And gave it plenty of time to digest before tackling the hill up to the border crossing.

Which has to rank as one of the hardest things I have done. I guess I’m not super fit, but the combination of the steep hill, midday heat, no shelter, no option to stop and avoid the midday sun (as we needed to make it to Colbrook by sunset) and all the luggage was tough. I had to stop a couple of times to let my heart rate slow down.

Got there in the end though.

Yes, I think I'll spend a little while resting here.

Yes, I think I’ll spend a little while resting here.

The view back down into Chatierville and Quebec

The view back down into Chatierville and Quebec

While the hardest part of getting out of Canada was getting up a steep hill, getting into America was a little tricky. It doesn’t look like this border crossing gets much traffic. Or any traffic. It took about half an hour for them to ok my passport and during that time, apart from the two Homeland Security guys, we didn’t see anybody else. I guess they don’t get much in the way of non-American or non-Canadians crossing. Especially on bicycle. And they seemed a little confused by my answer of when I would be leaving the United States (in three days time, but then I’ll be flying back to the US again, in order to then get a flight back home). Eventually they charged me $10 or so to staple a piece of paper into my passport. Time to hit the road again!

And into America. New Hampshire to be precise.

"Live free or die" - I guess we're no longer in Canada then.

“Live free or die” – I guess we’re no longer in Canada then.

Cycling in this corner of New Hampshire is pretty great – it’s mostly all gently downhill from the Canadian border, and there’s literally no traffic. Hours (and hours) later, we reach a trading post!

Very quaint. I wonder if they do ice cream?

Very quaint. I wonder if they do ice cream?

Eek!

Eek!

Apparently we're getting close to town.

Apparently we’re getting close to town.

 

Colbrook. And I’m knackered.

Yup. this place should hopefully have beer. No need to go any further.

Yup. this place should hopefully have beer. No need to go any further.

Boy am I glad to finally get a shower (as there weren’t any at Mt Megantic). Two days worth of sweat, dust and suncream. Lovely.

View from outside the motel. That box of a building is the pub.

View from outside the motel. That box of a building is the pub.

Venturing outside after a wash and a rest, and we go for a walk around the town before food (and beer!)

This place is pretty remote.

This place is pretty remote.

Ok, I suggest we stay here. And drink beer, eat food, and have more beer.

Ok, I suggest we stay here. And drink beer, eat food, and have more beer.


A more adventurous cycling tour! – pt V

September 14, 2016

Monday 23rd May

Up early!

Up early!

This morning, we needed to decide if we were going to head to Mont-Megantic National Park, or b-line back across the Canadian-America border. Camping in the park was on our original plan, but I had realise that it was another 70+mile to get to the park from last night’s camping spot, and then tomorrow would be yet another 70+mile ride to get to Colebrook. Whereas, if we went straight to Colebrook today, it would only be 60miles.

Hey little fellow. Good morning to you too!

Hey little fellow. Good morning to you too


We decided to postpone the decision until after morning coffee in a nearby town.

Maybe deciding to cycle another 70 miles will be easier after some coffee.

Maybe deciding to cycle another 70 miles will be easier after some coffee.

As expected, after several coffees, I decided that we should go for the long option. Sure, I’m a little worried my knee might give up. But what was the point of all that exercise if not to allow me to make potentially bad decisions? Onwards!

No Micha, we can't tkae a detour to Fromagerie La Station. Yes, it does sound good, but we have to head off in the opposite direction.

No Micha, we can’t take a detour to Fromagerie La Station. Yes, it does sound good, but we have to head off in the opposite direction.

Very quickly, my chief concern turned away from my knee, and to making sure I was drinking enough water. I’m really not used to doing so much exercise in 30degree heat, and we simply don’t have the luxury of seeking shade during the middle of the day! Onwards!

I forget which river this is. But doesn't it look nice.

I forget which river this is. But doesn’t it look nice.

We were managing to just about go fast enough that we’d pass through a town or village every hour or so, and I took every opportunity to refill my water bottles. After reaching Cookshire-Eaton, the route basically was: cycle east for a long long time and don’t stop until you reach Notre-Dame-des-Bois.

One of the rare times in which I end up ahead and have to wait for Micha. Usually it's the other way around.

One of the rare times in which I end up ahead and have to wait for Micha. Usually it’s the other way around.

More road!

More road!

Sadly this involved quite a lot of up hill. Then a little downhill. And then more uphill. Not least the road up into the last town. Yuck, that was a slog and a half.

I disliked this town, for no reason other than that last uphill.

I disliked this town, for no reason other than that last uphill.

The good news was that we got to the town in the early evening, which should give us enough time to get to the National Park before sunset! It’s going to be a bit of an effort, as I’m feeling really tired by now, but still, we can do it, we can do it!

The light is starting to fade fast

The light is starting to fade fast

Just as we’re starting to relax, as WE ARE ALMOST THERE, we hit a final hurdle. The campsites are in the middle of the forest, and the trail there is, well, more of a trail than a road.

This might be fun on a mountain bike, but not on a heavily loaded touring bike!

This might be fun on a mountain bike, but not on a heavily loaded touring bike!

Time to give up all pretense that we're cycling up this

Time to give up all pretense that we’re cycling up this

After a while, the trail got so hard going that we decided it would be faster to unload the bikes and just carry our bags up to the campsite. Probably a good move, as the sun was starting to set and we were knackered.

However, it was all worth it, as we say a litter of fox cubs!

Awwwww. So cuuuuute

Awwwww. So cuuuuute

In the end, we get the tent up just as it’s getting dark. Cook some food on the stove, and drink some whisky while watching the stars. It’s an incredibly clear sky. Sadly, I’m far too tired to stay up late stargazing. Maybe later in the trip!