Tales from the road – part 4

18th July 2011 by

As many of you may have gathered, every day on tour is a little bit different. Writing tour journal entries is one of those tasks that seems quick and easy in theory, but when it actually comes down to doing it, well… easier said than done. Between cycling days, play performances, cob building, swimming in streams, cooking, workshops, crazy weather, bug bites, minor injuries (not always bicycle related), camping, hula hooping, bicycle mishaps and mountain passes, our days are jam packed and full of adventure! And I feel this is why the tour journal is so difficult; to try to sum up a week on tour is like trying to navigate through Manchester using only an OS landranger map (scale of 1:50 000). You have to stick to the main roads and it often lacks a lot of important details (we speak from experience!). As such, I feel it is worthwhile to give you all a more in-depth (city-sized, if you will) look at one of our cycle days.

Though in general we have been very fortunate weather-wise (I came prepared for rain all day, every day), our second cycling day in the Lake District brought some discouraging conditions: heavy rain and uphill towards a mountain. After an hour’s delay in feeble attempt to wait out the rain (forecasted all day), we set out only to discover about five minutes in that a set of brakes had come loose. After addressing this problem (still raining), we set off for the second time, now two hours later than our planned departure time, and only about 0.1/35 miles complete. Still recovering from taking the trailer up a mountain two days prior, my legs were not very happy on the steady incline up another, but with three of my lovely teammates supporting me with a push and a cheer here and there, we finished the climb on the winding, wet roads safe and sound. The only casualty: Meghan’s pump, which was run over by two coach busses. Ironically, once at the top of the climb we also realised her tyre was very low. And there we were, stopped again only a few miles into the day, cold, soaked, two of us trying to find a pump to rectify the tyre situation, one of us holding three bikes and the trailer. But fear not! It was downhill from there! Well, for another 10 miles or so.

After a lovely rendez-vous with the rest of the group at the Lakeland Pedlar wholefood bicycle cafe in Keswick, where we stocked up on chocolate tiffins, coffee, hi-vis vests and chain lube, we continued our journey to Cockermouth. After much debate between the high traffic A road, a hilly B road with a near vertical mountain pass, and the cycle route with a few miles of off-road trail, we decided that the cycle path would probably be our safest bet. Our first glimpse of this path was not encouraging: far too narrow for fully loaded panniers (let alone a trailer), way too many large rocks and gravel for our slicks, and a little too steep for our liking. But, we couldn’t go around it, couldn’t go under it, had to go over it (pushing our bikes). And that is how my first experience hiking with a bicycle began. Luckily the rain had stopped, and the path was indeed only a few miles long, and with everyone taking turns pushing the trailer, we arrived at the “meadow of heaven” as Erin dubbed it, and took a nice sunny break on the top of the small mountain, enjoying the lovely view that the steep climb had just afforded us. To our delight, we rolled on to a nicely paved windy country road (the BEST kind), with Holly yelling “HELLOOO LOOOVAAAA!” in her charming Aussie accent, and it was, literally, all downhill from there.

Peace and bicycle grease,

Susanna and the rest of the Northern Soul Cycle Tour team

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