Bonk(the)- def. cycling fatigue

Wylem to the North Pennines - My first bone fide day in the saddle.

I should explain that while I have over the last two years commuted regularly on bikes be they Boris, Brompton or road, I am a complete beginner when it comes to cycle touring.

Some slight experience was had in a 2010  London-to-Brighton sponsored ride which took me 10 hours, and included three flat tires before i'd left the M25, a slipped chain and eventually a complete breakdown of the bike meaning I entered Brighton on what felt like an undersized girls clown bike kindly lent to me by the race mechanics. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of my abilities...

Nonetheless the first day's ride despite the early morning delays was nothing short of a delight. A watery sun pierced the late morning fog and glimmered of the Tyne forcing me to ride along singing cliche's happily.

Excuse fingers! 

Early morning amateur hour...

Abraham Lincoln is credited with having said that if given three hours to chop a tree he would spend the first two sharpening his axe.

The extended period between my leaving drinks (16th of February) and my departure for Hadrian's Wall (16th of March!) owed less to such lofty pronouncements on the importance of good planning than to my own slothful nature, compounded by no little apprehension that I wasn't ready with some visa frustration thrown in for good measure.

Nevertheless with a parental bon voyage and a quick cycle from Loughton to Bethnal Green I found myself in a now empty bath house flat, double checking my kit and eagerly awaiting an 06:15 train.

Awake at 05:00 and away by 05:15 I took the city road to Kings Cross I was feeling smugly ahead of time until i was rudely awoken from my complacency by a careening refuse truck which overtook and the cut-me-off hitting my front right pannier and sending me sprawling onto the pre-dawn tarmac.


What am I doing?

I'm heading off into the sunrise on my bicycle. Day-dreams of leaving the real world behind for a while and going where the wheels rolled crystallized at the end on 2012 into a determination to head east on a bike and see where i ended up


Like many people I found myself dissatisfied with my lot and moreover with the person which I had become. The comfortable rut into which I had run myself was taking it's toll. All in all despite having a good job, great friends a supportive family and a lovely home I just wasn't happy.

Lacking dependents and with limited commitments I found myself able, and with the romantic lure of the road leading who knows where calling, the question booming in my ears was:



A much postponed preparatory tour of Britain starts in Wylem (Hadrian's Wall) from where I would wend my way, via the North Penines, to Wetherby, over the Moors to Manchester via Marsden then onto Liverpool before traversing the Wirral into Wales heading for Llanbister in Powys.

A hop skip and a jump to the Wye Valley would then deliver me into Herefordshire where i could detour south to Bridgewater and visit the shop who built my bike before racing cross country back to Essex either via Portsmouth or Milton Keynes.

From there the picture becomes rather less distinct. "Go east young man."

A broad brush stroke plan for the continent is forming which would see me follow the border between France and the low counties as far as Strasbourg before heading through Germany's Black Country and the start of a climb up into Switzerland which will eventually see me over the Alps into northern Italy heading for Slovenia and the Istrian coastline before traversing the Balkans perhaps through Macedonia to reach Turkey and exotic Constantinople.

Beyond Turkey predictions become even less possible as visa's, time of arrival, political climate and most importantly my own motivation and whims all come into play. there does however exist an idle ambition of perhaps making it all the way to see my sister in Sydney.

This may mean crossing going Turkey - Iran - Pakistan - [Karkoum highway] - China - SE Asia [boat/plane] Darwin - Sydney. But with so much road to travel between me and there I feel like a fraud even discussing it.


Now. I set off for Wylem on Saturday 16th of March and as of the 25th of March i am happily ensconced with my Aunt in the Welsh Hills. I haven't budgeted to set amount of time to this journey although 14 months is something I've bandied about when discussing possible duration. We shall see.

Consider the scene set. An update on my first 10 days will follow shortly.