Come Friday morning, my bags are packed and Toby is on his way over. One thing is sitting on my mind as I sit on my hams in the kitchen and look over the suddenly obese Barnaba, hands covered in bike grease and nursing a steaming mug of tea, probably my last decent one for a long time. It’s the weight. No-one told me that this bicycle would be so goddamn heavy! I haven’t been able to weigh it, but with all of my gear attached it must be at least 40 kgs. Disrupting my revelry, Toby phones to tell me the inauspicious news, he’s just had his first puncture. Things are not looking good.
That bike has really let herself go...
It was about 12.30 by the time we got going and with it came the first burst of exhilaration from being out on the open road. Despite her girth Barnaba felt amazing; stable, comfortable and eager to please. There’s something bizarre about riding fully loaded, it’s like the effort to get the bicycle going is the most important surge, as once you are rolling the momentum just keeps it going, with your legs simply acting as fleshy, jointed metronomes. This is of course providing you are not climbing a 20% hill, when it suddenly switches in character from the joy of easy riding to something resembling a punishment dreamt up by the wardens of
Rolling into London, finally.
Once we got to the city we visited Brixton cycles, where Iain somehow managed to score a free Brooks titanium saddle, and took the obligatory photo at my symbolic starting point before heading off down towards Liverpool Street for the evening train to Harwich and the overnight ferry to the Hook of Holland. We were greeted on the ferry with good beer (just Heineken made in Holland, where people are apparently more discerning about the quantity of chemicals in their booze) and a pretty great cabin, hanging out for a while with a couple on their first little cycle tour to Holland. We slept like babies for the 5 1/2 hours before the ferry pulled in to dock, sated on beer, food and good old-fashioned exercise. This is the way to travel.
Av. 21.5 kph, Max. 61.2 kph, Time 3.26.53, Dist. 74.01 kms