Tour de UK

Since we started our bike trip throughout the globe we have made frequent trips home. While unusual among the world biking community this came about due to family health issues and a desire to make a regular check in. As it transpires it has not only enabled us to see friends and family but also, I believe, means our appetite and enthusiasm for  travel remains high. Tourism lethargy has not been a problem.

Given my return trips are often packed with visits to Dudley, Edinburgh, Bristol and, in June, Glastonbury, I rarely ride my bike during this time. It feels odd but there is simply no time between dinners, beers, DIY tasks and trip planning. However, this visit would be different. The Tour de France was starting in Yorkshire and having cycled to Alps d’huez to watch the race last year there was only one way to travel to Yorkshire to observe proceedings ….. yep, we would cycle.

Despite falling just after Glastonbury festival we quickly washed our gear and prepared for our trip North. We we’re riding from Dudley to Otley having booked a pitch at the Festival of Cycling, Harewood House. Our friends would meet us there for a weekend we had been planning while back in South East Asia.

We took two days to arrive following a stop over in Macclesfield. Having been off the bike for over a month the first day felt tough and, having climbed an occasional stonker, we set the GPS the next day to minimise ascent. I’d ridden in Yorkshire before! Friends gradually trickled in having arrived from Denmark, Scotland and the South of England. In fact, given some pals had a nine hour drive from London I don’t think it had taken us much longer in travel hours.

Watching the Tour in Yorkshire really was a fabulous experience. The sun was shining (mostly) and crowds came out in force. While many watching were new to the sport and I sense blown away by the speed of the riders the atmosphere was electric, the bunting plentiful and the Yorkshire ales brewed especially for the Tour did justice to this great British craft. Having watched the ceremonial start at Harewood we went to Knaresborough the next day, watching near a house that had been painted like the polka dot jersey. It was unfortunate that the festival did not meet expectation but the location and weekend overall was brilliant. I left on the Monday for a short ride to Harrogate and having caught up with my pals in Otley I would get the train home. Soon we would be leaving for our final trip.

After the tour John and I had gone separate ways…both heading to see family before we would meet again in Colchester before catching a ferry to Denmark. It was the first time either of us would embark on solo cycle tours.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the sense of freedom out there on my own I missed having someone to laugh with as I found myself on an unrideable bridlepath in Yorkshire and then tried to check into two incorrect hotels in Colchester when I arrived the following day. John always checks out final arrangements while I just try and wing it!

So, having met up with my cycle buddy we set the GPS (that required my patience) and rode to Harwich.

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Right now we are riding in Denmark, having taken a wee detour for a wedding, and will be embarking on our final tour for now. So, keep reading and we’ll keep riding. Blogs on bike lanes and country wide cycle culture and our ride home for Christmas coming soon.

Australian reflections

Having left Brisbane at the beginning of March we finally cycled into Adelaide on the 15th May. Riding via Sydney and Melbourne we’ve covered a total of 3291km here in Australia and this has been the country we have spent the longest time in. While we have had a good time overall and our trip to Uluru remains an absolute tour highlight ( thank goodness we decided to go in the end), this has still been our least favourite place to ride.

While there is always debate between drivers and cyclists Australia seems to have the most antagonistic relationship we have witnessed yet, though, as we rode inland from Sydney the attitude vastly improved. The other challenge however, with riding here is distance. As we planned our journey we needed to take into account distance between accommodation and of course determine water and food requirements. We don’t tend to wild camp and while outback scenes seem like what riding through Australia should really feel like, we simply could not take enough food and water to make the best of such routes.

I’ve already noted how I miss history and, while I love the food adventures that often come with travel, here, cheap meals are usually chip based, and chicken schnitzel definitely seem to be order of the day when pubs describe Australian tucker!

Despite this, riding the great ocean road was fabulous and if advising others on riding here this surely is a must do. Since we’ve packed away the bikes we booked tours to Kangaroo Island and up to the Flinders and KI would certainly be good to explore slowly on a bike. I expect Tasmania would be a good place to ride and while I’m not sure about the cycling possibilities I would love to explore the Kimberly area.

We met some great people while in Australia – old and new friends – and while it has not been my favourite place to ride this does not mean we had a bad time. We didn’t. I guess I just struggled at times in what felt like quite a macho culture and sadly one which itself struggles with¬†integration with the Aboriginal community. I hope that if I make it back this may feel different in future years.