Monday, 28 May 2007

Rabbits sir, faahsands of 'em

A cycling trip like this is great if you're into birds or wildlife (which I'm not in particular) My best sight was at 7am, cycling out of Carrbridge on the old A9 (a bit of road being used as a cycle path), of a deer standing 50 yards in front of me in the middle of the road. Or perhaps the many hawks hovering above the road, swooping down into the fields nearby. And is it true that there are more rabbits in Britain than humans? It certainly seemed like it, and I only saw ones that lived near the road.

The roadkill count:

2 badgers
1 fox
1 deer
Many rabbits, including one clearly a pet

But not these:

This was on the A6 north of Preston, at rush hour. Unfortunately my camera angle doesn't show the line of cars held up behind this - if I'd got a good picture of that it might have been newsworthy.

On a similar note, here are nice pics of a swan and cygnets, on the canal between Taunton and Bridgwater:

You see, I'm a bit more fluffy than you expect.

An inventory

I travelled quite light, although I could have economised more, and the bike itself isn't the lightest. But, for interest, here's a list of what I carried with me:

2 cycle shirts, one short-sleeved, one long
2 prs cycle chorts
4 prs cotton socks
1 pr cycle shoes, comfortable enough to wear to walk around in, with cleats to fit in my SPD pedals.
1 pr light cotton shorts
1 light cotton t shirt (last two for wearing in the evening)
1 sports vest (base-layer)
1 Berghaus waterproof jacket
1 pr waterproof trousers (only used on day 2)

1 travel towel
1 first aid kit
5 OS road maps (1:250,000)
3 End to End guidebooks (two of them left at Perranporth)
2 novels (only 100 pages read in 12 days)
1 camera
1 pocket DAB radio
1 mobile phone
Rechargers for above 3 items
4 inner tubes (only one required)
Tools and stuff - WD40, oil, spanners, allen keys
1 heavy duty lock - left in a pub in Cornwall, far too heavy
1 combination lock
Sundry power bars (disposed of after a week)

I tried to wash and dry my clothes at each stop, but that wasn't always possible - often radiators wouldn't be on, and it takes more than 12 hours for cycling clothes to dry, and far more for cotton socks to dry. At one point I had 4 pairs of wet socks.

I had plastic bags to keep the books and maps dry, but not the clothes. The panniers weren't waterproof, and the detachable covers I had pooled water inside their elasticated lining, which made the panniers wet at the bottom anyway. I should have remembered the tip to have plastic bags inside the panniers. It's always good to have, at minimum, a pair of dry socks to change into after several hours of rain.

But apart from the heavy ABUS lock, which was a mistake, I'm happy with the amount of kit I took. Remember that you can always buy anything more you need en route.

Yet more pics

I didn't take many myself - I wasn't really on a sightseeing trip, the weather was rubbish for most of it, and pics of roads and bikes leaning against signposts aren't very exciting. But here's some of the ones I did take (or had taken with my camera)

Land's End (note silly hair caused by headband)

Perranporth (first stop):

First thing in the morning, Day 2. It rained for 5 hours more after this:

Tintern Abbey (in a thunderstorm - there are pics below taken by M of me wandering off to take this pic)

Morecambe Bay, at sunset:

Getting to Scotland:

My bike, after I came off:

The road ahead is a cycle path, the one across is a side road. The car I was trying to avoid (and succeeded) came from the right, and stopped to the right of this shot, as I stopped before the road. The main road down to Dumfries is, luckily, only about 50 yards ahead.

Young boys march in Larkhall:

What you can't quite see is the t-shirt of the guy on the left, which says 'No Surrender', as did the motto on the drum. Nice.

Dunkeld. This was the most beautiful place I went to on my trip, although I don't think I captured it in my pic.

The light, in early evening, was perfect to illuminate this meadow of bluebells, but again, very hard to show it:

For those of you who like pictures of bikes and road signs:

Or just road signs:

And the end:

Some videos

M also took some neat action videos, and then edited them with music!

Cycling over the Severn Bridge:

Up the Wye Valley:

And more:

A very short one showing the rain:

M catching and passing me on a downhill:

Some more pics

The bike:

Silly hair:

And then it started raining:

But I was well wrapped up:

Towards Monmouth, where M left me and sped off up the road: