Thursday, 2 September 2010

On tour again

I love the run up to going cycle touring. Now that I have most of the kit, well, most importantly, a bike, preparation this year has come down to gathering the small number of possessions required and some fitness training. Unlike last year, the planning and arrangements have been done by others, which has helped enormously. Adding small refinements and new equipment adds to the pleasure and anticipation, with past experience helping to provide some confidence that plans will turn out OK and be fun rather than too challenging or problematic. I would have liked to have done more long rides beforehand to help with training but I've had limited time available this year due to other commitments. Even so, I think we're fit enough to enjoy the 60 odd miles planned each day.

Recent runs for testing and training included a loop in the Bowland Fells with a climb up Beacon Fell (the one on the left in the picture). It doesn't look much, but it has nice steady climbs approached from most directions and commands impressive views of the Fylde coast, since it sits on the eastern edge of the coastal plain. It has a visitor's centre and forest trails and was very busy on the bank holiday. The cafe had tea and sandwiches in reward for the climb. I was trying out a birthday present of a Carradice saddlebag. I am very pleased with it and feel it is going to work much better than panniers for our short tour.

A previous weekend we did a ride around the Lune Valley taking in Barbondale. What a fine spot that is. We had hoped to meet up for the RSF ride that weekend but time didn't allow.

One of the joys of touring for me is the freedom knowing two wheels are going to carry us to a new destination each day with scenery and wildlife to enjoy along the way. A bike makes places more accessible and it is easy just to stop and take in the sights.

We'll be following NCN72 Hadrian's cycleway, which provides a mixture of traffic free paths and country lanes across the country as an alternative sea to sea (C2C). Extensive details are available on Doug Ridgway's excellent Hadrian's Cycleway web site. The route follows Roman antiquities across the north of England, starting at Glannaventa Roman bath house in Ravenglass, it works its way up the west coast of Cumbria and follows Hadrian's wall from Bowness on Solway. After Carlisle, the route visits Roman signal posts and forts along the wall and ends at Arbeia fort in South Shields.

The route is in the GPS, the bikes just need a last clean and lube and we're good to go. If this high pressure lasts it should be splendid riding in the sun with friends. On the other hand, if it is raining, we might be miserable, but I doubt it.