Afterthoughts

The abrupt stop to my blog was due to a busy week between my cycle trip and our golf tour. We are on the way to England, where we will collect 10 golfers at Heathrow and take them to Cornwall. There we will be able to pick up my bike from St. Just. I have really missed Bonnie.

It took me a while to come back to earth after my return. It had been such a wonderful trip, despite the challenges or maybe even because of them. It was mostly about these very challenges that I wrote every day, because I am sure it would have been so boring if all I had mentioned were green grass, sheep and daffodils. These were the things that were so beautiful.

Of course my beloved sea was a major highlight for me. I was very close to it for the first few days in Scotland , then didn’t see it again until Cornwall. However, I am a great lover of water generally and a lot of the cycling was along canal towpaths. it was interesting to see different birds on the various stretches of canal. Sometimes there were ducks, other times swans and in some places Canadian geese. They were also very varied in their reaction to me. Some waited until I was almost there before jumping in or flying away, others just looked at me or quacked or whatever sound they make. I was also fascinated by the people with barges operating the many locks. On two occasions I was also lucky enough to find fishing lakes, just when it was picnic-time.

The daffodils in Scotland were beautiful. They grow not only in gardens, but outside the properties and on the roadside. When I asked about tulips I was told they are about a month later. In the north of England the daffodils were dying and there were tulips, yet further south, both were in bloom simultaneously. It was similar with the sheep: in Scotland they all had baby lambs, in the north of England I only saw adult sheep and further south there they were again, these lovely families. It was also very interesting to note all the different kinds of sheep: some had horns (no, not just the rams), some didn’t; I saw white sheep, black sheep, brown sheep, brown and white patterned sheep, white ones with black legs or black heads or both. I could go on and on….

I saw lots of pheasants in Scotland and in England, the cows were only in the south. I also saw horses, deer, foxes, rabbits and squirrels. In Scotland there were often signs warning of red squirrels (I don’t know why it specifically stated that they were red), but I only saw one. In England I saw many grey ones. There were also warning signs for otters, but I didn’t see them. I was also amazed and slightly upset, to see a number of dead animals at the roadside including a roe and a badger.

One of the things that impressed me was the consideration of the drivers. On the narrow country lanes, they would wait in a passing place for me, sometimes giving me a guilty feeling, because I was slow, especially uphill. When I thanked them, they would also raise their hand and smile too. I remember when I first came to Austria to live and went home, these would be the old English gentlemen, but now I am the older one and these are often young people. In general I would say 95%, of the people I met were extremely friendly and helpful, 4% were just alright and only 1% unfriendly, nasty or rude. Almost everyone I met asked me “Are you just doing this for yourself or for a good cause?” and several strangers donated to my charity.

The weather was extremely kind to me, with only a couple of very brief showers in Scotland and two hours of heavy drizzle in Lancashire. I battled the prevailing winds and it was very cool, especially at the beginning – only 4°C one morning, but after all, it was April. However, I’ve never seen such a beautiful blue sky on so many consecutive days and on the last day I even managed to catch a sunburn on my fingers and ears!

On the whole the route was excellent, very few main roads and otherwise a mixture of suburban roads, towpaths and quiet country lanes with varying ascents and descents, some short steep ones, some long gentle ones and at times very undulating. The only really flat part was across the Somerset levels, which were interesting and beautiful in their own way, but where I had very strong side-winds to contend with. Another unexpected highlight was Bodmin Moor, which came as a surprise to me.

The accommodation was very good on the whole. My warmshowers hosts made me very welcome and most of them cooked me delightful meals, and although they had all chosen pasta, no two meals were the same. Of the B&B sand hotels, I could only fault one, which was a run-down old country house, not at all as luxurious as it had appeared on the internet, run by Italians, with only overpriced pasta for dinner and a continental breakfast. All the others were clean with friendly hosts or staff, excellent breakfasts and the hotels had good dining too.

I had no injuries and no punctures. The only time Bonny caused me problems, apart from the faulty saddle-support, which had been troubling me for some time and I had neglected to have looked at, was with the gears, when she needed some TLC. For the first few days I did have a sore patch under one of my buttocks, but I had plenty of cream, which soon took care of that. Then I did bang my ankle a couple of times when “straddle-pushing”, but I didn’t even see a bruise. Then of course, there was the sunburn on the last day…

During the first couple of days I found it extremely difficult to get OFF my bike. Getting on was fine, because I could get some momentum to swing my leg over. This was quite a problem sometimes and quite embarrassing in towns! However, I am pleased to say that I soon became more flexible.

I totalled 1650 kilometres (just over 1000 miles) and around 15000 metres ascent in 20 days and collected € 700 for my Austrian charity, demenzhilfe.tirol in addition to over £ 300 for Macmillan Caring Locally. Many thanks to all of you who donated or supported me in other ways. It was great to read your encouraging comments, although I’m sorry I didn’t have time to reply to them all personally.


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The day after

As I didn’t take a rest day, I spent one in Penzance.

I had all day to come back to earth, before catching the night train to Heathrow and obviously I couldn’t just sit around playing with my phone all day.

My landlady was kind enough, not only to let me leave my luggage, but also to give me a key, so I could come and go as I pleased. I had to check out of my room, but could use the internet and sit in the dining room or the garden.

However, to „kill time“ she had suggested I walk to Marazion and take a boat to St. Michael’s Mount. At low tide you can walk there, but today it was hiigh. It was over 4 kilometres to walk, then a little boat ride, then a steep climb up to the castle. I felt like an old woman as I slowly climbed holding onto the rail.

I walked all through the castle, then down the hill again to access the gardens. To see them properly involved another climb.

After the boat-ride back to Marazion, I looked at the bus tietable and decided to have lunch before catching the bus back to Penzance. Unfortunately I had misjudged how long this would take. On my return to the bus-stop I discovered I would have to wait over an hour till the next one came, so I walked again. I felt mote tired than after 90 kilometres with Bonnie and Teasi.

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I made it!

I set out around nine this morning, having set Teasi to his suggested route. I found myself on the NCN (national cycle network) route number 3! I could have been following this for several days. I passed a cycle shop and popped in to ask, if the 3 went all the way to Land‘s End, which he affirmed. I decided to follow it, using Teasi as back-up, as it’s so easy to miss a sign. Believe it or not,, that’s the route that Teasi took!

It was all on lanes, quieter than ever, to Marazion Then the route went along the coastal path, with varying surfaces through Penzance and Newlyn to Mousehole. Then cane the steepest climb I have ever pushed up! After that it was back on country lanes, even more peaceful than 2 days ago. I didn’t hear a „moo“ or a „baa“, just the birdsong.

The sky was bluer than ever, not a cloud in sight and suddenly I felt myself crying and saying out loud „I am blessed, I am SO grateful, I am blessed!“

I started to pedal slower and slower because I just didn’t want this to end, but it did – with a big bang! I had contacted some people, Nigel and Thelma who live 9 kilometres away, to ask if they would be willing to meet me. Sure enough they came with a Cornish flag, bubbly and glasses. They took lots of photos, insisted on paying for Cornish pasties and took my luggage. I had my official photos taken and was given 2 for the price of 1, because it wad for charity. They also took some on my mobile! All sorts of people congratulated me and a coach driver gave me £5 for my charity.

I cycled to nigel and Thelma’s house, because they only have a small car, then Nigel gave me £20 for my charity and they took me to Penzance where I am staying overnight.

I told you a lie on Tuesday: that wasn’t the best day, today was. I just can’t believe I’ve finished it!

Tourstats: Day 20 Hayle to Land’s End:

38 km., ca. 450 m. ascent, 4 hrs.

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Angekommen!

Gesendet von meinem Windows 10 Phone

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Dreaming of yesterday

As usual I was up bright and early and the internet did nit work in my room. I needed to check trains etc. For my journey back to Heathrow. After washing and dressing it was still very early, so I gave Bonnie some TLC before loading and sat in the lounge to use the internet until breakfast was served at 8:30. I managed to leave by 9:15.

As their had been no English breakfast at this accommodation I had eaten bread and felt bloated, not easy for the first hills, of which there were plenty. One downhill was so long and steep that I could smell my brakes, even though a don’t hold them permanently. I was concerned they wouldn’t survive the last two days!

The first part of the journey was on quiet country lanes, but there were several segments on busy roads. They were unpleasantly loud and sonetimes quite scary. I was glad i had made myself so visible with my orange pannier covers and neon arm warmers.

Was this because I had again chosen Teasi’s easy route, with less ascent (800+ instead of 1100+)? Where was the beautiful Camel Trail? I tried to remember the beautiful tranquility of yesterday.

On one occasion I did another circle. Teasi hadn’t screamed at me, I hadn’t even heard a single “pieps”. I was sure he had been showing less distance to destination. Had i just imagined that? Then i started to recognise buildings and turnings from the first time around. This time i was most careful and found that when the road took a left turn and I with it, I should have gone straight ahead onto a smaller road. Teasi silently added another 5 kilometres and i realised where I had gone wrong.

Finally the last part between the tin mines was more like I’d imagined, with gentle climbs that I could actually cycle up and descents where I needed virtually no brakes.

I had told my hostess that I hoped to arrive around 6 p.m. On the dot of 6 I was knocking ib the door!

Tourstats for day 19 Bodmin to Hayle:

82,1 km.,840 m. ascent, 6:43 bike time, 8:19 total.

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Peace and tranquilty

Today was most definitely the best day. After a couple of kilometres on the main road, where the “long uphill hauls” of yesterday seemed with fresh legs just like a gentle gradient, I turned off onto quiet lanes. I didn’t have a route for this segment, as I had changed my plans and was heading for Bodmin instead of Wadebridge. In the meantime I had full trust in Teasi and had again chosen the easy route, as the suggested one involved double the amount of climb.

On these country lanes where a car was extremely rare, it was so peaceful, only birdsong and the occasional “moo” of a far distant cow.

It was so tranquil that I almost cried. The serenity is indescribable in words, neither can photos or videos capture these wonderful scenes and sounds.

The climbs varied from short and steep to long and gradual, sometimes a combination of both. I pushed, whenever I felt the need and thoroughly enjoyed the descents, although I often had to brake because of bends, not knowing whether I would encounter potholes or anything else around the next one.

I suddenly realised that I was in Cornwall. There had been no sign to say so as it has been normal on this trip.

I had hoped that Teasi would take me around Bodmin Moor, but after a 1,5 km. climb and a short stretch on a main road, I suddenly found myself on the edge of it and once again peace reigned. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

The weather, which has been so kind to me the whole trip, showed itself from its best side today – the sky as blue as I have ever seen in England.

When it came to lunchtime, I only had 18 kilometres to go and I was tempted to keep going, but decided to be sensible and stoke up for whatever was still to come. That was the right decision as, although the general tendency was downhill, there were several climbs too. One descent was 14% and winding, so that I hoped my brakes would last this trip.

It had been a short segment today and I arrived at my accommodation before 4 p.m. giving me time to relax before dinner.

Tourstats day 18 Brandis Corner to Bodmin:

62,9 km.642 m. ascent 4:51 bike-time, 6:08 total

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Für meine deutschsprachige Freunde und Fans

Ich bin nach 18 Tagen bereits in Cornwall und habe noch 1,5 Tagen vor mir. Ich bin schon 1550 Kilometer geradelt. Dies ist die vorausberechnete Entfernung für die ganze Tour und es sind noch knapp uber 100 zu schaffen. Ich habe keinen Ruhetag benötigt. Das Wetter war mir sehr gnädig.

Das Ende sehe ich mit einem lachenden und einem weinenden Auge entgegen. Natürlich freue ich mich aufs Ziel, andererseits war dies meine bisher schönste Tour und die Ruhe und Frieden, meine Verbundenheit mit der Schönheit der Natur und der Landschaft könnten noch länger anhalten.

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