I had just come to the end of a job I had been doing for six years. How best to start the break?
I had just finished as Infrastructure Manager for Rockingham race circuit, which meant many long stretches, without weekends, early starts and late finishes, so I needed to wind down.
What better way than to spend some time with family and also on the bike. Now if I go on the bike, then I get plenty of contemplation time.
I finished on the Friday and by 06:30 on the Sunday I was heading off in to the sunshine. I have some spare clothes in the panniers mounted on the front of the bike, then my essentials bits and bobs in the backpack mounted to the rear rack. I had created a route, which should guide me up the country, and away from most of the busy roads, then uploaded it to the Garmin.
The journey took me across to Stamford, a lovely old town, then North on the back roads of South Lincolnshire, Corby Glen, then turning eastward to Ingoldsby and Billingborough. The roads were quiet, it was Sunday, and best of all, what little wind there was, was behind me. An unusual feeling for a cyclist.
The next landmark was Heckington, with its amazing windmill, which had been the destination for a cycle club run I had organised the previous year. After this it was beyond the “day out” status and becomes a “point to point” ride. I was not getting home tonight.
I had ridden past Heckington previously, when I did a overnight stay in Mablethorpe, a couple of years previously, but that route would have taken a right turn just up from here, so this was all new territory. I found some nice lanes that took me to the East of Lincoln and on up to the Lincolnshire Wolds.
At about 13:00 and 130km in, I was lucky enough to stumble across the Bardney Heritage Centre, which was an old converted railway station and the meals were prepared in a railway carriage. Cool place.
Refilled and ready to go, I set off on the final 90km to Hull. I had now got in to the “Wolds proper”, and don’t let anyone tell you Lincolnshire is flat. especially when your loaded bike weighs 70Kg. I manage and it is not long before the Humber Bridge is in sight.
I roll through Barton and on to the South side ramp and have to stop to soak it up. I love how a bike can just eat the distance and land you somewhere you normally expect to approach in a car.
As I get across the bridge I get a warning from the Garmin that the battery is low, so I plug in and external battery to get me to my mums, my first stop over. The navigation function had obviously increased the battery consumption as this would normally last 12 hours plus.
I had a day off on Monday, don’t know why, just felt like it, but on Tuesday I decided it would be nice to cycle some of the roads I had not ridden for a long time and to see how they had changed.
I set off around the North of Hull and worked my way past the the docks on Hedon road, where the ferries leave for Europe, then on past the oil refinery at Hedon. Now we are getting in to more country lanes at last. Once on this road you hit one village after another and even though this is the only main road to this area from Hull, it is still quiet.
Once I hit Patrington I have just two choices, keep going until you reach Spurn Point and you have the North Sea to the left and the Humber to the right, or take a left and head to the coast. I swing left and aim for Withernsea, one of the small coastal towns in this area, but the only one I know of that has its lighthouse half a kilometer inland, on the main road out of town.
I follow the coast road for 16km through Roos and on to Aldborough, where I notice a bunch of new wind turbines on land, and in the sea. This windy coast is an ideal place for these amazing constructions.
I decide to take another left and head inland towards Burton Constable, past the large hall, used for all sorts of local fairs, car meetings etc. A change of direction North up to New Ellerby, where I take shelter from the sun and have some lunch.
Recharged and its time to start heading back to Willerby, via Beverley. Its good to tell I am in the East Riding, as I manage over 100Km and only 300m of elevation change.
Time to head up the coast, leave my mum behind and visit my son and his family. I start by retracing my steps back to New Ellerby, where I had my lunch stop yesterday, then swing left to Hornsea and head straight for the Floral Hall, where they do a good coffee and I can pass some time until they all arrive home. I get the coffee, have a chat with one of the locals interested to know where I have come from, and where I am going.
After a day with my son and grand daughters I set off further North, to visit my brother and his family, who recently bought a house in the centre of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. A lovely area and my chance to see a few hills again, an interesting challenge, loaded up.
I started North along the coast road in the direction of Bridlington, before turning left. This turn marks the entrance to the Yorkshire Wolds, so we were going to start and see the elevation change. They are only small climbs, but lots of them, and the scenery is typical Yorkshire, beautiful. I get to Kilham before the road starts to tip upwards, and that lasts for about 8km and I just drop a gear and pedal through. The rolling continues for the next 50Km, until I reach Pickering, on the edge of the moors.
I stop in Pickering for lunch and a top up of fluids as I know what comes next. It only takes a short while and I am climbing up to Cropton, the entrance to the National Park.
Once past that point, 10% to 16% signs come thick and fast, until I finally roll in to Rosedale Abbey to find my sister-in-law getting to grips with the garden.
My nephew had recently bought a quad bike to help him with his job as an apprentice Game Keeper, so to show it off and give me a tour of the moor, I jumped on the back and put my life in his hands. It turns out I had nothing to fear, he handled it like a pro.
After an overnight stop, I decided it was time to try some paid accommodation, so I set the controls for York, a favourite city for me in this area. So much history.
This meant taking the roller coaster back towards Pickering, but taking a hanger right just before Pickering and slogging down the A178 to Kirbymoorside.
I wasn’t looking forward to this bit, as the A178 is the busiest road so far, but it wasn’t that bad. However, I was happy to turn left and start the journey South towards the Howardian Hills.
I knew when I had reached them in Hovingham, as the road immediately goes skyward, up to 10% plus and then leveling to a manageable 5% over the 6Km stretch to Sheriff Hutton. There really are some lovely stone built villages on this route and it was a pleasure just drifting silently through them.
Once through Sheriff Hutton it was plain sailing in to York, and the route I had picked was not too busy. There was a real carnival feel to the city centre and as I pushed the bike up Parliament Street there were all sorts going on, but I spotted a food van selling German hot dog sausages and coffee. Seems like a good place to stop.
I had found a nice hotel just round the corner, good price and very pleasant couple who offered somewhere safe to store my bike. Time to change and explore, and get some more food.
After a great nights rest its time to head back to Hull, with the thought of the 200Km journey back to Leicestershire looming. I pick a route back to Hull that I have done many times, only 65Km and reasonably flat, but taking in some lovely villages along the way. I pass through Elvington, with its great air museum, well worth a visit, Holme-on-Spalding-Moor, then through the Cliffes, North and South, the Caves, North and South, before dropping to Melton and in from the West. Only two and half hours, but it felt like a gentle rest day, preparing me for tomorrow and the journey home.
Well, the time had come to bid farewell to Yorkshire, and Monday morning I was on the road again by 06:30, over the bridge and back in to Lincolnshire. Sadly today I was not blessed with a tail wind. In fact, just the opposite, a strong headwind, rattling my front panniers as I head in to the Lincolnshire Wolds.
This is going to be a long day, I have some food with me and I plan to stop after about 80Km, hopefully at Bardney Heritage Centre. However, I had forgotten it was Monday, and I have found that many cafes in the UK shut on Monday. I guess having worked all weekend, they need a day off. It’s tough going and as I find my lunch spot closed, shortly after four hours riding, I press on and keep my eyes open. About hour later, I find a petrol station and buy a huge sandwich and tucked in on a bench outside.
At the 130Km point the road starts to climb, just as I leave Billingborough. It continues to roll until I get to a spot just before Stamford, eight and a half hours in to the journey. I stop and have to tuck in to those sandwiches I had stashed in my backpack, as the struggle against this wind was starting to take its toll.
Shortly after, I dive I to the Post Office in Tinwell, South of Stamford and bought some more water and, out of character for me, emptied a gel down my neck. I continued the climb out of Tinwell to the junction at Morcott, and by this point the gel had kicked in and I was feeling great. Looks like I just needed the sugar rush.
An hour later and I was pulling up to the gate of my house, feeling very different to the person that left just over a week earlier. I was relaxed, fitter and ready for the next stage of my life. It also left me with a hankering for some more trips loaded and self sufficient, possibly more independent than on this trip. A tent and sleeping bag would have given me more freedom. Got to be done.