Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Boyz on Bikes or Pychopaths on cycle paths

Day 1 Cambodia to Darlington
Off the plane from Cambodia and straight on train the next day to Darlington, for a four day cycle trip in North Yorkshire. I have to say that the transition from exquisite Thai and Cambodian cuisine to the Toby Carvery (only restaurant within walking distance of Travelodge) was harrowing. Had to sleep with our bikes in our rooms and we all had the experience of feeling as if we were sleeping with our horse. It was there, in the corner, a sort of presence.
Day 2 Great Ayton
The group from Scotland, met the group from Brighton at Darlington Station, we reared our trusty steeds and off we sped. Now ideally, on a bike trip, you only need one thing, apart from a bike, and that’s a map. Between the five of us – not one map. It wasn’t long before our strung out group came a cropper by missing the tiny signs and bifurcated. We’ll stick together a group – no we didn’t. If you come to a junction and see a small sign, stop and wait – no we didn’t. Not so much a team pulling together as the cycling equivalent of the French 2010 World Cup squad.
Nevertheless, having added a fair few extra miles, we arrived exhausted at the pretty village of Great Ayton, where we split into a group of three for the Traveller’s Rest and two for Suzie Ps on the outskirts of the village. Tony and I chose Suzie P and very nice it was but when Suzie P asked where our mates were staying, she laughed. The Travellers’ Rest was notorious, run by two women who are known, not so much for their customer service skills as ability to anatgonise visitors and locals. Sure enough, just as we were setting down to watch the tennis on the TV, Suzie P knocked on the door with the telephone saying “It’s your lawyer”. This is a ruse Ronnie uses to get action on the other end of a telephone. “We rang the bell and they didn’t even open the door, just said clear off until 4pm” said Ronnie, “so we’re in The Kings Head watching the tennis”.
So Tony and I made our way to The Kings Head to watch Murray sail into the final, then a pub grub meal – ok but they should stop trying to play about with the basic fare. My steak pie was hollowed out and sat on top of a layer of mash, making the whole thing look like a Norman Motte – big mistake.
Day 3 Up and down dales
Hard day cycling the dales – literally up and down hills most of the way. You quickly learn that ‘what goes down must come up’. There were tons of serious cyclists on the road on time trials, which made us feel our age. Major bifurcation halfway through the morning that led to one half of group taking a long detour to rendezvous with us at “Voted one of The Guardians Top 10 Pubs in North Yorkshire”. Shandies and Ploughmens’ all round.
But what we were not prepared for was ‘cinder alley’ a very long stretch of old railway line from Whitby to Scarborough, that literally claws to your tyres and that’s when there’s no ruts, stones and other debris. The views down to the sea were spectacular but we were so knackered we couldn’t enjoy them.
Day 4 - Coast
Bridlington, despite its new found Hockney fame, is a dump and on a hot weekend it’s even more of a dump. It was like a cartoon, all fat folk, chips and motility scooters. We skedaddled and cycled due west. One interesting stretch was when we had to run a gauntlet of gypsies in a narrow country lane. Both sides of the road were lines with caravans, piebald ponies and traps – ready for some illegal trotting. It was quite tense, but they were friendly enough, even asking our tail-ender if he needed some more ‘horsepower’.
To Cloughton and The Blacksmiths Arms. Usual pub fare. I asked the waitress what Scampi was, a and she said ‘Well…. it’s scampi – from Whitby”. I’m 56 and have never know what scampi is – now I know – it’s langoustine.
Day 5 – Little England
Now here we were treated to the worst of little England – while Murray was winning Wimbledon, we were subjected to a whole load of what they thought was ‘banter’ and we though was ‘bollocks’. Boy did they hate Scottish people. Then again they seemed to hate everyone who wasn’t sitting in that one bar. The only woman at the bar and the barmaid were apologetic, but the drinkers didn’t care. They were Little Englanders at their worst. We celebrated by shouting as loudly as we could, then headed somewhere else to eat.
York was our destination, although we took the long route and ended up on the main road before stumbling upon a pub where we devoured huge plates of pub grub. Then into York and a look beneath and around the Cathedral. It has a fascinating basement where remains of the Roman Basilica are still visible and the history of the building is unpacked – for a tenner of course. We met Tony inside, although he had only just started the tour, as he had to unpack both panniers to get his wallet, resulting in a pile of well-worn underpants and sweaty socks and tee-shirts on the Cathedral cash desk.

Great trip. Our third bike trip and two lessons learnt – always take a map and stick to 30-35 miles a day!

6 Comments:

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