Ride up to Snettisham Beach

After an early start and a migrane at London Bridge station, I rode up from Cambridge to my friend’s beach hut at Snettisham. the weather was good – warmish but sunny. The bike felt so much better with all the heavy luggage off – even the topbox which usually goes everywhere. It gave me the confidence to do lots of overtaking and make some progress on the way up the A10. I had a recommendation to take a newly opened alternative bypass around Ely on the way back, via Queen Adelaide which was a really enjoyable road for riding, right next to the river higher than the road as it runs dead straight toward Ely. The total ride was 111 miles.

Looking at my track from the GPS I can see I didn’t take the road I should have. I remember the advice was ‘don’t cross the river’ and that’s what I did. Next time I will get it right.

Getting ready to ride in Spain

On Sunday I sail on Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Bilbao for a couple of weeks riding in northern Spain. I’m leaving the tent at home for a change and have booked four rural hotels, all interesting, I hope, in different ways. Not camping means I can leave all this lot in the cupboard:

In fact this is a picture from Google earth of my first hotel:

Hotel Real Monasterio de San Zoilo

I was feeling a little sad at missing out on the camping experience but this photograph looks like an intriguing place. Does its name mean that it is a real monastery, not one of those fake monasteries with fake monks who turn out to be actors?

When you are immersed in working and living – as is too easy, these trips can come up out of the blue almost in a strangely unwelcome way – paradoxically – as an interruption to the numb mindlessness of routine. But getting out maps and packing the panniers does start to dissolve that.

Unusually, the sailing down to Bilbao is two nights, a chance hopefully to disengage and get into a new headspace.

Back to Cambridge

Its Spring. The clocks have leapt forward, the sun is shining – weakly – and its time to bring my bike out of hibernation in London and ride it back up to Cambridge into my increasingly expensive to rent garage, where it will stay for the next 8 or 9 months – apart from when I’m riding it of course.

Riding and driving in London is not fun. Most other road users are fine but there are a few who are crazy or seem to be testosterone-fuelled idiots. Mainly, its just that there are so many other people trying to get somewhere. My route up the A10 is not as fast as the motorway but once past the M25 traffic starts to thin out and it turns into an enjoyable road past the turn for Hertford. The sun came out too. I’ve not been to Cambridge since before Christmas and it was nice to arrive back, each return and there is an extra block of flats and one more building on the Addenbrookes site.

My next major trip will be in mid-late July, after graduation, when I take the ferry from Portsmouth down to Bilbao again and spend a couple of weeks riding and this time tent-free, staying in hotels across northern Spain including near to the Bardenas Reales that I’ve heard so much about.

I’m still trying to solve the problem of decent audio on my recorded videos on the bike and wind noise seems to drown out my voice, even with the helmet vent closed and a new and better microphone. Here’s the trip in 4 minutes.

First day riding the GSA

I couldn’t resist it – I’ve taken the day off to try out this bike….
On my first day of owning this bike I put my continent-crunching world-beating GSA through its paces – Destination Tescos in Ely. No problems getting out of cambridge. The border formalities were easy. Once on the A14 going west I felt a few drops of rain on my visor. Its well known that one shower on the A14 and the road will be impassable until next Spring. Luckily the rains held off. Some of the tarmac was ‘ever so slightly rough’ but the suspension coped really well. By lunchtime I arrived in Ely, a strange and wild place where banditry and corruption are well-known. Keeping a low profile I parked up the bike in Tesco and went inside to see if there was any food and drink available. With lots of gesticulations and shouting I made myself understood by the workers in Costa Coffee next to the pharmacy and cutomer toilets. On my return into Cambridge I was stopped at a chekpoint where I failed some of the questions on the IQ test. But with a bribe I was allowed in.
On the road I noticed some strange things: other bike riders don’t seem to return my nods any more. Instead I get greetings from the drivers of the following classes of vehicles: agricultural machinery, those big mowers that cut grass verges by the road; also scarecrows in the fields near Cottenham.
So day 1 was good – apart from struggling to get this machine into neutral once its warm. The riding position is good and the windscreen is great – I can ride with visor up now. I don’t know about its acceleration so no overtaking at the moment. It doesn’t feel as nippy as my previous bikes but presumably the power is there doing something.
Most of this post is also copied to the UKGSer website.