The Highs, Lows and Lessons Learnt on the ‘Slow Tour of Yorkshire’

The highlights of my first cycle tour:

By Lucia

  • Embracing slow and meaningful travel; listening, taking notice of my surroundings, landscape, nature and people.
  • Spending quality (real quality) time with Adam. Learning from him. I love cycling with him – we have such a laugh together. He’s not only my husband but my best friend; he makes me laugh when I’m in a grump and toughens me up when I’m feeling weak. (Don’t get me wrong, there are times when we bicker, but it only takes a few hundred metres of pedalling for us to cool off and all is forgotten!) Nothing beats cycling alongside each other on a quiet, deserted country road, discussing us, the future, now or any other random things! Or cycling in peaceful silence – enjoying and soaking up the views and the sounds and nature around us.

  • The feeling of liberation you get by getting on your bike with everything you need in your panniers and setting off on the open road. You don’t know where you’re going to sleep, who you might meet or 100% where you’re going, but those unknowns add to the excitement and thrill.
  • Cycling through the quiet roads in East Yorkshire – it felt like coming home. Familiar and humble, it welcomed us with glorious sunshine and sedate country lanes.
  • Having four brilliant nights sleep!! (I almost slept for as long as I was awake!)
  • Chatting with a friendly man as I pushed my bike up, what felt like, the steepest hill in East Yorkshire (there aren’t many!). He kept me company and distracted me from the strenuous execution of pushing a laden touring bike up a steep hill (especially at the end of the day when I had already cycled nearly 80km!)
  • Sullivan’s Fish & Chips at Hornsea, where we got engaged. ❤
  • Feeling fresh and alive after a long day of cycling. Muscles aching in a good way and a few niggles (right elbow, left knee) but the sense of accomplishment made it all worth it.
  • Making breakfasts and dinners on the little travel stove: it was so liberating knowing that we were carrying everything we needed. We had hot food, a comfortable tent to sleep in. The world is our oyster. And food tastes so much better when you know you’ve carried it around all day and cooked it yourself in the middle of a wood – combining some wild garlic from the camping spot we’ve chosen!

Low points:

  • Taking a wrong turn and cycling through a farmer’s field. The mud was so thick, and I was cycling so slowly, my bike slipped and I fell sideways off the bike. (Luckily it was a soft landing!)
  • Having to put cold, wet trainers on which resulted in my toes feeling like blocks of ice. That’s one sure-fire way to make me grumpy! My spirits plummeted when I inserted my poor feet into those shoes!
  • Bloody British weather! Two of the days were so grey, foggy and DRIZZLY it was just a bit rubbish! This combined with having to cycle along busy roads and along cycle paths next to boring, busy dual carriageways: not the nicest.

Things I’ve learnt:

  • Don’t answer the phone whilst cycling on a busy-ish road. I can’t stop the bike steadily with one hand, so I ended up, again, falling sideways off the bike onto the muddy bank. (Again, luckily it was a soft landing and impressively, it didn’t interrupt the phone call!)
  • How to ‘Wild Camp’ or ‘Stealth Camp’. I didn’t feel confident about it at first. I kept worrying that someone would come along and be angry at us for camping there, but it’s a lovely feeling finding a great little spot to just set up your tent, make some food, and sleep out ‘in the wild’. Waking up hearing the birds singing and a brook ‘babbling’ nearby, smelling the wild garlic and feeling so rested after 11 hours sleep (yes… 11!) is really quite magical.
  • Especially when cycling through the UK: waterproof shoes or socks are a must!
  • I am capable of more than I realise, including pushing my comfort zone further and further, a little bit at a time.
  • I’m not perfect – I know I can lose my temper sometimes, become frustrated or grumpy and negative. Going forward, I need to try to be more patient.
  • Obstacles and tough moments make me stronger; not everything is easy. Challenging moments are part of the experiences and part of the journey to developing myself as a person. As Anna Kitlar puts it,

‘Tough moments also help prepare me for future challenges’.

  • How liberating embracing the unknown is.
  • How comfortably I can live with only four panniers (which weren’t jam-packed either); I can embrace minimalism!
  • It isn’t hard to cycle with the extra weight that comes with bicycle touring. Surprisingly, when riding on the flat I couldn’t feel the weight of what I was cycling with at all. (Going up hills, however, is another matter entirely!)
  • Sleeping in a tent is cosy! Inflatable roll mats are a dream! Definitely recommend.
  • Many people I’ve spoken to about our ‘Big Trip’ have commented about how sore our bottoms will be – but no sore bum for me on the ‘Slow Tour of Yorkshire’ – get in! I think it must have been the combination of padded cycling shorts and a high-quality saddle (Brooks). Fingers crossed this will be the case after 6 months of pedalling! 

 

1 comment

Loved reading this…. especially about ur quality time together along the road. Xxx Keep blogging… good luck, take care and just enjoy it.

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