After many months of riding from a place, to a point, and then back again (and not dropping a ring in a volcano in-between either), yesterday I finally did a proper journey.
I rode along the 5 weirs from Sheffield to Rotherham (via Hotel Chocolat of course!).
The start of my journey was Sheffield Cathedral. It’s an interesting building with a really beautiful church in there somewhere and then an odd modern extension on one end.
Via Hotel Chocolat I rode down to the start of the five quotes weirs. Again I found what I have found in other towns. The cycle network is very fragmented and often gets you lost (I know my way around Sheffield very well, but had I tried to follow the signs it would have been a very different matter).
The start of the five weirs (part of national cycle route 6) is a really cool bridge running through one of the wicker arches. The coolest thing being the really funky percussive sound your wheels make on the flooring they’ve used.
This bit is very Dutch in how it is laid out. I could imagine something like this in the Netherlands.
I carried on down the Don Valley, only to be disappointed that a section is closed and the diversion takes us along a section of the main road and has no cycle lanes. See what I mean about fragmented? Even though there are signs indicating cycles. Grr!
I carried on, losing the temporary signs at one point and so just carried on the way I know best; eventually making it back into the route near Meadowhall.
The rest of the route to Rotherham is both well maintained and clearly marked. It’s also fairly flat so for the most part I just stuck with seventh gear, occasionally dropping into sixth for the gentle hills. I have to say though that the first bit of the journey was very enjoyable. The middle bit was terrible (due to the closed sections) but once I reached Meadowhall it was a great ride and very picturesque.
Anyway here’s my map on Strava. I honestly can’t believe I’m actually doing these sorts of distances now. As kids we used to ride loads but never this sort of distance – but then we were on BMX bikes.
This week I crossed the 100kg boundary in the right direction (down). Now I’m aware how weight works and how a few hours later I could be back up at 101kg, but it was a delight to see the scales lose a digit.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been collecting together both my old and a little new camping gear, and I’ve started riding the cycle with a load on the rear rack to get me used to the feel of the extra weight.
Today I finally went out for the first time fully laden. The top bag on my panniers had two fire alarm batteries in to simulate the weight of my food and clothing. The total load is now just under 22kg:
The main items are listed below.
Zelter Shelter 1.2kg
Sleeping bag 1.0kg
Thermal undermat 600g
Kelly Kettle and accessories 900g
Folding Curobot Stove 650g
Pocket Tarp 300g
Pans, cutlery etc. 1kg
The big win is the Zelter Shelter. It really is an absolute Jack of all trades; a Swiss army knife of a tent/tarp/poncho which means that along with a lightweight rain coat you’re covered for pretty much a huge storm as you can use it as a tarp, or a poncho if required and then convert it into a tent and spend the night if you need to.
I’ve not spent the night yet but I did stop in a nice bit of woodland just off the trail and make a cup of coffee. Even though I have the Kelly Kettle on this occasion I chose to break in the new Curobot Stove which unlike the Kelly Kettle which is very much a one trick pony but does it’s one trick phenomenally week, this stove has a decent size burning pan to actually keep a fire with some warmth for a few hours, and because it’s got an ash tray you can stop it choking up on the burnt material.
I can’t believe how my stamina and fitness are improving. This little 8 mile ride would have killed me at one point but now I can do it on the DaHon without much concern.
I’ve even got myself a new bag for it – it’s meant to go under the saddle on the seat post, but for the DaHon it works well on the stiffener bar too.
I’ve also now got some decent lights. Only a cheap set from Amazon, but I’ve started venturing onto roads and even though it’s only for short periods I’m very aware how I can get totally missed when in the van, so I thought I’d make myself as visible as possible even in daylight. A bright flashing light is much less likely to get ignored as I’m approaching a junction, although I’m sure some of you cycling friends will tell me stories otherwise.
On a fitness note though, I’ve also noticed on my watch that my activity curve is shifting down – most of my riding is now in the aerobic section of my heart rate. Apparently this is good as it’s less dangerous as you get older – you shouldn’t push your body too far when you’re not at the peak of fitness. I’ve joined Strava to see if mutual exercise is for me – and I’m liking how it works because it just sends the stuff from my galaxy watch 3 to Strava. I can’t be faffed with extra apps.