The Ugly, The Bad & The Good

Life isn’t all sunshine and flowness. Sometimes, no amount of zhushing will make your hair ok. Having a way to deal with those times is important and, what better way than riding through them on a bicycle adventure. With trail puppies George & Wilf by their side, Sarah & Mary head out to find adventure and leave their troubles behind.

The Ugly

It has been a shitty week. Mary and I were thoroughly hoodwinked at work by a young man who made off with a high ticket item! This sort of thing doesn’t happen very often as we are pretty sharp but, when it does it leaves us feeling really crap. Unfortunately, this is the ugly realism of high Street retail these days.

We normally move past these things quickly. We use it as an opportunity to re-evaluate and learn. We certainly don’t blame ourselves. However this week it coincided with a low mood and wild hormonal fluctuations, and so we felt sorry for ourselves and it took us a little longer to recover.

Train for the Tour

Despite all this, I managed to book Train Tickets for the Bicycle Adventure Club summer cycle tour. The loose plan is: take the train from Birmingham to Oxenholme, on the outskirts of the Lake District. From there we will cycle over the Lake District to Ravenglass and the start of Sustrans NCN route 72, which we will follow to Newcastle then get a train Back to Birmingham.

Newcastle to Birmingham is with Cross Country Trains who operate the east coast service. Cross Country Trains website was superb. Clear information on how to book bikes on to a train, an online option to book bikes on to the train and confirmation of the booking within an hour! Sorted.

The Bad

Virgin, who operate the west coast service, were not so good. There is a customer service number that you have to call to book bikes on to a train. It appears you can’t make a bicycle booking until you have a ticket. With ticket purchased, I call the customer service number and a gentleman informs me there are no bike spaces on that service. ‘So what do I do?’ I ask. He didn’t seem to have a clear answer.

I asked if there was a later/earlier service with bike spaces. He informed me I would need to buy a ticket for another service and then call back about the bike spaces, he could then refund the first ticket.

It was all very unclear, unorganised and I was very frustrated. I hung up for a bit of thinking time. I redialled the customer Service number to see if I could get some insight on another service that may have two bike spaces.

Another gentleman finally informed me that they don’t release the bike spaces until the end of May and I would need to call back to reserve. So as it stands we can get on the train to Oxenholme but our bikes cannot  and I won’t find out until the end of May! I will keep you posted.

The Good

Mary and I have been really enjoying Bicycle Adventure Club and the online tribe we seem to be growing. It seems our Black Country Odyssey inspired quite a few of you to have some doorstep adventures of your own as well as pushing up the number of subscribers to our You Tube Channel.

Our Facebook Page and Facebook Group have seen lots of new members this week. We have loved our online conversations and been inspired by posts about Bicycle Adventures. They have really lifted us. Thank you.

In particular we have been following Bicycle Adventure Club newcomers Mark & Tim as they cycled 500 miles in 5 days from the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to Kings Lynn in aid of Scotty’s Little Soldiers.

Mark & Tim supporting Scotty’s Little Soldiers

Mark, a relative newcomer to cycling, was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about the challenge:

Why did you choose cycling for the challenge?

We chose to cycle as we’re both getting on and although we are both ex-military we thought cycling would be less stress on the legs. We also chose cycling as we thought we’d get to see more of the country and scenery.

Have you done much cycling?

I have cycled before but only occasionally and I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. I haven’t cycled enough to spend lots of money on bikes and equipment. I’m definitely a novice.

What was the furthest you had cycled before?

The furthest I’d cycled before the trip was 44 miles. I’ve always been mentally strong in exercise so I knew I could go further if I had to. I know I didn’t train enough and next time I will train more.

What were your biggest worries/concerns before the event?

The biggest worry was the mileage in the time we gave ourselves but it turned out fine. Another worry was other road users but we didn’t have a problem with anybody on the roads at all.

What was the best moment on the ride?

The best moments were definitely when we hit our charity target also, when a hotel and food chain gave is free accomodation and food. Most of all the kindness of friends, and people that we’d never met, along the way.

What was the worst moment?

The worst moment; we were 116 miles in on day 1. We had a further 10 miles to our accomodation and it started to get dark. We pushed on and just made it!

How do you think riding your bicycle that far has changed you, physically and mentally?

Physically I became strong on day 3, nothing hurt and the hills became easier and I dropped a load of weight which is always great.

Mentally there was definitely a lot more clarity and peace when riding. The daily stresses went away and since I’ve been home that’s carried on.

Will you be using your bicycle more now that you have completed the ride?

I’ll be out again at least 4 times a week now I’m done. I did notice my bike is a tiny bit small for me so I’m actually going to buy another and get it fixed as I think I’ve definitely fell into the cycling bug.

What advice would you give to someone starting out cycling?

Starting out just go at a gentle pace. Don’t go mad on gadgets and no need to spend thousands on a bike. My bags and racks cost less than £90 from Decathlon and they were perfect all the way and will have years more life. Don’t rely on GPS, a good old UK map is brill and don’t go so fast that you can’t appreciate what is around you and, always take cash or card to buy cake!

Congratulations to Mark and Tim.

Everyday heroes!

There is a link to their fundraising page below should you wish to donate or for more information.

Scotty’s Little Soldiers

Scotty’s Little Soldiers is indeed a worthy cause but, it is also important not to let the good cause distract from the achievement. Riding your bicycle for 500 miles is a mental and physical challenge. We are all capable of more than we believe.

Taking on a challenge that involves taking yourself out of your comfort zone can be very rewarding and have lasting effects! I dare you to try it!

More Goodness

Here are this weeks shenanigans and may I introduce George & Wilf, the Bicycle Adventure Club founding Puppies.

Please don’t forget to hit the like button and subscribe. Leave your thoughts and feedback so we can improve our adventures and help you to have better adventures of your own.

Thanks for reading.


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