Cycle Routes: April

Looking back at my March cycle routes update it seems so long ago now that I swapped to my new bike, but it was in fact just after Easter. I'd bought a cycle carrier and we'd strapped our bikes to the car and taken them to Norfolk for the weekend and planned to get out and explore some of the Norfolk countryside. It didn't turn out quite like that as I discovered I only had fifth gear while going uphill on a relatively busy and pavement-free section of the A149. It was hard work as I experienced first-hand that Norfolk's not as flat as everyone would have you believe!

1. My new bike

So while the Pendleton Ashwell was a beautiful bike, it sadly wasn't for me. The enclosed gear hub looked good but meant that if anything went wrong the engineers couldn't work on it or fix it for me and it'd need to be sent away for repair. So when those very same engineers suggested swapping to another model, it seemed sensible advice.

By now though, you see I was hooked and didn't want to wait for one to arrive in the shop so chose one of the ones they already had in stock. And that meant a white and purple version of the Pendleton Somerby which could be set up and ready for me to collect within a few days. And it's a beauty...

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The two extra gears - it has seven - definitely made a difference as I cycled all the way up the hill on the way home, and that was the first time I had. So while I was feeling quite puffed out I also felt quite chuffed too! And knowing that I can cycle uphills has made all the difference mentally, now I know I can do it.

Don't get me wrong, I still find them hard but the hills are no longer beating me, and that's because #ThisGirlCan!

2. A tour of the Isle of Dogs

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The weekend after collecting my Somerby I was keen to have a proper cycle on it and so early on a Saturday morning I joined MOH on one of his regular routes around the Isle of Dogs. I slowed him down considerably, but I think he's getting used to that now. You can see from the route map that it's pretty much all around the Isle of Dogs and one wag has named it the Tour de Île de Chien in Strava (the cycling app we use).

I cycled up the hill again, this time the one in Greenwich Park and I halved my previous time; since then I've got it to under four minutes, which for me is a real achievement. I've a while to go though before I'm challenging the fastest ladies time, which is currently one and a half minutes!

We timed it well as within minutes of stepping through our front door there was a massive downpour and storm. Phew.

3. Collecting Chorizo

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One of the reasons I like having a bike and cycling is for those journeys that it doesn't make sense to do in the car, but take longer than you have on foot.

We were having family over and I'd been wondering all week what to cook. Finally I decided on a chicken and chorizo tray bake (similar to this one on BBC Good Food) only to discover that my butcher was out of chorizo... So a quick phone call to another butchers and I tracked some chorizo down and set off to collect them.

A shorter cycle but a much more practical one, and that basket was full after a trip back to my usual butchers for the chicken and some bacon for breakfast too!

 

4. Our first 40km ride

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MOH was keen to get a longer cycle in to test himself and to gauge his fitness ahead of the Ride London at the start of August. He's signed up to ride 100 miles (not kilometres as he initially thought) and is raising money for Get Kids Going a charity that gives disabled children and young people the opportunity to take part in sport. 

His reasoning for the longer ride made sense but I was less sure about how I'd manage. But I did - at times he sprinted off, turned and cycled back to me before sprinting off again. And while I was a bit stiffer than after any of our rides so far, it wasn't that bad especially as it was twice the distance!

That was reassuring though as for our cycle holiday in Bavaria in June, one of the days has a 49km cycle - it's the longest day, and it's optional but from the description it sounds as if it'll be a stunning day. A day I expect to sneak in plenty of camera stops too I might add! 

We set off heading towards Woolwich before eventually picking up the Thames Path and heading towards the Royal Arsenal and it wasn't long before we were at The Assembly sculpture by Peter Burke. It was here as I was snapping away that I discovered a huge camera fail - I'd forgotten to put the memory card back in the camera. Doh! The camera's internal memory was already full, and that left me with an iPhone for the rest of the day, so there's not many pictures from this trip at all. I plan to head back to the sculpture and take more pictures but haven't made it back there yet.

As you can see from the route above we headed quite a way East and we were in sight of the Queen Elizabeth II Dartford Crossing:

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We cycled through many industrial parts of the Thames Path and that was quite an education - and we knew when we were approaching the sewage works! The Thames Path was clearly marked and generally wide enough to ride two abreast and as you might expect some of it we were the only people using it. The other discovery I made was a useful one and a garden fence and post supplier... seriously!

5. On the Thames Path heading West

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The following weekend we headed West on the Thames Path, with the aim of getting close to Tower Bridge after we realised the Maltby Street market was already finished by the time we actually set out. Ahem. Well in our defence we'd had a busy day, as that morning we'd visited HMS Defender.

We did get close to Tower Bridge after quite a few diversions away from the River and were lucky enough that when we looked it was open - a sight you don't see that regularly, but one that's amazing every time you do!

We didn't make it across Tower Bridge and decided to head home retracing the way we'd come, which makes for a very narrow route image!

 

 TOWER BRIDGE 

TOWER BRIDGE 

6. And something strange...

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So despite clocking up nearly 128km on the mileometer throughout the month, in the last week I managed a big fat round zero. Looking back now I'm not sure why, perhaps the weather was bad, perhaps I was a bit under the weather or maybe a bit of both. But it stood out - thankfully though it was a one-off and we've already been clocking up the kilometres in May, more on that though in next month's Cycle Routes.

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