I have always liked Bristol from the first time I visited there, I’m lucky enough to have a great mate Tom who lives right in the centre. With its bizarre variety of cultures in such a small English city, making it an amazing place to see. So when my Friend Atata from Nicaragua came to stay with me in the Yorkshire Dales I said Bristol is a must to visit. Tom said we were welcome anytime to stay on his sofa, so I thought well that’s a positive invite!
I looked at the prices of trains down from my nearest station…..£180pp and that wasn’t even return! To add a journey back was £50. So traveling home from Bristol was only £50! A flight was £70 but before I could book it, Atata (a man who had just travelled across the world by plane) told me he couldn’t bare another flight just yet! My Van a 2003 Renault Traffic which is now a campervan would equal similar to the train in diesel! All I was thinking was about my beer money and how cheaply I could get down there.
And this is where it hit me! I had a mountain bike which I had won in a pub raffle at Christmas time, which one of us could use and I just needed to get another cheap bike! MuddyFox being the sportsDirect homebrand bike, a hybrid bike was on sale at £50 as a returned item! I thought bargin, within seconds I was loading this white and sqeeky bike into my van.
When I broke the news to Atata we were cycling from my house to Bristol, he took it better then I thought he would! ‘Yes, it’s easy’ he said. I looked at him thinking he’s lost it. But nodded my head to reassure him. I planned a quick route with places we could stop and downloaded a app to help as a satnav. I just needed to get something to hold my phone on my bike so I could read the map whilst cycling. This turned out to be almost as challenging as the bike ride! Ever bike shop either had a part for holding it but not the whole thing, or it wouldn’t fit an iPhone 6! I was shocked presuming iPhone 6 were still top of the range! In the end I bought one for a car, a cable tied it to my handle bars. With a bit of tape for extra security! Atata found this hilarious naming my bike ‘Frankenstein’ for its bodged appearance.
The week had come for us to set off on our long journey just for a night out! Bags packed with bivi bag, sleeping bag, roll mat, biking clothes and a smart shirt and a pair of jeans for the night out! We set off into the wet and windy Yorkshire Dales heading over the roman road outside my house to cut off 30miles. This brought us out in Bishopdale, we were obviously high on adrenaline at this point as the miles flew by! We ended up just near Leeds! Great start I thought to myself! Day two was similar taking us near Shrewsbury.
DAY 3 is were it started to get interesting! Shrewsbury heading toward Hereford seemed pretty straight forward! Our arses at this point were starting to feel it! Every but in the road was met by an ‘urgh’. The route the app was taking us on seemed pretty straight forward but after 3hrs of none stop hills I thought something was up! I checked the route again and it was this spaghetti looking mess on the screen, hitting every hill between Shrewsbury and Hereford! To add to our pain after I had corrected the route, the day was full of burning sun! Later in the day I realised I had drank all my water, so checked the map for a town or village where I could get some more. 15miles away was the nearest village, and in between me and hydration stood an absolute beast of a hill! I thought to myself I’ve been in jungles and deserts and I’ve always been prepared with my water. Carrying plenty and planning routes around places to refill. But here in Shropshire I’ve ran out and I’m so thirsty! Idiot Matthew kept running through my head! On the 15mile detour to refill.
Day 4 was a short day after the hell of 150km up hill the day before. It was also hilly but we went Hereford to Gloucester and did it in no time. Found somewhere to camp, then next thing Atata was getting changed into a shirt! ‘I’m heading into Gloucester, I’ve got a date!’ Whilst we had been cycling he had been on the app Tinder and found himself a date! So if he went whilst I lay down eating my boil in the bag curry!
Day 5! This was our final push! Canal path was amazing, gliding alongside this for a good 20km which only took 1hr we were flying. It was an 80km day and we had done 20km in the first hour, I thought we are going to be there by lunchtime….oh how I was wrong. When we got onto the road I felt like my legs were going through hell but I wasn’t giving up. I pushed through thinking I get a second wind soon, then I realised I had spent the last 15km biking with my front brake stuck on! I was about dead, my legs were pumping! After I fixed this problem I hopped very stiffly back on Frankenstein and continued biking. At about the 60km mark the head wind picked up, if you stopped pedalling you would go backwards it was that strong, this wind and my dead legs was hell for me, but Atata was still cheerful and happy behind me. Then I noticed he was using me as a wind block, slip streaming behind me like Chris Froom! I pulled over and laughed at him, ‘I think you should have a go at the front’ I told him, he agreed and set off. All I could hear from in front of me was ‘Fuck’ then he stopped and told me he couldn’t do it. So of I went into the wind again.
Well anyway, I hope this story from last week inspires people to get out there and do things like this. It was great fun even though it was tough.