The plan

“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” John Steinbeck.
As I mentioned in my first post, my goal is that my 60 year-old legs propel my 61 year-old Thanet Silverlight bicycle to the city where we were both born – Bristol, England. The Thanet frame was made at 50 Elmdale Road, Bedminster, Bristol. The building is now two domestic dwellings, 50 and 50A.  With luck we’ll both arrive on the morning of Saturday 14th April, having set out from Barcelona on 1st April, then I’ll pedal the rest of the way home to South Wraxall, near Bradford-on-Avon, a gentle 25 miles and only one final climb, Bathford Hill, about 2 miles from home. 
My final destination: the birthplace of my Thanet bicycle is now two private dwellings: 50 and 50A.
This shot is from 2008 when it was last sold, hence the estate agents’ sign.


One of the things that makes this trip exciting is its unpredictability. I don’t know if either the bike or I will last the pace. I don’t know what the weather’s going to be like. I don’t know the terrain, apart from what I’ve read. And I don’t yet know where I’m going to stay each night because I don’t know when I’ll be tired. Having said all that, I do have a planned route and some rough timing for the trip. This is it:
Day 1: Barcelona to Girona                    106km
Day 2: Girona to Perpignan                    107km   
Day 3: Perpignan to Carcassone             120km
Day 4: Carcassonne to Toulouse             91km
Day 5: Toulouse to Agen                        106km  (530km stage 1)
Day 6: REST
Day 7: Agen to Libourne                        123km
Day 8: Libourne to St Savinien              126km
Day 9: St Savinien to Les Epesses         130km
Day 10: Les Epesses to Pouancé            110km
Day 11: Pouancé to St Malo                   135km (624km stage 2)
Day 12: REST (FERRY DEPARTS 10:45)
Day 13: Portsmouth to Bristol                90km
Day 14: Bristol to Bath                           30km

TOTAL                                1274km….791 miles
In practice, I expect to cover nearer 800 to 900 miles with diversions, intended and otherwise. And I don’t really expect much to go to plan. If things go better than expected, and both the bike and I are up to it, we may even add on another 100 or so miles at some point to make it a 1000 mile trip. Perhaps going onto Cherbourg, rather than returning home via St Malo. However,  I’d be very happy to just achieve the original objective.
I took the Thanet for a final spin today, just a few miles. Something didn’t feel quite right and, sure enough, when I got back I found that a cotter pin had worked loose again and the crank had some movement in it. I tightened it up and added a lock nut for good measure. At least old bikes are pretty basic and, for the most part, you don’t need sophisticated tools to keep them going.
When I got back from the ride at about 4 o’clock this afternoon I had a surprise tea party, arranged by my wonderful wife, Sally, and attended by my four children – Adam, Heather, and twins Harry and Matilda  (actually two adults and two children) and my lovely granddaughter, Charlotte Rose.
Now I’m just about to print out the checklist, panic about the things I may have forgotten, and load the bike into the car…

One thought on “The plan

  1. scootsuep March 28, 2012 / 7:53 pm

    Hope all goes really well and that you have the most amazing time! We will be thinking of you and all send lots of love. Derek, Sue, David & Sarah x x x x


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