UK Cycle Touring Festival

This was our last serious training weekend (26-31 May 2016) and our first opportunity to test out our camping equipment. The riding was spectacular and all was going well until we had another serious mechanical…

We started our trip from Stapleford, after another amazing night of hospitality from my cousins Maria, Tony and Kristin. The ride out of the suburbs was familiar from the previous weekend and we enjoyed seeing all the lovely villages and farm animals between Stapleford and the Peak District. We knew it would be a hilly day but the Peak’s are unrelenting and we had to extend our ride because of bad planning on a bank holiday weekend. The Peak’s didn’t disappoint though and we were blown away by the scenery and the utter greenness of the whole landscape.

We were very relieved to roll into Buxton and grab a very tasty (and absurdly cheap!) lunch. From Buxton to Glossop the elevation was a bit much but Ties was flying and pedalled her heavy 40-45kg rig up all the hills. Eventually all our efforts were rewarded with unbelievable scenery when we re-entered the Peak District past Glossop. The views were so incredible we kept stopping to take it all, rather than take breath from the hills! We stayed at Crowden campsite; by far the best campsite either of us have stayed at. The staff were amazing, showers were hotel-quality and despite its remote location, they even have a pizza oven onsite.

13292914_10153565636232513_273463991_n 13342343_10153565636097513_386676199_n 13342314_10153565634902513_996880588_n

The next day we were surprisingly sprightly and eager to get to the UK Cycle Touring Festival. We started with the same amazing scenery as before and then hit some fairly drab towns around Greater Manchester. The highlight of the day was definitely the Lancashire moors between Nelson and Clitheroe. The perfectly tessellated ancient stone walls and quiet rolling roads reminded me so much of Postman Pat! And the scenery was what I imagine Canada will be like, with all the forests, lakes and greenery. We hit one horrible 19% hill, where I had to stand on the pedals and get right over the bars to keep my front wheel on the ground.

13348905_10153565634787513_145593808_n 13349093_10153565634862513_415347844_n 13330396_10153565634922513_1510045447_n

It was great arriving at the festival and we cooked ourselves our first dinner on our little stove. The festival was great. We heard from nutters who broke round the world cycling records, to geeky but very helpful tips on charging on the road. We even bumped into a guy we met coming off the boat at Amsterdam over Easter. And another guy we met hill training on Swains Lane in Highgate. Small world, cycle touring!

We both want to say a massive thank you to Laura and Tim for the effort they go into organising an excellent event. And Simon from Stanforth bikes for making us jealous by showing us his gorgeous made in England dream machines.

13307408_1314006441948963_5977996177365629003_n 13318706_10153565635047513_1368353112_n

We set off from the festival with the aim of cycling back to Stapleford going east of the Peak’s. We hadn’t anticipated how extreme the Pennine’s was but were so glad we cycled that way because the scenery was yet again mind-blowing. I reckon the Peak’s is the greenest place I’ve seen in England, but the Pennine’s takes it for breath-taking views. We met a junior pro cyclist at the Lancashire-Yorkshire border at the highest point of the Pennines. He was bewildered by our massive rigs and the unfeasibly steep hills we’d just climbed, but entertained us with his northern charm and stories; turns out he was doing his ride as a cool down after racing in Belgium the previous day. Crazy!

13319928_1313995298616744_4687797796913454653_n 13342950_1313995338616740_6600753344122663712_n 13319826_1313995505283390_3922566150989064591_n 13344539_1313995365283404_8547284215311022554_n 13307325_1313995395283401_4549532532256628379_n

We rolled down into Hebden Bridge and all was well until we got to Copley and Ties’ gear shifter went. Again! We have had so many problems with Ties’ bike and with all the hills we’d experienced that day, and knew we had to come, this was a real blow. It was about 4.30pm on a bank holiday Sunday so we knew we couldn’t get it fixed. We had no choice but to limp to Huddersfield and get three trains to Stapleford. This was not easy with all our panniers but we had very helpful staff and met some interesting characters including the bassist from Hazard, who’d been playing at the Nice n Sleazy Morecambe punk festival! We eventually got to my cousin’s around 10pm and they’d laid on one of their famous ‘carpet picnics’, which we joyfully inhaled. Ties’ bike is back at the shop and we’re upgrading the gears to hopefully avoid more issues in North America. If you’re thinking of getting a Genesis Tour de Fer 20, seriously consider upgrading the drivetrain; we’ve had to replace most if it already. And the shifters twice!!