Scotland and England

So the past week has been a little crazy. I got back from Iceland on Tuesday morning and took a taxi straight to the bike shop to get my back wheel fixed. By that afternoon my wallet was substantially lighter, my bike was even heavier, and I was ready to get going again!

In the morning after a little faffing around to buy a new pump and some chain lube I was off. My initial plan was to ride south west and then east from Glasgow to Ayr to Dumfries, but on arriving in Ayr in the rain at 8:30pm with 90km under my belt I realised two weeks off the bike is a long time and more fitness was required.

Not to worry, Clare had plans for me and through a stupid number of train trips and some beautiful riding (Dumfires to Carlisle) I made it to Penistone in Yorkshire at night with no where to stay and was needless to say a little stressed. Luckily a kind farmer/prospective campsite manager sorted out a patch of ground for the tent.

Saturday morning saw Clare arrive on a train from London and off we set. Now Penistone is in the Peaks District which seems to be appropriately named, we rode up hills, down hills, and up hills again all day. Looking at the stats we rode 1122 vertical metres in 59km which is a fair bit on fully loaded bike last time I checked. The steeped gradient warning we saw was for 25% but luckily we were headed downhill on that. Some of the up hills mamust surely have been approaching the 20% mark as the rain and storms set in.

The highlight of the ride though would have to be the amazing rail trail we rode on for a good 20 miles. Virtually flat and following the cuttings and bridges of the old line it was both spectacular from an engineering and scenic perspective.

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How did I end up in Greenland?

Well it is ten days since I put up my post explaining how all plans had fallen to pieces and my bike was not far from doing so either.

In that time things have happened. Lots of things. Amazing things. Amazing things facilitated by amazingly
friendly people who really had no reason to help me so much. Most of what has happened hasn’t even involved me in the planning process which has certainly been an experience in itself.

Firstly there is that minor point that I somehow ended up in Greenland. Not quite sure how that happened but I will be honest and say a confident and pretty smile was possibly involved, as was an not insignificant amount of money and one and a galf business hours between descision and a flight. As part of this I ended up landing in Greenland with my stuff packed into a borrowed hiking pack and the name of a town written on a piece of paper and instructions to negotiate with the locals at the wharf.

What transpired was one of the most beautiful hikes of my life.

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After all this excitement I some how ended up in central iceland (again coordinated by lovely strangers) for another spectacular hiking adventure.

Silver linings (and the shit hits the plan)

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I’ve never had such a massive component failure, and I admit I never expected it to happen in such a perfect location.

Context: Will, Venetia and I had just crested the summit of a very long pass. Over 10kms we’d been climbing constantly up from sea level to 500m elevation. The hill was almost constantly rising with only a few places to recover a little. I am riding my ECR rigged for touring with slickish tyres and a total weight of 55kgs. The others are riding their Surlys with 3″ knobbly tyres and are pretty much fighting for ever metre.
We reach the pass, and in the last 100m I notice my shifting and gears are feeling weird again so stop to check.

Plans begin to unravel:
Stopping the bike Will comes over and I show him rhe funny noise when I pedal, which sounds like the chain skipping over the tensioners gear wheels (which it is).
Taking the wheel out and checking things out we found the free wheel was barely moving and appeared to be gummed up, in the process of poking and prodding it becomes apparent that the drive side bearing has failed as the axles is moving a few millimetres laterally in its housing. To top it off I think noticed oil had spilled on to the rim and on investigation it is appaeebt that the seal on my alfine 11 speed hub has failed and the gear oil is leaking rapidly.

Analysis: It is a whole world off fucked up inside that hub.

Silver linings:
Despite this all being a bit of a catastrophe it genuinely could not have happened in a better location. The pass we are sitting on top of is 16km almost entirely down hill to a ferry whicch connects with a bus that’ll get me back to Rejkyavik. The axle is still intact and the bearings has just enough life to get me along the roads, and the area is simply stunning. I mean genuinely utterly phenomenally indescribably beautiful.

So we rode down the hill to the pub. I jave never had so much fun in my life. Will and i took the chain off my bike so I have the heaviest balance bike ever made and off we go, flying down this beautifully made dirt road in a spectacular glacial valley with snow drifts, tarns, waterfalls, melt water rivers, massive cliffs and so so much happiness.

I’ll try to put up the video of the descent, but believe me. I have never riden a faster, more exhilarating descent!

Video Extract

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Iceland (pre-riding)

Well well well. I find myself in Iceland. Not find myself in the usual figurative sense of the word but in a somewhat literal sense. I arrived in Iceland on Sunday with no plan, no map, no idea how to get around or even the faintest clue of what I should see think or expect. Luckily two friends from Sydney, Will and Venetia, were in Reykjavik and instead of just offering advice have extended their stay here by two weeks and I now have some riding buddies with bikes even bigger and awesomer than mine.

While we haven’t really done much riding yet, and I have spent a lot of time chilling in the city checking things out it has been pretty spectacular all the same.

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