I’m currently sat in the Executive lounge on a Danish Seaways ferry. By ‘Executive’ it means you get your own keycode to get in, a complimentary pastry and unlimited vending machine coffee. As an added bonus today, we are joined by a German film crew led by an 18 stone Frau who is constantly barking orders to her minions! All this for a bargain £10.99!
Well yesterday’s ride down from London caught me by surprise as soon as I stepped outside the door of the Airbnb just off the Edgeware Road. It was bitter! 2 degrees max. Failing to consider this possibility! I had only packed shorts, fingerless gloves and no warm top. Out of the wind it was ok but once moving the wind chill dropped considerably. Downhill bits made me teeth hurt and I was relieved when the relatively flat route from central London produced a decent hill to pedal up.
By the suburb of Eltham I was frozen and sought hot coffee in a Tesco Express. Whilst in there, I approached a young spotty youth who was replenishing the Mars Bars and asked,
“Excuse me, do you sell gloves?”
There was a pause……. Not a short one but a verging on awkward one. He then averted his gaze upwards and squinted slightly as I waited with great anticipation for his reply. You could hear the cogs turning here. You could see here was a chap that didnt really pay attention at school. Without a word, he disappeared for 20 seconds and then returned clutching a packet of bright yellow Marigolds. Well I guess technically he was right. I asked for gloves and he produced some from aisle 3. Obviously my reply was lacking context. I then explained that I was after the type of gloves that keep your hands warm. His reply being,
“Oh right! I fawt ya were cleaning or summink!”
Cleaning? Dressed as I was? Cleaning?
I pressed on and out into suburbia. The sun was trying its hardest to percolate the morning mist without much success. By 9am it still wasn’t showing any sign of warming up and by Dartford I’d had enough. But wait! What is this? Like a shining light by the roadside there appeared………….. a Halfords! 20 minutes later I was kitted out in cheap Chinese-made cycling apparel in the form of leg warmers (lycra type tubes), gloves and another top. Not the best quality (in fact, with it being the end of the season, it was all the crap they couldn’t sell over the winter or even in the spring sale!). Beggars can’t be choosers and I was warm at last!
Yesterday, Kent played host to some Scando-Baltic headwinds. Nothing too strong but enough to make a difference and to keep things cold. All the way down the A20 from Maidstone, I did battle with this bloody wind.
At some point somewhere, I stopped off at a filling station and was lured to the hot food counter. In the display cabinet were a couple of sausage rolls. Hot pastry containing a few ounces of processed ‘meat’. They looked good, they smelt even better. The fact that pastry induces indigestion in me lasting days didnt even occur. I snapped them up, tucked in and they were………..bloody awful. Why do we do these things to ourselves? We know it’s going to be bad but still, time after time, set ourselves up for a big disappointment! I departed once again feeling pretty sick and kicking myself for not just having a simple ham roll!
25 miles later, the town of Folkestone appeared over the last of many horizons where a warm welcome and bath awaited. All in all a good but chilly day and glad to get this part out if the way.
Mileage for Day: 76.3 miles
Total so far: 76.3 miles
Today is 65 (+ 11miles to the ferry) or so miles from Dunkerque down to the south of Lille. Should be much flatter than yesterday with less winds too with any luck.
Au revoir x