8. Cycling in Great Britain (part 2)
If you can't see this e-mail properly, View it online
Saturday, August, 26th 2017
We've arrived in Harwich! This morning around 11:30 we saw the North Sea again after a long time. We had planned to arrive here today, but there was so much to see while getting here - Cambridge, Lavenham, Long Melford, Colchester -, that we decided to take it easy.This morning we packed our tent and loaded our bicycles for the last time and cycled the last 45 kilometers to Harwich.Tonight we sleep on the ferry which sails at 23:00 local time.
Personally I would have continued cycling for weeks (or months, years?), but when we come home on Sunday morning, our cycling holiday is at an end...
For anyone who's interested a continuation of Cycling through Great Britain:
That a cycling holiday in Great Britain is not very common is something we found out in our preparations. On a fair for cycling and walking holidays in February, we found nothing about Great Britain in the first instance, until we went along some tables where travelers exchange information with other travelers. There was someone who cycled through Great Britain and warned: keep in mind that you don't make the distances you're used to due to the many steep hills and often bad weather. 'But it is beautiful' he added. Within our social circle we haard different stories ranging from 'very dangerous' to 'very inconvenient'. And also 'cycling in Great Britain is very underestimated'. But 'it is beautiful over there' is never far behind.
And so it is, Great Britain is indeed very beautiful and we enjoy it thoroughly. And yes, is very steep, it rains a lot, it's somewhat dangerous and it is sometimes very inconvenient. I wrote earlier about the first two and after three weeks of Great Britain I can say that it isn't as much dangerous but rather more like very much of an inconvenience.
National Cycle Network
Thanks to Sustrans we have a huge cycling network to enjoy from national to local levels. Sustrans is an nonprofit organization which was setup to stimulate alternatives for the car.All routes created by Sustrans are signposted and adapted for bicycles where needed. Around 30% of the total cycling network goes over cycle paths and they try to use car-free roads like old railways converted into bicycle paths or something similar with old tow paths along canals.
Sounds beautiful and all, but the state of the road surface ranges from perfect to dire. Cycling paths are actually combined with footpaths and comfortable asphalt can change to steep gravel or mud paths which are for most cyclists a true test of their cycling skills.
But let me apologize. We Dutch people are spoiled rotten with our cycling infrastructure. Every time we come back from a cycling holiday in foreign countries, I decide that I don't need to complain over The Hague for instance, because I find it unfriendly to cyclists. It is not that bad after a cycling holiday abroad. But you get used to it and before Christmas is even The Hague degraded in my view.When we're abroad, we tend to take it as it is and merely to frown a bit when we dislike something.So even Great Britain has peculiarities that bring a frown-moment but also sets itself apart from other countries where we have cycled.
These infamously inconvenient barriers are put there by the local authorities to deter motorcycles, but packed bicycles or bicycles with a wide handlebar can't pass without lifting them and sometimes with two persons.
Narrow rural paths
Many local roads in Great Britain are narrow winding and give you no overview because of the hedges, walls and bushes. If you encounter a car or tractor from the opposite direction, then one of the two needs to go back-up and if a car comes from behind, it can only take us over if we find a spot to move out of the way. Sometimes we brace ourselves if we see two cars coming from opposite directions, but somehow it all goes well.
Wij We scratch our heads over some of the 'solutions' created by the authorities for cyclists. And we're not the only ones. There's even a website where they place a picture of 'cycle facility of the month' with sometimes very dubious situations. But what 'bothers' us most is the fact that cycling paths are shared with pedestrians and cyclists have to give way to pedestrians. The situation tends to add irritation on both sides. Cyclists just want to ride in a nice pace without disruption and pedestrians want to walk side by side with three or four people, or let a child or dog out running. Joggers with earbuds and elderly people often don't hear us and get a fright of us. Some respond upset that we should use our bell even though we did. Most just apologize. People not hearing our bells is not only in Great Britain though....
There are a lot of camping sites, but on many of them are limited to mobile homes or caravans. Or if you bring your own toilet facilities with you. Our disposable travel-john for emergencies does not count. And if you arrive at the end of the day, then it is hard to swallow that there is no place for a tent. Due to the lack of real camping sites, we've stayed more nights in hotels, B&B's hostels then any other vacation.
Thank you Great Britain!
Still Great Britain has a lot to offer a cyclist. We've only been in England and a small part of Wales, but we're sure to come back.It may rain a lot, but that's why it is so green. There may be a lot of hills, but then you get a lot of impressive views. And even though we frown every now and then, we're pleasantly surprised too.Those hedges at the side of the road have their advantages: we never plucked so many brambles as we did this year! And we're immune to nettles too. At least, on our arms an legs.
The rest of the photo's speak for themselves.
This newsletter will be sent once or twice a week during our bicycle journeys to family, friends and acquaintances (written by Gea and translated by Remy). If you do not appreciate this, you can unsubscribe via the link below.
Remy Bosch and Gea van Veen
|www.optweewielen.nl | contact | Instagram | Twitter
Copyright © 2017 | Op Twee Wielen