River Danube Tour Day 7: Messing about on the river

We got up out of our tower after a really nice sleep.  We woke up at about 0600 and went to pay a visit thinking we would be the first up, but these Germans are early risers and the shower block had quite a few people pottering about.  After fixing Rachaels tyre (it had a piece of glass stuck in it) we left the site at about 0900, a bit later than planned.  The temp was showing as 37 degrees on the Garmin in the shade it just felt like it was a blow torch on your back in the sun.

It was a struggle to get to the place where we get the little boat across to the other side.  The boat is the best way as the river as cut a vertical route through leaving no room for a bike path.  So you would have to detour to by-pass the gorge.

When we finally got to the place where we got the boat, we were struck by the complete beauty, there were people swimming and paddle boarding, but it was so quiet and not busy or tacky at all.  It was the perfect place to stay for the day, but we had to get the boat to get to our digs.  It was a bit of a challenge lifting the bikes in but people were there to help and other cycle tourers were taking their bikes as well so I did not feel I was causing any problems.  Just before the boat came a French couple that were also on bikes jumped into the river, I thought I am having some of that.  I wish we could have stopped there all day because as soon as you left the water the blow torch was on full blast.  The French guy told me that the water temp was 28 degrees!!  but it felt cool in contrast to the crazy temperature out of the water.

When we got off the ferry we went to a bike shop for some supplies and the guy behind the counter said their summer is normally 28 degrees.  That temp sounds a lot better hat 36 degrees.  He also said that it is not cooling down at all for the forseeable future.  It is making the riding really difficult and other tourers have said they are not getting the kilometres done that they were expecting to do each day!  I am happy that it is sunny, but a tad bit cooler and I would be happier.

We did end up doing just short of 60 km today and stopped in a beautiful town called Kelheim.  It really is nice.  We had some food at a greek place and now I feel stuffed.  I broke the diet today and had a pastry mid morning and an ice cream on a walk to the bike shop.  We are taking showers whenever we pass one or jumping in the river if a place allows.  I would sum up our progress today as “Just getting through it”.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

River Danube Tour Day 4: Thanks a Lotte!

This was always going to be a tough day.  We knew it was going to be hot, but we also knew that we had to make up a stage after going one behind on the first day having gone over the 1100m mountain from Triberg.

The terrain was getting less lumping but the shade was getting few and far between.  We were on exposed field roads for the most part and you have nowhere to run when the going is getting just a little but too sweaty.  On the Garmin GPS unit that I use the temp in the shade was 36 degrees but in the sun it was showing 43-46 degress and there was no let up.

We took the opportunity to wet our heads in the river when there was a banking that would let us get down down.  At one location we took our tops off soaked them in the river and jumped on the bikes again before they dried out.  The river was teaming with little fish, hundreds of them!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On this stretch we have seen the usual amount of Herons, but we have been introduced to large Storks wandering through fields.  The other birds we have seen have been large Kites that circle overhead and cast large shadows over you like a scene from a Jurassic film.

The tourist highlight for today was the Bautopf cave system.  It is massive and surfaces with what I have been calling the blue lagoon.  Crazy to think that there is no base to the lagoon and it just continues in to a massive cave system.

Our host for this evening has been Lotte.  I got in touch through the bike hosting site Warm Showers http://www.warmshowers.org.  Basically, if you are a cycle touring, fellow cycle tourers will put you up and try to help you out as much as possible on your trip.  I used the site for the first time when riding from Canada to Mexico four years ago.  Lotte met us at her house and let us use the shower and get ourselves feeling human again.  She made us a beautiful tea of pasta with a an amazing creamy veg sauce with scrummy bread.  Her generosity has been amazing, she is showing us a shop tomorrow that will hopefully sell GAS!  Lotte has been to many places on her bike and she is a huge inspiration for just getting out there and living life how you should, wild and free! Forget the holiday reps trying to sell you a package of fake adventure. See the bits the reps don’t even know about have a bit of fear as that is what makes us who we are WILD ANIMALS 🙂

 

River Danube Tour Day 2: Finding the source of the great flow

Today we got up early and had breakfast as 0800.  The weather forecast is stating 32 degrees everyday whilst we are cycling but on the bikes the breeze makes it feel bearable.  We were on a bit of a mission to find cooking camping gas.  But we also wanted to go up and see the highest waterfall in Germany the entrance to the walk was literally just across the road, 4 metres away.  The waterfall walk once you go through the gates is about 30 mins.  We did not go up as far to see the 160m drop but we did see the seven cascades.  This was not through any other reason other than we did not know you had to go higher to see the big one! doh.

Once we got on the bikes straight away we were on a 1100m mountain climb and it felt good.  I love nothing better than getting in to an easy gear and pacing a way up a mountain full with luggage.  The bikes handled it superbly and I was so impressed at how easy it was even though in places they were advertising 20%.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Once on the top it levelled out to nice meadows and beautiful tall trees.  The only thing you could hear at times were the cow bells.  It was just magical!

There has been some disputes over the years as to where the Danube actually starts and the villages of both places have come to a solution.  So there is the start of the highest stream which feeds into the Danube and they class it as the head water of the river.  We were there first as that is the highest point.  This area is called Bregquelle then after 40 odd km’s we came to Donaueschingen.  Here they have a Roman wall where they built a wall around the spring where the streams and river surfaces again, this is called the official start.

It has been one hell of an amazing day of cycle touring.  If you have not been to the Black Forest in Germany you need to get here.  I am having such a beautiful time, if it continues like this it will be a tour that will stay in the brain cells for many years.

 

River Danube Tour Day 1: Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Trains, Trains, Auomobiles, Trains, Trains

As I know from doing this kidda thing for the last decade, getting to an awesome place with a bike is probably the most challenging bit.  Riding the route you have planned is the reward for all the effort.

We set off this morning at 0510 and got the train from Sowerby Bridge at 0545 to Manchester Airport.  As we had a big box we bypassed the massive queue and Ryan Air Checkin and was told to go straight to the front, bonus!  Our plane was delayed by about 30 mins, but we had a nice breakfast in the airport so no worries.  We landed at about 1500 local time.

When we landed in Stuttgart we then had to get a taxi from the airport to the train station.  As we had the Bromptons we did not need to wait for the train that I had booked with cycle carriage.  We could jump on any train we liked!!  This would have saved us ab out five hours, but we missed a stopped and had to do a  bit of back tracking, so in the end we only saved a couple of hours, still a bonus.

As the train was getting closer to our destination in Triberg the scenery suddenly changed.  If you have not been to this neck of the woods, sorry forest, Black Forest.  You need to get here quick, it is beautiful and amazing!

Our total journey consisted of:  Taxi, train, plane, taxi, train, train, train, train and taxi.  But it was sure worth it.  We got to our hotel and it is a rite old traditional building.  We got here quite late 2100 so they did some quick and easy bites for us, a couple of G&T’s and an apple strudel with vanilla sauce.  Feeling proper sorted.

Just time now for a shower, as we have been given a free ticket from the hotel to walk up to the highest waterfall in Germany.  So that is the plan for tomorrow morning before we set off on the route.

River Danube Tour: Day 0

Tomorrow we set off on our tour of the River Danube.  As we are restricted on time we are doing half of the official 1800 mile long route.  So we are doing 900 miles from the Black Forest in Germany through Austria, Slovakia then finishing in Budapest the capital of Hungary.  The route goes through many beautiful villages and cities including Vienna.  You can see the official website for the route here:  https://www.danube-cycle-path.com/

An image of some of the gorges we will be navigating

gorge

The plan:  We have our bikes and bags packed up in boxes and tomorrow we make our way to Manchester Airport.  From there we fly to Stuttgart and the get a train to Triburg.  Triburg is a very attractive village in the Black Forest about 12km from the start of the route.

We have about 500m of climbing to do before we reach the route.  As we are starting at the source in the mountains the route generally follows a downward slope, but as we will want to get to the top of some of the gorges for views and villages there are bound to be some hills which will keep me happy 🙂

We are camping along the route with a couple of hotels in the cities even though you could if you wanted to camp in the city as well.  I have also got in touch with some hosts on the cycle hospitality site WarmShowers.  I used these in American and Canada and the hosts were amazing.  If you are looking at doing some touring and want to try staying with a cycle hosts the website is: https://www.warmshowers.org/

We are doing the route on Bromptons.  I will have a rucksack that will sit on the back rack vertically and attached at the seat.  Images of this will follow once we get to Triburg and set up the bikes.  I got the idea to pack this way off another cycle touring site, ‘Path Less Pedaled’ www.pathlesspedaled.com/  It is a good site full of reviews and touring tips.  I have weighed the bags and the front bag is about 15kg the rucksack is 20kg and the bike is 13kg and I weigh about 75kg.  So a total weight of 123kg I will need to drag up the hills.  If you have seen my previous tours you will know that this is quite a lot less than what I have hauled in the past.  The fully loaded tandem with trailer plus 9 year old from Spain springs to mind 🙂

An image of a Brompton set up like ours will be is below.

brompton with bags

I have the Bromptons on a three-month hire as I wanted a long-term test to see if they were able to join the stable of bikes I have.  I can say we are both very impressed with the bikes and we will be getting some of our own.  As they are hire bikes they do not have the full touring spec that I will get on the ones we will buy.  The ones we will get will have the -12% gearing, dynamo lights and the touring P type bar with a raw finish.  Like the one below but with dynamo lights.

FullSizeRender10

So we are excited by the trip and we are getting the last of the bits together.  I will try and keep a daily blog update of the trip with images and hopefully some video (depends on wifi and data limits).  So our boxes and bags are nearly packed.

 

 

 

Cycle Budda Life Ep1

Diary of a Lifestyle Cyclist and Tourer

I have several bikes in my shed, bedroom, cellar and conservatory.  All very different.  A carbon race bike that does not get much use.  A fatbike gets more use than the carbon bike.  A steel utility tourer with Rohloff hub and a cross bike in bits.

This morning I jumped on the steel steed and with all the snowy weather we have had recently a lot of salt has been put down on the roads.  When I jumped on it this morning I knew something was not right.  The Rohloff had spun around and the wheel was twisted.  How? I do not know, it was running fine the last time I got off it!  One thing for sure all the salt put down to combat the snow has not helped, even though I did give it a quick rinse before I put it away a few days ago.  I had to hot foot it back to the shed.  Choices, fatbike, no not this time, people might think I was riding it because of the snow and that had all gone.  Cross bike in pieces, Carbon bike, it will have to be even though I really did not want to.  I justified the decision with the fact carbon can’t rust as far as I am aware.  Now, the race bike had been serviced a few months ago and not been ridden since….. Chain Snap eh oh that is easy to fix.

My point…. I came across the saying the number of bikes you should own is n+1, with n being the current number of bikes you already have.

Now I love this.  I constantly look at bike websites and wish I had most of them.  I am not into slick race bikes anymore so I can give or take them.  But any sexy utility, tourer and everyday bike I am all over it!  But due to space I have been on a mission to find the perfect one bike!  Let me tell you I don’t think it can exist if only for the reason you need another bike to jump on to when your current one fails between your legs.  It is a bit like having an AA membership if you own a car.  You need a conveyor belt of bikes to go through in turn.  One you are riding, one in the workshop and two in ready in the shed waiting to go.  So if you are a lifestyle cyclist that needs a bike for commute, shopping and fun I will put a number on five bikes minimum.

Current Bike Project

The Cannondale cross bike that I have has been to battle with cycle touring and was showing the scars from a couple of coast to coasts and the excellent ride back from Spain on the Velodyssey route.  It was an amazing trip.  My partner her nine year old and myself all the way on the coastal route if you want to see beautiful things and jump in the sea then it is a must do tour.  You can see how we got on in previous posts.  Anyway the bike did an amazing job.  The only problem is that the paint work got a bit tatty.  So I have jazzed it up with a metallic purple powercoat which looks cool.

IMG_20180224_131323

It is also getting built up in a different style.  I am going for SOMA Sparrow bars.  MTB 1×11 shifting and Hydro disc brakes.  Brooks saddle.  It will look the bee’s knee’s when it is built up.  Some stuff is just starting to trickle through, so the tools are coming out.

So far the brakes and BB have come.  The handlebars should be here in the next week.  By the end of next week we should of seen some progress that I will share with you.

 

NHGS Cycle Fundrasier

Starting on the 15th July forty two teenage students are cycling the Way of the Roses route, coast to coast from Morecambe to Bridlington.  It is 170 miles over some tough hills in the Yorkshire Dales.  The really cool thing is they are carrying their own gear and cooking their own meals.  Being completely independent and showing grit and resilience.  It is the third time the school has done a coast to coast ride to raise money and the student manage to get about £10,000 each time the ride has run.  Please show your support to the students and donate on their Money Giving Page https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/NHGSC2C3 Please share this link with as many people as you can, the students will really appreciate it.

Eyewear

If you are in need of sport eyewear that has removable lens and can be made prescription please consider these specs from Sunwise.

IMG_0713

The profit, around £15 for each pair will go towards the C2C ride above.  Please contact:  Stewart Mitchell (Eyecare) LLP, 81 Godwin Street, Bradford, BD1 2SH, Call 01274 723362, http://sidneyfraser.co.uk/

Here to Help

I may be able to assist you in the following ways:

  1. You want to dust off your old bike and commute to work but want to build up some confidence.
  2. You would like a guided tour around Calderdale/Yorkshire.
  3. You want help setting up a local cycle club.
  4. You want to set up and host a cycle fund raising activities/event.

e-mail me at djugroop@gmail.com and we can talk about your cycling requirements.  No harm in asking to see what we can do!

Upcoming Rides, Tours and Fundraising

The next few cycling escapades in order of completion include:

April 3rd – April 5th:  I will be undertaking my Advanced Mountain Bike Leader Award.  I already hold the Multi Day Tour Leader Award which is suitable for long tours on the road.  Being able to confidently take groups off the tarmac and into some beautiful, peaceful countryside is the main advantage and incentive of holding the Advanced MTB Award.  Both awards have been led and organised by Cycling UK (CTC).   https://www.cyclinguk.org/courses-and-training.

training

May 26th 2018 – May 29th 2018:  Coast to Coast ride (Way of the Roses) with a small group of teenagers.  This will be about twenty young kids tackling the 170 miles from Morecambe to Bridlington.

July 15th 2018 – July 18th 2018:  Coast to Coast ride (Way of the Roses) with NHGS.  Forty one students will be riding to raise money for their school.  Please donate here  https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/NHGSC2C3.  For information on the route click this link:  http://wayoftheroses.info/route.

July 21st 2018 – July 23rd 2018:  I will be doing the 98 mile off road West Highland Way.  For this trip I will be travelling light and doing some proper bikepack bivvying 🙂  You can find information from the official site here.  https://www.westhighlandway.org/.

image

July 28th 2018 – August 13th 2018:  Cycle tour of the first half of the river Danube.  Starting in the Black Forest of Germany and ending 1300km later in Budapest, Hungary.  This is the offical site for the route.  https://www.danube-cycle-path.com/.

dan

As I do the routes I will be blogging more frequently to inform you of the cycling to inspire ideas and trips of your own.

 

 

 

 

C2C2: The Full Story

9th July 2017

On the 9th of July six teachers set off to meet thirty six students in St Bee’s.  The students were in Year 9 to Year 10 and five students from Year 11.  Their mission was to cycle from coast to coast.  A handful of students had cycled with us last year when we did the Way of the Roses coast to coast route, but to many this was all new.  All of them had the extra challenge of carrying their gear and food and cooking their own meals on this trip.  As we got to St Bee’s school we started to unload the bus and the students started to rock up just a couple of minutes later.  Everyone was allocated a tent and they got in their sleeping groups and started to put up their tents and some parents stopped to help them out which was great.  The images below shows us setting up at the school, which they so graciously let us use for free. 




After they had set up the tents we ran through the safety of using the stoves and the students made their tea.  They had kept their meals simple and some even had to ask how to cook Super Noodles, but this was soon to change once their knowledge and confidence grew.  After they had made tea we took a one mile practice trip down to the coast to dip our toe, as in the morning we could then just set off from the school.


After we got back from our little trip to the coast it was time for a brief about the ride and the students used the stoves again to make hot drinks.


10th July 2017

When we woke the weather was horrible.  Wet and cold.  We found some shelter by the tennis courts and made our breakfast we then dropped our tents and loaded up our bikes ready to go.


When we were ready we posed for some group photos.


This day was going to be some hard riding.  We had the Winlatter climb to do which takes you through some beautiful places.  In the first couple of miles we had a few tears due to a lack of confidence and some self doubt about what they had taken on but once we settled the nerves we could crack on and prove there was nothing to worry about.


We went past some stone circles at the top of a steep climb and I told the kids to choose a stone and choose a pose.


We got to our first campsite which was Gill Head Farm.  It was lovely and after the mileage we had done a shower was most welcome.


As soon as the tents has been erected we started with our cooking and the food they were concocting was getting more and more adventurous. The students bought supplies everyday at the final stop which we always ensured was a supermarket.



As you can see from the image above one of the 6th form students had packed away a small pizza oven which was used to create a whole manner of meals.  Mr Robinson took advantage and heated up a rump steak.

11th July 2017

In the morning we woke up and got ready for the day ahead.  It was a students birthday and her dad had given us a cake so we could celebrate the occasion before we set off.


Today we were making our way to Crossfells Campsite in Penrith.  We stopped off at a cycle friendly cafe in Greystoke called the Quirky Cafe.  They had laid out table and had a few quirky little chickens walking around.

When we got to the site the students got into campsite routine and put up their tents.  There was never any complaining the whole trip about their routine each day, they just got stuck in and worked as a team to get the mission complete.

12th July 2017

The students woke up to sun after going through rain and cold each morning.  This was a lovely surprise but they did need to get up Hartside today, so this new heat would add greater difficulty.


The students got into cooking breakfast once more and it was getting a slicker and slicker process each day.

The students worked hard and the pace was just right to get them to the top where they could stuff their faces in the cafe at the top to replace the lost calories.


In the evening we were to stop at a lovely campsite called Haggs Bank in Alston.  This site had showers and we needed one after tackling Hartside in the sun.

As it got darker the midges started to come out and there were loads of them, a thick cloud of biting insects. Again, the students handled it and got in their tents after hot drinks.

13th July 2017

In the morning the midges were still vicious but we needed to put up with it, get our breakfast and set off.  Today we would do a few climbs and one of them, the final one of the whole trip is a steep hill out of Stanhope.


Some beautiful cloud formations in the morning.  Hopefully meaning good weather.


We stopped off in Allenheads for some snacks.


During the course of this ride the students rode through two counties within about the space of two hours.


We had lunch in Stanhope and did the steep climb out.  When we got to the railway track at the top, the students were told by Mr Robinson that they had just completed the last climb of the trip.  This resulted in a big cheer.



We rode into Consett which was our final nights accommodation.  The rugby club were letting us use their facilities which was very kind of them.  The club is very well managed and it was a nice place to put up a tent, but I have to admit the urban environment took a bit of getting used to.  The students did have the pitch to kick around on, but it did start to rain which cut short the evening.


14th July 2017 – Final Day

We woke up wet and cold, but the rain had stopped.  We packed up and made simple breakfasts as we needed to get rolling by 0800 to be on target to meet the parents between 1200 and 1300. We had realised over the last few days that our morning turn around time is two hours so we got up at 0600.


As we were riding the day just got warmer and warmer so we had to strip layers off as we took breaks.

As soon as we got into Newcastle by the Tyne it was time to start to take pictures.


We stopped in a cafe called The Cycle Hub, it is on the Tyne about 11 miles from the finish.  At this location we gave awards and speeches to the students that had really stood out over the week.  Everybody did an amazing job, but there were some students that had really become part of the team and realised that there was a bigger plan that needed to be finished and these students were rightly recognised for their effort.  It was a brilliant location for the awards as we had outside seating all together in the courtyard.


The finish was getting close and like last year I picked some students to lead the team to the finish.  On this ride the team were the Year 11’s as they had done both C2C rides and I really believe they love the lifestyle and zen of cycle touring.  About 500 meters from the end I stopped the group and shook their hands.  I could see parents in the distance.  The Year 11’s took over and rode us in in style.  As the students had to ride as part of a touring team they have to ride to the pace of the leader which is slower than they would like to ride.  This is so we keep as a group, but also a pace to get them from one end of the country to the other in one piece and in a condition to enable them to ride again day after day. So at the finish I told the students to “unleash the beast” that had been tamed during the rest of the ride and they sprinted to the finish. 


Summary

This was an amazing experience for the students.  They were self sufficient and were trusted to look after their meals and to think about other people before thinking of themselves.  The students returned that trust by behaving brilliantly.  I was told by cafe owners how well behaved the students were and I was told by other cycle tourers how organised the students were to work together on the road to make an incredible team.  I have always believed, but it highlighted to me how silly our modern ideas are.  We blame, protect and restrict at all the wrong times and narrow the experiences and enjoyment of ourselves and our students.  We need to be out and enjoy the world more and stop the fixation with man made systems within every sector of our world.  Within education these are targets and qualifications, if they are enjoying what they are doing the rest will come automatically.

I need to thank a few people.  Firstly the parents for allowing your children to undertake this task.  Thank you for all the effort you put into fund raising and buying plus setting up bikes and gear.  Your trust is greatly appreciated and I hope they have had a good time.

The students for responding to advice, working as a team and keeping us all safe on the road.  I told the students at every opportunity, cycle touring is all about being professional from start to finish.  We can’t just ride care free as a big group.  We need to be organised and look out for each other.  The students followed that advice and that is how we came over the line as one pack of fully trained cyclists, everyone that started, finished.

I would like to thank the leadership team at school that allowed the trip to go ahead.  The finance team have been great keeping a track of the fund raising efforts and Debbie in the kitchen was brill getting her supplier to gives us some spare food for the journey.

The staff team Kirsty, Nic, Robbo, Andrew and Sue.  Thank you for your effort, thank you for believing in the principles of a cycle trip.  Your professionalism and zen is why this trip can go ahead.

A ‘normal’ bicycle does not need recharging and it does not prompt you for an update.  With a simple bit of knowledge you can fix most breakages or get to some where to get it fixed.  It saves our planet, saves our resources and can take you places you only dreamed of.  So my advice would be don’t dream, ride bikes, have fun and see the world and empower yourself with the knowledge it is all done by you!  

C2C2 Starting Today

We are finally here!  After a successful week at Year 9 Camp we are now taking 36 NHGS students are riding coast 2 coast from St Bee’s to Tynemouth to raise money to kit out their sports hall with fitness equipment. They have raised £7800 so far and would really like your help.  The link is at the bottom of the post if you wish to donate.

The students are carrying their own gear and cooking their own food.  A marvellous effort for 13-16 year olds!

Bikes should be getting loaded as we post!

To the participants.  Excellent effort with your fundraising, the school is very proud of you.  Here’s to a good week ahead and I will see you in St Bee’s at 1600 this evening 🙂

http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/NHGSC2C2