I woke up the next day and it was finally time to leave London. All I had to do was pack all the stuff I had into my panniers and I was away.
Unfortunately, being the pretty girl that I am I’d packed about about twice as many things as could actually fit into the panniers. And so, 2.5 hours after I started packing, I gave up, bungee-roped my backpack onto the seat behind me, bungee-roped my other backpack on top of it and attached the tank bag to the front. Basically I had so much stuff on the front the back of the bike that actually sitting in it felt like I’d slotted myself into some kind of jet-fighter – which was cool – but once again, my gnarly-adventurer-points took a hit.
What *am* I gonna do with all that junk inside that trunk? :-/
The ride actually turned out to be quite pleasant – I was pretty nervous about how the GPS setup with my phone and my bike would work but it was actually pretty good. The male english voice I have set up on the GPS app has this polite quality to it that makes me think of it as a loyal, intelligent butler that finds me the best roads and generally guides me, the kind of fool who would decide to go on a 5 month bike trip by himself, around. Hence I’ve christened him “George”. The bike itself remains unnamed though – I’ll think of something eventually.
Setting the GPS to avoid motorways actually turned out to be a pretty good way to find decent roads – I had a few hours of spectacular riding through sunshine and bright green fields of the land just north of London. Unfortunately though, because I’d started so late I eventually had to resort to the motorway, and spent most of the day on the slab.
The fun thing about having so much crap on the back of the bike is that its weight is more biased more to the back now, which is probably worse for cornering but so much better
for accidental wheelies. After muddling my way through paying the toll on the M6, I frustratingly gunned the throttle and ended up wheelieing the first 100m from the tollbooth, which is really the coolest way I can think of for exiting a tollbooth.
The rest of the ride north was pretty unremarkable until I got to YHA Windermere, which is where I was staying. I pulled up to the carpark, got off the bike… and the view was like this:
The hostel wasn’t the most exciting of places, but it was a nice break from the chaos of London. The Lake District is
famous for its walking trails, so I strapped on the hiking boots that were taking up so much space in my luggage and walked and walked. I’ve got to say, the views here are *incredible*. It’s the sort of England that you see in movies like the Chronicles of Narnia and think “yeah, no way anywhere still looks like that – it’s all concrete, steel and glass.
Walking around reminded me of trekking in Nepal – postcards everywhere you look. The great thing is that there’s this
public bridleway system that allows people to walk across private land (particularly farms), so you walk through forest and up hills and through fields and over fences and so forth, taking in the views. The other cool thing was that this being spring, the fields were full of cute little lambs that’d run away as I walked past. With the perfect weather it was like some kind of pastoral paradise.
I know a song that'll get on your nerves, get on your nerves, get on your nerves
At the end of the day I found that as it was a Sunday night, the hostel was almost completely empty and I had my 4-bed dorm to myself, allowing myself to spread out everywhere. Unfortunately the spreading out everywhere resulted in me losing a tonne of stuff when I moved out but it was nice for a few days. So basically I was able to spread out, drink tea and soak up the serenity.
On the second day I took the panniers off the bike, gave George the GPS a route I’d found on the internet and went for a proper ride, and it was great. Endless narrow winding roads with amazing views – unfortunately my GoPro setup was a bit fail so I haven’t got many action shots, but I did stop quite a few times just for a photo. I’ve got to say, the Versys is perfect for buzzing through these tiny bumpy roads – you’ve just got to be careful of cars coming the other way :-/. The other great thing about the lakes is that one second you’re riding alongside a pristine lake, the next thing you’re climbing a winding mountain pass, and the next you’re sweeping through farmland on a plateau. It’s very varied and very beautiful.
How's the serenity?
I’ve got to say, my visit to the Lakes really made me glad I’m doing this by bike – if I hadn’t looked at the map and thought “I only want to go so far in a day, what’s between Edinburgh and London?” then I’d never have come here, and I’d certainly have had much more problems getting around if I did.