DAY 10

Today's mileage: 63
LEJOG mileage to date: 570

Map view:

Google Earth view:

And the ride to date:

The reports will probably get shorter as I go as there are fewer new things to say, and I need to start getting to bed earlier! The start times have been getting rather delayed ...

We had a rest day planned for the following day. Donald was staying with relatives, and Erica & I were staying with an old university friend of hers, Sheelagh, so we went our separate ways for today's ride.

The route took in all the glamour spots of the north: Northallerton, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle.

The first part was very rural, though.

Most of the route now was on the Great Northern Road, so was very straight.

And the weather, as you can see, continued to be perfect. If anything, a bit too perfect: I was baking on the uphills, and grateful for the cooling breeze of the downhills.

Although the roads look flat in the photos, they weren't. Few of the hills were steep, but the entire day was continuously up-and-down.

Northallerton was the first urban bit:

A small place, but big enough for a one-way system, circumvented by a quick nip across a connecting pavement.

Then back onto the open road.

Lunch was in Darlington, just over 20 miles in. I found a street cafe:

It was TexMex food, which felt a little risky for cycling, so they very kindly did me a scrambled eggs and sausages without any of the spicy bits. Accompanied by a banana milkshake and pot of Earl Grey tea (a somewhat bizarre but very scientifically sound menu!).

In the interests of weight efficiency, Donald and I had been sharing a single bike-lock - with mine left in the motorhome. Which worked find when we were riding together ... I nipped into a bike shop to buy a cheap one just to cover me while nipping into pubs to order.

The day was pretty evenly spread: 20-ish miles to Darlington, 20-ish to Durham and 20-ish to Newcastle.

I have an easily-triggered curiosity about anything and everything, so when I see something like that, I have to find out who the Prince Bishops were.

According to The North East England History Pages:

County Durham is unique, as for many centuries it was a virtually independent state ruled not by the king, but by powerful `Prince Bishops', who were more or less the `Kings of County Durham'. In order to really understand the unique history of County Durham we must first go back into Anglo-Saxon times, to a period long before England or Scotland existed-

Er, ok, I'm not that interested

I crossed the A1(M) here.

Back onto rural (and straight) roads.

Durham proudly announced a 'new cycle route'. Cycle paths are mostly rubbish, forcing cyclists to give way at every junction and usually with appalling road surfaces that are never swept. But since this was a 'new' one, I thought I'd give it a try.

I stayed on it for about 100 metres. It was a horrible concrete road surface, broken up in parts and with grass growing through the cracks. You really do have to wonder whether anyone involved in spending all this money on cycle paths ever rides a bicycle.

The segregated route was in any case soon replaced by the more usual painted line on the road - though this was at least a decent width.

There was one photo I needed to take en-route:

Then Newcastle beckoned. Or at least presented itself.

For some bizarre reason, the main A60 becomes a motorway only for the stretch through the city itself. The non-motorway-traffic alternative was a very fiddly one, so I opted for a more direct route.

Then it was back onto the main road at the northern edge of the city, where this rather strange lane came and went at random intervals:

So that's bicycles, motorbikes, buses, 40-tonne lorries and low-on-fuel 747s but no cars, then.

The road surface was quite rough here, so I took to the smoother surface of what seemed to be an unofficial cycle path: the pedestrians all seemed to walk on the grass path while the cyclists used this:

Then that surface became worse than the road, so back into the- Oh, now it's gone from a no-car lane to a bus lane.

A little further on, by Fawdon Metro station, my front fairing mount sheered in half. With the front of the fairing now on the road, and no way to carry it on the trike, I wasn't going any further until a solution could be found.

The kindness of strangers showed up once again as a woman asked me if I wanted a cup of tea. On the basis that there is no problem that can't be lessened by tea, I gladly accepted.

She turned out to be over from Cyprus, visiting her son, Paul. Paul and Catherine were absolute stars, feeding me tea and many chocolate biscuits and telling me I was welcome to wait there while we figured out a solution. Excuse the blurry photo - the light was fading and I forgot to boost the ISO.

I was only 4 miles from Erica's friend, but I'd cycled well over 500 miles, so certainly wasn't going for any solution that involved being picked up. Erica's mobile went to voicemail, so I tried Donald. He was a mile from his destination, very close to mine, and his uncle Sid kindly drove him over to pick up the fairing so that I could continue cycling.

Aside from happening four miles before the end of the day, the timing couldn't really have been better. If something had to fail, something easily replaceable (it's a standard piece of aluminium pipe) in a major city where we were taking a day off anyway was exactly the right time.

Now fairingless, I set off on the last few miles, passing Newcastle airport en-route.

I removed the seat so the trike would fit through the double doors into the back garden.

A quick shower, then Erica, Sheelagh and I went out for a lovely meal a few miles away, on a lovely warm evening.

We were now at 570 miles, and well past the halfway mark.

With the slightly more direct roads we'd been taking, the final mileage is likely to be around 970 miles, so we have around 400 miles left to go. Of course, if the inevitable detours and U-turns don't take it up to a nice round 1,000 miles, we shall have to do a few laps of John O'Groats to make it so!

Tomorrow is a rest day - and I have no intentions of moving from the sofa. :-)

Onto day 11 ...