Thursday, 31 March 2011


We are having a cake sale at the heart of the campus of Sheffield hallam. We will be here until 3 so come on down! Lots of beautifully home made cakes available.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Training weekend #1 report

The group assembled for our first training weekend on what was a deceptively mild Sheffield on a Friday evening. We got to see each other’s expedition bicycles, some of which had only recently been acquired – Ben’s bike had been brought up from London on the train with Troy only two days before! In order to re-create the daily life we will be living on expedition, our first stop was at Tesco where we split into smaller groups and stocked up on three days of food on a budget. Unfortunately Ben’s bike, which had already been serviced with new gears the day before, suffered a ever so slight problem in that one of the pedals had fallen off. This provided an early test of Adam’s bike mechanics as the pedals thread had completely worn away. Eventually, just as a few drops of rain could be felt, Adam was able to secure the pedal back in. But how long would it last?

 We then proceeded to head out of Sheffield into the Peak District in what was pretty much a reverse of the originally planned route. This was partly due to the realisation that parts of the Pennine Trail would not be suitable for touring bikes. Continuing the theme of reversals we had a very early pub stop at The Fox House. By now the rain had been falling at a steady rate so that when we had finished the ascent out of Sheffield we were thoroughly soaked as we went to the pub for a quick pre-dinner drink. Although we had dried off somewhat, after a couple of minutes outside again we were once again suitably drenched as we pushed our bikes off road into a wooded area not far from the pub. By now we were into the early hours of the morning as each ‘food group’ hurriedly made dinner before retiring to the tents for the night. 

The next morning we were up early for breakfast and conveniently the overnight rain had pretty much completed the washing up from the previous dinner. We had a quick group meeting to reflect on the weekend so far before leaving the campsite group by group in the direction of the next rendezvous point. RV points will be used when we navigate on the expedition so it was important to get into the practice of using them! We headed further out across the Peak District in the direction of Manchester and we hadn’t travelled much further than the small town of Hope when Ben’s pedal came off again halfway up a long ascent. The wind was blowing very strongly at the top of the hill we were on so we free-wheeled down to seek a bit more shelter in a car park and attempt to repair Ben’s bike. Unfortunately there wasn’t much else to be done without the proper parts so Adam and Ben had to head back into Hope in the *cough* hope of getting parts from a local bike shop. It turned out that Ben needed to go back into Sheffield to get his bike sorted and so the plan was for Ben and Adam to meet us later on in the day in Glossop train station. 

A few hours later the group minus Ben and Adam reached the RV point of Glossop train station. A quick phone call later and we were made aware that a horse on the train track was delaying the service from Sheffield for several hours. We then decided to head North out of Glossop towards the A628 to set up camp whilst it was light and wait for Ben and Adam there. Unfortunately Troy could only get a few days off work and had to be back in London on the Sunday so it was at Glossop that we had to part ways. Troy’s exit was typical of him – he checked multiple times which road he had to follow all the way into Sheffield until he (and we) thought he had it clear in his head. This is Troy we were dealing with however and he comically took the first wrong turn he could possibly have taken. We waited a few seconds preparing to humour his joke but he did not re-appear prompting James to have to chase after him and send him on his way back to Sheffield via Snake Pass.

We followed a beautiful winding road out of Glossop that hugged the side of a hill with a drop to one side leading to a reservoir. The reflection of the sunset was beautiful and the skies were clear for probably the first time since we had left. After much deliberation over where to pitch our tents we finally decided on pitching behind an old abandoned house just off the A628. We did look to see if it was possible to spend the night inside but the only unlocked door led into a room filled with old sinks which was less than helpful. The group then cooked dinner before heading into the tents with the plan to wake up at 23:00 to take it in turns to head back to the main road to flag down Adam and Ben who would finally be re-joining us. Alex and James were able to bring them to the camp and re-heat some food for them and although a few hours previously it had looked unlikely, the whole group (minus Troy) slept in the same place on the Saturday night. I guess it’s a good job that we are cycling and won’t be getting the train to Morocco on that day’s evidence!

After a day and a bit of riding I probably wasn’t the only one who was expecting the going to be tougher on the Sunday. It soon became apparent however that actually after a decent night’s sleep we were all fully recharged and able to make very good progress on the Sunday. Heading East along the A628 we kept a very reasonable pace before heading South through some smaller B roads to join the Snake Pass back into Sheffield. These smaller roads were great practice for our hill climbing as there were a series of steep sided valleys that we had to roll down one side and climb back up the other. To give an idea of how steep some bits of these were – there was one person we encountered also out cycling who had stopped on a descent as he needed to let his rims cool where his brakes had been overheating and were consequently smoking! 

We arrived back in Sheffield at approximately 15:00 where we took the opportunity to take a few group photos as well as review the weekend. It was really encouraging to see morale remain high throughout the whole weekend despite having some terrible weather. On the Sunday morning when we got out our tents to the miserable grey sky and drizzling rain James reminded everyone that the day is what you make of it and regardless of external factors, it’s down to you if you enjoy yourself. Truer words could not have been spoken. 

Bring on the next training weekend!