5 minute read
It’s been a few months since I blogged about my plan to ride an alternative end to end (e2e) from Dover to Cape Wrath during June 2019. I now know a lot more about my actual route and the logistics of how I will get to and from my start and finish points. Also each of my 7x200km DIY audax routes are in place, plus where I will stay each night. The route also includes 2 ferries so that adds a bit of spice and a bit of uncertainty, so I have had to give that some extra consideration. In fact the final leg also crosses military firing ranges which can and do get closed to the public at times. Lastly, I will share a motivation tip from one of the leading thinkers in behavioural science and how I use this hack to keep incentivised and focused on the goals I set myself.
So the route planning came first and I use Strava as the initial resource to plan my routes. This is because I find Strava the easiest mapping software to use for the early stages in my route planning. For instance, I can just create a route by tapping in a postcode, zooming in, clicking on the location and then clicking on a finish point and within seconds it will construct a route for me. This calculates by using roads that cyclists most use and I think of this as tapping into an open source of many years of local experience & expertise, at the click of a mouse. Just as I know my own area very well, the route that comes up is based on similar local knowledge. This method provides an exact distance too, and if it is a bit short or long you can simply drag and drop out to get the required amount of miles/kilometres.
Once I was happy that the routes were at least 200km each I transferred each 200km route file over to another route mapping site. Ride with GPS (RWGPS). The benefit of this second site is you can drag and drop the orange ‘peg man’ over the route to check streetviews and ensure that you are not being sent off road or across fields that may suit mountain bikes but not road bikes. When you zoom in your route will be highlighed and as you trace the ‘peg man’ across your route any off road sections where the mapping camera car has not travelled display as ‘No Data Available’. RWGPS is much easier to make any minor adjustments on when necessary as in edit mode you can isolate a stretch of route by adding ‘control points’ so the remainder of the route is not affected. As a precaution I always edit a ‘copy’ version of the route just in case I do mess it up. This ensures I have the original un-edited version as a backup.
What really surprised me as I did each of the 7x200km routes is they all ended up in areas with either a Travelodge, Premier Inn or Youth Hostel. Frankly, I was gobsmacked by this! So the 7x200km routes will take me from Dover Premier Inn to Durness Youth Hostel on the north coast of Scotland, where I will stay 2 nights. On Day 8 I plan to take a short ride to the ferry across the Kyle of Durness and then ride across the ranges up to Cape Wrath. The ferry company provide a mini bus service but I prefer to ride. I have ridden this road before and it is very rutted and bumpy. When I get to Cape Wrath if there is pressure to get back for the return ferry to Durness I may try and blag a lift back. The Kyle of Durness ferry has tidal restrictions so I don’t want to get stranded. As I say I have done this both ways before so I know it is feasible.
There is also a short river crossing ferry on Day One from Gravesend to Tilbury. This is more commuter based & therefore less likely to cause me a problem. It is a Monday to Saturday service so the only real issue for me was: Don’t start my e2e ride on a Sunday!
Here is an overview of the entire proposed ride:
Here is the final leg from Durness Youth Hostel to Cape Wrath on Day 8:
As you can see the ride from the ferry up to Cape Wrath crosses a firing range so that also adds uncertainty. As well as tidal restrictions the ferry also gets cancelled in bad weather. I will only be there one day so only get one shot at this (excuse the pun!) So as a get out of jail card I can still complete an e2e even if I only make it to Durness, although Cape Wrath still remains my goal and I will give it a lot of effort to achieve this.
Day 9 is another 200km DIY audax retracing my route back to Inverness Youth Hostel, then a flight back to Bristol the following day.
Dover to Cape Wrath Itinerary
Travel to Start: Bath – Dover via National Express coach – Dover Premier Inn = 1.5 miles
Day One: Dover Premier Inn – Cambridge Travelodge = 129 miles
Day Two: Cambridge Travelodge – Boston Premier Inn = 127 miles
Day Three: Boston Premier Inn – Thirsk Premier Inn = 133 miles
Day Four: Thirsk Premier Inn – Alnwick B&B = 126 miles
Day Five: Alnwick B&B – Dunfermline Travelodge = 126 miles
Day Six: Dunfermline Travelodge – Inverness Youth hostel = 143 miles
Day Seven: Inverness Youth Hostel – Durness Youth Hostel = 125 miles
Day Eight: Durness Youth Hostel – Cape Wrath – Durness Youth Hostel = 28 miles
Day Nine: Durness Youth Hostel – Inverness Youth Hostel = 125 miles
Travel Home: Inverness – Bristol Airport via EasyJet – Bath = 24 miles
I had planned to stay at Alnwick Youth Hostel but as of early April they are not taking bookings after May 15th. This led me to seek out a Bed and Breakfast nearby which I have now booked.
Next up was transportation to my start and back from my finish points. Train fares were prohibitively expensive. Bath to Dover was £76 and Inverness to Bristol Parkway was £244. So I sought alternative options and have come up with Bath to Dover on National Express Coach for £13 and Inverness to Bristol Airport for £67.30, which includes a £41 bike fee. I have a lightweight foldable rucksack to put the bike bag in for the ride back to Bath. This saving over the train fares covers well over 75% of my accommodation costs so was well worth investigating. Another benefit of not using trains is the guarantee of a seat. Coaches & airplanes will not allow you on board without a seat reservation.
I got the idea of taking my bike on a coach after travelling to Paris Brest Paris in 2015 with Audax Club Bristol. They hired a local coach company who organised all the travel and accommodation. They said if need be they would remove seats on the coach to accommodate our bikes but asked us to box them and leave them with the company the day before to work out how they would fit everything on board. The day of the departure I was amazed at how much space is underneath a coach and all our bikes and baggage fitted in this space with plenty of room to spare.
So I searched online for any information about taking bikes on National Express coaches and got a few vague references but nothing really detailed. So I figured, just run an experiment and see what happens! So in December I booked a coach from Bath to Chippenham 14 miles away and bagged my bike up and took it on the coach with no problems. Once I got to Chippenham I went to a nearby WH Smiths and sent my bike bag back to my house via DHL. It arrived the next day. I made a video of this trip.
My plan then, is when I arrive at Dover I will reassemble my bike, fold my bike bag and go to a nearby WH Smiths and send the bag via DHL to Inverness Youth Hostel so it is waiting for me on Day 9. A condition to taking my bike on the easyJet flight is it must be bagged or boxed. So hopefully I have thought this all out, but I do have a couple of contingency ideas just in case!
Preparation over the winter was riding 200km DIY’s to Youth Hostels, staying overnight and riding back the next day. During January I was inspired by Kelly Holmes, who is a hero of mine, to take part in RED January. This is to encourage people to Run (or Ride) Every Day during the month of January. I did a Run or Ride every day and the overnights were part of this. I also ran for the first time in about 10 years. I did have to rely on a turbo trainer some days due to other commitments. By the end of the month I felt fantastic and believe this has really paid off. It was a nice way to make a worthwhile charity donation too. I wound up the Youth Hostel rides at the end of February by riding 3x200km over 4 days. It was a chance to test myself a bit and see how I would cope with some back to back days. I definitely needed the one day off. But for so early in the year I am really pleased with how well my commitment is going.
In March I have been riding 300km DIY’s and although the first one was quite hard I soon adapted to the increase in distance. I am already thinking about my first 400km of the year by the end of April and a 600km in May. My aim is to incrementally increase the distances as I do each year and then to taper off in early June so the 200km distances seem relatively and psychologically easier to cope with. It took me years to work out that relativity is all about comparing one thing or one perspective in relation to another. Below are 2 orange dots exactly the same size.
But look what happens when you compare them to other perpectives or relative reference points. The 2 orange dots are still exactly equal in size. Get the idea?
During the month leading up to my e2e I aim to replicate what I learned from RED January. Although I have ridden the 1400km distance twice before, I believe the big challenge of this goal will be the starting out each day as a new ride. As the fatigue accrues during the trip I suspect this will be as mentally hard as riding 1400km as a single ride. Just in a different way.
While I was at grown up school I remember being in a tutorial once learning about behavioural finance and I recall thinking, “blimey, I wonder if I could use these ideas in sport?” I began to read up on sports psychology and the more I learned the more it dawned on me these disciplines were very similar. I began to interchange some of the ideas and experiment using them. One of the hacks I use to keep myself motivated sounds remarkably simple but I have found is incredibly effective. It is based on an incentives technique by Robert Cialdini who describes in this interview how you can also apply it to yourself. This is one I use quite often on day rides, on longer muti-day rides and also for a long term goal such as my Dover to Cape Wrath goal for 2019. I can only offer a personal perspective but for me, IT WORKS INCREDIBLY EFFECTIVELY.
So early April and things are running smoothly and I am pleased with the planning so far and my commitment. It does not mean there won’t be alterations or even setbacks but so far things are going well and I am looking foward to the next steps towards my goal.
’til next time…