Keen racing cyclists talk about and get a bit precious about their palmares - this is just my touring and a few other rides worthy of recording over the years . . . partly as a personal memory and in part to perhaps inspire would-be cycle tourists.
A compendium of bicycle rides undertaken by Rob with various cycling chums1 as a simple list that will, hopefully, be added to over time (and add more detail and possibly photographs to the entries)
How it all started . . . in 2002 I rode the Sustrans Coast-to-Coast (C2C) route as an organised, suported ride - 140 miles from Whitehaven to Sunderland - and got the taste for cycle touring adventures . . . .
Initially dubbed the Boys’ Outing an annual pattern emerged, with the rides usually taking place in May or June - following a winter of planning routes, booking accommodation etc. Planning consists of “the idea” and then perusing maps, guide books and various publications - and yet more felt-pen lines made on the long-suffering road atlas - as well as the PC-based mapping. Accommodation is sourced and booked in advance - primarily to make sure we have somewhere to stay each day without having to hunt around - B&Bs, pubs with rooms or small hotels.
Key criteria (originally, although they did dwindle after 2011): the seaside should be involved; not too many hills; about 6 or 7 days; fish and chips for lunch at the finish, with beer … and the quest for the ultimate lamb shank2
Family holiday - an organised, supported cycle-tour covering about 100 miles in the Loire Valley
The Coast to Coast - 140 miles, organised and supported, from Whitehaven to Sunderland, via Keswick, Penrith, Alston, the Pennines, Stanhope and Consett.
San Francisco - day ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and Tiburon before taking the ferry, with the hired bike, back to Fisherman's Wharf
The Trans-Pennine Trail - 220 miles from Southport to Hornsea with Steve & Jon (Steve's son-in-law)
le Tour de France - just 30 miles around central Paris.
It being the 100th year of le Tour the organsers invited 10,000 amateur riders to take part in an event on the final morning of le Tour with every rider being issued with a yellow jersey. The ride, led by one of the offical le Tour cars and the Gendarme group on motorcycles, started by the Eiffel Tower, crossed the river and along the banks of the Seine, to the Bastille and back via Rue de Rivoli, Place de la Concorde and into the Champs Elysses to cross the official race finish line - before riding all the way to l'Etoile (Arc de Triomphe), back down the other side of the Champs and turning right along the river and to the finish at the Military Academy near the Eiffel Tower. An amazing experience.
The Dunwich Dynamo - a.k.a. The Dun Run - about 120 miles ridden overnight from Hackney, London to Dunwich on the Suffolk coast - with Steve. The longest single day ride that I have ever done. [Google it for more details and the history]
The Pennine Cycleway - 355 miles from Derby to Berwick-upon-Tweed with Steve & Peter
John O'Groats to Land's End - The JOGLE3 - 935 miles with Joe4 (and Steve joined the ride for a 100 or so miles over a couple of days)
Annecy, French Alps - part of a family holiday with rides round Lake Annecy and an ascent of the Col de la Forclaz (from the Talloires side)
The Side-to-Side - 420 miles from St David’s in Pembrokeshire to Lowestoft in Suffolk - from the westernmost point in Wales to the easternmost point in England - with Steve & Martin
Palace to Palace - charity ride for the Prince's Trust, 48 miles from Buckingham Palace (actually Horse Guards Parade) to Windsor Castle ... with special dispensation from Prince Charles to cycle along The Long Walk. I rode on my fixed wheel bike and although it wasn't a race by some miracle I was first of about 200 riders to arrive at the finish. Goody bag from Waitrose, who else? - with a couple of Duchy products.
Annecy, French Alps - another ascent of the Col de la Forclaz (from the Albertville side) and up to Semnoz on the west side of the lake (with a 19km downhill that requires no pedalling, including a coffee stop)
USA - San Francisco - day ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and Tiburon before taking the ferry, with the hired bike, back to Fisherman's Wharf - the same ride as in 2003, but with my wife.
USA - San Diego - day ride from Coronado to within sight of the Mexican Border and return
Cream Tea to Oysters - 360 miles from Exeter to Whitstable via the South Coast, The Isle of Wight and involving 5 sea voyages5 - with Steve & Martin
USA - Charleston - day ride across the 4km Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge to visit aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown, submarine USS Clamaore and the Cold War submarine memorial, and return
USA - Hilton Head - day ride around the manicured estate and its exclusive mansions (on a Schwinn Cruiser bike hired from a shop that had over 3,000 rental bikes in its fleet, across four locations)
Bowling Along - 201 miles from Balsall Common (near Coventry) via Southwell, over the Humber Bridge and skirting York to finish about 10 miles N of Harrogate - with Steve, en route to stay with friends and watch the Test Match in Leeds.
French End-to-End - 930 miles from Calais to Montpellier6 with Jon (another one) - the first night dinner at Guines, near Calais holds the current record for the ultimate lamb shank2
Northern England - 170 miles based roughly on the Reivers Route from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to Carlisle - a CTC Southern Wheelers Club ride
Annecy, French Alps - just a couple of days - round the lake and then up to Le Grand Bornand to watch the finish of a Tour de France stage (riding along part of the course ) Followed by watching the Individual Time Trial the following day.
Bowling Along, again - for this trip we were limited on time so it was a train to Nottingham, ride to the B&B on the outskirts of Doncaster and then on to the destination N of Harrogate - with Steve. Sadly the cricket was absolute rubbish on both the Friday & Saturday ... but the ride was good!
Land's End to John O'Groats - The LEJOG - 935 miles following pretty much the route, in the reverse direction, from the 2005 JOGLE - with Jon
The Oxford Tour - about 200 miles riding around Oxfordshire starting from Warwickshire, with brief forays into Gloucestershire and Buckinghamshire - made memorable by one of our group, Roy, at dinner in a pub in Princes Risborough asking if they could do Horlicks! - a CTC-Heart of England Club ride.
2021 sees a reprise of this ride as an overseas tour isn't possible
For 2012 and later also see the Cycle touring -overseas page
1 Any similarities with Jerome K Jerome’s book, Three Men on the Bummell, are purely coincidental
2 Since the Pennine Cycleway ride in 2004 lamb shank has been the dish of choice for dinner each evening if available. The overnight stops on the S2S and subsequent rides have been awarded a “lamb shank rating” (maximum is 4 - although 5 may be possible near a nuclear power station!) - it’s based on the quality of accommodation, not the lamb shanks.
3 JOGLE = John O’Groats to Land’s End
4 Rob & Joe’s JOGLE is a report of the 2005 journey - No 176 in the cycle-endtoend.org.uk Journals. This worthy tome, although yet to enter the Amazon best-seller lists, has become an established source of reference with a number of End-to-Enders.
5 Sea voyages are actually ferry crossings
6 The subject of Rob & Jon's book - Wine-ding Down Through France - in the cycle-endtoend.org.uk Journals and for sale as a printed copy.