Setting off on Saturday (18 April)

This is the last post before I set off. It is a bit later than I had hoped, but finally the time, date and venue are set.

I will ride away between 13:00 and 14:00 Saturday 18 April 2015, from Marriott’s Warehouse, South Quay, King’s Lynn, Norfolk, PE30 5DT. Now I know this is not very convenient for folks to just pop by, but I needed it to be somewhere on the coast. It wouldn’t feel right leaving from home, especially not with having to bike 75 miles just to get to the starting line.

There will be a small gathering, and if you should feel inclined to wave me off, or smash a bottle of something (not red wine though) on my bike you are welcome. Friends, acquaintances, let me know you are coming and we’ll organise some food.

Not really much else to report since the last post. The bike has been back into hospital with a crunchy bottom bracket. It is back now, smooth and silent, and flying along effortlessly (downhill of course). I have sorted out my personal liability insurance in case I inadvertently demolish a listed building or something. £10,000,000 should give me plenty of scope.

The Inventory post resulted in a question about the weight of all the stuff. I stalled. This was mainly because last time I weighed the luggage it was around 14lbs. With a sensible diet and exercise I was going to lose that much weight before setting out anyway. So smug! Apart from that not happening, something else has happened. I’m not exactly sure when or how it happened, but the once slim panniers have put on weight. A subsequent examination of the contents has revealed that everything is essential, so surely must have always been in there. A complete mystery!

Anyway, the bike with racks, mudguards, bottle cages and computer (phone) attached weighs 28 lbs. The handlebar bag and fully loaded rear panniers with my tent strapped aboard weigh 22lbs. Waterproof coat, leggings, gloves and hood weigh 2lbs.

Two full water bottles add a further 3lbs, but that doesn’t really count, I’ll soon drink that.

This post is suffering from a lack of photographs so here is a gratuitous moody drive-train shot for your delectation.


Last Friday I spent a whole day packing, unpacking, dispensing with former essentials, cutting out labels and cutting things in half. Cutting stuff in half isn’t always a good idea, but it does work for some things. Take my towel for example. I cut that a bit short of halfway, and now it doesn’t half get you dry! Somebody suggested I would have been better off keeping the towel full size, and cutting out the middle. That somebody is not taking this seriously.

Extreme lightweight cyclists take this stuff very seriously and the handle on the toothbrush is a favourite target. Having shortened mine twice I was eyeing it critically when it occurred to me that the bristles were extravagantly long. So I tried trimming them too, and then I went to Boots and bought a new one.

Before leaving I thought it would be a good idea to answer some of the most popular (apart from ‘Which charity are you doing it for?’)  questions people ask such as:

  • How far is it?
  • How long will it take?
  • Are you going on your own?

Well I’ve given it a bit of thought to these and with a bit of research have come up with some answers.

How far is it?

If you ask the AA they will tell you 11,073 miles. Now that is worrying. That is more than twice what I was expecting.

If you ask some of the people that have done it the answer varies. Anna (Cycles) Hughes did 4,000 miles, Mike Carter did 4,625 miles, and Jack Allen did 4,500 miles. You have to read deeper into their own accounts to see how their journeys differed.

If you ask Google… “how far is it around the coast of Great Britain” it says:

“The length of coastline of Great Britain plus its principal islands is about 19,491 miles (31,368 km). The length of coastline of England only is about 5581 miles (8982 kms), and of mainland England plus the Isle of Wight, Lundy and the Scilly Isles is 6261 miles (10,077 kms)”

So it only gets worse. In fact it gets a lot worse. The only true answer is that it is almost infinitely long. See this jolly nice explanation.

So, how far is it? We can safely say it is a very long way.

How long will it take?

As a guide you could ask some of the people that have done it… Anna (Cycles) Hughes – 72 days, Mike Carter – 5 months, Jack Allen – 16 weeks. In any case, it must depend on how far it is (please see above), how fast you go, and what rules you are working to, not least of which is how closely you follow the coast.

As well as having no plan, I have no rules, except these:

  • I don’t have to visit every dead end just because it will take me closer to the coast (but I can if I want)
  • Cutting off ‘rideable’ sections just because it is easier is not allowed (unless I feel like it)
  • Walking up hills is not allowed (unless I have to)
  • I cannot give up (until I have stayed out at least one night)

So, how long will it take? It may take a while.


Am I going on my own?

Well I don’t really know any other retired cyclists so yes, I am going on my own.