Riding Slowly to a Castle

On Saturday I competed the ninth ride in my attempt to complete a ‘Randonnee Round the Year’ – a 200k ride every calendar month for a year.It was cold and there was snow around, but the forecast for the day was reasonable – cloudy but dry and light winds. There was a suggestion of a light easterly, so I decided to head that direction to get the benefit of the wind on the way home if there was any. You can’t go 100k from my house without ending up in the north sea, so in reality I ended-up going northeast – I aimed for Warkworth on the Northumberland coast.

Click on the map to view my ride on Strava

Very familiar roads to start with as I followed my commuting route down the Tyne Valley. I stopped for supplies of Trek bars from the Co-op in Corbridge, before heading up out of the valley. It was a fairly flat route and I was able to make steady progress.

I’ve realised that in order to be comfortable at bigger distances I need to learn to moderate my effort. The pace I would naturally want to ride at for three hours would not be sustainable for eight hours or more. So with this ride I was consciously trying to keep my speed and heart-rate down. This wasn’t easy! It felt quite unnatural to be deliberately riding at a lower intensity than usual, and it’s something I need to keep working on.

I got to Warkworth in time for a late lunch, pretty much exactly half-way. The café I found didn’t have much in the way of vegan options, but I managed with a jacket potato and baked beans. There was time for a photo of the castle before turning for home. If you’ve never visited the Northumberland coast, put it on the list – it’s all sorts of wonderful, and the castles are brilliant.

Heading inland from Warkworth was a long, slow uphill drag. Nothing especially steep, but I was climbing very gradually for about two and a half hours. I was glad make the quick descent to Redesmouth and then Bellingham where refuelled in the Co-op.

By this point it was properly dark. This ride was a test-run for my new dynamo light setup, and I was really pleased with how well it performed. I bought new front wheel and SP Dynamo PD-8 hub from Spa Cycles in Harrogate, along with a Busch and Muller Luxos U light. I’ve never used a dynamo before but was really impressed. The beam from the Luxos U was fantastic, and it even has a USB outlet for charging my Garmin. The rear light that came with the bundle is clever too, shining more brightly when it senses you are slowing down (like a car’s brake light).

With the dynamo hub, lights and luggage rack my bike is not as nimble as it once was. However, it’s comfortable and set up for me to be self-sufficient over long distances. With plans for some big miles in the coming year, that feels more important than speed at the moment.


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