Saturday, 21 June 2008

Town-Twinning Cycle ride to Mulheim: Day 1

Determined to cycle all the way from my front door, I negotiated the A66 to get to Sadberge just 10 minutes after our projected start time of 7am! This tardiness was to become the norm: always the last down for breakfast and generally taking up the rear on the cycle paths. Sandy Wallis also arrived by bike, the rest by car! The top photo shows the whole team, including our essential back-up crew.

Down the back lanes, through the villages, the rain steady, some of the cyclists less so, we eventually arrived at the southern end of the Castle Eden Walkway at Wynyard, already feeling a bit damp! Luckily the rain meant the path was free of walkers, so our progress north was uninterrupted by the need to avoid those on foot. This is, in better weather, a picturesque, if rather narrow, path heading north the length of County Durham from Stockton.

In South Hetton we spied a Church Coffee morning! Bliss! Hot drinks, home made cakes and bemused but friendly locals in a steaming but warm Church Hall. Photo 2 shows Tom and Doug dripping gently.

Eventually we made Sunderland, where Leader Tom Nutt led us on a short cut straight across the city and up the coast to meet the South Shields to North Shields Ferry. This is a small boat chugging determinedly to and fro across the Tyne: well used by pedestrians and cyclists.

Still raining non-stop, the good people at the North Shields Ferry Terminal made us stand for an hour in the cold and rain, queuing to get on the ferry to Holland. Photo 3: "Let us on, then!"

Eventually, at 4.30pm, we boarded, tying our bikes to some railings on the car deck. Unlike my last ferry trip, across to France at the height of the season, our ferry was less than half full, and much the better for it.

The bar was the first of many such establishments on our journey to benefit financially from our party's willingness to part with cash in exchange for alcoholic sustenance.

Luckily, each of our four berth cabins had only two people in, so there was room to dry clothes, have leisurely showers and sleep well on a smooth crossing.

Distance cycled: 50 miles.

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