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September 22, 2010

Last bank holiday, at the end of August, I had a short cycling holiday with two good old-school (literally) friends. We cycled along the Coast and Castles cycle path between Newcastle and Edinburgh. We were remarkably lucky with the weather, and needless to say there was a lot of sea and scenery to be seen. However, the logistical complexities of a cycling holiday are – surprisingly – immense…

  • A to B

So, before we could meet up for the holiday, I had to get my bike to London. This involved a cycle to Oxford (where it was spitting with rain), loading the bike on to the train, and disembarking at Paddington. Once in London, the heavens opened in what could only be described as a miserable display of ugly weather. The eight or nine miles (going the least efficient, but most memorable route I could find) to Seven Sisters from Paddington on the bike were some of the most miserable I’d ever cycled. Not promising.

  • B to C

The next morning, the trip from Seven Sisters to Kings Cross was straightforward. Technically marred only by a temporary phone-based panic over whether I was hanging around inside Kings Cross St Pancras or plain old Kings Cross. Fortunately, the rendez vous worked perfectly, and we all met up for breakfast.

  • C to D

The train up to Newcastle was fine, albeit with a child playing a xylophone in the same carriage as us. That wasn’t going to get tedious during a three-hour journey…

  • D to G

Several days of cycling, covering just over 30 miles in the first day and around 60 miles each day after that until we landed in Edinburgh for the final day of the Fringe Festival. Mostly through good weather, but one low point of gale-force headwinds with fierce rain while riding up a mountain could only be redeemed by lunch in a ‘Castle, hotel, chapel’ where a loud and typically boozy christening was being celebrated in the bar. When you’ve got a big purple chapel in your beer garden and the bar is decorated like something out of Moulin Rouge, you kind of know what market you’re catering for…

  • G to H

The sleeper train from Edinburgh to Euston. I’d like to note that ‘sleeper’ is merely an ironic name for a train that runs late at night.

  • H to I

Euston to Seven Sisters. Back on the bike. Tired at 7am. Feeling a little the worse for wear after a few drinks at the sleeper bar. Not the most comfortable cycle ride I’ve ever had, rewarded by a nap and a shower.

  • I to J

Having left my bike at Seven Sisters for a week, it needed to be returned to Oxford. So, a return cycle trip from Seven Sisters to Paddington, culminated in a crowded train journey back to Oxford. Turns out it was the Sky Ride weekend, so about a million people wanted to take their bikes on the trains. Turns out passengers get pretty grumpy… Because I needed to pick up my car from work, the bike was next taken to north Oxford.

  • J to K

The final step was to get the bike back from the Oxford office. It had been locked up there for a few days, so needed shifting before the weather took effect. I ran the 9 miles out to the office and cycled the 9 miles back, making a handy duathlon and bringing the epic logistical challenge to an end.

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