Day 1 : Northampton – all alive!
So, this morning was a bit of a panic. I woke up at five and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I just got up. The boy woke up about seven, and at half past I went to pick up Andy. Shaun arrived while I was doing it, then we got back and took Arthur off to school, dressed in my silly Pedalling to Paris clothes. Lots of nice encouragement from the parents at school!
Then we came quickly back home, got on the bikes again, and came down to the corner where I’d arranged with Arthur’s teacher to meet the class for our sendoff from his class. They were all there with their home made banners – looking slightly embarrassed because let’s face it, we’re all English – we felt slightly silly also – and I messed around with them for a couple of minutes, gave Arthur and my wife a hug and we were off!
The ride up to Six Hills is the hardest bit on the way to Leicester, but it doesn’t last long – then it’s coasting down Berrycot lane to Seagrave, which is fantastic, up a little bit then down long hills into Sileby. Across to Cossington and you enter the waterside path network that goes from Cossington Lakes right through to central Leicester.
At Leicester we got off the tracks onto the crappy road network, and up London Road which turns into the A6 which led us most of the way to Market Harborough. Some nasty dual carriageway sections, and some pretty grim wind-against-us hills – but then it leveled out and the wind seemed to be with us a little more, meaning it was fairly easy as we approached Harborough.
There was some flailing around like idiots to find a decent pub, but we settled on the Cherry Tree which turned out to be superb. I had my usual idiosyncratic cycling tipple – a pint of lemonade and a shot of sambuca (not in the same glass). It gets one some funny looks, but what the hell do I care. While we were in the beer garden some mums with little girls were apologetic about the noise we were making, and I reassured them that we were all fathers so if anything the noise of kids we didn’t have to intervene with was a form of relaxing music. Not quite true perhaps but it put them at ease – and then as we left they asked if we were *really* cycling to Paris, and said they’d sponsor us – so I gave them a card. Always Be Closing. Always. Be. Closing.
We also met a nice chap who told us he was going the way we were – down an old railway line which is now the Brampton Valley Way. 15 miles of it – that was really nice, although by the end we were wishing for some tarmac. There were a couple of really dark tunnels which were fun to go through – Rich had a light charged up which helped – they were long enough to be pitch dark, so you had to be pretty careful not to slip on something and end up on your back.
There was some comedy with Shaun during this – he texted to say firstly that he couldn’t check into the hotel until 4, so was working outside via his mobile (he’s still at work until France!) – and then when he did try to check in they initially didn’t let him because he wasn’t me. My battery ran out so I had no idea what happened after that until we arrived – it turns out he managed to pay for one of the rooms and carted all our cases in. Well done Shaun!
So – now we’re in Sunley Conference Center. It’s a charmless null place – a corporate void. But there are baths, so it’s paradise. And rabbits outside the window, oddly.
I’ve had a bath, and we’re about to go find a pub for dinner. First day – SUCCESS!
Today’s speedy video (just 8x this time, as it’s special!):
Today’s ride info: