Freezing and Flying

I opened the curtains in our very nice and comfy hotel room and peeked through to see what sort of day had dawned for today’s ride. What did we have? Despite hoping for sunshine, we had instead the familiar grey skies and wind blowing the trees about. Darn! This weather is becoming the meat and three veg of forecasting – very predictable and ordinary. We’d like the occasional soufflé thanks – something a bit different and out of the ordinary, which in weather terms would be..sunshine! Oh well, today we had “meat and potatoes” weather again.

We spent some time this morning rearranging our bags and packing what we could into just two panniers, so we could hand the rest over to Steve’s mum and dad to take to Edinburgh in the car. We managed to reduce our load to two bags and then packed the rest into the back of the Vauxhall. Looking at it all crammed into the car, it was hard to believe that we actually carry all of that around every day, just on the bikes. It looked like such a car load!

Do we really carry all of that!?
Do we really carry all of that!?

We said goodbye to Len and Pauline, wished them an enjoyable road trip north to Scotland, where we would reunite in a couple of days and then we pedalled out of the car park. With just two panniers on the back, the weight difference was obvious straight away.

“We’re going to fly!” said Steve.

True, as we pedalled through the streets of Mansfield, the hills felt a whole lot easier, the gears stayed higher and we sped along on our new, lighter steeds.

As we left the busy streets, the cycle route took us onto a bridleway and…oh my, it was beautiful! I just love these paths. We rode through trees and beside a creek and it was quiet and peaceful and just perfect. The track was a bit rocky and bumpy, but that didn’t matter, the place we were riding through was just delightful.

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At one point we had to ride down a very steep slope, a rocky, bumpy dirt path. Steve went zipping down as usual and as usual, I didn’t. This is where I have trouble with my short legs! The slope was quite steep and I hang my legs down so I can put them on the ground to steady myself if I need to and I brake constantly as I edge my way down. The trouble with short legs on uneven ground though, is when there are dips or holes, I can’t touch the ground, which makes the bike tip. So I edged my way down the slope very, very slowly. Steve was waiting at the bottom, having done his fearless flying down, weaving round the holes and bumping over the rocks, with no wobble worries and with all the confidence of someone whose legs will always touch the ground if a steadying foot is required. He waited patiently while I bumped…braked…wobbled…bumped…tilted…grimaced…wobbled…but eventually made it to the bottom after a very slow descent.

Bumping and braking and wobbling down the hill.
Bumping and braking and wobbling down the hill.

We continued on, returning to the road and passing fields and rolling countryside. There was a doozy of a headwind, that made forward progress on the open road a little more difficult and we were definitely glad to have a slight reduction in weight as we ploughed through the wicked wind. It was also a cold wind, a very cold wind. The sky was still grey, the air was chilly and the wind chill made it quite uncomfortable. We passed through some small towns and in one, we saw another little reminder of home…our own road!

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We stopped in Bolsover for elevenses and sat in a small park looking up at Bolsover Castle, a stunning and regal piece of twelfth century architecture sitting high up on the hill.

Bolsover Castle
Bolsover Castle

 

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As we sat down I said, “It’s cold,” and began pulling my puffer jacket out of the pannier.

“It’s freezing,” replied Steve. It was freezing. As I’ve said before, if Steve says it’s freezing, that means it’s cold because he doesn’t normally feel the cold at all. He’s actually said a couple of times lately, “The one thing that will make me cut this trip short, is the weather!” We’ve had such a shocking run of awful weather since we started, that one warm day every two weeks or so isn’t quite enough to compensate for all the cold and wind and rain that we get in-between. It does tend to dent the morale at times!

Elevenses with the castle
Elevenses with the castle

 

Elevenses over, we rode on and I was again riding in four layers and a puffer jacket and we both wished our socks were a little easier to get to in our newly packed and overloaded two panniers, because our feet were feeling like a layer of ice was forming on, under and between our toes! We rode into the outskirts of Chesterfield and turned onto a cycle path that wove behind houses and buildings and kept us out of the traffic and through tree lined paths and parks. It was as we were riding through this path, with Steve in the lead and me following, that I saw Steve’s bike suddenly swerve and slue and wobble quite strongly. For some reason, Steve’s hands were in the air and the bike was swerving and wobbling, before Steve took control again and recovered from the swerving.

“Why did you do that!” I called out.

“I forgot I had to keep my hands on the handlebars,” came Steve’s reply.

Are you shaking your head and raising an eyebrow!? I did! Yes, after four months of constant cycling, Steve had a moment when he forgot that an essential aspect of this activity is steering and controlling the bike with hands firmly on the handlebars! That, right there, is evidence of how cold it was today…cold enough for Steve to have a complete brain freeze!

We rode up the many hills of Chesterfield, through the town and onto our hotel, where we will stay so we are close to the train station for our onward journey to Edinburgh. When we walked into our room, the first thing we both noticed and commented on was…warmth! It even had floor heating! Aaaaaah, bliss! We thawed out, warmed up, had lunch, then rugged up again to head out and get acquainted with the market town of Chesterfield.

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There was indeed a market on in the streets of Chesterfield, so we roamed along Vicar Lane, through the quiet and peaceful square filled with market stalls and shoppers and with stall holders advertising their wares.

“Loovly strawberries t’day. Two for £1.50.”

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I made a beeline for the produce stalls and filled my bags with bargain strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, which will keep me fed and occupied on the four hour train journey on Saturday. It was so nice to roam through this part of the town. Even though the big chain stores were around us, there was no traffic in this pedestrian only lane, so it was quiet and easy to forget we were in a big town. It felt like a little village in the middle of the hustle and bustle.

Mixing with the locals at the market
Mixing with the locals at the market

We also had a lovely time just listening to the gorgeous voices and smiling at the charming accents and friendly tones all around us.

“Hiya, y’oright?”

“Oh aye, I said to ‘er…”

“Hello me loovly, what can I get yer t’day?”

Steve was laughing at my face. I just grinned and clasped my hands in delight and couldn’t help but repeat, yet again, “I just love it! Isn’t it gorgeous!” 

We roamed across to the church and saw the crooked spire. The spire actually began as a regular, straight spire, but is now bent and twisted. Why it’s like that is unknown and a bit of a Chesterfield mystery. One theory is it has something to do with the weight of the lead tiles on the roof, that are causing the spire to bend and buckle under the weight. Whatever the reason, it’s quite a unique looking structure now.

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We wandered down a quiet little lane and came across a vegetarian cafe, so decided to take advantage of such a novelty and duck in for some afternoon tea.

It's the little lanes where the gems are discovered!
It’s the little lanes where the gems are discovered!

I couldn’t pass up a piece of the vegan chocolate cake and a cup of Earl Grey and Steve enjoyed his apple, cinnamon and walnut cake with his cup of coffee. It was delicious and sensational!

Mmmmmm!
Mmmmmm!
"Mmmmm, that's pretty good!" was Steve's verdict on his cake.
“Mmmmm, that’s pretty good!” was Steve’s verdict on his cake.

We finally wandered back to our room in the late afternoon, just as the sun began to appear! It stayed shy all the time we were riding and roaming and then decided it was ready to come out and play right at the end of the day. It just needs to reset its clock and come out a whole lot earlier and then stay out!

That was the day…freezing cold but flying along on our lighter bikes. It was only a short ride today, just 27km, which as it turned out was quite nice, since it meant we could get out of the cold fairly quickly. Tomorrow we have our first encounter with British Rail. I’m not looking forward to another train experience, but hopefully with only a third of our usual load, even if we have to throw bags and lift bikes and squeeze into small spaces, it will be a little easier than it usually is. I hope so! Tomorrow Scotland beckons and Edinburgh will be our pitstop for a few days with Steve’s mum and dad. Oche! We dinnae stop! This bonnie wee adventure continues!

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