Monday, 25 June 2012

6 July Russian 1200: Vologda - Onega - Ladoga

East to west, we are going, and around the two biggest lakes of Europe: Onega and Ladoga.    I wonder if we'll get a chance to see the endemic species of seal, Ladoga seal.

The details are here:VOL Route Details

The route is unusual in that it is not circular, nor 'there-and-back'.  I will arrive in St Petersburg on Wednesday 4th, and will take an overnight train to Vologda.  In Vologda, there will be a day 'free'.  The ride starts on the Friday at 7AM.  After the finish on Tuesday (1AM) we'll take a bus back to St Petersburg.  I fly home on Thursday 12th.

Around 70 riders are registered. There a few familiar names like Ivo and Abraham Cohen. Jan, who did the Kiwi ride, and another Belgian will also be present.

The photos taken on previous editions of the ride leave me intrigued and drawn to the area.

Do leave a comment if you know of any points of interest along the route.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Fridays Tour!

The Fridays are doing what they do best, which is to cycle to the coast.  The coast, this time, is John O' Groats, northern Scotland.  I joined them for the first night.

Hyde Park Corner meeting point
Same meeting point, same time, just heading north.  This meant going on the Kilburn High Road.  It was brilliant!  It was like PBP with lots of cheering and clapping from people by the road: 'What are you doing', 'Where are you going', 'Can I come', 'Why', 'What for?', 'This is for fun?', 'I'm coming with you', .....  A policeman in a van said: 'Keep going north for another 400 miles or so'.  This has been the most entertaining FNRttC exit from London, ever.  I wondered if England having won a Euro 2012 match earlier in the evening had anything to do with the jolly atmosphere all along that long road.

In fact, even on my way to London, there was already a jolly atmosphere.  A guy on the train pointed at my bike and asked if that is one of those you can lift with one finger.  I said 'No, you need twelve fingers'.  He thought that was hilarious and continued asking questions of what, why, where, when, why, why, why, concluding it was all wickedly wonderful.

A point of interest was going through Olney.  A chance glance to the right and I saw this:

Bucks Lace Industry

When I see 'lace', I think Brugge.  And indeed, a little bit of googling will tell you that it was the Flemish protestants who brought lace to England during the 1560's, and Olney was one of the areas they settled in.  The history is nicely worded here: Flemish and Huguenot Migrations

Olney was nice.  It is particular nice after having gone through Dunstable.  Simon had insisted we stayed in a group for going through Dunstable.  He had made the effort to hold up riders so that the last group could form.  He warned us once, he warned us twice.  Then he pleaded.  'Please', he said, 'stay in a group'.  Dunstable is like Reigate in that it can be scary to cycle through because of people 'under some influence' coming out of nightclubs and late night bars.

McDonald's was our middle of the night stop.  Being June, it was just about getting light when we arrived.


A few people were doing calculations.  Miles done to Hyde Park Corner, miles done to Hockliffe and by the time we get to Bingham,  'I will have done over 200 miles'.  Several people were doing their longest distance ever.  Ross had gone out to Land's End so that he could do the full Land's End to John O'Groats.

Louise and Ross
There is a support van on the Fridays Tour.  We caught up with the van in King Harry Lane near St Albans.  'King Harry' reminded me of King Harry Ferry, which I used on my Land's End to John O'Groats trip in 2005.

As it was time for the group to head north, I did a little sightseeing.  I couldn't miss this church, standing on high ground, near the station.  It looked impressive inside, but unfortunately it was locked.

St Mary's Church by Sir_John_Ninian_Comper

The group is already in Scotland as I post this. There is news of exploding wheels, more McDonalds, having a 'very, very, very good time', rain, sun, pork pies, egg benedict, hills and washing machines.  No, I'm not envious at all!!

Good luck Fridays!

Slideshow is not working, so for the photos click here: Fridays Tour Photos