|Distance||63 miles||63 miles (101km)|
|Height gain||884 metres||884 metres (2900ft)|
I had intended setting off on Saturday 27th September but just as I was about to go I discovered a problem with the gears on the bike. Although the gears are rubbish I figured it was better to have rubbish ones than none at all so I did my best to try and fix them although this was not the best time for something to go wrong.
So after much prevaricating and much later than I should have I set off from Sunny Leytonstone at a little after 12:30pm on Sunday 28th September. Sadly as Leytonstone was rather inconveniently built in North East London this meant I had to cycle 7 miles in the wrong direction to Tower Bridge just so I could cross the river.
Eventually I was heading in the right direction and soon got possibly the biggest wake up call for the trip and barely just 10 miles into the trip. London to Dover was meant to be the easiest part of the trip and by far the flattest but this was based on what I thought and not reality as I then hit Blackheath Hill. Not massive by any stretch of the imagination and a hill easy enough on a normal road bike. But reality hit as I barely made it to the top, and then after little more than two miles further I hit Shooters Hill. I simply could not get up this one. There were guys on mountain bikes in their highest gears just about making it but their bikes were barely 10kg, not only could I not heave the stupidly massive 40kg bike and luggage up the hill my first gear gave a horrible crunching sound.
After doing all the fixing I could do with the gears given the tools I have, I seemed to get them working and I set off again through a remarkably and irritatingly hilly Kent where every road appears to go over the top of every hill! After taking in the lovely castle at Rochester I had another long hard hill climb out of Chatham. This time the gears held but the occasional crunching and slipping of the gears is not promising, particularly after about 40 miles into a 1000 mile journey.
The slipping and grinding affects my two lowest gears so if I lose them its game over as the wheel unit can’t be replaced in France as I’d have to order parts from the UK. So I’ll have to nurse the bike as much as I can but every time the gears crunch it is really worrying.
Anyhow, I made it to Canterbury a little after dark and have decided to stop here for the night, not really by choice, it’s more because my legs are knackered and anymore will put too much strain on them but I have cycled 100km on a brick! I hope my legs will get stronger though as there are far harder cycles to come with much greater distances.
Anyway, the take home message for me today is, don’t cycle a 40kg bike with luggage and crap gears, and most definitely don’t cycle it across the whole length of France!
For more detail on route click HERE.
(© google maps)