Somehow it has taken the best part of a week after finishing work to sort out my flat, gather my things and get myself ready to head off. I seemed to spend successive days trying and failing to tick the same things of my list(s). Because I’m heading off a couple of weeks later than originally planned (and not at all to avoid a pressured long-distance first day) I decided it was a good idea to get the train to Harwich. I feel like I’m cheating slightly but it takes the stress off and means I can build up the miles nice and easily once in Holland.
I’m amazed how awkward it seems to be to pack panniers fully for the first time. Perhaps it’s the same for people going backpacking for the first time. But here you have not only to fit everything in, but do it in a way that the left side isn’t heavier than the right, and most of the weight is towards the back. And, in some kind of practical manner so that you are vaguely organised and don’t get your precious book soaked when you’re digging your waterproof out in the pouring rain.
This was the lounge only a few hours before heading off…
Anyway, it went in eventually and I legged it out of the flat to head from Streatham up through Brixton and into central London to Liverpool St. In rush hour. Talk about a baptism of fire.
First impressions of riding the bike with everything on it…:
– kind of wobbly at the front at slow speeds. Could be the rack needs tightening or I’ve got too much weight at the front but a little disconcerting.
– surprisingly quick to accelerate and quite smooth at speed.
– the bike feels kind of flexy… I’m hoping this is the famous ‘forgiving’ quality of a steel frame and forks, and not an indication that the frame, forks, racks or wheels aren’t up to the job!
– attracts many intrigued looks along the way.
– London taxi drivers can’t see the panniers and therefore still try to squeeze past you when there is no space. Even if it means hitting you.
So, just time for a nice three course meal and some sleep before rolling off the ferry into the Netherlands…
Here’s some gratuitous pictures of the bike before loading and then en route to the ferry….