Paris trip Day 1 – London to Dover

After a restless night’s sleep I got up at around 4:30am to get myself ready, showered, check packing and to grab a cup of tea before heading out the door at around 5:30am.  What I did notice on the pedal through Watford to the station was how all the traffic lights were green, so it only took me about 7 mins to get there, hence I arrived very early at Euston.

After much fiddling with the Garmin Edge 705 at Euston working out how the navigation operated (should have checked that) I trundled over to Marble Arch and then decided to kill the remaining hour or so having breakfast in a cafe behind Selfridges that does a mean scrambled eggs on toast. They also had SKY TV on in the background  which meant I caught the latter end of James Whale’s slot … as if I needed reminding of why I got up this morning :)

About 3o miles in and am so glad that the route takes us off main roads and onto country lanes.  With the exception of the first 5 miles it’s been pretty quite and uneventful.  I was relieved when the route didn’t go onto the A20 where I thought it would but ran in parallel instead on a quieter main road, so no worries Hugh … no motorways as yet (I’ve gone under the M25 and over the M20 so far. There was a bit of a steepish climb from Horton Kirby to where I stopped for a coffee so I think this looks like a natural mid to late morning stop for the group, the cake is great, tea good and they’re used to cyclists and dont mind us en-mass.  

Not sure exactly how many miles I did since the coffee stop, the garmin timer stopped and I didn’t notice for about an hour.  The garmin sat nav feature is a bit flaky, I’ve gone down the wrong tracks a few times and at one point it sent me down a raod that put me 20 miles out of my way so I had to double back, but I guess that’s why I’m doing it now so at least one of us knows where we’re going.  Of couse the Garmin was off as I was getting lost so I wont be able to see what I did :(

It got to about 1pm and then the rain came and by 2pm I was soaked to the skin so I held up at the Park Inn next to Leeds Castle and here I’ll stayed until got dry and the rain stopped.  I didn’t have to be in Dover by any specific time because I’m now taking the morning ferry.  So I to relaxed and take it easy…..big mistake.

The route thus far had been hilly but went through some pretty villages to compensate and if we’re not chasing ferry times then we can all chill out and just enjoy the day, walk where we need to and make up some time where we can.

About an hour after I left the pub Mr Cock-up and his entire family joined me and I went totally off course, and it was getting dark. The garmin was next to useless as was it’s operator and it kept on sending me off in all sorts of directions. The rain started again and it became obvious that I needed to stop following the sat nav and just get to Dover. I’ll put it down to experience and have a go on my motorbike when I get back to ensure the route is mapped out properly. Lots of upydowny bits as it got towards Dover. However I reckon my 80 mile ride turned into well over 100 with all the ponsing around I did towards the end. One minute the Garmin said I was 10 miles away and then next it said 15 … nuts!! Bring back the good old map an compass.

Once I got to Dover the temperature dropped considerably as I sailed down the hill to the port and I was grateful for a warm welcome and a hot bath at the Premier inn. I have to say they are good hotels, clean, comfortable, big rooms and quite. Yes the location is always bad but the rest compensates for it.

Got very little sleep to be honest and I was up again at 4:30am to get myself for the ferry …. which of course was late anyway :)

All in all I had a great day, made some mistakes, didn’t go as fast as I wanted but with about 12kg of stuff on my back it was to be expected (wont need this for the real thing as we’ve got a support van …. phew!!). Also there were a few aspects of the route I wasn’t happy with that need to be looked at. Please, please, please …. no more rain!

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Posted under Andy Thomas, Arch To Arc 2010

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