Juliano's World Frenzy/Tech's Trip Reports

Techniquest

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At least you should get some money back from GA for the Cambridge semi-fast being cancelled and having to do the all station stopper. Fingers crossed the weather remains nice for cycling in :)

Indeed, I was 47 minutes later than planned into Ely so while it might not be a lot from £9 it all helps :)

Ely was chosen as a destination to base myself in because of the good choice of trains to do if the weather isn't good. I'm told it might not be that nice for Day 3, but I will judge that in the morning. For now, here be the trip report for Day 2:

12/10/2021 - Tech's Third Cycling Holiday, Day 2

Despite an early morning wakeup, with going back to sleep thankfully until around 0620, I had an amazing sleep in a really comfortable bed, so I started the day off very well. It was a very lazy morning, and my maps were both updated and studied carefully. My London map looked much better after Day 1's big ride, I've got a taste for exploring London on two wheels! Eventually devices were charged up and I booked a day return to Cambridge for £4.90. I fancied trying my luck again on Great Northern and went for the 0845 to London King's Cross.

I arrived with plenty of time to spare anyway, but due to OHLE issues earlier in the day there were plenty of delays around. After scoring 755406 for sight on the 0828 to Cambridge, I headed to Tesco for some rolls to add to the previous bit of food before the ride, then as it was chilly a tea got bought to go in the travel mug. Not badly priced at all for £1.50 from the little kiosk. Eventually the inward working of the 0845 arrived, and it was winner 700021, my first score of the adventure. It was also my first use of the bike space on a 700, nice and simple to use with the securing straps. Approximately 21 minutes late I was finally on the move, and I had options at Cambridge.

One option was to do Route 11 towards Bishops Stortford, partly to visit the point where the 10,000 miles of National Cycle Network markings are. The other option, which I have to confess was the most tempting, was to ride up the guided busway to St Ives and follow Route 51. I was still deciding that on the way to Cambridge, it wasn't my easiest decision!

After finally arriving at Cambridge, and yes I was applying for Delay Repay, I actually started on my rolls before I got going. I will say right away that I didn't know before I arrived how friendly Cambridge is to cycling, wow that was a pleasant surprise and the amount of cyclists I saw everywhere was pleasing. I've got a new city on my favourites list! Eventually I made it to Jesus Green, and after working out where I was on Maps I was soon off again. The weather was fantastic for cycling, a bit chilly in the wind but otherwise it was beautiful. I had planned to ride to Route 51, but I ended up following Regional Route 24 out of Cambridge. Oh well, that would do, it would take me to the 51 and I could do some terrain I wasn't planning to do.

I rather enjoyed that first few miles, after Girton there was a good bit of traffic-free riding on the shared-use path which was nice and wide AND in good condition. Holy moly, I'm not used to such luxury! At Oakington, which was a nice little village too, the 24 took me up Longstanton Road (I think!) which is closed to road traffic and there is a lot of new road construction up that way. It looked like a bypass was being built, but I couldn't spot any signs informing me of that.

I got a bit lost in Longstanton, as it appears some silly person has moved the sign for the 24 at a mini roundabout. Still, I needed a break and I was soon back on the 24. When I found a way to get to Route 51, however, I took that and I finally joined the route alongside the Cambridge to St Ives guided busway. That was a strange sight, but quite an interesting concept. I'm to believe there's another such busway in Luton on the former railway trackbed to Dunstable. On which note, as I look at my map while typing this up in the evening, for anyone reading this who wants to ride or walk the route alongside the busway out of Cambridge I would strongly recommend doing so from Cambridge North station. It is FAR easier to access from there, however I'm jumping the gun…

So, what can one expect from this route? Well, it was very quiet when I rode it, and believe it or not it's not as flat as it might appear. There was a surprising amount of deceptive uphill sectors, nothing too major of course but enough to notice when battling the wind. The route passes by the RSPB's Fen Drayton Lakes site, which looked worth exploring especially for those who enjoy birds. Generally though, it's a fairly featureless route, nothing of any real interest personally and I was glad to get to St Ives.

I had never been before, and in case anyone's wondering, no I didn't see the man with seven wives on my way to St Ives! Of note there, there is a pub called Seven Wives a little way north of the town centre. I should have taken a photo! A funfair was in town, so I diverted out and around, but it looked like a nice enough place. I continued exploring a bit, before a sign told me Huntingdon was only 5 miles away. Yes I will, no I won't, no I can't be bothered was the conflicting attitude at that point, however by the time I got to the enormous Morrisons I changed my mind and decided to go for it.

I had lost Route 51 due to the funfair, and ended up on a shared-use path alongside the A1123 until Houghton where I saw a small green sign, by chance, opposite the junction to tell me of a cycle route via the village. Aha, that's where Maps was telling me to go, that was a much nicer idea than riding along the A road. Another nice little village, and I was soon back alongside the A1123 for the final bit to Huntingdon. I was going to pop by the railway station, just because I could, but I found myself alongside what Maps describes as the Old Bridge and that was a nice spot to stop for a short break and ride plan. The weather had been cloudy for a while now, and it felt like it would close in soon with rain. So I didn't hang about for too long, I had a mission on my hands!

That mission was to ride my Gran Fondo for the month of October. A Gran Fondo is a 100km ride, in one single ride, and I only usually go for said challenge on Strava when I'm on a week off. It's become a bit of a tradition! I was not even halfway through it yet, but I was now on Route 51 again and I had some assistance from the wind. This was a nice sector to do, and the villages of Hemingford Abbots and Hemingford Grey were soon passed through in my highest gear. Oh yes I was enjoying the scenery and some high power, this was better, I was having great fun!

A little way outside St Ives, a short break led me to realise I could have a look at St Ives Bridge, which I didn't do earlier on. The odds were that I'll probably never return to the area, so I might as well. It was a nice view, and by now I was on something around 30 miles in my Fondo. A long way to go, and my first of two failures to hit resume on my Fitbit happened here. I can't recall where the other was, so I lost a bit of recorded distance. Oh well, it wasn't a major loss. I was determined to clear the busway route, so once I had navigated my way around the funfair and its diversionary route I was back on it. With that sort of irritating rain that's enough to get one wet, so a coat was needed again even though I would have preferred not to use it.

Much further on, I finally made it back to Longstanton and having not eaten since I had first arrived in St Ives some hours beforehand I stopped to finish my cheese slices and rolls. The poor legs were not amused! I think it was still around 8 miles to go until Cambridge at that point, and the coat had come off as I was convinced the rain had gone. Less than a quarter of a mile after the break, I was stopping for the coat again! It is a new coat, and it does a great job at keeping the heat in but good golly gosh I was melting it in and that was causing its own issues!

Once I was convinced the fine rain was gone again, the zip finally came down and what felt like forever into the ride with a mostly sidewind but also partly tailwind (yes that really was the best way I could describe it) I finally left the busway route and I was outside Cambridge North station. I had not been aware of it being quite architecturally fascinating, I need to return for that. I did start doing so later on, again I'm jumping the gun...The huge cycle racks was a welcome sight, I'll be using them one day, and I wonder how much noise can be heard at night in the Novotel right next to the station. There's also something else being built next to that, although I couldn't tell what.

I carried on however, despite temptation being to head back to Ely as I was still a fair way off the Fondo. I was now following Route 11, and that was quite a nice gentle ride alongside the river. I ended up getting confused as to where exactly the route went after a while, and followed a walkway to Quayside. By now I had been desperate for caffeine for hours, and I settled with getting an Earl Grey from Foy. My mission to support independent local businesses where possible continues now and again, sometimes it is just far easier to go into Pret, Tesco or similar. Frustratingly, when I sat down and took the lid off my cup I found they'd put milk in the cup. Back I went and got that sorted, and I noticed when it was remade that they even put the wrong teabag in. Thankfully the error was soon rectified, and for £2 it wasn't too expensive for my first try of Earl Grey. I actually quite liked it, nicer than English Breakfast that's for sure.

I felt a thousand times better for that, money seriously well spent. For the record, one place I went past in St Ives wanted £2.50 for tea. Good grief no, for a tea that is taking the mickey! Another place wasn't brave enough to put their prices up, and in any case I think fate had intervened as stopping in Cambridge was clearly the best move. Knowing now what awaited me, I have to say it was well timed! Keep reading to find out why I was glad to be warmed up inside before I continued my quest!

By now I was on 45.3 miles and I was ready to roll, and I had a vague plan going on. I was going to ride to Shepreth for more coverage and to eventually get a train back. Thank Gravy I didn't go for that after all! I continued following Route 11, taking in more of Cambridge and being very impressed as I went. I soon had to stop though and let a cow, yes really, pass by uninterrupted. That experience in a grassy area was rather unexpected! Somewhere in the Trumpington area I found myself off Route 11 and heading out of Cambridge towards my approximate area of interest anyway. Now the coat had to go back on, as the rain had returned but this time it was getting serious. Where were my waterproof trousers? Back in Ely!

The rain really did start coming down now, oh my that wasn't fun. I was now heading towards Shelford, then towards Whittlesford, but the rain was getting to me a fair bit. To an extent, I can deal with wind, but rain I really don't enjoy! At Little Shelford, I started heading around to Harston, and that soon changed when I saw Cambridge was 5 and a half miles away. I would do that and the final few-ish miles for my Fondo around Cambridge I decided. Or I would forget about doing it after all, the decision would be made when I got there. Fortunately, I got a second wind when the caffeine got through the veins and into the muscles, and when I reached the A10 I was a bit nervous about riding that. Fortune was again on my side and a shared-use path existed. Upon looking at my map later on, this was the same path I was going to have been on for the ride to Meldreth station.

The rain really came down hard for a bit at this point, so I was grateful to the kind souls who had decided to put the shared use path in! Once I got past the Park and Ride site, the rain stopped and I was very happy about that. I still don't know exactly where I missed the turn for Route 51, but I was soon enough back in Cambridge and I basically ended up on an 'ooh where does this road take me' kind of ride for a good while. I did decide to go to Cambridge North station for the photo, however my Fitbit had decided it had had enough, and was running very low on charge. This was enough to convince me to hurry up and get back to Cambridge station, given by that point I was on 59 or so miles anyway. I had seen quite a bit of Cambridge now!

Eventually I got to the railway station, and I had wanted to take photos as the station I knew when I visited on my 2011 ALR was completely different now. The whole area has been modernised, it was unrecognisable. My wet feet and trainers were having none of that, I had done around 62 miles and cleared my Gran Fondo, it was time to get into the station and get back to Ely.

It was here I found out about the overhead line damage between Cambridge and Royston which had suspended services, and I was incredibly glad I hadn't gone to Meldreth after all! It felt like a very long 25 minutes waiting for the 1635 to Kings Lynn to leave, during which time I got to watch 317348+317507 leave on the 1620 to London Liverpool Street. That would have been a fun journey! The Class 720s are really spreading their wings now, I noted it out in the morning too and 720556 was on the 1629 to Cambridge North. The writing is on the wall now for the 317s, I cannot imagine it will be much longer until they get fully replaced.

I joined dud 387118 and winner 387105 on the 1635 to Kings Lynn, at least I got to score two trains on this day! The journey to Ely was soon over, and I was straight off to Tesco for some urgently needed food before getting back to the Airbnb. After a quick bath, which the body seemed grateful for, it was time to eat and I can't put into words how glad of that I was. Following that was a full forum catchup, then a lot of time spent typing up the trip report. I didn't finish that until 2036, and I had started it around 7pm!

Another excellent day, despite the rain, and I still had the fun of my map update to do! I had no idea what Day 3 would bring, but I knew it would have some work to do to even match Days 1 and 2. I did know whatever it was that it would need to be a touch easier than Day 2, and a good night of sleep would be vital!
 

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Techniquest

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Last few photos from Day 2. I hope you'll all agree Cambridge is beautiful and worth exploring, and that you'll see I had fun too :) I will go back and explore properly some time!
 

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Kite159

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Yeah but what can you do? These things happen, if I'd checked the forecast before I left I'd have been better off!

There's something I can do before bed actually...

Agreed about the weather being what it is on trips. Gotta take each day as it comes, as the forecast can change
 

Techniquest

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Agreed about the weather being what it is on trips. Gotta take each day as it comes, as the forecast can change

Agreed. I made sure to pack the waterproofs this time, just in case. Of course, as I had them with me I didn't need them after all!

13/10/2021 - Tech's Third Cycling Holiday, Day 3

Wow the week was flying by! With the caffeine in the tea I'd had when I got back to the room keeping me awake until a little after 1am, also not helped by an exceptionally lazy evening, I was up again soon after 6am. It wasn't the epic sleep I was expecting, this seems to be an unfortunate thing that happens after most of my big cycle rides though. Of course, I was also excited about what Day 3 would bring!

Eventually, after an easy going morning and two cups of tea, the weather forecast confirmed my choice. I'd been wanting to go there anyway, so I bought an off peak day return to Kings Lynn for £8.80, not too bad for the distance and it gave me lots of options en-route if I fancied alighting early and doing other bits first. Part of my decision had been to do the ride from Kings Lynn to Wells-next-the-Sea to complete that bit around the North Norfolk coast from Cromer. The wind would be in my favour, so it was tempting. However, I also had a boatload of desire to ride to places like Wisbech to see what they're like, and it seemed nuts to be based in The Fens and not actually do some cycling in the area! So I was going to leave it to impulse as the day went on. Eventually my Downshifters had finally dried out, although it's worth noting they were rather smelly. On my list of things to do today was to find an odour destroyer for them. I am not ready to bin them yet, or perhaps just as accurately use the footwear recycling scheme at Tesco!

First and foremost, it was to the railway station and on the 0856 to Kings Lynn it was double duds 387124+387120, grr! What beautiful weather though, and I decided to alight at Littleport for the ride to Downham Market. Passing the site of all those stored trains north of Ely was a bit of a sad sight though! The manual crossing gates at Littleport surprised me somewhat, and despite announcements saying one could only alight from the front 4 coaches at Littleport all 8 were opened.

Once 387119 was past on a London King's Cross service, I was off and after some initial confusion I checked Maps and yes I was on the right road. Onwards then along a country lane all the way to Ten Mile Bank, where a short break was deemed necessary for a few minutes. The morning weather had been beautiful, and I was glad to have chosen not to go all the way up to Kings Lynn on the pair of dud 387s. Onwards the ride went past Denver West Moorings, and eventually I reached the village of Denver. Time was starting to tick away quickly and I wanted to be on the next train north from Downham Market, so it was a bit of a worry for a bit I'd not make it. The wind had picked up somewhat, so the ride was getting more challenging along with the deceptive ever-so-slight uphill sectors that look flat but really aren't.

Soon enough however, I made it to the surprisingly nice looking town of Downham Market, and while I didn't see a lot of it I did get a pleasant surprise with the railway station. After my 13.56 mile ride, it was nice to see all the Network Southeast branding here, there and everywhere! A visit to the little cafe in the station building, which has a waiting area with tables, power points and free WiFi so definitely worth remembering, got me a rather nice Earl Grey tea. The sunny weather had had me forgetting it was October, so the opportunity to warm up and boost the caffeine levels was taken. Fortunately, the next northbound train was dud 387126 and winner 387101, so I happily dashed up the platform to join the front train as Watlington has a short platform.

Once there, I had the tea and felt better for it. I have been in the habit lately of putting sugar in my tea, that is a habit which needed to stop and I was hoping in due course it would. I had long fancied a visit to Wisbech, which I still can't pronounce, to see what the former railway town looked like. So I headed west, despite the wind coming from that way, and after Magdalen (the signal box at Watlington still carried the old Magdalen Road name!) I found myself next to Route 1. OK then that will do nicely, 10 miles to Wisbech from that point and 5 miles to Kings Lynn.

Oh boy didn't the wind drive me crazy and slow me right down in places! The route was taking me through much farmland, nothing really exciting whatsoever to be honest, and after missing a turn I stopped for a break at Marshland St James outside the village hall. After a couple of Science in Sport energy gels, the legs had some go in them again and I had got the desire to pedal away. It took so much longer than I thought to get to Wisbech, the route just never seemed to get even close then, when it did get close, it was turning off to somewhere else! I was so bored of the route, and the stomach was demanding a proper feed in the form of a hot meal, when I finally arrived in the town centre outside Wetherspoon (The Wheatsheaf Inn) I was relieved but I had lost the desire to explore the town.

I took advantage of a really good deal, and got the Bangalorean cauliflower and spinach curry with chips and refillable hot drinks for £5.65. I wasn't sure if I'd like the curry, but went for it and the taste blew me away! A little bit too much red pepper for my personal taste but overall it was beautiful. I strongly recommend it, and I had a new favourite meal in Wetherspoon! I'd gone for a coffee to warm me up and fast, and after the meal a decaff coffee was more appropriate. I would have had tea, but there were Tetley teabags left in the open and I don't like Tetley tea anyway. Soon enough, it was time to move on and I'd seen a decent strength wind blowing in from the west was due. I was heading east now, so that was rather helpful and the exploration of the town could definitely wait until I one day reach it from the March direction.

Onwards I went, and unlike Norfolk Street which looked nasty the rest of the town did seem nicer. I ended up on Lynn Road eventually and went charging up that and over to St Peters Road (S) as fast as I could get the legs to go. I suspect no one has ever said it before, but "I must get to Marshland St James as fast as possible"! I wanted to join up with the coverage I had done earlier there, and then I would continue east. Or at least that had been the plan, once there after more riding past farmland I decided to head north to Kings Lynn but not via Route 1. There was a sense of adventure again, and I eventually arrived at Terrington St John which looked like a nice little place. I made special note of the all-day chippy there, should I ever return to the area. Onwards as fast as possible I went, I was sick of the slow riding from earlier and wanted plenty of high gear riding where possible.

I saw a sign at Tilney St Lawrence or thereabouts with the BR double arrows on it. 5 miles away, oh yes why not I declared, let's go! That road took me along to the crossroads where I had joined Route 1 earlier in the day, so I figured I could go and fill that gap since I was there anyway. After Tilney cum Islington, and it must be said there are some strange places names in Norfolk, I found myself with the option to turn off again 3.5 miles from Kings Lynn. I could take that turning and listen to my gut feeling about returning to Watlington for the 1423 train to Kings Lynn. Given I was still valid, and there was a chance of a winner on it, plus I had time, I just had to do it and turned off for Magdalen. I must add that that place name kept reminding me of a colleague called Madeline!

By now, the wind was getting on my absolute nerves and I was concerned I'd not make it in time. 'Nonsense' I told myself, 'you can walk a mile in 15 minutes so you can do this!' which I knew I could. As great as lunch was, I'd already burnt most of it off, I think with the chips it came in at 1,017kcal. It had been my first proper meal since the baked beans on bread in Hereford on Day 1, so a hot meal had certainly been welcome!

I arrived with 13 minutes to spare before the train in the end, and the break from the coat to de-sweat had been so needed I had no word for it. My gut instinct proved to be correct, as in rolled dud 387129 and winner 387117. To Kings Lynn!

After locking the bike up on the top deck of the cycle park, I set off on foot next to explore the town of Kings Lynn. When I was last there, it was 365s on the London King's Cross trains with the odd working from London Liverpool Street, back in the days when visiting somewhere meant simply getting off the train and not exploring. So I was finally changing that, and this was an unplanned walk, a case of see what caught my eye. After a good while, I had seen quite a bit of the town already and stopped to grab a cuppa from an independent cafe near JD, and the eagle-eyed of you will have noticed I had not yet been to Greggs on this week off. I was determined to not do the same as in September and buy food from there too often.

After the tea, the stomach reminded me of its desire to be fuelled up, there was no more time for fluids! A visit to Morrisons got me a fair amount of food I like for tea and some bits for Day 4, then it was a case of investigating the 1644 to London King's Cross having done 4 and a bit miles of walking. It was the same pair I had had to Littleport, 387120 now leading 387124, so I took a seat on a bench and got some rolls going on. That filled an enormous hole, and I'd managed to get a new t-shirt from Primark as I'd not packed enough. Everything else was fine, but for some reason I'd messed up there! With the bag repacked to make everything fit, it was time to start the huge update to the trip report before the 1621 from Cambridge arrived.

I was in for a nice surprise when I looked up and saw it was a 700 coming in! Sadly it was a dud, 700041 which was also dud on Day 1 when I had had it from Cambridge North to Ely. The 1716 to Cambridge doesn't stop at Watlington, which was a funky little bonus. The northbound had 387126 on it, which is dud, so I didn't miss out on the 1740 from Kings Lynn thankfully. Once back at Ely, I saw 720561 at platform 2 which I hadn't expected. I wondered what service it would have worked! It was straight back to base next, as it was getting close to the time of day where bike lights were needed and I'd left mine in the room. I also needed to pack, as on Day 4 I would be leaving my stunning Airbnb behind. To say I was gutted is an understatement, it had been a great find and I will happily stay again! I also had to make a new plan for Day 6, as I had been going to Cheshire to visit my little sister. Unfortunately, a daughter of her neighbour had tested positive, so she had rung while I had my lunch to tell me and we both agreed it was not wise for me to visit after all. The risk of catching or spreading the dreaded c-word was not worth it!

So I had a busy evening ahead of me there, and I finally finished typing at 1843. I had way too many ideas for Day 6, it would come down to hotel or Airbnb pricing. I had a craving for both a red pen day and for some epic cycling, how would I decide! Much in the way of music didn't make my decision any easier, and I knew if I looked at my maps I'd find it even harder to settle on a plan! All will be revealed of course!
 

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Techniquest

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More photos from Day 3!
 

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Techniquest

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There are more photos but this will be the final batch from Day 3. Day 4 will have a lot less!
 

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Techniquest

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14/10/2021 - Tech's Third Cycling Holiday, Day 4

Good gravy that was a brilliant 8 hours of sleep! Up and moving again by half 6, it was an easy going morning, filled a lot by replanning Day 6 as the Airbnb host did not want me bringing my bike with me due to breakables in the room and not being aware of anywhere safe to lock it up. For a while I considered cancelling plans for Day 6 and heading back to base in the evening of Day 5. Fortunately a coffee, which I am currently having in very limited quantities when high-energy food is not easily available, kicked my adventure sense into gear and I looked for other options. I looked to do Route 4 out of London and over to Reading for the winner easyHotel there, or an Airbnb in Grays.

Two very different options, and given funds were starting to get low, not dangerously so but it was still a long time until payday so care was needed, it was easy to think 'Ah stuff it I'll go back to Hereford, I have washing to do anyway'. Then I looked at Rainham in Essex on Airbnb and found a really nice place for £35.72 instead, the host messaged me back later on and confirmed it would not be an issue to take my bike with me. Happy days, and I remembered at the station to check for engineering works on Day 6. Fortunately, that wasn't a problem, getting a replacement bus would have been fine for just me but not for my bike!

Having checked out and said farewell to Rachel, I finally got my pannier bag reattached which is a lot easier said than done when it's filled. A quick dash up to the mini roundabout for a thrash down the hill and to the station, I had plenty of time to fill my bottles up and grab a tea for later on. Despite asking for a black tea I got one with milk, which she did sort out but I do wonder how much her brain was working! Certainly she seemed preoccupied with a device. My itinerary had me board the 0932 to Stansted Airport on my Advance, but I was not convinced I'd have space to board the 755 to be honest. The 0917 to London King's Cross, that I would have much more chance of getting on. That produced dud 387113 and winner 387121, slightly closer to clearing the 387/1s!

Later on at Cambridge, I got a photo of 37099 and 37057 on an OHLE Inspection Train on the sidings, which was a pleasant bonus. I also got to see what was on the Stansted Airport services. 755325, which I need, but it was heaving so it was just as well I didn't wait for it! It looked like 720556 would be on the 0953 Cambridge North to London Liverpool Street, that one seems to love visiting Cambridge. Maybe it got bored of Essex last month! I had that one, with 720536, from Ipswich to Wtham on my previous cycling holiday, and I'd seen it multiple times in Cambridgeshire on this adventure. Sure enough, dud 720556 rolled in and I was a tad miffed that I would still need coverage north of Cambridge on the class, not to mention being unlucky enough to get a dud!

With some music on, and much planning of rides, the journey was over really quickly. It was far more enjoyable than the way north on Day 1! There were just so many places to visit and ride to, I was spoilt for choice. The main objective was to reach Peckham Rye at 1pm to check into my next Airbnb stay, check-in for which was only between 1pm and 5pm. I wanted to get it done swiftly, so I basically had 1 hour and 45 minutes to get some coverage in and see some sights. Some of London's Cycleway network appealed hugely, and the weather was great for going around Hyde Park. That decision was made then on the approach to Bethnal Green…

Well, you know what they say about the greatest plans...I changed my mind after I arrived on Bishopsgate outside Liverpool Street station. A check on the wind forecast also revealed some strong gusts due from the southwest and west, hmm. I ended up filling the annoying gap I had left on Day 1 around Fenchurch Street, and joined C3. When I got to the junction with C7 towards Elephant & Castle, it was decided that was the better option.

It was less fun and, for certain, much less safe than C3. Segregation from traffic was very limited, on the bit I did anyway, whereas C3 keeps you out of the path of traffic for the majority of the route. I sure didn't feel safe on the route, and TfL have some work to do to make it better. That's not even discussing the poor signage in a lot of areas! At Clapham Common, I stopped to take the coat off as the weather had warmed up and I needed to de-sweat. Further on, I reached Balham Station and I decided the rest of C7 would be done another time, I figured it was wiser to head east towards Peckham Rye for check in and to not keep the host from anything else he may be up to. So that's what I did, heading towards Streatham. Or at least that had been the plan...

Somewhere I took a wrong turn, and I ended up in Brixton! My sense of direction had clearly gone wrong, I was heading back to central London! When I saw a sign for Camberwell Green, I vaguely recognised that name and I found myself soon enough by Loughborough Junction's station. Ugh, what an unpleasant area, I was glad to move on from those traffic lights! Soon enough though, I saw Denmark Hill on a sign and knew I must be close. I pulled over near a cafe to check Maps, and yes sure enough I wasn't too far. That hill was more than expected I must say, however I managed reasonably well and soon turned off onto a cycle-friendly route. Eventually, I reached Peckham Rye's centre and after one more Maps check I arrived a little ahead of schedule.

Taking the bike up two narrow flights of stairs, with the pannier bag rather full, was no mean feat! TJ, my Airbnb host for this evening, was a really nice guy and a pleasure to meet. I decided that, despite good cycling weather, I could not deal with the carrying of the bike up and down the stairs. It would make a change to focus on the trains! I was soon prepared for a good session in London, and after a quick Tesco visit I also diverted into Sports Direct for a new pair of cycling tights. I didn't fancy my plan for Day 5 in the cargo trousers I had on, they're OK for short hops on the bike but that was not what I had in mind. Once I finally found those for £18, and the reason for needing them was that the others I had were waiting to be washed, I eventually joined dud 378146 on a Clapham Junction service after turning down a pair of dud 465s and getting the first part of lunch consumed.

I only took that to Clapham High Street in the end, as I fancied a session on the Northern line after the short walk to Clapham North. Much to my surprise, my first attempt at a score got me dud 51717 and winner 51525! I took those to Kennington, where I changed for a Battersea Power Station train. I had by now seen a few sets out I needed, including a winning pair off to Morden. This move would also clear the bit of Kennington loop that the Battersea Power Station trains use, so that was a bonus. Double winners, to my extreme and pleasant surprise, 51532+51706 to Nine Elms which got me the status of all LU stations visited again. Leaving Nine Elms out last time had been an annoyance! Once outside, as I had wanted to see the station building, I stumbled across the fact that it's an easy walk to Battersea Park and to Vauxhall. It was good weather, and I had wanted to visit the park in good weather…

So that's what I did! I set off and took in the sights around Nine Elms, including the new Nine Elms complex that will have completely changed the skyline when finished, and the United States Embassy which is a funky looking building. I had planned to walk along the Thames, but I found myself walking through Battersea Power Station instead. I had a good bit of reasoning behind doing the walk, aside from wanting to explore the park. For one thing, it would give me time out of a face covering which was welcome on its own, but the other reason being that I had 5km left to clear the 50km walking challenge for October on Strava at the beginning of the day. By the time I reached the park, that was going to be close to done, and before I go any further I must say this:

WOW!

Wow Battersea Park is a beautiful place! I was impressed, and there was so much of it to walk around. Hyde Park looked much bigger, so I can only imagine what that will be like when I go there! I spent quite a bit of time walking around and soaking up both the sunshine and atmosphere, the photos will show off some of the park but a visit in person is the only way to properly enjoy it. My walk ended at Queenstown Road Battersea, 5.1 miles after setting off from Nine Elms LU. I fancied some trying of my luck on SWR, and to my extreme surprise it was double winners 458513+458510 on my first available move to Clapham Junction!

That good luck didn't last too long, as it took ages to find a winner again. Eventually, I got a pair of winners in the form of 455869+455709 on a leap to Wimbledon. There, I visited Morrisons for food for tea and for breakfast, and I had to choose my next move. I did fancy Hyde Park now, but I figured by the time I'd get there I wouldn't have time to fully enjoy it before the darkness arrived. So I settled for something that I fancied doing just for the fun of it, and joined 2544 for the journey to East Croydon. It's not a line I travel on too often, so it was nice to just stand back and watch the late afternoon sun and the scenery. I also spent some time planning my onward journey back to Peckham Rye, the winner choice meaning not leaving Croydon until 1900.

I took a break and just watched the trams go by and people watched for a bit while I devoured some rolls and ham-style slices, and by now it was around 1745 and getting chilly. So I had a quick look at Maps, and after donning the coat I got walking in a reasonably leisurely fashion. I took on a few different streets, rather than going with my usual choice of route following the tram tracks on the Croydon loop. My destination was Wandle Park, just to see what it looked like.

It was a nice enough little park, nothing much compared to Battersea Park but a nice little wander anyway. I ended up following part of Route 232 back to central Croydon, a nice easy going route to do some time on the bike. I still had a boatload of time, and I was still hungry, so I popped into a McDonald's for a large portion fries. That helped no end, and eventually 1900 arrived so I tapped in at 19:00:05 on the screen. Sadly, the 1901 was dud 378145. At Sydenham, and I swear when I looked there was meant to be a 9 minute connection at Surrey Quays so I thought I had time to wait for the next train from Crystal Palace, and I ended up getting dud 378138 to Surrey Quays. I used the time on the very slow journeys with London Overground to type up this trip report, which hadn't been touched for hours. Is it always that slow on LO?!

Sadly, I missed the next Clapham Junction train by less than a minute which was most frustrating. Adding insult to injury, at 1942 one of my last two 378/1s rolled in and I reckon that would have done the 1916 from West Croydon. Oh well, it is what it is! My final train of the day fell to 378227, in all its dudness. Eventually it arrived at Peckham Rye and I marched back to the Airbnb as fast as I could. I have now seen Peckham's centre and I wasn't impressed. Still much nicer than Loughborough Junction though! After getting back indoors, it was time to put my oat milk away and veg out. Day 4 was completely different to the previous 3 days, and Day 5 was due to see a return to cycling. With a few trains added in, of course. What I would get done remained to be seen, but I looked forward to finding out what would happen!

As for not doing many trains in London, well that boiled down to the fact I had a nice day and I wanted to make the most of it! The red penning could wait for a day when the weather wasn't so geared up for outdoor activity!
 

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Techniquest

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More photos from Day 4, next post will be the final lot. I really must get Zenfolio setup for more than the free trial!
 

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Techniquest

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These final few from Day 4 are from Wandle Park and Croydon. Now bring on Day 5!
 

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The_Train

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Mr Train, I'll only respond ultra quickly right now as I'm on a short break at work and have a cuppa to drink. I like the 769s, if TfW ever get them functioning properly they'll be a useful asset.

10/09/2021 - Tech's Cycling Holiday, Day 5

Wow it was the final day of the adventure already? By gum that was quick, expensive but quick! Having been woken up by what I think was a noise from either pipes above the room or some AC thing, during the night I wasn't quite as refreshed as I wanted to be, however that was a really good sleep. The best one I had got on the adventure!

Around 7am I was wide awake again, and the bag preparations begun. Some of the clothes for today in the pannier bag had got a bit damp, so the heating went on to give them a chance to dry out. It gave me time to put some music on and get caught up with the trip report typing, a good quality de-rancify and such like, and in any case it was still the morning peak on the railway. The off-peak period would not begin until 0930, and I had hopes for my last 333 producing. I had no real desire to do many Azumas after all, the experience on Day 4 had put me off something fierce! There would be plenty of 195s, possibly some 331s and Transpennine 802s to go after so it wasn't as if I was short of options. I did also wonder whether my last Northern 158, 158905, would produce or not…

Eventually I was ready to go and check out, which I actually forgot to do with the handing in of my key card. Which I realised on my first train of the day, so I quickly jumped off and got it off the bike and returned it before check out time! With that done, I was going to stop to pick up a cup of tea, but decided to just keep going and get back to the station. I still hadn't had any caffeine all day yet and it was nearly 10am. Unheard of not too long ago! With multiple options, I decided to camp out at platform 2 for what was due to be a required 331/1. I had been on the 0942 to Chester to score a 195, then walk over from Bradford Interchange to Bradford Forster Square to pick up the 331. So it's not all gone wrong yet!

The 1012 Leeds to Bradford Forster Square was showing on Realtimetrains as being required 331104. It actually rolled in as required 331111, and we left about 3 minutes late. Which was eating into my connection in Shipley for another 331! I need not have worried about that, I had around 8 minutes anyway and much of the delay had been caught up. Winner 331109 produced for the journey back to Leeds, and I finally voted with my feet and went off in search of Greggs. I too lost count of how many times I bought stuff from one of their outlets too!

First though I went into the huge Decathlon store, my first one of those too. I needed to replace my cycling glasses, and I could have bought so much in that shop! I resisted to urge to fill the magic plastic, and eventually got my food and tea from Greggs. With the first part of my food intake now done, it was off to the station. A pair of required 195s on the 1142 to Chester had to be done, so I jumped on winners 195023+195007 for a leap to New Pudsey.

Nothing exciting happened whatsoever at New Pudsey, a vague plan for the afternoon was made but that was it. When I discovered how tight the connection in Leeds was for my intended train though, the Danger Music started playing. I suspect most people have different tunes for their own choice of Danger Music, indeed I have a couple of different ones, but my favourite is the one on Thunderbirds. You know the bit I mean, when the disaster begins/ramps up.



Winner 195102 rescued me from New Pudsey for the trip back to Leeds, would I make the 1221 to Doncaster? There was only one way to find out. Sadly, despite being put into platform 10, and the Doncaster off platform 11, due to the 1215 to London running late 195102 pulled in at 1221. At least I got to confirm the ID of the 331, and it will be back later all being well. The 1245 to London was an option, but I am not a fan of the Class 91 Electras. 91111 was on the back, in its special livery, and the sun was not quite in its best position for a photo. Still, I have it and I had heard an announcement for the 1229 to Knottingley, with Wakefield Westgate its first stop. Oh yes, that will do very nicely, as it was 158792. A 158 on the uphill journey to Wakefield sounded too good to pass up, when the alternative was an Electra!



Costa have changed their loyalty club, from a pounds and pence value system to a beans system. From the appearance of it, each hot drink gets you a bean and after 8 beans you get a free drink. I had 5 beans when they converted my £1.71 over to the new system, and I wanted a cuppa. Thankfully Costa use decent tea bags, unlike Greggs, and this was a higher quality tea. £2.10 but I got a large cup and so plenty of value out of it. Two more drinks to go then I'll claim the free drink and get rid of the app. The end is coming, although I will confess to keeping the Greggs one…

Next up was winner 331102 for a leap to Outwood, where I basically waited around and planned my next moves. Sadly, 331110 was going to have to wait until a future time, I had some cycling to do. I could do the 331 with a fair bit of hanging around, but the opportunity to do some cycling in dry weather was too good to pass up!

The clearance alerter was sounding at Outwood, as my final Northern 158 was next with 158905 having the dubious honour of finishing the Northern allocation for me. To Leeds! The sun was making an appearance, and I was craving some cycling. After unlocking the bike and getting a much needed PNB done, it was time to give that Cycling Superhighway a go.

It's marked on most signs as Cycling Superhighway, with a green box with white CS1 text on that box. Some smaller signs simply show the box with CS1, and a few signs refer to the route as City Connect. The website promises an entirely traffic-free and safe cycling route, which on the website I saw after searching for it on Google said it was due to be completed in January 2021, the rest of the work mostly already done in 2019. It sounded promising, it must be said, and I didn't commit to doing it in full at that point but I'd determine that as I went.

The route can be easily accessed from the City Square exit at Leeds, and just down the road a sign suggested it would take an hour to ride. It ended up taking me pretty much that, although I could have done it quicker. In the Armley area, there's a fair bit of roadworks at a junction which blocked off a chunk of the road, just after a section which is still being built, and cyclists had to merge with traffic. Certainly not the family-friendly route suggested at the moment!

After a check on Maps, I got a bit of a divert going on and soon I returned to the route. Yes, the majority of the route is away from traffic in segregated lanes, or by sharing a pavement with pedestrians. In Stillingley, I might not have got that quite right admittedly, the route disappears and so does the signage in the area around Aldi or Lidl, one of those anyway. A quick Maps check revealed I was on the right route, but I was certainly mixing with traffic. Not normally an issue as I tend to ride on roads anyway, and thankfully the route resumed properly about a quarter of a mile away.

Eventually I reached Bradford, and I don't envy anyone going to Leeds on the route as there's quite a bit of hill climbing involved. My poor brakes, and bearing in mind it had rained quite a bit on this ride too, took a hammering once again but I had successfully arrived at Bradford Forster Square railway station 63 minutes after setting off. Considering the diversion, roadworks and stopping for a few minutes to put the waterproofs on, I don't think that was too bad. Especially considering at least 5 minutes of that was waiting for crossings to let me cross.

333007 was on the 1500 to Leeds, right up the platform, and I only just made it on. With the bike hooked up, it was time to update my notes which took until the approach to Leeds to do. Would I recommend using CS1 between Leeds and Bradford? It certainly seemed like one of the best ways to cycle between the two, but I'd not necessarily recommend to those not confident on the roads, not until it is actually finished.



A walkabout in Leeds followed after locking the bike up, and I ended up getting some chips and mushy peas from Graveley's in The Core shopping centre. They weren't the best chips, probably made with cheap potatoes, and the mushy peas were not pleasant, but not a bad price meal otherwise at £3.60. Time was by now ticking by, and I returned to the station at 4pm. First things first…

After then sourcing a cuppa from Pret, not cheap at £2.30 and as it turned out not a good quality tea, I got the bike unlocked for the last time in Leeds, and positioned myself for the 1642 to Chester. Northern had recently had a flash sale on, and I had booked myself a bargain £1 Advance to Manchester Victoria on this service. Winner 195116 was on it, and I'm glad I got there early in time for the inward working of the 195, as me and another gentleman had filled the space for two bikes. He was only on to Bradford, so other people were fortunate.

A rather busy train as far as New Pudsey, then again from Bradford, emptied some more at Halifax and filled up with some noisy people who would supposedly be called blokes. Ugh, they were the sort who had to prove who was the bigger one kind of noisy, and yes they were on the way to a night out. Even more ugh! Thankfully I'd put music on as we left Leeds, and a favourite album was soon on. Bonkers 9: Hardcore Mutation's Hixxy mix has been a favourite since it was released way back in 2002 or 2003, I've forgot which year it was. This sort of music I like when I need to get properly energised, get the blood pumping kind of thing.

I was shocked at the difference in track level where there's a triangle of lines south of Halifax, I never knew it was so drastically different before! Before I knew it, due to the service being much faster once it gets past Halifax, it was into Hebden Bridge. By now the girl opposite me, who had spent much of the previous hour applying makeup, had finally finished 'dolling up' and I had to feel sorry for her feeling the need to do so much of it!

Soon enough it was out of Yorkshire and into the Greater Manchester area, and I love Manchester, so I was excited to arrive in one of my favourite cities. Leeds may join that club one day, now I've started exploring it properly I do want to see more of it. One day, maybe next time it won't be a railway-focused time in Leeds, given there's now much less to get done on the railway there. The Azumas, yes I do need plenty of them as I have only 3 of them in the book, but I just couldn't get enthused about travelling with LNER.

As the trek over the Pennines started drawing to a close, it occurred to me at the planning phase of this trip that I was going to shove a 7 day First Class All Line Rover onto the magic plastic (the credit card), well over £800, to combine a load of the new trains around the UK and do some tourism. Looking back at that option, do I feel like it might have been better to do that?

Absolutely not! I've loved my adventure, perhaps it could have been a little more focused on the cycling, or indeed on the trains depending on how one looks at it. However, for the results I went back to Hereford with, I was extremely pleased. Much like on the first cycling holiday, and yes the trip report for that will be typed up in due course, the weather did affect the adventure a bit. Fortunately it wasn't as bad as it could have been, but the railway did help save the day!

Arrival into Manchester Victoria was slightly early, and after a couple of lifts I was outside and doing my best to keep away from the drunks. I had forgot it was Friday, and Manchester could fairly be described as a 'party city'. Mental note made to avoid Friday on a weekend now the pubs etc have reopened! A route to Piccadilly was planned, then I found afterwards there was a diversionary route to Deansgate. It took ages to get around the works, and so many lights didn't like me, but eventually I found my way into an unplanned tour of Manchester city centre! With a walk past Market Street's Metrolink stop, after getting lost in one way systems meaning I could stop backtracking, I arrived at Manchester Piccadilly.

I'd been on a mission to clean up my language in everyday use, and that had gone so well I was struggling to find a suitable word for how busy Piccadilly was. After asking someone, I found out where I could lock the bike up while I visited Sainsburys, the bottle refill point and such like. With all that done, all that was left to do was to await the arrival of 175112, which had been delayed coming north by overcrowding.

They weren't wrong, it was heaving when it arrived and I felt sorry for the normal, non-drinker passengers. It was finally time for food, once I stowed my bike away safely, and it was 5 minutes late away from Manchester. Eventually I got fed up of the noise from the drunk "blokes" not far behind me, and my coach did have normal passengers in it too. It was so noisy I could hear the drunks over my music which was on quite loud as it was!

Sometime after Nantwich I was so sick of the noisy people I was not missing weekend travel whatsoever, and I finally got to the final map update for the trip, for the coverage around Manchester city centre, although of course I had the West Yorkshire map in Hereford to do yet. So, what would I say was the highlight of my adventure? Now there was a tough question, there were a good few. The new personal best for distance on a single ride on Day 2, despite the heat, was certainly a contender. While typing this up on the train back, I wasn't really sure what I would define it as. I would say that would no doubt be it in terms of cycling, in terms of the railway part of the adventure that was a tough call. I think finally getting that last Northern 158 is up there, I needed to think about that one!

Now if we were looking at the low points of the adventure, that wasn't an easy choice either. In terms of the railway, I'd have said that ride on LNER until I suffered the noisy ride on 175112. By some measure that was much worse! The cycling low point? A tougher question as the rides were generally really good. I would have to say that bit around Hainworth on the way out of Keighley, that bit which defeated me up that 20% climb on the cobblestone road. I had wanted, as I struggled to push the bike up the hill, to give up and return via another route to Keighley, to just stuff it and pay extra to travel back to Leeds in the evening peak. Fortunately I soon snapped out of that and kept going.

Would I do this trip again, given the chance? Well I would do some different territory I suspect, but in terms of mileage on the bike and the amount of scores on the railway, yes I'd do it again! What would I change? To be honest, not a lot. I wouldn't return to the guest house for sure, and I'd ideally book an Airbnb or similar so that I could cook my own meals and not rely so heavily on the likes of Greggs. Otherwise, I'd happily go and do it again starting tomorrow!

A lot of the noisy people got off in Shrewsbury, and the "blokes" finally got off in Ludlow having finally calmed down a fair bit. Peace was restored to the train, happy days! So, what's next I know you all want to know. Well an easy day of not a whole lot was due to follow the adventure, the biggest job was cleaning the bike up. It was so shiny and looked so new again before I went on this adventure, she's done me proud fair play. I had ideas coming out of my ears for the next trip, there would be day trips coming up but epic quests like this would have to wait. Basically I had no idea where I would go next!

Let's round this up with two key stats:

192.06 miles by bike
32 trains scored
Been a bit slow on the read ups lately Tech but just completed your Yorkshire trek and it's another epic :D
I think you got the balance between bikes and trains just right and I continue to enjoy the mixture of both of these hobby's of yours.

I shall continue to work my way through your other reports (one day I may actually catch up haha)
 

Techniquest

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Been a bit slow on the read ups lately Tech but just completed your Yorkshire trek and it's another epic :D
I think you got the balance between bikes and trains just right and I continue to enjoy the mixture of both of these hobby's of yours.

I shall continue to work my way through your other reports (one day I may actually catch up haha)

You'll soon have more time to catch up, it's getting to that time of year when I won't be going out too often due to the weather. I'm glad you think that, this adventure has been a big focus on the cycling but there have been trains in there too. Almost at the end of this adventure, which is a real shame.

I do have October 2020's trip report to look at doing, but soon enough it'll be time to get back to learning languages, planning World Frenzy trips and learning new skills etc. So there should be time for you to catch up! :lol:

15/10/2021 - Tech's Third Cycling Holiday, Day 5

Wow wow wow, the penultimate day of the adventure had arrived and I was shocked how fast the week was going. I had finally hit the hay around midnight, and I have to say it wasn't my best night's sleep. The bed was firmer than I like, and I just couldn't settle into a decent sleep. Once the planes started flying over, and I've had a fair bit of aviation noise this week with fighter jets on Day 3, civil craft over Battersea Park and now civil craft landing after their overnight flights, I knew I might as well get up.

With a huge serving of cornflakes and some oat milk, and a cup of tea to wash it down, for breakfast I was soon a bit more energised. The shower was excellent for waking me up and de-rancifying, and late into the evening chilling out on Day 4 I'd come across a bargain £6 Advance from London Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria on the 1013 from London. Quite, that fare was readily available during the day to my surprise, and I booked that sharpish. My plan had been to use c2c out that way, in a bid to actually make some progress on the 357s, but that fare was too good to pass up!

Having also seen the wind forecast for Southend, and that it was a 41 mile ride from Peckham Rye to Leigh-on-Sea, I wasn't willing to endure riding into wind from the northeast. The section from Southend to Shoeburyness appeared to be less scenic than the ride heading west, and I had approximately 7 hours to get to Rainham (Essex) before darkness fell. I honestly did not think that would be too challenging, although this trip report will show if I was right or not!

TJ has things like plates, cups, bowls and cutlery in the room, as well as a kettle and tea and sugar. A fridge is available elsewhere in the flat, as is a microwave. He has got a washing machine in that part of the flat too, but as I was not staying long enough for my washing to dry before departure I didn't take advantage of that. Overall, minus the firm bed and that is a fairly subjective thing anyway, I would recommend TJ's place. The town centre might not be much to write home about, but the area the flat is in is nice.

Just after 0745, I was outside and on the way to Greenwich Foot Tunnel. With only one wrong turn, due to being on the wrong side of 3 lanes near Cutty Sark, I had safely navigated my way over from Peckham Rye. Cycling in Greenwich Foot Tunnel is prohibited, and the lifts would have been greatly appreciated. They weren't working by the looks of it, so after getting a quick look at Cutty Sark which looks amazing, I carried the bike down the stairs. With a pannier bag that's rather full, that made it a good workout for the arms! Oh, and on a related note my new cycling tights fit, they certainly won't be letting any cold in. They're only meant for a beginner rider apparently, for short rides, but they will do. Surprisingly, they're actually quite comfortable!

I walked my bike through the tunnel, not that a lot of cyclists did. No lights, no helmets, no sense with a number of them! Given how narrow the tunnel gets at the north end, in the bit which was repaired with steel after bomb damage in World War 2, that's just asking for trouble! Other than that, it was a nice walk and worth doing. Once I was up and out of the north portal, and took a photo of Greenwich Pier and University of Greenwich's impressive building, I set off for the City.

After a while, I ended up getting frustrated with traffic and when I saw a sign for Route 1 towards the City I happily took that option. With a short break near Canary Wharf Pier, to take more photos, I was soon on the way towards Mile End and I found myself on Route 1's bit of the Regent's Canal. That wasn't for too long, and I was back on the road as I was convinced I'd gone the wrong way. That got me into Stepney Green, where the rain attempted to ruin the day but that came to nothing of note in the end.

After a Maps check, as despite having plenty of time before the 1013 out of London Liverpool Street I didn't want to go too far out, I found where I was and soon joined C2 for the last bit of that towards the City. This was much better than C7, as it was segregated from traffic fairly well. What the eastern end of C2 is like I will have to find out another day! I took it upon myself to go and fill in some gaps around the Fenchurch Street and Liverpool Street area next, I had considered parking up and having a quick explore of Tower Hill first, this was decided to be something that could wait though.

Eventually I arrived with 55 minutes to spare, and after parking up the bike and dealing with urgent matters, I visited Pure and got a forest fruit and peanut butter porridge as well as an Earl Grey tea. I've seriously got into that tea, it is really nice! Before too long, I had had a nice bit of hot food but I'm no fan of peanut butter so I'd have a different one next time. I was soon boarding winner 720559 for the trip to a popular Essex destination. Even more of the Greater Anglia network now covered on a 720, I had secretly hoped for a 321 to have another spin on them before they go. No matter, this would do nicely!

Most of the way saw me with music on, getting pumped up for the main event! Would I head east to Shoeburyness, or head west as per the plan? Well as it turned out, I had no working lavatory on the 720, so my first priority when I got to the seafront was to find somewhere to lock up and deal with that! At that point, I figured I could deal with the wind for the ride to Shoeburyness and pay £3.10 for a train back to Southend, and pick up the ride again to Rainham. I decided that no, I should stick to the plan, Shoeburyness and indeed the rest of the coast could wait for another time.

Before too long I had reached Chalkwell, and I should add Adventure Land looked fun as did the pier railway but for £5.60 it didn't feel like good value. Supposedly I was now on Route 16, but that seemed to end by Chalkwell station which was not helpful. After dismounting I pushed the bike up and over the railway to do the ride uphill and onwards to Leigh-on-Sea. Whoever said Essex is flat?! After more hill climbing than expected, I eventually passed by Leigh-on-Sea station and I got to a roundabout which pointed out the option to ride to Benfleet and Canvey Island. I took that option, as I didn't fancy the more direct road towards Pitsea which was busy. The downhill into Benfleet was a lot faster than I thought it would be, but seriously welcome!

10 and a bit miles into the ride, I took a break opposite Benfleet station where I happened to see one of my last three 357/3s for sight. I now require 357315 and 357325, one day I'll get them! After 2 Science in Sport gels, and I cannot tell you how good they were, I had my next sector planned and I took off for the ride to Pitsea. It was most definitely lunchtime now, and I pulled into the huge Tesco for some much needed supplies. After a couple of rolls and a chocolate bar, 15 and something miles done, I was ready to crack on. I believe I had planned to ride past Baildon and Basildon, but I ended up in the village of Fobbing instead. The temptation to bellow "Don't fob me off" was significant! After Corringham, where I should have stopped for a cuppa, I ended up turning left and when I got to the London Gateway area I figured I'd best check the map. A good time to stop and take the coat off too.

I was absolutely going the wrong way! Back up I went, and I finally found myself in Stanford-le-Hope on Route 13. I decided to trust my sense of direction, which took me towards the industrial estate, so thankfully I went back to relying on Maps to get me on the right road. At the level crossing, it felt like an eternity waiting but I was rewarded with 66716 and 66725 on an eastbound RHTT working. Onwards and upwards, and I found Grays was just over 6 miles away. There was a shared-use path alongside one of the roads going that way too, even better. It was, until I got to the big Onsett roundabout which was getting a lot of work done on it. I couldn't see an obvious way of rejoining my easy route, so I ended up diverting to Chadwell St Mary.

After said area, there was another nice steep hill where I could apply maximum power. The hill going up the other side, not as steep by any means but still enough to slow me right down. Eventually I found my way out of the area and onto the B149 towards Grays, which I decided would absolutely be a food break point. At the Grays Beach Riverside Park, I found a bench to sit on and devour the other rolls and my last oat flapjack that I'd got in Kings Lynn, I was famished! By now I was on something like 30.7 miles I think, and I had to shove the coat back on after a while of being in the shade. It was a much needed break it must be said!

Time was ticking by, so I got on the move again and found my way towards Purfleet. I couldn't be bothered exploring Grays, there was cycling to do! Somehow I came off London Road and went via the industrial estate, but got back on track eventually after a Maps check. While here, a Class 373 Eurostar went past heading to France, that was a nice sight! Purfleet station was rode past, and after one last check to ensure I knew how to get to Rainham station, I was soon on the final couple of miles. Diverting off the main road to go via Wennington, I got to Rainham station around 1546. So around 4.5 hours of exploring, but it was too early for going to the Airbnb so I went to explore Route 136 towards Rainham Marshes. It was a nice route, getting overgrown in places but worth finishing off another time. By now, I was in dire need of a hot drink and I headed into Rainham Village.

The cafe I went to had no card machine, and the ATM charged 99p for withdrawals. I headed instead to Tesco to use one there, then decided the better idea would be to get a hot drink there. £2.10 for a small decaff americano but a really good drink and rest after 45.5 miles of cycling. The derriere was wanting a rest now, the pad in the cycling tights is quite thin but they did a great job at keeping my legs warm!

Once I'd enjoyed my drink and got the ride synced up on Strava, I did my shopping and headed back to the bike to check in with my host for the night. Shelli's an absolute star, really friendly and she's a vegetarian which is always a big plus for me. She was making a chilli with black beans, and offered me some. I hadn't had such a thing before, but it was nice and we chatted about travel for ages. The room was incredible, and the bed was nice too, I definitely chose well here! While Shelli cooked, I got the trip report all caught up with and chilled. It had been a busy day but a really enjoyable one. Quite the tour of Essex had been had, and I was already disappointed that the adventure was nearly over. There will be a bit of a summary in Day 6 of the week, including my favourite bits and the least enjoyed bits. Choosing a highlight will be difficult, there's been quite a few!

What was Day 6 bringing with it, apart from the mandatory London Euston to Birmingham New Street and to Hereford journeys? Well, I had hopes to clear C2, but I also wanted to do some more cycling in the part of Essex I was in. Upminster was only 5 miles away after all...
 

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Techniquest

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16/10/2021 - Tech's Third Cycling Holiday, Day 6

Well that was an excellent sleep! Oh my days the bed was nice and comfortable, I was out like a light just before 10pm. Awake again at 0520, but dozed back off here and there until 7am when the sunrise came through the window and I was ready to get de-rancified. Much better, and it was to be a relaxed start to a day which promised to be less intense than the day before. The shower was not as powerful as I'd personally like, but I'm spoiled on that front by a really good one back in Hereford. I realised that I had forgot to highlight some of my map in the Downham Market area, so that was high up my list of priorities! Of course, I hadn't planned to ride much in Essex, so I would have to wait until I got back to Hereford to colour that map in but some of it is on the London area map, which got sorted too.

Unsurprisingly, I was also keen to have a decent healthy breakfast. I was pleasantly surprised to have not been into a Greggs all week, a much healthier holiday this time! I spent ages chatting with Shelli until nearly 10am after I had done my map update and ride planning, and once I had reattached my pannier bag I was soon on my way. This ride was to be nice and easy, taking on Route 136 as far as Upminster railway station.

Said route goes through Ingrebourne Park, and that was a nice ride. It would be better on a mountain bike in places, and there are dedicated trails for such bikes too. Before long, after a shade over 5 miles, I was at Upminster station. Double duds 357206 and 357027 were on the 1044, no thank you and I waited for the 1052. Dud 357017 up front but with winner 357316 on the back, so I joined that pair for the dash to Barking. There, I was going to change for one of those Saturdays trains via Stratford to London Liverpool Street, but I decided that no, I could instead go on the GOBLIN (Gospel Oak to Barking Line) and sample a 710 along that line. Having failed to find a purple route validator, which I was certain I'd need to use, I got a photo of the 710, then joined winner 710269 on the 1109 to Gospel Oak.

It wasn't heavy rain, by any means, and I had my waterproofs, but did I really want to do much cycling now? I could take this train to Gospel Oak, change for Willesden Junction and head into Euston, to then head north to Birmingham. I needed to consult my map…

A decision eventually got made to bail at Blackhorse Road, as I was going to do the short ride down the road to join Route 1 along a traffic-free section, then plan from Stratford when I got there. That didn't end up happening, as when I finally got out of the station which seemed to take forever thanks to a slow lift, I found myself on a Quietway with a segregated cycle path. Given it was roughly heading west, it made sense to just go with it. The route became poorly signed around a park, I want to say Marshfield but I could be wrong, and I eventually found myself heading in the right direction to the City. The sight of an Overground station, in the form of Stamford Hill, reassured me that my directional sense wasn't too bad after all.

Not too much further on, I ended up on the A10 towards the City. It's not an exciting ride, not by any means, and I eventually reached Shoreditch High Street. Now I knew roughly where I was, and turned right. Before too long, I was in the Old Street area, yes indeed this was going well, I'd soon be at Euston. Well no, I actually ended up in Holborn, which I had wanted to do one day anyway so that worked out well. It was actually not too bad a ride, and once I got to Tottenham Court Road I knew where I was as I had now linked up to coverage on Day 1. Logically, I'd have turned right by the LU station, but I went straight on.

Oh my that felt like a long ride, it was so slow thanks to many pedestrian crossings, buses, narrow roads and taxis! Yes I had foolishly chosen to ride Oxford Street on a Saturday, when all the shoppers were out! Eventually, after what felt like an hour, I reached Marble Arch and I pulled over at Cumberland Gate. I was at Hyde Park, and after a Science in Sport energy gel I took on the ride around the top of the park and joined C3. Not a bad ride around that route, although of course I'd not seen much of Hyde Park itself. That, Kensington Gardens and the area around Buckingham Palace and Westminster would all wait for another time, today was about cycling not tourism!

I followed C3 back along the river and diverged onto C6 at Blackfriars. I still had to check, but that appeared to be C3 cleared all the way to Barking. Where C3 actually ends I have not yet researched, a job for another time. I found C6 to be a nice ride in October 2020, on my first cycling holiday, so I was keen to do it as I knew it would take me towards Euston and avoid the chaos of Tottenham Court Road. A sign for Kings Cross got noticed too late, and I ended up following my nose as they say. Eventually, I arrived at the familiar area of Kings Cross St Pancras, I was finally nearly at Euston!

Just a few minutes later, I arrived near the bike racks alongside the taxi rank, that would do. 18.6 miles I believe the Fitbit said I had done, not bad in the new tights. Yes, I knew I would end up on a good ride so I kept them going today too! I looked at the time and realised I could make the 1346 to Crewe if it was running, and take it to Rugby for a change onto an earlier train to Birmingham if it was an option. Which it was, granted it would mean a mere +6 at Birmingham New Street but I had faith. If it didn't happen, it wasn't the end of the world. So I made my way down to platform 11 and joined a pair of Terrible Twos, 350232+350257, on the 1346 to Crewe. Happily, I had no issue getting my bike on, and I collapsed into a fold down seat, more than ready for lunch.

Having not eaten most of yesterday's supplies from Tesco, I got my tiger baton going on and filled it with some pastrami style slices in one half, to finish those off, and the other half some of Squeaky Bean Co's Italian deli ham-style slices. Those are really good, I'll be buying those again too. With a very satisfied stomach after all that, washing it down with a KA pineapple can, I discovered to my horror the lid on my oat milk had broken, so some of it had escaped inside the bag and got some stuff wet. Bah! Once that had been transferred into the travel flask, I settled in and the journey to Rugby was over really fast. The connection at Rugby was +17, not +9 as I thought, so I could have walked backwards and made it easily. The other connection was onto Avanti to Birmingham, and it was a pair of 221s so I certainly didn't miss out there!

Soon enough the 1459 rolled in, and it was another pair of Terrible Twos, this time 350233+350242, for the journey to Birmingham New Street. I was just glad to be on the way back, Day 6 was fun but now the desire to get a nice big plate of vegetables and gravy cooking was huge. A lack of caffeine was affecting the brain too, having only had two cups of tea before leaving Rainham and no other caffeine since. So if the tight connection at Birmingham didn't make it would be straight to Pret for a decaff americano!

With a 1 minute early arrival, and being near-ish the end of platform 4A, I soon made my way to the stairs at the B end of the platform to swiftly connect onto platform 10B and the 1550 to Hereford. Fortunately, this was not too challenging as the front 350 had not been heavily loaded, and the stairs were taken on without too much effort. I had planned to use the lift, but missed the sign for it. Straight onto 172334 and I was there only 2 minutes after alighting the 350s, with the shared bike/disabled space on the 172 immediately in front of me as I got there. Good timing too, as the train had multiple pushchairs on it by departure time and the rest of the train was very busy.

The journey back passed by without much to discuss, I spent most of it chatting with one of the families and after Great Malvern also with a blind lady who was off to Hereford. On time all the way to Hereford, it was eventually out into the fresh air and the Hereford football team had been playing at home. Oh my I was glad not to be there all day! Eventually I got to Sainsburys to get a load of fruit and veg, and I was back at base. Before 9pm I was out like a light and got a good bit of sleep in until about 0615. I was so decaffeinated that I didn't even unpack or finish typing this until the morning!

So then, let's have a look at my favourite bits. There had been a good few highlights, and hopefully the trip report over the 6 days will show I enjoyed the adventure. Quite, I was ready for another one and the planning was already starting in the background while finishing this off! I don't feel it right to put it down to just one highlight, so I'd say my favourite bits were the walk in Ely, the riding around Cambridge, the cycling in Norfolk, the big ride along London's C3 on Day 1 as well as the big ride from Southend. Of course, I can't fail to mention two of my three Airbnb stays blew me away, Rachel's place in Ely and Shelli's in Rainham were outstanding and both places I will very happily stay at again. Not that I didn't like TJ's place, I would stay again but maybe not as my first choice in London.

If I was to pick some bits I didn't particularly enjoy then, what would they be? To be honest, there wasn't really that much I'd do differently. Certainly stopping for a cuppa on Day 6 would have been a sensible idea, however the prospect of getting back to base an hour earlier than planned could not be turned down! I would say the ride in that big downpour south of Cambridge was a big shame, my fault of course for not taking the waterproofs with me for the day. Which I did for the other days! That's something else I would change, I need to invest in overshoes. I've seen them before in Sports Direct, they'll only be a basic pair but I'm not seeing the need to spend too much on them as they won't be used too often. The ride through Oxford Street did annoy me, but it has been done now so I won't ever have to repeat that!

Finally, how did I get on for mileage and winners? Well of course there weren't that many trains in the first place, but I still returned to base with 15 winners. A pittance really in areas with lots of winners available, but that wasn't the focus of the trip.

In terms of cycling mileage, I certainly did well there and came back with 222.19 miles. When I looked at the calculator as I totted the numbers up I was slightly disappointed as I had expected a higher number (nearer 230) but that's just me wanting to have done more! Overall, I was very pleased to clear that sort of distance, only 18 months ago I could only dream of such numbers. Those who follow me on Strava will be aware I'm on a mission to clear 5,000 miles on my beast, and as of the end of this adventure I had got up to 3,876 miles. Considering I only got this bike on 5th January, and there's been plenty of other things to do this year, including a month off the bike after a minor accident, I consider it to be a decent total so far. I wanted to go out for more cycling after I posted this, but it's raining!

Unusually for a cycling holiday there was also well over 10 miles of walking involved, I haven't looked at the numbers involved for that, it might well have been nearer 15 miles!

So to very quickly sum up, a very good adventure and I look forward to seeing what I do next. My next main time off is in January 2022, and I hope to resume my World Frenzy trips in March 2022 with the postponed Iceland mini-trip. In the meantime, there will inevitably be more cycling adventures on days off where possible, and a proper red pen fest will occur before too long I would imagine!
 

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xotGD

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You are certainly clocking up some mileage on the bike - very impressive!

Finding a way to enjoy yourself and take care of your fitness at the same time is great.

I'm not sure that I would be up for cycling down Oxford Street, so well done for tackling the joys of central London cycling!
 

Techniquest

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You are certainly clocking up some mileage on the bike - very impressive!

Finding a way to enjoy yourself and take care of your fitness at the same time is great.

I'm not sure that I would be up for cycling down Oxford Street, so well done for tackling the joys of central London cycling!

Thank you :) While I remember, I've been reading the Back in the day thread for some time, I barely respond to anyone on it but some of those journeys you got in sounded awesome fun!

I agree, this is the sort of thing I've been looking for for years. Now I don't really do much in terms of socialising, and now that I have no desire to do so except for with a very limited social circle who like me are always busy, it's so much better. This is the balance I was looking for in years gone by when I was still balancing social nights out with work and trains, I can't imagine going back to that!

Oxford Street, no it wasn't fun but once I got to Hyde Park it was much nicer again. The frustrations of the previous 30 minutes soon melted away!

I'm already looking at heading back that way in a couple of weeks time, although probably not with the bike this time and it'll be a mid-week night away. Got to plan that this afternoon actually!
 

Techniquest

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03/11/2021 - 4,000 And Counting

Well this was unexpected! I had had no plans to leave Hereford when I woke at half 4 but 5 hours later things changed. Read on to find out what caused a desire to rip out the plastic and what the trip title is all about!

It had been a rather lazy morning, with a thorough forum catch-up done as well as a fair bit of YouTube watching. I did manage an indoor strength building exercise routine before sunrise though, so it wasn't all lazy! By the time the first of the morning's trio of episodes of Frasier had finished on Channel 4, and the second two being ones I couldn't be bothered with, I had the TV off and got on with more important tasks like the washing.

Earlier in the morning I had looked up my TfW requirements, and only two 769s I wanted were sensibly achievable. I looked later, to make sure nothing had changed, and I found with some more considerable ching I could also get two of my last 5 153/9s as well. So I ended up making a decision to go for them. My TfW wants at that point were down to 5 769s and 5 153/9s, so to be able to make a huge dent into that total would be worth the sacrifice. Of course, when I realised I could get some cycling done too it was inevitable that I would end up in South Wales!

After an extended ride to the station, as I had time to do so, I was soon enough on 175010 towards Cardiff. Much kudos must be sent to GWR, whose app finally does e-tickets for travel on TfW. Gone too is the irritating inability to buy tickets in it for journeys starting less than 30 minutes away, much better! I had secured a table seat, so out came my South East Wales map and I spent the journey as far as Cwmbran planning. My day's plan was already out of the window though, as 153921 had been reallocated to a Cardiff to Holyhead working. That would actually work out to my advantage, as its return working would then do the 1934 from Cardiff so I could score it on the way back. Jolly good show!

Some man at the opposite table, fortunately wearing a mask, started coughing his guts up into his hand through his mask in the Cwmbran area, which was unpleasant (I could hear him over my choice of pre-ride music!) as was the couple who joined my table at Cwmbran who smelt of tobacco. I had had enough now, I was getting out at Newport to do the ride to Cardiff. That had been on my wishlist for some time, and the option to get away from Sir Coughalot was welcome. Sadly, I had got there slightly too late to get any photos of 387s on test through Newport.

Once out of the station, I got Strava going and it was a nice and sunny day. After an initial error in my wayfinding, although to be fair it wasn't clear which way was correct, I soon made my way towards Duffryn. The uphill climb through the suburbs was a beast it must be said, the lengthy downhill was nice but the big junction at the base of it meant a lot of braking most of the way down! Getting to my choice of route meant following a busy main road until the big roundabout with the A48, which was better once the impatient van and truck drivers went past.

Eventually I was on the B road of choice into Duffryn, which was much quieter and much more pleasant. Somewhere around here I joined National Cycle Network's Route 4 briefly before finding myself on Route 88 towards Marshfield. This took me through a bit more of suburbia first of all, before joining a shared use path along the Gwent Levels to Marshfield. Said destination was around 3 miles from where I'd joined Route 4, which was alongside a reasonably sized Asda. The walk was quite nice, decent enough terrain for the majority of it and in a good pair of walking boots I'd strongly recommend it as something different to do.

As I approached the village of Marshfield, I branched left to head towards Cardiff. I had a plan for the two 769s I wanted, and the plan was to ride to Penarth for the coverage on my map, take the first 769 to Dingle Road or Grangetown then wait 20 minutes for the next one to take me to Cardiff Central. That would clear the Penarth branch on the class, and I would then head to Bridgend for 153913 which would be on its way over from Fishguard Harbour. That was the plan, but as I soon enough found out it was all to change.

I rode through Peterstone and went around the Wentloog area, by which point I knew I was close to Cardiff and I would surely have time to reach Penarth. 3.5 miles until the city centre, yes this would be easy I thought, it's all going well. I ended up pulling over in some sort of attempt at a lay-by a short way before Cardiff Tidal for a short break, and to check on what was going on with my plan. Here I discovered my carefully organised plan was all gone out of the window! 153913 or its partner had failed in West Wales by the looks of it, and the 1250 from Fishguard was cancelled throughout, argh! What was happening with 153921? Well it turned out that it was cancelled after Chester due to late-running, oh great!

Feeling very glad I had checked before buying tickets to Bridgend, I carried on and I passed the place at Cardiff Tidal where two 08s seem to live. I am sure one was 08877, the other was in orange and had a big black 6 on its side, I couldn't see any other number. I'd be grateful if someone who knows which one it is could tell me. Eventually I reached Cardiff Bay, and after a short break there to snap the animatronic dragon currently on display I was meant to be continuing to Penarth but signage for the route I was after was incredibly vague. The other route, I couldn't be sure how easy it would be to find where I wanted to go so I didn't go with that.

By now the sunshine had long gone and the bitterly cold wind from the north was making me feel incredibly, well, cold. I decided enough was enough, so I rode up to the city centre and to Cardiff Central station. Here I found that I had not long missed one of the 769s I had wanted, and if I got my rear end into gear I could certainly make the other. To do it all without excessive hanging around meant I would only be going as far as Grangetown and back. £3 for such a luxury, as it's an Anytime fare with no off-peak ticket available. Seriously, that's just stupid, what a rip off!

Even so, it was that or not get the 769s at all as I was cold and did not feel like hanging around for too long. So I begrudgingly paid £3 and winner 769002 took me on the slow journey to Grangetown. As this station has an island platform, I was not concerned with the +3 and I was soon on board winner 769452 back to Cardiff Central. By now, I was in significant need of a hot drink and hot food, so once out of the station I loaded my Greggs app to claim my free items. Oh no, I can't do that, the app had updated and logged me out. So it insists on sending a verification text whenever it does that. Seriously, it's probably more secure than an online banking app! The text thing would be fine, but I've changed my number and I had to fill in a contact form to ask them to change the number on my account.

I have no idea when that will happen, and I was not keen on going in and getting what I desired but not getting my rewards! I have a feeling the app will be departing my device before too long! I ended up walking into the city centre and got to Tim Hortons instead. It will be no secret to long-time readers of my trip reports that I love Tim Hortons, and I had not been to one for many months. Sadly, the only food they sell that's vegan is a grilled wrap which had nothing I like in it, so I walked out with just a medium Dark Roast and lots of sugar. The love for Tim Hortons immediately became part of my nostalgia!

Just holding the cup in my cold hands was an absolute treat! After unlocking my bike, and enjoying the coffee on the slow walk back, I had plenty of time for the 1430 to Salisbury (normally Portsmouth Harbour but only Salisbury temporarily due to the nasty incident in the area recently). Why was I interested in that? Well back in the summer I had done Newport to Salisbury on a 166, and ever since then I had wanted to get Cardiff to Newport done on the class too, just because I fancied doing so. If the 1430 was a Turbo as expected, I'd fill that gap and head onwards 20 minutes later to Hereford.

As I got onto the platform 166207 rolled in, and I joined it as soon as the doors opened to warm up some more. This 166 in particular was noteworthy as it was one of my last two to get before I cleared the class, so it was nice to have it again. A short time before Newport, I found my box of Trek bars in my bag and soon devoured one of those. As much as hot food would have been preferred, that would do just fine right now. The coffee was giving me a second wind of energy, and I was much warmer finally, so I happily alighted at Newport with three options for my afternoon. Before anyone asks, yes I do have plans to do Salisbury to Portsmouth on a 166 eventually too, and I'd happily take one to Brighton as well if I ever get the chance.

So, my options now boiled down to an exploration of Newport for things like the Transporter Bridge, the castle and more coverage on the bike. I also had a bit of a feeling for doing the ride out to Severn Tunnel Junction along Route 4 and a train back. However, I went with my gut feeling and took on another item on my wishlist, the section of Route 49 north of Newport that I still wanted to do as far as where I joined it previously in Cwmbran. My logic said that wouldn't be too difficult and easily done before a train to Hereford. I knew of course I'd not make it for the 1450 ex-Cardiff, but the 1550 would be more than easy enough. I already had a plan to visit Morrisons in Cwmbran, but I'll get to that.

So I set off and followed the signs to both Route 47 and Route 88. Around a mile from the station, Route 88 branches off east to Caerleon, and that is on my list to do one day. I'm not sure what's there, but I will find out! Route 49 branches off Route 47 not too far west from that point, and the 49 follows the old Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. A nice and easy 5 miles ahead was therefore likely. I didn't stop for photos, but trust me it was a route that would be good for walking as it's a good quality surface all the way to Pontypool. At this time of year a good pair of boots is highly recommended, due to the amount of leaves still on the ground, but it's also worth noting road crossings are in the majority done with traffic lights. I believe 2 or 3 were done on quiet roads without them, but the roads were in suburbia so not difficult to cross. Therefore it's a nice and safe route, always a plus.

It took what felt like an eternity to get to the point on the 49 that I had accessed on my Cwmbran to Abergavenny adventure, which was months ago, but I eventually got there some time soon after the junction with Route 492. I must do that one some time too, it's a much more urban route than the 49 and could be fun. Eventually I reached Cwmbran station with 15 minutes to spare before the 1521 (or thereabouts) from Cardiff Central to Holyhead was due. The station cafe was open, reportedly from 7am to 11pm but I doubt that! I had time, so why not pop in and get a cup of tea and some food?

Well, sit tight and I'll first explain the trip title. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it before, but I'm on a mission to ride 5,000 miles on my bike and I would love to get it done before 5th January 2022 as that would be a year after buying it. Before I left the house, I was on 3,978 miles and the ride from Newport to Cardiff as well as the one in Hereford would not quite get me to my backup option of 4,000. The ride from Newport to Cwmbran definitely would, so I felt really happy about that. 4,000 miles in a shade under 10 months, with a month off the bike after an accident in the spring and working full time with many other things to fill my time, and I think that's not bad going. I'm nowhere near the level of some of the local athletes I follow on Strava, but I'm not too worried about that. 5,000 miles could possibly be done within that year's target, although it would mean a lot of long rides in 2 months! Whatever I get by 5th January will do, quite honestly, this has been a blockbuster of a year!

So, back to Cwmbran and the station cafe. Well first up, it doesn't smell too pleasant but worse is the grumpy man running it. Someone must have made him like it earlier in the day, he was not welcoming or friendly in any fashion. I started with ordering a cup of tea, and he grumped endlessly at me while I decided on food. I was going to get chips, not a healthy choice but it would be a filling source of carbs and that would support a local business even more. I ended up sticking with my gut feeling though, and just had a cup of tea. I was soon glad I didn't order chips, and after being ordered back into the doorframe when a motorcyclist came from nowhere to get his hot drink (having to break a £20 note to do so, which added even more time to my waiting for a cup of tea…) the man eventually finished putting water in the cup and I happily paid my £1.

Why was I happy I didn't order chips? Well he was cooking some kids meal in the fryer which was chicken nuggets and chips. Yes, really, meat and non-meat in the same fryer and the same oil. I'm sorry but it isn't 2011, it's 2021 and nearly 2022, the world has moved on, in this day and age it is not unreasonable to expect meat to be cooked separately. There's also the fact the man didn't wash his hands once, which should be common sense when handling food and cash. On top of that, and his grumpy attitude, he uses polystyrene cups for hot drinks. Really? Seriously? It is not the 1980s, it's not the 1990s either, polystyrene cups should have died out years ago!

To say I was glad to be out of there is an understatement. His establishment had been given a 4 out of 5 for hygiene, if I was a food inspector I'd have closed him down with an order to sort himself out! Fortunately it was not too long to wait for my train, that was a long 6.5 minutes in that cafe and I urge anyone reading this to leave it well alone. You may not care about the grumpy man, or the method of cooking food, but for the lack of hygiene standards I'd run far and fast.

175109 was a welcome sight for my journey back to Hereford, even though multiple people chose to put large suitcases in the bike space. Ugh! I settled in to messaging a friend at work and put some music on, before I knew it I was at Abergavenny and got a protein shake going on. Ooh that was better! The journey to Hereford was over so fast I had barely blinked, how it doesn't feel so fast normally I don't know! All that was left to do was the ride back to base, and I had decided I was going to the local chippy when it opened at 5pm. As I had time to fill, and caffeine to burn off, I used the time wisely to do an indoor strength exercise routine first.

I was stuffed after that large portion of chips, money well spent and a local business supported. The next morning, as I had other stuff to do, this trip report got typed up which took a lot longer than expected, and the big map update promised to be fun! 2 more 769s in the book, 3 more to go with TfW (006, 421 and 426) and my total wants with TfW now weigh in at just 8. Until the new trains all arrive, of course!
 

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Techniquest

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Sorry about the delay posting this one, somehow I forgot to deal with it the other day and it's been a busy few days. With a need to fill time and distract myself from a train full of college children, I remembered this hadn't been checked through for errors, let alone posted. So here we go, only 5 days late! Quite, the map update has yet to be done too, which I completely forgot to do, that's how crazy the last few days have been!

So, while I continue on my next adventure, here's the last trip report before the next one is due to go live in the coming days!

04/11/2021 - Tech's On The Road To 5,000

This was not a planned adventure, but it turned out to be an interesting one. Following hot on the heels of 4,000 And Counting the day before, I was heading back to South Wales for some more cycling!

After rising for the second time during the night a little before 0430, I was up and nothing I could do would put me back to sleep so it was on with breakfast and the trip report typing for the previous day's adventure. Later on, I checked RTT's allocation data and not one of my wants out of the 153/9s or TfW 769s were showing as out. Oh good, no need to race out of the house, and later on I got an indoor workout going on. The effort must be kept up, I am determined to one day reach the point where the body has been crafted to the desired state! Progress recently has been positive, not what I really wanted but that is in no small part due to the diet. It's all coming together though, so don't worry I'm on top of my game with this.

I checked once again to see if the situation had changed, no the trains I wanted were still not showing up. Eventually, after the map update was done, I was after some inspiration and Frasier wasn't really entertaining me again today. I looked on RTT for inspiration and saw the 1010 to Maesteg was around 30 minutes away. It was showing as a 175, and I had wanted to cover the Maesteg branch with the class for years.

After sorting out my last minute tickets, I was soon on the way out of the house around 0950, and I had plenty of time before 175011 arrived to take me to the end of the line at Maesteg. This time I had no covidiots around me, which was nice, and I noted 387156+387145 again on test runs as we left Cardiff Central. They had done an early afternoon run the day before, frustratingly I again missed out on the photo opportunity!

Eventually I reached my destination, and I had been planning my route for most of the journey from Hereford. National Cycle Network's Route 885 was to feature in the first part as a minimum, but I had so many options I was spoilt for choice. It's not a bad route really heading up into the hills, I'd not say it's great and signage is very poor in parts, usually in really important places.

One such signage issue was where the route joins a main road north from Maesteg. It's a steep hill, and the lack of signage was not helpful. I'd have selected a better gear if I'd realised in advance, but oh well. Some silly person had turned a sign around in suburbia, so I got lost for a while but eventually found my way back to the route. This was a short way from Cymmer I think, and the route follows a narrow traffic free path. When the route is busy that must cause chaos!

I came across another point that was not signed and by now I was fed up of looking on Maps every few minutes. I looked at where I was when I pulled over at a bus stop and there were a couple of options ahead of me. Ride down to Port Talbot, then across to Bridgend for an additional train fare back to Maesteg and pick up my booked train, or ride towards Port Talbot and connect to the B road back to Maesteg.

The second option won, and despite the route being almost all downhill there were a few times when riding in the fastest gear I had was tough going, as I was battling sidewinds which were unpleasantly strong when they gusted. Still, I got going nicely for the most part along the A4107 and reached the junction for the B road. That was noted as uphill so I quickly changed down to a lower gear before I reached the lights. I still had time to change plans again!

No, I didn't see the point in paying even more out in fares, it was back to Maesteg. The B road would only have annoyed me all day as a 'what if I had done it?' thing. The hill went on and on, but eventually I got to the top and felt like having a break. Finding somewhere I liked for it was not the easiest choice, and I reached the village of Bryn. After a welcome sprint down a big drop, I saw the big hill not far ahead of me. Yeah, I was not taking that on without a break! So I pulled over near some pub and I was on well over 13 miles by now. Definitely a good time to stop and rest, and two Science in Sport energy gels were most welcome.

Onwards after a good rest, as the wind was making me cold, which was not an issue during the hill climb! I got around the corner at the top, and the gradient did ease somewhat but it was still a while until I got to the top by Maesteg Golf Club. The downhill into Maesteg itself was long and steep, and trying to control my speed was easier said than done! My brakes were certainly tested well! I chose to end my ride at the Tesco, as I was very hungry and I didn't fancy going to the baby sized Asda. When I looked later, there were no bike parking spots at Asda anyway, so it was just as well!

A good walk about there got me some tasty food, and the tiny cafe didn't appeal enough to sit inside but I did get a coffee to takeaway. Goodness, I noticed the chill a fair bit, time to get the winter gear out that's for sure! I found a bench in a nearby park to make my sandwiches, and discovered the 1716 Cardiff to Holyhead had had its 67 and MK4 set reinstated, earlier it had been allocated 158824. Phew, that settled my concern about there being enough space to board my booked train to Hereford. I had tons of time to fill, so went for a ride to Garth (Mid Glamorgan) and back which was not all that far. I decided that would do, and ended up camped out in the shelter on the station. Photo sharing, messaging catchup and similar kept me occupied until a load of unpleasant kids turned up.

Vaping, underage drinking and generally being unpleasant, I happily left the shelter as the train was due to arrive soon anyway. By the time it actually turned up, 7 minutes late, I was shivering! Thankfully, 170271 was nice and warm, the bike space was thankfully empty too. It was a slow, tedious journey to Tondu, where it's announced a bridge strike had occurred in the Wildmill area, so we were staying put for the time being.

Fortunately, the delay was not as bad as first feared, and after a slow speed journey over the bridge was done we were soon onto the mainline. By the time the train reached Cardiff Central, and it was routed into platform 3 which was a pleasant surprise having also arrived into platform 2 from the east on the 175 earlier, it was around 25 minutes late. Fortunately, while I missed out on a 67-hauled journey after all, I didn't have too long to wait for the 1749 to Manchester Piccadilly.

Once the world and their dog alighted, I was soon onto 175113 and settled in for the surprisingly fast journey back to Hereford. I did get lazy on the way back to base, and diverted to the chippy for a small portion of chips. It just had to be done!

***Following this trip, I've now got up to 4,064 miles so there's a long way to go yet. It won't happen by 5th January, which is a shame, but 5,000 miles will be reached in due course***
 

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Techniquest

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09/11/2021 - Tech's Not On His Bike, Day 1

The trip title says it all really, this adventure was not a cycling one! I was off to London, to focus on the railway and some tourism this time. I spent days looking forward to this trip, work was driving me crazy and a good old fashioned red pen fest felt like a good way to get that sorted. There's plenty more to that tale, but let's not go there!

Having managed to finish work early, a proper meal and de-rancify were fitted into the busy schedule, and I soon made my way to the station. There was chaos all over the place with school and college children, and the 1639 to Birmingham New Street was already very busy, so I was lucky to get a seat. I was glad to have not taken my bike after all, which had been a backup option for the trip. The idea there had been to do November's Gran Fondo with a start as soon as daylight arrived in East Croydon, to end the ride with time to board my last available train from Euston. I doubt I'd have been able to get my bike on the train out of Hereford anyway!

By Worcester, 172334 had been emptied of the majority of children, and while there one of them decided to use their vape in the middle of the train. Lovely! I had two unpleasant people behind me talking about damage they'd done under the influence on a night out, and how they were lucky it was their first offence, what to say in an interview with the police and other such topics. Even more lovely!

By Droitwich Spa, the fool in the only lavatory on the train finally left and what a state it was in! I was now seriously regretting not going for the 1539 from Hereford, and having more time in Birmingham for a meal, but I had welcomed the option of a shower and a healthy meal. At Bromsgrove, the unpleasant people left the train and I made a note never to move to Droitwich Spa or Bromsgrove!

Fortunately, the journey now became more pleasant and I looked forward to having a good stretch of legs in Birmingham. My walk in Hereford had topped out at 5mph, which I was incredibly pleased with, and all I could think about was how to begin the main event out of Croydon. I had ideas to fill the time while waiting for the off-peak to begin, but there was just so much to do in London!

A bit of a walkabout in Birmingham followed the arrival from Hereford, and a 1.4 mile walk saw me cave to the craving from the morning. I caved to Pizza Hut in the Bullring, and got a vegan pepperphoni deep pan pizza to take away. Hugely expensive at £12.89 for a 9" pizza, but it would be worth it I convinced myself! Well, it was good but to be honest it wasn't worth that much money. £10, yes I'd have paid that happily as it was my first pizza in several weeks. Slowly but surely I'm cutting back on processed foods, which is very difficult to do when on my travels, so the pizza was to be a nice treat. Tasty, absolutely. Filling, not really.

That was confirmed when a few minutes later I went into M&S and bought some grapes and dark chocolate. £4.70 that cost me, so while I didn't actually have the chocolate on the train after all (it was gone before bed!) it was a bit annoying needing to go and buy more food!

350259 and 350129 were on the 1913 to London Euston, and as the /1 was nearest the escalators it was pretty busy. The /2, really quiet so I happily took a seat in the front coach. I didn't need a table or power socket, so there was no need to join the masses! The grapes were soon started, I do love some nice black grapes, and while this punnet cost me £2.50 they were worth the expenditure on this occasion.

The journey to Northampton was soon over, following a thorough forum catchup, and some easy peeler oranges helped to further balance out the unhealthy food (I'd also had some cupcakes on the 172) somewhat. Before too long, it was into Milton Keynes Central and by now tiredness was catching up with me. In terms of exercise, it had not been too bad at all today really, but it was now 2044 and I had been up and out of bed since around 0550. So the priority now was to get to easyHotel Croydon and collapse! There was a long and busy day ahead!

Eventually the 350s arrived at London Euston, and I was keen to get moving over to St Pancras Low Level for a Thameslink ride to Croydon. I had toyed with going on the Victoria line for a quick spin on that, however the short walk to St Pancras would get me a better bit of leg stretching. I went via Eversholt Street, Phoenix Road and Brill Place, so I was outside the Thameslink side of St Pancras in just 7 minutes from platform 7 at Euston. I will have to use that route again some time! A shame then that Strava had a GPS failure and didn't log the walk correctly, never mind!

Winner 700056 was up first on a Sutton service, so that got added to the book with a quick leap to Farringdon. The Horsham train I had intended to get was winner 700102, so I happily got on board for the ride to East Croydon. All I cared about by now of course, having had a brief second wind, was getting to bed! With check-in all done and sorted, I was fast asleep within an hour of arriving in Croydon, the main event of the trip would be starting in just a handful of hours :D
 

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Bald Rick

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I went via Eversholt Street, Phoenix Road and Brill Place, so I was outside the Thameslink side of St Pancras in just 7 minutes from platform 7 at Euston.

That’s a good time! But there’s an even quicker way via Doric Way, through Levita House, and Dangoor Walk. It’s about 200 metres shorter.
 

Techniquest

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That’s a good time! But there’s an even quicker way via Doric Way, through Levita House, and Dangoor Walk. It’s about 200 metres shorter.

I will have to investigate that properly one day, I think I had looked at Doric Way on Maps but didn't see the route available so didn't fancy chancing it. Euston Road is my usual choice, but I like the one via Phoenix Road. That one via Doric Way, I'll look at when I'm not tight on time.

Here's Day 2, certainly wasn't the day I expected:

10/11/2021 - Tech's Not On His Bike, Day 2

Having collapsed into a deep sleep a while after 11pm, I slept soundly until 0545. I briefly considered going back to sleep for a couple of hours, to focus my efforts on this side of London. However a minute later the excellent shower was running and by 0620 I was outside and on a march to Greggs!

While I'm thinking of it, does anyone else strip their hotel bed of the covers before leaving? I do if I have time, as was the case today, indeed I did so with my Airbnb stays on my last adventure. It just seems like the right thing to do, it might not save the cleaners a lot of time but every few minutes must help.

After claiming my free coffee and vegan sausage roll from Greggs, having only got the email confirming the account was updated while at work on Day 1, I continued the 0.8 mile march to West Croydon Bus Station. If I had paid attention, I would have been on the 0635 bus, but I had assumed it left at 0634 (which I was meant to miss) and that the next one was 0658, as that was the impression I got from the TfL journey planner recently. If I had noticed the time, I would have faffed around with my Strava log on the bus after jumping on the 0634! No matter, the next one was at 0650, and I had time to consume my breakfast in peace.

So which bus route was I doing? Well for a long time I had wanted to do the X68 to Russell Square, a peak hours only bus route I'd discovered by chance a long time ago. This seemed like the perfect chance to do it, hence the early alarm, as it would fill a good bit of time before the off-peak began at half 9 and I could see some different parts of London. As the sun was rising over Croydon, it was onto the bus and away to the city! So what I do with the approximate 90 minutes between arriving at Russell Square and off-peak beginning? Well, getting my walk on, of course! It was more a case of which way to go, something I would have to decide on the way into the city…

Along the way, I was making notes of the terrain, to see what it would have been like if I'd been on my bike. I honestly did not know this side of Greater London has so many hills! I definitely want to tackle it one day though, I'd imagine at some times of the day the roads would be quite busy but it definitely feels like a ride I'd like to do in the future! I'd also decided another route I want to take in the future is the 75 to Lewisham from West Croydon, that one would be very useful for connecting into the DLR. I was by now pretty sure I was going to stick to the original plan, and the walk was looking set to be over to Hyde Park to finally get that ticked off. Oh, and the 109 to Brixton is also on my list to do. No matter how many times I visit London, I seem to add more things to do to my list! The ride through places like Thornton Heath, West Norwood and Tulse Hill got me to Brixton eventually, and Central London was not far away

I ended up alighting at Aldwych/Kingsway at around 0748, and got my walk going on. I had approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes to fill before the off-peak portion of the day started, more than enough time to get a good explore going on. My route took me first towards Tottenham Court Road, then onto Oxford Street and up to Marble Arch. There was a drizzle starting now, not what I had expected at all, but I kept going with the mission. I had only 9km (so around 5.5 miles) to go to clear the November Walking Challenge on Strava, so I fancied clearing it today.

First of all, I did the eastern side of Hyde Park, having done the top, west and bottom of the park when I visited on my bike in October. I also took on the route alongside the lake, and while my photos will not do the park justice I really urge everyone to visit and have a good exploration. It is a beautiful place, and Kensington Gardens is also worth a go around. I had not been there before, and by now the drizzle was annoying me endlessly. Even so, I carried on as I wanted to observe Kensington Palace.

I didn't take on the walk to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain after all, as by now I was focused on getting out of the wet. So I got moving towards Queensway and eventually through the suburbs to Paddington. Arriving there, it was around 0928 and I had successfully completed my mission to fill the time before off-peak service started. I had also more than cleared the walking challenge with a 6.3 mile walk! The first mission now was to visit the lavatories, which I had been requiring for at least an hour. I had seen some facilities in Hyde Park, but I didn't have 20p on me. With that super important task done, it was into Pret for a filter coffee and onto my first winner of the day. I also observed one of my last few 387s with GWR on the 0956 to Reading, so a plan was falling into place.

The first score fell to 345014 with a leap to Ealing Broadway. I wasn't there long, and I was trying to catch up with my trip report typing so time flew by before winner 345021 rolled in to take me to Hayes & Harlington. It made sense to get it done and out of the way now, rather than wait in the cold for the 387s, and I could happily ignore this one's Heathrow diagram. Passing Old Oak Common, where all the major HS2 works are going on, was a bit of a sad sight when I saw the demolition of the former Heathrow Express depot still underway. Even so, I was equally happy to see that the major project was going well from the looks of it. I'm excited for HS2, same for Crossrail, whenever that's going to actually open…

Shortly after alighting at Hayes & Harlington, dud 387166 and winner 387171 rolled in to take me to the edge of Zone 6 at West Drayton. 4 more GWR 387s to go! The next train back to Hayes & Harlington was winner 387167 and dud 387157. 3 more to go on GWR, happy days! A break from the mask was had here, and I dived into Tesco first to get something to eat. All that appealed enough at that time was a white bread baton for 60p, but a good source of carbs was fine by me. Back on the station, I had considered going to Heathrow on what would have been a winner 345, but I didn't think getting coverage on a 345 on the branch was worth £6.20! I stuck to my plan, to do some 387s back to Ealing Broadway, alas they were double duds 387155+387159. Ah well, you can't win them all!

After another short mask break, I had not long missed a Central line train, and there appeared to be delays on that line as the next train was still several minutes away when my next option rolled in. The next pair of 387s to Reading were dud, and winner 345001 was a no-brainer. The District line was all 213xx sets, which I need none of, so I did the only sensible option of getting my third 345 score of the day done. It was now time for a change of scene, and I only need 2 Bakerloo line sets, so that was tempting…

It was the option I went with in the end, and I had forgot Paddington is not the easiest place to identify both ends of the Bakerloo line trains in both directions. I was soon bored of faffing around there, so got going on a train to Queens Park to fester there instead. That move fell to double duds 3459+3266, the logic being that Queens Park is in the open and it is easier to observe Bakerloo line sets in both directions there. The bonus of course is that there are also London Overground trains to keep me occupied! It's fair to say it wasn't entirely the red pen fest I had envisioned, but with limited wants on LU except on the Central, Northern and Piccadilly lines it was always going to feature a fair bit of hanging around. In any case, the opportunity to try and clear the Bakerloo line sets was just too tempting!

An Earl Grey was sourced at Queens Park for just £1.40, which was most welcome. Much hanging around and waiting revealed no sign of my last two sets, although I didn't see all of them due to needing to touch out. I had not long missed a winner 710/3 going north as it turned out, and the next one was winner 710259. So I took that to Willesden Junction, hoping I'd see one or both of the sets I wanted heading south. No such joy, so after a necessary move I went upstairs to the high level platforms to try my luck up there.

The first two 378s in either direction were dud, but the next Stratford was winner 378218 so I joined that to Brondesbury Park. I had seriously expected to find an actual park there, but no such joy. I ended up on dud 378229 to Camden Road, as the next Barking train from Gospel Oak was dud 710269. At Camden Road, I ended up visiting Elie's Cafe for an americano, £2.60 so not cheap but they were really nice people in there. I would have got lunch if I wasn't such a fussy vegan! Back on the station with a piping hot coffee, as the day was expected to be very long yet, and to my surprise winner 378257 was on the next Stratford train, happy days, off to Highbury & Islington!

Eventually, after a mask break outside where I would also not feel guilty about having my coffee on the platform with my mask down, winner 378209 rolled in and I took it to Dalston Kingsland. By now I was so hungry I was ready to head back to Hereford on the 1515 out of Euston and not the 1815 as planned. A short wait got me onto winner 378215 to Hackney Central, where I finally used the walkway to Hackney Downs for the first time. I had a 13 minute wait for the next Liverpool Street train here, ugh! I saw in the cafe on platform 1 that there are vegan options, so I had to have a look at the least. The man running the independent cafe was really nice, and I walked away with a fig and almond croissant, an apricot croissant and a piece of cake. All vegan friendly, of course, and I would recommend visiting if in the area. I will certainly go back next time I visit, those croissants were beautiful!

The Chingford was a dud 710, so I went back to the plan and got onto double winners 710104+710119 to London Liverpool Street, happy days! All the screens were faulty and showing no service information at Liverpool Street, so planning moves was challenging. I nearly went with 720573 on a Southend service, instead I went for a badly needed break downstairs. With that all done, I heard an announcement about a Cambridge train, so investigated it and found to my delight it had 379001 on the back. I wanted that one, so I went up the platform to find 379020 on the front and I took a seat in First Class. As it's declassified on all lines except for London to Norwich, it just had to be done. Imagine how delighted I was to then find out that this was a winning pair. Yes, I was off to Tottenham Hale on double winners 379020 and 379001, oh I was very happy now!

My next move ended up being double duds 379026+379021 to Meridian Water, using the new track alongside the Up line, and I had not yet been to Meridian Water. That station replaced the now long-closed Angel Road, which is no bad thing as that peak hours only station was not a nice place to visit! With it being a rather long wait for the next train, I jumped on the same 379s again as it's not an interesting place to wait 35 minutes at. I could have gone to Tesco, I suppose, but I had no need for that. I bailed at Northumberland Park, and that's where my issues started…

I went to find the card reader, and upon looking for my card I found it missing. Along with my Clubcard, work card and, also importantly, my ticket back to Hereford. If ever a moment needed danger music (as I typed this up after a phone call with the little sister on the train, I had my favourite danger music coming up!) this was it! First instinct was the help point, which didn't get answered so I initially went for the Greater Anglia lost property number but that made no sense. My bank's app is not conducive to finding important things in a hurry, ugh!

Google Pay came to the rescue, once I gave up making it accept any chosen way of verifying my card. With it accepting my credit card as an option, I would be able to make purchases again, and finally I could get back on the phone to have my card cancelled. With all that sorted, I now had the issue of it being 1543 and I needed to get back to Hereford. Understandably, I was not really too fussed about much in London now, all I wanted to do was to get back to Hereford fast and get to bed! A through ticket could not be bought so close to the 1554 apparently on the GWR app, never mind I'll use Google Pay for the first bit. The fastest way I could see was to travel via Paddington, and that suited me just fine.

First things first, I had to get to Tottenham Hale which fell to double duds 379029+379008. I only want 5 of them to clear the class now, so I hadn't expected any winners. It made more sense to travel onwards to Liverpool Street first, as the 379s were off to Stratford, and that honour fell to 317886 and 317507. I found my way to the motor coach of 317507, and I couldn't tell you if either of them were required as I haven't got accurate records after a loss of records. I had been wanting to have a final ride on a 317 for ages, their days appear to be nearly up for sure. This wasn't how I had envisioned saying farewell to the class! Even so, it was a good run to London Liverpool Street and a nice way to say farewell to the 317s. I had a bigger farewell to the 315s and 321s, but hey ho, the 317s were never a huge part of my enthusiast life anyway.

It was soon onto LU again, and yes the screens were now working at Liverpool Street, and I joined double duds 21492+21491 to Edgware Road. It was to be to Paddington, but as the train pulled into Edgware Road I saw a familiar looking S7 number, 21541. I jumped onto its Circle line service via High Street Kensington and Victoria, and checked my Docs file. Sure enough, my final dash in London would fall to double winners 21542+21541, happy days as they were the last 215xx sets to get. Two 214xx pairs to get and that will be the huge S7 fleet cleared, and two S8 pairs remain to clear those. That will take some time!

On Paddington's concourse, I knew there wasn't a lot of interest food wise here for me these days, but I finally visited Leon to see what they sell. Much to my pleasant surprise, they sell a lot of vegan friendly food, and £9.10 got me a custom Vegan Love Burger (the bun, patty, sauce and cheese, none of the salad stuff) and a small portion of the waffle cut fries. An expensive meal, but incredibly tasty. Sadly, similar to the Pizza Hut issue on Day 1, the stomach was not even close to satisfied, and I ended up in Sainsburys to get more food. They're about to close for several days for a refit, and there wasn't much interesting food going. There never is for vegans though in any Sainsburys, which is a real shame. I settled on a can of Pepsi Max and two meat free sausage rolls, before getting even more frustrated by the self service tills not scanning my Nectar app. Ugh!

If I had had my brain in gear, and paid the extra £1.70 or less for a walkup Anytime single, and not the Advance for the 1734, I could have scored two 387/2s (as far as Reading that is) on hire to GWR on the 1712 to Bristol Parkway! Imagine my horror when I found that out! I instead made my way to the 1734 to Hereford which was dud 802017. Once upon a time I kept note of all my IET mileages, just out of curiosity, but that was a file which got lost in the big Google Account Farce some months ago. As a result, I have absolutely no idea what I've had off most GWR IETs, but this one will have had an enormous boost! Maybe I'll recreate the file with the data I do have at some point.

Much of the journey got filled by a phone call with the little sister, and eventually the train reached Worcester where she finished her commute and was getting a meal made for her. So I got typing, and I must add I had nearly booked a last minute First Class Advance for this train at £98.30. The logic was it would be nicer than Standard, and I'd have my first use of the First Class lounge in a long time. When I had noted First Class at Paddington, it was nearly full so it was just as well I didn't spend the extra £38! By the time I was up to date with the typing, it was departure time from Colwall.

So, financial and ticketing issues aside, was the trip a success? Was it worth the expenditure, the filling of the magic plastic? Honestly, as I questioned myself with those two questions, I didn't know. I was back and forth on it, as yes the book has been added to and I'm now closer to clearing various bits, but no I had missed my bike. Yes I had done some bits in London I had wanted to do for ages, like Hyde Park and that X68 bus route, but no I could have had a good bike ride and spent a lot less! Fortunately, I didn't need to make a last minute travel booking with my bike though, but then I probably wouldn't have lost my ticket.

So by the time this gets posted, I might have decided if the trip was a success. After Ledbury, where there had been some pathing time, it was time to check I had everything with me and arrival into Hereford was finally at 2033, 7 minutes late. I got my march going on and diverted to Aldi for a couple of essential items. As well as a couple of bits from their cycling event which were still there. I think I've now got enough cycling tights, it's a shame they don't do a small size as medium is the smallest they do. That's meant for waists of 33 to 35 inches, way too big for me really but they had to be bought.

Once back in the house, it was a case of getting the bag unpacked, top up the stomach and relax. The washing machine was put on to get that sorted, and I already had plans for a good ride in the morning. Assuming the weather played ball, of course, which as I edited this in the morning it wasn't really that good, but a local ride would be better than none!
 

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Techniquest

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Part 2 of the photos from yesterday
 

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noddy1878

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What a pain with the losing cards issue! Did you sort that issue out then? Well done on the S7s. Doing better than me on them. I have cleared the S8s though.
 

Techniquest

Veteran Member
Joined
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Messages
18,838
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What a pain with the losing cards issue! Did you sort that issue out then? Well done on the S7s. Doing better than me on them. I have cleared the S8s though.

A pain indeed! I have got a new card coming, it's going to be fun trying to memorise the new numbers. That certainly helps speed up buying things online that's for sure, as I don't tend to save card details on any retailer's website. Just doesn't feel sensible!

The S8 sets are high up my priority list for next time, but I'll probably make use of the thread for LU requests in the relevant sector of the forum to make things easier.
 

noddy1878

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Joined
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Messages
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A pain indeed! I have got a new card coming, it's going to be fun trying to memorise the new numbers. That certainly helps speed up buying things online that's for sure, as I don't tend to save card details on any retailer's website. Just doesn't feel sensible!

The S8 sets are high up my priority list for next time, but I'll probably make use of the thread for LU requests in the relevant sector of the forum to make things easier.
Does your phone not store the card details? Not stored on retailers website then. Saved me on a couple of occasions my phone knowing. Very useful when buying limited release stuff and there is a queue to get it. Saves valuable seconds as some sites have a thing where it is in your basket but until you have paid it isn’t allocated to you.
 

Techniquest

Veteran Member
Joined
19 Jun 2005
Messages
18,838
Location
Nowhere Heath
Does your phone not store the card details? Not stored on retailers website then. Saved me on a couple of occasions my phone knowing. Very useful when buying limited release stuff and there is a queue to get it. Saves valuable seconds as some sites have a thing where it is in your basket but until you have paid it isn’t allocated to you.

The only place my card details were saved was in the GWR app, well that and the Beryl app as I found out today. I won't store it on my phone, good gravy no. Similar with passwords, the only places that have me remembered/kept logged in/whatever are this forum and Twitter.

In other news, after yesterday and today's rides I've now cleared 4,100 miles on the bike and making good progress towards the goal of 5,000. All being well, next week I'll be doing my Gran Fondo for November, with a few trains and photos chucked in for good measure.

Photos attached to this post are one of the Herefordshire scenery somewhere near Woolhope yesterday, and of Marden Church (visible from the mainline between Hereford and Dinmore Tunnels) today
 

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