Day 8 – we’re all Goodfellas… aren’t we?

So today’s been a funny one…

No not the way I talk, funny..

No, No, not funny like a clown..

No, No, No, not funny as in odd..

Funny as in different… Don’t shoot, we’re all goodfellas, we’re all friends….

I’m sitting in a beach cafe (its 4.30) in Long Sands on the coast near Whitley bay. No, not Whitby… those paying attention would know I’ve already been there (and I haven’t turned back home yet).

It’s been raining since 7.30am so I made use of the last few logs and radio 4 (god I am getting on…) In my caravan last night.
Today I have done 40miles and it’s been pretty easy going but of course I’ve had to be carful. You can’t really bomb down hills in rain as a total ball of 24 stone (to clarify that thats my bike, my kit and me). Thankfully I have my #Proviz jacket – thanks Ant and team @proviz

Wet but dry

When it rains all day your head is down. I guess I might have missed some sights passing through Newcastle. Maybe a drive by; Maybe a young lad running down the road with a colour TV; Who knows?

When your head is down you do a lot more thinking. I stopped and checked up on my LinkedIn World Mental Health post. I’m pretty well connected on LinkedIn but 4000 views in a day is great to see. I hope the message is clear and not seeming like a cry for help from me…

A year ago it would have been but today I want to be as open as I need to be to help others see / hear that these problems can start so small, creep up on you and manifest into…mental health issues. Once down the hole it’s hard to get out unless we fully concede to the fact we need a bit of a leg up.

I was proud. I thought I could do it by myself. I needed to for my family’s sake. For my own sanity. I’d never not been able to do something like this before but…. I couldn’t. The more I tried, the deeper I dug myself in. I pushed away friends help out of selfish belligerence. Also I felt I didn’t want to burden others. It was a mistake.
Quote: “Nobody can hurt you but yourself. Every experience is now in the past and can’t be changed. We can sit in anger, repent and plead for help, isolate ourselves in shame or, We can learn from every experience and make different choices in the future our lives”

Although miserable weather Long sands beach is beautiful. The staff at the beech bar are really attentive and I can feel their warm smiles underneath their COVID masks. There are surfers out on the waves and dog walkers a plenty. As ever the dogs barking relentlessly at the waves. Life’s ok. In fact life is great. Until tomorrow my friends….

Always time for a paddle
Best friends?
Sand, Surfers and….Supertankers
Whitley Bay, Northumbria

Day 7 (week 1) I touched an oil rig (sort of) today. What did you do?

After a great nights sleep I was up early relishing a day on the flat. The plan was to head to Middlesbrough and then right out on the east coast through Seaton Carew, Hartlepool, Blackhall Rocks to just past Peterlee (circa 45miles)
My new touring mentor, Martin accompanied me to the Middlesbrough crossing. Martin thanks again for your company, grounded nature (an example to anyone) and generosity. I’m looking forward to hearing from Anna (f) as she follows my blog 😉
So the Middlesbrough bridge was…industrial. Middlesbrough was…industrial, I saw no Ferraris, Pinarello’s or Harleys out. I suspect covid was keeping those millionaire football players tucked up in their palaces whereas there were so many families out appreciating the free life and a Sunday walk. Wonderful to see.

Not quite Chelsea Bridge but it works better….

Coming into Hartlepool on the coast was surreal. Abandoned industry on my right and thriving wildlife on my right. In the 60’s and 70’s there were no seals in this area due to the chemicals. But in the 80’s industry and tighter regulations actually helped the seals rejuvenate. The land was protected by the industry from excess development and with help from wildlife conservation Seals (as you can see through the round window, seals are thriving today.

Mad Max and abandoned industry
(Hope you can zoom in) Through the ROUND window today we can see Seals and their Pups thriving

Then a sight I’ll never forget. An oil rig on land. It was the Brent alpha weighing 17000 tonnes (total weight was 32000 tonnes) and installed in 1976 before being dragged back to land in 2020 by a tug boat called the pioneering spirit. This tug is 382m long and 124m wide. Anyway, I’m going off on one again aren’t I.


I had to ask the man at the gate didn’t I…

“I’m cycling round the UK to raise awareness for mental health issues, any chance I could just pop in and touch the oil rig”. The guard just stared at me in disbelief, “sorry lad” fair enough i thought but tried a different tact. “That mountain of scrap near the road, is that from the Oil rig?”. He laughed and told be to bugger off. I was out of the gate over the wooden fence and touched a bit of oil rig. That will do i though.

No words and No entry…
Ahaha…He knew where I was going next and YES I did touch (a piece of) an Oil Rig today

Right where am I… anyone still with me? 

I met fletcher a very happy Staffordshire Bull Terrier who bounded into the sea to bark at the waves while passing though the lovely seaside town of Seaton Carew. What is it with dogs and waves? I didn’t see a dog that wasn’t ecstatic with their tails wagging furiously in the North Sea Gale. Even their owners looked happy. 

Giddy up? No I had a pizza to eat
See how red my feet have gone. No one was swimming today
BEST pizza on the North East Coast that I can promise you.

I couldn’t resist the smell of wood fired pizza for lunch. and the kind team who didn’t disappoint with a very tasty pizza and a donation to my cause. If you are nearby or post covid having a party I really recommend calling these guys. Thank you guys. Right fast forward…up the coast to my campsite for tonight just outside of the old mining village of Easington. Lovely to meet George who’s at Durham University and locals John and Denise who told me about the old pit. God how our lives are changing and it’s too quick with too much carnage left behind…. I slowly walked to my campsite, fed myself a ginormous amount of rice, tomatoes and tuna. Fixed my flip flop whilst talking to some friends and my parents.

The old mine at Easington and the cage on the left acting as a gravestone of the past

A week done ✅ since I started my journey to get fit, get well and raise awareness for mental health issues.
This week I have cycled 288miles that’s double the total number of miles I’d cycled this year…I have spent 26 hours in the saddleMy gain is 9777ft and I’ve passed through 5 counties

Week 1 done and week 2 to look forward to. When is anyone going to join me….?

Next week I’m heading up to Berwick or Edinburgh past the coastal castles of the east, before crossing across to the west coast.
Thanks for all your support. But more importantly I hope the changes I’m making to my life, influence you that anything is possible if we just try, one day at a time.Our country is beautiful and apart from the chap that spat at me is so clearly full of beautiful people. Yes we all have out struggles (and I mean all of us) but we have the ability to change things. We are in control and we are ALL loved.
Go for it, why not….

Day 6

With Middlesbrough and Newcastle in front of me (and sadly they’re COVID hotspots) I have some thinking, and hard peddling to do on Sunday and Monday. I reckon I’ve got 130-150miles to cover to get onto fresh air again. Tonight I’m staying with another cyclist Martin, just below Middlesbrough, and being local I hope he’ll help me plan my Sunday leg and perhaps join me to pull me up those bloody hills….

As it’s only a short ride today it’s given me some time to explore Whitby. I’m sat in the harbour after another rainy start to the day but the sun is shining now. Children (well actually competitive parents) are happily wasting the morning away crabbing and the small seaside town is alive with dogs and day trippers. For £4 you can take a trip in the Black Pearl, a pirate ship that will take you round the bay with the promise of seeing Seals, Dolphins, Porpoises and even Whales. Not bad for £4. The man to talk to is Barry, I mean BlackBeard.

I’m still intrigued by my YCA accommodation and to find out how such a prominent building has ended up as a youth hostel. The Chomley family lived here between the 16th and 19th century and it and the abbey was bought during the suppression on Henry VIII. Not sure what that means exactly but in short and over the years / centuries it fell into disrepair and English heritage took it on and refurbishment it in 2000. The photo below with the infamous abbey in the background I think is just amazing.

Anyway I packed up, paid by £29 board and lodgings and set off for a short 25mile ride.
Just outside Whitby is Sandsend Beach. Although early into my ride I decided to stop to see if I could find some Whitby Jet. Whitby what? Jet. A semi-precious organic gemstone formed from fossilised trees which grew in the Jurassic period 150million years ago…Zzzzz It’s a black stone that when polished looks quite nice. I found a black stone in a puddle on the beach and banked it.

The road out of Sandsend is not recommended on bike, particularly if you are carrying most of your weight in your back panniers. Evil Kaneval comes to mind. It’s 600ft gain over a mile. Push, Push, Push…

This was the first time of 3 I got off today and Pushed. My legs weren’t working, fatigue. Oh well, it’s not a race, no prizes and I’ve got a fair way to go….

To be honest I can’t really remember the rest of the ride to Saltburn on sea apart from the mile down hill into the bay. I’d never heard of Saltburn but what a nice place and within minutes I was chatting away to a nice chap called Peter.

The beach was hemmed in by daunting giants of black cliff. There’s a Lowery type pier that looked barely able to take any weight of people or the power from the waves that whacked it every day. Surfers were out. Dog walkers too and the ice cream parlour I homed in on that looked great, decided to close 5 minutes early.

I met my host Martin and his pacemaker Anna whilst having a quick fag on the beech, talk about great first impressions! And we headed off up and out of the bay to cross back into the North Yorkshire Moors.

After a quick tour of Martin’s house, a bike check where some urgent repairs were carried out and hearing some stories from Martin (social and sporting) I began to feel very insignificant so i showered. Always a good cure you know.

By the time I got back downstairs Martin had made dinner, taken his dog for a walk, made a fire and put some crisps out for me. It was too much for me. When Martin told me he was planning to cycle round the world next year, I decided to leave and slept in a bus shelter.

My youth hostel….
Ahh the sun is coming
My first push….
Somewhere down there is where I came from
Surfers at Saltburn
That Lowery pier

I didn’t really.

My host is a great man and we shared a lot of stories, enjoyed good food and I certainly enjoyed the good company… of his dog. A lovely old beagle. Thanks mate 😉 no doubt we’ll see each other again.

Anyway big ride tomorrow. Over and Out.

Day 5 – Whitby Abbey. There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.Bram Stoker, Dracula

After the hospitality of last night I slept like a log. The first really good nights sleep so far but woke up a bit fuzzy. I blame it on the lactose not the liquor. My legs are really stiff and doing the stretches my great friend gave me are not easy in a one man tent, where its difficult to (as they say) ‘swing a cat’. In fact it would be difficult for a cat to swing a cat in my tent. 

It was raining, again and the route from the Yorkshire moors back to robins hood bay was, can you believe it, uphill. Looking at Strava today my elevation gain was 2223ft.
Today I missed life’s comforts and that can easily sway our mood can’t it? I was pissed off with the cars and lorries. I was pissed of with Yorkshire. Now, I love Yorkshire, it’s people and it’s where I was born but many of the drivers are very inconsiderate, maybe it will be the same everywhere? Maybe my expectations are different, who knows. I clearly have a lot of weight I’m carrying, there’s no other route to (in this case) Whitby, but still I can smell the exhaust fumes and almost feel the bumper on my heel. Why….?
I decided to head off my route to robin hoods bay to have a nice hot chocolate. Outside. In the storm…. It was a nice hot chocolate but it had cost me an extra hour as there is only one way in and one way out to Robin Hoods Bay and, with my ‘idiot abroad -TV programme, cap on. Robin Hoods Bay is nice but really it’s the same as any other bay round the uk. I wasn’t feeling the love today, is that showing?
I read a passage from a book I love. I’ll post a picture of the passage. It’s a bit spiritual but I love it and it’s always a good way to start the day. Looking at my map, I’ll do the next 12miles hard and get to Whitby early afternoon.
It’s was steep again so I stoped. I kicked a bin. Hummm. It was a green recycle plastic bin waiting to be emptied. ‘James’, I said ‘relax, it’s only a bike ride, and no one that has got stuck behind me is going to ever think about it again and nor should I, it will only spoil your next few days”. I put the bin back, and set off with a smile before a quick stop at a local (unbranded) Garage for a sandwich. £2.99 for a bun with 1 piece of ham and 1/3 of a tomato… BREATH JAMES.
The route down to Whitby is 5miles downhill, Hooray. I flawed it – 25mph all the way.
My bed for the night is another 1st. A YMCA. It’s a beautifully restored Jacobean building with modern windows, it’s stunning from the outside. The back garden is Whitby Abbey was a 7th-century Christian monastery that later became an abbey and is situated overlooking the sea, Whitby and the North Yorkshire Moors. It’s also where legend has it Dracula visited on a sabbatical from Romania.
Whitby on a Friday night is not really my problem thing though it could be confused with Amsterdam or San Tropez (see night time photo).
Anyway a couple of nice chats with family, a hot meal and a warm bed that I’m really ready for tonight. Thanks again for all the support. Although times can be tough we can choose to make the most of the day. We can help others, phone friends we haven’t spoken to for ages or just simply smile and say hello to random people. Little acts of love and gratitude can go a long way. Night Night friends and sleep well.

Robin Hoods Bay
On top of the world
The Moors, the sea and downhill to Whitby (oh and some sheep)
Whitby YMCA. A first for me
The 199 steps to my bed
Saint Marlo? Amsterdam? San Tropez? NO Whitby

Day 4 Dick Whittington but no pantomime…:

Well what a miserable night (oh no it wasn’t, eh…oh YES it was) I think my tent was in the eye of the current and far too frequent storm/s we have these days. Apart from the fact I was bailing till about 3am the icing on the cake was my new pack of Marlboro lights were soaked.

My landlord and his wife martin and Joanne from Northorpe campsite, Hornsea clearly felt sorry for my sorry appearance too and so kindly tumble dried some clothes for me. Isn’t that kind. This is not a publicity blog as I’m sure you know by now but these two have worked dammed hard amid the mega camp sites that surround them. They have developed an old annex into a common area for campers, walkers, cyclists that made a huge difference to my experience. Normally by 7pm it’s dark and in my tent, alone it’s sad and lonely. The ability to sit in the warmth and call some friends was a huge boost for me and I’m sure many others that will follow. Telephone 01964 534063 (Hornsea).

The morning was s h I t. It was raining, windy, cold and progress was slow. I arrived in Bridlington (really nice beach) and decided to get some food. All i wanted was pasta. All that was available was fish and chips… I’d had fish and chips now 3 times so went as best I could off piste and had a chip butty, humm tasty (….oh no it wasn’t….)

The road from Bridlington to Filey just goes on, and up and up and on. It’s a busy road and not much fun to be honest, however the views were amazing. The mix of clearly Yorkshire countryside and coastal Britain is breathtaking. Not that I had much breath left. I’d replenished my Marlboro lights my now. The sun was out, the sky was blue and I although my legs ached, I was looking downhill towards Scarbrough. 

Problem was I wasn’t heading to Scarbrough but a little village called Hackness inland.Oh my, the beauty continued but so did the hills. With pheasants in my way, cows by my side and just beautiful countryside in the distance I ploughed on. 50 miles today but it was a hard 50. I arrived at 5pm in the middle of nowhere, no phone reception and no internet. A great friends parents home and with the name in my title (hope you find it mildly amazing Dick?) . A place to dry out my sopping tent. A bath, an amazing bath… Great conversation and a double steak and kidney pie with NO sign of chips. Perhaps a little too much booze but hey ho, I figured I would work that off tomorrow.

So a horrible start to the day turned into a wonderful day when I look back. Gratitude a plenty to be had. Thank you Dick for the food and warmth, Thank you Yorkshire for the views but not the hills and thank you to you all for following my travels. I’m off to bed now (oh YES I am….)

Hard work today hills and more hills
Bridlington Bay and more fish and chips
Err not a bad view as I head left from Scarbrough onto moors
Even the bikes had enough… Yorkshire Moors

Day 3 – The Bridge of sighs…

As predicted and as the ‘we are going on a bear hunt’ book says I woke up early to a ‘beautiful day’… the plan was to at least get to Hornsea, maybe Filey – about 60miles.
My first sight of the Humber bridge was a real lift. I know I’m 3 days in to a 60 odd day tour but landmarks are real lifters of the spirts, fields thought nice don’t really do it for me.
The route to the Humber bridge is a bit of a bugger (sigh). I was so close but had to do a loop (sigh) an uphill loop to get onto it (sigh).

Still once on it the wind pushed me across literally. I felt I was crossing a boarder, I guess I was kind of.

Hull is…Hull

As I came out of Hull i was greeted with beautiful countryside and villages like Wyton which leads to aldbrough and my first true road with NO TURN RIGHT or I’d be in the sea. I decided to stop at another first. The old post office tea shop. I walked in and announced to the two ladies “I’ve been looking forward to seeing you both for 200miles”, it got me a free tea so I felt obliged to buy some amazing fruit cake before taking a leek in a very odd loo.
There were two plastic aga-like topped covers, covering two holes. One said poo chamber… the other was blank…any ideas what the other was for?

Anyway enough lavatorial chat for now but I will return to the mystery.
I had an idea at the beginning of my journey to dip my feet in the water every day. It was a way of me ‘signing off the day’, job done.

Today on the beach I met Ron. What a lovely simple chap. When I say simple I mean way of life nothing else. He was beach cleaning today and told me he used to run a lot but, out of the way, on the beach, though the woods NOT, on the road or through the villages where people like us get HONKED or the finger get raised, or even shouted and spat at for getting in the way of their very important drive. It still amazes me with clearly lots of weight on my bike (I think my bike and luggage weight 70kg people still try and sneak or barge past. I hope I don’t end up in a ditch. I remember lockdown and the kindness and humility that seemed to be all around, how long ago was that???

With the sea by my side and camps a plenty I decided to cut short my ride at Hornsea to a great campsite called Northorpe B & B and campsite. Lovely owners, really hot showers and a kitchen which I have been in all night and not cooked a thing. Great to catch up with friends after my fish and chip supper. I am so lucky to have great friends and family, I miss you all.

Anyway bed beckons. Over and out. Hasty x

Another lost soul and the extra mileage banked as a/watch stopped
Best Tea and Cake so far
Look who’s driving
Middle of Humber Bridge
H….asty on way round UK. H….opefully. And trying to raise some better awareness for Mental H….ealth issues. Things can seem so small and irrelevant and turn into mountainous problems if we don’t talk