UK 2014: weather, weather and some changes in priorities…

Things didn’t go as planned.

There are many reasons for that.  Hurricane Bertha hit just as we were heading towards our start point – bringing flooding and destruction to our route that would have rendered it ‘epic’ even without a child in tow.  We also all got a particularly vicious viral bug that meant Bryn wasn’t really on for situations that pushed him (not to mention us).

Derailing our adventure with all it’s bicycle-based travel was the right thing to do.  But we’d been so looking forward to putting pedal-travel gloriously back in it’s place as our main identity for two brief weeks that being sensible wasn’t at all easy.

On the way to Lochcarron the news was full of destruction and flooding.  This very high tide was helped by the Hurricane Berth storm-surge
On the way to our planned starting point in Lochcarron the news was full of roads closed and too much water. This very high tide that submerged half Doug’s garden was helped by the Hurricane Berth storm-surge

It seems obvious that we were going to run into something that we just couldn’t do as Bryn got older.  Others had warned us that ‘things got harder’, but we’d had so much success being bicycle-based with him that it took this trip to bring some important lessons home.

In many ways we’re still working out how not to be travelling by bicycle, despite us now having been back from our Americas trip longer than we were on it.  We’ve fudged, by hoping that our all too brief weeks away would slake the thirst and scratch the itch sufficiently until another time comes.  Even now, part of both of us is wondering how long it will be before we can set off again without a booked return.  Maybe that will give some idea of our need in the face of the even greater adventure that is Bryn.

It’s some measure of our ever increasing joy in him that trying to learn the lessons he is teaching us is worth it.  We just have to modify, adapt and take pleasure in different things – possibly not too different.  We’ll have to see…

With neither Bryn or Sarah able to talk too much without coughing we delay a start longer and concoct a car-based journey up the west coast, then across and down.  First stop Gairloch and getting the bikes out we head out
With neither Bryn or Sarah able to talk too much without coughing we delay a start longer and concoct a car-based journey up the west coast, then across and down. First stop Gairloch and getting the bikes out we head out
This hour or two is well surfaced, but still not 'main'.  Our fat tyres, that we'd brought to make the bog doable are less ideal now
This hour or two is well surfaced, but still not ‘main’. Our fat tyres, that we’d brought to make the bog doable are less ideal now
A bit further north we do a longer day trip
A bit further north we do a longer day trip
with plenty of wide-open to be in
with plenty of wide-open to be in
and tidal coastline to meander past
and tidal coastline to meander past
There are some pretty dreich days where we can do little other than move on
There are some pretty dreich days where we can do little other than move on
Though the puddles that litter our walks are a magnetic draw for the now more bouncy Bryn
Though the puddles that litter our walks are a magnetic draw for the now more bouncy Bryn
Coming round to the Cairngorms we find a bit of sunshine
Coming round to the Cairngorms we find a bit of sunshine
and some soggy bog
and some soggy bog
that connects to some beautiful singletrack
that connects to beguilingly beautiful singletrack
In this case a little cross country readjustment is needed
In this case a little cross country readjustment is about to be needed
This time all is well, but we definitely learn that margins of comfort should be bigger
This time all is well, but we definitely learn that margins of comfort should be bigger
We get better.  Free-form route planning gets us into some good spots despite not 'doing the loop'
We get better. Free-form route planning gets us into some good spots despite not ‘doing the loop’
A washed out bridge at Derry Lodge
A washed out bridge at Derry Lodge
and gullies where there should be path turn us round.  We even do so with good grace
and gullies where there should be path turn us round. We even do so with good grace
because the new iteration takes us singing along here
because the new iteration takes us singing along here
A mix of Singletrailer and Yepp-mini together with puddle jumping pauses do the trick.
A mix of Singletrailer and Yepp-mini together with puddle jumping pauses do the trick.
Time to run around (in convoluted circles)
Time to run around (in convoluted circles)
with the odd muddy face-plant
with the odd muddy face-plant
and some more speediness  fill our days
and some more speediness fill our days
The way things work out, we meet up with plenty of old friends.  Al and I chat our way round a Simonside double-loop in Northumberland while Sarah and Bryn meet his daughter Megan for the first time
The way things work out, we meet up with plenty of old friends. Al and I chat our way round a Simonside double-loop in Northumberland while Sarah and Bryn meet his daughter Megan for the first time
Newcastle also gets a visit with sand-time, swimming at the pool and a bit more bike-time lubricating many more meetings.
Newcastle also gets a visit with sand-time, swimming at the pool and a bit more bike-time lubricating many more meetings.

August in the UK turned our ideas upside-down, but also pushed us towards better priorities and a more relaxed road.  All to the good I reckon :-)

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7 comments

  1. hello mate,

    ooowah, welcome to the UK man. What a bugger you didn’t come last year, the weather was fab. But that’s not obviously useful now.
    Anyhow, interesting reading about your thoughts of travel with the little bloke..??
    Surely if you just “do it”, that is, the travels that you deem necessary for yourselves, and just take him along, sort of dog like, then all will blend into a wonderful life..??
    He’ll mould around you and your existence. He already seems so well suited to life on he road that all will be great.
    Mind you, I’m speaking as a non parent, so assumption of what goes on in mum’s and dad’s heads is a mystery. A bit like life generally in a way.
    Anyhow, have a jolly and take the floaties with you before you venture near the Loch’s again.
    Bye for noo.
    Peter Mac.

    • Peter – I’m from the UK and have lived in Scotland so knew that August was a risk ;-).

      We’ve been able to just do what we’ve wanted until now. He’s now got more of his own pace and need for his own little adventures, such that it’s not possible to ‘push through’ if he’s had enough anymore.

      If we get things right and make sure we listen properly we stand a better chance of him still being as into being outdoors and on bikes when it really matters. That is when he’s really choosing his own adventures independent of us.

      We’ll be back though – and ideally in May/June next time ;-)

  2. Peter – what went on in this parent’s head was “ok dragging an ill child around Scotland on flood damaged muddy paths by bicycle and tent in the pissing rain is starting to sound a bit stubborn and stupid”… He is, after all, not a dog and has his own strongly expressed needs and desires. Tom – sometimes I think the aim of this blog is to make me feel better about my life. Adventures, albeit not the ones originally planned, were had – and will be.

  3. Hello again,

    thanks for the response.
    OK Tom, sorry mate to be a bit of a “head”, if you’re from here, then I’ll shut my gob.
    It is really nice to read about your adventures and I must say, sheer bravery with going cycle touring as a threesome, or should that be 2.5 some..??.
    Sarah, I don’t wish to imply a “dog-like” character towards your little guy, it’s a reference to loving care. He is so fortunate to have you guy’s as his mummy and daddy, and be able to experience such a wonderful entry to life. I envy his little red head, but take the point of not pushing him into undue, yukky situations.
    So, thanks for your patience, and I continue to wish you the best of travels.
    Stay warm and dry.
    Peter Mac.

  4. I think I just meant a dog might be happier to follow me anywhere and less likely to melt down if I pushed it into situations of discomfort (-;

  5. Hello Tom,

    How did the Tout Terrain trailer perform? – compared to a two-wheeler? Age sweet spot for such a thing? Suitability on trails? Looks great, but you never know…

    My daughter is 7 months now, so I need to think of a way to combine Pugsley and baby.

    Chris

    • Chris

      The Tout Terrain trailer did a great job – better than our Chariot could have done over that terrain by a long shot. It doesnt have as much storage capacity, and despite the stand isnt as easy to move around while not attached to the bike. This means that general everyday use around town is still better w 2 wheels. If you want it for mainly off road then the Tout Terrain is better. Its lighter, tracks better and apart from the need for the side head supports that you can buy gives a better ride for the child over rough terrain. We did a substantial hike-a-bike section across moorland that we simply couldnt have done with a 2 wheel trailer such as our Chariot.

      Age-wise – it doesnt have an infant sling option like the Chariot, so for our son, from 9ish months onwards to around 3-4yo is probably the sweet spot.

      The pugs will be a great bike to tow it with.

      I would use a combination of stem/steerer mounted seat (e.g Yepp-mini) when theyre awake and interested then trailer for other times.

      Enjoy :-)

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