“Have you room for two more?”
A group of cyclists had just boarded the Hull to Rotterdam ferry and were stowing their bikes next to ours. their jerseys announced that they were members of a cycling club in Zwickau. However, they were not cycling home, but had a car parked at Rotterdam. A quick bit of geographical memory that Zwickau was in south-east Germany and there was an inevitable - honestly, jokey - request for a lift. Perish the thought. We love cycling and piling up the miles in he heat of the day.
The Zwickau trio had put in some serious mileage in a six day tour of England. From Hull to Whitby, to Durham to Carlisle, through the Lake District to Kendal and over the Pennines to Leyburn and back to Hull via York. We’d just reached Hull from Shireoaks, near Worksop, in Nottinghamshire.
In contrast to the climbs of our first day, there is little serious leg-work between Worksop and Hull. Yes, granny gear was engaged for both the Lincoln Edge and the climb to the Wold top above Brigg, but these steep little ramps are pimples compared to the Peak District slogs.
Mind you, the roads were busier and though there was some useful infrastructure, it was not always well thought out. that is except for Hull, where the City Council has produced some really nifty cycle tracks and a whole lot of segregated cycle ways en route to the ferry terminal. Local cyclists will probably point out that there are bits that aren’t good, but as a tourist passing through the city centre I was quite impressed. Mind you, we had a semi-native guide who rode from Barton-on-Humber with us, over the spectacular bridge and into the city centre where Queen Victoria’s statue sits on top of the public toilets.
For me the highlights of the day were sitting in the market square at Retford - I lived in the town for nine years - having a coffee and, rather more cycling related, the ride along the top of the Wold edge after ascending from Wrawby, the Humber slowly coming into view as the blossom skirted road swung gently along above the bucolic Ancholme Valley.
People have been surprised that we are cycling to Prague. They say it is very nice. So why should it be odd to ride a bike there. It is not that much further than Land’s End to John o’Groats. The Zwickau trio approved of the route, praising get Elbe cycleway as a fine route into the Czech Republic. It is, I am told, the most popular cycle route in Germany amongst German cycle tourists. We are looking forward to getting there, but not too soon.
Tomorrow we shall arrive in the Netherlands. A cycling paradise. also the home of geback - hearty fruit cakes served with lots of cream. Progress might not be quite so rapid.