Itinerary: Doncaster – Thorne – Gunness – Barton upon Humber – Kingston upon Hull
Distance covered: 85 km
Average speed: 24,9 km/h
Today’s events made up for everything that happened to us yesterday. It might just be a coincidence, but since it’s my birthday maybe some higher power actually listened to the pleas of mercy that I kept repeating to myself yesterday.
First of all, the weather was brilliant. It was sunny and warm, yet not too hot. Also, the landscape was as I had expected it to be, which is green, dotted with little red brick cottages and most of all, flat. While we had to resort to walking our bikes in some places yesterday, today Ben and I were zipping through the countryside at more than 30 km/h for most of the time, shouting and cheering with joy every time we came to a particularly enjoyable stretch of road or when the music we listened to got especially good.
After waking up at the Campanile, we decided to start as early as possible to make sure we would make it to the ferry on time. Our intention grew stronger when we found out that we had to cover more than 80 kilometres instead of the 60-somthing we had expected. Apparently, I need to work on my conversion skills from miles to kilometres. While Ben was trying to dry his shoes with the hairdrier, I went to get the bikes, only to find out that the receptionist had carried them to the conference room upon learning that the bathroom were we had stored them could not be locked. I thanked him for taking such good care of the bikes and when I told him of our journey, he assured me that the terrain ahead would be a lot flatter. What good news! Ben and I went to a local bike store called Don Valley Cycles where the crew did not only provide us with air and spare parts, but also with a detailed description of the route to follow towards Hull. Their recommendation was to stay south of Humber River instead of following the TPT, and we cannot thank them enough for convincing us to abandon the Trail. After making sure we knew where to go, we embarked on what would be a blissful day of cycling. At this point, I feel I need to set something straight. Luckily enough, when I said that we made the worst choice of bikes possible for this tour, I was entirely wrong. Today, we were able to utilize the full potential of our vehicles and I was as glad as ever to ride the Nishiki.
During the first few hours, we stopped only briefly to indulge in a chocolate muffin or to relax in the warm sunshine, and continuously postponed the “real” breakfast to some point in the future even though we had cancelled dinner last night. But quick as we were, we passed village after village without really feeling the need to stop. It was just after Gunness that I started to feel an oncoming weakness, and I knew that my body needed some fuel urgently as my vision grew unsteady from the lack of sugar. We stopped at the first place we stumbled upon, which was the Flixborough Inn in a small town of the same name, and we could not have made a better choice. What we found was a genuine British pub where meals are huge and hearty – just what we needed to regain strength. We refilled our water supply, refreshed our memory of the route to take and off we went, with a full and heavy stomach but a smile on our face. The waiter at the Inn had told us that we would be able to see the Humber Bridge right after leaving Coleby, and he was right. It felt great to see drawing closer and closer what we presumed was the end of today’s journey as we sped on. We crossed the bridge and followed the road until we came to a town square and sat down, convinced that we had come to the town centre of Hull two hours before we had to be at the ferry. We decided to get some drinks and food and take it easy before going to the docks. Little did we know that more than five miles and a myriad of roundabouts still separated us from the actual ending point, the ferry terminal. It can only be called a matter of luck that Ben asked a local woman for the fastest way to the terminal right after our first banana. While initially the poor woman appeared a little confused when she told Ben that it was perhaps ten miles away, it soon became clear that we were the ones whose ideas were off when she pointed out that we had not arrived at Hull, but at Hessle, and that the Bridge did not end at Hull as we had imagined. We jumped on our bikes with a curse and fought our way through the heavy traffic that lined the road towards the ferry terminals at Hull. When we finally made it to the terminal, we were not only exhausted, but also trapped amidst a group of weird scooter aficionados that apparently were on their way to some sort of scooter event in Belgium. Looking at the small motorcycles painted in bight pastel colors and their drivers buried in absurdly exaggerated protective gear, we smiled at each other, knowing that we would never trade our bikes for one of theirs.
One part of conversation deserves special mention. As I was musing about how cool it is to cross Europe on a bike with only to small bags attached to it, Ben looked intrigued and asked: “Has anyone ever done that?”
Laughing at ourselves, we cycled onboard, took two bottles of cool cider to the outside deck, sat down and enjoyed a magnificient sunset as we waved England goodbye.
Our heartfelt thanks go to: Samuel of the Campanile in Doncaster – the people at Don Valley Cycles of Doncaster – the staff at the Flixborough Inn and their wonderful food.