Published by Lyn on 28 April 2015
Gary and Rachel Corbett are attempting to set a world e-bike record. Here's their first blog from the road (they're on the UK side of the Channel).
Given that it has been five years since I completed my last long distance, self-contained cycle tour, I had almost forgotten just how addictive the cycle touring drug can be.
As anyone who has spent any length of time cycle touring will very quickly tell you, the hardest part of completing a long distance tour on a bicycle is coming down from the high you have been on for so long after it is all over.
In fact for some people returning to a ‘normal’ day to day existence after spending weeks, months and, in some cases, years of cycling through some of the most beautiful and exotic locations in the world can be a difficult and confronting exercise.
After all what other long term leisure pursuit can serve up an adventure of some kind, whether it be good, bad, amazing, funny, frustrating, inspirational, exhilarating or just plain old mundane on a daily basis – while being able to explore the world at the same time.
With our attempt to set a new long distance e-bike record now five days old after setting out from Surrey in the UK on a picture perfect spring day, the memories of experiencing all of the above emotions and more on a daily basis have come flooding back.
After just 374.9 kilometres – to be precise – we have already experienced many highs, had a few lows, enjoyed a few laughs at our own expense, experienced the frustration of constantly getting lost, seen amazing sights, met many people, enjoyed amazing weather, been caught in rain storms, endured a below freezing night, marvelled at the beauty of the English countryside, cursed impatient English motorists and generally had a great time. Does it get any better than that?
Hills that normally provide a torturous challenge on a regular touring bike have been ironed out on our e-bikes and headwinds that would normally result in a torturously slow pace have meant that we have been able to maintain a steady 15 to 20kph speed.
Over the past two days we have been following the extremely picturesque Kennet and Avon Canal from Newbury to Bath, where we are currently camped for a couple of days.
Cycling into Bath along the Two Tunnels Greenway – a former rail line that has been converted into a dedicated cycle path – we decided to crank things up and put the bikes into turbo mode up the 1.5km incline.
What a sight we must have been as we powered uphill towing our Tout Terrain trailers at 25-plus kph – an unthinkable feat on a regular bicycle.
But best of all it was the huge smiles we had on our faces when we pulled to a stop. Smiles, I must say, that were soon wiped away when the first caravan park in Bath we pulled into turned us away because “we only take campervans” and the second, much to our horror, had recently closed.
“What to do,” we lamented. But just as quickly our saviour appeared out of a local Bath supermarket.
The keen cycle tourist asked us where we were headed, with our reply “we have no idea, we are unable to camp at either of the camp grounds in Bath.”
Without a hint of hesitation Talitha invited us to her nearby flat so we could access her wifi to find another park out of town.
A phone call to the camp ground to make a booking, a cup of tea and detailed directions from our young saviour and we were on our way to camp site number three where we are now happily ensconced.
It is experiences like this that are so memorable when you are cycle touring … clearly the cycle touring drugs are working their magic.
We'll be following Gary and Rachel as they make their way across Europe – including France – on their e-bikes. You can see their website here.