Ride-Swim-Ride to Letchworth Outdoor Pool

Today I decided to go and try the Letchworth Outdoor Pool for swimming. It’s only 27 miles from Cambridge so I thought it would make an excellent ride as well as a swim. The cycle.travel website created a circular route of 63 miles (100km) with quite a few hills.

The ride out was OK apart from the busy road near Foxton where they expect you to cross it then return once over crossing! A total nightmare with the huge queue passing after the gates go up 🙂  The SPAR in Bassingbourn is quite unbelievable behind its armour plating and anti-ram railings! So reminded me of Creswell in bygone times, not a respectable Cambridge village.

Otherwise, a lovely ride and the pool was quickly reached in just over two hours. What an excellent pool it is too! 50 metres long 8 lanes wide, heated and with real lifeguards sitting on their high chairs on diametrically opposed corners of the pool. The entrance fee was only £2.80 with a very friendly cashier. The place seems very well run and very professional. The showers are great! clean, really powerful, hot and a decent drainage system all about as far removed from Jesus Green as you can imagine. The surrounding grounds are well kept with a lovely cafe area overlooking the pool with no huge trees to block the sun or deposit leaves in the pool. I will certainly return. The only slight downside is the shallow end is quite shallow but eh it will teach me to keep my legs high 🙂

The way back was quite a bit further and much hillier so I think I will give it a miss in future and just return the way I went!

A great day, tiring on my old Schwinn bike, with a 100km ride and nearly 1000 metres swam the Apple Watch even managed to record all the day’s activities correctly.

Riding to Oxford from Cambridge

After yesterday’s upset with its subsequent threatening email from Jesus Green Pool and the rather Orwellian named BETTER. I’ve decided to abandon swimming there for this year.  Which now leaves me more time for cycling and exploring other swimming locations with, maybe, better lifeguards & showers.

Biking to Oxford and bussing home

So today I decided to retrace, more or less, my previous walk to Oxford this time on a bike which meant it was easily achievable in a day. Originally it was to stay the night and return a different route. However, no accommodation seemed to be available for under £100, which I refuse to pay for a pub or b&b! I then discovered that the wondrous X5 coach (free to oldies like me) takes bikes for free 🙂

I duly set off at 8.40 under overcast skies but the promise of sunshine in the afternoon. Very pleasurable too although oncoming cyclists on the narrow bikeway was somewhat hazardous. I was looking forward to some cake at Woburn which is halfway (walking it was my second night – today it was just over 3 hours into the day). However, when I arrived, I made a poor choice with the soulless Caprioli Tearoom and pitiful scones 🙁 The Apple Watch I subsequently found gave up recording to Strava here too – maybe it didn’t like having any 3G or WiFi 🙁

Today’s surprise was the number of main A roads I had to cross which I can’t remember from my walk plus the huge number of hills! the Oxfordshire roads were very potholed as well and I’m still surprised I didn’t get any broken spokes or thrown off the bike.

This time I crossed the Oxford bypass via bridges rather than running for my life across it although for some reason I ended up near the Mini plant at Cowley which seemed to have very few minis in its car park.

I arrived at the bus station just in time to sling the bike in the luggage compartment underneath and present my oldies card 🙂 The journey home was painfully slow, 4 hours – due to the rush hour traffic from Milton Keynes etc. Interestingly it covered the almost identical distance to my ride.

All in all, a very satisfactory day now to work out which pool or river to visit tomorrow 🙂


Biting the bullet in Japan

Thursday 27th April 2017 Tokyo to Onomichi

Total distance: 745573 m
Total climbing: 2467 m
Total Time: 06:58:03

Both Sally and my sister kept getting on at me for not trying out the bullet trains in Japan. Since I had a week left before my flight home I decided to bite the bullet (gettit). So yesterday I went to the main Tokyo station and bought a 7-day Tourist Pass, the kind lady said it was much cheaper to buy it at home. 🙁 so with that comment I then upgraded to the  Green Coach! like first class in the UK.

With the pass, the next challenge was to get a bag for the bike, since like the TGV, bikes are only allowed on Shinkansen in bags. My plan was to return to Onomichi and do the 7 Island tour to Imarari which everyone raves about, it’s only 70km so a lovely day ride with a railway station at the end 🙂

I rode around 3 bike shops (thank goodness for the wonders of OSM and maps.me) at the final shop, Bicycle SEO, I found the perfect bag! Designed for hefty MTB’s the Ostrich 5 bag neatly rolls into a 4″ Diameter 10″ long cylinder. Totally perfect for touring. Bit pricey at £56 but its really good quality (Wiggle needs to sell them).

Today was the first test. I walked the bike to the barriers to be given a firm NO, so I found an empty area, removed the front wheel (it has its own bag in the kit), took the pedals off and rotated the handlebars around (I nearly let the tyres down. 🙁 but no altitude change today) and wallah in it went perfectly. I was allowed through this time with no problem.

It was impressive to see a team of cleaners, 4 for each carriage all looking very smart & cheerful when the train pulled in. The bike fitted behind the seats in row17 perfectly, standing it on its haunches, then we shot off. Maximum speed my GPS said was 293km/hr (183mph) this was the first track built so not up to the latest speeds. Staggering the smoothness even more amazing is when two opposing trains meet in a tunnel there is no buffeting. The train arrived in Okayama, on time of course, where I had 3 minutes to change trains. Unbelievably, for someone brought up in the UK, the next train was 10 feet away with its door to the correct carriage exactly (i mean to within 1″)  opposite my exit door – total transfer time 3 seconds!! it then seemed I was waiting for ages for the train to leave.

At Onomichi it took me 14 minutes (will be a lot quicker next time)  to reassemble the bike and be on my way to town and the Green Hill Hotel right next to the ferry to the first island tomorrow 🙂 The town itself feels so much better than 15 days ago in the pouring rain. Although the guide, I met outside, from the Grasshopper Adventures cycling group said it was foul here yesterday!

The Ostrich bag has me thinking whether to use it for the plane, with judicial packing around sharp points I think it would work 🙂


Cycling Japan – Iwatsuki to Tokyo!

Tuesday 25 April 2017

Total distance: 56076 m
Total climbing: 938 m
Total Time: 04:31:21

Strava is here Pictures here Hotel Toyoko Nihonb

Fine windy day and lovely ride down Arakawa River & Canal

Amazing ground cover plant