The journey from Bristol to Eastbourne

After many trips to the charity shop, much selling, giving to friends and a bit of throwing away, we finally cleared most things from our flat.

imageHere’s what we ended up with (minus the sofa) for storage – thanks Mark and Lisa for lending us your attic!

imageWe then had to pack up all our kit, which proved to be a bit of a challenge! Below is most of it, minus shoes and clothes.

imageFinally we were ready to go!

 Day one 

 Miles: 32 

 Buttock pain: acceptable 

 On March 2nd we set off from Bristol at around midday. Here we are just before we left, looking very fresh and energetic right now!

imageHere’s the bike, fully loaded for the first time.

imageEverything went well for about the first 10 seconds, until we turned our first corner and both the panniers fell straight off. It turned out that we (Eric) had put them on the wrong way round, meaning that I had kicked them off when I began pedalling. Luckily there were no cars behind us when they fell off, and someone even stopped to help us pick them up (kind stranger no. 1). 

We whizzed off down the hill, and as we gathered speed a small piece of black plastic(?)/metal(?) pinged off the bike and bounced into the gutter. “We don’t need that, do we?” I asked Eric. He confirmed that whatever it was, we didn’t need it, so off we went! I still don’t know what it was.

We made good time to Bath and stopped off for a quick lunch in a park (bread, hummus, bananas and dried fruit).

imageWe were defeated by the hill coming out of Bath (we pushed) and then got onto a beautiful but slow-going towpath for the rest of the day.

imageCount the locks! Who says canals can’t go up hills?

imageBefore we knew it, it was almost 5, and time to start thinking about finding a place to stay. We decided to stop at the little town of Devizes (home of Wadworth’s Brewery). We found a hotel/pub, and the rest of the evening consisted of a long bath, a big meal and an early night.

Day two

Miles: 61

State of the but-tocks: ooooh, tender

We were off at 7.30AM, knowing that we had to make up the miles today after the short distance covered yesterday.

Things were going well until… our trailer tyre got a puncture at about 9. We stopped off by a house at the side of the road and tried to pump it up, but it quickly deflated again. We hadn’t thought to bring spare inner tubes for the trailer, and guess what else we didn’t have??? A puncture repair kit (after several people had jokingly told me not to forget it).

We were at a bit of a loss until the appearance of kind strangers no. 2 and 3, the husband and wife who owned the house. The husband kindly offered to take us and our bike to the nearest bicycle shop in his van, about 4 miles away. We very gratefully accepted, and were driven to the village of Pewsey, where I had an excellent hot chocolate while we waited for the bicycle shop to open at 10.

The shop opened, we got the inner tube replaced, bought a puncture repair kit and all the spare trailer-wheel inner tubes available, and were back on the road by 10.20. Success! Thank you kind strangers! We are the Blanche Dubois’s of cycling.

The rest of the day was a mix of lovely quiet lanes, green fields and little villages with some handlebar-gripping, please-don’t-let-me-die A roads thrown in.

We finished the day at Alton (as in Alton Towers) in a bargain hotel (complete with milk so mouldy that it had made the transition from liquid to solid).

Bath, dinner, bed.

Day three

Miles: 79


The day of reckoning. We were going to make it to Eastbourne today, no matter what. The question was, how long will it take?

Spoiler alert: twelve frickin’ hours!

Once again we were out the door by 7.30. I was very happy when we reached West Sussex by 9.30, and I was starting to see names on signposts that I recognised.

We made good speed all morning, and stopped at the wonderful Tesco Extra in the town of Horsham for a short lunch break, most of which I spent walking round and round Tesco Extra looking for where they kept the chilled water (for future reference it’s by the sandwhiches – duh!).

After lunch it was just another forty-something miles to go. We cycled through many posh little villages, including one place (Hurstpierpoint?) where the local pub had a chateaubriand night.

I was definitely flagging, but luckily there was more downhill than up, and the weather stayed beautiful.

Taking a little break.

imageimageWe reached Lewes around sunset, and then began the longest 10 miles of my life, cycling along the packed A roads into Eastbourne at rush hour, with an endless trail of cars behind us. I could feel the (justified) hatred burning into the back of my head.

But we made it – shattered and aching in ways I had never ached, we cycled up to my parents’ front door at 7.30PM. Dinner was ready – it was such a happy moment.

The next day we calculated that in total we cycled 172 miles, and that during the three days of cycling Eric will have burned approximately 15,600 calories (not including the calories he would use to run his body) and I will have burned approximately 9,000 calories, or as I like to think of it, 52 creme eggs.

Don’t worry, I have been solidly eating back this deficit.

Now we have a few days hanging around in Eastbourne before we head off on Wednesday 11th March 🙂

Throwing some stones at the beach.

image imageDoing some wistful gazing.

imageDad and Jason have a go on the bike.


Enjoying one of mum’s amazing feasts!


Next stop… France!



9 thoughts on “The journey from Bristol to Eastbourne

  1. Hi Penny,
    Interesting. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. My wife and I have done 5 months in Central America and several shorter trips since then. If there are any questions about long distance cycling you would like to ask feel free. BTW, What’s your route? Radim

    • Hi Radim

      Thanks for your message. I think what we’ve found challenging so far is packing light. I feel like we haven’t gone over the top, and yet it seems like we still have a lot of stuff! So any general tips you have here would be greatly appreciated.

      Our rough route for Europe is: France, Spain, Italy, Albania, Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway… But we will stay flexible I think!


  2. Penny, love this. So funny and glad you made it.excellent riding! Love that you mention HurstPierPoint; my parents used to live there back in the day!

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