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Perfect Roads

by Tyler

We started the morning by trying out our popovers recipe as pancakes. We wound up with hot, doughy crepes that were really, really good. Tara tossed some Hob Nobs (our new favorite snack) into the last batch to thicken them up a bit and it worked like a charm. They were even better after that!

I spent about fifteen minutes cleaning our bike chains thoroughly before we set off. It took nearly as much time to clean my hands afterward as it did the chains. I really need a better system and I am pretty sure that system involves buying a roll of paper towels. We're doing our best to avoid disposable things but our chains have a way of completely ruining any rag we throw at them after a cleaning or two. If anyone reading has dealt with this on tour and would like to share some advice, I am all ears.

I've really decided to embrace butter. As though it were cheese.

There is one upside to climbing a huge hill every night before we camp: the big downhill the morning following. We set off around 10:30 for Hexham, a town roughly 20 miles south of us, with a brisk ride down to a dirt path that would wind through several fields full of sheep for most of the morning. It is amazing how much the lambs we pass are growing up each day. Just a week ago almost every one we saw was tiny. With each passing day it is very noticeable that they are entering their 'teens' already!

Dirt Path

As we were leaving the dirt path and fields to hit the road to Hexham a nice lady drove up behind us who we exchanged small talk with. She commented on the unseasonably nice weather we've had and told us that we should've 'hollered' when we rode past her farm so we could come up for tea! She pointed us in the right direction (we have GPS but I quickly learned to let the locals tell us where to go anyway, you never know what interesting road they might know about) and we parted ways.

Holding the Bikes Tara Reading

The rest of the day was full of absolutely beautiful (easy) rolling hills. The road to Hexham must be popular with cyclists as we passed at least 20 or 30 today. Some in huge packs of finely honed spandex and speed, others clearly out for the scenery and not the exercise. There was even a club of men we passed who were well into their 80s! There were plenty of motorcyclists as well and as they passed, one thundering (or buzzing) group after the next, I found myself daydreaming about flicking my wrist and blazing through the curves ahead a good 5 or 10 times faster than we were moving. I left my motorcycle for my Dad to ride while we're out. I hope he is enjoying it for me!

Fields and Sky Curvy Roads Pretty Road

We arrived at our campsite around 4:30 (very early for us!) but not before a ridiculous one and one half mile mile hill with an incline that was practically vertical. Just once I would like to coast into camp! Just once!

As we made camp in the sun we commented on how nice it was going to be to take showers, and have a place to do our dishes and laundry. There really are very few things I miss about 'civilized' life but these three things are very high on the list. After some much needed laundry was done and we both had a shower we set off to make dinner and prepare for tomorrow. Tara made a wonderful spicy orange chicken dish with noodles while I prepared apples for apple pie and helped out with whatever she needed. After dinner we both decided we were too lazy to use the oven so I made caramelized apples with granola (thank you Sarah!) for breakfast tomorrow.

Making Dinner

While preparing our sandwiches for the road I had an epiphany about cold butter and trying to spread it. As I tried out my new method I commented to Tara, "I've really decided to embrace butter. As though it were cheese." Tara started laughing hysterically (probably due to fatigue) as I cut off slices of butter for our sandwiches. We probably need the fat anyway and it sure is a lot easier than trying to mash cold butter around on a piece of bread!

We're off to see Hadrian's Wall and the cycleway that runs along it tomorrow!

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You got some great photos there! Especially the one of Tara on her stomach reading the book.

As far as how to clean your chain and not totally ruin your towel, that is a complete mystery. I've been traveling by bike for almost 10 years now and I still don't know the answer to that. I never bring a towel for that with me on my travels. I just try and find old towels along the roadside as I ride. I find one, clean it as best I can, then use it to clean the chain, and then throw it away. That's the approach I take. You just gotta keep your eyes peeled for rags while you're riding. But hey! It gives you something to do.
Posted by Darren Alff - BicycleTouringPro.com on April 21st, 2009 at 4:34 PM
Tyler, whenever I have a really greasy job to do, I take a little Shaklee Basic H full strength and rub it all over my hands before I start. I let them dry, forming an invisible glove, and do the dirty job. Then when I'm done, put them under water, even cold water, and the grease will come off. Give it a try. Mark
Posted by Mark on April 21st, 2009 at 4:48 PM
Hi Tara and Tyler. You all are doing fine. Tough, but worth it. I love your pictures. We have the one of Tara and baby lamb on our desktop. I keep showing the kids and parents your site and pictures and map. And I give away your cards. Love, GP
Posted by The Mathman on April 22nd, 2009 at 8:45 AM