13 September 2011

My Microadventure in York

Alastair Humphreys, one of Alberto's favorite cyclist authors, has this concept called the microadventure. The idea is that you don't have to travel to exotic lands to have an adventure. His examples include things like cycling after work for as far as you can go, then camping and cycling back to work the next morning.

I didn't set out to have a microadventure last Friday, but it ended up meeting all the criteria of one!

First, a little background. Alberto and I wanted to join the FNRttC group on their York to Hull overnight ride. We thought it would be convenient that I had to go to York on Friday for work, so I could just bring my bike--and also save on train fare! In reality, having to sort out the logistics of it all proved quite challenging. It turned in to quite the microadventure in a lot of ways:


  • Navigational challenges: I brought my bike with me to York on the train in the morning (with my work clothes in a backpack). Several of my colleagues were coming up to York as well as we had to run a workshop at the University of York. When we arrived, they got in a taxi and I told them I'd see them soon. The university is only 2.5 miles from the city centre so I figured we'd probably arrive about the same time. Little did I know that the city of York has very few street signs, and google maps directions are not always that clear! I didn't actually make many wrong turns, but I had to get off the bike all the time to consult the map. On the last turn of the route I actually did completely go in the wrong direction, ending up in a completely different area of the University (which is quite spread out). All this time I was stressing out about not being there to help my colleagues prep for the event. All in all, it took me almost an hour to get to the right building!


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  • Travelling alone: After the event finished, I said goodbye to my colleagues and headed back into the city centre. Once I arrived (it only took 20 minutes, I might add), I suddenly thought to myself, "what now?" I was alone in a city that I don't know very well, it was 5:00pm and Alberto's train wouldn't arrive from London until after 11pm. I felt the same way I feel whenever I travel alone... this feeling of being in charge of how I spend my time but also the responsibility of looking after my stuff and making sure I take care of myself.
  • Sleeping outside: Sleeping outside is an integral part of the microadventure and I attempted to do just this after making my way back to York. I went to the park next to York Minster and found a nice bench, which I then locked my bike to and laid down on, hoping to get some sleep before the all night ride. This didn't really work out too well as there were tourists walking through all the time, the bells of the Minster ringing periodically, and it started to get cold after I laid still for too long a period. I think I probably got about 20 minutes rest though.

  • This is a picture from the University of York website, but I'm pretty sure that's the exact park bench I tried to nap on!
  • Eating alone: Eating alone is kind of a caveat to travelling alone, but I honestly don't think I have gone to a restaurant for a dinner by myself since travelling on my own to Barcelona two years ago. After finding a place to lock my bike, I went into a restaurant and sat by the window so that I could look out on the bike at all times (I've never left it alone before!). I didn't even have a book with me so I basically spent two and a half hours in the restaurant eating carbs and drinking caffiene. (While wearing lycra and carrying my front wheel I might add!). I then moved to the pub across the street, which also had a view of the bike, to drink (Coke) alone for the remainder of my time. It can actually be very nice to just sit and think, rather than havingy the TV, computer, ipod, or book to distract you. 

It was difficult to make sure I took care of all my needs before the ride in an unfamiliar city, alone and with a very valuable piece of equipment to look after, but I actually did enjoy the challenge of it.

After all this, 70 miles through the night to Hull seemed positively mundane! But we'll put up a blog post about it soon just the same :-)

1 comment:

  1. well done for persevering! Sounds like a nightmare!

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