Friday, September 28, 2012

Cycling Across the Pond

After months of waiting, I finally made it Jolly Old England last weekend to see Jim. While I was there, I went to a wedding (not mine, of course) and a Beer Festival, did some cycling with Jim, and took part in my very first Sunday Roast Dinner (many more to come, I hope). Jim had a couple of surprises for me. Naturally, he had a stockpile of Terry's Chocolate Oranges waiting for case the zombieapocalypse occured while in England. Thankfully, it did not and I was able to start munching my way through the delicious heaven that is Terry's Chocolate Oranges. In unrelated news, my weight has increased. He also had a package of Persil detergeant and the softner on the table for me to take home. I love the smell of my clothes after a good tumble with this sweet smelling stuff. I wanted to order it online, but it was far too expensive. And Jim opted out of actually mailing it to me since he felt that it would raise a flag if he sent me a box of white powder through U.S. Customs.

Then, the biggest suprise came later on in the day. For a month, he has asked me to measure my body (i.e., leg length, inseam, waist, chest, etc.). I thought a.) he was buying me a new car racing suit for when I finally get to race his car (or my own); b.) he was buying me a new jumpsuit, which I thought was strange since he didn't ask for my opinion on colors (it's very important for us skydivers to be all matchy matchy when we have picked out our colors); c.) he was buying me a bunny suit, cat suit, or any furry animal suit, which just perplexed me, but he's English...whatever. He walked me in to the garage where I saw two bikes. I didn't think anything of it since the plan was to borrow his neighbor's bike for our cycling adventure that day. Then, he told me it was my bike. At first, I didn't get it (jetlag, lack of sleep, he talks funny, etc.) and then it clicked what he was saying. Jim bought me a bike. WOW! HE BOUGHT ME A BIKE. How freaking cool and sweet is he? I think I jumped on him with a big old hug and kiss and then, kept repeating, "You bought me a bike!" Of course, I texted images to some of my friends and parents to show my new bike that Jim had bought me. If you didn't get it...Jim bought me a bike. He also bought me a new helmet. It was black; it was beautiful; it was mine o' mine.

My new bike. I have named him Grease Lightening. And of course this song will be on my biking playlist. 
On a side note, the helmet will come in handy since the insides in my current helmet are distingrating. However, I was not able to pack the helmet in my suitcase due to detergeant, booze, and chocolate oranges.

The plan was for both of us to cycle up to the Sykes House Farm (about 3 miles maybe roundtrip) to purchase meat for the Sunday Roast Dinner and give me a chance to see this farm. Everytime I come to England and see the sign, I always want to stop. Sykes is part of my family name. I'm not sure if they are actually related to me since Sykes is apparently a common name in England.

I couldn't wait to ride with Jim since he could help me with the gears. Granted, I was ill prepared for a new bike with a new way of displaying the gears; it took awhile to get used to it. As you know from previous posts, I have struggled with the gears and well riding in general. Plus, I've got to say, I have been bored and lonely. So, it was nice to have someone there. 

Jim and I started out riding on his street so that I could get used to the bike, the gears, and well riding the bike on the wrong side of the road. This includes looking for traffic coming from a direction that I am not used to at all. Thankfully, I am used to looking the other way when we walk up to the village, but now I'm riding a bike. It's just different. Also, I had to get used to sharing the road with parked cars and two lanes with cars coming and going, all in a narrow space. 

When we reached a hill, Jim would yell out what gear to to be in at this point. Most of the time, I just plum missed it, but I remembered it for the next hill. And speaking of hills, wow, was I mistaken about the inclines that I dealt with in Houston. Holy moly, England has hills. I struggled. I mean, I am already slow, but I felt massively slower here in England. Poor Jim had to go slow to stay with me and would lose his balance trying to look back for me. 

Finally, we made it up to Sykes House Farm and it was as lovely as I pictured (only saw the sign).  The meat was excellent and inexpensive and the guy that helped us was awesome. He even made me a special bottle of Sykes House Farm Yorkshire Sauce.

That's me at the Sykes House Farm sign.
Thumbs up for a good bike ride.

Yeah, I'm rocking the velcro pant holders with my new bike and new helmet.
After we picked up our goodies, we left for the house. The ride home was a bit difficult since I was tired and the wind picked up. Okay, not that much to English standard, but for me, yes. When we reached the last big hill straight in to town, I had to stop. The traffic was bad, the street was narrow, and the hill was steep. Jim suggested to just walk up it and I was thankful for that suggestion. Plus, we could easily stop at the pub at the top where we usually stop in for a beer on my first day.

Jim stopped for a good photo op.

Coming back from the Sykes House Farm.

You may be used to it, but I'm not. We have lots of cows in Texas.

Loving my bike, my helmet, and our bike ride. 
At first, this was our only scheduled bike ride for this trip. We had a short amount of time and lots to do. But somehow, we managed to
squeeze in another cycling adventure on Sunday before our Sunday Roast Dinner. We couldn't decided between riding to Tadcaster or Wetherby. Each one had their selling points.

How could you not want to have a beer at this pub in Tadcaster?

But in the end, we chose Wetherby since we could ride on this bike path that used to be a railway. Not only is that just cool, but it would also shield us from the wind and light drizzle. So, we headed out.

Jim and I getting ready for our bike ride.
 I felt better on the gears, but still very slow. The ride was me trying to keep up with Jim, dodging dogs and walkers and well, other cyclists, and not dying. Even through all of that, the scenery was beautiful. I couldn't take my eyes away from my surroundings. It actually reminded me of our canal boat trip.

It was cold and raining when we started.
We made it to Wetherby just in time for the wind to pick up slightly. I was tired and all I could think about was resting. I made it clear that I wanted to stop at a pub for a beer before we headed back home to make dinner.

I'm having a Beck's Beer in front of the sign.

I swear he asked me to do this.

It was about a 7 mile roundtrip bike ride...I think. Well, I'm going for it anyways. We came home and made a delicious pork tenderloin with crackling (spelling?) and my first ever homemade pecan pie.


  1. Possibly stopping at the pub frequently is not conducive to good cycling fitness? Just a thought. And yes, it is crackling. That is the crispy skin on the outside of the pork loin. BTW, don't any of the hills in England go down? Seems you are missing out on the coasting phase of bicycling.

  2. All sounds WONDERFUL to me!! Good on ya Jim...oh wait, that's Australian! Never mind! Keep rockin' on Mah Lady!! <3

  3. Sounds like you are having a great time.But I have a question... How are you going to get the new bike in the suitcase?? Cheers.BBD

  4. Most of the hills we went on had a steady incline. Yes, we did have some down hills. But I was talking specifically about the going up the hills part.

    Yeah..aboout's staying there.

  5. Thanks for stopping by Team BHI HQ. Looks like a great ride (i.e., the bike and the actual activity itself). Cheers!

  6. Velcro runners become you, Wiley. Cheer'io...

  7. Velcro runners become you, Wiley....cheerio!

  8. Love the bicycle surprise! You look great on it. Can't wait to read about all your bike adventures!

  9. On a different topic, any interest in running the Paris marathon in April?



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