See the section for Europe of the Trento Bike Pages.

London to Rome, Part 1: England

By Wayne Wakeman (wakeman@lamar.ColoState.EDU), September 1995
This is part 1 of the report of a tour Wayne Wakeman did in the summer of '95.

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4 July 95

My plane left Portland early in the morning. I had a short flight to Atlanta and a long one to London's Gatwick airport. So much for a 4th of July. Today only lasted 15 hours. I got to London early on the 5th.

5 July 95

I made it. I am at Cristin's flat. I just had breakfast at Leigh St. Cafe; the 'Full English Breakfast' - 2 grisly bacons, a sausage, beans(like Van Camp's pork & beans) and 2 eggs (over-easy?). I ate most of it and washed it down with Vimto soda!

6 July 95

What a day yesterday was! I stayed up until late last night which was almost two days straight. Cristin's roommates, er, flatmates are really cool. In no particular order:

James from Montreal, Canada
Bridget from Memphis, TN
Adam from Kentucky
Creighton from Virginia
Aileen from Maryland
Dawn from ?

Bridget and I ran around town yesterday. We picked up a package she sent to herself 7 weeks ago. Then we went to the theater. She has a theater degree and that is the kind of thing I would never do on my own. We saw 'A Passionate Woman'. It was okay, I guess. The best part was the really old, ornate theater where it was at.

That night we had a dinner party. They invited some English friends. I learned the Ricycle (Rice Krispie) trick. You stick your head in the cereal box and coat your tongue with Ricycles. HA!

It is 5 am now and I am wide awake.

9:30 After everyone has showered, I get my turn. They had this bizarre control box to control the shower instead of just hot and cold knobs.

I rode my bike carefully over to Condor Cycles to borrow a pump and fill my tyres to a more acceptable level. I also gave in and bought a Cateye cycle computer for #25. I busted the old bracket when I put on the handlebar rack at Victoria station. It still worked but this one is much more reliable.

After I installed the computer and removed my racks, I rode around a bit. It is a little scary but very fun. I am getting much better about being a part of traffic and navigating on the go.

I took the tube to Westminster after that. I saw the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. They were cool - so huge but so detailed and intricate. Westminster Abbey is across the street. They are renovating the outside so it pretty ugly. I went inside, though, and was stunned by the magnificence of it. It is huge and a truly gothic design. I paid the student admission (#2 cheaper) and walked through the place. Amazing. So many dead people with huge monuments. There were so many little nooks and crannies. It took forever to explore the place but I was enchanted for every bit of it. People buried there include Henry VII, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Robert Browning. There were also alot of monuments to people that weren't buried there. Lawrence Olivier had a stone dated 1989. What a contrast to all the 18th century dates.

After that, I walked by the Tower of London and across the Tower Bridge but was too tired and cheap to go inside.

Creighton took me to a cool bookstore. They had many cool, cheap books. They also sold internet access - #3/ 30 min. I am going to head back there and e-mail everyone at home.

7 July 95

Slow day - I went with Cristin to get her National Health Security # or something like that. It means she will be able to get insurance in Britain anytime she ever works here. We stopped by Bond St. to turn in her work timecard.

We went to Camden Market. I got a pair of oxford Dr. Martens. They were #40 but I get #7 back if I leave the country with them...meaning I will have to ship them from France. They are cool. I wore those and a 'Manchester University Football Club' t-shirt out tonight. The crew went to Friars & Fricken. We met up with some British people. Also some canadians and a drunk guy from Delaware. Good time though. Had a great hockey discussion. Might go to Stratford-upon-Avon tomorrow.

9 July 95

Did go to Stratford-upon-Avon. It was really nice. Took a very roundabout trainride to get there. London-Paddington to Reading to Leaminton Spa to Stratford. Saw the Reading Abbey ~12 century -OLD. Saw Holy Trinity church where Shakespeare was buried. Beautiful church, lots of stained glass. Had Beef & Ale pie at a pub and watched a bit of the Tour update. Indurain had a 49 second breakaway over the peloton. We got #5 standing room tix to 'Taming of the Shrew' at Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Creighton, James and Beth stayed the night. They didn't have a room - were just going to walk around all night. We caught a night bus back because the train was no longer running. Got home around 2:30.

10 July 95

After doing laundry, Bridget, Cristin, Aileen, and I went to an Indian restaurant for dinner. A nice one. It was a small, quiet back room, everything done up in pink. I had the HOT curry. Bridget had the mindlessly HOT! curry. It was such a good flavor but our eyes watered and noses ran. Wow. To cool off, we stopped at a pub on the way home. Most everyone had to work the next day and retired early. Aileen & I and Creighton watched part of a wildly surreal Soviet movie 'Come & See'. Absolutely bizarre. Oh - James had come home from Stratford earlier in the day and Crieghton & Beth returned that night. Apparently they slept in the Holy Trinity cemetery with only wine to keep them warm. I think James was on the verge of frostbite.

11 July 95

Oh my! I learned alot about bicycle touring today. If everyday is like this, I might not make it. Of course, I say all this as I relax in the TV room of the Moonrider's Rest youth hostel in Brighton, UK. I left the flat in London before 5am to beat any traffic. No problems. I was out of the central city in no time, only twice deviating a bit from my planned route. I followed the A23 towards Brighton. The first 60? km were great. The road was not unlike 99E; a busy road but not too bad to ride. Then it turned into the M23, even though it said it was still the A23. M meaning big freeway. But the shoulder was wide enough and I was doing alright. I even stopped on the side once to have a snack and lightly slept for 15 minutes. Then the flats started. First one was alright. I changed it quickly, put in the brand new tube and took off. My tire had been low on air from the beginning but I figured I couldn't get much more pressure if I tried. When I filled the new tyre, the pump had no problem getting almost enough air in. I remembered how to get it right. So I'm riding along the freeway and the tire slowly deflates again. It just slowly leaked out. I filled it up and kept going. Of course I didn't get very far but I didn't have much further to go either. I kept this up and just got frustrated. I was out of water as well. I don't know why I didn't just change the tube again. I wanted to get off the freeway. I took an exit, got to the service station, and loaded up on water before I started working. There was a hole in the tube so I changed it and got back on the road. Not far now. I took the turnoff for New Haven ~13 km. Pas de probleme. I get to the passenger ferry about 11:15 am. The last ferry left at 10:15; next one at 19:30. Damn, not getting to France today. I got a ticket for 10:15 tomorrow and start looking for somewhere to eat and rack. Nothing cheap. I thought about sleeping out of doors but ended up riding back to Brighton. It wasn't far and I found the hostel w/o much difficulty, thanks to an address and a friendly cycle hire man. Brighton is weird- a real carnival town. All along the pier are games and little race cars. People lie on the beach also. I might go down later. Starting Odometer = 14.3 km Ending Odometer = 155.3 Total = 141 km

Bonus notes:

12 July 95

Brighton to New Haven was 18 km. Made it w/o any problems. My front tyre was a bit low when I was at the hostel but I filled it and it seems okay. BTW Newhaven is the home of the Parker pen factory and the ferry port but is overall a dingy place. I just met three persons from Oxford cycling to Grenoble.