Thursday, 23 October 2014

Living without a car

At the end of September I handed back the company car.  This was when I resigned to follow a calling within the Church of England.  So now I have no car to get me around, and as a full time student at Durham University I'm not wealthy enough to buy or run one.  I knew this moment was coming so I was actually looking forward to it, and as a regular cyclist I was keen to learn how to manage without a car.  Living in Durham was also going to make this an easier transition because there is a really good bus service, there is a mainline railway station and there are lots of local shops for groceries.  I felt that as a family we were in a good place (mentally and physically) to embrace a car-free culture.

It is now approaching one month car-free and I thought it was worth making a note of how I feel about it, how we've managed and what the reactions have been from others.

I'm still pleased with the situation.  We have had to get used to walking to the shops for milk.  The local mini-supermarket is about 20 minutes round trip walking, as a result spontaneous purchases have taken a nose-dive.  No more nipping out for a bar of chocolate or a couple of bottles of beer.  Our discretionary spending has dropped a lot and money isn't leaking out of my bank account as rapidly as it did before.  I have also seen a benefit in eating less snack foods, and when I do buy something I am also getting some exercise in the process.

no car
more walking
less spontaneous spending at the shops
less junk food
feeling healthier

Although we don't have the running costs for a car, we do have the costs of train and bus.  As a mature student I've qualified for a 16-25 railcard which gets me 30% of rail fares; so a return ticket to Newcastle from Durham is less than £5; pretty much the cost of parking in Newcastle.  A return to York is about £10.

To get into St John's College each morning I walk.  It takes about 25 minutes and I get a lovely peaceful time along the side of the Wear; plenty of time for personal prayer.  I've chosen to walk instead of cycle because I think this gives me better exercise; cycling is just too easy for this commute.  I do have to travel further for a placement church during term time; and I alternate between the free bus when the weather is bad, and the bicycle when the weather is nice.

Overall I have found myself feeling fitter, healthier, having more time for prayer, more time to think, more time outdoors, I'm eating less rubbish food and I'm saving money.  So far so good.

So how are my family coping with the situation?  My wife is very pleased we no longer have a car; over a period of time we grew less and less comfortable with the environmental impact of driving a diesel car; the pollution, the heavy traffic, the rush and hurry that comes from needing to be places instantaneously; and the loss of travel as an activity, travel had become nothing other than the dead period between doing things.

Our two children haven't mentioned it at all; as older teenagers it does mean that "Taxi of Mum & Dad" doesn't exist; but on the other-hand Durham is such a compact city that getting around by foot and bus is easy, gives them freedom from their parents and helps them to learn their environment a lot better.  They have both taken to the change without complaint.

What have been the reactions of others.  Nothing really.  No one has noticed that we don't drive, no one gives it a second thought and it doesn't seem to be creating any difficulties.  Having said that, there are some downsides which are being swept under the carpet:
  • My parents have to visit us, we can't easily pop over to visit them.
  • I can't get down to see my sisters without an expensive long distance train journey, something that needs planning.
  • I'm not cycling as much; I don't know whether there is less time in my day due to the workload at college, but I'm using the bicycle as a tool; I'm cycling as a valid form of transport so I'm spending less time cycling for fun.  I think this might be an element of the busy college life and it might settle down as term progresses.  I did ride Gerry's Autumn Brevet from York a week ago and thoroughly enjoyed Audaxing with friends, this was the first social ride in ages.
  • Getting to early morning audaxes on the other side of the country is going to be challenging; I might have to ride to the start,

I'm going to see how these perceived problems manifest themselves over the coming months and for the two years I'm at Cranmer Hall in Durham.

In the further future, I was thinking it would be nice to be a car-free servant of the Church of England.  So far though I have found people generally believe I won't be able to do it; the demands of being a vicar will swamp me and I will have to drive.  I hope to challenge this perception because I would like to think that God's work doesn't require me to damage the planet.  I would like to think that the space between meetings could be as valuable as the time spent in meetings.  I would hope not to be rushing from one meeting to the next, using the car to carry troubles around with me and preventing me from putting down my concerns.  I have a hope, but we will have to see what happens in the future.  All does rather depend on me remaining healthy enough to cycle everywhere.  Bishop Edward gave it a go and his experience is reported here.

So here's to a successful month of being car free and looking forward to a future of remaining car free.  I hope that my freedom does not become a burden on others.  I thank God that I am strong enough to have this freedom.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Three Glens Explorer

Stunningly clear blue skies were a blessing on the riders all day as we tackled the "Three Glens Explorer" from Linlithgow just outside Edinburgh. I caught an early train from Edinburgh to Linlithgow for £5, saving me a 30km ride to the start. Lazy I know! The hall in Linlithgow that had been chosen to host the event thronged with riders laughing and chatting ahead of the start. There was a large group of West Lothian Clarion cyclists, some of whom seemed to be on their fist audax event. At 160km I wasn't surprised to hear that a few of the participants were planning to ride quite fast and treat this as an extended club run.

Straight out into the crisp morning air and a large group formed; moving at a fast pace.  The group was large enough to justify the name peloton and I was in high spirits so decided to try and stay with them.  Of course we inevitably seemed to form a rolling road-block because of the size, but this early on a Sunday it was actually fairly quiet and soon we were in isolated country lanes.

Our route was heading north towards Queensferry and the Forth Road Bridge with the excellent views of the Forth Bridge, the iconic bridge used by railways.  To our left, west of us the new Forth Road Crossing was being built but at the pace we flew it was difficult to see the work.  The cyclepath we used (next to the A90) was a shared use facility meaning we had to take care for a lot of runners doing charity laps of the bridge.

Still in a large group we swept easily through Inverkeithing and out into the countryside once more.  As the ground started to become slightly more undulating I eased off, not wanting to blow up or race the entire ride.  We'd covered the first 25km at 30+kph but the rising gradient soon knocked that back and I watched my average pace start to tumble.  Our joyful headlong push away from the start had eased off and riders were settling into a comfortable rhythm to complete the route.  For me this meant watching younger, fitter, slimmer riders pass me on the climbs; and then nailing them to the tarmac as gravity took hold and pulled me back on the descents.  I'm going to have to try and lose weight over winter, not least so these lycra tops fit a bit better.

The clear blue skies and bright sunshine kept me lovely and warm, even as September was dying in Scotland.  After the climb of Crossgates we levelled out for a short while past Loch Leven, which was clearly not the same Leven of Yarm and Teesside.  Castle Lochleven was out there somewhere but I missed it as I prepared to navigate Kinross and Milnathort.  In Milnathort there was our first control; from the back of a car home-baked rocky-road and chocolate treats were available, as well as plenty of bottled water to top up the iso-tonic drinks.  I had my card stamped and said thank you for the delicious piece of rocky-road.  With a short sub-five minute stop I was out again for the climb from town along Tulloch Road which was steep for a couple of kilometers but then evened out again for another great view, this time of Glenfarg Reservoir.  Some of the riders I was with knew that the steepest section was just ahead.  A set of super steep switches in the road.  A rider next to me shouted that this was utterly ridiculous and refused to ride any further, to the point of getting off.  She was a much better cyclist than me though, and when she realised that there was nothing for it but to continue she got back on the bike and shot past up uphill.  Sometimes other riders can make me feel so small.

By now I was feeling the effects of the fast start and wondered how long I could fight off the cramp.  We dropped all the way downhill on a dangerous and gravel strewn road to Dunning.  Having navigated the gravel and sharp corners without incident I nearly came to a sticky end as a yellow and black thing flew into my face, became stuck behind my glasses and caused me a lot of flailing around.  My panic was unfounded though, it wasn't a wasp and I wasn't stung.  I swapped to sunglasses immediately afterwards though.

In Dunning we turned south again, almost 180 degrees from our descent and started the longest and largest climb of the day, 6km and rising 270m, the slope wasn't difficult at first and I chose a cadance to stick with, but the climb went on and on, so I clicked down through the gears as my pace dropped, and then my cadance dropped.  Finally I thought I must be crawling up the side of the hill.  The views were continuing to reward me for my efforts though.

It wasn't just a delight to find the control 1km earlier than expected, but to then find that the next 10km were all downhill.  I refuelled with more rocky-road and treated myself to a full fat fizzy cola drink.  I admit to resting here longer than normal as I enjoyed the company of all the cyclists who ridden up ahead and behind me.

With a 10km descent I was able to enjoyed a nice turn of speed without too much effort right the way down to the A823 just north of Muckhart, where the route turned north one more time for one more climb.  However, I could sense that this was going to be a long and very gentle climb, a climb I'd be able to use my diesel engine of a heart to pull up at a reasonable pace.  I also think we had a slight tailwind as we passed Castlehill Reservoir.

The crest of this last climb came a lot sooner than expected too - which was helping to build my confidence.  Inevitably I missed my right hand turn and had to retrace steps, but then retraced them again after a chat with other riders and we realised that the main road went to Auchterarder.

In Auchterarder we had to negotiate the walkers, motorists and general hubbub surrounding the Ryder cup which was due to tee-off the following week.  We had a good view of the greens and the stands, which although empty now would be filled soon for all the television cameras and celebrity.

In the town itself I found a small supermarket to grab a Scotch Pie.  I had expected something delicious like the one I'd enjoyed cycling over the Lammermuir Hills, but I was slightly disappointed by this one, possibly because it was cold.  I also had a brain-fade moment.  I locked the bicycle up securely, but when I came to unlock it found that I had securely locked it to nothing.  Dolt that I am.

Leaving Auchterarder and heading due west I fell in with two gentlemen and we enjoyed keeping an easy ride so we could talk and admire the views.  They lost me though; I found this cute little bridge and wanted to take a photo.  We were just by the last information control and I was now starting to suspect the hills in the distance needed to be climbed to get home.

I need not have worried though as the route just kept gently flowing along parallel with the A9 to Dunblane and the Bridge of Allan, skirting the hills completely.  The Bridge of Allan has a good view of the Wallace Monument and the ride took us past the sporting University of Stirling.

After this we had a long pan-flat ride to Grangemouth.  I was extremely grateful that there was no wind and kept looking over my shoulder for following riders.  I could see no one ahead of me and no one behind me, and it was inescapable that I was going to push on fairly hard during this section to avoid being caught.

Grangemouth had the industrial beauty of Teesside and the maze of pipework laid out.  With almost no distance remaining to reach back to Linlithgow and the start, I was mistaken to think that it would be a flat run back.  Mistake.  There was a sting in the tail and it really did sting.

Back at the final control the food was totally outstanding!  There was hot and cold food, hearty soup and delicious cakes.  The orgnaiser and his team had put together a very good route and excellent hospitality.  This is a ride I would recommend.  Travel to Edinburgh was very easy, the little train to Linlithgow was £5.  Entering and riding couldn't have been made any more simple.  Thank you to the team!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Lammermuir Hills

Catching the early morning train from Durham, it was drizzling with rain as the friendly station staff helped me tuck my touring bicycle and luggage into the guard's car. "I hope the weather improves for you", he said, which was a lovely blessing indeed. Just an hour later and the clouds had lifted a little as I disembarked at Berwick-upon-Tweed.

My route planning was to ride the shortest distance to Edinburgh, and therefore to ride over the Lammermuir Hills. In the planning stages for this ride I had thought of following the coast but it seemed that most options used the A1. I don't want to cycle on the A1. I wasn't concerned about the hills as the route was merely 90km and I had all day to ride it, this is afterall, a holiday.

First things first; ride down to sea level and have a look at the harbour. I couldn't easily make it to the red and white lighthouse as cycling on the wall is not permitted and I didn't know how else to get there. I satisfied myself with being at sea-level.  Then back up the hill to leave Berwick-upon-Tweed behind, and it is always a pleasing surprise to look back and see how quickly I've climbed a long way from sea level.

Just outside Berwick-upon-Tweed following the A6105 I found the England - Scotland border.  Crossing the border into Scotland didn't require me to show my passport, for which I was grateful.  It is nice to visit another nation within the same country, I always found it a significant moment to be passing over either the Welsh or Scottish border.

I was conscious of the signs by the side of the road warning Bikers to be careful, and that speed and cornering too fast can result in accidents and injuries. I wondered if choosing this route had been such a wise idea for a Saturday morning.  The reward for choosing this route though, was the gorgeous leafy lanes and little distinctive bridges. 

As I came out of one leafy section I would find myself in a plateau of floodplain type flatland which had been turned over to cattle grazing, and all the while there were large hills surrounding me.

I'd seen St Agnes on the map and wondered what it would look like on the ground, as I have friends in St Agnes, a small coastal village on the North Cornwall coast.

Whiteadder reservoir is just beyond St Agnes, the front of which is hidden among the tress and the road climbs a 14% gradient next to it. The road itself was smooth enough for an easy climb; and once over the top there are good views of the top of the dam and the far bank. As I rounded a corner the rest of the water opened up before me and I saw a small sailing club. Like the reservoir outside Halifax, it at first seems strange to have a sailing club so far from the sea, at the top of a hill. On reflection though it makes sense; presumably a great place to experience windy sailing conditions.

The day, however, was not particularly windy and I cycled along in bright but overcast conditions. The climbing continued, the hills became more lonely and the distant haze which prevented me seeing far increased my sense of isolation. Looking down on to Whiteadder I saw a fish jump clear of the surface and then splash back down. A wind-farm in the distance was barely moving, the tips of the blades sticking above the hillside like the spikes of a fort.

The haziness turned to drizzle as I crested the final hill and in the rush of the descent turned to rain and splattered against my chest. From the warmth of the climbing a moment ago I was starting to get cold very quickly, so when I saw a sign by a little bridge with the words, “Cafe Open”, I diverted right and bumped my way along the dirt track. The potholes in the dirt had recently been filled and I rode past fishing ponds with Anglers hunched over the end of their fishing poles along the bank.

The cafe itself was a small portacabin; and my 'cycling-specific' clothing caused a murmur of surprise and humour as I walked through the door, I was keen for a mug of coffee. I was also tempted by the excellent looking “Scotch Pie” and was not disappointed. There were some sly glances at my bicycle and then the inevitable, “Have you come far?” There is no right answer to this question: people will be “exhausted”, “just thinking about it”. Nevermind that, it was an excellent place to stop, the coffee (instant) was hot and wet and strong, the pie was oozing with dark black gravy. Delicious.

I stayed long enough for the drizzle to ease a bit and then resumed my journey downhill. I dropped out of the cloud cover in a few miles and the sun came out again, in the distance I felt it might be possible to make out the coast. I continued to drop until I was in the middle of a very agricultural land and it reminded me strongly of the Tees valley; gently rolling hills, fields with golden crops and all interspersed with small towns.

I started to notice more cyclists now that I was thoroughly clear of the Lammermuir hills, and as the earlier profile shows, it is mainly downhill which helped me keep a brisk pace.  At Mussleburgh I detoured to the harbour, this gave me a nice feeling of riding from sea-level to sea-level.  Berwick-upon-Tweed to Mussleburgh.

From Mussleburgh to Edinburgh was fairly main road riding, and allowed me the chance to ride the A1 anyway, even though I'd wanted to avoid it.  By the time I was riding the A1 it was basically just another street in Edinburgh, but this was bringing me in north of Waverley station and my final reward for the cycle were two wonderful views of the city.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

No unnecessary hills

I asked Dean to join me for a ride around the Pennines on this last public holiday in August, and we were treated to a marvellous display of purple heather stretching as far as the eye can see. Dean said it reminded him of Zane Grey's "Riders of the Purple Sage". To be fair though, apart from the words 'purple' and 'riders'; our bicycle ride bore no further resemblance to Zane's book.  We certainly were not battling to overcome persecution by members of a polygamous Mormon fundamentalist church.  It didn't rain while we were out, so Purple Rain wasn't going to be appropriate either.  As this is my journal, I'm sticking with my own ride title "no unnecessary hills", because this had been the big surprise of the day for me.

Bishop Auckland provided a location equidistant from Dean in Darlington and myself in Durham.  The A167 was totally quiet and an easy route down through Tudhoe.  There was a brief climb to Kirk Merrington and as I reached the open countryside I was treated to a view back to the coast at Teesmouth because the whole of the Tees valley had opened up before me.  That was to the east though, with flatter lands than I wanted to ride.  I turned west towards Bishop Auckland the the Pennine hills in the distance.  Dean and I met up at the Wetherspoon's in Bishop Auckland for a 69p cup of filter coffee at 10am, with the sun shining bright and clear in the blue skies above us.

Our route plan for the day was simple; I wanted to ride both Bollihope Common and Crawleyside back to back.  They are fairly big climbs and it forms a lovely circular from Durham, this allowed us to ride up the Tees valley to Middleton-in-Teesdale, then tackle the climb over the isolated Bollihope Common to Stanhope, immediately followed by the Crawleyside climb which will be fondly remembered by anyone who has done the Sustrans C2C route.  From there it would be "all downhill" to Durham and hopefully back in time for the beer festival.

As we left Bishop Auckland we rode out through High Etherley and down to one of two gatehouses for Witton Castle, this one in Fearon's Wood on Sloshes Lane.  The road running downhill to the gate is dead straight and it almost feels as though we were riding down a driveway with a portcullis ahead of us.  Turning west there, we weaved our way along the flatest route through this countryside that I'm aware of.  We reached Woodland and kept going straight on with the B6282.  As we emerged into the open we were surrounded by beautiful purple heather as far as the eye could see.

The air was crystal clear giving us unimpeded views of the valleys and hills around us, and just before Eggleston, while still on the top of the ridge, we stopped.  We were awestruck by the view of Cross Fell and Great Dunn Fell, the two highest points of the Pennine hills.

The spine of England stretching away before us.  We stopped and soaked up the views of the Tees Valley and the stunning beauty of England.

In Middleton-in-Teesdale we stopped for some lunch.  There was a quaint little cafe where we bought good quality coffee and deep-filled cheese toasties.

As soon as we left Middleton-in-Teesdale we started the long climb over Bollihope Common.  It wasn't particularly difficult but was merely a gently rising slope that went on for a long time.  Ahead of us was another cyclist and Dean set off to chase him, while I made a mangled mess of a gear change and dropped to the side of the road.  Looking back down from Bollihope into Teesdale there was still a mass of purple heather everywhere.

The road over Bollihope has two major climbs, the first from Teesdale, and the second from the little stream called Bollihope Burn.  It is well named, because whichever route I've chosen from this stream I have felt a burning sensation in my thighs.  We took the turn towards Frosterly because the descent is much more fun.  The shorter route to Stanhope has a steep drop which has to be taken on the brakes, whereas the longer route, through Frosterly blesses the rider with a long mainly straight road which can be enjoyed at speed.  I certainly enjoyed it, at least until my wheel rims heated up so much my front brakes started to squeal with pain.

We stopped in Stanhope to grab more drinks, and refill our water bottles before taking on the much harder climb of Crawleyside.  I had hoped to see plenty of other cyclists this Bank Holiday weekend, but most of them will have ridden through in the morning from Nenthead or Allenheads.  This was probably just as well, because by the look of me I was really suffering.  I don't remember suffering as much as I look like in this picture, but I really look bad!  I don't look anything like the composed smooth cyclists which can be found on the cover of glossy magazines riding nonchalantly up the Alpes.

Given that climbing in the Alpes takes hours, and Crawleyside no more than 20 minutes, I had to remind myself that all the moaning my legs were doing was nonsense.  I quoted Jens to them, shut up legs.  Shut up they did, and then their reward was a 9km breeze downhill, and after a short climb another 7km downhill to Lanchester.  From the top of the moors we realised that we could see the Cheviots to the north, the North Yorkshire Moors to the south, the sea to the east and we'd already seen Cross Fell... our views over almost the whole of the Northeast of England from one short ride.  The air quality had been excellent!

As we approached Durham we spied a little pub and called in for a freshener.  It is perhaps the psychological effect of a long stretch of downhill, but overall I felt the route had been predominantly flat.  I think that we had the easiest run out to Middleton-in-Teesdale and apart from Bollihope and Crawleyside, it had been all downhill from there.  Wonderful really; I might plan this as a flatish 100km Brevet Populair.  At least I ought to let people know that there will be no unnecessary hills.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Moomintroll rides to Naantali

According to an online “what type of Moomin are you?” test, I fall into the category “Moomintroll”.

Ritva and Jan have kindly lent me their Tunturi Retki Super again and after work I'm getting some exercise instead of visiting Denis pizza. Denis pizza is a wonderful place to eat, but it is not improving my climbing ability. I might be more aerodynamic after a trip to Denis though; to quote Captain Beefheart, “A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous.” Now there is a mental image that will take some brain floss to clear out. Diet time.

Setting off from the Radisson Blu in Turku I immediately head the wrong way along the riverside, and hear the distress call of the baby garmin looking for its route. Turning north and west I head out of town on the cycle paths. Back home I detest cycle paths; they are not designed for cyclists they are designed for motorists so as to keep traffic moving unimpeded. In the UK, whenever a cycle path and a road cross, the motorist has right of way. For this reason I find it more pleasant to ride as part of the traffic. Also UK cycle paths are usually full of broken glass – our society just doesn't care for itself any more. In Finland the situation is totally different. It is true that they have some more space, but they also care about each other, they care about doing the right thing. So cyclists on cycle paths have right of way at junctions; motorists turning into a street stop to look for pedestrians and cyclists. Also the paths are wide and clean; it is like having a totally separate road network dedicated to vulnerable travellers. It is wonderful to use cycle paths in Finland.

Although I had planned out a route and uploaded it to the little navigation device, I found that the sign posts were clear and unambiguous. At every junction I knew I was heading the right way to Naantali, which was reassuring. RidewithGPS had also plotted a route which automatically took the cycle paths too. It is lovely when systems work without a problem.

The evening was warm, bright and a slight breeze from the north west kept me cool as I rode. There were plenty of others out too, cycling, walking and even using inline skates and walking poles to mimic the action of cross-country skiing.

This vintage Tunturi needs some loving, it is a classic bicycle but the rear brake cable has snapped and the local bicycle shop wasn't interested in helping me resolve the problem.  Ritva knows I enjoy riding this bicycle and I'm not phased by being restricted to a front brake only.  If its good enough for Carl Fogarty, its good enough for me.  Learning to use friction shifters only takes a few kilometres and finding the right amount of movement to accurately shift gear starts to become instinctive.  The only challenge presented is an unexpected sharp climb, the sort you find just round the corner when pootling along in a world of your own.  To quote the 70's band, 'The down-tube shifters'.... "If you can't be with the gear you love, love the gear you're with."

The route I'd auto-generated took me past arable crops and through silver birch woods, the mainly flat Finnish countryside rolled by while I snapped away with my camera.  I was besotted with the silver birch copses surrounding me.  In Finland there is a profitable line of forestry, with a lot of families working the land for their long term investment in timber.

I found a nice wooded area to take a glamour-shot of the Tunturi.  I think this is a really beautiful bicycle, not just because of the simplicity of the mechanics or the thin steel frame, but because of how quickly it accelerates and how smooth the frame is over the lightly gravelled cycle paths.  I don't know whether this was a racing bicycle in the past, but I was happy to take it up to 45kph on the flat.

I did get lost once or twice, despite the chirps of the little navigation device and the excellent signposts.  There were two reasons for this, firstly, as a gentleman of the world, I clearly know exactly where I'm going and don't need blatant sign-postage and contrary bleeping devices to contradict me.  Secondly, I was totally absorbed in my surroundings and absent minded about direction of travel.  So once or twice I found the breadcrumb trail on the little device heading off the screen while I assumed the road would eventually work out where I wanted to be and get with the program.  On one such occasion I ended up at the Neste compound gates.  Isn't it lovely that in Finland there are cycle paths direct to oil refineries.  Reminds me of the path alongside the A174 to Wilton. Having said that, the only way to continue, other than pretend to work in the refinery, was to follow a twisty country road slightly downhill and back to the garmin's breadcrumb trail.

As I arrived in Naantali itself I passed through the high-tech science park area with its serious looking buildings, before connecting with a gravelled shared-use route.  I could see water through the trees and suddenly found myself at a little beach near the Naantalin Spa Hotel and Resort.

Just round the corner my Moomintroll adventure brought me to the Moomin Island.  I have noticed that when asking a stranger to take your picture it isn't always possible to ensure the quality of the picture they return to you.  Sometimes black and white editing is the only way to go!

As I had not paid the 25 euro entry fee, this little Moomintroll was stopped at the gates by a smiling ninja dressed as an innocent young park attendant.  It was pretty impressive how she managed, with one eyebrow, to disable my attempt to enter the park and make my home among my fellow Moomins.  Ninja skillz.  Notice how she blends into the background ready to strike.  A right little feminine Chuck Norris.  I bravely ran away.

Naantali is a pleasant coastal resort, with a pleasant shopping area of consistently designed buildings, I'm sure it isn't as fake as the famous street of Bergen where you see a beautiful row of wooden houses with the surroundings conveniently cropped out.

Indeed Naantali is a lot more consistent and actually beautiful compared to Bergen.

I toyed with the idea of stopping for an evening meal, but the forecast of rain at night, and the inconvenient truth of lycra and a Moomintroll physique helped me make up my mind to simply return to Turku the way I had come.

I enjoyed this gentle 40km round trip form Turku to Naantali and back, and if I'd been wearing more socially acceptable clothing I might have even enjoyed a good meal at one of the restaurants.   As it was I arrived back in Turku at about 8pm, passing Mikaelinkirkko before rolling up at the Radisson again.