2016-08-01 (Day 46) Barnet – London – Dublin

Today’s photo shows the departure board at Euston train station in London. After a weekend in London getting my bike fixed, it was time to get the train back to Ireland on Monday morning. Having been away for 7 weeks, I was looking forward to getting back to the old sod. My train was due to leave at 08.10 but the platform number for the Holyhead train didn’t appear on the display until 08.04. This gave everyone only 6 minutes to get onto the train. Normally this is plenty of time but ticket inspectors check everybody’s ticket on the platform before they board the train. This causes a backlog as people frantically search for their ticket. After getting past the ticket inspection, I then had to go all the way to the end of the train for the bike carriage. By now it was 08.08, so I hurled the bike onto the train before then dragging Travoy up the step and into the train. 30 seconds after getting everything on board, the doors started beeping and closed shut. 10 seconds later the train pulled out of Euston more or less on time. So despite being at Euston train station for over an hour, I only got on board the train with less than a minute to spare.


Shimano 105 replacement derailleur. My weekend had started on Saturday trying to track down a bike shop with replacement Shimano 105 derailleur.The one on my bike was beyond repair as it was all twisted and a plate had sheared off. However, tracking down a replacement wasn’t easy. You could understand if it was a rare part but the Shimano 105 derailleur is probably the most common derailleur on road bikes. Evans Cycles have about 50 shops in London but only 2 of their shops had any in stock at Notting Hill and at Gatwick. Evans allow you to click and collect so I ordered the one in Notting Hill. However, about half an hour after ordering, I got an email from Notting Hill to say they had made an error and didn’t have the Shimano derailleur in stock. I was left with no option to order one from the Evans warehouse in Gatwick which had 50 in stock. I could have ordered one to be delivered on Monday but I was hoping to be in Dublin on Monday. If I wanted the bike fixed that weekend, I would have to travel about 50 km to Gatwick and collect the derailleur myself.


Barnet to Gatwick recommended route on Rome to Rio website. The Rome to Rio website is the best website for figuring out the best way to go somewhere using public transport. According to the website, it should only take about 2 hours to get from High Barnet to Gatwick using first the Northern line to London Bridge and then Thameslink to Gatwick. However, there were engineering works that weekend on the Northern line and anyone getting on the Tube at High Barnet was being transported on a free bus to Arnos Grove to catch the Piccadilly line


Map of London Tube network. By the time I got to London Bridge, it was near 3 o’clock but I still had plenty of time to make it to Gatwick. However, it was only when I got to London Bridge, that I discovered to my horror that there were engineering works on Thameslink as well and that I would have to go to Victoria and get the Gatwick Express. But when I got to Victoria, my ticket wasn’t accepted on the Gatwick Express and I would have to get the Southern Rail train. By now, it was after 4 but fortunately, there was a train at 4.20 which arrived at Gatwick around 4.40. I estimated it would take at least 20 minutes to walk to Evan’s store so I still would make it there about 5, about an hour before their store closed at 6..

Gatwick Airport South terminal. When I arrived at Gatwick train station, there didn’t seem to be any exit signs so I had to ask two people only to be directed to what looked like an emergency exit down 2 flights of stairs before finally exiting the airport alongside the dual carriageway. There is a pedestrian tunnel under the dual carriageway, which connects to a cycle path which heads south. It took about half an hour to walk along this path to the Evans store and meant it was about 5.30 when I arrived at the shop only half an hour before it closed. Fortunately, the staff at the store had the derailleur all ready to be collected. After  a journey of almost 6 hours, it was a relief to finally get a replacement derailleur.


London Freecycle.  It only took me about 3 hours to make it back to Barnet from Gatwick, which was 3 hours quicker than it had taken me to get to Gatwick. While passing through Victoria station, I noticed a lot of cyclists with Freecycle high viz vests. The London Freecycle is an initiative in which for one day some roads in the centre of London are closed to traffic allowing families and other cyclist to cycle safely past some of London’s most famous landmarks such as Buckingham Palace. Apparently, about 70,000 people took part in the 2016  Freecycle event, in which an eight-mile circuit around central London was closed off to motor traffic. The London Freecycle began in 2013 as one of the legacies of the London Olympics on and every year has attracted more and more cyclists.

Ride London 100 sportive and road race. The London Freecycle is part of a weekend of cycling which includes the Ride London 100 sportive the following day. The route of the Ride London 100 is similar to that of the road race from the Olympics in 2012. Over 27,000 cyclists took part in the sportive and they were then followed by about 200 professional cyclists including Chris Froome in the road race. However, the sportive was marred by 2 serious accidents. This caused huge delays as the road was blocked to allow paramedics treat each accident victim. Some cyclists were stopped for over an hour and the route had to be altered. Even the professional road race was affected and the peloton was stopped for about half an hour. On the Continent, big races such as the Tour of Flanders or Paris – Roubaix often have sportives but they always take place the day before the race and not on the same day. Why this isn’t the case in London, I have no idea but I guess it would cause too much disruption to local businesses to have roads closed for 2 days.


The Cycle Store on the Woodhouse road in Friern Barnet. I had hoped to get to see the Ride London road race but the priority on Sunday was to get my bike fixed. I thought about fitting the derailleur myself  but I needed a vice to straighten the hanger and a chain tool to break the chain. Without the right tools, my only option was to find a bike shop to fit the derailleur. In London, a lot of bike shops are open on Sunday and fortunately, the first shop I called in agreed to fit the derailleur that day. Jonathon, the mechanic in the Cycle Store in Friern Barnet was busy but he said if I called back just before they closed at 4, he would have the derailleur fitted. This was perfect as it gave me enough time to get the Tube to the Evan’s cycle store in Notting Hill to collect a chain and some bar tape I had ordered the day before. I arrived back at the Cycle Store about 3.30 and Jonathon was still working on the bike. I didn’t mind waiting as I was just glad to get the bike fixed. 10 minutes later, the bike was ready. He charged £45 which is a lot for about an hour’s work but I didn’t mind paying because he did such a good job and it had been very short notice. But between the train fares, the cost of the derailleur and then paying for it to be fitted, replacing the gears on my bike ended up costing me about £100.


Tom Boonen wins Ride London on the Mall. With my bike fixed, I thought about heading into London to see the finish of the Ride London road race. But as it was now after 4, I figured the race would probably be over by the time I got to the Mall. So instead, I went back to Barnet and had a lovely dinner of pasta carbonara. The dinner was delicious and never ever having had pasta carbonara before made it even better. After dinner, I had time to fit my new roll of black bar tape to my bike replacing the original white tape, which was very grubby from 7 weeks spent cycling around Europe.


Total distance cycled Sunday evening – 20 km. Total distance cycled so far – 1980 km.  Siobhan had got a call that afternoon from my brother John who was flying back to London from Donegal after attending a funeral. He planned to make it to Enfield around 8 so we agreed to meet up that evening. I could have got a bus but wanted to try out the new gears on my bike so decided to cycle instead. Though as you can see from the map above,  I got a little lost leaving Barnet but soon found the right road and it only took about half an hour to travel the 12 km or so to Enfield.


Domino’s Pizza on the Lancaster road in Enfield.  John was starving when he eventually made it to Enfield so we agreed to go to a nearby Domino’s to get a pizza. John doesn’t normally eat pizza and hadn’t a Domino’s Pizza in the last 10 years, so was looking forward to getting one. But after waiting almost half an hour, the pizza tasted off plastic and he had trouble eating it. I wasn’t hungry as I was just after a big dinner of pasta carbonara but tried a slice and had to agree, it tasted terrible. Having had about 6 pizzas in France in the last few weeks all of them delicious, it was a shock to get such a poor pizza from such a well known brand. But after staying about another hour with John, it was starting to get dark so I borrowed one of his reflective vests and headed back to Barnet.


Total cycled on Monday morning – 20 km. Total cycled so far – 2000 km . I was up about 4 o’clock so as to get everything packed onto Travoy. It was around 5.30 when I got away and about 7 when I arrived at Euston. There was very little traffic at that time of the morning so it was a lovely cycle into town especially now my gears had been fixed.


Rail Sail from London to Dublin. There is a train around 7.30 from Euston to Holyhead but you have to change in Crewe so I asked for a ticket on the 08.10 Rail Sail train which goes direct to Holyhead. There was no nonsense about booking a bike 2 hours in advance like on South Western Rail and I was issued a ticket for myself and the bike no bother. There is no extra charge for the bike but you have to pay another £10 when you arrive at Holyhead to take the bike on the ferry.

Train from Euston to Holyhead. There is only space for 4 bikes in the bike carriage but fortunately, there were only 2 other cyclists on the train and they both got off at Bangor. The train arrived in Holyhead around mid-day with only about 20 people still on board.  I had been worried that there would have been a lot of Irish cyclists in The Ride London sportive and that they would be returning to Dublin the next morning by train. But I was the only cyclist who was going the whole way to Holyhead on the 08.10 train though I did later meet a cyclist on the ferry who got the 09.10 train and had been in the Ride London.


Ferry terminal in Holyhead is right beside the train station. Many years ago, I remember having to walk about 1 km from the ferry terminal to the train station in the middle of the night. However, about 20 years ago, the ferry terminal was redeveloped and integrated into the train station.  At the ferry terminal, I met up with my sister who had spent the week-end visiting a friend in Preston and was getting the same boat back to Dublin. I hadn’t seen her since we had said goodbye at Beauvais airport 2 weeks earlier. So it was great to catch up with all the news from home.

Queuing up to get on the ferry.  There were hundreds of cars queuing up to get on the ferry. Surprisingly, most of the reg numbers were from the UK and there were as many continental number plates as there were Irish number plates. With it being a Monday, there were very few Irish cars returning from their holiday. Had it been a Friday or Saturday, then there would probably have been mostly Irish registered vehicles. The pick of the vehicles was a Rolls Royce on a trailer. It had an old style number plate but I am not expert enough to know if it was an old style English or Irish plate.


Irish Ferries boat, the Ulysses docked at Dublin. We arrived in Dublin on Irish Ferries flagship boat, the Ulysses, more or less on time at around 17.30. Karen had taken a chance leaving her bike at the ferry terminal all weekend but it was still there when she went to collect it.


Total cycled Monday evening – 10 km. Total cycled so far – 2010 km. It is only a short distance from the ferry terminal in Dublin port to Karen’s house in Phibsboro. When we arrived, Dan and the kids were making pasta carbonara for dinner. This was funny as unbeknownst to anyone in Dublin I had had pasta carbonara for dinner in London the evening before at Siobhan’s house. I never had eat pasta carbonara in my life before and here I was eating it for 2 dinners in a row. It was delicious and the perfect way to finish off what had been a hectic day.


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