With the booking out the way we had a week before the off and the trail of emails and phone calls died away. So much so that after a couple of days of eerie radio silence it became both a bit worrying and a bit of a game to see who would crack first. In fact that honour went to Duncan who called me on the Friday night as I was on the train to Penzance, but even Hugh had started to wonder whether it was all a prank and he was about to embark on a slightly surprising solo trip.
Since I booked my train tickets late it turned out that the cheapest option was in fact the first class carriage, not such a bad result for a lengthy journey. Biking and first class are not common combinations, something made obvious when the train rolled in and the bike compartment was located at the other end of the train to my seat. Compound this with the fact that taking my bags and tool bottle off my bike meant waddling down a dozen carriages became an elbow knocking certainty. When I finally arrived a little flustered in the first class restaurant car looking a bit lost the scathing looks I received from the well heeled customers would have warmed the coldest of days. I assume they noticed that I was using Waitrose plastic bags at least and gave me a little leeway to pass through into the first class area.
Finally comfortably seated and through my second free cup of tea I started to read some of my book - Sherlock Holmes. Inspired by his insight I thought I'd see what I could deduce from the world around me. Fact one: on the way into the carriage the chap behind my seat glanced significantly at my cycling shoes. Deduction one: also a cyclist, something confirmed when he later walked by in cycling shorts. Fact two: when booking the YHA in Penzance the owner had mentioned that two brothers were meeting their mother and would be traveling down on the same train. Fact three: my cycling companion behind me had a male traveling partner, to judge from the tone of voice. Deduction two: a pair of brothers lovingly heading down to meet their mother. Fact four: a complaint of recent mosquito bites. Shaky deduction three: recent traveling to foreign climates, perhaps for an extended period of time given the impending reunion with their mother, perhaps the lack of a father indicating some strife in the family. Shakier deduction four: two brothers thrown out of the family for some unforgivable transgression, they seek their way in the world and spend time traveling. Years after the tempestuous fathers health begins to fail and he starts to relent a little and the mother organises an initial meeting in Cornwall. The pair of brothers, still wary of their father, are anxious to ensure a quick getaway in case of trouble pack bikes and refuse to accept any grander accommodation that the local YHA. With that mystery solved I stepped off the train and strolled up the platform at which point I saw an entirely different pair of young lads in matching waterproofs receiving a warm motherly embrace - so much for my Sherlock rating.
First impressions count. Walking through the streets pushing a bike in the rain at kicking out time watching the odd fight start is not the best but this is how Penzance introduced itself. By the time I had followed the matching brothers to the hostel I was in full waterproof gear from head to toe and still feeling worryingly damp. On the up side I found my key in the fire box outside the door - something which I had briefly doubted when the owner had explained it to me - and I eventually found the sheet of paper marking out which dorm I was in. I tried, and failed, to creep into bed without waking people up. However, my stumblings paled in comparison to the three guys who came in after me and immediately turned on their reading lights and crashed around so I didn't feel too bad. It only remained to contemplate the relentless route ahead and why it was so bloody hot in here while optomistically hoping to drift off into a deep sleep.