Late on Wednesday afternoon of the twenty eighth of July, at Noi Bai International Airport, there was a large cardboard box, crumpled and open along one edge with bits of sticky tape torn and ripped protruding in all directions. My bike had arrived safely from Istanbul. Thank you Qatar Airways.
Greetings from Hanoi!
You may well l ask how the heck did I get from London to Vietnam so quickly? Allow me to explain. After 56 days, 5 hours and 27 minutes in the saddle, 357 litres of water and 124 bowls of pasta I arrived in Istanbul. For those of you interested in statistics, here’s a few for you; I’ve cycled 4,554km crossed eleven countries and it’s taken 70 days including 14 rest days, some of which were leisurely, some more city break. I’m seven kilos lighter, two inches taller and I’ve grown a beard.
Five weeks ago in a sleepy Greek town just outside Thessaloniki a guy gestured me over to his white van. “Wo kommst du?” Says he, holding out his hand to be shaken. England, says I, shaking the proffered mitt. “Have a coffee on me” he urged, driving off hurriedly. I step back to the pavement to find a neatly folded 20 euro note in my palm. Generous thinks I, very generous.
Set against the context of the looming economic crisis and the yet be voted on referendum; this was a rare act of kindness made all the more poignant since a Greek bank will issue only 50 euro cash each day, causing long queues and minor inconvenience to account holders across the nation.
Obviously this was a very happy moment; as was the eating of the cake and icecream I purchased with the cash. If you have the chance sometime to give a little, do it, you’ll make someone’s day.
Leaving Tirana I headed once again for the coast; the lure of simple navigation, keeping the ocean to the right hand side, the relative ease of camping on the beach; the guarantee of a swim morning, noon and evening and the promise of boundless sunsets made for an easy choice.
It was three o’clock in the after noon when Alan and I crossed the border at Koptik to pass from Montenegro to Albania. We had just cycled what I believe to be the finest road since departing the UK. After a relaxed lunch on the beach at Petrovac we began a two and a half hour ascent from the coast into the clouds of the searing hot mountainside.
Having crossed the Alps in some pretty cold weather Kyle and I agreed to spend a few days at Lake Bled to rest our legs and enjoy the scenery. Slovenia is a very beautiful country and Lake Bled is the centre of attention, popular with tourists from across the globe. We arrived on Friday evening to a busy lake and expensive campsite. Chatting with a few folks on the grass down by the water we learned that the hostel over in town would cost less and provide much more. So with our new friends Lauren and Kendall we set off to check in at the Castle 1004 hostel. Continue reading
Living with the weather is as much a part of the challenge as any other aspect of a world cycle. Your waking hours are spent in it, your movements can be determenined by it and your sleep can be disturbed by it. The weather is your everything. Obvious as this may sound, the last few days have been a stark reminder that on a long trip you really need to be prepared for the worst and ready for anything.
The first ever Cycle Touring Festival took place at Waddow Hall in Clitheroe, Lancashire on May 1 – 3. Organised by , with a bit of help from husband , the event was designed to celebrate all things cycle touring. During the weekend there were talks by recently returned cyclists such as the lovely who specialise in Peru and the Puna in South America. There were various workshops with Q&A sessions including my particular fave Yoga for Cyclists. All this was interspersed with plenty of tea and cake, set in a beautiful part of Lancashire.The first ever Cycle Touring Festival took place at Waddow Hall in Clitheroe, Lancashire on May 1 – 3. Continue reading
At length, I finally made it to the boat. What a week. Since leaving the family home from the Village in sleepy rural Staffordshire on a fully laden bicycle it feels more like I’ve been riding a rollercoaster than a bike. I’ve toasted friends’ birthdays, drank endless cups of tea with Grandmothers and conversed with World cyclists. I’ve not even left the country and I’ve already been gifted numerous meals, stayed with a wonderful couple in Rawdon (thanks Dave & Sue) and been loaded up with more cake than you can shake a stick at. People are lovely. I feel blessed.
For our first day ride of the year we set our sights on an easterly journey of just over 70km, destination – Southend on Sea. An early start was always going to be a relative concept given Ade’s proximity to the brewery (Ade is the Ops guy at Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick) so at length I arrived at the Peanut Factory (Ade’s house) at a leisurely 10am. The few miles cruise down from Highams Park some of the best of the day. Joggers jogged, teams assembled on the playing fields poised for imminent battle and cyclists in great numbers headed out in the opposite direction bound for Epping Forest.