London to Istanbul – stage one

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.

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In praise of… Gifting

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. 

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A Greek Holiday

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.

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Letter From Albania

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.

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Making Hay While The Sun Shines

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.

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Into The Clouds

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.

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In The Beginning

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.

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8 easy to use Route Planning and Mapping Software apps

Maps and Apps

Finding one’s way around on a bike is one of those tricky things that every cyclist needs to master. Back in the days before the internet, GPS and smartphones the only options we would have had would have been to either be very good at navigating or carry paper maps with us. Indeed, to a lot of people that is still the case (and it can be a much more reliable way of navigating when out of battery or signal reception). One invention that didn’t quite catch on back in the 1950s was a map that you wore like a wristwatch.

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Part 15: Home

Zagreb was eerie and quiet, It’s Sunday morning. We park our bikes against a wall, take stock on our losses and figure out where to stay the night. We’re amazed by how thoroughly the thieves have gone through our stuff, right under our noses. They’d even taken care to remove cash from our wallets then carefully place them back in our bags. We’d been fleeced good and proper. We carry on looking. Phone, cammera, yep, gone. They’d even taken Jim’s jeans. We were livid, scratching our heads in bewilderment, how didn’t we wake up? Did they really gas our cabin? The truth is we’ll never know but we arrived in Zagreb feeling pretty down about it all. The weather had taken a sudden winter-ward snap. The cold fog was sucking the life out of us as we sat dejected on the pavement.

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