Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Remembrance Day

11 November, 11am. London.

I am standing in the Merchant Navy memorial gardens near Tower Hill in London.
The wind is blustery, red-orange leaves fall from the trees around us, breaking the silence that is being observed.

My mind went back to my bike trip around Europe, and in particular to the Menin gate in Ypres and the surrounding fields in Belgium.
When I cycled through the area with my friend Richard, we couldn't believe the sheer number of military graves that dotted the countryside, and struggled to come to terms with the immense amount of lives lost in WW1, in that area alone.

In the days following Richard's return to London, I often found myself trying to imagine what life must have been like, living in the carnage, living around Death. I don't think I even came close to the reality.
I would stop, rest my bike against a tree or fence, and just sit and look, letting my mind wander, gazing over thousands upon thousands of white gravestones, and the poppies that grew among them.

While riding in the region I did pick a bright red poppy and placed it in my handlebar bag, to remind me not only of the blood-loss and the life-loss, but also of the sacrifice that every single person made for us, to enable us to live the life we have today.

In freedom.

The bugle starts up again, playing the Reveille, and brings me back to London; to a blustery day, to red-orange leaves falling like blood from the trees.

I remembered them.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Days 24-27: a summary

Day 24. Meerbusch - Wissel (95.4 km)
Up early this morning to beat the wind that had been forecast. The route was mostly along the flood wall between the Rhine and the interior, so was quite exposed to the (head)wind. Legs didn't want to get going and I struggled through to lunch like that.
Lunch was at a small restaurant in
Rheinberg: Spaghetti and chicken, with salad and a beer.
My legs finally started working after lunch and the day started to warm up.
The campsite in Wissel was massive, much like a small town, but I think there were only about 4 people in it.
Had a quiet night watching the stars.

Day 25. Wissel - Enspijk (114 km)
Another day riding into a headwind along the Rhine. Met a few people who took it upon themselves to see that I made it through the navigational spaghetti that the Rhine path threw u
p occasionally. Unknown to me, the path took some crazy dips and turns while the map showed a straight line. One elderly gentleman explained to me at length the complexities of one particular corner and how I could not afford to miss it. All in German. While SHOUTING!
I understood the jist of what he was saying and safely got through.
Another man rode with me for a few km's, pointing out all the bridges and signs and then, in the middle of a field, stopped, turned around and went home!
The campsite was even bigger than the one in Wissel the previous night. Loads of trailers and astroturf lawns, caravans and white picket fences. Little yappy dogs on long leads. Mobility scooters.
No tents.
Except mine.
The restaurant was closed so it was McDonald's for dinner...

Day 26. Enspijk - Hook van Holland (109 km)
Potentially the last day today.
The first half of the day wound through beautiful countryside, small villages and winding waterways.
The headwind was with me all day, softer at first but as I got closer to Rotterdam and the Hook of Holland, it strengthened. The clouds got heavier and lower and made the last few km's quite hard-going.
From Rotterdam to the Hook of Holland, the scenery is mostly dockyards, shipping containers and quite ugly. I think there are over 8000 different ports on this stretch of the Rhine/Waal/Lek (the name changes quite often)!
I was tiring quite a bit today, I was hungry when there wasn't any food about, I wasn't hungry when it was there - my body was suffering as a result. I just wanted to stop and sit and eat and do nothing!
As I neared the ferry I started trying to get a plan of action together: book ferry ticket tonight, go to campsite, have dinner, sleep.
Catching the ferry in the morning without worrying about the ticket was the plan, but when I was in the ticket hall at the ferry port, the clerk asked if I knew what the weather was about to do.
I said no, but could see that it was getting darker and had now started to rain.
The weather was about to get much worse, so I inquired about a ticket back to the UK that same night, leaving all plans of camping on the beach in the bin, along with a Clif bar wrapper.
On the ferry, the shower was amazingly hot and satisfying, the beer at the bar thirst-quenching and the food somewhat OK.
Sleep arrived on time. I don't think I had any dreams that night.

Day 27. Harwich - Home
A gentle bump stirred me awake, then the blaring PA announcement made sure there was no chance of going back to sleep.
We were back in the UK, in Harwich.
My trip was over.
I caught the train back to London, looking at the "smiling, happy people" confined to suits and ties, heading into work.
I knew then that what I had just finished was something special.

I felt free and relaxed and unburdened.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Days 16-23: a summary

Day 16. Landsberg-Am-Lech - Donauworth (98.3 km)
Another hot day today (36C), but the air feels cooler and cleaner following last nights thunder and rain.
Today was mostly flat and slightly downhill on average, following the river Lech.
Had a lovely swim in the river pre-lunch, clothing is very much optional in this part of the world. Lunch and shade in Augsburg - there is no breeze today, the air is still and the sun is baking.
On the way into Donauworth, a question from my elbow asked where I was heading. The ques
tion turned out to come from a man on a bike, who was heading to the local canoe club for a beer - he told me to follow him as I could camp on the lawn at the club.
He lead me into town, and then told me what route to take tomorrow, as it included some lovely castles.
(I keep getting this very useful information from people, without prompt.)
The campsite was cheap, the beers cheaper, and the company at the club amazing. One man was rowing a (tiny) boat back to Munich over the next 2 months, and two others where cycling to Austria.
The "Sous Afrika" got asked loads of questions about home, and got told many stories about their respective travels to Johannesburg in the mid-70s, looking for work.
The thunder clouds grew, the thunder rumbled and then the evening cleared, giving way to the killer mozzies waiting to devour you. Into the tent and batten down the hatches.

Day 17. Donauworth - Nordlingen (31 km)
The rain came early this morning, and it poured! The tent did its job but I was wide awake at 0537. The drumming of the rain on the flysheet was deafening.
Then the thunder and lightning started!
I have never been that frightened of lightning in my life, I normally enjoy a good thunder and lightning storm, but this was the closest I have ever been to being struck. My entire tent lit up in a bright flash, I started counting to work out how far away the strikes were. I had barely completed 'one-thous...' when the thunder rolled out, telling me the strike was about 200-300m away!
Frightening and exciting at the same time.
The rain continued to come down, but started to ease. I packed up my tent and moved all the wet gear under the canoe club where I could hang it. I had decided to hold off on my departure until the rain eased, giving me time to explore Donauworth and dry my gear as well.

I eventually left at lunchtime, by which time the rain had stopped but started again when I got to Harburg.
It proceeded to rain all the way to Nordlingen; cold, wet and windy it was. No campsite in town, stayed at the JUTA hostel (pricey), but the hot shower and good beers were worth it.
Met some Aussies at the bar, who were doing a similar route to mine, but going south as I was heading north.

Day 18. Nordlingen - Dorfgutingen (62 km)
Said goodbye to the Aussies at breakfast and headed out of town this morning after doing doing a lap of the walls surrounding Nordlingen. Met up with 3 Germans heading north as well, and was soon included in the group. We talked about bicycles, my Surly, their route, my route, and the surrounding countryside.
Ali (Alexander), Thomas and Yoshi had taken 5 days off work, left the wives and kids at home, and were exploring the countryside, wild camping each night. The route they were taking was well off the beaten track, so we saw deer in the woods, raced downhill 4 abreast, whooping as we went, and slogged uphill, discussing the demise of the local brewery. We stopped for beers (too) early in the day, had a hot 3-course lunch with more beer, and landed up spending the n
ight outside, but under a roof, next to a lake/dam in Dorfgutingen. The company was brilliant, as was dinner: diced sausages cooked in beer, eaten with mustard and rolls. Bacteria-wurst*. Amazing!!

* Sausages had to be cooked and eaten as they had been bought the day before, and had not been kept cool. Beer and heat to kill any germs.

Day 19. Dorfgutingen - Crailsheim (33 km) - Frankfurt (by train)
Blink. Blink blink.
Eyes open.
The first thing I saw today was a tiny frog, like nail on index finger tiny, hopping around just in front of my face.
Breakfast at camp then more breakfast at the local petrol station - pastries and tea.The McEttite is loving this.Know I need to get back on track today, and head towards the Rhine, options are to ride half day and train the rest, or train first thing and then ride the rest of the day. I went for the first option and rode with the boys until midday, where we had lunch in Wallhausen, and parted ways. I headed to Crailsheim to catch a train to Frankfurt, while they headed north to find a river trail which headed into Crailsheim as well.
The train journey was 3.5 hours long, and went through some amazing countryside. Lakes and forests and hills and valleys, castles and churches dotted the route, and before I knew it I was in Frankfurt and booking into a hostel for the night.
No further exploring. Had a shower, dinner, a beer then went to bed.

Day 20. Frankfurt - Koblenz (144 km)
Motivated today. I am back on track. A generally flat, albeit long, day ahead of me.
Up and out early to beat the heat. The river was my companion for most of the day as I wound my way westwards. Stopped for cheesecake and beer for a quick, mid-morning refuel and was soon on my way towards Koblenz.

Day 21. Koblenz - Cologne ( km)
Ashley arrived this evening for the weekend, in the middle of yet another thunderstorm, and we checked to our very cosy B'nB.
Had Portugese for dinner, good food and wine.

Day 22. Rest day.
Another hot day. Mooched around Cologne, had a massage and a swim at a nearby spa.
Headed into town for beers and food, and we weren't disappointed.
Live music, hen and stag parties in abundance, beer halls and good sunshine did a good job of taking my mind off the road and bike

Day 23. Half day rest. Cologne - Meerbusch (65 km)
Ashley headed back to London today and I had a quick, and uneventful, ride along the Rhine, passed Dusseldorf, to Meerbusch.
Once again I missed the entry cutoff to the campsite (6pm in this case), so pitched next to another group of cyclists. The weather looked menacing but I had been reliably informed that if an easterly wind blows, you will get rain. Tonight it was a westerly. Phew.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Days 10-15: a summary

Day 10. Zurich. Rest Day (15 km light ride)
Schwarzenbach, Zurich
Slept the same as previous nights, not too deeply but woke well rested. Used a foam roller on my thighs in an attempt to loosen them up - ouch!
Cycled into town from Jan's house and walked around town, generally being quite lazy today.
Spent the afternoon reading at the local swimming pool. Dinner was locally-sourced ham, homemade breadrolls, Swiss wine and homemade ice-cream.
Feeling very relaxed at the end of it all

Day 11. Zurich - Walensee (89 km)
Jan, my Zurich host, warned me that the temperatures would be rising this week, and this morning was the start of it. Luckily s
pent most of the day riding along the shore of Lake Zurich, but by lunchtime the heat was kicking in properly.
Beautiful scenery and campsite location not bad either. Not many people camping, but mozzies
out in force again. Nice sunset but missed the full moon, was asleep.
Went over the 1000 km mark today,  1011.6 km so far.

Day 12. Walensee - Lindau (92 km)
Hotter day than yesterday, stopped at Sargans castle before heading up the Rhine valley towards Austria and Lichtenstein.
A proper headwind was blowing and did I mention that it was hot? Jeepers.
Had lunch in the shade on the Austrian border and got an email from dad saying that his dad had worked in Varduz for a time, before heading to South Africa.
Lindau lake shore
Quite a boring stint on the Rhine today, nice mountains to look at, but not much else of interest.
Decided not to do a Cat 1 climb into the mountains, but instead opted for the beach and a swim in Lake Konstanz. Long weekend so campsite was absolutely rammed! Cycled into Lindau for dinner, saw another amazing sunset and came back to camp for another swim.

Day 13. Lindau - Fussen (103 km)
Tea and maps
Hotter day than yesterday, which was hotter than th
e day before. I am getting used to the heat now, but it is still energy sapping. Drinking loads of water.
Left campsite and went straight up a wall to the top of Eichenberg, which site close to 1000m above sea level. Sweat pouring off me on the climb, and it was only 0930!
Stopped at the top to admire the view, and to drink water, and was promptly invited to have a cup of tea by some locals.
I gladly said yes and was soon seated in the shade drinking tea and talking about Cape Town. I also got a map from them, which gave me some nice options for the day.
I left them and was soon rolling up and down the alpine foothills that reside in the region. Didn't have my climbing legs with me today, which was a shame, as there was heaps of it to be done. I walked a few climbs today, my legs just not having it, but I eventually made it to Fussen.
I left camp at 9am and arrived in Fussen at 9.30pm!
My longest day so far and another VERY FULL campsite.
Stats show that I climbed 1968m today.

Day 14. Fussen - Landsberg-am-Lech (73 km)
Interesting fact: Hitler was in prison here for a time.
Another hot day, and very tired legs from yesterday's climbing. Landsberg looked good on the map, so a shorter day was on the cards, with tomorrow being a rest day.
Stopped for lunch in Schongau, had a nice Schnitzel in corn flakes. Slightly rolling day on the road, but nothing compared to yesterday. Legs seem conditioned but are still very heavy on big efforts. rode most of the day along the Lech river and watched massive thunderclouds building all around me. Humidity is rising and the mozzies are back, braver too, as they are biting me while I am still moving! They got so bad I had to eat dinner in the tent.
The route I am currently on is called the "Romantic Strasse" and includes some of the oldest, and best preserved, towns and villages and castles in Germany. It runs from Fussen in the south to Wurzburg in the north.

Day 15. Landsberg-am-Lech. Rest day.
Rest days. I love rest days. Especially when they are nice and hot and windless.
I was at the local pool before 10am, paid my 4 euro entry for the day and was soon in the water.
It is quite nice to have no pressure to get on the bike, and to just laze about instead.
Have said I would sort out my Jekyll and Hyde pedals (they are dry and squeak when I clip into them, but only ever on one side of the pedal, spinning to the other side sorts the issue, they need lube) but that can wait, this pool and beach is too good. As is the book I am reading.
Watched the Champions League Final in an Italian bar, rain and thunder and lightning crashing outside.
Cycled back to the tent in a gap in the rain and watched a spectacular lightning storm from my tent.

Days 16-end coming soon...

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

An update from the road

It's has been an interesting past few weeks, and there has been so much seen and done and eaten and drunk.
I have met English, Australian, German, Swiss people on the road, and have enjoyed each meeting as they have come with the added value of helping each other at times.

First was the German, who appeared and disappeared in the same fashion - quickly and quietly. He told me not to take the 
main road to Koblenz, but instead directed me towards a quieter and more scenic route. "You will share the road with motorbikes only ". Which I did.
Maps and tea
Flowing streams, bird song and wind in trees for 25km downhill, passed only a few times by motorbikes. What a suggestion.

A few days ‎layer, as I was ascending from Lindau on Lake Konstanz to Eichenberg, I heard brass band music coming from around the corner. I stopped at the top of the climb (+-800m) and some locals explained that this was a high catholic holiday and that each town will have similar celebrations throughout the day. They then said I was having tea with them, which I did. Maps and sweets and chocolate come my way, as did their stories of their time spent in Cape Town. They sent me on my way with good wishes and a good map.

Thomas, Ali and Yoshi  -great company
This week I met 3 Germans on my way out of Nördlingen, who, like me, had spent the night in the YUTA hostel, drying out and warming up. The previous day had been crazy, lightning overhead, heavy rain and a cold wind. We got talking about Surly, and my route and why they were doing their ride.
They had 4 days off, and each year had gone cycling somewhere. I had met them on day 3 and stayed with them in a random shelter in the middle of nowhere. Beer stops every hour were required (with cigarettes). UK was nice to have company and local knowledge while riding through some pretty amazing countryside.

In Nördlingen as well, at the same hostel, I overheard some Aussies talking about their day, and where they were likely to be heading tomorrow. The guys were both wearing their green jackets, and we soon got talking about where we had been and where we were going, all the while being fed bread and cheese and cucumber.
I was heading north, they were heading south, along the same route, so we exchanged notes and set off. (I hope all goes well with the rent of the trip).

I have just parted ways with the Germans. They needed to go back home tonight, so I am now on a train to Frankfurt ‎in order to launch my assault on the Rhine tomorrow, heading up toward Köln for the weekend. 

As always, this is just a brief overview of what has been happening on the road‎, more stories will be told in the near future.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Days 1-9: a summary

As I lie on my inflatable mattress listening to water tumble over rocks and bird song fill the air, I thought I would give you a brief summary of the past few days.
Here goes.

Day 1 started in Calais, France, in the damp rain/mist. Richard and I were heading for Ypres in Belgium. And got there.
By lunchtime the crosswinds had simmered down and the rain/drizzle started to ease, and when we crossed into Belgium the sun came out, which made our entrance into Ypres that much better.
We watched the last post being performed in the Mennin Gate memorial. No waffles were had but beer and steak was consumed.

Day 2‎ was a cracker weather-wise, light breeze, sunny and 26C. Richard and I mostly followed the river south towards Frasnoy. The Detour de Jour was off a beautiful stretch of road onto some original cobbles, or pavé, as seen in the cycling classics. Was a long day, 120Km.
Mussels and chips and coke for lunch.

Day 3. Ashley, Richard and Victoria left me today to head home. Thank you for the company folks.
This is were the real game begins Kevin!
Rolling day through the Ardennes, 123km in 6 hours, 1200m of climbing. Loved the tailwind. Original destination had nothing open due to public holiday, so rode onto Charleville-Mezieres and tucked into (the tail-end of) the local beer festival. Another beautiful, fortified town.

Day 4‎. 1100m of climbing. Tough day on the bike, never warmed up even with the sun shining. Air was cold too. Felt sick with flu.

Detour de Journey was through Brandeville en route to Verdun - what a find! Painted pillboxes, fresh water, clean and quiet forests, and a great descent. And farting cows.
Saw lots of WW1 military cemeteries ‎and saw a couple of jets buzz overhead, must be a military airforce base close by. 
The citadel of Verdun is HUGE. 

Day 5. Struggled to get up and go today, head wasn't in it. Was even colder last night and body felt miserable. Managed to get going and as I got closer to Metz, the day warmed and the legs felt better. Detour de jour was along the Meuse river, single track, past a naked swimmer. The climb to the campsite in Nancy could/should be included in the Tour de France - 15 minutes in donkey gear at 5 km/h. Nice campsite and sunset as a reward.

Baguettes eaten: 3

Day 6. Nancy - Celles-sur-Plaine (82.3 km) Legs feeling tired and knotty today. Two pain au chocolat for brekkie as well as the usual cereal and water. Hot day today with constant crosswinds, stopped in Saint-Clement for lunch. A quiet town in a string of quiet towns encountered today. The road finally turned north in the last 15km, providing me with a nice tailwind all the way to the campsite.
Only one in the campsite, apart from the killer mozzies, a suspicious-looking cat and some birds.
Ravioli and peaches for dinner, not mixed. Church bell in town rang every 15 minutes.
Detour de jour was along a canal path over a waterfall and through shoulder-high grass, I don't think this path is used that often. Nice rain during the night.

just tasty

Baguettes eaten: 5

Day 7. Celles-sur-Plaine - Colmar (102.5 km) Legs felt good this morning, which is a good thing as the road went straight uphill from the start. Overcast and humid, with a tailwind.
Lots of climbing today, which meant lots of sweating,
which in turn attracts lots of little bugs. Beginning to think I am a magnet for all insects on the road.
Descending into the Rhine valley was amazing, looked across to see the Black Forest hills/mountains looming. They can wait until tomorrow.
Campsite was noisy (next to the highway), but Colmar old town is amazing. Old and Germanic, beautiful to walk around.
Lots of agriculture everywhere - barley, wheat, vegetable crops, cattle and vineyards. And castles on the hills.

Day 8. Colmar - Schluchsee (96.7 km) Left France, entered Germany.
Today went like this.
Pedal uphill. Repeat.
Over 1500m (5000 ft) of climbing today, the road just kept on going uphill. First day I didn't make my destination. Overcast day and my body never warmed up. Was cold the entire day, and as I climbed higher the air got colder. Misread the map at the top of the climb, and rode 10 km the wrong way around the lake (Schluchsee). Met a guy on a bike coming in the opposite direction and asked him where the campsite was. "It's on the other side of the see" he said, pointing to the exact point I had started my detour from. He then said to follow him and disappeared in a cloud of dust.
You are probably wondering how an elderly gentleman is so fast on a bike.
E-bikes. My first encounter. (I would grow to despise them.)

He came back to fetch me and pointed out the little engine nestled above his bottom bracket, and then apologised for racing away. I think a little bit of me died when I saw how effortlessly he rode the same path as me. He got me to camp safely though and then headed home, 40 km away!
Dinner went down clapping hands.

Day 9. Schluchsee - Zurich (90.1 km)
Quite glad I stayed in Schluchsee, my original destination, Hausern, had no camping facilities.
pretty big wood pile
When looking for a nice route down to Koblenz, a cyclist appeared at my elbow and asked where I was headed. He tutted and scratched his chin and then suggested another route to me, before turning and heading off in the opposite direction. "Take ze Alb river road, is gud. You alone und no cars." He wasn't wrong.
This was by far the best road I had ridden so far on this tour, 25 km of downhill, accompanied only by the sounds of a bubbling and gurgling river and birdsong in the trees.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Feeling lucky

I am feeling two things at the moment. The first is the fact that tomorrow I will be cycling in Europe, and will be doing so for a month.
The second is the feeling of a nasty cold invading my body.

In less than 24 hours, I will be on my loaded bike, actually doing what I have spent years thinking about, and the last few months planning for. I am excited, nervous and stressed, but the best feeling is how fortunate I am to have this opportunity to make a dream a reality.

Quite often we talk about things we would like to do, and usually assign them to a mental list to be done 'one day'.
A few years back I wanted to do this trip, but lack of planning and timing and possibly a few other things got in the way, and the dream never took form. I had told everyone that I was doing this trip, talked a good game, explained everything I wanted to do, and then let them all down by not doing the trip.

The feeling that I had let my friends, as well as myself, down stuck with me and continued to nag me over the years. I decided to dust off the original plans, freshen them up a bit with new locations and commit to completing this this year.
Work was kind enough to give me the required time off, and motivation from colleagues and fellow travelers fueled the fire.

A lot of time has been spent looking at maps, finding interesting places to visit and mountains to climb. A similar amount of time has been spent dreaming about actually being in the places I have only seen either online or in 2D on a map.

Tomorrow the 3D version is released.

Feeling lucky.
Woop woop.

Friday, 15 May 2015

The final week

It is now 1 week until departure, and there is still loads to do before I can walk out of my front door and know that I have everything packed and organised.

The list of things that needs to be completed is as follows:

  • finalise route
  • load maps/route onto Garmin
  • track my compression sacks (apparently en route from China)
  • clean bike
  • make sure everything fits into the panniers
  • get a bike rack for the car
  • make sure both bikes fit nicely on said rack
  • get Euros
I am sure there are things I am missing, but that will have to do for now.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Loaded Surly

I took Surly out for a little ride yesterday to see how she handled under load.
The verdict. She loves it.
The bags weren't as heavy as they are going  to be in a few weeks time but she certainly performed as expected; comfortable in a straight line. Cornering under load changes the handling somewhat, but that was expected and is nothing that I cannot get used to.

Taking her for a ride also identifies all the little rattles and noises that she is going to be making for a month. I will need to get those silenced before I leave.
The list of things that need completing grows.

Music to keep the pedals turning

This is your chance to have some impact on my ride.
What I would like to do in the coming weeks is compile a playlist containing music that is completely submitted by you.
I need music with beats serious enough to get me over 1700m-plus mountains, I need music that will make the long roads shorten, and I need new music in order to update my iPod, as I think it has remained in the 90s!

Leave your recommended track(s), with a link to the video if possible, in the comments below, and I will make sure that it gets added to the playlist.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Packing, or preparing to pack

The bike is ready to roll, now comes the time to put all the bags on it and complete the puzzle that is planning a bike trip.
I will be riding with 2 rear panniers, 2 front panniers and a bar bag - all Ortlieb and all gaping at me like young birds waiting to be fed.
I have read that the weight balance between front and rear racks should ideally be split 40/60, and that each side of the bike should weigh the same in order to keep the bike stable.

With 1 month to go, I need to start getting my gear lined up, weed out the unrequired items of clothing, and get a basic idea of what I am going to be carrying.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Dates decided

Dates have been decided for my trip.
I will be cycling from 23 May until 21 June this year, initially accompanied by @Dyk2van and Richard Lea-Cox.
Come and find me in Europe.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Little tumbles

It's funny how a little bout of snowboarding in Italy can have such a detrimental impact on cycling and getting fit?
I took a (very low speed) tumble a few weeks back, landing on my left bum cheek and left hand, as I was entering the chair-lift area.
I felt the pain in my leg, the impact being no worse than on the other tumbles I had taken during the week, but there was something different about this one. The pain was sharp.
I got back to my feet, took my place on the chair-lift and finished off my run – handing in my board at the bottom.
By now walking was becoming tough.
I didn't sleep much that night and travelled back to London the following day, having trouble standing, sitting and pretty much everything else!
It has now been 2 weeks since the fall. The bruising has almost gone and the swelling has gone altogether, but I am yet to get on the bike and try cycling.
All the hard riding done through the winter months has come to nought and I feel quite weak, but am dying to remount the Surly and head out again.
Who knows, might be riding by the end of the week?

UPDATE: The injury turns out to be a partially torn hamstring.
19/04/15 - UPDATE on the UPDATE: The torn hamstring is not a torn hamstring. Results from an MRI show no damage, only inflammation surrounding the top of the hamstring. Meds and physio should resolve the issue once and for all.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Plans - where to go, and when?

Cycling in Europe has been a goal of mine ever since I started watching the Giro d'Italia and Le Tour from a young age.
I now have the option of doing just that, and am wondering on just where to start - departing from London, do I train/ferry to Calais/Rotterdam and just go from there?
Which way do I go? Which countries and cities to see?
Can I wild camp?

Spring seems like a logical time to start this, the last of the snow is melting and the sun is starting to thaw western Europe.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

equipment upgrade

since Christmas my bank balance has been dropping and the gear on my bike improving.
it has been slow going, waiting patiently for each payday to pass in order to buy the next item on my wish-list.
my latest extravagance is a dynamo hub on the front wheel, and a set of Busch and Muller lights with USB connectivity (for powering things like a phone/gps/ipod)
i have yet to set it all up and test it, but the guys at brixton cycles have been amazing in helping me choose parts, and have done a grand job in getting Surly looking quite sharp.

Rear panniers, front panniers, bar bag, dynamo hub, front and rear lights, garmin gps.

what's next to purchase/install?