My first foreign cycling trip was also my first completely solo adventure. Cycling onto the Dover to Calais ferry early one morning and heading across France, over the Swiss alps and onwards to Venice in Italy. It was both incredibly exciting and scary as hell. Not least because I barely spoke any French or Italian. I could order a croissant or beer, say please/thank you and apologise for being English, that seemed like the absolute basics I would need – until inevitably I got a bit stuck.Continue reading
“Are you sure you want to wild camp?” I said, “because after a day in the saddle a shower and a supply of drinking water is quite a nice thing to have”.
“I want to wild camp, this is supposed to be an adventure” said Sarah, my wife.
Everyone has a different focus for a cycling trip. It may be distance, it may be about height gained or epic mountain passes. It may simply be about taking the time to immerse yourself in the landscape and the solitude of being out in it. Watching the sun set and rise and taking time to be out there away from all the home comforts and distractions, instead of rushing to get going all the time. I’ll admit it, I have a tendency to put big miles into my cycle touring days, and can sometimes feel pressured to get the miles in. So this was going to be a very different experience for me.Continue reading
“Welcome to Slovenia!” I thought as the man pulled the rifle from the boot of his car and pointed it straight at me.
“Don’t shoot!” I said as I put my hands up
“Stop right there” he replied in a strong Slovenian accent, turning his gaze towards me for the first time. Continue reading
I was up and out at sun rise, leaving the rented apartment in Dubrovnik (Croatia) and the relaxed holiday atmosphere for a slightly ambitious adventure. My wife had flow out to the start of my bike tour and rented an apartment, making this first day of cycling luggage free, before setting off for real (and fully loaded) tomorrow. We’d made dinner reservations for the evening to make the most of us both being in Croatia, all I had to do was make it back in time. Continue reading
So the Ciro Trail. I’d read a few pieces by newspaper journalists talking of a “new tourist route” and “open air museum”, which all sound intriguing but what is it really like? Can I use a road bike? Are there any facilities? And most importantly what about the landmines? Continue reading
I had this preconceived idea of what bicycle based adventures would be like before I’d even done one. I dreamt of freedom, 100s of miles of beautiful winding back roads and setting up my wild camp as the sun started to set. Before setting off on my first adventure I channeled my enthusiasm into riding a lot, getting fitter; and spent many evenings making my own tent to spend the night in. I wanted to cycle Lands End (South West England) to John O’groats (North East Scotland), and I wanted to do 100 miles a day with wild camping every night (wild camping is not technically legal in England where most of the journey would take place).
I was not adverse to buying a nice lightweight tent, I just couldn’t afford the ones I wanted. All I wanted was a small lightweight tent, something around 1kg. Less material should mean less money, but we all know that’s not how things work; less is often so much more! So whilst I wouldn’t be able to come up with something of professional quality, making it myself would keep it within my tiny budget and I also had a few ideas about saving excess weight, it all made perfect sense at the time. This is the story of the homemade tent, to act as a warning to many and inspiration to the brave – 900 miles with a homemade tent. Continue reading
Cycling the majority of the Wild Atlantic Way, from Cork to the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland. Here are some of the highlights of the 1089 mile journey:
You can’t visit Ireland and not drink a few pints of the black stuff. Apparently it’s for strength and it’s good for you. I drank a few of these along the way and I made it to the end, so it didn’t hinder my progress too much.
The West Coast of Ireland (Wild Atlantic Way), a wild and rugged coastline, battered and eroded by huge waves and driving storms. Littered with islands, lighthouses and wildlife. There is certainly plenty to see here: whales, dolphins, puffins, 20,000 gannets, you can even go looking for Luke Skywalker (I didn’t manage see him on my boat trip to the Skelligs).
The landscape of this coastline has been shaped by its weather, and in my opinion the unpredictability of the weather actually adds something to the excitement of cycling here. Continue reading
There were many things that I worried about in preparation for my 1000+mile cycling trip around Ireland. My trusty Tubus steel rack was looking a little worse for wear after five winters of commuting, so was promptly upgraded to a corrosion resistant titanium one. I had a last minute panic to replace the rear derailleur hours before I set off because it was a bit stiff and not changing properly, an issue that just days ago I thought would be fine with the help of some WD40. Continue reading
There is something special about your first Alpine pass. The moment you experience the scale of the challenge, dwarfing all those local neighbourhood climbs you once feared. Climbing in dense cloud I was oblivious to the scale of the challenge throughout, as I couldn’t see the summit at any point, but that didn’t detract from the experience. This is the story of my first mountain pass, the Sustenpass in Switzerland, a Hors Catégorie climb (“beyond categorization” or incredibly difficult). I should point out that I knew nothing at all about the climb prior to attempting it, it was just in the way, and going around it didn’t look to be an option. Continue reading
Christmas is here and we’re supposed to put our feet up, eat a lot and have a drink or 2. This enforced break from work also gives plenty of time to reflect on your year, and plan for next. A few days of sitting around talking to friends and family and the relaxed mind starts to form new ideas and new challenges. A few drinks with old friends can turn into a sportive/race/challenge recruitment drive followed by a drunken bet and before you know it you’re looking at the cost of flights or ferries and checking out google maps. Welcome the excitement of planning adventures. Continue reading
“Oh you’re heading North? Over the Sognefjellsvegen? Wow, Good luck!” the man said, as I borrowed some change for the showers at the camp site. I’m just over 540km into my journey (not yet half way), and tomorrow I’ll ride the highest mountain pass in Northern Europe. In 36 degree heat; carrying all my camping kit, cooking equipment, food and clothes more suited to typical Norwegian weather than the record breaking temperatures I’m sweltering in. Continue reading