Ready to ride? The answer to that is probably ‘No’ at the moment. Whilst it would be relatively straight-forward to jump on my bike and head off for a week, getting ready to be away for 6 months is proving somewhat more of a challenge.
I am however making some good progress. The to-do list is starting to get shorter rather than longer, this week anyway, and I’ve almost booked my flight to Nordkapp; just some final details around getting my bike on the 3 aeroplanes it takes to get there to sort out. I’ve talked to an agent about renting my house out whilst I’m away, so the mortgage will take care of itself, providing they can find some tenants and I finish sprucing it up and throwing out accumulated junk. Work has approved my sabbatical request (hoorah), I’m getting my touring kit together, and the training is going just about adequately. All in all some good progress.
Trying to get loads of stuff done whilst continuing to do the day job is quite tricky, especially as we’re nearing the end of a big project at work. I mentioned my to do list is going down, however this will only continue as long as I don’t find more tasks to add to it. For example I realised just last week that I might need a few vaccinations for some of the countries I’m intending to visit, or at the very least a Tetanus booster, so I’ve made an appointment with the Travel Clinic. Not sure if I’ll need anything else, however a rabies jab might be a good idea given dogs like chasing bikes. One of the things I worry about is being chased and potentially bitten by dogs, especially in some of the more remote parts of Europe, North Africa and down into Turkey. I might see if I can invest in one of those sonic devices that’s supposed to scare dogs away, or failing that take a few squeaky toys I can throw as distractions!
I keep looking at the map below which I got off the EuroVelo website and dreaming about setting off. All the manic preparation will be worth it and I’ll be able to relax; life is so much simpler on the road.
The map gives a good overview of the countries I’ll be travelling through and the possible route, starting in Nordkapp at the northernmost point of Norway, then down into Finland, on to Sweden, then Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Spain. Once I reach Tarifa in Spain I might have a couple of weeks off and do some windsurfing, as well as nip over to Morocco for an explore, before continuing along the Mediterranean coast through France, northern Italy, Slovenia, then route to be confirmed to Istanbul. After that I’ll see. If I have time I’ll ride back to the UK alongside the Danube. If time is running short I’ll have to hop on a plane or ask work nicely to extend my sabbatical. Total distance should end up being around 10,000 miles or thereabouts, depending on my route which I intend to remain flexible on; for example I might end up going to Athens instead of Istanbul.
I ‘bumped into’ Andrew Sykes via Twitter the other day, who has just set off to Spain before starting his latest cycle tour pedaling from Tarifa to Nordkapp; same journey as me but the opposite direction. I’m looking forward to crossing paths with him, probably in Denmark somewhere, later this year. It’ll be good to swap notes on the route ahead. You can follow his progress via his blog here: http://cyclingeurope.org/
Back to outstanding tasks on my to do list. Got a few things I could do with some advice on. I want to invest in a laptop instead of taking my iPad with me on this tour. A laptop offers greater flexibility, and besides my iPad has never really been the same since it fell on the floor whilst I was using it to follow instructions to mend my car. I think I want an Apple laptop, which I can use to do some basic video editing as well as blog and use the web; I’d like to post a few video blogs whilst touring, which’ll hopefully be quicker and a little different. Something not too expensive ideally. Any tips?
Other tasks include setting up a new blog as ‘Bike around Britain’ doesn’t really qualify for touring around Europe and beyond. I might just go with travellinglobster.com, or jamesandthegiantworld.something, suggestions welcome. Travelling lobster is obviously biased…
I won’t bore you with the rest of my to do list, but needless to say there’s quite a bit on it, and I’ll be more than a little relieved once I get more tasks ticked off.
I forgot, the start of my tour isn’t really Nordkapp. I’m setting off from Norwich and travelling up to the Cycle Touring Festival in Lancashire first, which takes place from 01 to 03 May, then I’ll fly out from Manchester airport. Really looking forward to meeting like minded individuals, getting some advice for the road, and kicking off with a bang. It’ll be great to catch up with people like Tom Allen (http://tomsbiketrip.com/), and Richard from Oxford Bike Works (http://www.oxfordbikeworks.co.uk/) who put together the design for the bike I’m riding, as well as a host of other guests and speakers.
They’ve sold out of tickets this year but hopefully they’ll repeat the festival next year (https://cycletouringfestival.wordpress.com/).
Final thoughts for this blog. I’ve been thinking a lot about life in the last couple of months, maybe because it’s just turned three years since Lucy passed away and a lot of things have come flooding back. It reminded me about how precious life is and how one should not waste it, or get overly trapped by the pressures of modern life. Sometimes it feels like I’m renting my life out to someone else, rather than breaking the mold and choosing my own path; making a change can be scary and it’s easier to conform to what is considered normal. The exercise I’m going through at the moment, preparing to go on on tour and de-cluttering my life, whilst a bit manic, is proving very therapeutic. I’m really looking forward to hitting the road knowing everything is sorted, with a fresh baseline to start from whenever I get home. Whenever I lose focus I think about Lu and what she used to tell me about striving to get the most out of life. Such a wonderful person and missed by all who knew her.
I think Lu would agree with Mr Rollins’ thoughts below, which struck me as fitting this week.