#1 Lift off, London – Germany

Anneliese 

Before we begin, each post has an author, visible above. Although travelling together, our experiences, impressions and emotions are unique and independent of one another, and we hope to reflect this in our blog. 

This is my recollection since leaving London. 

12 days

765 kms

5 countries

The final week in London was exhausting to say the least. Wrapping up one chapter of our lives in preparation of diving head first into the next. We resigned from our position as paramedics for the London Ambulance Service, stripped and cleaned a four bedroom rental house to return to the landlord, bid our final farewells to new and old friends alike and attempted to pack for a transcontinental year + long cycle tour. We are indebted to the help we gratefully received from our closest friends, I honesty don’t think we would have pulled it off without them.

We woke on October 6th to a misty grey morning, typical London, loaded up our bikes with our shiny new bags courtesy of Mainstream MSX and headed to the local favourite coffee & bike shop – London Velo for a final bagel and flat white. Parting advice from James of LV, “The worst situations make for the best stories”. And with that, we pushed off on bicycles from our home for the past 4 years.

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Day 1 saw us soaked to the core, muddy and cold as we attempted the Pilgrims trail towards Dover, the rain was more than horizontal. We were bailed out at 73km in the dark by a hero of a man Jo with his van, log fire and helpful 3 year old son Edward. He picked us up outside a crematorium, grim, hosed the mud off our filthy bikes, dried our clothes and treated us to a hot meal and warm bed. Jo cycled us to the ferry terminal at Dover in the am – “This sparks some kind of adventure, it’s not lost..”

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Since leaving the UK, we have been blessed with sunshine and blue skies each day, beautifully complimenting the stunning autumn colours at every turn. We have winded our way through crops, forests, healthy bootylicious cattle, vineyards, tiny old farming villages. Belgium was a perfect way to ease our way into the daily cycle, with flat canal side cycle paths. This didn’t last forever sadly, and we’ve since tackled kms of vertical incline.

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Its been a steep learning curve for me, so many lessons learnt already. We’re compiling a list of rules to ensure longevity:

  1. No farting in the tent. Goes without saying. Unfortunately, Joey doesn’t always abide. His other attributes partly make up for this.
  2. No falling. I’m going to be honest, I haven’t fallen over this much since I was learning to walk. My legs are spattered in bruises and grazes, one slight loss of concentration ends up with me sprawled across the ground. Joey is also learning not to ride so closely behind me after suffering the consequences of my incoordination.
  3. First in, last out (but our version: first in means dinner sooner and no cycling in the dark on dodgy roads). Things become a thousand times harder and more dangerous as soon as the sun sets. Especially when relying on Google cycle maps. We’ve been lead up functioning railway lines, through cemeteries and on motorways.
  4. Trust in the kindness of strangers – the road provides. We have had our first six Warm Showers experiences. All of them incredibly kind, altruistic and interesting people. For those of you unfamiliar with Warm Showers, is basically couch surfing for cycle tourists. People offer whatever they have available to host you in their homes, whether it be their backyard to camp, some floor space, spare rooms or once even kicking children out of their beds in order to host us. As well as somewhere safe to sleep, safe lockup for your bikes, a warm shower and more often than not a homemade hot meal. Our hosts have welcomed us with home grown produce from their gardens, invited us to dine with their families, share stories, experiences and cuddle their dogs. All for free. In our attempts to repay our hosts, we have taken aerial photos of their homes with the drone, cooked meals and washed dishes. Seems poor in comparison but one day I look forward to welcoming worldly travellers into my home and reciprocating the kindness I have received. I can’t recommend Warm Showers highly enough to anyone cycling.

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We reached our goal of Karlsruhe, Germany last night after 12 days on the road, to be met by an old friend. I know its only 12 days, but I feel a great sense of accomplishment already. It is by far the furthest I’ve ever cycled, without a doubt the most consistent exercise I’ve ever done. At the end of each day I am famished and exhausted, my body is sore but happy that it’s being used. My appetite is growing to meet this new physical demand. My head feels clear, my body strong and I am so excited for whatever the next year will bring.

Thanks to those who have donated to the Brain Foundation so far, it keeps the tailwind behind us and air in our tyres. We’re 3% toward our target!

Ness, our fifth Warm Showers host, sent us off with this – “Just get out there, keep pedalling, and know that every time your put your foot down, you’re closer to where you want to be.”

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