The past 10, 000 kilometres have truly brought one challenge after another; from a broken bike, atrocious weather conditions, to having an ongoing knee injury from the punishing ride in Europe. Luckily when I was hit by a tractor on the Iranian/Turkmenistan border last week only a bit of welding was needed (but you will have to wait for my Iranian post for that story!). It’s with complete relief that I look back from here at the Silk Road city of Bukhara, and remember all the beautiful experiences the road has given me these past months. The following moments captured at each thousand reached on the odometer show just a glimpse of these experiences; a small milestone on the bike preserved through the lens of the camera.
I reached 11, 000 while descending from the Julian Alps in Slovenia. It had been an incredible ride to take me up to 1611 metres on the previous evening (my highest summit within Europe). The road had been built by Russian POWs in the First World War, and its tragic history was in complete contrast to the spectacular mountainside and river valley scenery. I had camped just three kilometres earlier between the Soca River and one of many road tunnels used for the seasonal avalanches. My two detours into the Slovenian Alps became one of my best decisions in Europe, and fed my desire for mountain riding!
Since my last blog I have ridden over 1000km, taking me along the South Downs way to Dover and down the Western Front of the First World War. The weather has continued to try its hardest to dampen my spirits, with each day bringing both severe headwind and rain.
From Portsmouth I followed the South Downs Way to Dover, stopping in many seaside resort towns, including Brighton and Eastbourne. When I researched the trip I was expecting an ‘easy’ ride along this stretch, but the incessant headwind made it far from a pleasant flat ride. At times it took a lot of imagination… to battle the wind as I passed two long military rifle ranges I imagined I was in hot pursuit from armed thugs! The gunfire took me all the way to Dover, my last destination in England. It was during this coastal route that I tried WarmShowers for the first time – a special thanks to Matt, Kim and Antony for kindly hosting me in Worthing and Dover. Antony also gave me some extra cycling shoe covers which would be crucial for the rain to come in France and Belgium.
For my video of France and Wales click here.
A moment off the bike in Brighton, with the West Pier on the horizon
Here’s the second of my weekly articles in the Camden-Narellan Advertiser. Watch this space for my own blog post about my journey since crossing the English Channel into France…
One of my main reasons for moving from Australia to England was to experience Europe in all its summer glory. After the success of my Northern England ride, I quickly devised another trip. This time the journey would span over five weeks, taking me over 2500km from England through France, Spain and into Portugal.
On arriving to the port of Portsmouth I was feeling confident after Cadel Evans had finally won the Tour de France for Australia. I was feeling even more buoyant after surviving the commute through the chaotic traffic of London, bouncing off numerous red buses on my way from Kings X to Waterloo stations. Once in Portsmouth I found myself taking my first swim in an English beach, soaking up the warm salty sea while the teenagers looking after my bike hoped in vain that I would buy them alcohol. In the evening I found myself a scenic camp spot perched along the medieval walls of Southsea Castle.
The following morning the Norman Arrow took me across the channel to Le Havre. The frantic roads coming out of the port city were made up by a lunch stop in the gorgeous historical harbour of Honfleur. I was buzzing as I peddled through the rolling hills of Normandy. I managed to reach Pegasus Bridge before sunset, where the US 101st Airborne Division captured the strategic site on the eve of D-Day. As I set up my tent I started chatting to an inquisitive French fisherman, whose disbelief at my journey was matched by myself when he gave me his fish for dinner!