1. Cycle from London to Istanbul!

Author Archives: edmundluke

In our seven days’ riding so far, we have notched up the following juicy little numbers :

Distance covered : 867 kms , 210 of those on one epic/ill-advised day from Saint-malo to Brussels

Vertical climb : 7562 metres. That means that although we’ve been going through what they told us were the low countries, by tomorrow we’ll have cycled up (and down) Everest.

image

Us looking smug.

Max Speed : 64.5 km/h (it sounds more impressive than 38 in old money)

Countries visited : 5 (yes, Luxembourg counts)

Showers taken : 1

Advertisements

Athough this was the winner of today’s on road caption competition, It was bone dry, a scorcher, more parasol than umbrella.

Our day started with a parting of ways. Our domestique left us mumbling something about an unfair split of prize money so we were left to fetch our own water bottles. 600+ miles done, he hopped on the train and later, we’re told, did a ‘victory lap’ of Brussels, and a few hours spinning the other side of dover ‘for the craic’. Expect Hamlet cigars to be on the Wada banned substances list shortly.

image

The trusty domestique - Tom

A morning of smooth traffic free trails led us towards Schegen, a village that’s in Luxembourg, France and Germany all at once, and is known the world over for its fantastic area. As ever, close to the country border all signage disappears as each country helpfully assumes the other will cover that section. Nevertheless, proud Europeans that we are, there are plenty of non-border photos coming up at our next computer stop.

Then we entred Germany. And it was so terribly German. Call me Clarkson, but we enjoyed perfect signage, cracking traffic-free paths and wonderful hospitality. We followed the Saarland Radweg for most of the afternoon, which included a wee siesta and a spot of cricket using tiny apples and a rolled up mosquito net. No sticks of rhubarb here. We even found a backstreet icecream shop selling hooky cornetos at bargain prices! Oh Germany.

image

Lunch à la McEldowney

We sped onwards towards Saarlouis, undertaking some of the toughest climbing thus far, arriving in town just late enough for all the shops to be shut. Cheeky meal out, where Ben was delighted to find that Germans make pizzas out of fadge (potato bread) before a nightime spin along the river to own camping spot, which might just have a nice view in the morning. Joyous.

image

A room with a view, possibly

Tomorrow we head into wine country.. the main aim being to teach Ed how to spell Gewurztraminer. More posts coming soon, including our impressions of EuroVelo so far, and our Sweat-o-meter of the facilites offered to touring cyclists in each of the countries we pass through.

image

Belgium even had a cure for cyclist's foot


So we’ve been in Belgium for the past few days. Ben feels very much at home, not because he has Belgian heritage, but because he has been living in Brussels for the past year or so.

Local knowledge should therefore have ensured getting lost would stop at the French border. Think again.

After a breezy spin through southern Flanders on some of the best cycle track so far, we hit Eddy Merckx country. The route turned “sportif” to say the least. An icecream van at the top of one steep climb our only restbite in what turned out to be a hellish afternoon. Sixteen hours and 205kms later we arrived a Ben’s place.

image

After our mammoth previous day we thought we deserved a rest. The first bed, shower and proper meal since London helped recharge batteries and enabled us a bit of planning time. The plan was to spend the next two days journeying towards Luxembourg.

image

Don't door me or i'll keep making this face

image

View over Saint-Gilles, Brussels

In the morning we enjoyed a leisurely tourist route through Brussels before meeting the EuroVelo team at the ECF HQ. We were greeted with tea and medals before finally setting out for the day around noon.

image

With ed lancaster aka mr. EuroVelo

Ben had a quick chat with some friendly tarmac while the rest of us enjoyed a superb forest trail south. The afternoon was unusual in that we didn’t get too lost before stopping for an evening beer in Namur.

image

As darkness fell we prised ourselves away from the bar to find a suitable spot to bed down. After climbing for a while we stumbled upon a track which provided enough cover for the three of us.

image

The prices weren't steep but the gradient was

We now sit in a cafe having been on the road for a couple of hours, following the river Meuse south to Dinant. Next stop Rochefort, famous for such originally named beers as rochefort 6, rochefort 8 and rochefort 10. Once some of us stop faffing…

image

I swear there were some cigars in here...


We are up and underway after a slap up breakfast and a warm send-off at ‘look mum no hands’, east london’s chic-est cycle spot.

image

Ed enjoys a mouthful of stornoway's finest black pudding. Ooh arr.

Lunch was a Weatherspoons special. The handy menu has the number of calories marked next to the dish so the choice is easy – go big! Steak and kidney pie has a delightful 1165.

image

Onwards along the south bank of the Thames, Gravesend being our first afternoon pause. We met Nikki who chairs the Gravesend RLNI rundraising group and had a go on her Tombola. Our luck was in and we walked away with a pack of Polos. Minty fresh!

image

Nikki from the RLNI

We later steered inland to Gillingham, travelling swiftly through the beautifully sunny countryside. A few wrong turns followed before we stopped for a well earned pint in Faversham.

image

A pint opposite the Shepard Neame brewery

A nightime search for a camping spot was perhaps not the most clever idea, though we were lucky to happen upon an idyllic setting on the edge on an orchard. Food cooked and eaten it was time for bed – our first border crossing tomorrow!

image

Ben enjoys some mixed beans


So it’s tomorrow that we leave London with Istanbul a distant blur in our minds. Ben is getting in later so I have some time to kill and have popped down to CyclePS, a new coffee shop / bike workshop on the Cycle Superhighway 7 in Kennington.

Harvey, the manager, tells me the that they have been up and running for about 9 weeks. Attracting hoards of commuters during rush hour, the quieter afternoons are spent repairing bikes. Tonight, Friday, is the late night evening when the cafe/bar stays open for a more rowdy crowd.

Having been served a delicious toastie and cheeky cider, we discuss our expedition. Krzysztof, who also works here, kindly found me some spare spokes and taught me how to fit them. I was also given a CyclePS hat which I’ve promised to wear on our travels.

A wonderfully moist Victoria sponge followed and I retired to the corner to get scribbling. You can see why libraries are getting less and less popular with places like this popping up like mushrooms. If they had the Ashes on I would never leave!

Check out their website cycle-ps.co.uk and find them on twitter @cycle_ps.

Ed


Bike Week 2013 runs from 15th – 23rd June. Here’s a little travel calculator from the Bike Week website which demonstrates how much you could be saving if you ditched your car for the week.

Instructions on how to use this calculator:

  1. Open the calculator link
  2. Enable macros
  3. Add your milage into cell C4 (yellow cell) and press enter
  4. The results will be displayed in each cell

You can hover your mouse over the boxes to read how we’ve come by the figures (or read the additional ‘calculations’ sheet). 

Travel Calculator

This calculator and usage instructions have been produced and supplied by Paul Adams (North Tyneside Council Travel Plan Team) and Amy Carroll (Cobalt Business Park Travel Plan Team). For more info, please go to the Bike Week website.


What’s five miles? About eight kilometres our metric friends would say. 8800 yards our parents would say. A perfect distance to cycle to work Sustrans would say.

So to introduce Sustrans and their “Call to Action for 2020.” For our international readers, Sustrans is a British charity for which the last 30 years have been a constant campaign to improve the walking and cycling networks throughout the UK in addition to promoting sustainable transport. Today, the Sustrans cycle-ways allow a third of a million people to enjoy a daily traffic free commute to work. Their “Call to Action for 2020” has the specific goal of doubling the number of journeys under five miles made by foot or bike. Currently, us Brits jump in the car for nearly two thirds of trips under five miles and for one in five trips under a mile – not the healthiest of statistics.

Sustrans aim to alter this ‘travel behaviour’ and are lobbying government to reward sustainability when awarding investment for new housing and travel infrastructure. Simple ideas like ensuring new housing estates are not built without schools so that families do not have to drive to educate their children; that there are doctors, shops and other vital amenities within walking or cycling distance and that walking and cycling routes are integrated into road building and improvement plans.

It is a proactive rather than reactive stance. The charity’s Bike It scheme involves the education of children in the benefits of cycling to ensure there is a generation for whom cycling becomes the obvious choice for short journeys. Grass roots stuff hoping to inspire rather than coerce tomorrow’s commuters onto two wheels.

For us at Furious Green Ideas, the work Sustrans are doing is both furious and green. Furious in the feverishly busy way, not the angry cyclist who has just seen a car stop in a cycle lane way (stay calm out there guys!). Please head to the Sustans Call to Action for 2020  page for more details (all facts and figures for this post were pinched from their More Haste Less Speed piece).

As always guys, happy and safe cycling.

Ben and Ed



BICYCLE DUTCH

All about cycling in the Netherlands

Velo-bang!

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Two Wheel Travel

Mapping the bicycle travel revolution.

real ultimate waffe (.net)

FACT: mdawaffes are mammals

The QCEA Blog

Thoughts and comment from staff and volunteers at the Quaker Council for European Affairs

I Do Not Despair

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells

Alex All Night

Onsighting life since 1991.

%d bloggers like this: