Well here we are approaching the last 24 hours of this year and a wheely good evening to you all. The last few months have been extremely busy and I apologise for the lack of blog and website updates. I intend to rectify this in the new year and will aim to post out a weekly update blog.
This last year has seen a wealth of cycling activities happen and I am going to list some of the highlights. Many of you will know of these and if i do miss something out no offence meant at all. So here we go with (in no particular order) my 2019 highlights:
- The Paris Roubaix challenge with Tom. A gruelling sportive taking in all the 29 cobbled sectors of the famous race. It was brutal but equally one of the most fun events I have taken part in with that famous velodrome finish
- Going to watch many pro races including Tour of Britain, Tour of Yorkshire, Paris Roubaix, Tour of Flanders, Omloop and Kuurne Brussels Kuurne to name a few
- LEJOG with kim, Andy and Jason. 1500 km’s over ten days raising much money for charity. This is one of those bucket list tick offs that had to be done and was a fabulous experience out riding the length of the UK
- My epic solo ride from Newcastle to Swindon non stop 482 km’s in just shy of 24 hours. A mental ride with some mega highs and some dark lows but a great challenge netherless
- Supporting my good friend Matt on his completion of Everesting challenge in the Summer. No mean feat and chapeau to that man
- The growth of the business and seeing many more children riding is a huge buzz and something myself and the team strive to increase weekly
Finally I have to mention the crash and this was a low point for sure. 5 weeks off the bikes nursing broken ribs, fractured wrist and a haemetoma. The only plus was getting to see some of the tour on TV while off recovering.
So onto 2020 and there is plenty lined up including a watch this space another huge solo challenge. All it leaves me to say is a very Happy New Year, thanks for all support in 2019 and as they say see you on the otherside.
A wheely good evening to you all and as I sit here 5 days after my debut bike packing adventure to Belgium I still cannot believe I have done my first solo trip. All I can say is if you have never tried it then do it as it is an absolute must!!! When I was planning the trip I did not really know what to expect and the packing was a key thing, too much and extra weight is incurred and too little and I would be shopping over there. As it was I got this part down to a tee and I had just what I needed.
As i boarded the ferry at Dover there was one thing I really wanted more than anything, dry weather and bar the last 500 metres 4 days later in Dunkirk I got my wish. My first day took me up to the Dunkirk beaches and then over to Ypres my first stop over point. This was an evening ride and left me with 40 miles in the dark to Ypres. I met Tom Coley on the ferry who was also doing a similar thing to me all be it a longer trip and was great to become friends with a virgin bike packer like myself. The B&B was a welcome sight that evening and although only covered 55 miles on day one it was a challenging day with the night ride.
Day 2 I woke to gorgeous blue skies and sun streaming through the window and today was going to be a great day. First off I rode north to Tynecot cemetery. This is the largest one place that commonwealth soldiers are buried and was a moving experience to say the least. Having served in the Army myself it really brought home to me just what all those men went through serving our country those 100 years ago. After spending some time here I headed south to watch the Great Centenary War Race. The line up for the inaugural edition was good and a chance to see the pros racing on foreign soil. After watching the race in various point including race past Christmas point memorial I got back to the centre of Ypres for the finish. That evening I stayed for the incredible last post ceremony under the Menin gate before another late night ride to get to my next stopover in Avelgem. Arriving at 11pm I was met by Andy my host who I had met through warmshowers.com bike packing website. That day I had put nearly 100 miles in the legs with a fully loaded bike and was ready to sleep and that I did very well in the caravan accommodation in his back garden.
Day 3 again I woke to blue skies and bright sun, just what I needed for this days ride. Today allowed me to ditch all the bags and ride the bike in its naked state, this was needed as 105 miles of Belgian lanes, bergs and cobbles awaited me. Andy had put a great route together for me for this day and it encompassed all the famous areas of this part of Belgium. First up the Koppenberg, followed closely by the Kruisberg, Muur, Taienberg, Kwaremont and finally after 99 miles the 19 percent slopes of the Paterberg. All these climbs are steep brutal narrow cobbled climbs and the cobbles make it a challenge beyond any words one can describe. The one thing that was going for me was it was dry, I really would not want to do this in the wet!!! This ride was just superb and gave me the chance to fulfil my ambition of riding these immense roads. On getting back to base after some 8 hours in the saddle there was only one thing for it…….a piping hot bath and a couple of chilled blonde beers. Bring on day 4!!!!
So day 4 arrived and this was my final day of my mini adventure and the journey home awaited. I had 8 miles ahead to get me and my bike back to Dunkirk and today was dry but windy!!!!! The wind was battering me from all ways and the last 45 miles down the coast was a block headwind. Of course I would rather have had it behind me but it actually served as a really good training tool and allowed me to work on concentrated continuous power output. As I went through the likes of Middlekierk, Nieuwport, De Panne and Dunkirk all I could do was hope the rain stayed away. I knew from social media the UK was battered by storms all day and these were due to come across the channel to Europe so I kept pedalling and as I said earlier beat the rain by the skin of my teeth. All that was left was a ferry and drive from Dover back home to Swindon.
So my bike packing adventure was over and wow it was superb. I have already started to plan the next one and I seriously am considering the Trans Continental in 2020. If you have never done this try it as you will not look back. And all it leaves me to say is ride safe, stay safe and keep those pedals turning. Laters!!!!