Tag Archives: Europe

Mind over matter? (Guest Blog By Andy Fallon)

Hi, 

My name is Andy Fallon aka (@MadHeadCyclist). I’m married with 1 daughter.

Some years ago I hit the age of 44. Think that could be the start of my midlife crisis !!

I decided that I would like to start cycling again after years had passed since my teenage years..  I bought a Mountain bike and tried to cycle to Sheffield and back home to Huddersfield (about 50miles)  I did manage to get there on the bike but getting back was not so straight forward – I has to push the thing back lol
I’m no athlete – far from it I just have quite a strong mindset.

After this I was hooked ! I decided I needed a Road bike, my thought was lighter faster get further.  My next jaunt was to friends in Sunderland about 100miles, I managed this cycle after a few pit stops, although for last 20miles I had only 1 pedal but I loved it.

Next trip was Lands end to John O Groats (This is getting out of control) lol

My diet was not good on these trips (My General Diet Blog), was mainly McDs stops although later trips would be no better, but with added John Smiths beers, or wine 🙂

After being inspired by James Cracknell and Mark Beaumont I decided to try to cycle from home to Gibraltar… like James completed for Sport Relief Cross Continent Challenge, although he rowed, cycled and swam.  I just wanted to do the cycling only..

After completing this challenge in only 16 days, I was planning another big trip solo again !

With Mrs F giving the ok my adventures began……  to see what other adventures I get up to, some big ones or day ones…..  visit www.MadHeadCyclist.blogspot.com

Icelandic Mountain Men

If you can’t be bothered reading this waffle, feel free to watch a short VIDEO I made. It doesn’t tell half of the story of our trip, but it looks pretty rad.

Right lets start by getting the facts right. I did not forget my wedding anniversary, I couldn’t have as it hadn’t even been yet. But what I did do was not pay the slightest attention to the dates of the flights, but merely the cost of the flights. By keeping the cost down as much as possible when visiting a notoriously expensive country, I knew my wife would be more accepting of the fact that I was heading away to Iceland with a couple of mates for a yet another fun adventure. So a few months after booking the flights I found myself on ‘All Hallows Eve’ on a bleak, dark and wet Thursday evening at Edinburgh airport with Chris Asquith & Andrew Milne taking a very reasonably priced flight to Iceland (£77 return, thanks EasyJet) for a 4 day adventure.

After quite a long discussion surrounding what you can put in those little clear 100ml liquid bags, and whether you could use your own clear toiletries bag (I’m still unsure if you can or not) we boarded the flight with the correct sized hand luggage, unlike 20 or 30 other idiots. We arrived at around 8pm in Iceland’s Keflavik airport, jumped on the airport bus, logged onto the free WiFi and settled in for a good hour and a half as we slowly made our way to the first of our 2 hostels on the island. Upon our late arrival at the hostel we were met by a cross between Grotbags & Thor (well from memory I’m sure that’s what she claimed to be dressed as) who couldn’t have been nicer in sorting our room, advising where we could get food at this time and trying her best to tell us where we could get the bus north in the morning (I would later check with another member of staff who confirmed exactly where to go).

After unpacking and claiming the bottom or top bunk, we headed out into the wild in search of food. Now being around 11pm if not later our only option was a pre packed sandwich or salad from the local garage. I opted for a noodle type salad and the lads each got what looked to be a dry and tasteless sandwich, however upon arriving home and out the icy cold and into the warmth of our 4 bed dorm room we tucked into our somewhat surprisingly tasty treats from this gourmet garage. I can safely the general consensus in the room was that this was easily the tastiest food ever eaten from an Icelandic garage. So with satisfied tummies it was time for bed and time to start thinking about tomorrows breakfast!

We woke early on the Friday with the sole purpose of eating as much as possible and we didn’t disappoint. Nor did the freshly baked pain au chocolats. After eating almost everything laid out for the hostel guests we slowly checked out of the hostel, trying not to squash the hidden sandwiches and snacks that laced our pockets. It was only a short and chilly 10 minute walk to the bus stop, where we could take the short ride to the main bus station that would allow us to transfer onto the bus headed north and for us our base for the next 2 days Borgarnes.

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After a very scenic couple of hours north we arrived in Borgarnes and at what would become our second home away from home. Ultimately it was a petrol station, but the greatest petrol station ever!! We never ventured into the right hand side of the building, this was more the petrol station side, we stayed in the left side, the cafe side of the building. The cafe was if you like the Harthill of Iceland, no more than a stop off for the hoards of people and young groups of what seemed to be school children filling up on everything from fuel, souvenirs and chips (those kids loved their chips). Before settling into the comfort of the cafe we had a wander around the town snapping away and trying not to think too much about the size of the mountains we were about to run around tomorrow. We found the hostel and had a look around to check out what the town offered before heading back to get a warm drink and discuss the plan of action for the next 2 days as we really didn’t have much of a plan to be honest, apart from go out and run.  Across the road from our dream cafe was a Netto supermarket a welcome sight in a fairly small town. As we were staying in a hostel we would later stock up on everything we needed for the next 2 days.

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Now you’re probably wondering why I speak so highly of a cafe connected to a petrol station in a small town on the west coast of Iceland. Well it’s purely down to the cheapness of the coffee and tea on offer, well the chips also looked amazing. As we approached the generic self-service style refrigerated units offering pre packed sandwiches and already prepared salads, an offer caught our eye, the offer was the classic soup and sandwich combo for the amazingly low price of £10. My initial thought was “Fuck that” and I dreaded to see what they would charge for the potentially lukewarm filter coffee that was also self-service. As we reluctantly dished out 2 coffee’s and 1 tea and approached the less than enthused looking till operator, I waited in fear for him to reveal the price…After a few seconds we worked out it was only about £1.20 a cup! This was very welcome and surprising news, but this young man wasn’t done, he then upon handing over our change advised us it was free refills on the coffee’s and belatedly the tea. Well I can’t recall a happier moment in my life. Unlimited coffee for £1.20?!?! I love Iceland. We settled down to enjoy what was actually a very good cup of coffee going about how cheap it was for about at least 20 minutes, we were all very happy about this as we had just paid £12 for a bus journey here.

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After 3 hours drinking enough coffee to keep a narcoleptic awake, we popped to Netto for a big shop and then off to our hostel. We settled in had some food and had a wee look at maps of the mountains trying to figure out a route for day 1. The problem was we could easily find lots of information about the fairly easy route up the mountain, but we wanted to go up and over and for the life of us we could not find anything referring to the route down the other side. The hostel manager offered some advice about the best way to navigate our way up the mountain and explained we needed to be careful going up as there would be snow and ice on the path making it hard to follow in some sections and of course slightly dangerous in others. I asked about getting down the other side, he wasn’t to sure about a route down the other side so advised us to just come back down the same way especially if the weather got really bad. So good, that was that, the plan for day 1 was sorted, we would run the 4 or 5 miles to the base of the mountain, run up to the top and take it from there…Flawless.

We decided to go for a short run while it was still light outside. It would also give us a good idea how cold it was going to be tomorrow in our running gear. We ran out towards the water and along the coastline for a while, it was quite breathtaking especially with the mountains standing across the water looking equally menacing as they were beautiful. We ran past some football pitches, past the swimming pool and headed for home. It was clear that we would need a good couple of layers for the run in the morning especially as we would be far more exposed to the conditions the higher we got. The weather forecast was looking favorable for us, there was no sign of rain nor would there be any snow falling thankfully. It was going to be clear, however it was going to be cold and quite windy, and with the wind comes the wind chill, this was estimated to be anywhere from -10 to -15. Before settling in for the night we went out to watch the sun setting and to have one last look at the now dark and stormy looking mountains that stood tall, icy and now covered in a thick dark blanket of cloud at their peak.  No match for 3 men in tights and trainers.

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We woke slowly and made our way to the kitchen to fuel up for the task at hand. I always find it hard to eat breakfast on the morning of a big run/cycle/adventure, mainly due to carb loading the previous 24-48 hours and having a big old fat belly full of fuel (cake). We did all managed to get some scrambled egg, toast and coffee in us before setting off for the day. The first section of our run was a strange one as we just headed back into the familiar territory of the petrol station cafe and the Netto we had spent so much time in already. This was a nice gentle jog to get us warmed up before we headed into the less sheltered sections out of the town.  With the shops now behind us we headed for the bridge that would take us across the water and to the start of the road that would lead us to the mountain trail. We ran across a narrow and slushy pedestrian section of the bridge, checking out what looked like the coldest water I had laid eyes on! This was proper fall in and your done for type water, very fast currents dragging  and tossing around beautiful chunks of ice that raced under the bridge and away. After a few miles we got on the path that lead us up the mountain’s base and to the start of the trail. Before making our way up, we as a tight-knit team went for a team pee pee, something that in this weather wasn’t the easiest of jobs for a few different reasons.

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Anyway feeling refreshed we stared, with huge smiles, jogging up the snowy trail. At first it was difficult to trace the path due to the snowfall, but luckily a fence ran adjacent to the path so we could track it this way. On our way up it was clear just how windy it was going to be the further up we went and the more exposed we got. Slowly but surely we plodded upwards, taking the odd snap and chatting when we could hear our own voices over the howling wind. The path slowly wound up the mountain side while at times flirting with the steep sides of the icy, and jaggy beast. By now the wind was picking up and we felt the chill nipping at us as the pace slowed as the conditions worsened. Looking up towards the summit there was zero visibility and the wind was getting stronger, not a great mix. We decided to head upwards towards a saddle near the peak and make our way up and over to the unknown on the other side  and hopefully down to safety before heading home. As we made our way up and into the now howling gale our visibility had all but gone, but we kept going up to see what lay over the top of the saddle. As we almost reached the top we braced ourselves for the impending gust of wind that was blowing up and whipping over the saddle we approached. In about 5 steps we went from slightly sheltered to completely exposed to the wind as we stood delicately looking over the saddle we were perched on trying to get some sort of view of a route down the other side. As it turned out we couldn’t see a thing!

(can you spot me and Chris in the below picture?)

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We were now stood freezing cold, being battered by a wind that threatened to knock you off-balance if you got complacent. There were a few glances towards each other, those glances that without a word you know what everyone was thinking, and we were all thinking exactly the same thing…fuck this! In a flash we spun around and as fast as we could in these conditions and made our way back the way we came. The wind still battering us but now onto our right hand side giving the numb left side a break. The ice and snow made our decent a careful but very fun one, and in a matter of minutes we were out the worst of it and back to the sheltered trail and regained visibility. We stopped after a few minutes to make sure we were all together and had a wee giggle about our thoughts of actually thinking we could make it over the other side in these conditions. After a small break filming Andy chucking himself face first down the snow we ran down to the base of the mountain and out towards the entrance to the trail. We all stopped and looked back up at the clouds still covering the peak, it was a beautiful and somewhat menacing sight from where we stood. Feeling the chill we started running again back over the bridge and into the warmth of OUR cafe. The warmth was very welcome indeed. We slumped into the comfy seats, dumped the bags, got a few layers off and then grabbed a coffee. A satisfying day.

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The following morning we woke in a warm, damp smelling room for the start of our second day running around the mountains. The night before we checked the map and found a trail that ran through the heart of the mountains from east to west. If it was what we thought it would be this was going to be a scenic and relatively easy days running compared to the previous days climbing.  We all decided we would try to hitch our way to the start of the trail as opposed to running the 10-15 miles over parts of the same route we ran the day before. So once again we headed out the hostel doors and back towards good old Netto and the bridge. As we approached the bridge we joined the main road where after a few false starts en route we were still confident of a lift. After the first 2 cars passed with no luck, a third car slowed as we (looking like lycra clad grinning maniacs) shoved our thumbs out and flagged it down. After explaining quickly where  we wanted to go we were told to hop in. After telling our new friend where and why we wanted dropped at the start of the trail, our driver asked if we were out running towards the mountain yesterday (he saw us the previous day), we replied we were and gave him a brief overview of our adventure. I can’t remember exactly what he replied but I’m sure he thought we were a bit mad. After a brief stop to see if our drivers brother was in his hotel (he wasn’t) and a great story about the history about the Scots and the people of Iceland, and how he had himself planned to ride this trail in the summer on a horse we arrived at the start of the trail, said thank you and hopped out the car into the morning sun.

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The start of the trail was magical almost perfect, the sun shining, underfoot was gravel and dirt, to the left we could see the mountains and to the right the low-lying sun, this was going to be a brilliant day. After a few miles we made our turn left and into the valley of the mountains. We climbed for a short amount of time before the trail plateaued. For a good few miles we were running on beautiful crisp snow and the slight hint of the dusty trail that lay below. As we ventured further into the valley we stayed high on the left side so as to stay in the sun and keep ‘warm’. The sun made a huge difference and it was much more fun having the slight warmth of the sun on our icy wee bodies as we plodded onward.

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We had been on the go for a good few hours now and after a while we started to lose the trail to the fresh looking snow that lay on top covering its tracks. Strangely we were able to follow the tracks of a birds footprints that followed the trail perfectly for some reason, it seemed to have walked for more than a mile or 2 along the trail, this was quite a bizarre way to be guided along a random mountain pass in Iceland but an enjoyable one none the less. We would pause every now and then for food and water but also to take in the stunning landscape around us and really try to be in, and enjoy the moment. There were certain parts of the route as we dipped into the valley where all we could see around us  was the high mountains, white and magnificent, standing tall and proud, captivating to the eye, enveloped in magnificent untouched snow and ice. There was one moment we all stood silent just taking it all in without another person in sight nor any sign of human life, we could have been the only people on this icy world,…..buuuuuut we weren’t, just up the road we would see a hunter and his dog cutting about the snow hunting for something. As I think back now I’m not sure what they were looking for as we seen nothing apart from the bird footprints in the snow.  Maybe it was us?!

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It was maybe about 5 hours in, we had ran/trampled our way through some deep snow in places and we were getting slightly leg weary from yesterdays hilly miles and today’s run so far. As we looked out into the distance we could make out our exit point, the other side of the trail and on to the ring road that wrapped itself around the side of the mountains and back ‘home’. By now the  already low-lying sun had started slowly creeping down below one of the bigger peaks, so to stay in the sun’s rays we decided to climb higher up the left side of the mountain. As we done this we decided it may be a good idea to just go up and over and drop out on the side of the mountain and cut a few miles off our trip home as this was the direction we would need to go anyway once we reached the end of the path. After quite a while and a good few false summits later we got to the edge of a sheer drop, not only in front of us but as far as we could see either side of us. The thought of having to go all the way back was not one we wanted to entertain and we looked for possible routes down. There was no route down, well no safe route that we could see. Off to the right there was a gully leading down that looked like it might offer a chance of us exiting but we would need to climb back up and away from where we stood to see if we could even get into the gully as from where we stood it was quite a drop in, also there was lots of snow lying so it was hard to tell how deep it was and what lay beneath.

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After a brief chat we decided to try the gully, we made our way up the mountain side and found the entrance and the shortest section to drop in. I wont lie I wasn’t overly excited about going in as we had no idea what was underfoot and just where exactly it would lead us. We lowered ourselves into the gully, straight away the snow was up past our ankles and a mixture of running water and stones lay under our feet! Slowly but surely we worked our way along following the water, as we knew it had to lead out and down from the gully. As the walls at either side grew taller the path we were on actually got easier and footing was slightly better, still jumping from one side to the other wasn’t a pleasant experience knowing that one false move, a twist or worse a break of an ankle would be less than ideal in these conditions.

We paused and ate almost the last of the food we had with us and took on some water before edging our way towards what turned out to be and I think what we all knew would a sheer drop straight down the side of the mountain! As we stood there we looked around trying to see if there was any other possible ways to get down. By now we had descended lower and lower and were tantalizingly close to the road we so longed for, we could have jogged down there in no more than 20 minutes but alas there was no way down. We had one final look along to the right of the gully at what would have been a very easy path down apart from a small but sheer drop from the edge before it plateaued out, it was just to far a drop to get down safely so we knew what we had to do, we had to turn around climb back up and over the many false summits we had already crossed to get here. We know we had a few hours to go as we knew how long it took us to get here and we roughly knew how far from the point we turned off the path it was back out the other side of the valley.

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By now it was getting pretty chilly and our legs were starting to stiffen up slightly after trekking for hours to get here, also the pipe from my camelback where i was drinking from had completely frozen so had the water so I was unable to get a drink and this slightly annoyed me, however it was Andy who was about to get slightly more annoyed as his foot crashed through the snow deep into freezing cold water below! By now our spirits not broken but had taken a slight hit, the banter as we came up and over the hills had been replaced with the acceptance of the task ahead. From where we stood all we could see was uphills, no sight of the trail we should have been on. After a few climbs and a few stops for me to get water from the other lads we finally saw the trail again. This gave us a boost as we knew we were on track and making good progress. We also saw a jeep high up to our right and a few hunters wandering around, so we knew if anything happened from here there was someone else around.

The banter was back as we bounced our way back onto the trail and finally heading out the easy valley run for the day. Chris was struggling with an old injury that had flared up and was hobbling along slowly behind myself and Andy. It had been so long since we were able to walk/run without our feet being ankle deep in snow so the gravel track was very welcome. So were the land rover tracks that we were now able to follow as we knew these would take us safely out onto the road ahead. We were never in real danger however there was a sense of relief that we were on the trail out.

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The sun was now very low and running was almost impossible for Chris, so pretty cold and with frozen feet we plodded on for a few more miles and finally out to a road. From here and being so cold we made an effort to run a bit faster towards the main ring road and had already decided to hitch home as 10-15 more miles now was not really what anyone was in the mood for due to the circumstances. After stopping one car who didn’t have room for us the next car along the road was driven by an older gentleman who didn’t speak much English but was more than happy to give us a lift back to Borgarnes as this is where he was heading.  We jumped in the car and our chauffeur promptly turned up the heaters to our satisfaction. It was a short drive but one we enjoyed, going past the side of the mountain we got a clear view of the route down we had thought about taking, although there was some murmurs about the fact it may have been possible, deep down we all knew we made the right choice turning back. Our driver pulled in and stopped as we reached our destination. it was nice to be back standing outside the petrol station cafe again. We glanced in the window to see our comfy seats were available so we made our way in, ice and snow dripping from our legs and feet as we entered making a beeline for our seats. After a few minutes sitting down getting a heat in us it was time to eat! For me there was no seeing past the double cheeseburger and chips and for my 2 veggie friends, 2 veggie burgers were promptly ordered along with coffee’s and fizzy drinks, the standard recovery products. We sat and reminisced about our mini adventure as we waited on our order number being shouted out, not knowing if the number would be shouted in English or Icelandic?! luckily for us after a few Icelandic numbers it was with relief and excitement we heard our number (in English) and collected the goodies. After a great day I didn’t think anything could top it now sitting in a petrol station cafe, but I was wrong, very wrong. As the 2 lads tucked into their Veggie burger and chips, they both noticed that instead of the anticipated standard veggie burger (Chickpeas, beans, lentils, vegetables!) in their burger buns lay……………a hash brown!! So chips and a hash brown roll was their reward for the day! we all saw the funny side of it but I think me more so than anyone as I took another huge bite of my double cheeseburger!!!

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If you got  this far why not check out the VIDEO

Takk Fyrir

Athens to Edinburgh in 5 minutes

In preparation for some new upcoming mini adventures I decided to get some new editing software. Before editing a new video from scratch I though I would have a little play around and familiarize myself with the new editing suite and threw together a short recap of my Parthenon 2 Parthenon cycle from Athens back in 2011 in the magical form of some pictures and music. So enjoy a 2 month adventure in just over 5 minutes…

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I made this for posterity more than anything else but if you enjoy a good old video blog your in luck……

In the summer of 2011 with my great mate Chris Strother(who you will see is very camera shy) we cycled unsupported from Athens – Edinburgh

Here is the journey as i recall it…


Pre P2P Cycle Tour Videos

Hello,

This is a small collection of videos we made prior to our cycle in the summer. I think this will give you a better idea of who I am and the kind of fun we had cycling through Europe.

The other less attractive lad in the videos is my great pal Chris Strother. If like me you enjoy a tweet and a giggle then check him out right HERE

Below is a short trailer video for the upcoming full video that im slowly but surely editing.

Thanks for reading and watching

Stuart

Parthenon2Parthenon Diary

As you will know from the previous post this summer I cycled from Athens to Edinburgh. 3000 miles in 2 hot sweaty months….well except from the last couple of miserable days back in the UK!!

Anyway as with all long trips I have ever taken I decided to keep a diary every day to capture my thoughts and feelings each day. I took lots of photos and videos and of course these will be great memories but I think the best way to capture your feelings on a trip like this is to write it down each and every day. So I thought I would share all my thoughts from my diary. This is my diary word for word, every moan and groan as I felt it each day.

Friday 20th May (The day before we flew to Athens)

Woke 7am, watched Ella sleep and wake. Chilled in bed with Ella then age huge breakfast. Packed bits and bobs ready to say goodbye. Very hard seeing Ella so upset. Chris came over packed all our gear. Andy Milne took us to the airport (good lad). Flights ok and arrived in Athens about 2:30am local tim

Saturday 21st May

We got our bags and bikes and thankfully they were all ok. Got bikes ready took a few hours. Sat waiting for sunrise. This was about 6am. Cycled for 3 hours very nervous/excited. Got to hostel very very tired

Sunday 22nd May

More awake, visited the Parthenon. ate gyros, done some shopping, checked in sharing with 2 lassies from OZ. Watched the football, got gear ready for the off tomorrow. Excited/Nervous

Monday 23rd May

I write this from the beach at sunset, cant remember place name. Really tough day 70 hard miles in 30c and hill after hill after hill. By the end of the day i was on empty. Trying to eat lots and drink loads, feel ok now but got very low at points today. Chris’s pannier broke…not great but fixed for now. Nervous what tomorrow holds but i can see the coast and is looks flat for now. Miss my wife feel very emotional.

Tuesday 24th May

Good flat start felt down but ok. Pushed on along the coast, quite flat for morning, met a group of canadians on a cycle tour, nice lad older but cycled and chatted for a bit. Lunch on the beach, fucked about with lunch wasted our break, feel low afternoon was all up hill very tough but we kept pushing on and on doing the miles. Got bitten all night about 20 mozzies in the tent. Up at 5:30am NO SLEEP. Feel low

Wednesday 25th May

Very tough day, long hilly day. Feeling very low missing Ella. Guess its hard not even having any contact. End of day was worst we pushed on with no food or water ended up having to go 20 miles before flagging down a car to ask how far to go, he gave us some water and it was only 6 more miles. Ended up at an amazing wee village slept on the beach and got 2 free fresh fish! a tough tough low day.

Thursday 26th May (This is the day we called “the day it all changed”)

Low again today miss Ella lot! tough start as legs sore but was quite flat in the first 30 miles, we had lunch on the beach it was good but just cant help feel low. After lunch we pushed on hit some HUGE long hills, it was very tough. I thought of Ella all the time and Chris mentioned about meeting in Kelso the second last day at his mums, this lifted me and after a while we got to the top of the huge hill and had coffee at a garage, chatted and felt a weight off very weird. feel positive

Friday 27th May

Good sleep last night, threatened to rain while we cooked but just held off. Decent morning lot of downhills, cruised the first 20 miles, met a Canadian couple who told us about the terrible roads in Albania, Chris choked on a fly. Afternoon was very tough long up hill struggle to the border, got over and had to cycle a further 20 miles till we found a place to stay. Got on facebook and chatted to Ella it was so good. Updated on our trip and ate hot meal. Stayed in hostel Joni, nice. Good sleep in a bed. Looking forward to get bus to capital Tirana tomorrow.

Saturday 28th May

Long lie in hostel, up chatted to school kids and cycled 9 miles up the coast to Sarande the next big town to get bus. Internet and get food then in hostel washed all clothing and watched champs league final 3-1 Barca

Sunday 29th May (Chris’s Birthday)

8 Hours bus trip to capital Tirana not bad £8 and didnt seem to long. We then cycled about 30 miiles north out of the city and camped by the roadside and met a albanian man who talked for about 20 minutes, seemed drunk but very nice

Monday 30th May

Up at 6am and headed north to the border for Montenegro, tough windy cycle and just a long straight road with not much to see. Had lunch by the river and a very nice man gave us a table and chairs. Pushed on after lunch and into Montenegro, lovely place and great cycling. We camped late and got invited in by a very nice family for coffee and lemonade and sweets. We then got offered to stay so we did and also played 5aside football with the son. Not a lot of sleep and a busy day but good.

Tuesday 31st May

Left our hosts and packed the bikes. Tired from the long day, we set out for 30 very hilly miles, stopped at a lovely resort on the beach for lunch. Breathtaking view. A few more up and downs in the afternoon, near the end of the day we took a horrible wrong turning for about 20 miles and got to a dead end and I got a flat tyre it was the lowest point so far. Pumped up tyre and cycled 7 miles with half flat tyre and fell off the bike ontot my knee. Very bad night, camped in a horrible spot cant wait for morning.

Wednesday 1st June

Woke and fixed my tyre. Hungry, thirsty and in a shit mood. Fixed tyre hope it holds. Got food and Chris lost his glasses so we went back to the camp but no sign of them. Long morning cycling the route we had done yesterday didnt speak much and slept through lunch. Pushed on after and stopped for coffee, feeling better, the afternoon was good and we had a few big hills to reach the Croatian border. We crossed and met a Czech lad doing a 2 month cycle and stayed for a bit together. Found great camp for the night. Very good day

Thursday 2nd June

Good 6am rise on the bikes at 7:30 and cycled for Dubrovnik. Nice views of the sea to the left and the road was fairly flat a few ups and downs , shops are scarce and getting water is a worry but should be ok. Rained in the afternoon and got quite hilly, was a bit down as may need to stop early if it chucks it. We then popped into Bosnia for about 1 hours 30 mins took a coffee at a petrol station was good. Noticed my tyre was getting flat pumped it up and cycled into Croatia again early camp 5:30pm and fixed flat now for food

Friday 3rd June

Felt good as we started the day but it was very tough going, lots of ups and downs hard to get a rhythm. Early start so got good miles done. Fully stocked with food for the day. Before lunch we got on the motor way very stupid as miles of nothing and we were starving. Started to panic as no shade cycled on for about 5 miles until we got picked up and told we were not allowed on the road. good lads chatted football and got us back on the smaller roads PHEW! very tough after lunch hardest so far and a huge climb not sure how i managed it but ot up and a coffee at the top

Saturday 4th June

Today we planned to have a rest day but cycled 30 miles into Omis it was a good cycle lots of big downhills, got a good go pro video. Found a nice cheap apartment to chill out in for a couple of days. Done a new blog and washed all our clothes.

Sunday 5th June

Went into town for many coffee’s and sat a chatted via FB with Ella, its always good to hear from her. Went for a swim and ate, talked about food lots. Really want to get moving now bit bored being stuck. But Omis is lovely and has bee n good resting the legs.

Monday 6th June

Left the apartment and cycled through the familiar city centre and onwards through the coast and north to Split. It was one of the flattest days and we got some good miles done early. Lots of good chat and good food. Nice 2 hr coffee stop and good chat later in the day. Found yet another good soft camp spot but my mat went down easily at night might have a puncture. Not a great sleep woke a few times about 5am and thought of breakfast yum

Tuesday 7th June

Usual early start 6am rise for us. I felt very tired and not in a great mood not sure why. Morning was nice and flat again but it looks like rain. Cycled north to Zadar along the coast and got a Lidl it was the first we had seen for a while so stocked up on goodies. Looked like rain so got cover for lunch, wasnt great took ages to cook and found out my mat is fucked not ideal bit of a downer! tough cycle after lunch was worried we wouldn’t find a coffee shop but we did YAS! night camped on private land, told to move but sweet talked him.

Wednesday 8th June

Had a horrible night hardly had any sleep, there was a massive thunder-storm at night all dripping into the tent, I had never seen/heard anything like it. Flat tyre again so changed the inner tube as may have wrecked it cycling when half flat. Got good miles done. Had lunch at a wee cafe ate loads, soup, bread, rice, chips, sprite and salad. Pushed on after lunch again hilly and one huge downhill. Stopped for ice cream and coffee it was well earned.

Thursday 9th June

Good sleep even though we were camped right by the road. Back into the hills for more climbing as we headed north to Slovenia. It was a fairly cold grey day as we followed the coast north. It threatened to rain all day. We got a superb fatty lunch of pizza, cheese bacon twist and a chocolate donut. We stopped just off the motor way to eat, within 5 minutes it was thundering down so we took refuge under a bridge for about an hour. As the day got worse we called it a day and booked into a cheap apartment for the night.

Friday 10th June

We had booked into a place for the night to see out the bad weather before our assault on Slovenian/Italian border. We caught up on the internet chat and washed clothes, and chilled and hit the supermarket to stock up on a decent cooked meal or 2 and a intake of fruit and veg. We enjoyed some average and some decent american sitcoms and rested. It was nice. all clean as had gone 4 days without a shower…nice

Saturday 11th June

We had a huge climb to the slovenian border, slow and steady was the plan for the morning. It was very busy at the border and we used our last 23kn on 2 lovely cold ice creams before crossing. We were only in Slovenia for about an hour but it was some of the nicest cycling so far. We then crossed into Italy, i was so happy as we had come north and now we got to go west for a change. Cycled 90 miles, very hard to find a camp, flat tyre number 4 and camped behind a house and fixed tyre

Sunday 12th June

Rained at night but all dry in the morning bonus. Long straight road and we were both quite flat today for some reason, nice to be on a flat road but i miss the excitement of not knowing whats around the corner. Thought lots about Ella and our travels and how much i enjoyed sharing them with her. Lunch in Treviso had lasagna. Nice cycle after lunch and found a perfect camp after a lovely coffee shop at a quaint little cafe.

Monday 13 June

Seems like it rained last night but never heard any. Just grey today the whole sky as far as i could see. We had read in the paper it was to be like this with rain in the north so we headed SW to Monselice and west. Followed a road for about 20 miles then suddenly turned into a motor way, we had to go back on the hard shoulder to get off much to the annoyance of many many motorists, flashing the classic italian hand gesture. No real sign as to the route we were on so went with what felt right and thankful it was but we did seem to go in a bit of a circle felt a long was but not on the map. Lidl lunch of pasta x2 plus sausage and stocked up on snacks and dinner. Light rain in the day, good camp but some sort of disco going took a while to nod off, maybe the disco or the 3 coffees from earlier

Tuesday 14th June 

Woke to pure sunshine YAS, cycled for Montova felt good but ass very sore! getting close to 10:30 we stopped and met a lad from Slovenia and cycled for a while with him about 15 miles or so. At lunchtime he offered to treat us to a coffee so we stopped in a beautiful little village and had a good chat and good coffee. Was a great change for the day as was a fairly boring road, we all headed for Cremona before separating as we got a late Lidl lunch. pushed on for another 30 mins then coffee time again. DECAF. Cycled on for a while to find the all important camp spot, found a nice little spot beside a river just off the road. A good days cycle

Wednesday 15th June

Good sleep felt fresh, very quick morning on the bike today stopped for a cappuccino to break up the morning at 10:15 in a petrol station it was the best coffee i have had. Headed for Pavia to then head south to Genoa. Really good day cycling good rhythm and good chat. Lunch at penny market (poor mans lidl) russian salad sausage, choc muffin, peach all good. Cycled on to Tortona for coffee and to get dinner. We plan to cycle to Genoa tomorrow morning and rest up before france. Got good camp just off the road and very covered. A good day and close to a rest.

Thursday 16th June

We cycled 50 miles in the morning into Genoa. It was a weird cycle and we got a bit lost on the way, quite expensive for a 1 star hotel so we got a cheaper 2 star option! done the usual washing and got online for a bit and caught up on everything. Got some food in and had a wee wander it was not what i thought it was going to be like and i was quite disappointed but glad to get the rest. I dont really enjoy being stuck in a hotel and with so many people around, give me a quiet field any day. Chris went to bank to get money out card not working will need to call tomorrow.

Friday 17th June

We have breakfast included so i ate 5 croissants and 4 toast all with jam. We walked around not really sure what for except to get online. Wrote a blog and Chris called the bank who said they didnt block the card so we tried again and again and finally got some money we jumped for joy! We used the last of the fuel to cook gnocchi for lunch, watched italian tv and chilled, we went out for coffee later that night and got all packed for the road. Bored of hotel just want to get going and head for France.

Saturday 18th June

Up early to get the fek out of Genoa, went to check out but the reception was shut so we just left the keys hanging by the shutter and cycled out the city, took a while (i hate city center’s) and we followed the coast all day. A few ups and downs but was ok. Great lunch and wifi bonus. Long afternoon didn’t think we would find a camp but found the only bit for miles!

Sunday 19th June

We cycled up hill straight away, nice start to the day. Was a nice coastal cycle into France just before lunch we had that in Monaco, pushed on to Nice for a coffee and a dip in the sea, very nice and go pro video action. Cycled on till 7 got a flat and had to get a campsite, very nice got gas to cook hot meal so nice to get rice in again, great day.

Monday 20th June

Set off from the campsite at 8am and headed along the coast to St. Raphael before we left the coast for the first time and headed inland. It was nice to have fuel again to cook. I was looking forward to lunch already, hotdogs and rice. Got stocked up on snacks at lidl nice! after lunch i struggled..so hot and dry and hilly, was tough but we cycled on and got coffee it was beautiful just south of Provence and very pretty. Very beautiful cycle at night, lovely country lanes and cracking scenery. Got a nice camp spot pf the road nice and to a great day.

Tuesday 21st June

Up and straight on the road! Chris had a flat and there was about a million little midge type things in our face very annoying. Tyre done we cycled on for a bit to have breakfast and chris got his second flat of the day, once fixed we pushed on and before stopping for a coffee i got a flat and took an age to find it and fix it, just got to lunch with 30 miles done disappointing. So hot after lunch very hard to cycle in but we got good miles done and had coffee later and had a big push that night to get to 70 miles for the day and camped and had a great dinner. shallots, bacon and rice.

Wednesday 22nd June

Stopping later to rest so cycled good fast miles in the morning, stopped for coffee as had 6am wake up. I got a new flat and ripped inner tube so replaced it and got on our way. We done over 40 miles in just 2.5 hours and stopped in Arles its very beautiful little french town. Got hotel and done the washing etc and rested. It was nice esp the afternoon nap. Chilled later and didn’t sleep till midnight after watching the start of a random film, got stomach cramps at night not great felt very ill almost spewed!

Thursday 23rd June

Nice long lie then eggs and french stick was good! had a wander after lunch found a wee cafe with food for the road. Chilled and listened to Gervais podcasts. Almost asleep again but watched french tv. Packed ready for the off tomorrow, i hate checking out and getting back out of town. Looking forward to the next 3 days into Toulouse and getting closer to Ella.

Friday 24th June

Checked out and didn’t pay!! they never asked so we presumed it was on the house. Cycled in a big circle for 30 miles and back into Arles (don’t ask)  decided to get a train to Montpellier as we lost so much tome and on a tight schedule home! got lost in city centre due to road works very very annoying. Eventually got out and heading to Toulouse. Coffee stop before pushing on to cut the miles for next 2 days.

Saturday 25th June

Really tough headwinds, people enjoying beers at 10am! Woke today and headed for Toulouse roasting hot day today long 80 mile day v v hot and hilly. Joined by a oldish lad for a while, had to find a camp spot all private land and farm land everywhere. Found an ok spot by a river. Stopped for coffee at a random bar good mugs used there!

Sunday 26th June

Woke to head for the Grant’s abode today. Was a long 77 mile day another roasting 35c day. stopped for lunch at bakery beside coffee shop all good. 2 more hot hot hours and we got there. Game of french boules and into the pool, tried to call the wife but she had gone to see Kings Of Leon lucky lady. Ate so well duck, ribs, sausage, pasta and tatties. Amazing food and a great family.

Monday 27th June

Chilled today was roasting outside, sat and enjoyed daytime tv (they have british tv) bit of Jeremy Kyle, and homes under the hammer. Updated photos etc and done media updates. Watched Andy Murray game v Gasquet. Called Ella as she took a half day, was good to speak to her after 5 weeks made me happy but sad as i want to be with her. Out to the pool again still so hot. Spoilt again with amazing BBQ then choc pudding. Met a crazy scottish lad called martin while here im obsessed as he was so quirky and funny (not intentionally) AMAZING TIME AMAZING HOSTS

Tuesday 28th June

Up had breakfast with our hosts, said goodbye and cycled north to Scotland. Overcast today and ment to be 30c so glad of the cover. Nice morning cycle and stopped for coffee, some lad popped over for a chat. Pushed on for lunch and realized despite following the signs we had gone SE for about 20 miles very annoying, we changed route and went north again, annoying after a good morning as we eventually found our way i was sure we were on the right route but we asked a lad just getting in a car on the road we were on, turns out it was the right road and he gave us his spare french road map, we tore all the pages no good to us, means we can plan route much better. A tough day and not in the best of moods

Wednesday 29th June

 Looked like rain at night so we put the full tent up and thankfully so it did rain and at 6am when we woke it was still coming down, it was forecast but thought we would miss it being further north. Snoozed and up a 8am made the decision to get going it was grey and spitting and rain was in the distance but I didn’t want to wait on the rain coming to us stuck in a tent. My legs where sore and still had sore knee and problems with left hamstring again. Tough day mentally, probably the lowest i had been not really sure why maybe just all the days and miles catching up but the thought of not making the ferry is on my mind and having to get a train if we cant make it kills me. Mentally the toughest day i have but getting through this is all part of the challenge and one of the reasons I wanted to do this. Another 10 miles going the wrong way later and all round tough day.

Thursday 30 June

Woke today feeling better. Cycled into a town and we passed through after making wrong turn last night, nice flat road and some really nice scenery, felt better but legs still giving me problems, very long uphills. Just not straight up but very steady very tiring after so long on bike. Day 51 im told by Chris. Great lunch in a park then usual trying to get out city centre, eventually did and got good roads all the way north today. So average today due to climbs and we stayed high in the hills all afternoon. Nice place to stop for coffee got dinner. good day

Friday 1st July

Freezing night last night was all snuggled up and still cold, should of gone with the fly sheet to keep heat in. Another tough day up hill and  into horrible headwinds. Few long down hills took us out the hills for a while but back up we went. Nice spot of lunch in the park and a few big downhills after lunch was very welcome. We are now fixed on getting north and getting the ferry. Chris is getting annoyed by the lack of average speed but we cant do much uphill all day and into wind. Checked the map again looks a long way and we need flat roads soon, i reckon we get them in a day or so. Loads of downhills into Clermont-Ferrand and very nice late miles done, 80+ for the day.

Saturday 2nd July

Flat morning all good, nice early miles done. had to fix tyre again in the morning. Great day mostly flat and great temperature perfect for cycling. Went online to send Ella a message. Not a big lunch and almost out of food late on as no shops in sight, luckily got one late on and Chris went wild for the food!! I fixed a new puncture as i waited and was quicker than Chris in the shop. TDF started today.

Sunday 3rd July

Back to the ups and downs in the morning, very nice country roads all morning passed by about 500 motorbikes it was one of the coolest things on the trip. Nice little coffee in the afternoon tough cycling though. Stopped for lunch at a wee rest stop. Got to Auxerre and Chris decided he didn’t want to stop there so we went on and took an age to find another place to get food and a drink, I got a bit annoyed but only cause i was hungry and thirsty. Got a rubbish dinner.

Monday 4th July

Great sleep about 10 hours felt good for it in the morning. Really nice cycling in the morning through the champagne region just east Paris. Headwinds are again slowing us down but we still get the miles done. nice spot of lunch by the river, duck pate and cheese and bread. Big push after lunch got a puncture AGAIN went on for a bit and found a wee coffee and internet place didn’t get to a shop for lunch so looks like we are having chocolate rice should be good. If we 80 miles for the next 4 days each day we will make the ferry with a day to spare. Camped and nice naked cold shower by the side of the road.

Tuesday 5th July

Slept ok not as cold as has been in the morning. Today was a lovely sunny morning, we headed for Epernay to pick up a spare inner tube as mine is fucked and keeps going down and very worn inside. Also picked up some new socks. Good afternoon cycle, annoying with flies sticking to out whole body and ate about a million. Few uphills after lunch and stopped for a wee coffee before pushing on for the night. Oh also a guy in a bar at 10am got his knob out and done the ‘helicopter’

Wednesday 6th July

Cycling onto the border today will cross into Belgium, good miles in the morning but started to belt down and we got drenched. Stopped for lunch at Aldi, Chris chatted to a lad who is a scout for Mons FC, turns out his ringtone is flower of scotland crazy!! Weather got better in the afternoon, was good cycle north to the Capital was a nightmare though, getting out was terrible. At night we struggled to find a camp spot but found a hotel as planned and even a camp spot, but found a small village and blagged a camp on some farmers land.

Thursday 7th July 

No shower for 10 days we are getting a hotel today! easy cycle for 20 or 30 miles in the morning got a coffee and got a place in Antwerp. So nice to get a hot shower and close to the ferry. Got online to speak to Ella. Crazy to think how close we are to home now. Looking forward to getting to Holland and the ferry

Friday 8th July

Left Antwerp headed for holland, no border sign or nothing going into holland(disappointing) easy cycle as flat but legs feeling it still. Left cleat is fucked and cant clip in properly. Camped just south of Rotterdam in a field behind a house, just made it and had dinner before the rain came. Rained most of the night and slugs all over the tent.

Saturday 9th-Tuesday 12th 

I never wrote anything else after friday I cant remember why maybe because we where so close and all I could think about was getting on the ferry and getting home on time. Anyway we made it home for my brothers 30th Birthday and I was very very happy. Thanks for reading hope you enjoyed my diary…..