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…..