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Category: Journal of a solo cyclist

  • Day 58 – Oslo

    Day 58 – Oslo

    I’m so excited to be riding into Oslo over the finish line today! So thrilled to be seeing my family again. Bright blues skies and hot. Tyrone navigated the way from Moss, passed his house in Ås, lunch in Ski, and soon we are speeding downhill into Oslo. Megs and Ste are waiting with my one […]

  • Day 55 to 57 – Gothenburg to Henån to Vassbotten to Moss.

    Day 55 to 57  – Gothenburg to Henån to Vassbotten to Moss.

    The mood at breakfast in Gothenburg is jovial. We guzzle most of the buffet. I’m so relieved and happy to have Tyrone here. Massive mossy granite boulders push up through the oats fields. Trees balance the rocky cracks. These hills are perfectly spaced for cyclists to whizz down for 10 seconds and struggle up the […]

  • Day 54 – Varberg to Gothenburg

    Day 54 – Varberg to Gothenburg

    Swedish bitters An internet-free day cycling north along the Kattegattleden 1 track towards Gothenburg. The cycle track is well signposted and easy going. This has got to be the most beautiful part of Sweden? Swathes of soft oats and mixed greens blow along the rocky coastline. Shining water dotted with islands, humble harbours and red […]

  • Day 52 and 53 – Ängelholm – Halmstad – Varberg

    Day 52 and 53 – Ängelholm – Halmstad – Varberg

    Long distance solo cycling, 3500 kms south of Goteborg on my way to Oslo

  • Day 51 – Copenhagen to Ängelholm

    Day 51 – Copenhagen to Ängelholm

    Morning came blessed in heavenly cloud. A respite from the heat. I said an early goodbye to my lovely niece Kealena in Copenhagen. My little brother, who is almost 2 m tall, escorted me out of town and north along the flat sandy shores towards Helsingør to catch the ferry over to Sweden. The eastern […]

  • Day 49 and 50 – Køge to Copenhagen

    Day 49 and 50 – Køge to Copenhagen

    Creeping up to Copenhagen Now that I’m in a true bicycle realm, Kealena and Bruce kindly gave me a crash course in cycling, thereby avoiding unnecessary calamity. Hostels are great for cyclists. But be aware that here in the north you can rent sheets and towels for an extra fee, and you must clean the […]

  • Day 48 – Rødbyhavn to Køgel

    Day 48 – Rødbyhavn to Køgel

    Part 3 Early morning hangs grey in the Danish sky. While loading the bike this morning the front door blows shut and cannot be opened again. My panniers are still inside the foyer. I have already put my key into a box at the automatic reception. A man smoking in the carpark says “oh my […]

  • Day 46 and 47 – Hamburg to Rødby

    Day 46 and 47 – Hamburg to Rødby

     Day 46 – Hamburg to Scharbeutz. It was a sunshine and birdsong day as we joyfully rolled out of town, the three of us on our eeeee-bikes. It took us most of the morning to get going. City exits are complicated. Once you’re out into the lushous countryside cycling is a breeze. This cycle path […]

  • Day 44 – 45 – Zeven to Hamburg

    Day 44 – 45 – Zeven to Hamburg

    The day began at Zeven. Cycling happily between perfectly manicured and manured farms. Paved cycle paths travel parallel to the main roads towards Buxtehude. In town the tranquil pedestrian zone is decorated with copious flower baskets. I make a reconnaissance mission into a shop to buy a lightweight jacket. It’s the first time I’ve been […]

  • Day 43 – Neubruchhausen to Zeven – Bremen

    Day 43 – Neubruchhausen to Zeven – Bremen

    In our bookcase at home is an original translation of the Grimm’s fairy tales.  Imagined it would be good to type out the true story of the Bremen musicians for you. The Travelling Musicians – Grimm’s fairy tale. An honest farmer had once an ass, that had been a faithful servant to him a great […]

  • Day 41 & 42 – Drensteinfurt to Osnabrück to Neubruchhausen

    Day 41 & 42 – Drensteinfurt to Osnabrück to Neubruchhausen

    If you write down all the little details of the day when you’re living in isolation, the page begins to take on a pattern of “I” marks. It is too easy to make this egotistical line when describing a solo bike ride, and eventually it becomes so monotonous it almost makes you cry.   That’s […]

  • Day 39 & 40 – Duisburg to Datteln to Drensteinfurt

    Day 39 & 40 – Duisburg to Datteln to Drensteinfurt

    Now in the North Rhine-Westphalia area of Germany, and trying to follow the Industrial heritage route for cyclists. My phone died just twenty minutes after setting out, so I’m on a higgledy-piggledy quest to find the way towards who-knows-where. Real cyclists would have the full kit of maps and apps. They would have done some […]

  • Day 38 – Monheim am Rhein to Duisburg – Goodbye Rhine.

    Day 38 – Monheim am Rhein to Duisburg – Goodbye Rhine.

    The sun gradually dragged the billowing sky down to the smoking chimney stacks. A giant storm growled through dinner, but not a drop of rain fell on my Erdinger sponsored umbrella at the factory food place. Getting here by cycle track from Monheim am Rhein took me through Düsseldorf, where an enthusiastic young man at […]

  • Day 37 – Bad Honnef to Monheim am Rhein

    Day 37 – Bad Honnef to Monheim am Rhein

    Each turn of the pedals becomes a brush stroke in my miniscule picture-book of experience. Spinning out of the Sankt Goar gorge with all it’s high castles and history (a testament to the terrifying past) and into the modern future. After a good breakfast with good friends of course. Magnificent riding along the river from […]

  • Day 34 – 36 – Loreley

    Day 34 – 36 – Loreley

    Simon left Rome very early in the morning and landed at Frankfurt-Hahn airport, hired a car and drove to meet me at Oberwesel. Happily freewheeled down the hill to find him waiting in the car park.  We wandered through the quaint town and milky coffee and a large slice of romantic cake at the Konditorei-caffè […]

  • Day 32 – Nackenheim to Assmanshausen to Oberwesel

    Day 32 – Nackenheim to Assmanshausen to Oberwesel

    This illustration is slightly imaginative, conjured up from memory. The poplar trees keep me company all along the cycle track on the river dykes. I hope to paint them again plein-air. Wurstsalat has been the bug on every menu since Freiburg. At the biergarten in Bingen a woman sitting near me ordered it, so I […]

  • Day 31 – Ludwigshafen am Rhein to Nackenheim

    Day 31 – Ludwigshafen am Rhein to Nackenheim

    Today the wind came up against me. The tall poplar trees along the river bank clapped their leaves. Sounds like a standing ovation – tree applause. Birds of prey skim from the blue sky over the bristling wheat fields searching for mice. A river of this magnitude begins with a twinkle on a mountain peak […]

  • Day 30 – Neuberg to Ludwigshafen

    Day 30 – Neuberg to Ludwigshafen

    2000 kms Jesolo eis happened to be at the 2000 km mark. There a lovely young lady called Kira kindly served me a trophy pistachio and fresh kiwi sundae to celebrate. This morning I woke up at seven in Hotel Sonne in Neuberg feeling a little guilty at the tardiness. Gulped a quick breakfast and […]

  • Days 28 and 29 – Erstein – Strasbourg – Marienthal

    Days 28 and 29 – Erstein – Strasbourg – Marienthal

    Today I rode passed an army barracks onto a narrow path in the woods. A regiment of soldiers came jogging at me in single file. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a good look as I was forced to concentrate on the necessary avoidance manoeuvre. Narrow paths can be treacherous with tufts of thorny blackberries and hidden […]

  • Day 27 – Freiburg to Erstein – Cycling

    Day 27 – Freiburg to Erstein – Cycling

    A bicycle has two sides to it. Not only is cycling a mood altering activity but is virtually harmless to our Earth. It also cures diseases of the body, mind and soul. Better than yoga, better than pills, even better than a glass of wine. You can pedal elegantly along at thinking speed or beat […]

  • Day 24 – Waldshut Tiengen to Karsau – bedbugz.

    Day 24 – Waldshut Tiengen to Karsau – bedbugz.

    The only men I attract by my appearance these days, are those with noisy machines. Mowers, tractors, builders and lorry drivers. Even the rubbish truck man made a comment after a near hit. I don’t think it was complimentary.But the hoteliers usually always shake my hand when I leave, which is comforting. My ebike has […]

  • Day 22 and 23 – Rorschach to Tägerwilen to Waldshut

    Day 22 and 23 – Rorschach to  Tägerwilen to Waldshut

    My paper supply has run out so I had to use my colour tester blotting page for the illustration today. Jumped on the bike at 7:30 this morning to find only 30 kms of battery life on the display…of course I could pedal without power, but it’s going to be like riding a cow instead […]

  • Day 21-Stuben to Rorschach-going down

    Day 21-Stuben to Rorschach-going down

    Dropping down from the arms of the lovely mountain today, with the Alfenz stream happily cascading at my side. From Stuben to Bludenz to Nenzing to Feldkirch. Dropping as a spider does, black wheels spinning below the Scots Pines. White water widens into a deep teal river and you can see the trout. As the […]

  • Day 20 -Landeck to Stuben – the Arlberg pass

    Day 20 -Landeck to Stuben – the Arlberg pass

    The thought of cycling over any Alpine pass makes me nervous, especially this one, so I delay it and dabble with my paint-box instead. Sitting flat on the road in the still sunshine and painting the river bank full of chaotic lupins, dandelions, daisies and the bright water. I’m trying to have poetic thoughts but […]

  • Day 19-Burgusio to Landeck-Austria

    Day 19-Burgusio to Landeck-Austria

    The room has no frills. A small writing table and chair. Eleven electric plugs in the space of three square meters to charge up all my appliances. Other than the battery, there is the phone, the camera, the laptop, two extra lights, and a little recharger for the phone. Up the slope from Burgusio is […]

  • Day 18 – Merano to Burgusio – ONE THOUSAND kms

    Day 18 – Merano to Burgusio – ONE THOUSAND kms

    The day begins with a bit of light pedalling up through the Val Venoster/Vinchgau valley towards the Resia/Reschen pass. This is another historical route called the Via Claudia Augusta. The locals are Italian by law but they are trilingual, German, Italian and English. Tourists are cycling down the valley to Merano in droves. They whizz […]

  • Day 17 – Trento to Merano – rainy day

    Day 17 – Trento to Merano – rainy day

    Riding along warbling a song when I hear popping noises on my helmet and my glasses turned into kaleidoscopes. It is raining again. The body is doing fine, wrapped in plastic but the atmosphere is sheer gloom. After a couple of wrong turns, it’s now full speed on track. The government has done well making […]

  • Day 16 – Riva del Garda to Trento – Southern Alps

    Day 16 – Riva del Garda to Trento – Southern Alps

    The air is cool under dark clouds today. There is nobody around. It is my father’s eighty-first birthday. I wish he was here to see this beautiful view. The only sound is the chug of a small boat in the distance, the sound bounces off the rocky cliffs. Layer upon layer of blue mountains slip […]

  • Day 15 – Mantua to Riva del Garda – a boat ride.

    Day 15 – Mantua to Riva del Garda – a boat ride.

    I’m sneaking through the bushes along a little path in the woods this morning at Mantua. A large sticky spider web attaches itself to my back, and I take its owner for a short ride before swatting and swerving crazily. A couple of swans hiss at me over their goslings. Rabbits hop about. The fairytale […]

  • Day 14 – Mirandola to Mantova – the Po River.

    Day 14 – Mirandola to Mantova – the Po River.

    Known for her exquisite beauty, Mantova of Lombardy is yet another World Heritage site.  Virgil was born nearby, and Shakespeare’s Romeo was banished here after seducing Juliet. Finding a place to stay every night is challenging.  It is midsummer and certainly a dream to cycle through this fairy landscape, but there are floods of tourists gobbling up […]

  • Day 13 – Rocca Vignola to Mirandola – being lost.

    Day 13 – Rocca Vignola to Mirandola – being lost.

    The day began with astonishing ease. Resting for a day has given my backbone a chance to realign. Valter oiled my chain and Christina gave me a hug, then I did the mad little hop onto my bike and off we went. The voices in my head were louder, and my bike was beginning to […]

  • Day 12 – Riola to Rocca di Vignola …the DOG

    Day 12 – Riola to Rocca di Vignola …the DOG

    Waiting in the pitch dark my ears tuned in for the slightest sound. But there was silence apart from a twitter of a night bird. I lay awake for a long time wondering if I should go and see if Giuseppe was ok, but he had locked the door when he left and I didn’t […]

  • Day 11 Montale to Riola. The Forest.

    Day 11 Montale to Riola. The Forest.

    Lina gave me cake and cappuccino for breakfast. My stomach was in a knot. She reminded me not to attempt the ride over the mountain: “Non devi farlo Signora, per favore!” – You are not to do it, please – They stood behind their gate and waved feebly as I rode off. On the google […]

  • Day 10 Florence-First solo day.

    Day 10 Florence-First solo day.

    FIRST SOLO DAY The sun rose and the time came to set off. Malò gave me a big breakfast and little bottle of rescue drops. I gulped down the rescue drops then read the instructions. Two drops under your tongue to absorb slowly. She also gave me a bright chrysanthemum which clipped onto my bicycle […]

  • Day9- rest day

    Day9- rest day

    Sunday arrives and it is time for Simon to leave for the train station. Malò, Guido and I watch him from under the rose bush as he heads down the valley on his bike. From up here we can see him until he is just a speck in the distance. I feel totally bereft. No […]

  • Day 8 – Radda to Poggio Pratelli

    Day 8 – Radda to Poggio Pratelli

    Saturday morning sees us waving off between lime-green vineyards. Little did we know what was ahead. But first a very fast downhill. I whizz down at the terrific speed of 58 kms per hour. Simon goes much faster. My pannier bags soar up on either side of the bike like wings. Then the nastiest hills […]

  • Day 5 – San Filippo to Buonconvento

    Day 5 – San Filippo to Buonconvento

    The sky is dark to the point of purple and rain splatters our faces. Eventually we stop and take some miserable shelter under a tree. Passing trucks dash us with dirty road spray. The sky relents slightly so we make our soggy way to San Quirico d’Orcia in search of lunch. The exquisite wild salad […]

  • Day 4 – Bolsena to Bagni San Filippo

    Day 4 – Bolsena to Bagni San Filippo

    Yesterday was a sore day. This morning both my Brooks saddle and the scenery are breathtaking. We set off after a hearty goodbye to our nun, and take the back road up and out of the crater. Stopping to look over our shoulders at Lake Bolsena who winks at us with one blue eye. Simon […]

  • Day 3 – Vetralla to Bolsena

    Day 3 – Vetralla to Bolsena

    Day 3 – Flying along on the bike this morning. Legs pump away the back pain, but the saddle, oooh the saddle. I try to be stoic. My bum blisters have ballooned. One on each cheek. I haven’t seen them yet, but they feel like incorporated gel cushions. At the coffee bar in Vetralla, a […]

  • Day 2 – Formello to Vetralla

    Day 2  – Formello to Vetralla

    Doris from Bremen introduces herself to us outside the Chapel of the Madonna del Sorba. She is walking the pilgrimage with an Italian guide, north to south like you’re supposed to. We are going contro-signage, so taking the backward facing arrows when we see them. She kindly offered me accommodation when I reach Bremen. I’m […]