Monday, 25 April 2011

Bikes and Bits

As promised this is the boring bit where I share information on the kit we’re using during the trip. Ok, so now I’m talking to myself but who knows, somebody may stumble across this site and be interested to know all the toys that I’ve wasted the kid’s inheritance on. The idea is that, at the end of the trip, I’ll review the kit and let my reader know where to pick up the rubbish bits on ebay .

The bikes are Specialized Vita Sport and Specialized Sirrus Elite with Shimano A530 Pedals and Schwalbe marathon plus tyres. Bikes were chosen on the advice of friends and from research on the net. I wanted drop bars and the full road racing bike image. The reason being that, as a kid, I had the all steel  Raleigh Special with full chain guard, full mud guards, dynamo, saddle bag, bell, and a cycling proficiency flag fixed to the handlebars. My brother had the Falcon road bike. I looked like a ship yard worker while he looked like he was on his way to the Tour de France. Unfortunately, this time round, common sense made me choose the Specialized hybrid and now I look like an old demented shipyard worker in his lycra long johns. We did 4,000 km last year and they’re very comfortable and reliable bikes.
We thought long and hard whether to go for trailers or panniers. Trailers won and we chose Carry Freedom - Freedom City Trailers. They’re light, versatile, stable and don’t look out of place being wheeled into an hotel. The hitch to the bike is innovative – a lump of polymer.  If it falls apart in less than 7500km, I’ll not be a happy Easter bunny.
In the next exciting instalment, I’ll tell you all about our tent. …..
Bye the way Mary’s doing fine.

Friday, 22 April 2011

On The Mend

It's now two weeks since Mary came off the bike, broke her wrist and injured her thigh. A very painful and disconcerting time with the leg injury causing the biggest problem. I thought very hard about fixing a couple of large bells in the roof of the barn to add the finishing touches to her very good impression of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. The suggestion did not go down well and the pain in my groin caused by a precision blow from the plaster caste will remind me to be a little more sympathetic. Although there is still some uncertainty about our exact start date, Mary is now much more confident that she will soon be back on the static training bike and then back on the road when the plaster comes off. The French medical system and the people who work in it are fantastic. As an example, today we went to the doctors at 0930 to check the plaster and the mobility of the leg. By lunch time, the arm had been checked by the surgeon, stitches removed and a new plaster fitted. By mid afternoon, ten sessions of physiotherapy had been organised! Once again we remind ourselves how lucky we are.
In the next post, I'll get back to the important stuff and take a look at the kit we'll be using! I'll also keep you posted on my bruises.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Old Broken Bones on Bikes

This was supposed to be the boring bit of the blog where I listed all the preparations. Mary breaking her wrist was not on the "to do" list. We set off on Thursday for one of our training rides and we were enjoying glorious sunshine when we spotted an alsation dog walking on the opposite side of the road. Having been knocked off my bike the previous week by three excitable dogs, I eased off the pace and Mary who was also watching the dog,clipped my back wheel. It was immediately obvious that this was more than a scraped elbow event. The operation to realign the bones and fix with a plate was yesterday.
Mary is being very stoic and determined to carry on with our plans. I'll see what the surgeon has to say later today!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Where are we going?

Not quite sure how we decided to tackle this route. Started with a look at the Eurovelo site and the maze of long distance cycle paths covering Europe and I think Mary was attracted to the idea of following the sun. We mentioned it to a few of our friends and the general reaction was a very polite "daft idea" and "not at your age surely". I guess that settled it!
The route looked straightforward at first with a detailed description on the Eurovelo site but I should have learnt by now to always read the small print. Scandinavian countries appeared well organised with all the route signposted but down at the other end, Italy was still thinking about it!
Next, a check on the web to find others who had completed the route. Lengthy search found 3 blogs and a google map. Many thanks to the authors of those sites for their efforts and inspiration. Unfortunately, they all followed completely different routes to the point of travelling on opposite sides of the country in Sweden and Italy. The official Eurovelo map arrived - chocolate teapot.  With just six weeks to go, we're still trawling over maps and the internet. We'll have to make a decision soon!

For those planning a similar journey,I've listed below, the sites that I found most useful in checking out the route. Please contact if you would like a list of the many other sites that we have found helpful.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Plan, plan,plan

We've been planning this trip for some time and we have spent many hours on the net searching out information on routes, equipment, accommodation, training and much more. Maybe there are others out there who are contemplating a similar adventure so we thought to begin by sharing what we have learnt and later, in the blog during the trip, we'll let you know what worked for us and what didn't.  As Alan is not renowned for his creative writing ability,  he'll be producing the first blogs on the decisions made to date. For the more interesting story of what happens during the journey, you'll have to wait until the end of May when the cycling begins. Mary will be posting  the daily blog.