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Hello and Welcome back!

May 2nd, 2012

A big sorry for the sudden drop off in blogging, the end of the cycling suddenly hit me and I was finding it quite difficult to cope. Life seemed fast passed and everybody seemed so busy, I went from having one focus, cycling, to having to think about many things at once.

Over the next weeks I shall be finishing off the bikeabout blog, telling the story of my journey back through Europe last winter, the return to England and finally what’s next. Although I suspect that some of the latter will be up to you. There will also be a big kit review for all the geeks out there. If you don’t want to miss anything make sure you are signed up to get the blogs by email, RSS, Facebook or Twitter.

I was asked ‘Is it strange to be back’; initially I said ‘NO’. Things were quite normal, I was moving from one place to the next seeing people and still living out of pannier bags. It was not until I finally got to spend two consecutive weeks in our flat in Manchester and was surrounded by so much stuff crammed into boxes that I suddenly felt strange. I hate to admit it but I was depressed. I decided to leave everything bikeabout behind, ignore emails and let it be. Perhaps I was delaying the end, the final blog posts that would mark the end of what has been an incredible adventure. So another sorry if you have felt let down in some way by my lack of communication it’s nothing personal I just could not cope.

However as the last of the boxes were unpacked and the flat seemed less like the biggest pannier explosion in the world, things started to get better and my attention was diverted to our wedding. What was once a distant event was now only weeks away and there was a lot to do.

flying Liz

Well the most magnificent wedding has been and gone, Liz and I are married and the next chapter of our lives begins. Before the pages of the next chapter can be written though I fell it is important for me to write and perhaps interesting for you, to read about how the previous chapter ended.

Coming Soon!

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Bikeabout London | Sat 11th Feb

February 15th, 2012

Team Bikeabout London in Gravesend

Liz & Chris

Passing the Thames Barrier

Paul from the Greenwich Cyclists


Liz & Chris with Clare Parry

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Thank you!

February 15th, 2012

After an amazing day on saturday for Bikeabout London, we spent the journey home to Chris’s mum’s house talking about all the wonderful people who made the effort to join us and support us. The journey back last night was quite long, and more and more names kept springing up as we looked back over the day.  So, overwhelmed with gratitude,  it seems only right that we should take the time to publicly thank everyone…

Firstly, thanks to all the heroic cyclists who braved the freezing cold weather to join us in Gravesend at the start of the ride start the ride: Carole, Mike, Penny, Jonathan (Crispy), Phil b, Jon, Sarah and Richard. Special thanks also to Dr Francis Sedgemore and his friend Paul, two local cyclists from Greenwich, who contacted us and offered to join us and lead the way. They did a fantastic job and made sure we all got there in once piece. It meant that Chris and I didn’t have to navigate and could spend the time chatting and cycling with our friends and family. Also a huge thanks to Clare Parry for joining us as the ‘special envoy’ for Middleham School, she even had to borrow a bike, so thank you! Full blog post coming about the ride later.

Arriving at the Gipsy Moth Pub about 3pm, we were greeted by friends, family and online followers of the blog, which was a wonderful welcome home fr us both. Having been fine a minute earlier, coming round the corner to see 30 people, with smiling faces and cheers, I felt myself welling up, overcome with emotion. We both really appreciated everyone coming down to Greenwich and giving up their Saturday to be with us (and travelling across London!), it really means a lot to us and it was so nice to see so many people.

We were extremely lucky to have 2 very generous sponsors, who kindly gave us some amazing prizes for our raffle and auction, meaning we could raise more money for our charity Child’s Dream.

Millican are based in the Lake District and have been supporting us all the way through our trip, even providing specially made ‘Gobi Coolers’ to keep our fuel bottles and laptops insulated. Millican make beautiful organic canvas bags, including shoulder bags, ipad covers and rucksacks and a lovely range of accessories, so we were thrilled to have such wonderful items to auction on the day, and there were several very happy people yesterday! Thanks very much to Nicky and Jorrit at Millican.

On the road Bramwell International crucially provided Chris with a pair of Meindl boots, when his old boots were literally about to fall apart, as well as a pair Source sandals. Bramwell International UK distributors for Source, Gregory and Meindl. Yesterday we had a whole range of fab prizes to win and the bidding on the auction was pretty competitive for  such top end prizes.

Big thanks also to Niki Wilson for helping us organise everything on the day and for setting up in the pub before we arrived, and helping publicise the event. Huge thanks to Richard Moss for doing the auction for us and helping people part with their hard earned cash for a good cause – great job!

A special thanks to Martin Burrows, who paid for Chris’s ferry crossing, met him in Dover at 4am and arranged accommodation for him, as well as breakfast. Martin also joined us in Greenwich and did a fantastic job, going round the pub collecting money from anyone and everyone he could, raising about £80 in coins alone!

Thanks also to Karen Sprunt and the girls at St Swithun’s school in Winchester for designing the ‘Welcome Home’ banner, which was hanging up for all to see.

Thanks to Sarah and Joshua Wilton for making some of the finest cup cakes to be found and selling them with all profits going to Child’s Dream.

Thanks to the staff at the Gipsy Moth Pub, Elaine and Mark, for letting us hold our party there and looking after us all day.

But of course, we must really thank everyone for coming on the day, for buying raffle tickets, cakes and bidding in the auction, helping us raise a whopping £1,070 for Child’s Dream!

THANK YOU!!!!!!

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St Swithun’s Banner Competition

February 6th, 2012

I set the students at St Swithun’s School in Winchester a challenge to created drawings to go on the welcome home banner for Bikeabout London on 11th Feb, to welcome Chris home.

Having spent all day with them telling them about our trip, showing photos and letting them see all of our equipment, they had plenty to go on.  Together with Teacher Karen Sprunt, we suggested that they think about what Chris might have missed whilst being away and also what type of bike you might want to do a round the world trip.

The pupils also raised £100 for our charity,  Child’s Dream in the process, by paying to enter the competition. These are the winning entries…

A huge well done and thank you to everyone who entered, and congratulations to the winners:

Grace aged 6

Rose aged 9

Alice L aged 8

Melissa aged 8

Madeleine aged 9

Jessie aged 4 – overall winner!

Sarah aged 10

Keturah aged 4

Alice aged 7

Hermione aged 5

Phoebe aged 10

Em aged 10

I am very impressed at the level of detail in the pictures, the colourfulness and creativity, but also how much thought went into the drawings. I’m sure that Chris will be very touched when he sees the big welcome home banner as he reaches Greenwich, London.

THANK YOU ST SWITHUN’S!!

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Some snippets from Chris…

February 5th, 2012

Some of you may have been missing our regular posts, but as Chris has been battling sub zero temperatures  and a broken stove whilst trying to cover a lot of distant is short space of time, there isn’t much time left in the day for blogging. So I thought I would share with you some of the snippets I have had from Chris, sent via email using his Kindle…

26th Jan

Had an interesting two days, snow, ice, big hills, 3 punctures, 1 broken tyre, a wrong turn that took me about 30km the wrong way, that was yesterday, only thirty km. Just got to main road, having food, as only had an apple all day. Will try and stay on the main road now. Had to avoid it because of motor way. Oh and my boots froze. All good though, a bit of an adventure to spice up the blog. Depending on how today goes will be in Germany tonight or tomorrow.

Later: It was a bit stupid, and I’ve demoted myself to trainee navigator. Will see how the road goes, on my map its motorway but really I think it’s a big road, we shall see. Having my second lunch now. Ha ha have to eat so much to keep going at the moment.

[When we cycle together I usually navigate and am called Chief Navigator, however when I make a mistake and get us lost, not very often I might add, then Chris always jokes that I am being demoted to Trainee Navigator.]

27th Jan

Made it to Germany. Met nice lady, also cycle tourer, she suggested a good route then bought me a map, then took me to the tourist info to get more maps.  They also gave them to me, got a picture outside tourist info. So going to follow these two rivers, just got a big hill to get over tomorrow. Me and legs v tired.

Later: Sleeping in tent, need to work out distances, could do with a day off  – legs scream on every hill v annoying. Might try and get over this hill tomorrow then see, need to be patient with nav on small roads or sod it and take the big road not sure. Everyone here has been friendly. So good middle day, bad evening with small roads and sore legs. Will just have to plod on, love u miss u.

28th Jan

Had quite a good day in the end. Took the main road which was good, the cycle route was steep and deep snow. Met a guy who invited me to his house. Got here, very nice – a bed, a shower and going to have a sauna soon. The big hill was not that big at all, so a lot of worry about nothing, it was clear of snow too thankfully. Having lunch here tomorrow, then off.

Later: Ahhhhhhhhhh so nice, good food, good company. The adapter we use for the laptop got left in Prague, so no power for laptop, will get a new one this week.

29th Jan

Hope to be there [Cologne] in about five days max. Hope to get a charger tomorrow, but need to cycle like crazy now. Snow is a real pain so might have to stick to the roads, basic plan was to follow the  cycle path to Frankfurt then the Rhine to Cologne, then west to Dunkirk.

30th Jan

Spent this morning getting maps and route info from tourist info. Got new adapter, but does not seem to be working. Might be cold or could be broken. Had two falls on the ice so far.

31st Jan

A good day, bivi’d last night, got scared by the otters or beavers, as I thought they were crocks. Then decided there were no crocks in Germany and a beaver would be unlikely to nibble on me, but if it did, it would hurt. Then I thought of the beavers in Narnia and they were nice.

Today was good, met an interesting guy who is an actor in theater and a playwright. He brought me coffee and cake and we chatted for about two hours. So cycled into the night again 95km, 6 hours, could have done the last 5km but a good camp spot came up on the edge of town. My short cut paid off over the hills, will follow the river now to Frankfurt.

MSR stove not working again, but by alternating the gas cans under my jacket, I got a cup of tea :)

Germans are really nice, but they think I am nuts for camping and that London is a long way to cycle to.

-8 outside the tent, -3 in,  am toasty, not cold at all. Was sweating buckets up the hill and the water was frozen on the bike! So all is good here, massive night after night riding till ten pm.

1st Feb

I am so tired I can’t even think straight. Then it takes an hour to make a cup of tea. It’s all good though, it’s a lovely route, if I had a little more time and the tent and stove were not broken all would be v good. Anyway I did 95km today still 45km from the start of the Rhine unfortunately. I think I will just make it for Bikeabout London, but I will be knackered when I get there. Ha Ha!

Thanks for getting back to Martin, that’s great news esp the vip lounge, maybe I should keep my boots on this time!

[Our friend Martin who we met in Beijing, has very kindly arranged and paid for the ferry for Chris from Dunkirk to Dover on 9th Feb, with a VIP upgraded too. Thanks Martin!]

2nd Feb

Did 104km then a cyclist took me in :-)

3rd Feb

Was up chatting late, the guy does quite a bit of cycling and going to Japan soon. Just eating a massive massive second breakfast. -10 today he he plenty warm enough though.

Long day, over 100km I think – speedo is on the bike still, stove broke in another way now, so had to swap gas cans to get a cup of tea.

4th Feb

Not too bad here, frustrating day with wobbly trailer again, but should still make the 100km, then Cologne tomorrow. -12 last night. Just got to find the cycle path again and hope it’s better quality than this am. Sometimes it takes you on a mystery tour about town, then disappears. Having lunch at what I hope is the right junction!

5th Feb

All good, just having coffee in a cafe. I camped a bit out of town, did 95km and stopped as perfect camping and close to coffee in the morning. Bivi’d at -11 at least last night, was cosy with just the Rab [sleeping bag] and Alpkit [bivi bag]. So hope to make it to Cologne today and have some time off tonight. Tempted to ditch the trailer in Cologne – don’t want to be stopping every 5 mins to sort it out, like in China. Kindle does not work at-11 – the battery thinks it flat!

Chris still has 400km to cycle and needs to catch the ferry from Dunkirk on Thursday. Please give him your support on this final stretch, in the cold temperatures, to keep him going.

If you want to welcome him home, we will be cycling into Greenwich on Saturday 11th Feb.  To join us and for more details see:  Bikeabout London or we will be in Ambleside, Cumbria a week later, see: Bikeabout Ambleside.

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