Mad Man Cycling… Part One!

The first episode of John Slater’s slightly mad odyssey from Birmingham, England to Istanbul… on a cheap, no-lycra, bike!

I’m currently at home in Birmingham, following the end of work at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. There’s a few things I have to do before I can disappear for a while. I have a plan to do the start on Wednesday or Thursday but I need to talk to some people who aren’t contactable at weekends. If that works out, I’ll be cycling to Harwich before boarding a ferry to the Hook of Holland. Hopefully, there will be confirmed news on Monday.

I’m getting very squeaky about this whole thing now. It’s been seven years since I did something like this. Now I’m seven years older. As it gets close I’m starting to think… what the hell am I doing? I can’t announce the start plan yet but I can say it will need 40 miles on the first day, then get up early to set off at 6am to ride 20 miles on the second day, possibly followed by 50 miles later in the day. I’ve done no training and I’ve no idea how hard that might be. Seven years ago, through France and into Spain, my average was 45 or 50 miles a day. My work keeps me fit to a degree. It has kept me knackered recently. So… we’ll see. I’d love to say I’m not bothered, but I am.

Over £700 raised and I haven’t even cleaned the bike and pumped up the tyres yet. Wow.

In other news, about time, a plan for at least the first few days, possibly the first few weeks of the journey is starting to circle my head, like a flock of seagulls spotting someone with a bag of chips.

I thought I’d set off with nobody watching, but I have an idea for a grand depart. However, that depends on the ferry route and on Alzheimer’s Research UK. I have some questions to ask.

Then there’s the possibility of a side visit right at the start, to visit my niece who lives in Amsterdam — the world capital of cycling, whatever Katie Melua has to say on the matter. But I have to talk to Paula, the niece in question.

If I pitch up in Amsterdam, I’m tending towards following the Rhine south to around Heidelberg then cutting across to the Danube and following it east to Vienna. The alternative is to cut straight across Germany, which would be shorter but hillier. Oooh, what to do.

If this is sounding all very exotic, trust me, it seems just as unlikely to me. I’m open to input. Any thoughts? Anywhere you think I should visit?

Blimey! £700 already, plus gift aid. I’ve got to actually do this in a couple of weeks time. Aaaargh.


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