A new challenge – and finally a date

bakery in Belgium, 5am When finishing my post about Graeme Obree’s talk yesterday, I could remember that very one moment when I had shivers running down my spine. I was that very moment when he mentioned the fact that if you want to do something, just do it. If you feel confident to do something, go ahead and do it.

It was that moment which triggered me to finally come up with a date to do something which is, at the moment, a wee bit too big to imagine, even for me. Crossing Scotland, from the South-west to the North-east. On a singlespeed bike, unsupported, in one go. Without sleep. One day might be too short, count me in the ambitious but very realistic camp, so I think something like 30 hours will be the final count on the computer. We are talking about 400 miles here, which are beyond anything I have done so far. It is a HUGE undertaking, and I use that word for the first time in my language. I did hesitate loads of times to nail me down on doing it, as I was wrangling with myself if doing it is really worth it? Or shall I just convert to the 100k a day trips from the past. But it became pretty clear to me, while watching and listening to Obree speaking, that I have the potential to do it. With long hours of daylight and hopefully some ok weather, it should be fine to make the trip this summer.

It feels good having written the idea down, as this will be a good trigger to get me back into a tough training routine that I have recently slipped off it a wee bit. Having ridden all winter though, my body might have appreciated being a bit calm, those days are over now. 500k a week is the absolute minimum, but I am aiming to get more into my legs. The original idea for the trip came later last year, when I was planning to do it from south-east to north-west, which is a significantly shorter route. Being bogged down by a horrible cough I had to cancel the plans.

Back then it was totally beyond anything I had ridden on a singlespeed so far, but the return journey from Germany to Scotland set things in a different light. Leaving Germany one day too late, as I fancied spending time with my family, forced me to ride 445k in one go, as the head wind and lack of affordable accommodation made me merging two days into one to be able to meet the ferry at Zeebrugge, after being awake for more than 36 hours. The picture you see above might show an ordinary Belgium bakery, but arriving there meant the world to me at that moment. I could hardly keep my eyes open, and was pretty disappointed when I asked for a coffee to get no as an answer. Two minutes later though, a lovely Belgian lady invited me back inside, as the owner had seen me coming in, and made a brew just for me. You might be able to imagine what it feels like just smelling fresh coffee in such a situation.

Cycling 445km with luggage and being so close to missing the boat sounds mental to outsiders, but I had no other choice in that situation, and catching a boat with only 15 minutes to the close of check-in was possibly being lucky as well. The good news was that I could still walk easily, and I could have continued cycling if I would have needed to. I had panniers, and it was Winter. Taking all those factors into consideration, I am pretty confident that I can do the trip.

9 June is likely to be the date, as the rest of June is already booked out. I will keep my fingers crossed for favourable conditions, but prepare for the worst. With cycling from South to North I should be able to make the most of the wind, and hope to have some people in the far north who can offer me some coffee at night, possibly one of the most crucial bits of the trip. I am likely to raise money for one or two charities, although I haven’t finally decided on that, just keep following this blog for the next updates. It feels good to be finally committed to the trip, all other things will eventually fall into place.

The map below gives you a rough idea, but I am open to suggestions, baring in mind that this is not a sightseeing trip. It would also be great to get support in form of hot drinks on the way, so if you live in any of those places I am likely to hit, please get in touch.