Shot for the Day (12 January 2016)

Shot_of_the_day_12JAN16

Back in late November, 2015, I went to visit my sister in Berlin over a weekend.  On the Sunday, we wondered around downtown former West Berlin and for the briefest of moments, the weather was kind.  Less than an hour later, whilst standing by the Brandenburg Gate, it was a very different story, with heavy, sustained snowfall for the rest of the afternoon.

As I was travelling light, I had only my Nokia 1020 with me, which I took this shot on.

Day 11: Flensburg to Vejle

Julien set out towards Denmark early this morning and had to contend with awful weather all day.

To avoid the rain Julien stopped in at Flensburg and found some cover which he shared with many wet Germans!

After a while it became clear the rain was not going to stop, so Julien decided to carry on his way and the sun did make a brief apperance just before he crossed the border.

He found a beautiful scandinavian style beach just on the edge between Germany and Denmark but soon after he had to cycle across some serious hills and deal with the undulating Danish landscape.

There was some respite in towns like Aabenraa and Haderslev which are at sea level, but outside of these towns the hills rose up again and it was back to riding in a low gear!

As it continued to rain heavily Julien stopped in at cafe in Kolding and watched his bike get soaked outside!

Julien told the owners of the cafe that he was planning to cycle on to Juelsminde but he was told that the town was much futher away than his map indicated.

Instead he was advised to cycle to Vejle. Just before he reached the town Julien faced a massive drop and reached around 20mph in a thunderstorm – not very nice!

Once in Vejle Julien found a decent campsite to set up in for the night and is pleased with the progress he has made so far, estimating that he is currently a day or two ahead of schedule.

Here is Google map number eleven. Please also visit the Child’s i Foundation and Julien’s Just Giving site. Thanks very much!

Day 10: Dageling to Flensburg

Julien set out from Dageling early this morning and managed to clock up an impressive 80 miles by the end of the day.

He stopped in for breakfast at Itzehoe which sounds like a nice little place before taking a river crossing and carrying on past Rensburg and Schleswig to Flensburg.

It took Julien a while to find a campsite to stay in for the night as many of those noted on his map didn’t actually exist! In the end though he settled down in the area around Flensburg.

Julien has now covered around 800 miles in total. Unsuprisingly he is experiencing some pain in his right knee which has been made worse by the many hills he has cycled over in the last few days.

Julien plans to have an early breakfast tomorrow before pushing onto Denmark, which he is really looking forward to visiting.

This is partly because of its reputation as a good place for cyclists but also because he wants an end to the poor campsites he has had to stay in in Germany!

Here is the Google Map for day ten. Please also visit the Child’s i Foundation and Julien’s Just Giving page by clicking the buttons on the right. Thanks very much!

Day 9: Brake to Dageling

It’s day nine for Julien today and he started out from Brake early this morning catching the ferry across the Wesar river. Julien tells me he loves a ferry ride in the morning!

He then continued on to Beverstadt where he had a good German lunch and saw a number of schoolchildren disobeying their angry teacher!

Julien cycled over many hills today so he had a bit of a problem with both his knees. He also got a bit lost again (I am starting to sense a theme!) this time around Lambstedt. After a while he made it to a more major route to Wischaften and took another ferry along with a load of trucks and cars.

Julien then made a final 12 mile push to get to the campsite in Dageling where he is staying in for the night. Apparently the place is occupied by a few people who look like they have been there for too long!

Julien estimates one more full day in Germany heading towards the northeast around Schlesig and Flensburg.

Here is the Google Map for today and as always please visit the Child’s i Foundation and Julien’s Just Giving page. Thanks!

Day 8: Leer to Brake

Julien has now been on his on his massive cycling trip for one week and I am glad to report that he had a much better day today.

Julien set off from Leer early this morning and as he cycled along was stopped by a German film crew who were keen to get his views on how German farmers were being affected by the closure of a nearby bridge!

Needless to say Julien had little opinion on this, but managed to give a short response in English. Whether the story will make the news in Germany tonight we will never know!

After leaving Leer Julien found himself on a zigzag route. So far he has found cycling in Germany to be quite different from in Holland. The cycle paths are much shorter in Germany than in Holland where he was riding along straight roads for miles at a time.

Julien stopped in for brunch at Westerstede and thankfully was able to order a hearty German breakfast despite the language barrier!

He then continued on to Wiefelstede and Rastede and cycled through a lovely forest before making it to Brake where he is camping for the night.

Tomorrow Julien plans to cycle around Hamburg and Bremen and hopes to reach Itzehoe.

Here is the Google Map for day eight and please take the time to visit the Child’s i Foundation and sponsor Julien on his Just Giving site. Thank you.

Day 7: Leeuwarden to Leer

Julien had a bit of a crappy day today but still managed to cover a mammoth 92 miles!

Julien again got very lost, this time on a long 30 mile road on the way to Groningen. To get back on track he then tried to cycle along the highway but there were no road markings which made it very difficult to find the way to Germany!

Eventually Julien made it out of Holland arriving in Bunde but he only realised he had entered Germany when he suddenly noticed a significant increase in the number of German cars and number plates!

So far the cycle paths in Germany haven’t matched the Dutch standard and Julien spent alot of time cycling through a back country route.

Along the way he saw a German couple walking along with two massive horses one of which he somehow offended and it became rather enraged!

After Julien dismounted from his bike the horse became less angry and after a while he got back on the bike and continued on to Leez where he is camping for the night.

Let’s hope for better roads and fewer wild horses tomorrow! Here is today’s Google Map and please also visit the Child’s i Foundation and Julien’s Just Giving page. Thank you.

One week and counting…

Time is ticking away as the ensuing departure date is now less than a week away.  Even though I have been preparing for this trip for ages, I am stick racked with anticipation.  Concerns of the overall requirements of the ride interlaced with daily issues such as shopping, whilst not having my kit stolen or finding somewhere to camp.  All in all, there are many issues to contend with.

In the grander scheme of things, I hope that this ride is a success.  By this, not only do I mean achieving the loft target of cycling 2800 miles to a vary sparsely populated are of the world but I also mean raise finds for the charity I have dedicated this ride to, Child’s I Foundation.  So far, I have raised just under £350 on my Just Giving page, which is a good start.  I hope that as I continue, people read about the various adventures I am likely to have en route as my blog will be maintained by Tom from Child’s I, in my absence.  I would love to hit my target amount of £2,500, so please keep reading this blog and make a donation if possible.  All of the money is destined to help kids in Uganda.  I am paying for all of my own expenses on this trip!

I have been testing all of my kit prior to my departure and so far, so good.  I have to make sure I can maintain my MSR stove as I know occasionally they can gunk up.  The biggest challenge will be to decide how much stuff to take along with me.  In the first couple of weeks, the temperature will hopefully remain in the warm twenties.  However, the further I travel up the spin of Sweden, the cool the weather will become.  Indeed, the figures I have seen for night time temperatures for Nordkapp and the north coast of Norway, even in mid summer, are around 4 degrees Celsius.  The weather is also likely to me inclement but that should only add to the drama of the journey.

It would be great to hear from any one if they have experience of travelling in this part of the world as so little has been written about it.  That said, hopefully my blog will be a useful place for other people considering this journey as a portal of information in due course.

The Road Ahead

Seven weeks today I shall be off on the first day of my ride to Nordkapp. To say that I am a little trepid at the thought of it, would be a huge understatement. In the interim, I have to gather together all the kit I will need for the trip. Going that much further north than last year, the temperatures might drop to near zero on the coolest nights north of the Arctic Circle. However, the average daytime temperature should be somewhere around 15 degrees Celsius.

My soul wish is that I do not experience the amount of rain encountered last time. I anticipate that I will be camping far more frequently due to the sparse population in many of the places I aim to cycle through. In fact, chances are that I will end up free camping most of the time. This means both good and bad things. On the plus side, there is nothing quite as liberating as finding an isolated spot and camping out for the night. If you like peace and quite, and I do, this is just the ticket. On the other hand, laundry, washing and conversation will all be far more complicate.

Part of the route I will be following will take me through Germany. Unless I take a rather lengthy detour on my way northwards towards Denmark, I will have to traverse Hamburg. Not that I dislike the city, cycling through large conurbations tends to make life all the more tricky with cars blazing past you and getting hopelessly lost.

It would necessitate the need to carry yet more kit that requires recharging. On that note, I had the first stab at a kit list yesterday. By Jove, I’ll be carrying a lot of gear. That’s the consequence of doing this solo I suppose.

A couple of people have indicated their interest in joining me on the ride. I’d love to have company. The more I think about it, life would be so much easier with another person present. For example, shopping; I will have to leave my bike, albeit chained up, along with all my panniers, which do not have locks, attached to the bike outside of the shop. In smaller towns and villages, this should not present too much of an issue. However, in a larger metropolis, I’m not sure it will be there when I emerge from buying groceries. Then there is all the end of day chores. Last year, Pete, Mary and I shared the cooking, laundry and tent pitching, which worked out really well. It won’t me a problem, probably something I get used to very quickly. Just that after several houses cycling; it would be nice to share the load.

All that aside, I am completely focused on the ride. I cannot wait to see the places that lie ahead of me. From all the cyclist’s blogs I have been reading, it should be a trip of a lifetime. So, now I must marshal my forces and complete preparations for the next Long Way Up ride.

My book, a presentation and Gok

What a month it has been! So much has been happening since the end of February. My principle focus has been on completing my first book. I am so close now that I can smell the ink drying on the first draft. My book is all about my cycle ride last year from Lands End to John O’Groats. I will be utilising the Blurb platform to publish it. It is a mixture of journal and landscape photography. Watch this space.

Other news includes all the preparation for this year’s cycle adventure, London to Nordkapp. I aim to be off within the first half of June. I have decided to cycle along the North Sea Route for part of the way. This will take me through England, over the channel to Belgium, then on through The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and eventually, Norway.

En route to John O'Groats

I gave a presentation to the good people of the Child’s I Foundation last week as I shall be supporting their cause for this cycle adventure. I hope to have a few bloggers filling in for me whilst I am away. Relaying information from the various corners of northern Europe should be an interesting challenge but something to relish rather than fear!

I will start to post more information about the route in the next week, along with preparations and training. Ending on an exciting note, I did a shoot last week for the Gok Fashion Fix show website that will appear on the Channel 4 platform. Hyperlinks will be available from this Tuesday / Wednesday.