Meet the Iceland 2010 team: Angelique

My other riding partner this year is Angelique.

She is Canadian, living in California and has also done big bike rides of a different sort. Washington DC to Costa Rica on a BMW 750 for starters (no pedals). No motorbikes on this one though!

Angelique has always been into road and mountain biking and flirting with the idea of touring but like Dave, has never done it, so she’s ‘way psyched’ as they say in the San Fran vernacular. She’s on an endless prep schedule, antagonising bike shops all over the Bay Area, to help her convert her mountain bike’s to a touring bike. Good luck!

Angelique has several other great outdoor passions. Earlier this year, she went climbing in Thailand and kitting in the Philippines.  She’s a big fan of remote, exercised filled adventures like canoeing down the Zambezi.  I feel like a lightweight in comparison as I did the Zambezi in an eight man dingy back in 1994.

We’ll both be hauling Canon 5DII’s as she’s also a very keen photographer. She’ll be bringing along her 17-40 for the ride.  I’ll post some of her images as well, if she lets me.

Finally, Angelique just took ownership of her first dog, Ziggy, an 8 week old German Shepherd, who she will be abandoning to come on this trip.  That’s how great it’s going to be 🙂

Just before I scoot

Finally, the night before I leave for foreign shores and my mind is awash with so many small details.  I think I am missing the virtue of the bigger picture here.  Just spoken to my good friend Leslie on Skype.  She is currently at home is the US after an operation.  Apparently, they are not quite so well equipped in Rwanda.  Anyway, I digress.  It was great to her from her and it got me to thinking just what an adventure I have stretching out ahead of me.  My cycling buddies from last year’s trip, Pete and Mary, were also on the phone tonight, wishing me luck with the tour.  I really wish they were joining me.

This weekend was my dear friends Caroline and Duncan’s wedding, in wet and windy Devon.  It was the best wedding I have been to in ages.  So many friendly faces and a lot of gossip to catch up on.  I think Caroline’s mother thinks I am nuts and there I cannot fault her.  However, comfort zones are there to be lived both inside and outside of.

Now, time to go to be as I have a very long first day of cycling ahead of me tomorrow.  I reckon about 90 miles through central London down to Dover.  Apparently, the rain will fall hard so I envisage a tough day in the saddle.  Something interesting to sink one’s teeth into.

So far, people have been pretty generous on the old charity donations.  I have raised almost  £750 on my Just Giving site.  Child’s I Foundation, the charity I am raising money for posted a story about me on their blog today.

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.

Only a few hours now…

So, the night before the big adventure starts and I have to admit I have a sizeable dosage of the jitters. Not for any bad reason I just always get them before I embark on some new adventure. As far as endurance events go, this will be longer than any mountaineering or trekking campaign I have undertaken thus far.

The bags are all packed and even though I have ditched a load of stuff, I am not convinced that I am as lightweight as I should be. That said, carrying a few extra kilos might mean better preparation for any extreme moment we might encounter.

It would be great if anyone who reading these blog entries leaves a comment or two along the way as otherwise one feels disconnected to the rest of the world.

Anyway, off to sleep now, perchance to dream even (of cycling no doubt).

Preparation for the long journey

The date for the cycle ride from Lands End to John O’Groats has now been set. We aim to head off on Saturday, 19th July.

There will be three of us taking up this challenge:
Peter Root
Mary Thompson
Julien Buckley

Pete and Mary have been preparing for the long ride in their native Guernsey, whilst I have been putting in the miles cycling around London, on my way to and from work. However, even though I am knocking out about 20-25 miles a day, I really need to crank things up a gear or two.

Next Friday, I am off to Bridgewater, to see Thorn. They make some greats bikes and I have decided to go for one after Pete and Mary advocated how good they were. I’ve never been keener to spend my money on a bike!