Heading North On A Bike Called Reggie: The Start!

Here it is…Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 16.47.28

…the very first draft of the new book.

Well, kind of. It is merely the posts that I wrote for CyclingEurope.org between setting off from southern Spain at the start of April to the moment I set foot on British soil again in early August (via Nordkapp of course) collated together in on place. There are nearly 88,000 words contained in the document but if you are sitting there thinking that all I have to do is add a few more tens of thousands of words to get it up to the length of a book, think again… It’s a bit more time consuming than that. When I started writing the first book I resolved to avoid using any of the text that I had written at the time and, in the main, that’s exactly what I managed to do. But it is there as a reminder and as an inspiration. Today is October 1st and my aim is to have a real first draft written by March 31st, just a few days after the Easter 2016 and exactly 6 months from now.

img_5248It’s been interesting reading the words that I wrote at the time, looking at the photographs that I took, remembering the places visited, the people I met along the way, the good days, the Mercedes days, the mountains climbed, the ferries taken, the lakes stared across… Here’s one picture from Norway which makes me wish I was still there, on the road crossing Europe on my bike. Lots more memories to think about, research to be done, jokes to be written, stories to be embellished(!) over the next 183 days…

The final version of the book should hopefully be ready for publication in the autumn of 2016 – around 12 months from now – and as things currently stand it will once again be a self-published volume. If, however, you happen to be a literary agent or publisher, don’t hesitate to get in touch! andrew@CyclingEurope.org (12 months will just give you time to republish the first two books before the final part of the trilogy is released…)

Useful Apps For Cyclists

By Thomas Carter

Although the humble activity of cycling has been with us for around 200 years, the basic form of cycling hasn’t changed too dramatically. However, thanks to the digital revolution, there are now a many apps available to assist the modern cyclist.



Despite the worldwide popularity of mapping apps such as Google Maps, there are a few apps that have been specially devised to cater to cyclists.

One of the most celebrated of these apps is the Strava app that in just over five years has helped cyclists track and record their cycling routes through GPS technology that can provide a huge amount of other helpful data such as speed and distance covered. The app also includes a social function by allowing the rider to compare their speeds to other cyclists who have covered the route, and even take part in special online challenges and tournaments.

For those seeking a little assistance in finding the best bike-friendly route in their area, the Bike Hub Journey Planner app provides the option of finding quick or quiet cycle routes via roads and cycle paths. And with a real-life voice navigation system in place, it’ll ensure that you never get lost.

Taking a break


Of course, we can’t all be expected to cycle endlessly. But by taking a break, we can also use apps to help reflect upon our performance and gear ourselves up for the next challenge.

For those who cycle as a way to stay fit, the My Fitness Pal app provides up-to-date information on the amount of calories burned through exercise, and can also deliver some helpful dietary tips. Whereas for those looking to engage their minds in other competitive areas, the Lucky Nugget Casino site offers a quick and easy game of online roulette that will provide you with an entertaining way to relax before the next cycling challenge.

Bike maintenance


Unfortunately, all of our bikes require a bit of maintenance every now and then. And whilst some might relish this task, others will find the latest selection of bicycle maintenance apps very useful.

The Bike Doctor app manages to liberate bike owners from often bewildering world of bicycle maintenance manuals by offering a simple step-by-step guide to fixing any mechanical issue on your bicycle.

And should you suffer a complete cycling breakdown in London, then the Cycle Hire app offers you quick and easy access to Barclay’s cycle hire scheme. The app helps you find bikes and docking stations in your area, and the helpful list of cycling routes will provide a much easier way to get around this increasingly bike-friendly city.

The Bicycle Den, Hebden Bridge 

I had a bacon butty at the Bicycle Den today…

…and here is what the town centre looked like earlier in the beautiful early autumn day:


Felix Rides To Slovenia For Charity: Update

Felix Leckie (see the original post here) writes with an update about his cycle to and from Slovenia:

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 09.06.54Hi – For those of you who have sponsored me – Thank You! For those who haven’t heard what I got up to this summer with my dad then please spend five minutes and read on!

We arrived home about a month ago now and I’m back at school. The ride back from Slovenia, across 9 countries and 2,200 km,  seems like a distant memory!

So far we’ve raised £9,400 for the Children’s Bereavement Centre which is almost twice our original target, so many, many thanks to everyone who went onto my JustGiving page and generously donated to this amazing charity. 

I had an amazing trip – no crashes or injuries and everything worked out to plan. Quite incredibly my dad didn’t even get a puncture!

We wrote a daily blog with photos and I’ve attached an excerpt [see below] as a taster!

If you haven’t sponsored us but would like to you can still visit the Just Giving page and help us hit our £10k target.

Thank you again – our support for the Children’s Bereavement Centre will continue and “Felix Rides for Charity” will be back! My dad fancies Ankara to Tehran next year but we have some selling to do at home before we can start planning!!

Kind regards


Scroll below the photos for an account of Felix and Justin’s (his dad) final day on the road…

…and Justin, Felix’s dad writes:

Day 26: The Last Day

So this is it, our last blog of the trip. You’ll no longer see pictures of every meal we’ve consumed or hear how often we got lost. No more rants about the weather or history lessons about obscure monuments. (Rest assured most was cut and pasted from the guidebook or just made up if I thought it wasn’t exciting enough!)

The day started with a three cord “Hi Dee Hi” style xylophone announcement at 6 am. The dulcet Spanish tones of Carlos telling us that we would soon be docking woke us from deep sleeps in our luxury cabin. 

Today could have been so very different if we’d missed the boat, and briefly Felix and I talked about how stressed we were in those final moments just before the ship sailed. 

But today everything was going to be fine! The weather was grey but our spirits were high. Today we would be home.

We put on the clean shirts that we’d been saving for day 26 and packed up our panniers for the last time. We left our half empty toothpaste and Pringles tubes in the cabin and took the lift down to the cargo deck.

All the lorries had gone as we unlocked our bikes for the very last time and cycled off the ramp onto home soil. We high-fived as we left the steel and peddled up the road to Passport control, taking great satisfaction from passing 20 or so cars who were waiting in the queue.

A quick photo in front of the Pride of Rotterdam and we were off in search of a McDonalds breakfast. 

We had some time to kill before we were due to meet up with our friends who were meeting us on the Humber Bridge so took the 10 mile ride in to Hessle nice and steady.

It was great to catch up and ride as a group and although we were cycling much quicker than we normally would it was made easier by the guys taking it in turns to shield us from the headwinds that had followed us over the North Sea. 

Normally, on the hills we would have slowed right down and had a bit of a moan but today, with company, we just got on with it!

As we approached the last few hundred metres our cycling companions peeled off to let Felix and I lead the group home.

We glanced sideways at each other, we didn’t need to say anything. 

It was great to see so many friends cheering us on. The ladies from the Charity were there as were many of our friends from school. India had made a fantastic “Welcome home” banner and Myrto and her mum had baked cakes and cooked sausages. 

All I can remember now is eating everything! Crisps followed by carrot cake, a cup of tea, a hot dog, then more crisps and a beer. It must have been a strange sight!

People said they’d miss the blog and couldn’t believe that we weren’t as fat as barrels given all the food that we’d eaten. I also got some stick for my navigation skills and for my beard – from the kids at least. Except George Coen who said I should keep it so that “people will think it’s amazing that such an old man can cycle so far!”

Gradually people started to drift away leaving us to unpack our bags and finish the sausages!

It will feel very strange not cycling everyday and I’m sure it will take a little time to settle back in to normal life. For the last month Felix and I have been each other’s shadows – I’ve looked after him and he’s looked after me! 

Someone asked me if there was a time during the 26 days when we didn’t think we could do it, was it ever too hard? The truth is it wasn’t too hard, we got fit on our bikes and as long as we took it steady, kept ourselves fed and kept laughing then the miles and the days ticked on.

What had started as a pipe dream a couple of years ago had become a reality. From the moment we got our first sponsor there was no turning back. We were committed! 

So when Felix said to me, as we crossed the finish line, “we’ve only gone and bloody done it Rodney”he was right – we had finished what we’d started.

The local paper were there to photograph the homecoming and interviewed us afterwards. We were asked why we’d chosen to do this to which we said we wanted to do something to remember and try raise a bit of money for charity. 

What I didn’t tell them is that when I was Felix’s age my dad had promised to take me camping, just the two of us. I remember making list after list of the things we’d need and packing and unpacking my rucksack. But my dad was always too busy and he never found the time to do the camping trip. 

When I had kids I said to myself that that wouldn’t happen. Life’s too short and kids grow up too fast!

So now the bikes are cleaned, oiled and put away. The justgiving site is clicking up towards £10k and all that’s left to do is thank everyone who has supported us. 

The encouragement and sponsorship we’ve had from businesses, friends and family has been tremendous, far greater than we could have imagined or hoped for. So thank you for that. 

Our highlights? So many! Sleeping in the straw, meeting Super Cycling Man, Weissbeir, The Green Water slide in Basel, Swiss Water troughs, Food in Strasbourg, getting on that boat and our homecoming welcome.

Our lowlights? Hardly any! The moment of panic and despair when we arrived at the ferry terminal to find it all locked up!

0 – crashes, punctures (for me!)

1 – beard

2 – sound & light shows, waterparks 

3 – broken spokes

4 – nights in the straw

9 – countries

Lots of croissants, salami & cheese sandwiches, weissbeirs & Ladies of the night!!

26 – days on the road

1,450 – miles for 1 Great Cause

There are more daily updates on Felix and Justin’s website, Felix Rides For Charity. Good luck to them both for future adventures!

Another Post About Cycling Gear From, You Guessed It… Aldi!

MENS LADIES PERFORMANCE CYCLING SOFT SHELL JACKET 3 - CopyThere aren’t many material rewards to running this website; it is, at heart, a thinly-veiled vehicle for selling my books (What? You hadn’t noticed?!!) but I do hope that from time to time you find something of interest on these pages. That said, in the last couple of years I have been rewarded royally (in kind) by the supermarket juggernaut that is Aldi. After Cycling Gear from… Err… Aldi? and Summer Cycling Gear from, Yes, Aldi! comes Another Post About Cycling Gear From, You Guessed It… Aldi! (Don’t bother clicking on that last link as it will just bring you back to… ahh… you did. Well, welcome back!) for I have, for the third time, received a complimentary box of cycling gear from the supermarket and yet again, I’m genuinely bowled over as to just how good the stuff is for the price that they charge. The ‘event’ was actually last Thursday but I’m sure Aldi still have plenty of stuff in stock; my brother went down to his local Aldi yesterday to fill up on the items that I wouldn’t allow him to nick from my complimentary box and he came back laden with stuff. Of particular note from the items that I received were the Lobster Gloves (£7.99) that are also probably worth buying if you are attending a Doctor Who audition anytime soon, the Rechargeable Bike Lights (£8.99 each) which give my CatEye ones a run for their money at a fraction of the cost and the amazing Tool Kit (£19.99) which makes me feel as though I should know how to use each of the implements it contains if someone is going to go to the effort of working out how to fit them so ergonomically into the box. All in all, you may have fallen out of love with Volkswagen in the past week or so; perhaps it’s time to fall into love with their German cousins Aldi… You can see all the ‘special buyshere. As they say in all the good adverts (and the ones for DFS), ‘only while stocks last‘…

Tarifa To Nordkapp In 66 Campsites

Between the nights of April 8th (Tarifa) and July 28th (Nordkapp), I was on the road for 111 days; 96 cycling days and 15 rest days. I stayed in at least 66 campsites for one or occasionally two nights. If you remember, I tried to post a picture via Twitter every evening showing (usually) the erected tent (a Robens Osprey II), Reggie (the bike…) and my feet. Occasionally the latter were missing if, for example, the ground was too wet and two photos were taken from inside the tent (although my feet did make it onto one of the interior photos!). So, collected together for the first (and probably final) time, I give you a crossing of Europe from Tarifa to Nordkapp in 66 campsites:



Belgium – no campsites!

The Netherlands






…and a special place for Nordkapp, the final stop!


Top 50 Bicycle Touring Blogs

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 14.28.29Should you ever feel the need to wander elsewhere on the World Wide Web for your cycle touring information(!), this list produced by The Adventure Junkies is not a bad place to start. I hear the site at number 19 is worth a browse…