It’s 7:10am on April 21st. In exactly 10 weeks (to the minute, hopefully), my cycling expedition across Europe starts as my flight from London Heathrow to Athens takes to the air. OK, if you want to quibble, there is much room to do so. I start the cycling later in the day once Reggie is reassembled at Athens airport and actually, my crossing of southern Europe doesn’t start until the morning of the 1st July when I set off from Lavrio in the very south-eastern corner of Greece. Let’s not split hairs…
There is much to do in the next 70 days days. You’ve guessed it, a list is coming. In no particular order;
- Sort out the basic route with a list of probably overnight stops. No detailed routes are required (that’s my style!) but the points of my join-the-dots trip do need deciding. Just as I did back in 2010 when I dissected editions of the Rough Guides to France, Switzerland and Italy to make myself a Rough Guide to the Eurovelo 5, I need to do something similar for the Eurovelo 8. Only problem is that there are ten countries (= 10 guide book) to dissect. It may be a thick book.
- Accommodation for the first night (in Lavrio) and then for nights two and three in Athens. My first day off will be in the Greek capital, after a strenuous one day of cycling up the coast from my starting point. After that it’s back to living, or rather sleeping by my wits.
- Make contact with those people who have kindly offered to welcome me as I cycle west. I won’t be able to give exact days but I should be able to at least confirm to them that it wasn’t some great practical joke after all and that they need to look out for me on the eastern horizon.
- Lose the final 5kg that will bring me down to 80kg. I have lost (we have a curious use of that verb; it implies I would like to find them again!) 20kg since in the last six months or so; another 5 in the next two months should be doable. In old money it equates to over three stones ‘lost’ with one more stone to go.
- Sort Reggie out. No violence will be involved, just a lengthy visit to the bike shop for a thorough service (new tyres, probably plates [=cogs], chain, brakes & cables and probably a few etceteras that I have forgotten to list here. One thing will be a new piece of kit; a dynamo hub, probably (hopefully?) a Schmidt like this little beauty. (For those who have read comments on here previously regarding the Biologic dynamo hub, I have given up on one as they don’t seem to be available for bikes of Reggie’s size). Some kind of battery pack is also needed to store energy produced by the hub and I am wondering whether a device made specifically for charging an iPhone / iPad – I saw some today in the Apple store – will do the job well. Only problem is where to attach it to the bike while cycling. More thinking needed on this one.
- Other equipment. Terry Tent (yes, he had a short-lived name too, much to the derision of readers of the blog at the time…) was far too small and having lost 20kg (hopefully 25kg by the time I set off) I think I can afford to take a slightly heavier (= roomier) tent to pitch along the Mediterranean coast. You know the kind of thing; en suite bathroom, walk-in wardrobe etc… I have a few ideas (I saw these Robens tents at The Outdoors Show earlier in the year which looked good; any recommendations are welcome.). My sleeping bag is fine but my paper-thin camping mat was worse than useless (and I think it no longer exists) and needs replacing with something thicker. Mattress?
- Cycle clothing. This one is connected to the shedding of a few kilogrammes; the stuff I wore back in 2010 whjen cycling to Italy along the Eurovelo 5 is still in use for my daily commutes but it is rather baggy. Time to refresh the Lycra! (Hence the requirement for a walk-in wardrobe in the tent…). I would also like some cycling sandals with SPD clips. I discussed these in a post on here some time ago but haven’t done anything about it since. My cycling helmet took a knock on one of the falls from Reggie during the icy winter we have just had and could really do with being replaced too.
- Insurance for me and for the bike. Again, a topic discussed on here but of which I have done bugger all about. Get a grip man!
- And all the other things that I have missed. I can think of them as I type (mosquito repellant, anti-histamine…) and the list would be long should I choose to sit here and write them all down. Time to stop the list and start preparing.