It’s always good to from people that I have met on my travels. This week, two fellow continental drifters from the cycle from Spain to Norway back in 2015 have been in touch.
First up is Peter Udell. I met him in northern Spain in the early part of May 2015. Here’s what I wrote about our encounter in the book, Spain to Norway on a Bike Called Reggie*:
Plan A involved campsite A, about 20 km to the west of Burgos, but it was too close to the motorway on one side and a large construction site for the new Burgos to Valladolid high speed train line on the other. I opted for plan B instead, without knowing if campsite B existed. Fortunately, it did, and it was called Camping Fuentes Blancas, located a short cycle from the centre of Burgos. It was my kind of site: municipal (i.e. cheap), friendly, no hedges preventing casual fraternisation with potentially interesting neighbours and no riff-raff.
Indeed, my near neighbour was about as far from riff-raff as you could get without feeling obliged to bow your head. His name was Peter and he was travelling with his wife Linda in a modern VW camper. It was a palace on wheels that had transported Peter – a former ‘Controller of European Services’ at the BBC World Service – and Linda to most parts of Europe. He was a linguist, and his knowledge of the world and its languages made him not only good company, but also a useful source of practical information about my onward journey across the continent. He also had words of advice about my next few days in Spain.
‘Whatever you do, don’t stay at Camping Bañares. It’s terrible,’ he explained the following morning. ‘The campsite in Logroño is great, but avoid Camping Bañares at all cost – screaming kids everywhere…’
(* Those of you who have read the previous post celebrating the 10th anniversary of this website may, upon seeing this link, raise an eyebrow…)
Alas I didn’t follow his advice and stayed at Camping Bañares. The were no ‘screaming kids‘ – the place was almost deserted – but it was a site that catered for those who stay in static caravans much more than in small tents. I found a small patch of ground next to the toilet block and escaped as soon as I could the following morning.
Anyway, Peter was in touch to alert those on his email list (I don’t think it was just an email to me) that he was about to appear on Radio 4’s The Reunion, discussing the life and death of Giorgi Markov, the Bulgarian dissident. Peter was Giorgi’s manager when they both worked at the BBC World Service in the 1970s. Here’s the link to listen to the programme and here’s Peter (on the right) with the other participants and the presenter, Sue MacGregor:
At the end of the journey to Nordkapp in 2015, if you have read the book or if you followed the cycle here on CyclingEurope.org, you will no doubt remember Hans and Veronika, the father and daughter long-distance cyclists with whom I spent a significant amount of time after having crossed the Arctic Circle. They were good companions and although we didn’t really spend much time cycling together, we would invariable meet up frequently along the way, at campsites, in cafés or at ferry terminals. Here are the pair cycling along a fjord somewhere in northern Norway:
My own long-distance cycling has taken a step back over the last couple of years, but not so Hans. Lat year he went back to Scandinavia, cycling from his home in southern Germany to Trondheim and then south again to Hamburg. He was cycling without his daughter this time and, by the looks of it, not in July or August as there’s a fair amount of snow in his pictures:
In 2018 he has headed east cycling through Austria, The Czech Republic, Poland, the Baltic States and Finland to Helsinki. He then took a ferry back to Germany via Lübeck and up the river Elbe to Magdeburg before catching the train home. He puts me to shame; 3,100 km in 31 days. Then again, perhaps when I’m retired I’ll be able to do the same.
He notes that his daughter, Veronika, is now working in Berchtesgaden near the Austrian border in the Alps and has taken up mountain biking; a sensible decision.
I also heard this week from a chap called Mark. I didn’t meet him while cycling but while serving time as a volunteer driver at the London Olympics in 2012 and he’s looking for some advice when it comes to publishing travelogues. It seems that people you encounter in life are just like those three famous buses…
It did involve a little bit of cycling, just not by me…