If you are a member of Cycling UK and pay your £4 every month, you will hopefully have had the opportunity to read my account of last year’s Grand Tour that appeared in the June / July 2023 issue of Cycle Magazine. (If you are not a member, why not?? It’s a bargain and the magazine is one of the best cycling reads that you can get your hands on; real people, real cycling, real stories…)
Welcome to June… and to the summer of 2023. Well, if the first is your definition of summer. There are several from which to choose. My focus over the next few months will be continue to write the first draft of my new book about last year’s ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe. I’m now heading south along the Vélodyssée in the west of France (day 25 of around 60) so I should have that draft ready by the end of the summer. However, earlier this year I was approached by Dan Joyce, the editor of Cycling UK’s Cycle magazine, asking if would be able to contribute an article about last year’s cycle. That article has now been published and if you are a member of Cycling UK, you should have received your copy of the magazine in the last few days. It’s the June / July issue.
The holidays are here! Well, half term. Just a week but the sun is shining and my bicycle – the one I use when I’m pottering around and about the area where I live – will be back from its impromptu service tomorrow morning. On my commute to work earlier in the week I got a puncture. Not in itself a reason for giving the bike a service but since I purchased the Ribble hybrid bike about 18 months ago, I’ve been keen to replace the Schwalbe G-One tyres with Schwalbe Marathon Plus, and here was my opportunity. It made sense to give the bike a service at the same time and the mobile mechanic that I use will be delivering the bike back to me in the morning. I hope the weather continues to be nice for the rest of the week and, indeed for the rest of the summer (that’s perhaps hoping for too much) as I continue my daily commutes to and from work.
In the autumn of 2022, Susan and Ron Crump, a retired couple from Kentucky in the USA set off on their first cycle tour. Instead of dipping their toes in the shallow end of the cycle touring pool, they plunged into the deep end by embarking upon a 3,500km cycle from Amsterdam to Athens. Along with two more experienced cycle touring friends – Pam and Ralph – this is the story of their trip; the preparation, the execution and the aftermath. They may have been jumping for joy upon arrival in Athens but were they jumping for joy throughout the cycle? And has the trip been a springboard for future rides or will their next visit to Europe be on a cruise ship?
On July 3rd 2022 I set off from The Hook of Holland in The Netherlands, turned right and pedalled off in the direction of France. It was an anti-clockwise tour of the continent; the EuroVelo 12 along the Belgian coast, the EuroVelo 4 to Dieppe, L’Avenue Verte to Paris, La Véloscénie to Mont St Michel before rejoining the EuroVelo 4 to Morlaix, the EuroVelo 1 / Vélodyssée to Royan, the Canal de la Garonne to Toulouse, the Canal du Midi to Sète, the EuroVelo 17 beside the Rhône to Andermatt in Switzerland and finally the EuroVelo 15 / Rhine Cycle Route back to The Hook of Holland and the return ferry to Hull on September 3rd.
Although during the trip I posted short daily videos recounting the tale of my cycle around Europe this summer, the main reason for filming what I did was to make a film about the cycle from the Hook of Holland to the Hook of Holland. It’s quite a daunting task editing 2,500 videos into one film of about an hour but over the next few weeks that’s the plan. To whet your appetite, I have started by creating an into. You can watch it below.
It’s now two weeks since I arrived back in the UK after the summer’s jaunt around Europe with Wanda (the bike…). It’s been an interesting couple of weeks to say the least. On a personal level, I finally feel as though I’ve caught up with things. It was a rather sudden turnaround from being long-distance cyclist to secondary school teacher – about 18 hours to be precise – but after two weekends I’m finally in a position to say everything is ‘sorted’. Well, apart from that cupboard crammed full of my camping equipment but at least I can’t see it unless I make the effort to open the door.
So there it is. Finished. After 63 days, 55 cycling days, around 4,700km, 7 countries, 10 train journeys, lots of ferries (small and large), 45 nights in the tent, 11 nights in hotels, 4 with WarmShowers hosts, 1 with a friend and a night with a Vriendren op de Fiets host, 8 episodes of The Cycling Europe Podcast (the final part 8 episode should be published tomorrow morning upon arrival back in the UK), over 60 (almost) daily videos… and zero punctures, I arrived back at The Hook of Holland earlier today after the relatively short cycle from central Rotterdam and in doing so completed the ‘Grand Tour’ loop. It’s been fun.