On my old bicycle with homemade panniers, I (along with two others) have now cycled around 300 km from the UK to Holland and am sitting on the balcony of some girls I met only hours before. We are in Amsterdam and the sky is as blue as can be.
As the journey began, my little brother decided to join for a few days. As he had no passport, the east of England was as far as he could go. We were aiming for Harwich where we hoped we could catch the ferry to Holland.
We were four riders: myself, my brother, the Slovakian, and a Monkey (some names are more self-explanatory than others).
On a beautiful day, we pulled away, burdened by the weight of our heavy panniers and cycled into the sun. Just two miles later, we experienced our first puncture.
When this was fixed, we continued down the country roads, adjusting to the weight we were carrying.
There are two issues that are an important part of this journey. One is to be environmentally friendly. This means that we will not leave a trace of where we have been and when possible, will travel by our own power (hence the bicycles). The other is to do the journey on a low budget to demonstrate that vast sums of money are not necessary for an adventure (and the fact that I am terrible with finances). In support of both of these issues, we sometimes go skipping to reclaim waste food. This is the food that supermarkets throw out because packaging is damaged or sell-by dates have expired. The food is perfectly good to eat and by doing this, we save ourselves money and we help to reduce world food wastage. It is estimated that only between 30 and 60 % of food produced is actually eaten. In my insignificant opinion, that is quite an atrocity when there are many people starving in the world.
The first night, we camped out in a field and generated a lot of interest from the farmer who owned the field. After determining that we were causing no harm, he left us in peace however.
The next day, we suffered three more punctures in one tyre and had to replace it completely.
Later that same day, the Monkey crashed when a kid on a bicycle cut her up on. Aside from cuts and bruises, she was OK. We continued east to the beach, slept in the sunshine and cycled on down the coast, spending the night sleeping on the sand.
The next day, I took a tumble as I played ‘how many seconds can I close my eyes for while cycling?’ I managed between five and six seconds until I hit a large kerb and my bicycle instantly stopped. Somehow I leapt free from the bike and landed on my feet, leaving everyone else confused at what I had been doing.
Very kindly, my mother drove to meet us and brought us a delicious picnic to see us off before we departed for Europe. She also had to take my brother home due to his lack of passport.
After a mad rush to catch ferries from Felixstowe to Harwich, we slept out in a petrol station, then boarded the ferry to Holland.
Since that time, I replaced another puncture, a tyre, then an inner tube, but now the bikes seem to be working OK. I was unfortunate to be the only cyclist changing a flat in Amsterdam as a broken shard of glass ripped my tyre apart.
In short, I am loving the adventure right now and life tastes brilliant. I can’t wait for what comes next. All I have to do each day is ride my bicycle and find somewhere to sleep. There is nothing more to life at this moment in time.
From Holland, we continue to Germany and the Czech Republic. Then Slovakia! Check out my map to see where I have been / where I am.