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Less than a month until departure! Feelings, route updates.

Written on: Thursday January 28th, 2010

A journal entry from: Vi ar helt ute och cyklar!

Sarah: 
Since the first posting we have discussed alot about the route, training and camping. We have been trying to prepare ourselves in every possible way. There have been lots of excited ups and some esteem lowering downs, especially for me this week.


The good news has been that we have almost all of our kit and certainly everything essential. We just need a few bits such as spoke key, spare spokes, a few more spare inner tubes, toilet roll, collapsible wash bowl. 
Finally I sent off for my passport and my concerns that the passport would take several weeks to arrive were unfounded as it arrived just 2 weeks after I sent the application off. I opted for the 48 page passport as a pose to the average 36 page considering all of the visa's we are likely to require.

Also we were delighted to learn that Joakim's parents Lasse and Kristina are 'sponsoring' our trip with a GPS and mounting system, which is indescribably fantastic. Our route mapping will be greatly aided and the risk of getting lost is lowered considerably!


We have made some adjustments to our bicycles; some repairs and adding on equipment. We have just a few finishing touches and the part we've been putting off for quite long enough: fitting the front panniers and racks. This is the next priority! 
My dad has been a great help when we came across some issues with our bicycles, but we now feel confident enough to make those repairs quickly and efficiently when they occur on the road. 
 
As I fore mentioned we have acquired almost all of our kit now and we have tried out most of it well. Our tent has been tested in snow, rain and shine and stood as strong as ever at the end! We had some minor teething problems to get it up the first time (multiple strange poles!) but once we had it sussed we reckon it'll take no longer than 5-10 minutes to set up camp each night.

Our sleeping mat was somewhat more complex to set up! Joakim having owned a self inflating sleeping mat before set to work on opening the valves but we just couldn't get the mat to inflate correctly. So much to even our own amusement we typed in a google search "how to inflate a self inflating mattress" and surprisingly enough there were no search results. Nobody could possibly be as stupid as we were! In a state of panic we began to blow frantically into the valves which we thought was making some difference however we checked the manufacturers specifications online and learned that the first few inflations of the mat would just generally be slower so drama over!

The sleeping bag was tested when the temperature was at -4c in the air and if we're honest we were pretty cold that night but also unprepared. We set the tent up in the garden and weren't really wearing the appropriate clothing for the weather. We have decided to wear more clothing when we are sleeping and invest in single sleeping bags to go inside of the double one if it is unbearable.

We had been preparing ourselves physically quite well in the past week or so and I thought we were getting to the required level of fitness until I had a disastrous day. Both Joakim and I had been ill with a flu type illness which I'd had since we'd been in Sweden a couple of weeks previously. That combined with the fact that we left at midday without having any breakfast and lunch probably didn't help. We were just going out for a little cycle trip of about 20km and stopping somewhere picturesque to cook lunch. I was having trouble and had to take a break about about 3km and then I managed to recover slightly and then we went on further about 3km and onroad up a fairly steep hill and by the time I got to the top I was exhausted in my lungs and muscles. I pushed on abit more and up another hill and I had to stop at the top again. After the third stop I was worried Joakim would be furious and disappointed in me but he told me it was probably just my illness. Roughly another 3km from the house I physically didn't have the energy to sit on the bicycle anymore and just broke down! I was devastated because I saw the our hopes for the trip crashing down and began criticising my fitness. After a rest and food that evening I realised that I was simply just too ill and hungry to ride. I read somewhere that if you are cycling and you feel hungry it is already too late. Moral of the story is eat properly and often and if one of us is ill slower the pace or take a day off of riding.

That incident aside everything is on track and we will we be posting our equipment blog soon!

We have booked our overnight ferry trip from Portsmouth to Le Havre, France on 28th feburary at 11pm! We'll be leaving my parents house in Bristol on the 26th in morning leaving plenty of time to complete the 120km cycle.
With this knowledge in hand last night I prepared our practice expedition to a demonstration near Reading on the 14th febraury http://www.tridentploughshares.org/article1577#Getting It is a demonstration called "Bikes block bombs" a peace demonstration agaisnt the building of nuclear weapons, which is something we feel strongly about. National cycle route 4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Cycle_Route_4
will take us nearly the entire way to Aldermaston. It will be our first time wild/stealth camping which is something we have been becoming increasingly more concerned about as time goes on. The journey is approximately 120km long so we will allocate a couple of days each way for the journey.

In other news the possibilty of couch surfing/warm showers/hospitality club is looking very hopeful! We have our fingers crossed that we can spend sometime with some hosts at their homes.

And finally the route...
After much deliberation and with the very appreciated addition of the GPS we have finalised our route (well atleast the first leg). But here we go on a very crude, basic map:
The countries we finally decided to visit on this tour around are as follows:


UK
FRANCE
SWITZERLAND
LIECHENSTEIN
AUSTRIA
GERMANY
POLAND
SLOVAKIA
HUNGARY
CROATIA
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
MONTENEGRO
ALBANIA
GREECE.

This map is slightly old as it shows Yugoslavia instead of Montenegro.

In regards of what happens when we arrive in Greece? Well we have lots of choices of where to go next, but we'll decide when we get there!

Thats all for now!
Peace and Solidarity,
Sarah and Joakim xXx