Rob has been keeping an account of our trips through GARMIN connect which goes with his GPS. Unfortunately the GPS tends not to direct us along bike paths so we usually just use it to record our trip data.
Day 1 – Edinburgh to Dunbar
Left Edinburgh at 3:30 PM, slightly later than our anticipated 11:00 AM departure. Weather was pretty shit but not too much wind. Fog set in later in the day and there was a mist that made everything pretty moist. Stayed with a bloke named Mark James who is a warmshowers.org member. We camped in his backyard and he gave us heaps of cycling tips and advice as well as lots of good organic food and showed us around Dunbar. We went to the local community garden which is at the hospital and planted a few Hazel trees. We cooked a meal on our little burner – macaroni and tuna stir through with a wild lettuce that Mark gave us. Cold night in the tent as both tent and sleeping bags are meant for… well… not Scotland in April. But that’s okay, we are still alive.
Part of our lateness was due to my phone deciding to break on the morning of our departure. To fix it I had to wipe it and reinstall everything. This was taking way too long so I had to just stop it half way through, then put my computer in my bag and send it to Spain. Now I’m riding with only about a third of my music collection and half an audio book. I guess I’m going to be listening to a lot of podcasts…
Here is the recipe for the one pot meal we cooked. It’s easy, delicious and there’s minimal washing up. The only hard part is knowing how much water to add so that you end up with the right consistency when the pasta is al dente. I suggest keeping a close eye on it and adding water little by little as required.
Fry onion, carrot in tin tuna oil ~ soft. + pimenton, thyme, bay leaf ~ 2-3mins. + tuna~2mins. +tin tomatoes, stock cube, and enough water so it’s a bit watery. Simmer covered for as long as you can/want. Add pasta, boil ~ pasta is cooked. Adjust seasoning (including acidity with lemon or lime). Serve over lettuce leaves (spinach is preferable) with lots of cheese on top.
Day 2 – Dunbar to Berwick Upon Tweed
We are SORE! Asses, legs and hands – the whole lot. We left Dunbar later than anticipated again as Mark wanted to show us a few things in the morning and, being the polite guests that we are, we felt disinclined to decline his hospitality. Leaving later meant arriving in Berwick later but, even though we covered more or less the same distance as yesterday, the elevation was much greater and we had a lot of incline rides today (GAAAEEEEYYYYY). We’re staying in a YHA hostel tonight because the thought of wild camping made us both sad in our little hearts. Today’s highlights: Rode past a nuclear power plant with Mark as he took us on a different route out from Dunbar, Jaz fed some horses, and we went 50 kmph down a hill. This last one doesn’t sound like much (but the second one – whoah!) but when you’ve got a shit load of weight on the back like we do, the whole feeling in the bike changes. It makes you pretty nervous but can be a lot of fun. Now to go and cook and massive dinner, drink a beer and go to bed to rest our weary bodies.
Day 3 – Berwick Upon Tweed to Chathill. Chathill to Felton via car
My god. Day 3 was horrible. As you can see by our average speed, we were very slow. This was due to our legs failing hard, a huge head wind that we were fighting and ‘cycle friendly’ tracks that I wouldn’t even run cattle through let alone a bicycle. We had our first puncture of the trip (my bike) which we changed over at a petrol station. We were running deeply behind schedule in time to get to our hosts (more warm showers people) Eileen and Heinz. I messaged them to let them know that we were going to be late and they text back to ask where we were and if we wanted a pick up as they had a bike rack. We did. We had tried hitching rides with truck drivers at a service station off the A1 but no one seemed too pleased to take us, so this was perfect. At this stage, there was still a lot of riding to be done (well at least I thought there was). As it turns out, had they not come and picked us up, we would have rode to where we thought they lived (10 miles further south) and would have had to have rode back up to their house. I may have just cried if this had happened. All in all, what started out as a bag of shyte day ended in a life saving pick up, a great meal and good wine, great company and amazing hospitality with a nice warm fire. All in all, the world is generally good. Peace and happiness and burubub…
Day 4 – Felton to Morpeth – Train – Newcastle to North Shields Ferry
The weather on day 4 was much nicer than it had been previously. After a warm bed, delicious food and showers, we felt revitalised and ready (almost) to ride on day four. However, we worked out the previous night that we had desperately underestimated how arduous the riding would be and the toll that it would take on our bodies. Our muscles didn’t want to work at all but with the dying off of the head winds from the previous day, we felt much better as we set off in the morning. A nice ride from our hosts house at Felton to Morpeth train station where we took the train with the bikes to Newcastle. We had lunch in the city before riding out along the bike path towards North Shields to take the ferry across to The Netherlands. The path was nice to ride along but the drab scenery of Newcastle’s industrial docksides were nothing special. I was too tired to care but. We got boarded onto the ferry where we had shit food and shit sleep due to the amount of ‘lads on tour’ getting drunk and screaming all night up and down the hallways. I sound like an old man but we’ve never needed sleep so much and it just didn’t happen. Not to worry – rest day tomorrow!
Day 5 – Ijmuiden Port to Haarlem
Day 5 was basically just disembarking the ferry and taking a short, scenic ride through the park to meet up with Chris and Jackie. We stayed with them overnight and rested our weary legs. We were meant to get off the ferry and ride on for another four hours or so to Utrecht but we just didn’t have it in us. We’re now going to take the train from Amsterdam to Eindhoven to stay with Sílvia (Montse’s cousin) and then get riding the next day to head towards Germany and Leverkusen. Feeling pumped!!
Click here for route data Day 6 – Quick Haarlem to Amsterdam ride
Today we left Chris and Jackie’s house and rode a nice flat track into Amsterdam Centraal. The weather was nice and, after the riding in the UK, felt like nothing at all. Jaz also got his first flat of the trip along this path. We didn’t actually need to cycle into Amsterdam in the end as the Train that we were catching to Eindhoven went through Haarlem anyway but it was good to keep up the riding. We caught the train to Eindhoven where we stayed with Sílvia for the night before taking off the next day for a few nights of camping.
Click here for route data Day 7, 8 and 9 – Maasbree – Düsseldorf – Leverkusen
For some strange reason, the GPS decided to meld 3 days into one track rather than splitting it up but this gives a general idea of what we did in the last 3 days of riding before our break. The riding over these three days was much nicer than riding in the UK for obvious reasons (weather, terrain, etc.) The seventh day saw us leave Eindhoven through really beautiful scenery and countryside where we could travel along canal side bike paths and through fields. The wind was up at times through the 7th and 8th day but nothing compared to what we had experienced around Berwick Upon Tweed. We stayed at a really nice campsite on the 7th night – €5 each, pleasant grounds and nice people, warm showers and donkeys. It rained during the night a LOT but we didn’t get too wet and the tent held up really well. The 8th day was much the same with riding as we made our way through Venlo and across the border into Germany. A few shorter climbs at this time but nothing too horrible. We stayed in a campsite on the 8th night just outside of Düsseldorf and, if you look at the Spain or Bust album on facebook, you can see some terrifying statues that were situated around the place. This place was more expensive and much more horrible but we still made the most of it. It rained again and this night was MUCH colder than the last. We were freezing in the tent and it was just slightly too cold to be comfortable. But we got up the next morning knowing that we only had 40 or so more km’s until we arrived at HG’s house and could leave our bikes for over a week. We stopped at a bike shop to pick up some supplies and then were off. Riding across the Rhine and then mostly through small cities and towns along the way until we got to HG’s house.