2nd APRIL 2011
The big day finally arrived. Saturday 02 April 2011. I had a sleepless night just thinking about what I was about to do. Just after 7 am I started to load the bike in a quiet street in Shoreditch, London. 7:25 am
I waved goodbye to my friend Andrew and wobbled violently side to side as I started to move off down the street. The weight from the bike was immense. I hadn’t ridden the bike for over a month and this was the first time I had it completely fully loaded and it was. Though as I got into my stride I felt a lot more at ease.
At the first set of lights two fellow cyclists asked where have you come from with all that gear. Their excitement and enthusiasm was evident at my reply – Shoreditch I just set off 5 min ago for New Zealand. Just after 7:30 am my mates Charlie and Krango were surprised to see me cycling across Tower Bridge from the South side to the city side. I had to go around after ending up on London Bridge. Oops! not a good start lost already and doing extra kms
Stopped on Tower Bridge for a farewell London photo and then two of my best mates and I headed out of London passing some notable sights along the way. It was a great morning for cycling with the sun shining brightly. First stop was Greenwich for coffee……..stopping after 10 min is not a good habit to get into. We pushed on after that picking up another mate Matt so then we were four. After 58 km we did good time to get to Stroud for lunch. After lunch it went a bit pear shape. The pace slowed right up and at the 80 km mark I was feeling totally exhausted. I had burnt so much energy I had massive hunger pains and was feeling weak. I had been a little optimistic if I thought I could ride to Dover in one day. Perhaps with an empty bike………but not when it was fully loaded. With the support of the boys we finally got into Canterbury at 5:25 pm.
The boys kindly put me in a B&B for which I was very thankful. So I got an unexpected extra night of luxury.
Went out for a big energy dinner of beef stew and dumplings and one of the last dinners with the boys. I then headed back for an early night. After repacking the panniers, I got rid of one T shirt. Part of the problems of the day was caused by the excess weight. I always knew I was carrying too much. It’s just so hard when you need so much for a year’s trip. I think once the hills keep coming – stuff will start going!
Just after 7 am I said good bye to Charlie and headed off for the last 30 km to Dover which I reached just after 9 am and not feeling too bad. I then sat in the sun and contemplated &*&% where will I sleep tonight, while I waited for the mid-day ferry. Parking up with the bikes on the dock. My bike looked slightly out of place next to 5 Harley Davidsons. I gave myself a run up as I peddled like mad to get up the ramp. No going back now. Next stop…………………….. Dunkerque.