London to Andorra by Velocipede.

September 20th, 2014

London to Andorra

My blog has been updated with more pictures, new videos, route and gradient maps, statistics and a little more detail on the journey, particularly through central France where I was unable to add the info while I was cycling and bike fixing.....  But my attempt at cycling from London to Andorra is now over, but the following is a record of the trip.  Please read on if you want to know whether the challenge was met or failed in big ball of steel and oil.  The donation page will remain open for a while longer so please click below if you wish to give a little something to the charity.....

virgin giving

If this donation page is closed or you want to find out more about the charity and what you can do to support it please click on the logo below for more information.

shhirt

Click London to Andorra By Velocipede to see the daily blogs.

Happy Cycling...


 

Day 0: London to Andorra by Velocipede.

September 24th, 2014

London to Andorra

The Rationale....

When I'd just finished my first day back at work, after 15 months "career break" of doing very little other than travelling and watching cBeebies, I was looking around the office I felt something was missing. I need a challenge, something to aim for, something with the right amount of crazy but with an equal amount of achievement. However, I also wanted to avoid backpacking as I'd spent 13 months on stinky busses and trains travelling from the UK to New Zealand overland. So, I came up with a plan for my next little adventure.

I hit on the idea of visiting the one last country in Europe I have left to visit, but instead of backpacking I'll be getting there under my own steam and hopefully making the achievement of "the full set" of countries special by cycling from London to Andorra, the final elusive country!

The Bike....

Just to make it a little harder I'm doing the journey on a 1920's style bike which has the completely wrong frame, setup and just 5 rubbish gears which are not for climbing hills. It also weighs over twice as much as a standard bike and that's without luggage!

Pashley

The little bit of support....

It's going to be a challenge and one which will be physically difficult to achieve, partly thanks to the distance, and the massive climb over the Pyrenees, but not as challening as some other things life puts in your way. To this end I'll be cycling in support of the charity SHHiRT, for more information please see HERE. It's a really worthwhile charity and a little known condition that really needs support so please give a little something if you can.

To donate please click HERE to connect to VirginMoneyGiving.

The Challenge....

1. Starting on Sunday 28th September 2014.

2. Cycling from London and through the entire length of France... plus a bit more.....

3. Have no planned route or timetable so will just see where the roads and my legs take me....

4. Likely to be sleeping in random fields and park benches on the way down as due to the nature of the cycle I'll have no idea where I'll be each evening....

5. A climb over the Pyrenees on a rubbish bike!

6. If I get to Andorra within time, I may continue to Barcelona depending on donations....

7. The route, with stops for touristy stuff should easily break the 1000 mile (1600km) mark.

8. I've learned the French "Monsieur policier, mon vélo a été volé!" just in case I need it!

Pashley London

Day 1: Canterbury Tales. (Sunday 28th Sept)

September 28th, 2014
  Today Total
Distance 63 miles 63 miles (101km)
Height gain 884 metres 884 metres (2900ft)
Calories 2800 2800

I had intended setting off on Saturday 27th September but just as I was about to go I discovered a problem with the gears on the bike. Although the gears are rubbish I figured it was better to have rubbish ones than none at all so I did my best to try and fix them although this was not the best time for something to go wrong.

So after much prevaricating and much later than I should have I set off from Sunny Leytonstone at a little after 12:30pm on Sunday 28th September.  Sadly as Leytonstone was rather inconveniently built in North East London this meant I had to cycle 7 miles in the wrong direction to Tower Bridge just so I could cross the river.

London bridge

Eventually I was heading in the right direction and soon got possibly the biggest wake up call for the trip and barely just 10 miles into the trip.  London to Dover was meant to be the easiest part of the trip and by far the flattest but this was based on what I thought and not reality as I then hit Blackheath Hill.  Not massive by any stretch of the imagination and a hill easy enough on a normal road bike.  But reality hit as I barely made it to the top, and then after little more than two miles further I hit Shooters Hill.  I simply could not get up this one.  There were guys on mountain bikes in their highest gears just about making it but their bikes were barely 10kg, not only could I not heave the stupidly massive 40kg bike and luggage up the hill my first gear gave a horrible crunching sound.

day 1 hills

After doing all the fixing I could do with the gears given the tools I have, I seemed to get them working and I set off again through a remarkably and irritatingly hilly Kent where every road appears to go over the top of every hill!  After taking in the lovely castle at Rochester I had another long hard hill climb out of Chatham.  This time the gears held but the occasional crunching and slipping of the gears is not promising, particularly after about 40 miles into a 1000 mile journey.


The slipping and grinding affects my two lowest gears so if I lose them its game over as the wheel unit can't be replaced in France as I'd have to order parts from the UK. So I'll have to nurse the bike as much as I can but every time the gears crunch it is really worrying.

Anyhow, I made it to Canterbury a little after dark and have decided to stop here for the night, not really by choice, it's more because my legs are knackered and anymore will put too much strain on them but I have cycled 100km on a brick!  I hope my legs will get stronger though as there are far harder cycles to come with much greater distances.

Anyway, the take home message for me today is, don't cycle a 40kg bike with luggage and crap gears, and most definitely don't cycle it across the whole length of France!

 Canterbury

For more detail on route click HERE.

day 1 route

(© google maps)